Free game: Putin’s War

uacr-mapsmpl

(No longer quite as illustrated.)

From two Italian game designers, Riccardo Affinati and Mauro Faina: Putin’s War, a free print-and-play mini-game on the current invasion. I haven’t tried it yet myself but it appears to be a simpler game focusing on the kinetic part of things; reactions by foreign countries and so forth are largely randomized through the unknown nature of the Ukrainian opposition that appears as the Russian units enter each new area. 

Notable in that it recycles the map and oblast victory point values from my 2014 game Ukrainian Crisis. I suppose that is about all of that game that is salvageable and useful for the 2022 situation. Still, I don’t mind. 

PUTIN’S WAR – ENGLISH RULES   PDF file complete, 4 MB.

Surprisingly candid designer’s notes – bravo!

DESIGNER’S NOTES: 

The game system of this solitaire boardgame derives in its planning from the game “AFGHANISTAN 1979-1989” by Mauro Faina published in the magazine “Guerre e Guerrieri” (April 2022), while for the map the game “Ukranian Crisis ”by Brian Train (2014) and the cover is the work of Marco Longobardo. English translation by Ty Bomba.

Being an introductory boardgame, we avoided adding additional complexities and a large number of pieces, tables or accessories. The boardgame is distributed for free and privately, not for profit, but to spread the passion for simulations and military history. Studying wars to never make them, this is our watchword, while our thanks go to all those who will help us “test” the boardgame and spread the idea that those who do not play will never know how to be a excellent human being.

Last warning, you will not find a simpler solitaire military simulation than this, if you have problems in interpreting the rules, then forget about the world of boardgames and do not ask me for clarification, while feel free to modify or confuse the rules written according to your own. tastes. 

Riccardo Affinati

Greek Civil War in Japanese Command magazine

GCWJpnCmdedn

In a forthcoming issue of the Japanese -language wargaming magazine Command: a reissue and updating of my game Greek Civil War!

This edition features lovely map production, fine counters, my original rules and an updating of the 1944-45 scenario that was thrown into the DG edition. Also some additional designer’s notes and a reminiscence of my time spent in Japan from the perspective of game design.

I see someone has taken the trouble to look at Ukrainian Crisis as well.

Nice item!

If and when you get a copy of this (production is small, but copies do make their way overseas) you can use these English-language rules and charts (and you can also use them if you have the Decision Games edition too; no changes required to the map or counters, just drop these in).

GCWrules11 18 apr 22

GCWchts11 18 apr 22

This is actually my second appearance in this magazine: back in 2002 my game Battle for China was in issue #42, apparently the first time in the magazine’s run that an original game by a non-Japanese designer was featured (they had been doing a lot of well-produced reprints of classics, for example much of the GDW Series 120 games). It was quite the best physical production the game ever got: larger, well-printed maps; SPI style matte counters, and best of all it included the expansion kit to take the game beyond 1941 and into the Civil War.

Matrix games: Bandera II

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2022/05/09/bandera-ii-ukraine-matrix-game-update/

Signal boost, though I know many in the audience read Rex Brynen’s PaxSims blog already:

The elusive, profusive Tim Price has issued Bandera II, an updated version of his matrix game on the Ukrainian conflict to reflect current conditions. A 25-page free download, with some instructions on how to run a matrix game, map, and printable pages to make your own game tokens.

Space-Biff! on Bloc by Bloc (3rd edition)

kent state disturbance playset

(image: National Lampoon, ca. 1971)

https://spacebiff.com/2022/01/29/bloc-by-bloc

Thankfully, Bloc by Bloc isn’t ideologically agnostic. It’s radically and refreshingly committed to egalitarianism, clear-eyed about the contradictions that tug at modern efforts to effect change, and both deeply angry and hopelessly idealistic.

Oh, Daniel Thurot just keeps swinging and hitting them wayyy over the fence… what a nice surprise today to see that he has written a piece on the new edition of Bloc by Bloc: Uprising. It is the third edition, coming soon on Gamefound and I will be there for it, just as I was when the game was first noised about on Boardgamegeek.

Bloc by Bloc: compelling subject matter, good presentation, and genuinely interesting mechanics for both cooperative (Kumbayah) and semi-cooperative (duelling agendas) versions. One of the more inspiring things I’ve played in years.

The point is, change begins somewhere. The bug of hope must first be contracted. Whether it speaks of suffrage, liberty, civil rights, opportunity, or true equality before the law, Bloc by Bloc is no mere polemic. It understands its contradictions and grapples with them. It speaks a message while remaining playful. Most importantly, it instills a yearning for something better.

February 15, on Gamefound!

Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game

https://gamefound.com/projects/draft/zxc58ag7firw48g1aggj8ue80qo

Civil Power: correction on ADS

ads

Erratum for Civil Power:

I have been informed that the Active Denial System (ADS, colloquially known as the “heat ray”) described in the game does not emit microwave energy. The system emits millimeter wave energy at the very high frequency of about 95 GHz, and so its ray does not penetrate skin and flesh to the same degree that microwave energy does (a microwave oven emits at about 2.45 GHz).

I apologize for my technical ignorance and misrepresentation of this non-lethal weapon system. Players should change the word “microwave” to “millimeter wave” in section 8.3 of the rulebook.

https://jnlwp.defense.gov/About/Frequently-Asked-Questions/Active-Denial-System-FAQs/

Zones of Control, yong zhongwen

zoc pub chinese

Huzzah!

Though perhaps, just perhaps, a pirated translation of the anthology has been circulating among the various departments of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party for some time… heh.

Obligatory end-of-year review, 2021

goldblum

Ohhhhh….

It’s almost over.

I thought 2020 was not that great, and boy 2021 was not an improvement.

  • My dad died in May 2021 and I spent the rest of the year doing executor duties and seeing his widow back to the UK where she has family. This put a big crimp into everything else, naturally.
  • I did not get back into my office until September 2021.
  • I did get my money back from the airline for my Hawaiian trip that never happened, but no other travel more than a few miles from home. I did participate in a few online events and things but it’s just not the same.
  • The renovations that started in August 2020 are still going on, though I have been promised carpets by Christmas. Doors, lights, kitchen appliances and other amenities will follow, as will the restoration of some game-playing space.

I’m not sorry to see 2021 go, and I know 2022 will not see the complete end of COVID-19, still less the beginnings of the necessary and obvious changes we’re going to have to make in order to flourish in the future. But like many people, I will adjust and carry on as best I can. Maybe next year I will get back to Europe, or Washington DC, or even Tempe AZ. We’ll see.

Game publishing and publicity

February: Posted PDFs of the 12 issues of Strategist magazine I edited in 2000, containing several PnP games in their pages: some WarpGames by Lloyd Krassner; Battle of Seattle by me; and the first appearance of Waterloo 20 by Joe Miranda.

March: Vassal continues to elude me, but after a lot of angst I finally got it together to build a couple of simple Tabletop Simulator modules for two of my abstract games, Guerrilla Checkers and Kashmir Crisis. It wasn’t much fun, but I hope people might try them. Meanwhile, I think I am irretrievably old-school: give this man some cardboard and markers and he’s happy.

April: James Buckley published #2 of his online zine Punched, in which he ran a lot of material related to the GMT COIN system games (published and future), and a very nice review of Brief Border Wars.

June: District Commander: ZNO was released, the fourth and so far final module in the series. District Commander Maracas continues as the free print-and-play module for anyone who wants to try out the system.

November: A 4th printing of A Distant Plain was announced. We’ll see how long it takes them to pull the trigger on this one; perhaps people want to forget about this war once and for all. Also, the International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance (GALA) saw a paper presented on a digital port of Kashmir Crisis. Hans-Wolfgang Loidl, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, wrote the paper with his student Charlie Murray, who created a digital version of the game.

Game design work and future publication

Work and or testing continued throughout the year on the following. Other projects languished.

Brief Border Wars Quad Volume II: Handed in the files for this to Compass Games in October 2021. The four battles are all pre-1945 titles: Second Balkan War 1913; Teschen 1919; Nomonhan 1939; and Italo-Greek War 1940. No idea when it will actually come out.

China’s War 1937-41: Development screeched to a halt when I lost my gaming space to renos in summer 2020. In the fall of 2021 I developed a 1938 scenario for the game. I recently heard from the GMT developer who also got sidetracked on things, and work will begin again in early 2022. We hope to finish testing and development by the end of summer. Over 1,500 pre-orders now.

O Canada: Now it can be told – this year I got a long way into making a power-politics, non-kinetic adaptation of the COIN system (something I always thought should be done). The situation I chose is a reboot of the old SPI game Canadian Civil War (1976). Four factions (Federalists, Provincial Moderates, Provincial Autonomists, Separatists) with asymmetrical force structures, menus of operations and special activities, and objectives; an Event Deck with jokes in it comprehensible only to Canadians; a Patronage Track that reflects the degeneration of political discourse and influence of foreign agencies; and conflict played out on two levels (one at province level where you have mostly Party structures and voting blocs but still need some Groups of influencers, and one at Issues level where Groups fight for control of intangibles). Quite a way down the road with this one, solo tests are good, work can continue when I have some more space to play the physical copy and maybe engage other people in it… but I strongly doubt anyone will want to publish this for like, money, so likely when I am satisfied with it I will put it out to free pasture, or a modestly priced PnP.

Conventions

Of course, nothing happened, at least nothing physical.

January: Pete Sizer and I spoke to the VCOW (Virtual Conference of Wargamers) on counterinsurgency games. I also spoke to the Cardboard Emperors Virtual Con II on the factions, mechanics and victory conditions of China’s War 1937-41. And a special episode of the No Enemies Here podcast by Dan Pancaldi, connected with the Armchair Dragoons virtual convention; some quite freewheeling conversation in that one.

November: had a nice chat with Harold Buchanan during his SDHistCon event, I would like to make it to the physical version in San Diego one day as I quite liked what I saw of the city that one time.

Conferences and professional wargaming stuff

No physical conferences, of course.

February: I talked to a group of officers at the US Army War College on “The Uses of Simple Games.”

April: As part of Connections-Online 2021, a virtual event with global reach, Mike Markowitz and I did a joint presentation on the practical matters within DIY game design. Mike talked about graphic design and talked about methods of self-publishing. Both were add-ons and developments of the talks we gave to the Georgetown University Wargaming Society in 2020. Also connected with this event, a very pleasant chat with Maurice Fitzpatrick et al on his Whiskey Charlie podcast about the Connections conferences of the past and future, and their enduring value. Shining Path was used with students at the Institute for World Politics (an independent graduate school that trains students for careers in national security and international affairs) in a class on “Counterterrorism and the Democracies“.

Writing and ‘casting

Nothing formally published, just the usual torrent of wise-guy stuff on blogs, sites and social media.

August: several posts on the end of the war in Afghanistan, that proved to be click-worthy (don’t know if they were read).

September: a great episode of Liz Davidson’s Beyond Solitaire podcast, with Volko Ruhnke. Not surprisingly, we mostly talked about A Distant Plain and the sensitivities of designing games on contemporary conflicts.

October: an episode of the History and Games Laboratory podcast, put on by Eduard Gafton at the University of Edinburgh. We talked about the origins of some of my game designs and how I got into game design, and focus on Brief Border Wars and the issues involved in designing games on sensitive and controversial topics (A Distant Plain got a look in, of course). I later wrote a blog post for them that was an abridged version of the chapter I wrote for the EuroWargames anthology about analog game design as a form of citizen journalism. (I handed the files for that in March 2021, and am still not sure when the book will appear – next year, perhaps.)

November: A great international panel on civilian victimization in wargames, as part of a probable series on “wargame ethics” hosted by Fred Serval (France). Other panelists were Javier Romero (Spain), John Poniske (USA) and Tomislav Cipcic (Croatia). I think we really got into it (the topic, not the practice itself). Also, I posted the popular piece “Quads That Never Were“: SPI Quadrigames that were proposed but never published.

Near-meaningless digest of site statistics:

Overall traffic seems to be stable and improved a bit over 2020. I seem to be cruising still at around 1,600 – 1,800 views per month, for a total of about 21,000 views. About 8,000 visitors in all. The five most curious countries were: US (by a very wide margin), UK, Canada, Australia and Japan. One guy clicked in from Bhutan.
Besides the then-current post, popular pages included the perennial favourites Free Games, BTR Games and Scenarios and Variants pages. No surprises there. The two most popular posts were my Afghan War post-mortem pieces “Endgame” and “Some more Afghan post-mortem”, likely due to my posting links to them on Facebook groups.
The most downloaded documents were four items for SPI game variants by Alan Arvold: three for Lost Battles and one for Search and Destroy, either the article itself by Alan or the counter sheets I made for them. The file of FAQ and clarifications/errata for the District Commander series was also popular.

A Playful Learning Exercise: Kashmir Crisis

KC_Cover mid

The International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance (GALA) is underway, and one of the papers being presented is on a digital port of my free game Kashmir Crisis.

It was written by Hans-Wolfgang Loidl, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, and his student Charlie Murray who created the digital version of the game. I contributed a couple of paragraphs (and the original game design, of course).

Abstract
This paper summarises the development and evaluation of a digital board game on the “Kashmir Crisis” in 2019. It is based on a card-driven board-game design of one of the authors, with the concept of “games as journalism” as one underlying design principle. As such, this is a serious game with the aim of providing information on the context of recent political events in Kashmir. In this paper we focus on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a multi-platform, digital instance of this game. The evaluation results of using the game show significantly increased engagement and slightly better learning effectiveness, compared to a control group using standard learning techniques.

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-92182-8_1

Because it’s Springer, you have to buy it I guess, in PDF for $29.95 or eBook for $54.99. Unless you are associated with an institution that has a subscription, in which case it’s free. In either case, the original game is free and I can answer any questions you have about the physical game, also for free.

Analog Print and Play version of the game is available here: Free Games!

Cite this paper as:
Murray C., Loidl HW., Train B. (2021) A Playful Learning Exercise: Kashmir Crisis. In: de Rosa F., Marfisi Schottman I., Baalsrud Hauge J., Bellotti F., Dondio P., Romero M. (eds) Games and Learning Alliance. GALA 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13134. Springer, Cham.

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-92182-8_1

A Distant Plain: 4th printing in the offing!

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GMT Games has recently announced a new P500 for a FOURTH printing of A Distant Plain!

This 4th printing is identical to the 3rd printing, and incorporates all known errata. 

You can get your copy at the P500 price of just $56.00 here: 

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-961-a-distant-plain-4th-printing.aspx

No telling how long it will take for enough orders to accumulate for them to pull the trigger, but I will say I am very pleased to see this. 

Hollandays Big Sale: buy buy buy!

It’s that time of year again!

Hollandspiele is having its big sale: for two weeks (November 15-28) you can get substantial savings on all of their titles. Everything is $5 off, and if your order total before shipping is at least $100, you’ll get an additional 10% off (deducted automatically at checkout, no codes needed)!

Order two or more complete games and you get a free copy of this year’s mini-card-game, Republic of Virtue (for two players, about surviving the Reign of Terror).

Europeans are reminded to order from Second Chance Games in the UK, Hollandspiele simply cannot make it work from their end without suspending laws of time, space and thermodynamics.  https://www.secondchancegames.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/manufacturer/hollandspiele/

My Hollandspiele titles:

  • No. 1 The Scheldt Campaign $45 => $40
  • No. 9 Ukrainian Crisis and Little War $45 => $40
  • No. 43 District Commander Maracas $50 => $45
  • No. 47 District Commander Binh Dinh $50 => $45
  • No. 54 District Commander Kandahar $50 => $45
  • No. 60 District Commander Zone Nord Oranais $50 => $45

Go there now!

https://hollandspiele.com/pages/hollandays-sale