Colonial Twilight playbook, final version.

ColTwilightCover(edit)RBM

 

Okay, about the last, last thing to do for Colonial Twilight, is to post the Playbook for the design.

24 pages of tutorial, mucho documentation and examples on the ‘bot, Designer’s Notes galore, text and background for every Event Card, selected bibliography (including a list of fiction and films you might like for atmosphere), and a pronunciation guide for place names (thanks to big guy and polymath Barry Setser for that!).

Okay. That’s really about all there is. I think I have now written more words about the game, than there are in the game. Every major component has been revealed, or described in great detail.

It remains now only for you to get your copy, and play it. Enjoy.

ColTwi-PLAYBOOK-2

Colonial Twilight is 1500, and charging!

P500 site 18 june

Snipped from the GMT P500 page on their website.

Won’t be long now, chums….

Wowsers! Look what came in the mail today!

coltwibox2

One of the very first copies of Colonial Twilight! GMT sent me an advance copy, just in time for Consimworld Expo. The rest of you will have to wait a few more weeks, please be patient…

Not going to do an unboxing video, but I am very very pleased with the quality of the components. And nothing has been changed on me without my knowledge or consent.

VERY happy! Can’t you see?

Just a few more days to get your P500 order in – pay only $52 now instead of $75 after! 1,448 other chums can’t be wrong! You don’t want to be wrong, do you? Preorder at the link below:

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-548-colonial-twilight-the-french-algerian-war-1954-62.aspx

Back to USAWC

  • May 16, 2017, 4:30 pm – Strategic Art Film: The Battle of Algiers, moderated by Brian Train.  US Army War College, Root Hall, Wil Washcoe Auditorium. For more information, call Army Heritage and Education Center at 717-245-3828.

In about two weeks I will be returning to the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a repeat performance of last year’s event: I will be moderating a screening of the Pontecorvo film The Battle of Algiers and then we will have some guided play of Colonial Twilight.

Algiers and Algeria at AWC

The difference is this time Colonial Twilight will be in its final, approved form! Apparently it is still on track to appear in June 2017, just a bit too late for the Consimworld Expo in Tempe, Arizona (at the end of May, this year) but about three years since GMT first approached me about doing the game.

After this I am going to Ottawa for a couple of days, where I will be at the Cangames convention on the weekend. It’s their 40th annual convention! Maybe I’ll see some of you there. I’ll be running a couple of games of Colonial Twilight there as well, and maybe some other goodies.

http://www.cangames.ca/

Interview at The Player’s Aid: Gandhi

Bruce Mansfield is in the process of developing Gandhi, a new COIN system game that covers the exit of Britain from India, 1917-47. This is his first “large game” and takes the system in a new but for me inevitable direction: the incorporation of nonviolence into a violent situation. I say inevitable because I have always felt that the COIN system would do well in any number of power-politics situations; it doesn’t always have to be about an actual war.

The game made its P500 point extremely quickly, in just over 24 hours, and I am one of the people on the preorder list. The game will probably be out next summer if all goes well and I’m very interested to see what develops.

Anyway, the interview, per Grant Kleinheinz’s usual style, is extensive and detailed and will tell you all you want to know about the game in its present state:

https://theplayersaid.com/2017/05/01/interview-with-bruce-mansfield-designer-of-gandhi-the-decolonization-of-british-india-1917-1947-by-gmt-games/

Now It Can Be Seen: Box art for Colonial Twilight

Rodger MacGowan has finished the box art for Colonial Twilight!

And boy it looks good. The collage-of-images is a staple for many wargame covers, but it’s particularly interesting how Rodger has arranged these and used colours to imitate and fuse the structures of both the French and Algerian flags. And the green-and-black scheme really makes it pop.

I’m very pleased with this, another great cover by Rodger!

And now, this is the very last thing there is for me to look at and approve… so that’s it.

I think we’re done here, after more than two and a half years.

*sigh*

Look for this to appear in June or July!

Namechecked on VICE Waypoint and Killscreen!

ZOC book cover

https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-gitmo-games

Over at Waypoint (the section of VICE magazine that deals with gaming and gamer culture), Muira McCammon, an academic who writes on Guantanamo Bay quotes from the essay on irregular warfare games I wrote with Volko Ruhnke for the Zones of Control anthology . She also references A Distant Plain and Labyrinth.

So, what sort of game system might be able to model the complexity of GiTMO, to give voice to the challenges that detainees, journalists, lawyers, and guards have faced in the detention facility’s history?

My answer: the wargame.

Wargames are a great way to parse asymmetrical conflict in a political system, and in many ways, GiTMO can be understood as a series of power struggles. A wargame has the potential to model the tensions between journalists, detainees, lawyers, and members of the U.S. military. It could give us an outlet to reflect on serious episodes in GiTMO’s history, like that time when Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon accused journalist Carol Rosenberg of “multiple incidents of abusive and degrading comments of an explicitly sexual nature.” It could help us examine the history of coalition building in GiTMO, like when detainees held an election to select two leaders, one who was revealed to the Americans and one who worked in the shadows.

….

What Ruhnke and Train speak to is a problem that extends beyond wargames. A lot of us with differing ideological, religious, ethnic, and other backgrounds are uncomfortable with the idea of people “playing” games about serious things like war crimes and human rights violations.   Anyone trying to make a wargame out of GiTMO would have to simplify the place, and that carries a number of inherent risks. Another problem: GiTMO is still a morphing, changing place with an uncertain future.

I can think of a few ways to do this, actually, but that will have to wait while I work on other projects. I suspect that Camp Delta will be there for a while yet.

13emeStra11Jan2014-1

Banner: Rodger MacGowan.

And a few weeks ago on a website called Killscreen, she also wrote about A Distant Plain and what did and didn’t go into the Events Deck for that game.

https://killscreen.com/articles/ghost-churchill-make-wargame/

Event cards helped me become comfortable with wargame design. The first deck I really loved and explored belonged to A Distant Plain (2013), a wargame about contemporary Afghanistan. I considered how my Afghan friends would critique the narrative put forth in the deck and the board. What would they think of this attempt to boil a segment of their nation’s history down? Omission, deletion, marginalization, and exclusion—these are issues that always bubbled up in my mind as I shuffled through the deck.

I had mentored a group of Afghan women writers, many of whom were based in Kabul, and I always wondered, if they had been taught wargame design, how might their deck have differed? Instead of having a card devoted to “Koran Burning,” would they have given a card to mark the murder of Farkhunda Malikzada, an Afghan woman falsely accused of burning a Qur’an? As wargame designers Volko Ruhnke and Brian Train crafted their A Distant Plain (2013), which cards had been edited out?

She does have a point and I did attempt to answer her in the comments, but I don’t know if she saw it.

A deck of 72 event cards presents only 72 different chances to alter the game as it is played, even though the number of combinations is astronomical (72 factorial, or 6.123446 to the 103rd power). As I’ve said before, a wargame is a created object, a distillation of first and second hand experience and therefore cannot be a neutral one, any more than there can be a neutral novel. Deliberately or not, there of course will be deletions, omissions, exclusions and abstractions – that’s endemic to the process of recording history itself, let alone abstracting from that history to make a model in the form of a game. The designer, through the processes of research, conceptualizing, testing and production of a game, must make a series of choices of what to include in their design, what to leave out, and how to model what’s been judged relevant enough and left in.

Volko and I were aware of this of course, and took a few online kicks in the ribs for even trying to design a game on a war that was still underway. We felt that most importantly, a designer should be prepared to “show their work” and stand behind what they have done. Therefore we tried to select events that one were based on one or more actual historical events, tactics, or tendencies that materially affected the conflict; in a couple of cases things that could have affected it and were possible but didn’t happen (e.g. a coup d’etat in the Afghan Government). In all cases we had descriptions of what is represented by that card in history in the game’s playbook, with a reference to one or more items in the game’s bibliography.

Jeremy Antley, whom McCammon also references, wrote an interesting post on this aspect in his blog concerning the “My Lai” event card in Fire in the Lake. (Unfortunately, his domain name has expired so I can’t link to it right now – it was at http://www.peasantmuse.com/. Jeremy, pay the Internet Gods!)

And in the final analysis, A Distant Plain is a manual wargame. It’s entirely possible for Muira McCammon, or anyone else, to introduce, edit or replace the cards in the game, for greater or lesser (but certainly different) effect. As Mary Flanagan points out in Critical Play, that’s just the beginning of what you can do!