Guerrilla Checkers and Kashmir Crisis: new TTS modules!

Over the last couple of months I made sporadic efforts to  learn to make modules of my games for Tabletop Simulator (TTS)  and Vassal. (I got TTS some time ago when it was on sale for $10 and had some ideas of playing some games to pass the lockdown time, except that it turned out I had no spare time!) I had no real success learning Vassal, but I seemed to get on better with TTS as it’s closer to making a physical copy of a game, or it had more useful gizmos, or whatever. Also, development and playtesting for China’s War will start soon and the developer will be doing it over TTS, not Vassal as was the case with Colonial Twilight, so it was time I learned how to use it. Even at that it took me weeks to learn how to build and upload a deck of special cards, and I experienced the full-on tedium of having to make individual .jpg images of absolutely every piece in the game, including separate front and back images for many things. (I understand Vassal is not much different in the tedium department.)

But after all that, I got things to work with a couple of small and simple games (plus a larger game project that I’m not going to talk about just yet, except that I just did!). So how do I share the modules with the world? I was held up again for weeks because when you go to upload a TTS module to their “workshop” to make it available, you need to include the URL of a small thumbnail image for the game. Time and again the upload failed, this problem has been noted with TTS for some time but all the fixes I had read did not work. Finally last night, with the aid of a friend of a friend, I got the darn things uploaded and went public!

So, if you are on Steam and own Tabletop Simulator, you can now go and have a look at the modules I made for Guerrilla Checkers and Kashmir Crisis. These are two of my smallest and simplest games, and they use pre-made game items (checkerboard, deck of ordinary cards etc.) so they were not that hard to make. No fancy fog of war or other mechanisms, though I would like to learn next how to do that in TTS. If you do have a look, please let me know if these worked for you. 

Guerrilla Checkers: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2421938802

Kashmir Crisis: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2421971111

Winter Thunder: computer implementation ready for playtesting

Winter Thunder cover

Casey Bruyn has been working on a computer version of Winter Thunder for some time. It will feature an AI, and the possibility of synchronous (hotseat) and asynchronous (via email) play.

Have a look at the development page: http://www.bruinbeargames.com/#winterthunder

He says, “The basic game and email version are at beta test. We are looking for playtesters that know the rules for the game. If interested please contact info@bruinbeargames.com.”

Give him a hand!

Civil Power: rules, scenarios, VASSAL module available online

Untitled-1

Now that the game is officially out, CSL has made the rules and scenario booklet and VASSAL module available online here (if necessary, change the file extension from .zip to .vmod):

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1i19QZV5qBeZVHv1U5iucoW1tb8w2StEk

But we’re sure that you would like to have the physical product too, so the order page is here:

https://www.consimsltd.com/products/civil-power

Fight the Power!
(or be the Power, you can do both)

District Commander Maracas: VASSAL module available!

dc_maracas medium

Trevor Lieberman has braved the demons of Vassal and created a module for District Commander Maracas!

Download it here: http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:District_Commander_Maracas:_Virtualia_2019

It needs a few people to work it and check it over for errors or bugs, so this may not be the final version, but there is the page to find it when it is.

Thanks so much for your work Trevor!

(Honestly, I have tried off and on for the past few weeks to finally get it together to understand Vassal and Tabletop Simulator, and both have thoroughly defeated me except for the simplest things. I did make a functioning version of Guerrilla Checkers on TTS, but have no idea how to distribute it now.)

[ETA: Trevor also made an Excel spreadsheet to automate scoring for Population and LOC Control victory points for the module: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/213982/automated-scoring ]

Winter Thunder: coming to Steam!

Screenshot from website.

Casey Bruyn is making a version of Winter Thunder, complete with Artificial Intelligence, that will play on Steam! Game is also playable 2-player “hot seat”, if you like. Due out the end of 2020!

He has already worked on Krim, a 1990s Ty Bomba game on the Crimean campaign that was in an early issue of Command magazine.

http://www.bruinbeargames.com/#winterthunder

A Force More Powerful

b4s93

Akito and I made a large version of Battle of Seattle with dollar-store miniatures… the cops came ready-made, we repurposed some of them as protestors.

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/May-June-2020/Chambers-Beehner-Competing-Below

Quite fresh from the pages of Military Review, an interesting article on nonviolent action and how it has been and can be harnessed to drive opposition to foreign regimes.

A good quick introduction to techniques, advantages and examples of its use. Written from the perspective of “hey, this is a great force multiplier for the USA”, but the point is taken… and still effective. The concluding paragraph:

The U.S. military must look past its institutional biases toward large-scale combat operations, and in line with MDO [Multi-Domain Operations], truly look toward converging political and military capabilities across multiple domains to create windows of advantage.54 If we look at future conflict through the lens of most likely and most dangerous, the most likely form is low-intensity, gray-zone type conflict. In these types of conflicts, third-party nonviolent intervention is a viable course—within its constraints—which allows nations to achieve strategic objectives without resorting to large-scale troop deployments, and in some cases, maintaining plausible deniability. As the ubiquitous “small wars” continue and the U.S. military prioritizes preparation for large-scale, decisive-action type conflict, policy makers need a capability to limit U.S. entanglement while still achieving strategic objectives. Support for nonviolent action fills this niche, and consequently, deserves recognition and resources.

PDF of the article is available at the link above, Military Review also has a collection of interesting past articles on civil disobedience, Colour Revolutions and “democratic coups”:

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Special-Topics/Hot-Topics/Coups-CR/

And just to tie this back into gaming, there are a couple of computer games on the topic.

Image: ICNC.

People Power: the game of civil resistance, a free game for Windows or Mac from the International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC).

http://peoplepowergame.com

Rex Brynen on on Paxsims reviewed it in 2011, the game was revised in 2015.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/people-power/

People Power is the sequel to A Force More Powerful, an older game on the topic of colour revolutions that uses Gene Sharp’s writings as a basis and came out some time ago as a companion to the 1999 documentary of the same name (available on Youtube). The latter game is abandonware and Windows only; I snagged a copy in a local thrift store years ago.  Rex and colleague Gary Milante were less than impressed by its sedate pace.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/a-force-more-powerful/

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/a-force-more-tedious/

 

Afghanistan ’11, minus one outlet

https://www.polygon.com/2018/12/6/18128924/afghanistan-11-taliban-app-store-removed

Update on a game I mentioned last year.

Review of Afghanistan ’11

Several years ago Rex Brynen wrote in his blog Paxsims an excellent post on the issue – the game in question then was Endgame: Syria, a game on the Syrian Civil War produced by the Gamethenews people.

https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/apple-and-politically-provocative-game-apps/

In this case they got around it by renaming the antagonists in the iPhone/iPad version as randomly named fictional countries, which seemed to satisfy Apple – more on that here http://gamethenews.net/index.php/endgame-eurasia/

Meanwhile, you can still get the original versions at http://gamethenews.net/index.php/more-games/.

Colonial Twilight: a bot for the FLNbot

coltwibox2

BGG user Curt Sellmer has created a program that automatically implements the FLNbot that Vesa Arponen made for Colonial Twilight. He says it handles the details of ‘bot decisionmaking, and is similar to a program he created for the expansion to Volko Ruhnke’s Labyrinth game,  Labyrinth: The Awakening: 2010-?

It supports the the Short, Medium and Full scenarios.

It will run on a MacOS terminal, a Linux terminal and the Windows console as long as the Java JVM is installed and the path to the ‘java’ executable program is referenced in your PATH environment variable.

For more information and to download the built package, go here: https://github.com/sellmerfud/coltwi

Scroll down until you see section heading: “Downloading the package”. In that section is a link to the “built package” which is a zip file.

Finally, here is the discussion thread on BGG where he introduces the program, and where players (that’s you, cousin) will discuss questions and problems, when encountered.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2095115/software-runs-fln-bot

Thank you for your work Curt!

 

Review of Afghanistan ’11

I don’t play computer games. Ever, or at least not for a long time. The last one I played was half of Imperialism, the original one from SSI published in 1997.

But I happened across a review of this one http://www.wargamer.com/reviews/review-afghanistan-11/ and it looks interesting, in that its action seems to approximate a simpler manual wargame, except with a lot more drudgery that the computer mostly handles. It is also an updating of an earlier Vietnam game by the same designer, ’65.

The interesting part is the final two paragraphs, on doctrine:

More fundamentally though, Afghanistan ‘11 is based on some good faith assumptions about COIN that the doctrine itself probably doesn’t deserve. The U.S. strategy of “build infrastructure, visit villages until bad guys go away” is modelled as completely workable in Nagel’s games, despite the fact that the two major American wars that have relied heavily on this strategy are anything but resounding successes. Since David Galula published the first comprehensive explanation of COIN, Counterinsurgency Warfare and Practice (1964), the concept has not been meaningfully adapted nor successfully brought to bear in either major war where it’s formed the centrepiece of American strategy. Afghanistan ‘11 doesn’t interrogate COIN theory, but rather is content to assume that it just works, so long as commanders using it are clever enough.

Then again, what would a strategy game that does critique COIN doctrine even look like? The fact that Afghanistan ‘11 refuses to dig into the question doesn’t detract from its effectiveness as a military strategy game. With relatively few moving pieces, this game evokes a side of modern warfare that’s rarely seen in games due to the difficulties in modeling something as conceptually squishy as “hearts and minds.” The elegance of its design make it engaging and fun from the word go, and the game’s new features fill out the already solid foundation laid down by ‘65.

Emphasis mine. And yes, you won’t find the answer in a computer game, at least not this one.

Oh well, baby (digital) steps….