Chile ’73: The Most Dangerous (War)game

 

c73 tbp cover

Tiny Battles sends out a short piece on their experience of playing Chile ’73 after I handed it in… one of their playtesters was felled by a heart attack during play! He recovered, though.

In an interesting aside, the design of the game’s cover is based on the layout of El Mercurio, Santiago’s main daily newspaper. I like little arty touches like that.

(Web version at link below)

https://gem.godaddy.com/p/add90c?fe=1&pact=38341-144918937-10719805120-f5de019cec6b1b6615b5feaefcd657b3d7d67b13

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Finnish Civil War Ludography

This year is the centennial of the Finnish Civil War. Not surprisingly, people are marking the event, pushing the number of games on the war from “almost none” to “some”. Here is a partial ludography, certainly a work-in-progress, that shows the games on the war that I know about, sorted by publication date:

image: Boardgamegeek.com, showing a copy in a display case in a museum in Tampere.

1918: Punaisten ja Valkoisten taistelu Suomesa 1918

The first board game on the War, this was apparently produced for the Christmas market, only seven months after the end of the war. It is a simple roll-and-move game with red and white pieces occupying different towns. Point-movement map, 14 wooden pieces, abstract scale.

BGG link

Katalog 1

2009: Finnish Civil War

I put my game Finnish Civil War up for free download at the end of 2009, making it the first “standard wargame” treatment of the conflict. It was available for free download until 2012 – I think maybe four people might have taken advantage of the offer – when I was offered a spot in Paper Wars magazine for the game, and was asked to take it down. I thought it was going to come out more promptly than it did, but it did come out at the beginning of 2017, with a very nice presentation and a few changes from the earlier version. 270 counters, hex map, company to brigade scale (two versions to play).

The Paper Wars version has a historical article in it by me on the War, but for some reason they printed only the first half of it – you can get the whole article at the link below.

BGG link

Finnish Civil War (Paper Wars #84) has arrived.

image: boardgamegeek.com

2010: Under The North Star

Designed by Dennis Bishop and published by White Dog Games. A rather standard look at the military aspect of the war. 160 counters, hex map, battalion to regiment scale.

BGG link

Enter a caption

2018: Veli Veljea Vastaan (Brother Against Brother)

Card-driven, point-movement game on the War by Antti Lehmusjarvi, published by Linden Lake Games via Kickstarter.  I did find a photo of a prototype of Antti’s game that was played at “Warcon 2013”, a game convention in Tampere. About 200 counters, 55 cards, point movement map, company-battalion scale.

BGG link

 

image: gmtgames.com

2018 (?): All Bridges Burning

This is a COIN system game designed by the brilliant VPJ “Vesa” Arponen, who remade the ‘bots for A Distant Plain and designed the ‘bot for Colonial Twilight. Man’s a genius and he has made the COIN system work for three players. Has done very well on P500. About 90 wooden pieces, 47 event cards, a card-driven (!) solo system of 36 cards, point movement map, scale abstract.

BGG link

image: boardgamegeek.com

2018: Helsinki 1918

Designed by Hannu Uusitalo, produced by U&P Games. This one is kind of interesting: a card-driven, hex map treatment of the battle for Helsinki in April 1918. As German forces approach the city, the Red defenders prepare to receive them but there is a secret group of White forces ready to rise in revolt within the city. Even more interesting, the game is for three players. BGG description:

The German player must execute an effective attack to defeat Reds and avoid too high casualties especially in the fights on the streets of the centre. The Red player focus to keep their morale high and recruit new fighting groups to the Red Guards while Whites player must wait the right timing to deploy hidden troops in the streets of Helsinki.

80 counters, 40 cards, hex map.

BGG link

image: Lenin Museum website

2018: Suomi 1918

Not really a wargame as such, I did find mention of this on the net, as being on offer at the gift shop of the Lenin Museum in Tampere. This is the only museum dedicated to Lenin outside the former Soviet Union: elsewhere on their site you can buy things like busts of Lenin, and fridge magnets of Urho Kekkonen and Leonid Brezhnev.

Thrilling new game Finland 1918 is a card game about the start of the Finnish state, the civil war and the events that led to it. The game describes the birth of the Finnish state and possible social models: what if history had been different?

Finnish-language cards, but English rules are available here:

http://www.suomi1918.fi/in-english/

And you can buy the game here:

http://tkm.fi/museokauppa/en/home/286-suomi-1918-peli.html

Article on the Lenin Museum from Atlas Obscura:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lenin-museum

 

Burden of Command

696df3e1d2d5e4cee08b9872a346292b

Nope, not quite…

I never made a practice of playing computer wargames much, and I don’t think I am about to start now.

But it seems to me that there are a few digital designers and developers out there who are thinking about what a game about war should be, and what it should mean to its players, quite deeply. This is an interesting article.

https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/j5v3kp/meet-the-developers-behind-a-wargame-about-people-not-weapons?utm_campaign=sharebutton

If You Can’t Talk About It, Point To It

Warsaw lawmakers pass Holocaust bill to restrict term ‘Polish death camps’

Poland’s president to sign Holocaust speech bill into law, defying critics

Canadian historian joins uproar in Israel over polish holocaust law

Card #30

ADP card 30

30. Urban Specialists

TGWC
TALIBAN CAPABILITIES

Ineffective: Taliban Terror in Kabul requires Activation of 2 Underground Guerrillas.
Effective: Taliban Terror in Kabul costs 0 Resources and does not Activate the Guerrilla.

Insurgents need to go where the people are, and a lot of them are in the main urban center of Kabul. The Taliban have been ingenious in using technically skilled fighters to collect intelligence, plan assassinations, and conduct spectacular high-visibility attacks on government buildings. (Moreau; Giustozzi p. 70)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/afghan-military-academy-attack-1.4508324

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/kabul-afghanistan-attack-aftermath-1.4498165

 

A Distant Plain, 5-10-15 Years On…

pic1733403_md

Recently on Consimworld someone suggested that I should do some kind of update kit for A Distant Plain, to cover the years since the end of the game’s scenarios in 2013 (coinciding with the NATO withdrawal from combat operations, and the physical release of the game in summer 2013).

People tell me it should be easy… you know, a couple of dozen new event cards and you’re done… right? Just like the people who thought there should be a simple 1979-89 conversion kit, for the Soviet-Afghan War (I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone why this one doesn’t fly).

Hmmm…but what particular events could there be after the  that could not be reflected in the cards we already have? I can’t think of any, because it’s been mostly a story of gradually declining Government control of the country matched with steady state or increasing strength of the two insurgent factions… even things that could still happen now, like peace talks, were reflected by a card in the existing deck.

Off the top of my head, a post-2013 version of ADP would effectively resemble a three-player game… the Coalition would have mostly withdrawn its troops and bases, leaving just some training units – and continuing to pay the bills for the Afghan army and police, the cost of which is double or triple the country’s current Gross Domestic Product. There are two COIN system games that are being worked on right now that feature three-player mechanisms, so that could be adapted possibly. More details are coming out on All Bridges Burning, Vesa Arponen’s very clever 3-faction game on the Finnish Civil War of 1918, which offers some mechanics worth thinking about.

http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=18759

Maybe the simplest thing to do would be to play a short game this way, as a three-player game of say 3 or 4 Propaganda Rounds, with an edited deck of event cards that have been prepared by removing cards that are specific to the Coalition, e.g. #1 1 ISR, #2 and #3 Predators and Reapers, #7 Find Fix Finish.. even then you would probably have to discuss the effect of some cards to reflect the mostly missing Coalition (although it’s not quite missing, a card like #9 Special Forces could still work because there are still substantial special operations troops there).  You’d have to review the deck carefully, but it could be done, I suppose. People are certainly welcome to try.

In the end though, I’m not sure what you would be proving, because the war has simply ground on in the last four or five years… no one seems closer to “winning”, in any sense of the word. Here is a recent article on the state of affairs in Afghanistan, and the tiny expensive/ laborious circles everyone is describing around each other.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2018-01-03/why-taliban-isnt-winning-afghanistan

 

Spielenexperiment II: turning 2 into 4

Katie Aidley with CT from twitterfeed

Katie Aidley with CT rulebook. (photo: Katie Aidley, Twitterfeed)

So, Colonial Twilight has been out for a few months now, some reviews have appeared (Armchair General , Space-Biff! , No Fun Allowed , The Players Aid , Katie’s Game Corner) and the comments on Boardgamegeek.com have been piling up , for whatever they might be worth.

They have been mostly very positive, but once in a while someone has said that a COIN system game with two factions does not have the depth, complexity, and interaction (which I think is euphemism for “backstabbery, bickering and scheming”) that a four-faction game does… like in A Distant Plain or Fire in the Lake.

I won’t deny that “2 < 4”, even for very large values of “2”. I’ve also done my best to explain why the “2”, when others thought it should be 3, 4, 5 or more. But I was thinking the other day: what if you had four people who wanted to play Colonial Twilight and there was only one copy? Or even less likely, you had a group of four who wanted to explore some of those divided aims, treacheries and further asymmetries within those two monolithic factions?

So here are my proposed rule changes to accommodate four people in a match of Colonial Twilight: preliminary, untested, result of solitary musings but mostly thought through (I think). Likely immediate results will be overall lengthening of game time and extensive bickering, followed by a longer-term resolution not to have anything to do with that Train fellow anymore….

VARIANT: FOUR-PLAYER COLONIAL TWILIGHT

(10 January 2018)

Concept

  • Each of the two factions is played by a team of two players (if you have three, subdivide Government). The players have different responsibilities (geographical and functional) within the team.
  • During each campaign, one of the two players in each faction will be the Leading player, determined at the beginning of each Propaganda Round by who is leading in terms of Victory Points (VP). These VP have different sources, depending on player and faction. The Leading player will make some, but not all, decisions for the team during the campaign.
  • The ultimate winner among the four players is the Leading player of the team that won the game, at the moment the game ends.

Definitions

  • The FLN is divided into Interior and Exterior players (that is, controlling the FLN forces inside and outside of Algeria, respectively).
  • The Government is divided into Intervention Force and Sector Force players (the first represents the professional and more kinetic-minded parts of the French Army and their political backers (both French and pied-noir); the second represents the conscript sector troops, police, civil administration and parts of the civilian government in Paris).

Setup

  • This variant can be played in the Medium and Short Scenarios only. Set up pieces and markers normally, but when building the Event Deck players should remove Event Cards #49 (Factional Plot) and #58 (Army in Waiting) from the Event Deck before play, as these cards would unfairly affect the Exterior player.
  • At the start of the Medium Scenario, the Interior and Intervention players are the Leading players for their teams. At the start of the Short Scenario, the Exterior and Sector players are the Leading players.

Actions during Campaigns

FLN:

  • The Leading player for the FLN faction will decide what option on the Initiative Track to take, and which Operation (and possibly Special Activity) will be executed  (this holds whether the faction is First or Second Eligible). Each player within the faction will carry out Operations and Special Activities as required, alternately and within the areas over which they have responsibility:
    • Internal: all spaces within Algeria
    • External: Morocco, Tunisia and the France Track
    • Leading player: Event Card, Pass
  • Players will select spaces for conduct of the Operation alternately, one at a time and Leading player’s choice who goes first (if the Leading player chose a Limited Operation, only one Operation is executed by one player in one space, but it does not have to be the Leading player). If a Special Activity is involved, both players must conduct that Special Activity at the time the Leading Player chooses (i.e. before, during or after the Operation).
  • (See below for a suggested option that adds some logistical concerns for the FLN.)

Example: The FLN is 1st Eligible. The Leading player for the faction is the Internal player. He decides to do an Operation + Special Activity: in this case, Rally + Extort. The Internal player begins by selecting Tizi Ouzu (-1 Resource), then the External player selects Morocco (-1 Resource), then the Internal player selects Mostaganem (-1 Resource), then the External player selects the France Track marker (-1 Resource). That’s 4 Resources expended so far and the stock is getting low, so the Internal player chooses to Extort at this time. She selects Tlemcen (+1 Resource), then the External player selects Tunisia (+1 Resource), then the Internal player selects Tizi Ouzu and Bordj Bou Arreridj (since there are no more spaces where the External player can Extort; +2 Resources). The Internal player finishes by selecting Tlemcen, where the FLN happens to have Control, to Agitate one level, for -1 Resource. Finally she places the FLN cylinder in the “Execute Op + Special Activity” space on the Initiative Track.

Government:

  • The Leading player for the Government faction will decide what option on the Initiative Track to take, and which Operation (and possibly Special Activity) will be executed  (this holds whether the faction is First or Second Eligible). The other player decides where and how the Operation (and possibly Special Activity) is executed, if it is their responsibility (it would be nice if the Leading player agreed, but it is not necessary). Responsibilities are as follows:
    • Intervention Forces: Sweep, Assault, Troop Lift
    • Sector Forces: Train, Garrison, Deploy, Neutralize
    • Leading Player: Event Card, Pass
  • If a Special Activity is involved, the responsible player must conduct that Special Activity at the time the Leading Player chooses (i.e. before, during or after the Operation).

Example: The Government is 1st Eligible. The Leading player for the faction is the Intervention Forces player. He thinks it’s time for some strategic movement of pieces around the country and decides to do an Operation + Special Activity: in this case, Garrison + Troop Lift. Because the Sector Forces player is responsible for the Garrison Operation she executes the Garrison, moving 5 Police cubes around, Activating 2 Guerrillas in Souk Ahras and expending 2 Resources (the Intervention Forces player would have preferred her to Activate a Guerrilla in Tlemcen, but too bad, she’s setting up for a Neutralize in Souk Ahras). The Intervention Forces player is responsible for Troop Lift and so redistributes French Troops among 3 spaces. He could have done the Troop Lift before or after the Garrison was executed.

Actions during Propaganda Rounds

  • Victory Phase: If Victory Check ends the game, the Leading player of the winning faction during the immediately preceding campaign is the ultimate winner.
  • Resources and Commitment Phase: The Leading player for the Government faction decides which French pieces will be moved between Available and Out of Play.
  • Support Phase: The Leading player for each faction decides which spaces will be Pacified or Agitated, and by how many levels. At the end of the Support Phase judge who will be the new Leading player for the following campaign. See below for how the players score Victory Points (VP); the new Leading player is the one with more VP. If the two players tie, there is no change in Leading player. If this is the final Propaganda Round, the ultimate winner is the one who would be the Leading player of the winning faction, if another campaign were about to be run.

FLN Victory Points:

  • Internal player:
    • + Total Oppose
    • +2 for each French cube in the Casualties Box
    • +3 for each Government Base in the Casualties Box
  • External player:
    • + Resource number from box on the France Track
    • + total number of Guerrillas and Bases in Morocco and Tunisia

Government Victory Points:

  • Intervention Forces player:
    • + the number of Guerrillas that were removed in Assaults this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign; the player gets credit for these “kills” even if Police were part of the Assaulting force (e.g. an Assault in a City or Border Sector, or if the Challe Plan card was in effect)
    • +2 for each Base that was removed in Assaults during this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign; player gets credit even if Police were involved, as above)
  • Sector Forces player:
    • + the number of Guerrillas that were removed in Neutralizes this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign)
    • +2 for each Base that was removed in Neutralizes during this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign)
    • + Total Support

Example: It is the Support Phase of the first Propaganda Round of the Short Scenario. During the campaign the Intervention Forces player has removed 8 Guerrillas and 1 Base in Assaults. His VP total is therefore (8+2 =) 10. The Sector Forces player has removed 4 Guerrillas and Total Support is 7. Her VP total is therefore (4+7 =) 11. The Sector Forces player will be the Leading player in the next campaign.

  • Redeployment Phase: The Intervention Forces player redeploys Troop cubes as desired and permitted. The Sector Forces player redeploys Police cubes as desired and permitted. The Internal player may redeploy Guerrillas within Wilayas with friendly Bases, but the External player may not move Guerrillas between Morocco and Tunisia.

Event Cards

The Leading player for each faction will be the one to select and execute the text on the Event Card. However, no player ever gets Victory Points as a result of executing any of this text (e.g. removing pieces): Victory Points are calculated only in the Support Phase.

Pivotal Event Cards

If any player has control over play of a Pivotal Event Card, and wishes and is able to play it (see 2.3.2: pre-conditions are met, and 1st Eligible has not yet chosen an option), that action pre-empts anything any other player was about to do.

FLN: the Internal player has control over the play of the OAS card, and is the only FLN player who can execute the OAS-related Capability the card confers.

Government: In both scenarios, the Intervention Forces player has control over the play of the Coup d’etat card (edit: see additional suggestion below). If the FLN has played the OAS card, the Intervention Forces player is the only Government player who can execute the OAS-related Capability the card confers. In the Medium Scenario, the Sector Forces player has control over the Recall de Gaulle card.

Conclusion

By reading through this simple variant, you can see the divisions within the different organizations. The FLN within and without Algeria had divided aims – the units within the country needed to win the people over to their side and continue resisting the French on the ground, while the FLN sitting in the sanctuaries of the Tunisian and Moroccan camps were concerned with preserving an army and government in waiting, to assume power quickly when the French finally left. Meanwhile, the different elements in the French Army, the pieds-noirs and the civilian government had rival methods in mind to deal with the insurgency.

But neither player can give themselves over completely to actions that will benefit only them; they must use all the methods and resources at their disposal in order to win the game.

Let me know if you try this!

Below is a link to the variant rules for you to print out, if you like. Edits and options have been incorporated.

4pct-160118

14 January 2018: After posting these rules, I had a thought, based on the suggestion of “Fred J”, a user on Boardgamegeek.com:

  • If the Intervention Forces player plays the Coup d’etat Pivotal Event and wins the die roll, they become the Leading Player for the rest of the campaign. If they lose, no change.
  • In the Propaganda Round, judge the VP and assign the Leading player for the next campaign normally (no change if the two are tied).

This way, the Intervention Forces player has the option during a campaign to “grab the steering wheel” and throw things his way (and maybe grab a bunch of Commitment and Resources too, as well as getting rid of De Gaulle if he was in play – which will make things less easy for the Sector Forces player).

Try this and let me know how it goes… I think I might add this rule to this ongoing experiment permanently. [ETA: has been added to document]

16 January 2018: Meanwhile, my only other concern for this is that the FLN Exterior player might not have much to do (in the game), so it’s a bit less fun for them. Therefore, this variant might make a better three-player game than a four-player – that is, with two Government players and one FLN player.

But adding a bit of extra complexity and historical detail might not go amiss, depending on the crowd. Historically, the Army of National Liberation (the military arm of the FLN) forces inside Algeria were very dependent on resources reaching them from the logistical depots in Morocco and Tunisia, from weapons to shoes and rations. The FLN members in the depots were constantly busy keeping the internal effort supplied as well as possible across the French border defences, but in the COIN system as in most wargames, logistics and supply does not cross over into exciting game mechanics. So try this optional addition:

  • At the end of each Reset Phase, just before the new campaign begins, the External player divides the FLN’s available Resources into two pools, “internal” and “external”. The number of external resources is equal to the lesser of either the number of FLN Resources currently available, or the sum of the Resource number from the current box on the France Track and the number of Bases in Morocco and Tunisia. These are assumed to be resources stockpiled in Morocco and Tunisia and are under the control of the External player. The remaining Resources, if any, are under the control of the Internal player.
  • Players may keep track of these two pools by any mutually agreeable method: scrap paper, two markers on the Edge Track, glass beads or other tokens, small coins, etc..
  • During campaigns, each FLN player must pay for the Operations they conduct from the pool of Resources under their control.
  • Any Resources added through the Extort Special Activity are added to the pool of Resources controlled by the player whose piece conducted the Extort. Your knife, your pie….
  • Any gains or losses in FLN Resources due to Event Cards (e.g. #15 Jean-Paul Sartre, or #25 Purge) are enjoyed or suffered by the External player. Exception: Resources lost by the use of the OAS Capability by either faction are taken from the Internal player’s pool.
  • The External player may transfer Resources from their pool to the Internal player’s pool (but not vice versa). In game terms, this is done under a March Operation, and it costs 1 Resource (to a “virtual” destination not depicted on the map). The External player may transfer as many Resources as desired, up to the total number in their pool, but each time the player does this, they must remove a number of Guerrillas equal to the current Border Zone Status number from their Guerrillas in Morocco and/or Tunisia and place them directly in Available. If they do not have sufficient Guerrillas to do this, they cannot transfer Resources.

Examples: 

  • At the beginning of the new campaign, there are 9 FLN Resources available. The Resource number in the current box in the France Track is +2 and there are 4 Bases in Morocco and Tunisia. Therefore, the campaign starts with (2+4 =) 6 Resources under control of the External player, and (9-6 =) 3 Resources under control of the Internal player.
  • Later during the campaign, the External player (reluctantly) decides to transfer Resources to the Internal player’s pool. The Border Zone Status number is 2. The player also happens to be the Leading player at the moment, so they choose a Limited Operation – March on the Initiative Track. The player “Marches” 5 Resources (all they have available) into the Internal player’s pool, spending an additional 1 Resource to do so, and removes 2 of their Guerrillas (in this case 1 from Morocco and 1 from Tunisia, but both could have come from one Country) to Available.

[ETA: this has been added to the document]