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.

“Affective Networks at Play” by Cole Wehrle

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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!

Video Review: A Distant Plain

 

Reporting in from Buckeye Game Fest, Grant Kleinheinz and other friends of The Player’s Aid talk about their experience of a longish game of A Distant Plain. Not just a post-mortem; very nice commentary and musing through the various actions and combinations available to all sides!

Thanks, fellows.

A Distant Plain: soundtrack loop

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Column of Canadian LAV-IIIs in Afghanistan. (PhotoL CPT Edward Stewart, Canadian Forces)

Gamer and fan David Coutts has composed a brief piece fusing Western rock and Middle eastern instrumentation… sets the mood for a game of A Distant Plain! Free to listen, or you can download if you have a Soundcloud membership.

Card #24

card #24

24. US-Taliban Talks TCWG
Selective fire: Until Propaganda, Taliban Operations may not remove Coalition pieces (mark).
MOMENTUM
No sudden moves: Until Propaganda, no Coalition Assault (mark).
MOMENTUM
Direct, official contact between representatives of the United States and the Taliban began in late 2010. Earnest and productive negotiations held out the possibility of  reducing the pace of operations in Afghanistan. Meetings took place in Germany and Qatar, but progress was slow.
(US DoD Report on Progress, p. 82)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/world/asia/taliban-peace-deal-afghanistan.html

ADP in Genesee

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Students in the thick of it. (photo: Brian Mayer)

Today I got notice via GMT of a two-day, 20-student play session of A Distant Plain organized by Brian Mayer, a Gaming and Library Technology Specialist with the School Library System of the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership. (I’m not exactly sure what this partnership is; they seem to be providers of special education, adult education and support/technical services to a large number of school districts in New York State.)

Great to see these students so engaged, and learning about a war that hopefully will not be waiting for them after graduation.

GMT very kindly provided the games at an educator’s discount. Class act, GMT!

Billionaires Board Games Club comic

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Gee, how did I miss this one?

The March 7, 2016 edition Of “Semi Co-op”, an online cartoon about boardgames drawn by the very clever Rachel Kremer (and coded by Heinze Havinga, also pictured).

https://www.semicoop.com/info/

Thank Rachel and Heinze! I’d like to think that everyone in the world would learn from this game, but likely we’ll have to get it done in small batches….

Meanwhile:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/america-is-headed-for-military-defeat-in-afghanistan/

Card #30

ADP card 30

30. Urban Specialists

TGWC
TALIBAN CAPABILITIES

Ineffective: Taliban Terror in Kabul requires Activation of 2 Underground Guerrillas.
Effective: Taliban Terror in Kabul costs 0 Resources and does not Activate the Guerrilla.

Insurgents need to go where the people are, and a lot of them are in the main urban center of Kabul. The Taliban have been ingenious in using technically skilled fighters to collect intelligence, plan assassinations, and conduct spectacular high-visibility attacks on government buildings. (Moreau; Giustozzi p. 70)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/afghan-military-academy-attack-1.4508324

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/kabul-afghanistan-attack-aftermath-1.4498165

 

A Distant Plain, 5-10-15 Years On…

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Recently on Consimworld someone suggested that I should do some kind of update kit for A Distant Plain, to cover the years since the end of the game’s scenarios in 2013 (coinciding with the NATO withdrawal from combat operations, and the physical release of the game in summer 2013).

People tell me it should be easy… you know, a couple of dozen new event cards and you’re done… right? Just like the people who thought there should be a simple 1979-89 conversion kit, for the Soviet-Afghan War (I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone why this one doesn’t fly).

Hmmm…but what particular events could there be after the  that could not be reflected in the cards we already have? I can’t think of any, because it’s been mostly a story of gradually declining Government control of the country matched with steady state or increasing strength of the two insurgent factions… even things that could still happen now, like peace talks, were reflected by a card in the existing deck.

Off the top of my head, a post-2013 version of ADP would effectively resemble a three-player game… the Coalition would have mostly withdrawn its troops and bases, leaving just some training units – and continuing to pay the bills for the Afghan army and police, the cost of which is double or triple the country’s current Gross Domestic Product. There are two COIN system games that are being worked on right now that feature three-player mechanisms, so that could be adapted possibly. More details are coming out on All Bridges Burning, Vesa Arponen’s very clever 3-faction game on the Finnish Civil War of 1918, which offers some mechanics worth thinking about.

http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=18759

Maybe the simplest thing to do would be to play a short game this way, as a three-player game of say 3 or 4 Propaganda Rounds, with an edited deck of event cards that have been prepared by removing cards that are specific to the Coalition, e.g. #1 1 ISR, #2 and #3 Predators and Reapers, #7 Find Fix Finish.. even then you would probably have to discuss the effect of some cards to reflect the mostly missing Coalition (although it’s not quite missing, a card like #9 Special Forces could still work because there are still substantial special operations troops there).  You’d have to review the deck carefully, but it could be done, I suppose. People are certainly welcome to try.

In the end though, I’m not sure what you would be proving, because the war has simply ground on in the last four or five years… no one seems closer to “winning”, in any sense of the word. Here is a recent article on the state of affairs in Afghanistan, and the tiny expensive/ laborious circles everyone is describing around each other.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2018-01-03/why-taliban-isnt-winning-afghanistan

 

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