History and Games Lab blogpost: Analog Newsgames as Citizen Journalism

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https://historyandgames.shca.ed.ac.uk/analog-newsgames/

As a follow-up to our very pleasant interview a couple of weeks ago, I put together a post for the History and Games Lab blog about analog games as a form of citizen journalism.

It’s a cut-down version of the piece I have written on the same subject for the EuroWargames anthology (no news lately on when that is coming out) so perhaps nothing new for many of you; if not, then have a look.

Alan Paull: professional differences

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https://www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk/single-post/amateurs-talk-strategy-professionals-talk-game-design

Over at his blog for Surprised Stare Games, the very clever Alan Paull writes on the differences between professional and recreational wargame design processes.

Perhaps not a revelation for some readers, but a good description of his own design and development process as a recreational wargame designer (but frequent attendee at Connections-UK).

Wargames and experiential learning

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Every so often you encounter an article or blog post that ties a lot of things together, and expresses for you things you have thought about – only in a much more coherent way. Today I found one of these by Roger Mason, in a blog he keeps for LECMgt, his consulting company.

https://www.lecmgt.com/blog/commercial-wargames-and-experiential-learning/

In the post, he talks about the value of civilian/commercial wargames (and their designers): how they teach lessons, how they teach adults, and what they have to offer the professional wargaming world and the learners it serves. Nothing that new, on the surface – we know how commercial off the shelf (COTS) games are sometimes mined for ideas by the professionals – but Roger ties it in with principles of andragogy (how adults learn, as opposed to children) particularly the theory of experiential learning as shown by the Kolb cycle, and shows the layers of learning that player-learners can extract from playing (experiencing) games: from concepts to context to application of learning.

A certain part of my day job involves knowing about work-integrated learning (a form of experiential learning) and encouraging it in post-secondary educational institutions… so I have been familiar with these concepts for a long time, and the value of games in assisting learning (games generally, and wargames specifically). But Roger has put it so much better than I would ever have been able to write it… so go read it!

(Also, Roger talks about the work of John Clerk, a British civilian who was interested in naval tactics and studied their history and development, and worked out a few ideas of his own using maps and miniatures. He published them in 1782, as one of the first examples of operational research in the Western world, a Royal Navy Board of Inquiry concluded they had merit, and that was part of the story of why and how Nelson “crossed the T” at Trafalgar! This was a new one to me…)

[Edited to add:]

Just a few days later, here is another excellent post on wargaming and Professional Military Education (PME) by RAAF Group Captain Jo Brick writing in The Forge, an online portal of the Australian Defence College (where she is currently Chief of Staff):

https://theforge.defence.gov.au/wargaming/gaming-and-professional-military-education

The Forge has a whole series of excellent articles on the uses of wargaming of which this is only the latest example. See them all at:

https://theforge.defence.gov.au/wargaming

Space-Biff! on Guerrilla Checkers

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Playing Guerrilla Checkers with Michel Boucher, long ago.

https://spacebiff.com/2019/07/19/guerrilla-checkers/

The very clever Daniel Thurot at his blog Space-Biff! has posted a very nice set of thoughts on his plays of Guerrilla Checkers.

He thinks it’s a clever and very pointed game, and I cannot but agree.

Thank you Daniel!

This piece is the second in a series of “political abstract” games he is writing; I look forward to further instalments.

Designing for Difficult Subjects

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An excellent post by Chris Bennett of the Game Design Thinking Research Group at Stanford University.

Main subject is depictions of slavery in tabletop games but moves on to the broader subject of the player’s offhand engagement with experience of violence, trauma and immersion in subject.

Go have a read!

Games cited:

  • Freedom: the Underground Railroad
  • Puerto Rico
  • This Guilty Land
  • Labyrinth
  • Washington’s War
  • The Grizzled

https://gdt.stanford.edu/designing-for-difficult-subjects

The Putsch and the Bomb

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Over at the Rockymountainnavy blog, the writer (I’ve been reading his blog for a long while but still don’t know his name) posts that he has acquired a copy of Colonial Twilight, and is looking forward to playing it! I’m glad to hear that, he has enjoyed other designs of mine he has played in the past.

In his post he also draws attention to a research paper he found detailing an incident that took place during the April 1961 putsch against de Gaulle: a nuclear device prepared for testing at the Reggane site (wayyy off to the south of the game map) was detonated during the events of the coup. The author explores the various interpretations of why and how the test took place, and whether there was any question of the rebellious generals being able to seize the device and use it (symbolically or in reality) against the government. The answer in this case is either “no” or “maybe, but so what”, but it does provide an interesting base for other questions about the role of nuclear weapons in contentious situations between a nation’s military and civilian powers.

https://rockymountainnavy.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/wargame-for-train-coups-nukes-colonial-twilight-the-french-algerian-war-1954-62-gmtgames-2017/

Of course, nothing like this is reflected in the game, except for the Coup d’etat card (#66) and a reference to the nuclear Force de Frappe in the NATO card (#16) – which was another piece in the complicated game de Gaulle was playing to impress his vision of France on its armed forces.

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RMN also mentions the upcoming release of District Commander Maracas by Hollandspiele – they have announced that it and the Binh Dinh module will be released in 2019, followed by the Algeria and Afghanistan modules in 2020.

Tactical Practical plays Colonial Twilight

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Over at his Tactical Practical blog, Chris Davis starts in on a play of Colonial Twilight where he consciously applies the principle of “clear, hold and build” which was introduced in French counterinsurgency doctrine at the time of the Algerian War and found further expression in American doctrine for Iraq and Afghanistan, as in Field Manual 3-24.

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/revolt-of-the-wretched-reflections-of-colonial-twilight-part-1/

I did write on this a bit in the Designer’s Notes to the game. We’ll see how he does, and I will post links to his further posts here.

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/revolt-of-the-wretched-propaganda-round-1/

First Propaganda Round, of the full scenario. Early play of the Casbah card let the FLN seize Algiers for a moment, but he got some traction in the countryside by building up Support and will soon move on the FLN stronghold in Tizi Ouzu.

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/revolt-of-the-wretched-propaganda-round-2/

Second Propaganda Round. The FLN fights for the cities and builds up strength quickly, but a timely play of Mobilization allows the Government to engage the guerrillas and knock them back down. They’re on the offensive now, but how long can they keep it up?

https://americanprideweb.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/revolt-of-the-wretched-propaganda-round-3

Third Propaganda Round: Government Victory declared, so game over, man. The French Army pursues the remnants of the FLN while securing its rear area with police and auxiliary forces. Have a look at the map at the link: he has used the Government Bases to full effect, providing more Resources to the military; kept the France Track down to a dull roar; and grouped his Troops effectively. He also eliminated enough Guerrillas in Rounds 2 and 3 to attrit the FLN significantly.

Well done!

The Player’s Aid: Best 3 Games with… Designer Brian Train!

 

Oh my. I really did not expect this.

Grant Kleinheinz has written a really nice post about three of my designs he’s had the most fun with:

  • Winter Thunder
  • Binh Dinh ’69
  • Colonial Twilight

I’m touched by this, and happy that he’s enjoyed my work enough to write such nice things about it. Thank you Grant!

Go have a look….

https://theplayersaid.com/2018/01/05/best-3-games-with-designer-brian-train/

WargameHQ: Why Model Insurgencies?

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C3i banner by Rodger MacGowan

Over at the WargameHQ blog, the editor (I cannot find his name, there or on Boardgamegeek) posts a short piece about modern insurgencies, counterinsurgency theory (namely Trinquier, and a good reading of Kilcullen’s The Accidental Guerrilla) and the COIN system games that model them.

https://wargamehq.com/why-model-insurgencies/

Walking the Distant Plain: InsideGMT blog

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Over at the InsideGMT blog, Chris Davis gives his impressions of A Distant Plain and how it captures the atmosphere of what he actually experienced during his service in Afghanistan:

http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=18097