My Dinner with Werner

Nothing to do with wargaming, history, or even design… well, maybe creativity.

But I like Werner Herzog, and I like chicken (more than he does).

A funny short film with musing, yelling, door-banging and birds talking via the miracle of champagne.

And if you can’t make it out, dine at home with selections from the Herzog line of canned foods.

HerzogCans

VDV Song, updated

Oh, this is just brilliant!

Today’s factoid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky voiced Paddington Bear in the Ukrainian language dub of Paddington and Paddington 2.

Now:

paddington3pplswar

(sorry, don’t know ultimate source of this graphic)

Meanwhile, the best digest of Ukraine war news and analysis I’ve seen so far is the daily campaign assessments put out by the Institute for the Study of War:

https://understandingwar.org/

Beats hours of futile doomscrolling and semi-conscious journalism.

Counterinsurgency RTS game

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I don’t often read Duffel Blog, so it was only today this piece from 2017 came to my attention:

https://www.duffelblog.com/p/realistic-new-counterinsurgency-video-game-lets-watch-troops-fuck-youre-fired

Realistic new ‘Counterinsurgency’ video game lets you watch troops fuck up until you’re fired
Dec 5, 2017

SEATTLE, Wash. — An upcoming real-time strategy game is designed to let you watch your troops fuck up until you’re fired, sources confirmed today.

Titled Counterinsurgency, the debut video game from Seattle-based Green Wood Studios breaks new ground by pulling players into a protracted campaign mode with virtually no way to win. During this time, you — playing as the Theater Commander — get to witness gross mismanagement and malfeasance on the part of your subordinates until you are replaced.

“Most RTS games are about achieving measurable objectives, such as destroying the enemy team or acquiring key resources,” said Jerry Cevalos, the lead game designer, during an interview at GWS. “We went the opposite direction by instating a nebulous end-game of installing and sustaining a democracy.”

Counterinsurgency takes place in a fictional country, Angelovya, after World War III. The playable faction (U.S. military) occupies the nation in an effort to uphold an American-backed government, rebuild infrastructure, and protect the populace from the insurgent “Red Phoenix Army.” To this end, you have the option of using a plethora of military, civil, and diplomatic options — from Special Forces raids and airstrikes to training local security forces and bribing village officials.

Players have a finite number of Confidence Points, which are gained or lost depending on in-game successes and failures. Reaching zero points results in being relieved of command and the game self-destructing inside the console.

According to a preview of the game, despite having superior forces and materiel on the player’s side, things quickly go haywire after the campaign begins. Faulty intelligence gained from tortured prisoners leads to a missile obliterating a wedding, killing 23 unarmed civilians and a CIA asset. A shadowy, Russian-backed cartel quickly gains recruits from the angry populace, and the Red Phoenix Army is born.

Numerous pre-scripted and dynamic real-time events wreak further havoc on your command, from vehicle-borne IEDs blowing up civilians and gate guards, to special ops raids killing the wrong people, to soldiers disobeying orders or going on murder-sprees.

“You could be in the middle of stability operations in a nearby province, and a disillusioned soldier will desert his post or leak classified documents,” Cevalos explained, referring to unscripted incidents that can happen during gameplay. “And don’t be surprised if your best troops with fleshed-out skill trees quit the military and get replaced with inept morons.”

Making things worse, the insurgents are often indistinguishable from neutral non-playable characters, making accidental civilian deaths practically unavoidable. This problem is compounded by vindictive locals falsely accusing their rivals of being guerrillas, while others have no interest in ratting out their insurgent friends and family. All of these contribute to the loss of Confidence Points and bring your command tenure to its inevitable demise.

“Whether it’s sending Special Forces to train people who will later try to kill them or arresting a dozen Marines in a drug and prostitution sting, we intend to make this the most realistic RTS to date,” Cevalos added.

He concluded, “We hope this will best reflect the state of America’s current wars.”

At press time, a leaked memo has revealed that the only way to win the game is by carpet-bombing the entire country. This results in the Theater Commander being sent to the Hague for war crimes and your computer frying itself anyway.

Counterinsurgency is scheduled to be released after the War in Afghanistan ends, sometime in 2031.

By Paul Szoldra

Duffel Blog is the first and only online parody news organization focused on the U.S. military and veterans — helping advance critical thinking in national security through satire and smart humor.

Reorg

Today we had a moderate reorganization of my Ministry – doesn’t affect me much except where dealing with the Suits is required; I lost a good go-to-bat-for-you Boss though.

But titles always change in a reorg, and now I am in the Strategic Policy and Initiatives Branch.

I’d make the logo my Zoom/MS Teams background or whatever, but no one would get it.

Private Paula

 

Here’s something I didn’t know…

In the German-dubbed version of Full Metal Jacket, Vincent D’Onofrio’s character Private Pyle is rendered “Private Paula”.

GySgt Hartmann’s (“hard man”) berating Pyle is just as impressive auf Deutsch! Though the expression “if it short-dicks every cannibal on the Congo” is no more illuminating when it’s translated into German.

Interview with Harold Buchanan – part 2

 

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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

 

Phil’s Phlush With Greatness

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On tonight’s broadcast of Jeopardy!, Philip Sabin’s book shows up as a clue.

After a considerable pause, the contestant guessed, “….the Battle of Troy”.

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/

An unexpected but very welcome comparison

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Over on Boardgamegeek.com I posted a link to the review on Armchair General (Review of Colonial Twilight in The Armchair General). In a reply to the ensuing thread, user Paul Heron wrote:

I feel I ought to point out that, while the tone of CT is certainly serious, it thankfully isn’t sanctimonious, earnest or po-faced.

In fact, a refreshing element of this game for me has been the flashes of humour in there (also to be found in some of Brian’s other designs, Ukrainian Crisis for one). For instance, the Jean Paul Sartre card with its tagline, ‘Either way, he and Albert Camus are no longer friends.’

While some may argue that humour is inappropriate in a wargame, unless the game as the whole is intended as satire (War on Terror), my view is that humour has always been a part of war, and not only as a ‘defense mechanism’ employed by soldiers and civilians.

Rather, humour/absurdity is in an odd way one of the intrinsic elements of war (and the literature of war seems to me to confirm this), part of its troubling strangeness, what novelist J.G. Ballard called the ‘casual surrealism of war’ (which probably more often is simply weird and jarring, rather than blackly humourous).

As the son of British ex-pats living in Shanghai when the Pacific War began, Ballard spent his early teens in a Japanese internment camp. In particular his experience, in the dog days of the war, of leaving the camp and exploring the devastated and largely abandoned city, seems to have left an especially vivid impression on him, informing all his subsequent writing (only a small portion of which – his 1984 novel Empire of the Sun for instance – is explicitly about war).

Incidentally, like the jokes that Brian sneaks into his games, much of Ballard’s writing is slyly humourous – ‘guerrilla humour’ as it were, rather than the more obvious sort that bludgeons you with massive frontal assaults (War on Terror again springs to mind).

Those who know me well, know that J.G. Ballard is one of my absolute favourite writers. This guy gets me!

(oh man, can this day get any better?)