Free game: Call Sign by Sebastian Bae

Free postcard game: Sebastian Bae’s “Call Sign” gives a look at carrier combat

Normally, I do not play naval or air wargames, and this game is about both, but I am a sucker for the format and intention of the postcard game format. I hope that Sebastian and “CNA Corp” will make more of these available!

2023-01 Urban Operations Planner Course

(all photos: Jayson Geroux)

I’ve spent the last week attending the third serial of the Urban Operations Planners Course, run by the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and held at Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos. Went very well!

A solid week of really great lectures and exercises on urban warfare, featuring the usual suspects like COL John Spencer of the Modern War Institute’s Urban Warfare Project, Stuart Lyle of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dr. Jacob Stoil of the School of Advanced Military Studies, Dr. Sahr Muhammedally, and MAJ Jayson Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment. These are some of the most knowledgeable people on kinetic urban conflict in the world. I met a lot of really interesting students as well – most were Americans but there were also students from other armies. Still no Canadians other than MAJ Geroux and myself.

There was more time for instruction and play of the the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel or QUICK, designed by yours truly. We had an introductory period mid-week and spent the final day playing both basic and advanced versions, which I think was much better for the students to digest and get used to. Like last time there were a few former gamers in the class, but for some this was a completely new item.

(PAFF people made a short clip showing people playing the game… I don’t know how to link a Facebook reel. If I’d known the camera was on me, I might have used knife hands!)

It landed very very well; the students seemed really engaged by it. Also, a number of remote students played online at the same time, using a VASSAL module produced by Curt Pangracs at the Command General and Staff College.

(Of course people got to use their Military Pointing Skills!)

Fortunately I had a set of great facilitators including the heads of training for the Division, faculty from the Joint Special Operations University and US Army Command and General Staff College, and volunteer students and instructors of the course. It never would have worked without them!

The course had a bit more social media presence than last year and I was told “we were blowing up on Twitter” after some pictures of the game being played were posted to Twitter. Maybe I need to get on that medium too, before Elon scatters its ashes. Anyway, there was a surge of visits to the page here where I offer the game files to everyone for free print and play: The QUICK Page

However, be aware that like last year I will be making some changes and revisions to the game rules and charts due to feedback and comments from the students. Like all games, it’s a continual work in progress.

The standard grip-and-grin: me and BG Robert Wooldridge, Deputy Commander of 40ID, sponsor of the course and avid wargamer himself.

2022-02 Urban Operations Planner Course

QUICK lesson 1 geroux

(photo: Jayson Geroux)

I’ve spent the last week attending the second serial of the Urban Operations Planners Course, run by the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and held at Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos. And what an interesting week it was!

A solid week of really great lectures and exercises on urban warfare, featuring people like COL John Spencer of the Modern War Institute’s Urban Warfare Project, Stuart Lyle of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dr. Jacob Stoil of the School of Advanced Military Studies, and MAJ Jayson Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment. I met a lot of really interesting students as well – most were Americans but there were also  students from the Australian, British, Chilean, Dutch, and German armies.

Unfortunately soon after I arrived at the Base I developed a bad summer cold that also turned into laryngitis… fortunately my voice recovered just in time, for the last day was a “learn by doing” exercise featuring group play of the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel or QUICK, designed by yours truly… I’ve been working on it since last December.


It landed very very well; the 40 students seemed really engaged by it. Also, about 20 remote students played online at the same time, using a VASSAL module produced by Curt Pangracs at the Command General and Staff College.


(Of course people got to use their Military Pointing Skills!)

This was the first time I had the opportunity to teach a game, any game, to a large group of people, many of whom were non-gamers. Fortunately I had a set of great facilitators including faculty from the Joint Special Operations University, Stuart Lyle and students and instructors of the course. It never would have worked without them!

The QUICK now joins the range of free print-and-play games I offer on this website; it’s available to everyone – files are on this separate page: The QUICK Page

However, be aware that I will soon be making some small changes and revisions to the game rules and charts due to feedback and comments from the students.

Me and BG

Me and BGEN Robert Wooldridge, Deputy Commander of 40ID, sponsor of the course and avid wargamer himself.

Free game: Putin’s War


(No longer quite as illustrated.)

From two Italian game designers, Riccardo Affinati and Mauro Faina: Putin’s War, a free print-and-play mini-game on the current invasion. I haven’t tried it yet myself but it appears to be a simpler game focusing on the kinetic part of things; reactions by foreign countries and so forth are largely randomized through the unknown nature of the Ukrainian opposition that appears as the Russian units enter each new area. 

Notable in that it recycles the map and oblast victory point values from my 2014 game Ukrainian Crisis. I suppose that is about all of that game that is salvageable and useful for the 2022 situation. Still, I don’t mind. 

PUTIN’S WAR – ENGLISH RULES   PDF file complete, 4 MB.

Surprisingly candid designer’s notes – bravo!


The game system of this solitaire boardgame derives in its planning from the game “AFGHANISTAN 1979-1989” by Mauro Faina published in the magazine “Guerre e Guerrieri” (April 2022), while for the map the game “Ukranian Crisis ”by Brian Train (2014) and the cover is the work of Marco Longobardo. English translation by Ty Bomba.

Being an introductory boardgame, we avoided adding additional complexities and a large number of pieces, tables or accessories. The boardgame is distributed for free and privately, not for profit, but to spread the passion for simulations and military history. Studying wars to never make them, this is our watchword, while our thanks go to all those who will help us “test” the boardgame and spread the idea that those who do not play will never know how to be a excellent human being.

Last warning, you will not find a simpler solitaire military simulation than this, if you have problems in interpreting the rules, then forget about the world of boardgames and do not ask me for clarification, while feel free to modify or confuse the rules written according to your own. tastes. 

Riccardo Affinati



I don’t know if you are into role-playing games but I was reminded of something I ran across years ago: a “live action free form game” written in 2014 by Jason Morningstar of Bully Pulpit Games and offered as a free download.

It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in any RPG stuff myself, and this form of the game seems to be almost more improv theatre and “scenes” than it does the conventional image of a table full of people staring at another person sitting behind a small screen. But it’s an interesting exploration of the problem, inspired by the writer’s experiences with an actual interpreter and given a very thin science fiction sheen, and quite poignant these days.

Anyway, check it out if you are interested.

A Force More Powerful


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.

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”:

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).

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

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.


New game: Kashmir Crisis

KC_Cover mid

Image © Nathaniel Brunt, 2014. “The view towards the India/Pakistan border from the Sadhna Pass, Kupwara. The border between the two countries, known as the ‘Line of Control’, is one of the most militarized regions in the world.”

Not long ago Nathaniel Brunt, a researcher and photographer doing postgraduate work at Ryerson Polytechnic University, contacted me about the “Game Design as Journalism” presentation I made last year at the Connections-UK conference.

Nathaniel is a gamer and has spent years travelling and taking photographs in the Kashmir Region. He suggested that perhaps we could put together a simple game, in this “gamer-citizen journalism” vein, to let people find out a bit more about the current crisis in Kashmir.

So, we did.  And in that same vein, we offer it to you for free print-and-play.

Kashmir Crisis is a quite simple card-based game for two players. It takes about 15 minutes to play. You need to print out the rules and player aid card, and optionally the player mat to help keep things organized – you also need a deck of ordinary playing cards, with one Joker.

During each game turn, players will begin by revealing the Event Card that will be in effect during that turn. Then, both players will receive a number of cards from a deck of ordinary playing cards, and play them onto Diplomatic, Information or Military Fronts (or keep them in a Reserve, for a later turn). After this, players will compare the totals of cards played to see if one player will score Victory Points on a given Front, and whether one or both players will lose cards and Victory Points.

Originally we started with something that abstractly looked at the 30 year insurgency in Kashmir, but soon decided to focus on events subsequent to the February 2019 suicide bomber attack at Pulwama. We still plan on doing a more detailed game that looks at different periods/campaigns within the insurgency; it might work well as a module in the District Commander series. Nathaniel and I are going to explore this in the next while.

So, here are the files – I hope you will give this a try, and try to enjoy it in the spirit in which it is offered. [edited to add: the “1sep” rules and “13nov” player aid card now available have an additional optional rule with an alternate, “sudden death” victory option; they replace the “28aug” version]

kc-rules-1sep19 rules

kc-pac-13nov19  player aid card

kc play mat 22aug19 play mat for cards

KC Narrative Prompts narrative prompts sheet

A word on the “narrative prompts”: this game involves placing cards representing resources on different Fronts during play. This abstractly shows the scale of effort a country is investing in obtaining a favourable result in that sphere of activity. For example, the Diplomatic Front concerns a country’s efforts to get international support and assistance for its viewpoint or to condemn its adversary’s, or to pursue legal and economic threats and harassment against the enemy. “Information” is perhaps a somewhat more nebulous concept, relating to message dominance and ability to control the narrative on the conflict. Finally, the “Military” Front is a more straightforward application of covert and overt military forces and assistance to pursue insurgent/ counterinsurgent warfare, or to prepare for large-scale conventional conflict.

Some players will recognize this concept from my pol-mil game Ukrainian Crisis. Others will have no idea what’s going on, what playing a “5” represents, and why a “5” is better than a “3” but not as good as a “7”. To give them a bit of a verbal prompt in building the story of the unfolding of the conflict together (which is the goal of playing a game with another person), we include a sheet of adjectives, verbs and nouns that might help someone describe or imagine what they are doing in the game.

PS: if anyone’s moved to comment, you can do that here, or the game now has an entry on (approved almost suspiciously fast, too).

The (Im)Possibility of War in the Mega-City, by Ty Bomba (and Maciej Jonasz)


Issue #9 of Counterfact magazine has a game in it called War in the Megacity, designed by Joe Miranda. It’s in the mail now. On October 27, editor Ty Bomba posted the short piece quoted below on the publisher’s Facebook page, as his take on the subject (permalink


The (Im)Possibility of War in the Mega-City
By Ty Bomba

Back in 2014, then US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno set off what amounted to a metaphoric explosion of activity within the military-analytical community. He did so when he authorized the online publication and distribution of a 28-page pdf titled “Megacities and the United States Army: Preparing for a Complex and Uncertain Future.”

The study, co-authored by six of his staffers, pointed up a problem that had critical tactical, operational and strategic aspects. That is, after defining “mega-cities” as urban locales with 10 million or more inhabitants – there are 20 of them today with another 25 likely to have grown into existence by 2025 – the authors lamented the fact the US military in general, and the army in particular, had no doctrine for how to wage war in such places.

The standard formula for attacking a hostile city of smaller size – surround it, and then take the area inside the pocket sector by sector – won’t work in these huge conurbations because they’re simply won’t be enough troops on hand to isolate such vast spaces. The document (still available online by searching on its title) went on to list problem after problem, never intending to offer any solutions but, rather, simply to pose all the relevant questions that had been identified.

Since then, numerous writers – both from within and outside the US military – have offered more. For example, in 2017 one writer, under the auspices of West Point’s Modern War Institute, proposed an exact order of battle for a combined-arms battalion specifically constituted to fight in megacities. (That’s also still available online by searching under its title: “It’s Time to Create a Megacities Combat Unit.”)

Even the International Committee of the Red Cross commissioned a study on the subject, titled “Future War in Cities: Urbanization’s Challenge to Strategic Studies in the 21st Century.” Its focus is on the “development of military methods of operating in cities using appropriate rules of engagement that embrace international humanitarian law” (and, we might add, good luck with that).

As it turns out, an older study, one done at the US Army War College way back in 2001 and titled “Urban Operations: Tactical Realities and Strategic Ambiguities,” may already have shown the practical impossibility of any sustained US military involvement in fighting a ground battle for a mega-city. It used a combination of historical case studies and training exercise analyses, and its grim conclusions ran as follows.

A typical rifle company of up to about 200 combatants can be expected to seize a similarly defended city block after about 12 hours of combat. Total casualties among the attackers – personnel missing, killed and seriously wounded – would average 30 to 45 percent during that time, depending on the competency and ferocity of the defense. At the end of it, the survivors in the attack force would need to be temporarily withdrawn from the frontline for rest and regrouping.

At most, by straining mightily, the US Army might be able to concentrate some 180 assault companies, along with another 60 or so from the Marine Corps, to use in a fight for any one mega-city. Each army or USMC division averages 27 such companies, while an armor division could form a dozen or so. Thus the entire infantry force of the active duty US Army and Marines could be expected to be effectively burned out after about 20 days of steady mega-city combat, with total casualties suffered while doing so at about 15,000 to 22,000.

Even after all that, the conclusion offered was an overall victor in such a battle would likely only emerge through attrition, or when the suffering had reached a point where small margins of difference between the opposing forces’ staying power (morale) became the deciding factor.

Given the phenomena of “casualty aversion” that’s overtaken Western societies since the end of the Cold War – that is, a general unwillingness by electorates to sustain any government prosecuting a war longer than one election cycle or bloodier than a relative handful of total deaths – and it can be seen it’s effectively impossible for us a society to engage in that kind of war.

The only exception would be if the stakes involved were readily perceived by a majority the electorate as truly and fully existential at the national level. In turn, to get to that level, you have to posit near science fictional scenarios, such as the Chinese landing en masse along the US west coast or armies of Jihadis surging into Europe’s cities. Short of such epochal hypotheticals, one is hard pressed to name any mega-city anywhere on Earth the control of which would be important enough for a US administration, or that of any other Western democracy, to be willing to sacrifice so much to get it.

Mega-city wars will therefore likely remain the domains of criminal gang turf fights and civil wars fought among groups with nowhere else to go. Until such time as aerial and ground drones and autonomous robots are further perfected, no Western democracy can make war effectively in mega-cities.

The current issue of the on-paper edition of CounterFact Magazine (no. 9) has as its main topic “War in the Megacity.” It offers both a longer article on this subject and an in-depth wargame that can be played solo or against an opponent. Those interested in that kind of deeper exploration, should go here:

I find I cannot disagree with what Ty has written here, having read some time ago all the articles and papers he cites, and more besides. Yes, we will not see the entire rifle-company strength of the US Army and Marine Corps squandered in an enormous mega-Aachen, or even a restaging of the Second Battle of Seoul (not least because Seoul is ten times the size it was in 1950). Ridiculous notion.

Ty published the designer’s notes to the game over on Consimworld some time ago, wherein Joe seems to be walking back the game’s initial impression that you are fighting a massive, primarily kinetic battle for a huge city (wherein Fallujah or Grozny would fill only three or four of the map’s 30 abstract sectors). He uses the triple-CRT, units-rising-and-falling-in-strength method first done in James Dunnigan’s game Chicago-Chicago!, and reused by him in LA Lawless, Decision Iraq, and by me in Greek Civil War (this last by order of Decision Games, though somewhere in between my submission and eventual publication there were a lot of changes to both my game and to Joe’s system, including collapsing the 3 CRTs into one, and radical changes in unit typology and abilities). He also speaks of the ridiculous troop-to-space ratio in a city of 10 million or more, but does note that the troop scale in the game is brigades (thousands of uniforms) vs. crowds (tens of thousands in size); even the guerrilla units are estimated to be a thousand or more fighters (though in fairness, because it’s a Joe Miranda near-future game, there are also small detachments of “”Fifth Generation” troops whose weaponry, and sometimes their own physicality and mental states, have been enhanced by leading-edge technologies.”).

But I added the emphasis in Ty’s penultimate paragraph. Megacities will not be the arenas where entire brigades and divisions square off against each other, but they will see a great deal of low-level irregular conflict, by and among irregular forces, who will be opposed much of the time by uniformed forces in modest amounts. However, I do not share his enthusiasm for autonomous robots.*

Joe and I are on the same wavelength on a lot of things, but often we differ considerably in our design approaches to the same kind of problem. To my mind, a more realistic and sobering pair of books to read on this subject are Planet of Slums by Mike Davis and Out of the Mountains by David Kilcullen (especially his chapter on the Tivoli Gardens operation in Kingston, Jamaica). What would be interesting from my point of view would be a game in a megacity that emphasized limited intelligence, surveillance, building and degrading organizations, positioning and threats, information warfare, for both insurgent and counterinsurgent. All precursors to kinetic operations, which are kept to a minimum. So far the megacities in the world that have experienced problems severe enough to see actual conflict involving their national militaries have all been outside of NATO, and the conflicts have all been pretty one-sided; government moves in against insurgent gangs, they scatter obligingly and civil disorder continues, though turned down to a dull roar until the uniforms leave and the gangs return.

I tried to do this in one of my first games, Tupamaro, which took place entirely within one large city (1.5 million, which was kind of large for 1968). And maybe that’s more typical of what went on in Baghdad (pop 6-7 million, give or take) for years. This was my thinking in developing the “Maracas megacity” module for the District Commander system over the last couple of years, available here for free PnP at least until Hollandspiele publishes it some time in the next few years.

New free game: Maracas

*PS: I mentioned this before, but here again is mention of Crisis at Zefra, a conceptual book written by a science fiction writer named Karl Schroeder in 2005 for the Canadian Armed Forces about how Canadian soldiers would deal with asymmetrical threats in the imaginary African city-state of “Zefra” in the near future (2025). Again, a bit too goshwow with respect to the technology for me – nano-this and nano-that – but these things are valuable just by having been written down. Here’s a copy:  Crisis-in-Zefra-e and the work is also available at Schroeder’s website at .

[Edited to add, 16 November 2018]

Another section from another article that Counterfact will run in a later issue:

The (Im)Possibility of War in the Mega-City, Part 2: The Tactical Nitty Gritty,

by Maciej Jonasz

A tactical-level offensive operation conducted inside a hostile mega-city would, at least initially in regard to its organization and approach, be conducted in much the same manner as a standard assault operation in any urban area. That is, it would ideally call for an outer cordon, an inner cordon and an assault element.

The role of the outer cordon is to isolate the target area from external factors. In this case, the primary task of would be to keep civilians or reinforcements from entering the target area in order to minimize collateral damage and hold the enemy response to a minimum.

The outer cordon doesn’t need to be too robust, but it should be sufficient to establish blocks along roads and other access routes. In case a counter-move against the operation is seen to be developing from outside the target area, a Quick Reaction Force should be nearby as well.

The role of the inner cordon is to prevent any hostile personnel from escaping the target area. Unlike the outer cordon, the inner cordon needs to be robust, as key individuals and whole enemy units may attempt to breakout. Since such breakout attempts will probably be in the form of large numbers attacking out in several directions, the cordon needs to be equally strong along its entire length.

As it would be unrealistic to create a wall of personnel all along a perimeter that may be a mile or more in length, the best solution will be for the inner cordon to consist of barbed wire and other barricades with personnel and sensors interspersed along its length.

Ideally, a section of infantry would be employed along 100 yards of perimeter, as that will allow for a speedy set-up of the cordon and a strong presence along it. Given that standard, a 3,000 yard perimeter would require about three battalions – which is a significant amount of manpower.

The inner cordon also needs to cut enemy communications between the target area and the outside, while also disrupting those same communications within the target area itself. Some of that can be accomplished by shutting down the civilian telecommunications networks – both landline and mobile – but an electronic warfare element would also be handy. In addition, that will enable the friendly command structure to control the messaging going out to the media, thereby preventing false information from reaching the wider public.

The role of the assault (a.k.a. “search”) element is to enter the target area and conduct kinetic operations against enemy units and individual “high value targets” within it. Ideally, such operations will deploy one assault element for each of the target area’s buildings, so all of them can be hit simultaneously and, in cases of large buildings divided into separate segments, there should be an assault element for each of those segments.

While the cordon elements have a relatively simple task and composition, assault elements will require some personnel with specialized skills and will be composed of different teams. First, each will require teams to go through targeted buildings room by room. Those entry teams need to be supported by extraction teams to remove prisoners and friendly casualties as quickly as possible, thereby allowing the assault teams to move forward as quickly as possible.

The size of the extraction teams is important, as they will need to have enough personnel so the assault teams aren’t kept waiting to hand over prisoners or wounded. That’s especially true in high-rise buildings, where it will take time for personnel to bring prisoners and casualties down 20 or more floors, load them into vehicles or temporary holding compounds, and then return. Depending of the size of each building, a minimum of a platoon will be necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of this aspect of the operation within each one.

A security element, practically another inner cordon, needs to be placed around each building that’s being assaulted. The role of those elements is to interdict escapees (or reinforcements) trying to make their way out (or in) through lower floor openings. As they will be operating outdoors, and will therefore be fully exposed to gunfire coming from high up inside targeted and neighboring buildings, as well as the sewers below them, these elements will need to be equipped with armored personnel carriers for their own protection.

The manpower requirements for an assault element would be even bigger than those for the inner cordon. With a section or two dedicated to over-watch on every floor, with at least one platoon as an extraction element, and another platoon deployed as an outside security element, each building will require anything from a company to a battalion to clear it speedily and fully. For example, in a six-floor building with two separate staircases, the requirement would be for two companies of infantry – and each target area may consist of up to dozens of buildings.

The first troops to go in need to gain control of staircases, corridors and the immediate surroundings of those areas. To speed things up, parts of those elements could be airlifted to the rooftops of taller buildings, from where they can most quickly secure the upper floors. Ideally, the main units assaulting a building would work their way down from the top floor. In buildings with multiple staircases, separate ones could be designated for friendly upward and downward movement.

A tactical offensive within a mega-city like the one described here would inescapably be an undertaking on a massive scale, due to the large amount of resources it would require and the casualties that would be generated. Even the most highly trained assault force would likely suffer at least 10 percent casualties per day. That means a single neighborhood of three or four blocks would likely require as much as a brigade’s worth of manpower to launch and sustain such an operation to its conclusion, which would take an average of about 12 hours.

Emphasis added at the end. These seem to be fairly realistic estimates of the infantry numbers involved, just for the fighting and extraction. Add in another hefty chunk for protection and/or security of prisoners, LoCs back to whatever passes for an MSR, and whatever other elements are needed to support the bayonets (medical, logistics, engineer equipment and assembly areas). And then the casualties start to pile up, even more after the first 2-3 days when people start to get really tired….

Whatever happens, it’s not going to be pretty if it’s done on this scale.

[Edited to add, 31 January 2019]

The first review of the game that I’ve found is here:  The author accepts the thesis that the game’s situation is plausible, and reviews its merits both as a game and in comparison to what he imagines such a battle would be like. He notes some flaws, which he puts down to inadequate playtesting and bad editing, but concludes it’s an interesting game qua game.

Another recent find, that’s maybe a bit more to the point when addressing the idea of sustained intense combat in a large city:   An article from Military Review on the 2017 battle for Mosul, a game on which I’ve been working on with Rex Brynen and two of his students. The article gets the OOB for the battle wrong, as far as we can tell, but it does make five interesting points:

  1. It is impossible to isolate a modern city.
  2. Difficulty increases with depth and duration.
  3. Attackers lose the initiative once they enter the city.
  4. Dense urban terrain enhances sustainment.
  5. Operational reach is proportional to population support.

New free game: Maracas

dc_maracas medium

Maracas mapsnip      Maracas ctrsnip

[EDITED 9 SEPTEMBER 2019:  Now that Hollandspiele has formally published the Maracas module, I am pulling this one off the free print-and-play wagon. But I want people to try the system if they want to, so I will substitute another of the three remaining modules, and keep it up until such time as it is also published by Hollandspiele.  Check the Free Games page: Free Games!]

Maracas is one of the four games I’ve designed so far that uses the District Commander diceless, operational-level counterinsurgency system.

It takes place in Maracas, the fictional megacity capital of the equally fictitious nation of Virtualia (which was also the locale for my game Caudillo).

I am making it available for free print-and-play download as an example of

a) the District Commander system itself; and

b) an introductory game on asymmetrical warfare in a modern large city.

I intend to do more of this kind of thing. I’ve been interested in urban combat for a long time (Tupamaro was one of my first game designs) and I think this is a crucially important topic for present-day and near-future wargame work. There’s certainly going to be a certain amount of the real thing soon enough.

Game components consist of:

  • System rules (a bit long and chatty but they introduce concepts and many variations) DC RB
  • Exclusive rules (a lot shorter but they introduce some changes and extra units)
  • Player aids and charts
  • Set of standard counters (176 x 5/8″): infrastructure, chance chits, intelligence chits, insurgent units and assets DC system counters 4july
  • Set of exclusive counters (88 x 5/8″): Government/Foreign units and assets, extra insurgent, intelligence pieces
  • Area movement map (made to be printed out at 17×22″)

The counters are made to be printed out at 5/8″ and the map at 17×22″, but if your eyes are young and strong and your fingers nimble go ahead and print them out smaller. Or if you’re half-blind and near-palsied like me, print them out on 1″ foamcore and as big a map as you can find.

Permission is granted to downloaders to make a copy for their own personal use, under the usual Creative Commons Licence adopted for this website.


All material on this website, including all its subsidiary pages, that is written by me is made available through a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

This game, and up to three or more other modules in the system (so far Algeria 1959, Vietnam 1969, Afghanistan 2009, Maracas 2019), will be released over the next year or two by Hollandspiele.

I hope you will give it a try.