Scenarios and Variants

I really like writing additional scenarios and variants for other people’s games when I have the time and inspiration. I suspect many designers got their start in just this way. I also like to add bits and pieces to my own games after publication. So here are my many and varied tweaks and additions, sorted by game title.

Copyrights to the original game titles and materials remain with the original creators and/or holders. No challenge is intended. The variant material here is all free for the downloader’s personal, non-profit use (see CC licence and notice below). I’d appreciate if you would send me any comments you may have, provided they are constructive and/or adulatory… motivates me to make more of these. Right? (As always, I am not responsible if any of these files make your machine go **SPUNG**… though I don’t see how, they are all .docx or .pdf files.)

Arab-Israeli Wars (Avalon Hill, 1977)

Desert Leader and Steppe Leader: Two major variants that use the rules and mapboards from Avalon Hill’s Arab-Israeli Wars game.

  • Desert Leader covers the war in the North African desert 1940-43, and includes 14 scenarios. You will need copies of Arab-Israeli Wars, Panzer Leader, and the Panzer Leader 1940 variant kit to play. DstLdr
  • Steppe Leader covers battles on the Manchurian steppe, with seven scenarios ranging from 1938 to 1969.  You need copies of Arab-Israeli Wars and Panzerblitz to play.  StpLdr    Japanese translation available here: StpLdrNihongo
  • Graphics: file for the new units you will need to play both games, together on one countersheet. Others have created better quality files and I will too one day, when I have time.        DSTLDRCT  

Balkans 1941 (Strategy & Tactics #183, Decision Games, 1997)

  • Balkans 1943-45: The Invasions That Weren’t: A large variant for Balkans 1941. One of the great what-ifs of World War 2 in the Mediterranean theatre was the possibility of an Allied invasion of Greece and/or Yugoslavia after clearing the German and Italian armies from North Africa. Of course, my work on this topic grew into Balkan Gamble and Balkan Gambit, both published in 2015.
    • file of rules changes and additions: balkans4345
    • counters you will also need to make up 140 new counters from the following PDF files (one version in black-and-white to colour yourself, one in colour if you have a fancy printer).B41VARBW  B41VARCL
  • The Italo-Greek War: A scenario for Balkans 1941 for the 1940 curtain-raiser to the main campaign. Also published in MOVES magazine #90. ITALOGRK

Balkan Gambit (Strategy & Tactics #298, Decision Games, 2016)

  • A bonus item for an alt-hist game: an alt-alt-hist scenario that takes place in 1950 where forces of the USSR and Soviet-allied countries invade Yugoslavia to spank Tito’s deviationist bottom. Apparently actual plans were made to do this but were shelved when the Greek Civil War ended and the Korean War broke out, diverting everyone’s attention for a while… long enough until Stalin could shuffle off. This wasn’t meant to run in the magazine but I put it together anyway.
  • Balkan Gambit 1950 scenario

Berlin ’85: Enemy at the Gates (SPI, 1980)

  • Simple variant that adds step reduction results to better reflect the slower pace and higher destructiveness of intense urban combat. Berlin 85 variant

Canadian “Civil War” (SPI, 1977)

  • QWexit 2019 scenario: The Canadian general election of October 21, 2019, saw a resurgence of two political movements: the Bloc Quebecois, a party not strictly separatist but whose aspirations included a drastically altered relationship between Quebec and the federal government; and an informal, mostly unorganized “Wexit” movement for separatism in the Western provinces. This last is reinforced by the near complete dominance of representation by Conservative Party of Canada candidates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and the accession to power in recent years by right-wing provincial governments that have been quite vocal about the imbalance of power in the current federal-provincial relationship, at least where the Prairie provinces are concerned. My impression is that it is mostly talk; however, I have never let facts get in the way of a game problem that interested me enough, so the following is presented as a thought-experiment.
    • qwexit-4 nov  special rules for the scenario, Word
    • Cdn Civ War ctrs 2 nov updated counters, PDF
    • CCW var cards 30 oct updated cards, PDF
    • ccw spi ctrs, changes SPI conversion kit: if you happen to have a punched copy of Canadian Civil War, and don’t want to make up a whole new set of counters, this sheet gives you images for a small set of replacement counters and notes the changes to the Political Opportunity Cards. PDF

The China War (Strategy & Tactics #76, SPI, 1979)

  • The East in Shreds: A major revision of The China War, postulating a six-way civil war in the People’s Republic in the near future…. which at the time was about the year 2000. This was published in MOVES magazine #93 (1997) with full colour mount-your-own counters; here is the graphics file for the counters you need to make in case you don’t want to mutilate your copy. The rules also contain an important addition to section 9.0 concerning combat – the “Big Socialist Push” – that was somehow left out of the MOVES article.
  • The East in Shreds Redux: A revision of the revision, done in spring 2013 and using the best available OOB information on the PLA I could find.
    • eastshrds21
    • Coloured counters, for an updated Chinese Army. Note that the top seven rows of the first countersheet are for the front and back sides of the first-line Chinese divisions and foreign units (Taiwanese and American). eastshrdII ctrs

COIN system games (GMT Games 2013-??)

  • Two-player variant: In 2016 I had a thought, after the umpteenth time I explained how the 2-player Initiative Track works in Colonial Twilight: could any or all of the currently published 4-faction COIN system games be satisfactorily played with 2 players, using this mechanic? Not everyone likes the idea, but some do: find out for yourself here. 4into2 COIN

Colonial Twilight (GMT Games 2017)

  • Four-player variant: The reception of Colonial Twilight was generally quite positive, but once in a while someone would say 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”) among putative allies 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 what if you had four people who wanted to play Colonial Twilight and there was only one copy? (Hah.) 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: not particularly tested, and likely to be more fun when played by people interested in the spirit of the variant and not in gaming its textual omissions.  4pct-160118
  • French-language rules: Some time ago a player, Sebastien Vassort, sent me his personal translation of the rules to Colonial Twilight into French. Colonial Twilight Règles FR V.0.1
  • French-language Event Card texts: And another player, Vincent Tulasne, sent me his translated texts for the Event Cards. Traduction-cartes-V1

Fallujah 2004: City Fighting in Iraq (Modern War #23, Decision Games 2015)

  • On 23 May 2016, after a three-month siege of Fallujah, the Iraqi Government launched Operation “Breaking Terrorism”, an effort by the Iraqi Army’s 1st Division and associated Shiite militia forces to take the city back from Islamic State forces. I posted this scenario within two days of the beginning of the operation, to allow people to try and play this battle out as it unfolded in real time over the next few days or weeks. Another attempt of mine to commit “game journalism”, as I tried with Ukrainian Crisis. I don’t know if anyone took up the challenge; if they did, they never told me about it.
  • OPERATION Breaking Terrorism
  • link to post with details of how the battle unfolded: Operation “Breaking Terrorism”: the Third Battle for Fallujah

Minuteman: The Second American Revolution (SPI, 1976)

  • La Raza: A scenario covering a Mexico-based invasion. Written 1987 or so, one of my first variant exercises. Confirms that writing scenarios and variants is the top of the slippery slope downward to the ink-stained wretch that is the wargame designer.
  • laraza

Operation Whirlwind (MDG 2002, Fiery Dragon 2007, One Small Step 2015)

  • A scenario for Operation Whirlwind with some simple rule changes to reflect the historical and operational limitations placed on both sides. OK to use for any of the game’s editions. This will likely give a greater challenge to both sides.
  • opwwhistorical

Soldiers: Decision in the Trenches (Strategy & Tactics #280, Decision Games, 2013)

  • Soldiers: Decision in the Trenches 1918 is a fairly simple and easy to play game on an American infantry division going “over the top” against a German defensive position manned by a reinforced infantry regiment. I made up some new counters, and some added rules: American command control limitations, German hidden units, artillery bombardment patterns and drift. All quite simple, all very optional, use or not use as you wish.
  • Soldier 1918 notes
  • Soldiers 1918 new ctrs colour

Somalia: Interventions (Schutze Games, 1999)

  • Operation Sword o’ Dubya!: A variant for my Somalia: Interventions game postulating a quick American strike into that unhappy land later in 2002, looking to uproot Al-Qaeda elements there. At the end of 2001, it really looked as if Somalia was next on the list, though investigations have not supported the rumours, which looked good at the time. Anyway, try it out if you happen to have the early Schutze Games version of the game; it is included in the boxed edition by Blue Panther.
  • swordoW

Stalin’s Tanks (Metagaming, 1980)

A host of additions and revisions, not to mention three new scenarios, to this 1980 Metagaming micro-game on tactical Eastern Front combat. The first two parts were published in Vindicator magazine, long ago and far away.

  • Stalin’s Tanks Plus One: This article introduces rules for aircraft, some new units, and lists three new scenarios. STanks
  • Stalin’s Tanks Plus Two: This article introduces a points value system and suggestions for Design-Your-Own scenarios, as well as rules for morale and command control. Stalins2
  • Stalin’s Yanks: Yet more rules and notes for Lend-Lease vehicles on the Estern Front, as well as some wee Soviet tankettes and light vehicles. STLNYNKS
  • Graphics: Here is the graphics file for the counters you’ll need to make up, for all three variants. Print out and mount on cardboard. Stalinstksvctrs

Strike for Berlin (Flying Pig, 2018)

  • An even-more-alt-hist scenario for this alternate-history game: confused fighting in western Poland between German regular and paramilitary Freikorps units and Polish insurgents and portions of the Polish National Army at the end of 1918 was ended by a ceasefire imposed by the Entente in mid-February 1919. The German army commanders in the east planned to buck the ceasefire and fight again for Greater Poland, while the Polish main effort was diverted to the east in Galicia. In history the German government was still too unstable and wavered in its commitment so nothing came of the plan, but what if it had…? This scenario uses the rules, counters and map for Strike for Berlin. The directions for this scenario are written as additions, changes or deletions to the original rules.
  • Ostplan scen

Test of Arms (Game Designers Workshop, 1985)

  • Additions and revisions to Test of Arms, an entry in the First Battle series I liked a lot.

War Plan Crimson (MDG 2001, Fiery Dragon 2006 – 2007, Tiny Battle 2016)

  • Faithful Readuhs will recall (or they can refer to my ludography) that I have designed four games in a family of games I call the “Between the Wars” system. In chronological order of design they are Freikorps (1998), War Plan Crimson (2000), Konarmiya (2007) and Finnish Civil War (2009). Finnish Civil War, as the last one to be designed, was the first to use the three-Operations-Segment, interleaved sequence of play when it was published by Compass Games in Paper Wars magazine in 2016. Two of the other games also got these mechanical overhauls (as well as new maps, new orders of battle, and new variant rules and cleanups): Konarmiya became Red Horde 1920, and Freikorps became Strike for Berlin.
  • That leaves War Plan Crimson as the only one of the family left using the old mechanics and sequence of play. There was nothing I wanted to change in the game’s content, just its mechanics, so I rewrote the rules to update the game for the new system. You can use these, or not; playing with the new system will probably give you a more chaotic experience, which is fun for many, but not all (I know some of you out there probably wince even at the idea of random events). You will have to make two sets of three Operations Chits each using blank markers, poker chips or something like that. That’s about all the physical conversion required.
  • Warplancrimson mkII rules
  • warplancrimson-mkii-chartspdf

When Tigers Fight (Command #26, XTR, 1994)

  • Macarthur’s Other Gambit: A scenario using the map, rules and counters to When Tigers Fight, on a Nationalist Chinese invasion of the mainland in 1951. Was also published in MOVES magazine #91.


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