Two Interviews: The British Way, La Jeu de la Guerre


Daniel Iniesta interviewed Stephen Rangazas, whose 4-pack of cut-down GMT COIN system games is forthcoming from GMT.

The British Way picks up on four postwar British entanglements: Malaya, Palestine, Kenya and Cyprus. He says:

The main changes to the core COIN mechanics for The British Way was altering the way two player COIN works. I streamlined the two-player sequence of play designed by Brian Train in Colonial Twilight and changed victory to work off an overall Political Will Track to reflect that these were really head-to-head challenges between the British and insurgents. There are also significant variations to the core COIN mechanics with the two more clandestine cell-based insurgencies in Cyprus and Palestine. Finally, I think the multipack really benefited from the linked campaign scenario and designing a macro game that covers four smaller COIN games required innovating from what had been done before in the series.

It’s kind of interesting to me that my “4-box” family of games that partly inspired Volko Ruhnke’s design for the COIN system (Algeria particularly) also depended heavily on an overall Political Will or Support Track that reflected each side’s cohesion and popular support (I suppose more accurately government support for the British, since these were decolonization campaigns) in a non-zero-sum way. So kind of a return to base, in its way.

The games are limited in size and component count – not more than 18 cards played in a game, so it’s done in 1-2 hours.

I’m looking forward to this package very much!


The very clever Fred Serval has an interview with Alex Galloway about Guy Debord’s La Jeu de la Guerra for his podcast Homo Ludens. History about Debord and his game, and talk about Galloway’s work on a digital version of the game (still in process). Also, a neat clip from the Situationist detourned film, “Can Dialectics Break Bricks?”

Indigenous counterpoints to colonial themes in board games

Not ‘just a game’: World of board games faces reckoning for colonial themes

A news story in Canadian Indigenous media about a teacher up-Island from me who created a board game about the Truth part of Truth and Reconciliation.

The article mentions Spirit Island, something I would like to try but can’t arrange a trade for on BGG, and also gives a shout-out to the Zenobia Awards which is nice. It mentions Settlers of Catan as an example of an objectionable board game. I add that Greg Loring-Albright (co-designer of Bloc by Bloc: Uprising 3rd Edition, which I am awaiting eagerly) created a variant of the game, First Nations of Catan, that adds an Indigenous player since the mythical island is not and never was terra nullius.

(nice-looking printable version is here: )

Meanwhile, the Playing Oppression anthology that was being worked on at MIT Gamelab (Mary Flanagan et al) seems to have ground to a halt about 2019/20, though Mary Flanagan is still designing games.

Do you want to know more?

A very interesting recruiting video (sort of) produced by the US Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group, describing the uses and practices of psychological warfare.

To subdue an enemy without firing a shot, is the mark of a true warrior.”

Sun Tzu

My Dinner with Werner

Nothing to do with wargaming, history, or even design… well, maybe creativity.

But I like Werner Herzog, and I like chicken (more than he does).

A funny short film with musing, yelling, door-banging and birds talking via the miracle of champagne.

And if you can’t make it out, dine at home with selections from the Herzog line of canned foods.


COIN System games: tips on teaching

Over at The Players Aid, Grant Kleinheinz presents a very good short piece full of tips on how to introduce and teach a COIN system game to a group of people who may or may not be familiar with this type of game, or even with wargames at all.

VDV Song, updated

Oh, this is just brilliant!

China’s War: entrevista con El Wargamero Novato


Recently Josue Garcia Vazquez interviewed me for his blog El Wargamero Novato about China’s War 1937-41. I answered in English, he posted it in Spanish, so hit the Translate button for an approximation of an approximation of what I said.

Not a lot of new information for anyone who’s kept up with other interviews and my current life events, mostly the addition of a 1938 scenario. He also asked me about my other current projects… Brief Border Wars Volume II, O Canada, and Strongman.

Preorders are now up to 1,524.

Will this one be my “jump-the-shark” moment?

Or the next one?

Or was it years ago and I’m still running out into midair like a Warner Bros. cartoon character?

Logistical listicle @ RMN and ACD

Battle Lab ~ Defining “Logistics” for Wargames

At Armchair Dragoons today, Brant Guillory posts about logistics could be shown in wargames but aren’t (but don’t always have to be). I cannot improve on what he has to say here! Freebird!

And earlier, over at the Rocky Mountain Navy blog, a good piece on logistics treatment and examples of supply rules in modern-period wargames… the handwavy, the ambitious-but-fundamentally-spineless, and the just-don’t-go-there. Also, would the famous 40 km long traffic jam north of Kyiv happen in a civilian wargame? Answer: no it wouldn’t, because trucks are magic and unit commanders are smart and disciplined. Offhand, the only wargame I can recall that dealt seriously with the amount of road space a unit on the march took up was SPI’s East Front game Lost Battles, from 1971; also, some Bulge games have rules about traffic jams and occasionally someone insists you cannot just drive one division through another division.

Go and have a look at it, it also cites the logistical articles I had pointed out in previous posts that described the supply problems the Russians would run into if they invaded (however, I presented these as arguments against them doing an invasion, but that’s now moot).

But more to the point he illustrated the article with this map which is far more descriptive than the scary massive red and stripey zones and plunging arrows we see on TV and other media. It points out the nature of the mostly empty modern battlefield, the “line and dot” nature of an advance into enemy territory and an evocation of the long logistical tail the advance needs for its sustenance.

Actually, most military campaign maps from almost any period should be drawn like this; they should look like duelling plates of spaghetti.


Urban warfare: 40ID’s new webpage


The US 40th Infantry Division (headquartered in California but responsible for National Guard units from Nebraska to Guam) is becoming the centre for development of training and doctrine in urban operations. Last summer they ran the first serial of the Urban Warfare Planners course (More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course) and will do it again in July 2022.

This new webpage is a great resource for manuals, case studies, links to other resources, and yes even a page for civilian market wargames on urban combat (District Commander: Maracas gets a look in, and there’s more to come).

Check it out!

How this ends


Mastering my perhaps wiser urge to shut up about recent developments lest I be singed again, I present this link:

This rather agrees with my current thinking about how this war in Ukraine will stabilize (it will not exactly end).

At this day, at this hour, I think about at least two possibilities:

(1) Russia wins the conventional phase of the war and remains in occupation of the productive, more Russian part of Ukraine: Kyiv and everything east of the Dnipro, maybe more. There will be an extended insurgency that will see escalation on all points: weapons and perhaps advisors flowing in, conscripts flaking out, atrocities against civilians of all types by all agencies, and general misery and bloodshed and wasted efforts. The escalation will not likely reach any kind of decisive conclusion, at least in the short term and Ukraine, free and captive parts alike, remains a perpetual and depopulating economic basket case with no hope of improvement and a frozen conflict.

(2) Russia wins the conventional phase of the war and forces a capitulation from whoever succeeds Zelensky (a brave man but he will always have a price on his head). Ukraine is at least partly occupied or dismembered (Donetsk and Luhansk and Crimea but really those parts left Ukraine 7 years ago) and is forced into neutrality but there is little appetite to invade or conquer the country again – “Finlandization”, a word I learned in Poli Sci courses at university but we don’t use that word much anymore for some reason. There is a chance for Ukraine to stabilize and develop, though its politics will always be under intense scrutiny and meddling… just like 2013-14 but with different oligarchs. The gas flows. Some wallets are stuffed. Though the United States looks bad for not holding the moral high ground, we are not talking about nuclear exchanges now.

How likely is the second path? Diplomacy in the US is in a bad way, and has been for at least a generation, maybe two. Even when its talent and experience weren’t being actively gutted it was not doing its job. I doubt it will ever be rebuilt to anything that works, and this is a terrible time to have effectively no options that don’t look or act like spiked clubs.

I still don’t know, and it has only been a week; Poland took six weeks in 1939.

But in all likely cases, the future of the conflict is ugly, prolonged, miserable and not what anyone particularly wanted.

I’d love to be proven wrong on any of that.