Coming soon: interview with Radio War Nerd

I spent a very pleasant time today talking about my game designs with Mark Ames and Gary Brecher, who run the Radio War Nerd podcast. It should be up and available soon!

Watch this space….

[ETA 26 Sep] Here it is!

https://www.patreon.com/posts/radio-war-nerd-72457682

You’ll have to join the Patreon to hear it, they might unlock it later and make it free.

Meanwhile,

Patreon page that supports the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/radiowarnerd

Facebook page that supports the chatter (also, a lot of interesting posts and questions on their own, it’s quite an eclectic crowd) https://www.facebook.com/people/Gary-Brecher/100009407541064

Twitter, for those who tweet https://twitter.com/TheWarNerd

Brief Border Wars: Volume II now available for pre-order!

I did a Compass Games broadcast with John Kranz tonight.

Big announcement: volume II of Brief Border Wars is now available for pre-order from Compass Games!

Get it now for the “pay later” price of $54.00!

I talk about the game for about 30 minutes on the video above, and the ad copy at the link below will tell you more and show you the maps, counters and cover artwork, very ably done by Knut Grunitz.

Brief Border Wars 2 (Pay Later)

The four games in Volume II are:

1913: Second Balkan War
The division of lands given up by the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First Balkan War was soon the subject of squabbles between the allied nations that had defeated the Empire. Bulgaria decided to grab as much of this territory as it could by a surprise attack on June 30, 1913 against Serbia and Greece. The offensive by their more powerful army soon petered out due to poor logistical depth and bad coordination, then in mid-July Romanian and Ottoman forces crossed Bulgaria’s borders. This made Bulgaria sue for peace but if the Bulgarian player has seized enough territory and made significant diplomatic assurances, they will have a better position in the negotiations.

1919: The Seven-Day War
The Duchy of Teschen (Cieszyn in Polish) was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of the war. The two new countries of Czechoslovakia and Poland both laid claim to the territory on historic and ethnic grounds; more urgently, both countries desperately needed the land because of its large coal deposits and valuable mines, as well as the important iron and steel works at Trinec. On January 23, 1919, Czechoslovakia invaded to seize control of as much of the region as they could to stop Poland’s efforts to claim sovereignty over it. After seven days of fighting, the Entente nations forced a ceasefire and the two antagonists signed an agreement establishing a border at the Olza River, dividing the city of Cieszyn.

1939: The Nomonhan Incident
Also called the Battle of Khalkin Gol, this border clash between Japanese and Soviet forces in a remote part of the Mongolian grasslands had an impact on the development of the Second World War in the Pacific all out of proportion to the numbers involved. The game covers the early to mid-July 1939 period, the only time frame in which the Japanese Army could have succeeded in overpowering the local Soviet forces and establishing their claim to the zone between the Soviet claimed boundary and the Halha River. The attack provoked extensive reinforcements for the Soviet 57th Corps and their counteroffensive in August under the command of General Georgi Zhukov discouraged the Japanese Empire from contemplating further attacks on Mongolia or the USSR.

1940: The Italo-Greek War
This game covers the first two months of the Italian invasion of Greece in the fall and winter of 1940. Hardly anything went right for the Italians; chaotic logistics and poor communication nullified their great advantage in men and machines and their offensive was halted and then thrown back into Albania by the determined Greek forces. Could you have done better than Mussolini?

bbw2-gamebox-top-062022

Consim Game Jam #2: 19-21 August 2022

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(everything starts with a prototype)

http://consimgamejam.com/

Consim Game Jam is a so-far-annual event where small groups of people from all over the world get together to create a wargame prototype, from start to finish, in 72 hours!

The last one was in October 2021 and the given theme was “Recycle an existing COIN game”. That is, using the physical components of a published GMT COIN system game, create a new design. This event shook 15 submissions out of the Idea Tree, and they are impressive in their variety and imagination.

http://consimgamejam.com/edition-1-submissions/

Now, the next one is scheduled for the weekend of August 19-21, 2022!

Theme hasn’t been announced yet, as far as I can find.

Go to the link at the top of the post, and/or register at this link to get further details.

http://consimgamejam.com/register/

I won’t be in this one, but I cannot wait to hear the theme and see what comes of this second exercise.

KCL wargame coverage in the Grauniad

Don’t Fear the Reaper Drone at KCL

https://www.theguardian.com/games/2022/may/27/from-the-invasion-of-ukraine-to-weapons-procurement-the-war-games-seeking-solutions-to-real-life-conflicts

A nice piece in The Guardian about the MA course “Designing Games for Education and Analysis” at Kings College London. The writer tried out some of the games designed by students and was impressed by the wide variety of treatments and topics. An unnamed “expert from MoD” is also cited (but we think we know who it is!).

And even better, the piece was not illustrated by a picture of a game of Risk….

Two Interviews: The British Way, La Jeu de la Guerre

ONE

https://elwargameronovato.blogspot.com/2022/05/the-british-way-interview-stephen.html

Daniel Iniesta interviewed Stephen Rangazas, whose 4-pack of cut-down GMT COIN system games is forthcoming from GMT.

The British Way picks up on four postwar British entanglements: Malaya, Palestine, Kenya and Cyprus. He says:

The main changes to the core COIN mechanics for The British Way was altering the way two player COIN works. I streamlined the two-player sequence of play designed by Brian Train in Colonial Twilight and changed victory to work off an overall Political Will Track to reflect that these were really head-to-head challenges between the British and insurgents. There are also significant variations to the core COIN mechanics with the two more clandestine cell-based insurgencies in Cyprus and Palestine. Finally, I think the multipack really benefited from the linked campaign scenario and designing a macro game that covers four smaller COIN games required innovating from what had been done before in the series.

It’s kind of interesting to me that my “4-box” family of games that partly inspired Volko Ruhnke’s design for the COIN system (Algeria particularly) also depended heavily on an overall Political Will or Support Track that reflected each side’s cohesion and popular support (I suppose more accurately government support for the British, since these were decolonization campaigns) in a non-zero-sum way. So kind of a return to base, in its way.

The games are limited in size and component count – not more than 18 cards played in a game, so it’s done in 1-2 hours.

I’m looking forward to this package very much!

TWO

The very clever Fred Serval has an interview with Alex Galloway about Guy Debord’s La Jeu de la Guerra for his podcast Homo Ludens. History about Debord and his game, and talk about Galloway’s work on a digital version of the game (still in process). Also, a neat clip from the Situationist detourned film, “Can Dialectics Break Bricks?”

And some time later (July 2022), Fred posts part 2, where he plays through a game with Alex Galloway and they discuss the design and adaptation of the game, among other things.

Indigenous counterpoints to colonial themes in board games

Not ‘just a game’: World of board games faces reckoning for colonial themes

A news story in Canadian Indigenous media about a teacher up-Island from me who created a board game about the Truth part of Truth and Reconciliation.

The article mentions Spirit Island, something I would like to try but can’t arrange a trade for on BGG, and also gives a shout-out to the Zenobia Awards which is nice. It mentions Settlers of Catan as an example of an objectionable board game. I add that Greg Loring-Albright (co-designer of Bloc by Bloc: Uprising 3rd Edition, which I am awaiting eagerly) created a variant of the game, First Nations of Catan, that adds an Indigenous player since the mythical island is not and never was terra nullius.

https://analoggamestudies.org/2015/11/the-first-nations-of-catan-practices-in-critical-modification/

(nice-looking printable version is here: https://doctrineofdiscoverymenno.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ddofd-catan-handout-frontback.pdf )

Meanwhile, the Playing Oppression anthology that was being worked on at MIT Gamelab (Mary Flanagan et al) seems to have ground to a halt about 2019/20, though Mary Flanagan is still designing games.

http://gamelab.mit.edu/research/games-and-colonialism/

Logistical listicle @ RMN and ACD

Battle Lab ~ Defining “Logistics” for Wargames

At Armchair Dragoons today, Brant Guillory posts about logistics could be shown in wargames but aren’t (but don’t always have to be). I cannot improve on what he has to say here! Freebird!

https://rockymountainnavy.com/2022/03/09/wargame-wednesday-wheres-my-supply

And earlier, over at the Rocky Mountain Navy blog, a good piece on logistics treatment and examples of supply rules in modern-period wargames… the handwavy, the ambitious-but-fundamentally-spineless, and the just-don’t-go-there. Also, would the famous 40 km long traffic jam north of Kyiv happen in a civilian wargame? Answer: no it wouldn’t, because trucks are magic and unit commanders are smart and disciplined. Offhand, the only wargame I can recall that dealt seriously with the amount of road space a unit on the march took up was SPI’s East Front game Lost Battles, from 1971; also, some Bulge games have rules about traffic jams and occasionally someone insists you cannot just drive one division through another division.

Go and have a look at it, it also cites the logistical articles I had pointed out in previous posts that described the supply problems the Russians would run into if they invaded (however, I presented these as arguments against them doing an invasion, but that’s now moot).

But more to the point he illustrated the article with this map which is far more descriptive than the scary massive red and stripey zones and plunging arrows we see on TV and other media. It points out the nature of the mostly empty modern battlefield, the “line and dot” nature of an advance into enemy territory and an evocation of the long logistical tail the advance needs for its sustenance.

Actually, most military campaign maps from almost any period should be drawn like this; they should look like duelling plates of spaghetti.

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Podcast: Armchair Dragoons

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/podcast/mentioned-in-dispatches-season-8-ep-6-looking-back-at-wargames-on-ukraine

Brant Guillory invited me on his regular podcast Mentioned in Dispatches recently.

Together with his regular partner in broadcasting Mike, we talk about games postulating war in Ukraine and how they seem to be largely inapplicable, or got it wrong.

I did Ukrainian Crisis in 2014 of course; and Brant designed Orange Crush, an operational level kinetic combat game about action around Lviv, in 2007.

But we talk about other things too….

Foucault in the Woodland, Part 3

 

Dan Thurot, lui-meme de <<Space-Biff!>> continues his series of commentaries on Root and Foucaultian biopolitics. This instalment is a comparison of the Marquis machine and its opponent the Woodland Alliance. A good quote:

Every so often I’ll meet somebody who can’t or won’t overlook the ugliness that takes place beneath a wargame’s resolution; say, the atrocities that appear on every single card in Twilight Struggle or one of the volumes of the COIN Series. By rewriting these atrocities in the language and imagery of fable, Wehrle degausses that resolution even further. One can make-believe that the inhabitants of the Marquise’s sawmills and workshops aren’t staffed with children, or that they’re safely evacuated before the Woodland Alliance puts them to the torch. That despite the blood frenzy of the moment, the line between forced laborer, reluctant collaborator, and enthusiastic participant is clearly drawn.

The Story So Far:

https://spacebiff.com/2022/01/25/foucault-in-the-woodland-3/

https://spacebiff.com/2021/12/02/foucault-in-the-woodland-2/

https://spacebiff.com/2021/11/04/foucault-in-the-woodland-1/

Interview: designing political-military games

Last year I did an interview about my games and thoughts about game design with the group “Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland” (because they asked nicely). I prefer to do interviews by email but they would have liked a live event, so we compromised by having a computer voice read the transcript quickly while a Terry Gilliam drawing wobbled its jaw up and down.

If this is too alarming an image for you, you can read the transcript at anti-imperialist-action-ireland.com/blog/2022/01/03/political-military-board-game-design-with-brian-train/