GMT goes SPI

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-945-the-british-way-counterinsurgency-at-the-end-of-empire.aspx

Four-on-the-floor, that is… as in Quadrigame!

A while ago I had a talk with Stephen Rangazas, who has come up with an interesting way of distilling much of the 2-player COIN system experience down to a few cards and a small number of pieces… and he has put four examples of such in one box, called:

The British Way: Counterinsurgency at the End of Empire is the first of several COIN multipacks, containing four separate games exploring a series of thematically related insurgencies. Between 1945 and 1960, the British fought four major “emergencies,” as they referred to their counterinsurgency campaigns, each trying to manage their retreat from empire. The four games in this pack focus on exploring British counterinsurgent responses to a variety of different opponents, including communist insurgents in Malaya, militant nationalists in Kenya, and smaller and more clandestine terrorist organizations in Palestine and Cyprus. The games adjust the core COIN mechanics to provide a compelling new way of handling two-player conflicts, while also streamlining several mechanics to quicken gameplay. The British Way offers an approachable introduction to the COIN series for new players, while presenting experienced players with four mechanically distinct games to explore and compare.
 

Highlights:
  • Four full games in one box: Explore four different conflicts set during the twilight of the British Empire in the 1940s and 1950s. Each game uses a unique ruleset building on the same general mechanical structure, ensuring that they are easy to pick up while still offering a distinctive experience.
  • A new adaptation of the classic COIN system: Improved two-player sequence of play and a versatile Political Will track for determining victory. 
  • Unique mechanisms reflecting the British approach to each conflict: New Villages in Malaya, the ‘Pipeline’ in Kenya, Curfews in Cyprus, and Mass Detention in Palestine.
  • Small board footprint with quick-but-deep gameplay: Each game plays in under 90 minutes and takes place on a single 17×22” board.
  • An “End of Empire” Campaign: A campaign scenario allowing players to play the four games in a linked series with a cumulative scoring system, random ‘external’ events relating to British decolonization, and new mechanics to integrate each game into the campaign.

Prototype maps for Kenya and Malaya

Malaya
The British Emergency in Malaya (1948-1960) is viewed by some as the classic case of a successful counterinsurgency campaign, fought against an insurgency led by the Malayan Communist Party. The Malayan Emergency significantly influenced counterinsurgency theory and would become a model case, later appealed to by commanders in conflicts ranging from Vietnam to the present. The British Way: Malaya is the perfect introduction for players new to the COIN series, offering a shorter two-player game experience that will give players some familiarity with Government and Insurgent factions in other modern COIN volumes, such as Cuba Libre or A Distant Plain. For experienced players, it also serves as a good introduction to the new core mechanics in The British Way by offering Factions and Operations that will be familiar from previous COIN volumes but with several new systems, such as the Political Will track, streamlined Sequence of Play, and a shifting British Commander Capability.

Prototype event cards for Malaya


Kenya
The British Emergency in Kenya (1952-1960), fought against the Mau Mau insurgents, dramatically departed from the strategy modeled in many of the modern COIN volumes, with a heavy focus on coercion rather than winning ‘hearts and minds.’ In game terms, this means a shift away from building ‘Support’ towards new mechanics modeling various forms of repression used by the British in Kenya. However, their use of repression can have political consequences back in Britain, represented as a potential penalty to Political Will—as one British official noted, “If we sin, we must sin quietly.” The British player must balance this core tradeoff, while the Mau Mau player must mobilize the Kikuyu population and expand their revolt to survive the overwhelming British response. The British Way: Kenya depicts a dramatically asymmetrical conflict where an extremely poorly equipped insurgency must utilize clever (and in some cases brutal) tactics to try and ride out an overwhelmingly powerful, often unconstrained, and increasingly criticized counterinsurgency campaign.

Prototype event cards for Kenya

Cyprus and Palestine: New Counter-Terrorism Mechanics
The next two conflicts in the pack depart more significantly from core COIN concepts because Britain’s two opponents in Cyprus and Palestine operated as smaller clandestine terrorist cells rather than the larger insurgencies depicted in Malaya and Kenya. Instead, new “counter-terrorism” tactics are modeled, such as Curfews, Intelligence, Arms Caches, and a more detailed Sabotage and Terror system. These two games offer a fresh approach to a different kind of conflict and provide an even quicker play experience for two-player COIN duels.

Prototype maps for Palestine and Cyprus

The British Emergency in Cyprus (1955-1959) was conducted under the shadow of international opinion and increasing pressure from the international community to respect human rights. As the British player tries to balance locking down the population while managing international pressure, the EOKA player will launch sabotage attacks in towns across the island while building their organization in the mountains. The British Way: Cyprus is probably the simplest of the four games in the pack, although the new counter-terrorism mechanics it introduces are significantly different from anything that has appeared in previous COIN volumes.

Prototype event cards for Cyprus

Likewise, during the Palestine campaign (1945-1947), the British player will be faced with the Jewish resistance groups Irgun and Lehi launching sabotage and terrorist attacks across Mandatory Palestine, while risking criticism from the US and other international observers if their response is too heavy-handed. The British Way: Palestine further develops the new counter-terrorism mechanics introduced in Cyprus, while also including unique game systems to model the British use of the blunt tool of Mass Detention, the shifting cooperation of Haganah (the Jewish Agency’s armed wing), and high-profile terrorist attacks such as the King David Hotel bombing.

Prototype event cards for Palestine

A Note on “The British Way” of Counterinsurgency:
“that nauseating phrase I think I invented” – General Sir Gerald Templer on the term ‘Hearts and Minds’
The historical simulations included in The British Way are designed to depict the full array of strategies used by the British during these conflicts, ranging from the more benevolent provision of material benefits through pacification programs to the horrific measures used to gain control over the local population. Many myths have arisen about an ‘enlightened’ British approach to counterinsurgency that emphasized the use of minimum force and focused on winning the population’s “hearts and minds,” compared with the supposedly more violent approaches taken by the United States in Vietnam or by France in Algeria. However, new scholarship on these conflicts has confirmed the brutality of the methods commonly used by the British in their counterinsurgency campaigns. As summarized by the historian Hew Strachan, these conflicts were often decided by “the firm smack of government,” not the popular winning of hearts and minds. This multipack is intended to help synthesize and present these crucial developments in our understanding of British counterinsurgency, even if that means the simulations depicted are at times more thought-provoking than fun. The designer’s main goal is that players find these games informative about what happened during each conflict and why, and that the gameplay leaves them wanting to learn more. Each game will come with a detailed Background booklet describing the events depicted and listing additional sources, while the combined Playbook will include comparative essays discussing British counterinsurgency across the four games and how it is depicted in conflict simulations.

Game components
  • Two double-sided 17×22” mounted game boards
  • 4 Game Event Decks and 1 Campaign Event Deck
  • 54 Wooden Pieces
  • 8 Pawns
  • One full-color counter sheet
  • Eleven double-sided player aids
  • Two 6-sided dice
  • 4 Combined Rule/Background Booklets
  • 1 Combined Playbook/Campaign Guide
Number of players: 2
GAME DESIGN: Stephen Rangazas
DEVELOPER: Joe Dewhurst 

 

You better believe I signed up for this!

I believe I am customer #303, snicker….

A word about that “hearts and minds” aspect, though… I have been extremely busy lately and have not been able to finish work on a post I was making in response to “The Hearts-and-Minds Myth: How America Gets Counterinsurgency Wrong”, an article that appeared last week in Foreign Policy magazine by Jacqueline Hazelton, who teaches at the Naval War College. She also wrote Bullets Not Ballots: Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare which has been poked my way more than once recently. 

I don’t understand the binary, all-or-nothing thinking that goes into commentary on these things… it’s not a stark choice between “pyramid of skulls” or “armed social work”, it never is. If you never punish or pursue the insurgents, you will not win. But if you never do anything to address “why?”, the concerns of the insurgents or the populations they spring from (because no one ever does this for fun), you will not win either. 

But I am looking forward to these sporty little fellas. Happy to see a second game on Cyprus, too!

District Commander ZNO: now available!

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https://hollandspiele.com/products/district-commander-zno

Now available – the fourth and so far final module in the District Commander series.

ZNO stands for Zone Nord Oranais, the operational area depicted in this game… the hill country generally to the south and east of Mostaganem in Algeria, around Mascara – Pelikao – Relizane.

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The game is set roughly during 1958-59, when generally either the 4th Motorized Infantry Division or the 5th Armoured Division was responsible for most of the area (it’s difficult and rather pointless to pin down as areas of responsibility were constantly in flux depending on mission and deployments of other units).

French combat units that appear in the game include:

Cavalry
1st Cuirassiers (French Army unit, cavalry reorganized for infantry role)
2nd Spahis (mixed French-Algerian cavalry unit)
30th Dragoons

Infantry
6th Chasseurs d’Afrique (mixed French-Algerian light infantry unit)
19th and 20th Chasseurs (French Army light infantry units)
21st Regiment Tirailleurs Algeriens (mixed French-Algerian unit)
battalions of the 93rd and 158 French line infantry regiments

Other
4th, 31st Bataillon Parachutiste Coloniale (elite French parachute unit)
8th Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine (elite French parachute unit)

Fun things you get to play with in the game include:
– FLN supply convoys;
Commandos de chasse (special small units of mixed French-Algerian troops (including turned guerrillas) who specialized in reconnaissance and tracking);
Sections Administrative Specialisees or SAS (French officers given special training and sent to assume control of all aspects of life in selected rural villages to organize indigenous resistance to the insurgents);
– population resettlement (when the SAS didn’t do a good job);
– double agents and psychological war assets;
– terror cells;
and more!

Note: Now that this one is properly published, I will be taking the PnP files for this module (with my substandard artwork) down and substituting PnP files for the Maracas module, so a free game of the District Commander system will still be available.

Free Games!

CFS: TESA Collective wants to see your game design!

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https://www.tesacollective.com/we-are-seeking-to-sign-and-publish-new-board-and-card-games-about-changing-the-world

After 10 years of publishing work by internal designers and commissioned work by social organizations, the TESA (Toolbox for Education and Social Action) Collective is calling for outside designs.

A link for a submission form and additional details are available at the link above, but here is information on what they are looking for:

Please read: What we are and are not looking for

Here’s what we’re looking for: Board and card games that address an issue – such as nature and environmentalism, social justice/social change matters, historical events, building people’s power, climate change, and other important issues. The issue your game addresses can be big (like stopping climate change) or small (like growing a community garden) or anywhere in between. In summary, we are looking for games with a strong theme and a message about making the world a better place, in either a big or small way.

  • The game you pitch to us can be literal, but it does not have to be literal. Allegories or addressing important topics in fantastical settings is just fine. For instance, our games Space Cats Fight Fascism and STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion both do this. Either approach – literal or fantastical representation of the theme – is fine, as long as the game is about something.

  • We are primarily looking for games that would be exciting to be played during game nights with friends and family.

  • Your game doesn’t have to be finished for you to pitch it to us, but you should have a playable demo that you feel good about – even if it will still needs some fine tuning. Part of our responsibility is to help get the game to the finish line. We would prefer if you have at least some minimal graphic design and placeholder art (do not commission final artwork, that would be our responsibility) to help us when we play the game. But if we sign the game, it is our responsibility to make the game beautiful and ready for print.

  • We’re not looking for pitches that are just an idea you have for a game. (If you want us to develop a game for your organization, however, that’s a service we offer.) We are looking for games that have been created and playtested already (even if they are not 100% done).

  • We prefer games that are accessible. They don’t have to be super easy to learn, but we’re not looking for incredibly complex games that take an hour to learn and 4 – 5 hours to play.

  • We are looking to work with people who are open to collaboration. We may have some gameplay improvement suggestions as well as other ideas for marketability purposes. While we will not steamroll your vision, we want to make sure folks we work with are open to suggestions.

  • Though not a requirement, we have a preference for games that have a hopeful message.

  • We are open to both cooperative and competitive games.

CFP: Wargaming and the Military (Journal of Advanced Military Studies)

Found off H-net feed:

CFPs for the Journal of Advanced Military Studies: Wargaming and the Military

by Jason Gosnell

Call for Submissions for the Fall 2021 Journal of Advanced Military Studies (JAMS)

Marine Corps University Press publishes JAMS on topics of concern to the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense on international relations, political science, security studies, and political economics topics.

Our Fall 2021 issue will have a broadly construed theme:

Wargaming and the Military

This issue will address the past, present, and future state of wargaming and the military. The editors are interested in exploring the topic from a variety of perspectives, including the current status of wargaming and how the Services can prepare for tomorrow with innovative professional military education and wargaming. This exploration can include a historical analysis of wargaming and PME; an analysis of current military use of wargaming in an operational setting; and future wargaming concepts for PME and the battlefield. Article submissions are due by May 31.

The Journal of Advanced Military Studies is a peer-reviewed journal, and submissions should be 4,000–10,000 words, footnoted, and formatted according to Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). Junior faculty and advanced graduate students are encouraged to submit. MCUP is also looking for book reviewers from international studies, political science, and contemporary history fields.

To receive a copy of the journal or to discuss an article idea or book review, please contact MCU_Press@usmcu.edu.

Eurowargames anthology

One project I undertook during the winter was to prepare a piece for an upcoming anthology on Eurowargames – basically an expansion on my “games as citizen journalism” wheeze. This project is edited by Riccardo Masini, Fred Serval and Jan Heinemann, three very good names; they put out a call for articles last fall.

https://eurowargames.wordpress.com/

The original focus has somewhat widened, and the range of submissions will reflect that I think. Latest is that the anthology will be published in fall or winter of 2021, after getting sufficient funding through Kickstarter.

They did ask me my opinion about crowdfunding this, and I had no objection to using it as a pre-order system, but please, NO STRETCH GOALS!

Just get the book funded, and only the book. No tooled leather slipcases, commemorative tea cosies, or sets of commissioned miniatures of the authors (that last one is tempting though. I wonder what I would look like as a small action figure).

Anyway, the above interview (made before the final deadline for article submissions, so they did not yet know for certain what-all they had) gives more details.

Connections Online 2021: 12-14 April, +/-

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The Connections Online conference on professional wargaming will be a virtual event.

Details, registration link and a preliminary schedule are here: https://www.armchairdragoons.com/connections/

All core Connections Online events will take place from 12-14  April, each day 1000 – 1600 EDT(UTC -4). All core events will be recorded and available for future viewing.

A livestream of the conference and the recordings will be free and open to all, but you can register to get access to a whole lot more. A small fee of $5 will be charged to partially cover the IT expenses.  Registration cost includes:

  • All presentations, panels, and keynotes (unlimited seats for participation), including ability to ask questions / interact with the speakers during their presentations
  • Access to the Connections Online Discord server
  • Ability to register for any extended conference events, on a first-come, first-served basis for limited-seat events

Oh, and what about those extended conference events you may ask? Well, from 10-18 April there will be many smaller focused events during and to either side of the core hours and dates. Details are still being worked out about these but will include game demonstrations, presentations, and activities similar to the famous “game lab” event where we work in small groups to brainstorm and explore how to game or model certain topics or issues, or general approaches to and utility of games and modelling.

If you are interested in serious games (and this term is definitely not limited to military wargaming!) you should check this out.

This is the latest addition to the Connections franchise of professional wargaming events. Connections-US, the original and American version of the conference will be in June and will also be a virtual event. I’ll post more about that later as details are firmed up. Readers of this and the Paxsims blog will know that there are also Australian, Canadian, Dutch and UK conferences along the same themes. I really miss these events in person, I’ve been several times to the US and UK ones and it’s an intense experience. Maybe next year we’ll be back to doing this sort of thing in person – though we have certainly proven the added value of doing as much as possible online, or making things available online.

Anyway, as part of this particular conference on Monday April 12 at 1500 EDT I will be doing a joint presentation with Mike Markowitz on practicalities of DIY game design. Mike, a really smart guy and a better public speaker than I, will talk about graphic design and I will talk about methods of self-publishing. Both are add-ons and developments of the talks we gave to the Georgetown University Wargaming Society recently, and you should watch these first.

Again, if you want to talk to us and ask questions you’ll have to register. It’s five bucks but you get a whole lot more than just us!

We hope to see you all there!

[ETA] Here is the Youtube link for the event…

Guerrilla Checkers and Kashmir Crisis: new TTS modules!

Over the last couple of months I made sporadic efforts to  learn to make modules of my games for Tabletop Simulator (TTS)  and Vassal. (I got TTS some time ago when it was on sale for $10 and had some ideas of playing some games to pass the lockdown time, except that it turned out I had no spare time!) I had no real success learning Vassal, but I seemed to get on better with TTS as it’s closer to making a physical copy of a game, or it had more useful gizmos, or whatever. Also, development and playtesting for China’s War will start soon and the developer will be doing it over TTS, not Vassal as was the case with Colonial Twilight, so it was time I learned how to use it. Even at that it took me weeks to learn how to build and upload a deck of special cards, and I experienced the full-on tedium of having to make individual .jpg images of absolutely every piece in the game, including separate front and back images for many things. (I understand Vassal is not much different in the tedium department.)

But after all that, I got things to work with a couple of small and simple games (plus a larger game project that I’m not going to talk about just yet, except that I just did!). So how do I share the modules with the world? I was held up again for weeks because when you go to upload a TTS module to their “workshop” to make it available, you need to include the URL of a small thumbnail image for the game. Time and again the upload failed, this problem has been noted with TTS for some time but all the fixes I had read did not work. Finally last night, with the aid of a friend of a friend, I got the darn things uploaded and went public!

So, if you are on Steam and own Tabletop Simulator, you can now go and have a look at the modules I made for Guerrilla Checkers and Kashmir Crisis. These are two of my smallest and simplest games, and they use pre-made game items (checkerboard, deck of ordinary cards etc.) so they were not that hard to make. No fancy fog of war or other mechanisms, though I would like to learn next how to do that in TTS. If you do have a look, please let me know if these worked for you. 

Guerrilla Checkers: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2421938802

Kashmir Crisis: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2421971111

Strategist, 2000

orwell_1984

Once upon a time, I edited Strategist, the monthly newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society. Boardgamegeek.com says that “the American Wargaming Association (AWA) merged with the National Wargaming Alliance (NWA) in 1984. The combined organization was renamed the Strategy Gaming Society (SGS). The AWA’s newsletter was called “The American Wargamer“, issued from 1973 to November 1984. The NWA’s newsletter was called “Kriegsrat“, issued until November 1984. With the December 1984 issue, the combined publication became “Strategist”.

George Phillies, who is still quite active in wargaming, was a central figure in the Society from way back, but I think the Society has been defunct for quite a while now. Anyway, I took over the newsletter after John Kula had had it for a while and edited it for a year before concluding I just did not have the time or energy to keep it going the way I wanted it (I was then still in the process of recovering from getting run over by a car at the end of 1998).

This was all 20 years in the past, and in the interests of oh I don’t know future ludic archaeologists I am putting up those dozen issues, in PDF form, on the Resources page (converted cheaply from their original MS Publisher format, so there might be an oopsy or two somewhere). They give you 3 GB of space here at WordPress and I am not using much of it so far. Game Links and Resources

Here is an index to the contents, nothing really remarkable except that I did publish a few simple games in its pages: Attrition, War Fair, Wolf Pack and Zulu Spears by Lloyd Krassner; Battle of Seattle by me; and the first appearance of Waterloo 20 by Joe Miranda. Another funny thing I ran was a series of “Military Movie Star” bios where I wrote about the star’s service career and the war/action movies they were in later. Did you know James Mason was a pacifist and conscientious objector in World War Two?

STRATEGIST index for 2000

Red Guard: Japanese-language rules translation available

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Over on Boardgamegeek, Tatsuya Shishido has thoughtfully made a Japanese language translation of the rules to Red Guard!

Otsukaresamadeshita!

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/213994/red-guard-japanese-rules

Civil Power: rules, scenarios, VASSAL module available online

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Now that the game is officially out, CSL has made the rules and scenario booklet and VASSAL module available online here (if necessary, change the file extension from .zip to .vmod):

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1i19QZV5qBeZVHv1U5iucoW1tb8w2StEk

But we’re sure that you would like to have the physical product too, so the order page is here:

https://www.consimsltd.com/products/civil-power

Fight the Power!
(or be the Power, you can do both)