Team play of COIN system games

O’er the hills and far away….

The estimable Brant Guillory of Armchair Dragoons and other manifestations has published a guide to the team play of GMT COIN system games that he and his group have put on at Origins!

It’s brilliant, go check it out.

The hidden intelligence part is reflected in having teams of two players for each faction – one diplomatic and one military – but the diplomatic player cannot see the map and the military player cannot see the card, nor are they privy to the negotiations the diplomat has hammered out with the other players. This makes this method very good for games where there is a lot of argle-bargle, and Brant usually does this method with A Distant Plain (an even better wrinkle with this one is that the Warlords faction is played by two, but they take both roles, on alternate turns!).

Very clever, indeed.

Hidden COINs

original image: Greg Groesch for Washington Post story, 2016

Many of my Constant Readuhs will know of my fondness for games with limited information for one or both sides, and my disdain for games that make a point of giving both sides complete information when lack of same was critical to the historical situation the game claims to represent.

I’ll freely admit that many of my games have this exact fault. I rationalize that it’s for ease and speed of play when the players may have enough new stuff to struggle with already, that Chaos may rear its head and wreck the perfect plans people make with their undue dollops of information, that most wargames are played solitaire anyway (maybe even truer of my games too!), that players hate the loss of control and certainty and don’t particularly care how unrealistic that is, and so on… But I keep making such games, and write optional rules for other games where fog of war can be introduced.

But hoo boy, would I like to make it a big part of everything I design. If you’ve ever played an umpired or double-blind game, board or miniatures, you quickly get the feelings of angst and caution you should be feeling when playing these things… every bend in the road is an ambush, every house is boobytrapped.

And so, from the time that I first started in on the GMT COIN system (playtesting of Andean Abyss, then work on A Distant Plain and later Colonial Twilight), it didn’t bother me much that these games were perfect-information exercises, as the multi-faction nature of the games gave people enough to tussle with. But more than a few people have commented about how this does let the game down in the realism department, where insurgency situations are concerned.

I can’t shake the feeling that an umpired game of say, A Distant Plain would be something to see (or not see, or not be sure you’ve seen!) indeed. It wouldn’t be hard to arrange with multiple copies and a willing Director, would take a long time to play most likely but it would be an eye-opener for the players… who would also have to be willing, because this kind of thing strains the patience of most players who like their complete information and control of things, though that situation is far from reality. 

I’ve never had the time or opportunity to try this. Anyone is welcome to give it a spin. Has anyone tried it, or heard of someone trying it? What do you think?

On Youtube: Heavy Cardboard plays Colonial Twilight

On the Tube of You, Edward from “Heavy Cardboard” (on the 6th anniversary of his show!) plays a COIN system game for the first time: Colonial Twilight. He does something a little different: he plays the short scenario and takes the role of Government, introducing and teaching the game as he goes, while the Peanut Gallery (everyone watching: including Volko Ruhnke himself for a while!) discusses and suggests the FLN moves. What a great idea to learn the game collectively!

He didn’t promise to play the game well, and you know what, I don’t play games particularly well either; never have. But the play and the learning of it is the thing, for me.

Thanks Edward! I appreciate it.

(note: the stream goes for about 7 hours since it’s his first COIN game, and he introduces everything about the game first… so feel free to skip ahead to the game itself. The main commenter in the Peanut Galley, Laura Guy, very ably played the FLN!)

“Affective Networks at Play” by Cole Wehrle

pic1733403_md

http://analoggamestudies.org/2016/05/affective-networks-at-play-catan-coin-and-the-quiet-year

This is a brilliant article written for the Journal of Analog Game Studies in 2016, by the even more brilliant Cole Wehrle.

From his introduction:

In this article, I want to consider the affective possibilities and consequences of contemporary board games. I begin with a discussion of Klaus Teuber’s Die Siedler von Catan (1995). Teuber’s design is something of a foundational text of the contemporary board game design. Using Catan as a lodestone, I want to draw on the vocabulary of affect studies in order to reorient how we talk about games, in hopes of better understanding why Catan proved to be such a phenomenon. From there, I will consider a recent trend in the subfield of historic wargames, where convention has been upended by the COIN (COunter INsurgency) game system by Volko Ruhnke. Rather than focus solely on military affairs, Ruhnke’s games reproduce the political tensions surrounding armed conflict and ask the players to inhabit positions of moral compromise in the interest of historical simulation. I end with brief discussion of Avery Mcdaldno’s storytelling game The Quiet Year. The Quiet Year pushes on the limits of the game as an engine of affect and asks hard questions about the power of affect and the formal limits of games to understand our knotty feelings.

I’ve made reference to this article many times in discussions, but for some reason I’ve never posted a reference to it here. I have now fixed that.

Go, and read it!

COIN series games: how it’s done

Volko Ruhnke recently did an online lecture for the Georgetown University Wargame Society on “How to design a COIN series game”. It’s available on Youtube.

Volko is an excellent teacher and speaker; I recommend it to you if you are interested in how these things are put together. If you are interested in making your own design, this will also give you an idea of just how much work one of these things involves, or should involve; good games rarely come easy.

 

Crepuscule d’Empire?

Image result for "colonel mathieu" gif

Saw this on the Book of Face today:

PIXIE et ASYNCRON ont l’immense plaisir d’annoncer qu’un accord avec l’éditeur américain GMT a été conclu en vue de localiser et d’éditer des jeux en français qui proviennent du catalogue de GMT et, en particulier, d’offrir à la communauté francophone, le nec plus ultra de ce qui se fait matière de jeu d’histoire asymétrique : la réputée série COIN.

Pour inaugurer cette collaboration, nous avons choisi comme premier jeu, Falling Sky (vol VI) et son extension Ariovistus. Cet opus traite de la Guerre des Gaules et de César contre les chefs gaulois, dont le célèbre Vercingétorix. L’extension Ariovistus est le prequel de Falling Sky, le début de la conquête romaine de la Gaule, qui permet de jouer la faction germanique.

Well, isn’t that something!

Makes sense they would start with Falling Sky. Everyone loves Asterix.

But I wonder if/when they will get around to Colonial Twilight. Not everyone likes Colonel Mathieu.

On s’engage, et puis on voit….

Oooppp, here is something that did not appear on the other notices, I saw this on Strategikon… (translated):

A subscription will be launched in early April on the Ulule platform in order to finance the production of the French edition of the game. If this subscription is successful, other titles will then also be located.

“The game” in this case is Falling Sky.  Ulule is a French crowdfunding platform, not sure how or if it is different from the others, though they do have a manifesto.

https://www.ulule.com/

Meanwhile, I thought that I had done this already, but here are some French-language rules for Colonial Twilight done by Sebastien Vassort:

Colonial Twilight Règles FR V.0.1

And a link to a French-language translation of the Event Cards, done by Vincent Tulasne:

http://www.ludistratege.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Traduction-cartes-V1.pdf

Click to access Traduction-cartes-V1.pdf

Colonial Twilight as a gateway game

 

GMT_CT_MAP_071616

Over at “gringogamer”, Carsten writes about the value of using Colonial Twilight as a starter or gateway game to get people into the COIN system.

https://gringogamer.space/2020/02/13/complex-gateway-wargames-colonial-twilight

China’s War: P-update

CWp500cover

China’s War has 999 pre-orders as of tonight!

WHO will be the lucky number 1,000?

Will it be YOU…

or YOU….

or YOU?

ETA, February 6: Pre-orders are now exactly 1,000!

I wonder who it was helped us across the Rubicon?

The Influential Fifteen

Image result for fifteen fingers

photo: Henle House.

In one of the better “that was the decade that was” pieces I’ve seen, over at The Players Aid blog, Grant Kleinheinz has posted his list and impressions of the 15 most influential board wargames he has played in the last decade.

https://theplayersaid.com/2020/01/07/15-most-influential-wargames-of-the-decade-2010-2019

Winter Thunder gets a shout-out, as do two of the COIN series games!

In other news, I had some unstructured time off at the end of December, so in between watching a lot of TV and movies with my wife I got some testing and development work done on Civil Power and Strongman. Getting quite pleased with them!

Compass Games recently announced that the release date for the Brief Border Wars quad will be February 14, 2020. Sneak preview of the game’s cards above. So look out for that!

EDITED TO ADD

Not to be outdone, Rocky Mountain Navy posted his top picks for influential wargames of the 2010s and picked Nights of Fire as advancing the state of “waro” games (or “weuro” games, as I have also seen it).

https://rockymountainnavy.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/rockymountainnavys-influential-wargame-from-to-2010s-h-t-to-playersaidblog-for-the-idea

 

Interview with Harold Buchanan – part 2

 

2019-06-25-19.42.04

https://soundcloud.com/harold-buchanan/podcast-22-an-interview-with-designer-brian-train-and-his-top-5-list-part-2-of-2

Continuing on from a week or two ago, part 2 of my long interview with Harold Buchanan when we were at Consimworld Expo 2019.

For some reason he starts off with me explaining and singing the Smarties song….

Also, the tale of the Pantzooka!

Games (inspirational and not) referenced in the interview:

  • Central America
  • Minuteman: Second American Revolution
  • National Liberation Front
  • Nicaragua
  • Plot to Assassinate Hitler
  • South Africa
  • Tito
  • Vietnam 1965-75