New free game: ZNO (District Commander module)

burning farm

Down on the farm, mes gars.

Since District Commander Maracas has been released in physical form by Hollandspiele, I am now offering for free print-and-play the module District Commander ZNO (Zone Nord Oranais). 

This time the action takes place in the hill country southwest of Mostaganem in Algeria, circa 1958-59. The Government player has a selection of French Army sector and intervention (elite) troops, moghazni militia raised by the Sections Administrative Specialisees, and Garde Mobile policemen, backed up by Commandos de Chasse tracker teams, double agents, and small numbers of helicopters. The nationalist insurgent forces have several grades of fighters, Terror and IED Cells, and Supply units that must be escorted back and forth across the arena of combat.

Thanks to everyone who voted in my small poll over on Boardgamegeek. ZNO won narrowly! This module will remain available until it is published by Hollandspiele or I replace it with something else.

DC RB District Commander system rulebook, as spiffily published by Hollandspiele, pdf.

DC system counters 4july District Commander system counters, pdf.

DC ZNO x-rules 10 18 oct 19 ZNO exclusive rules, Word file.

DC ZNO x-charts10 18 oct 19 19 ZNO exclusive charts and play aids, Word file.

DC ZNO ctrs88 18 oct ZNO exclusive counters, pdf.

DC ZNO map 1722 quad 23 sep ZNO map, sized for 17×22″ printing, pdf.

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

NOTICE:

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.

 

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

 

Three philosophers on “difficult” board game topics

 

https://aestheticsforbirds.com/2019/08/21/playing-games-with-history-philosophers-on-the-ethics-of-historical-board-games

Based on the interest aroused by Ken Draper’s New York Times article on problematic board game roles, the Aesthetics for Birds blog asked three philosophers their thoughts on these “difficult” topics.

To take on these questions, we asked some philosophers who specialize in thinking about games, ethics, and art.

  • Stephanie Patridge, Professor and Department Chair, Religion & Philosophy, Otterbein University
  • Chris Bartel, Professor of Philosophy, Appalachian State University
  • C. Thi Nguyen, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Utah Valley University

All good but Professor Nguyen’s comments are particularly interesting.

 

China’s War is up for P500!

CWp500cover

Preliminary artwork, of course. (Rachel Billingsley)

Yes, now it can be told.

Today GMT put China’s War up for P500, and the clock starts ticking… to what end I don’t know, because it will come when it comes, and that’s when it’s ready.

$55.00 now, $80.00 later. I see it’s up to 230 pre-orders already, but I think that is about the number of people who have a “give me anything COIN” standing order with GMT.

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-830-chinas-war-1937-1941.aspx

I will be working with a developer on this, and we’ll be ready to start playtesting with groups soon, after a Vassal module has been got ready (dammit, I really need to learn how to make these things…).

Other information, also available from the page where you went to place your order RIGHT AWAY, and then came back here:

China’s War: 1937-1941 examines the first five years of the conflict, when China stood alone against the Japanese Empire. Each player takes the role of a Faction seeking to attack or defend the Republic of China: the aggressive Japanese, the harried Government (represented by the Nationalist party), the rebellious Chinese Communist Party, or the unruly, fractious Warlords who are obedient when convenient but have their eye on gaining state power. Using military, political, and economic actions and exploiting various events, players build and maneuver forces to influence or control the population, extract resources, or otherwise achieve their Faction’s aims. A deck of cards regulates turn order, events, victory checks, and other processes. The rules can run non-player Factions, enabling solitaire, 2-player, or multi-player games.

COMPONENTS
One 22”x 34” mounted game board
One deck of 52 playing cards
167 wooden playing pieces, some embossed
12 small pawns (6 red, 6 white)
One full-color countersheet
Rules Booklet
Playbook
4 Faction Player Aid foldouts
Cards, Player Aid, and Rules for the card-based solitaire opponent*
1 Sequence of Play sheet
2 six-sided dice

Players: 1-4 (full solitaire system)
Map: Area movement
Time scale: about 1 year per 12-card campaign

*I’m not exactly sure about how to approach the solitaire system for this one; you-all know that I am not all that interested in them. But I was intrigued by the card-based one used in the recent release of Gandhi, and the 12-card AI that David Turczi came up with for Nights of Fire was amazing, so I think I would like to see something like that rather than more flowcharts. Again, if I could get away with not having one, I would, but it is something people have come to expect… after 11 previous volumes in the series!

Laissez les bon temps rouler…

[ETA: 10:00 am the next day and we are up to 406 pre-orders! Might be able to make it by the end of the day, or by the weekend. Whoops, 412 now… 428…]

[FETA: I woke up Saturday morning and it was 501. So, that’s that.]

Here is a look at a prototype map, as exhibited at CSWExpo 2019. Not much to see. The yellow and pink pieces are now green, how prototypical is that for you…

Chinas_War

And speaking of CSW, I have set up a discussion area for the game here:

http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1de0d6b6/0

BGG entry for the game is here:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/287515/chinas-war-1937-41

Political Boardgames; Italian Rumbles

769397473a45656dcdd59cb5e124d58a

Interesting artifact of the Spanish Civil War: Anarchist paper cut-out soldiers.

http://organisemagazine.org.uk/2019/07/23/the-boardgame-is-political-rbg/

Organise! magazine in the UK has published a short piece on radicalism and conflict in board games. Games cited include Monopoly, Class Struggle, Corteo! and RIOT! Cast the First Stone.

  • Monopoly (not The Landlord’s Game) is an example of how fangs get pulled, and has become a silly set-collection game
  • Class Struggle is dull (sorry, but it is) and out of print
  • Corteo! is interesting but long out of print and was only ever available in Italian
  • RIOT! is a newer game (2015), available from noboardgames, an Italian outfit (but rules in English are available)

RIOT! is interesting in that it is a 2-4 player game, with up to four factions: Autonomists, Anarchists, Nationalists and Police. Game mechanics revolve around movement and combat in the streets of a district of a fictional city, with the various goals of occupying buildings (for the Autonomists and Anarchists), confronting the protester forces (for the police) or accomplishing a secret goal (for the Nationalists). There is a good amount of asymmetry between players, with different player powers.

I got a copy with minimal trouble from the UK some time ago, but shipping is expensive. At the end of 2018 noboardgames made a print and play version of RIOT! available on Boardgamegeek, and Organise! magazine will publish a version of it in its next printed issue. I recommend it to your attention.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/177356/riot-cast-first-stone

Other boardgames I would recommend on the theme are:

Funny thing about that last one: I just went to the noboardgames website and found that they had put up Battle of Seattle on their own PnP section in October 2018!

https://noboardgames.com/2018/10/12/printplay-section/

They didn’t ask but no worries, the game is meant to be out there and it’s already been “copylefted” by some other radical sites. I don’t mind, since they left my name on it and did not alter the files at all. Oh, not only that, they have a link to a Spanish-language translation of the rules, which I was not aware existed.

Other games available at the section are their own RIOT! and Suffragetto, an interesting artifact.

Brief Border Wars quad now available for pre-order!

bbw-boxcover-1100px

All images from Compass Games website. All art by Mark Mahaffey.

Compass Games has just announced that my Brief Border Wars quad of games is available for pre-order!

$52.00 US now, $69.00 later.

https://www.compassgames.com/preorders/brief-border-wars.html

I’ve made a few passing references to this project over the last year or so, but here are the details:

BRIEF BORDER WARS

A set of four mini-games on short border conflicts of the 20th and 21st century, using a card-driven system that models the chaotic, stop-and-start nature of these impromptu wars. The system is a development of the one used in The Little War, the mini-game that was published with the Hollandspiele edition of Ukrainian Crisis. The main change is that instead of using a deck of ordinary playing cards with a linear set of values, there is a deck of special action cards that gives players a choice of movement or combat, with values on a bell curve – so players have some flexibility but must still do some improvising.

Each game is small (40 to 50 counters each) and short (one to two hours): an ideal short match to finish off an evening of gaming, or fill a long lunch hour. Each game also features rules additions and variations to reflect the peculiar nature of each conflict.

All four to be published together, in one box. Yes, I did hector Mark Mahaffey, the artist, into giving the game box the old SPI Quadrigame “look”. I’ve brought back the quad, in my shabby, nostalgia-fume-huffing way! 

Mark did a great job on the counters and map too.

bbw-counters

The four conflicts are:

The Football War

El Salvador vs. Honduras, 1969: this is one of history’s shortest wars, clocking in at about 100 hours. People often joke that this was was provoked by one side losing a soccer match: in fact, like most wars, the war was the climax of years of political and economic pressure. In the game, both forces are largely similar – El Salvador has a slightly larger ground force, while Honduras has a bit more airpower – and both must contend with rugged terrain and poor roads in their efforts to seize or hold Honduran territory. To my knowledge no one has ever done a wargame on the Football War, other than a short training scenario in the old Victory Games Central America.

Operation Attila

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, 1974. Greeks and Turks have co-existed uneasily on the island of Cyprus since Classical times. In 1974 a coup d’etat by “EOKA-B”, a violent organization seeking unity with Greece, overthrew the Cypriot government. This was the trigger for the Turkish military to intervene, ostensibly to guarantee the safety of Turkish Cypriots living in small enclaves across the island. In the game, the Turkish player has a small number of professional units to seize and dominate as much of the island as possible, opposed by a larger number of Cypriot irregular forces. To my knowledge no one has published a wargame on this conflict before.

Third Indochina War

China vs. Vietnam, 1979. The Chinese government claimed that this brief war, purposely limited in its aims, was launched to “teach Vietnam a lesson”.  The real incentives behind this first war between two Communist countries were rather more obscure and remain so to this day. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which had not fought a war for 25 years, performed very poorly against the determined Vietnamese People’s Army, then one of the largest and most battle-experienced military forces in the world, backed up with a large force of determined local militia and guerrillas. This is the largest-scaled of the four games, with divisions instead of brigades and battalions and turns representing a week or more. Particularly galling for the Chinese player is having to contend with two widely separated, non-communicating battle fronts. A very undergamed conflict, at least in English: a scenario in the 1980 SPI game The China War (Strategy and Tactics #79) and there are some Chinese-language games including China-Vietnam War, a long out of print game from the early 1980s by a Hong Kong gaming club, and more recent games by Chinese publishers (Battle of South Caobang, Red Dragon Storm).

Second Lebanon War

Israel vs. Hezbollah, southern Lebanon, 2006. The action begins around July 20, 2006 which marked the beginning of increasingly large incursions by Israeli ground troops after eight days of intense aerial bombardment of Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. The time covered by an entire game may represent up to three weeks, ending in a ceasefire on August 14, 2006. The Israeli player’s main objective is to seek out and destroy the Hezbollah rocket and missile units raining destruction on their territory, while balancing the need to avoid mobilizing too many reserve forces. Another very undergamed conflict: Second Lebanon War, a small game by a former student in Phil Sabin’s Conflict Simulations MA course; and scenarios from Millennium Wars Advanced (The Lebanon Scenarios) and my Third Lebanon War game.

brief-war-map1

 

Back from Consimworld Expo 2019

 

nickkarp

I met Nick Karp (attending CSWExpo for the first time ever) in the dealers’ room!

Here I am again, after another hot week in the desert!

I can’t recall how many times I’ve been to CSWExpo, I think this might have been my tenth or something near that number. I always have a good time. I think the worst might have been the first or second time I went and got a horrible cold or something exacerbated by the air conditioning, caught laryngitis and couldn’t talk to any of the people I so much wanted to talk to. I recall there was no pharmacy nearby (there is a CVS now) and in my quest to get something like Listerine to gargle I ended up going to a Circle-K to get a mickey of their cheapest vodka, reasoning that it would a) sterilize my throat and b) be cheaper than actual Listerine. I was right about it being cheaper but still, won’t do that again.

Anyway, this year was fine though Lianne was laid low by the A/C monster this time, for a day or two.

China’s War got lots of attention, natch. I showed it to Gene Billingsley and he was quite happy to accept it for P500 after making one significant but also significantly simpler change in the design – so after making the proper edits I will be sending it off to GMT’s COIN family developer and it ought to hit the P500 list in a few months. Not much point in hurrying because it should make the 500 point briskly (appetite for COIN system is still strong and this is a better known war than the Algerian War) and GMT games now spend around a year in the physical pipeline between pulling final triggers and the physical product showing up in Oakland.

Gene and his son Luke also looked at Strongman, and were by and large impressed by it (Luke seemed particularly taken by the silly Spanish-language puns in the personality names). So that will likely be picked up once it has had more mechanical development; Gene also suggested some tricks for greater narrative development and involvement that will need to be framed up too.

Squares of the City and Virtualia II didn’t get a look in – they need some development and testing anyway, and when they are ready I will likely just upload them here for free download. Semi-abstract games aren’t all that popular anyway.

Designer dinner 2019

L to R: Bruce Geryk, me, Nick Karp, Harold Buchanan, Mark Herman. (photo credit: waiter who overheard we were all game designers and told us how much he loved Magic: the Gathering (hey, let people enjoy things!))

But what was really fine was running into and chatting with two of my design heroes while there – Mark Herman and Nick Karp! We went out to dinner in a group and had a great time telling stories and anecdotes about games, designers and publishers past and present. This was also my first time to meet Bruce Geryk, who I have corresponded with many times.

2019-06-25-19.42.04

Photo by Harold Buchanan. I must have nodded off in the middle of talking about myself.

Another fun thing was getting to talk with Harold Buchanan for another edition of his podcast “Harold on Games”… this time we talked about an even wider range of topics, from creativity and design innovation to the development history of the Pantzooka, a remarkable piece of sartorial ordnance (and sadly, now obsolete). I pity the man, having to edit my ramblings down to an hour or less of coherence.

pantzooka

Ave hominem vestitum.