Podcast: Harold on Games meets Brian Train

buchanan intvw

Being interviewed at CSWExpo for Harold Buchanan’s podcast “Harold on Games”. Photo: Harold Buchanan.

Sorry, I would have posted this a bit earlier but my last few days in Britain did not have reliable Internet.

While I was at the Consimworld Expo in June, Harold Buchanan interviewed me for his podcast “Harold on Games”. He let me ramble on for nearly two hours; I didn’t envy him the task of editing it down.

Go and have a listen!

https://soundcloud.com/harold-buchanan/harold-on-games-podcast-12-with-brian-train

(Normally I can’t take a good digital photo either: it’s as if some kind of Photoshop macro automatically engages, a macro with a name like “Moronify” or “30% Drunk”. However, Harold seems to have found a filter that prevented that this time.)

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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

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

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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

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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…

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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