Minute Men Mark II

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Two texts.

One I have quoted often, one I read today in a blog I read frequently and find wise.

First: James Dunnigan, writing in 1976, in the introduction to the basic scenario of one of my favourite games, Minuteman: the Second American Revolution (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5859/minuteman-second-american-revolution).

In Minuteman, Dunnigan’s objective was to portray the spread of underground anti-establishment movements, the government’s reaction to civil discontent, and the mechanics of fighting a popular revolution. Instead of making up an imaginary country, he placed the action in the United States of 2020. The future history he cooks up as the framework to the basic scenario describes a world largely at peace, with a bankrupt Russia removed from the superpower game and an America preoccupied with profound internal social problems caused by the massive public debt run up in the last twenty years of the 20th century.

“… the trend of the ‘rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer’ had been accentuated. The only jobs that paid enough to provide a comfortable existence were to be found in the government, military, and the top 100 industrial corporations. Because of the vastly increased mechanization of work, the corporations employed only some 10% of the working population. The government employed another 12% but half of these government employees were patronage jobs, and the workers served at the pleasure of the elected officials who paid them. Another 4% of the working population was in the armed forces, [which] had become something of a hereditary institution… The government now provided millions of ‘public works’ jobs which … had now become nothing more than another form of public welfare… the police, which amounted one-third of all government employees, were kept busy seeing that over 40 million unemployed and underemployed people did not get out of line. The present situation was not one in which Americans were starving, nor did they lack most basic comforts. What they were denied was any great hope of improvement… only some 20% of the population was going to have any future whatsoever. The rest of the population would subsist as well-fed, uneducated, and most horrifying of all, useless drones existing at the mercy of a small hereditary minority.”

Not bang-on, but prescient enough and a remarkable projection from the distance of 45 years.

Second: this, today, from ianwelsh.net. 

Might seem overstated now but who knows what this will look like from 45 years away?

The Conditions Now Exist For A Long Term Right Wing Insurgency In America
2021 JANUARY 13

by Ian Welsh

Let us understand that the attack on the capitol, while it included many “tourists”, included some very serious, coordinated people who had temporary restraints and a plan.

They genuinely believed, because they have been told this over and over and over again, that the election had been blatantly and massively stolen, and that democracy in the United States had been overthrown. As such, it was their duty to right the wrong that had been done, including taking captive those most responsible like Nancy Pelosi.

It’s hard to find general polling data, but over 50% of registered Republican voters think the attack was justified. Almost half blame Biden more than Trump. Fourty-five (to 43%) think the protest/attack was justified.

Republican support, like Democratic support, is geographically concentrated.

These numbers are more than sufficient to sustain a long term insurgency.

It’s worth understanding how insurgencies get better. Let’s take Hezbollah as an example: if as a Hezbollah member, let alone commander,  you get sloppy in your security at any time, you get dead, because Israel has the best American surveillance and ELINT equipment, plus jets and drones and assassination teams.

Israel, over the years, has killed a ton of Hezbollah officials.

Hasn’t slowed Hezbollah down one bit, instead it has acted as a perfect Darwinian crucible. If you make mistakes, you get dead and probably so does your family and most of your unit.

Israel kept doing that, and now mistakes hardly ever happen. In fact, in the last Israel-Hezbollah war, Hezbollah won the ELINT war (against American equipment, remember) and won the ground-battles. Over decades, Israel had created the perfect enemy, absolutely optimized to beat them, and arguably the best light infantry force in the world.

Nowadays Israel is scared to patrol near the Lebanese border, because Hezbollah has told them that the moment Hezbollah can, it will grab Israeli soldiers, and Israel is now the sort of society that can’t handle that. So Hezbollah has not just beaten them on the ground; electronically and in the spy-game, it has achieved psychological dominance.

Now, of course, an American right wing insurrection is not the same. Among other things, American forces will be operating in their own county; plus, this is the start, not the end.

But boobs like those who went the capitol and live-streamed the attack – those people will quickly be taken out of the picture. Even the slightly smarter will be caught because they wore the same gear as in previous protests or didn’t wear masks and goggles. People who used credit cards to travel and took their phones with them. They go to nasty prisons, and they learn or drop out of active life in the resistance. Over time, security becomes tighter and tighter. People learn.

America is a big country: far, far larger than Lebanon, which is barely a postage stamp. Lots of people and lots of terrain. The security services are at least somewhat sympathetic and clearly massively infiltrated by race-warriors and other “fellow travelers” of the right.

So what seems like a distinct possibility is a low grade insurrection, combined with protests that often turn violent, by very heavily armed people. Biden will pass his Patriot Act II, even more cameras and security checks and intrusive laws and unjust nonsense like the no-fly list (which is not made good or right because it was used against right wingers) proliferate.

The US becomes even more of a police and prison state.

If this metastasizes into the next stage, well, the US is full of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. They know how area denial works (repeat after me, IEDs) and there will be techies willing to make them drones and so on. Parts of the country become no-go zones, where the security services can only go in convoys or by air, and even then at great risk.

Far-fetched?

Perhaps. But the US has a large enough and geographically concentrated enough population who genuinely believe that the election was stolen and that it is their patriotic duty to restore democracy to sustain an insurrection. It has compromised security forces, a geography that in many places is almost made for insurrection, and a vast amount of arms spread around the population along with the knowledge and means to make more.

As usual, this sort of thing takes time to really get going and there are actions which could be taken to limit it and drain the swamp.

But understand clearly that the conditions for a long term insurrection which cannot be put down with force short of imprisoning millions of people in prison camps (or killing millions) currently exist in America.

Legitimacy, for millions of Americans, is truly and completely broken. They consider the government about to be inaugurated to one that has no right to be in power.

In the game Minuteman, ultimate victory goes to the player who successfully contends for control of the major urban zones; as always, the bulk of the people are the prize (or at least the bulk of the politically active and mobilizable people). Meanwhile, there are cities aplenty that could serve as hinterland bases.

Some variants and update material for the game are here: Favourites Scenarios and Variants

I ought to take a weekend and get this one out again… and, as I did when I was a student, listen to this on headphones while playing:

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway,
A place where nobody knows

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, lived in a ghetto,
I’ve lived all over this town

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain’t got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver,
Hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, a couple of visas,
You don’t even know my real name

High on a hillside, the trucks are loading,
Everything’s ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nighttime,
I might not ever get home

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no Mudd Club, or C. B. G. B.,
I ain’t got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody’ll see you up there

I got some groceries, some peanut butter
To last a couple of days
But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no headphones
Ain’t got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can’t write a letter, can’t send no postcard
I ain’t got time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock
We blended in with the crowd
We got computers, we’re tapping phone lines
I know that that ain’t allowed

We dress like students, we dress like housewives
Or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle so many times now
I don’t know what I look like

You make me shiver, I feel so tender
We make a pretty good team
Don’t get exhausted, I’ll do some driving
You ought to get you some sleep

Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won’t help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace
The burning keeps me alive

So what was that all about?

i tawt i taw a coup

image: Paul Mavrides.

Some truly remarkable images and events this week in Washing Tundy Sea. I can’t pick a favourite. So I use this cute image by Paul Mavrides.

Was it a coup? Not really, in my view, or at least not the riot itself. Edward Luttwak’s remarkable 1968 book Coup d’etat: A Practical Handbook defines ” [a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.” He also gives some useful distinctions:

https://books.google.ca/books?id=bA7bCwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

It’s interesting to note that the words being tossed around are foreign loan words: coup d’etat, putsch, pronunciamento. Almost as if English didn’t want to be associated with such ruffianlike behaviour.

But it’s not just local language, it’s the concept. And one concept/term hasn’t been used much is “autogolpe” or self-coup. Basically it is a form of coup d’etat, in that it uses some of the machinery and organs of the State to seize power, but the objective is not regime change – it is to keep the regime (and head of state) in power, when it is supposed to leave. This is something that is not unique to South America, but the continent furnishes some good examples: Alberto Fujimori in Peru in 1992, and recent events in Bolivia. I would say that what we’ve seen is a clumsily attempted autogolpe through the legislature, with a noisy messy mob attack on top of it as a threat and distraction.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2021/01/08/no-its-not-a-coup-its-a-failed-self-coup-that-will-undermine-us-leadership-and-democracy-worldwide/

There was also a swell of online gamer interest in Civil Power, which is now in production by Blue Panther LLC, as one of the very few tactical games about riots… I would guess it’s the only one in print, even including miniatures rules sets. So yes, one could make up a Capitol Hill scenario fairly quickly – I’m not going to bother, I have other things to do right now – it’s not hard:

https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2020/12/21/civil-power-making-your-own-scenarios/

As I’ve said many times, this is deliberately a sandbox game. The range of scenarios with the game is illustrative and there are plenty of optional rules. People can experiment with this one as they please, and add what assumptions and conditions they like.

Really, this would be a combination of two scenarios that are in the game already: I-4 “Terre Blanche, Pretoria 1991” (rioting neo-Nazis trying to get into a building (how about that), just be sure to mark a limited number of entry points) and I-8 “Demonstration, American city 202x”.

And for the run-up to Inauguration Day, if there is sustained crowd and demo activity (and no shooting or bombing, despite what some blowhards have posted), Battle of Seattle (Free Games! ) could be updated or you could run a 3-5 day campaign scenario of Civil Power like the Chicago ’68 scenario in the game.

Please don’t accuse me of bad taste or “too soon” (unless you feel that way about the whole hobby, in which case it isn’t just me). I designed Civil Power in 1991, using then-contemporary news stories as the bases for scenarios, and it’s been available from me in one form or another for over 25 years. Battle of Seattle I did within a few weeks of the actual event at the end of 1999. I’m interested in these things, and I make my wee games of them; and sometimes, the world catches up with me.

The Zenobia Award

Mentor.

Signal boost for a worthy cause: the Zenobia Award.

Rex Brynen is a better writer, speaker and when it comes down to it thinker than I am so I will quote from his announcement:

“Historical board games are enjoyed by people from all walks of life, but their designers are predominately white men. The Zenobia Award hopes to change this by encouraging game submissions by people from marginalized groups. The Zenobia Award is not an ordinary design award. Promising applicants will receive mentorship on their designs from established industry designers, and the winners will receive help navigating the game publication process in addition to a cash prize.”

Daniel Thurot at Space-Biff! is also far more eloquent than I, at his post at https://spacebiff.com/2020/11/22/zenobia/

More details are all here: https://zenobiaaward.org so go and have a look.

I write a lot about my game designs on this blog, less often on politics, and only occasionally on the state of the hobby. But anyone who’s been in it for long soon susses out that just as there are definitely more “outputs” (published games) on certain topics than others, there are also more “inputs” (designers of published games) of a certain category than others – white, male, and older.

This is an observation, and hardly a profound one at that.

I don’t see anything nefarious about this situation. It was well known, Back In The Day, that this was a hobby that was generally indulged in by white, educated males… the Great Dunnigan remarked on this, particularly the gender imbalance, in the pages of SPI-era Strategy and Tactics many times, and often referred to the whole shootin’ match as “the hobby of the overeducated” – which back then largely also meant white and male.

I also don’t see anything particularly praiseworthy about this situation. It is also well known, Now, that many cylinders of this hobby’s engine have run on nostalgia fumes for a very long time, and many players and designers from Back In The Day are still with us, just older. That’s expected – time does march on – but society has marched on too and the audiences, actual and potential, for tabletop games are far different in gender, ethnicity, nationality and cultural outlook from 40 years ago.

I think it’s pretty simple: if you want to see the hobby continue to function, to encourage new ideas and explore different topics, to invite new people and their experiences into the fold, either help to spread the word yourself or consider contributing, either as a member of an underrepresented group or part of a team that includes such. It’s not about the prize (personally, I don’t see why money has to be be involved at all), it’s about the offer of help, advice and mentorship to people who want to become involved… which is something I have tried to extend to everyone who has approached me, as a designer (and in my day job).

If these things are not important to you, or you think they will happen by themselves, or you think that historical board games are not inherently political objects, then carry on as you have – this initiative doesn’t require anything of you, and I am sure you can find someone who will agree with you elsewhere. But I have never had time for self-appointed gatekeepers.

Simulmatics’ shadow

An early example of an urban COIN megagame

A while back I posted about an interesting urban insurgency game I found on the shelves of the US Army War College called URB-INS. It was produced by Simulmatics, a political consulting and analysis company that started in 1959, rocketed to prominence as one of the early proponents of big data for political analysis, and went bankrupt by 1970. 

Jill Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard, has written a book called If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future that traces out just how far, high and fast Simulmatics went in the world of politics, government and academia. Have a look at this interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education – if nothing else, for the description of what Eugene Burdick, writer of The Ugly American and Fail-Safe and spokesman for Ballantine Ale, had to do with it all!

https://www.chronicle.com/article/higher-ed-has-a-silicon-valley-problem

“Incipient insurgency”: Kilcullen

[I think I really dislike this new editor WordPress is making people use. I am going to put the link to the Kilcullen piece at the bottom, as it obscures everything under it.]

When David Kilcullen writes something, I pay attention to it. A recent short article by him (though he has been writing in this vein for some time) declares that the United States is showing warning signs of having an incipient insurgency. Final two paragraphs from the piece, though it’s all worth reading:

One possible interpretation is that America may be in what the CIA Guide to the Analysis of Insurgency calls “incipient insurgency.” This encompasses pre-insurgency and organizational stages; it may involve inchoate action by a range of groups, followed by organization, training, acquisition of resources, and building external and public support, then increasingly frequent antigovernment incidents displaying improved organization and forethought. Many simultaneous proto-insurgencies can coexist, and it may be impossible to determine which (if any) of them will progress to a more serious stage.

Clearly, current conditions in the United States match some – though not all – of these criteria. There is no reason why, even with today’s toxic political polarization, we must inevitably slip further toward conflict. But if we want to avoid that risk, it is essential to recognize that it does exist and that, “insurrection” or not, the best thing to do is to treat the current unrest as a wake-up call and act urgently to address it.

Meanwhile, Fred Kaplan give it a somewhat more strident and overtly political context, in a piece for Slate magazine with other references to Kilcullen’s writing. Bonus points for references to focoism and Stathis Kalyvas’ The Logic of Violence in Civil War.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/09/america-insurgency-chaos-trump-violence.html

The word to apply right now is “inchoate”, and I have a feeling that it will be the one to apply for some time to come… widespread but disorganized disorder that will, possibly, persist until it becomes its own reason for continuing on… but nothing approaching the “second Civil War” that some people seem to love to fantasize about. For one thing, events would have to reach the stage where both sides consistently show up with firearms.

So much more to write on this, but I have to get back to more urgent and better-paying tasks…

The Game Political

A very good piece on aspects of the current (and not so current) “keep politics out of my games” breast-beating, by Iain McAllister at the blog There Will Be Games.

https://therewillbe.games/articles-essays/7944-the-game-political

+1 for the House of Cards image!

So much of my design work has been and will continue to be overtly political, or at least about politics. And certainly designing a game, any game, is a creative and therefore a personally-political act.

And yes, I think the games themselves are works of art, and as such deep and very telling artifacts of popular culture to boot. And that popular culture that we all swim about in is changing – it’s always changing, but nowadays it is changing in ways that make many of the inhabitants of this niche of a niche of a niche uncomfortable. We must all ask ourselves where we draw our sense of identity from, and what parts of life we overtly tie it to.

The Game Political

The Game Political

Tthegiantbrain Updated July 23, 2020 

‘Don’t get Politics in my game’ goes out the cry. It rings out during debates over diversity, games set in less than savoury periods of history, and ideologies overt and subtle in the world of tabletop games. This voice is getting louder and louder as boardgames shake off the cloak of being a niche hobby and make their tentative way to a more mainstream audience. As the number of people playing boardgames grows, more and more questions are being asked of the creators intent: the message the game is trying to convey. On top of this we are waking up to the idea that maybe diverse genders, sexualties and people of colour should be seen more on front of boxes and behind the scenes at companies. More questions, more probing of the status quo.

Should these concerns be shoved aside for the sake of ‘just playing the game’? Isn’t such criticism fundamental to the growth of any art form? Let’s take a deep breath together, and dive into some murky depths.

Defining the issue

This is a thorny subject, so let’s establish some ground rules. First of all we need to look at what is being said by those who declare ‘Don’t bring politics into my games’ (or words to that effect). Turning for a moment to the Oxford English Dictionary for a definition:

Politics: relating to the ideas or strategies of a particular party or group

Fundamentally we are talking about ideas, and of course people are going to argue about them. Unfortunately a lot of the time what they are arguing for is the status quo, as if politics has never existed in boardgames until this moment.

Since we first started making art the act of creation is one that expresses ideas. Ideas of place, of people, of lived experiences. We cannot separate politics from the act of creation, as one influences the other. From hanging portraits in a gallery to the latest blockbuster, our creative acts are imbued with the ideas, and politics, of their creators.

A foundation for discussion

I think we can agree that Boardgames are a creative endeavour, and I have argued that the creative act by its very nature is political. It therefore follows that boardgames are political.

Why then do we have voices telling us to get politics out of boardgames? My experience of seeing this said generally comes in one of two cases: when a company seeks to include more diverse voices, art, or to represent a particular political point of view more overtly, or when the game is coming in for criticism. It is the latter that really interests me (though we will come back to the former).

Are they art?

We’ve established that boardgames are political due to being a creative act. Are they art? That is a much trickier question to answer with any certainty, so let me answer it from my own perspective so we can move on.

I think we all recognise that individual components of a boardgame can be recognised as art: the illustrations, miniature design, graphic design, writing (both technical and creative). Therefore the whole that is created out of these elements, can also be seen as an art form. Simplistic maybe, but as I said this is my point of view. I think boardgames are art.

Art that is never seen, experienced or consumed, is art without purpose. Art needs interpreted, it should have emotional impact. To me the greatest sin a piece of art can commit is to not move me at all. If I watch a film and my reaction is a shrug of the shoulders and ‘meh’, then it has not done its job. Even films I dislike have provoked a strong reaction at least. Art should provoke a reaction, even if it is just in one person. If it provokes a reaction, it is likely to receive criticism as well.

On the defensive

When something we love comes in for negative feedback, it can feel like an attack. We take it personally. I get that, I’ve been there myself. We rage against the idea that the thing we love is not perfect, and one of the ways that happens is to call foul on the idea of ‘bringing politics into games’. This seems to be especially the case when that criticism is to do with the treatment of different cultures, people of colour, and diverse genders in games.

Curiously you don’t see this happening when Twilight Struggle stood colossus like atop the BGG top 100. Twilight Struggle is a game about a literal political fight (the Cold War). Did anyone shout ‘Keep politics out of my games’ when this happened? No. No they didn’t. How many wargames are there? Think war isn’t political? Where are these angry voices everytime a new wargame hits the market? Silent as the grave. Watergate, a current favourite of mine, has had a rapturous reception across the critical spectrum. I don’t recall seeing a single person saying ‘get politics out of my games’ despite it being about a political scandal. The moment someone says ‘could we please have a non-sexualised female miniature’ or ‘what about representing people of colour in your art’ then it’s all loud hailers and signs.

I think I’ve amply demonstrated that these comments do not come from a place of wanting to get ‘politics’ out of games. It’s about prejudice. White prejudice to be exact. All white people have it, myself included. We are conditioned in a certain way of thinking about other cultures and societies in such a way that we must always ask questions of ourselves and the games we play. I’ve been doing my best to educate myself about the struggles black people have endured, and I recommend the documentaries ‘I am not your Negro’ and ‘13th’ as good places to start. I have also been reading ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo and that has given me a lot to think about.

If we want the hobby to grow it must represent all people. I can find myself everywhere in the hobby because I am a white, CIS, straight male. If you are not that, then your representation in the hobby is poor, bordering on non-existent. This is changing, albeit slowly. If you are represented in the hobby, you can use your voice to lift up great examples of inclusive practices, to shout about the designers, artists, developers who do not fall into the norm of the hobby’s demographic. You don’t need to be an influencer or reviewer, every voice helps.

Asking questions of ourselves, being critical of our own choices and actions is paramount. Such a course keeps us honest and stops us slipping into the outright discrimination that is ever prevalent in our culture and the hobby. I hope to do better myself in the future, and where I can will endeavour to highlight voices from a different cultural background to my own, whatever form that culture takes.

A critical moment

As critics start to ask hard questions of the endless colonial themes, the lack of racial & gender diversity both on the front of the box and behind the scenes, we must be accepting of these questions. If we want the hobby to grow and expand, we must listen to diverse voices, for we will only be enriched and strengthened if we do. Now is not the time to be afraid of these questions.

It will be painful, there are choices to be made that may make us feel uncomfortable, but we can make those choices together, as a community. We can choose to lift up a diverse range of voices. We can choose to ignore those who would foster hate and division. We can choose to welcome the whole world to sit round a table with us and chuck some dice. But we must make the choice. We must actively choose these actions. If we do not then boardgames don’t deserve to grow at all.

(By the way, sorry if this piece looks weird – I am trying to use the new editor WordPress is foisting on us all, and it’s not going well!)

Playing Oppression

ZOC book cover

The MIT GameLab is a combined game design program, research centre and development tank for games that explore the use of play in human development, education and communication.

One topic of current research, which has attracted a bit of popular press and comment recently as well, is the structure and functions of games with respect to colonialism. Research on the topic is being done by the Mary Flanagan (author of the brilliant Critical Play: Radical Game Design and of the final chapter in the Zones of Control anthology) and Mikael Jakobsson.

The product will be a book called Playing Oppression. The authors say:

The title for this project comes from an idea that euro games offer some of the excitement of the periods they depict (sails, discovery, heroism, fame, and fortune) but not too much through their gameplay and physical pieces, by hiding the bloody end of the sword and only engaging with foreign cultures as passive representations that can be neatly sorted into a box between plays.

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

Forthcoming from MIT Press!

And bound to be interesting.

 

Qwexit: a scenario for Canadian “Civil War”

 

CCW qwexit variant cover

Variant cover by Cavan Cunningham!

My non-Canadian readers may or may not know that on October 21, 2019, Canada had a general election. The incumbent party, the Liberal Party of Canada, was returned to power, but with fewer seats in the House of Commons. This strong-minority government was the most likely outcome predicted by most media outlets and polls, at least in the final ten days before the election itself, but two things were unusual:

  • the resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois, a party that ran candidates only in Quebec and whose platform includes a drastically altered relationship between Quebec and the federal government; and
  • the near complete dominance of representation by Conservative Party of Canada candidates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (though the popular vote was more diverse), combined with the accession to power in recent years by right-wing provincial governments there that have been quite vocal about the imbalance of power in the current federal-provincial relationship, at least where the Prairie provinces are concerned.

Neither of these movements is new. I recall attending a meeting of the “Western Canada Concept” party in Victoria BC in 1980, for the sake of research – I was then in my high school’s debating club and we were going to debate a resolution on Western separatism. The meeting was led by WCC founder Doug Christie, who gained notoriety by defending Ernst Zundel for denying the Holocaust, got slung out of the WCC for being too extreme and backed other right-wing movements (including a provincial WCC party in BC) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Christie_(lawyer)). And it was the surge to power by the Parti Quebecois in the mid-70s that prompted James Dunnigan to design Canadian ‘Civil War’, the sixth and last of the SPI Power Politics series of games, in 1976-77. 

For obvious reasons Canadian Civil War was not popular in the US, and there were few Canadian wargamers to buy up the remaining copies, so it has survived as more or less an orphan game with no updates or scenarios save a “Meech Lake” variant that ran in #23 of The Canadian Wargamers Journal in July 1990. Like many other Dunnigan designs, the game has some interesting mechanics in it, presented in a less appealing framework – and a requirement for four and only four players for the full game.

So, after having a look at the electoral map after October 21, I thought I would try my hand at an updating and variant scenario for the present situation.

The first thing I ought to say is that I do not think that the country of Canada itself is at serious risk. The Bloc Quebecois rhetoric is far less heated than in the 1970s, and it is unlikely that there will be any more referenda on sovereignty-association; the last one was in 1995 and I think it will remain so. I also think that the Western separatist talk is mostly that, just talk, that will be used by the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan when and how it pleases them (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-canada-wexit-analysis-1.5335328). Not surprisingly, the founders of the “Wexit Alberta” movement have been identified as far-right activists, including a former spokesman for the Prairie Freedom Movement, a Western separatist organization that preceded this one (https://north99.org/2019/10/25/wexit-far-right/) (https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/59na9q/wexit-founders-are-far-right-conspiracy-theorists ) . Also not surprisingly, “bot” and aggregator activity has considerably boosted the signal and apparent numbers of the movement in Alberta ( https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/wexit-company-says-bots-aggregators-boosted-alberta-separatist-movement-on-twitter-1.4650507) so when people talk about tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures on an online petition, those signatures weigh about as much as that petition does.

However, we have never let facts get in the way of an interesting game problem, so the following is presented as a thought-experiment expressed through a rather old Dunnigan game: the “Qwexit” scenario. We hope you’re able to give it a try.

qwexit-4 nov  introduction and scenario rules

Cdn Civ War ctrs 2 nov  new counters

CCW var cards 30 oct  new cards

ccw spi ctrs, changes SPI conversion kit: if you happen to have a punched copy of Canadian Civil War, and don’t want to make up a whole new set of counters, this sheet gives you images for a small set of replacement counters and notes the changes to the Political Opportunity Cards.

EDITED TO ADD (3 November):

This may end up to be a bit of a work-in-progress… I was making up a set of the new counters last night and a thought struck me that should have struck me before.

One thing that bothered me a bit about this game is that one Interest Group is much like any other – so why not map them to their (most of the time) logically prime interests, and give them a game function?

So, game function is that an Interest Group gets a favourable column shift on the Contest Table when attacking or defending an Issue that it maps to: 1-1 becomes 2-1 on the attack, 3-1 becomes 2-1 when defending, eg.. Recall though, that an Interest Group cannot control an Issue by itself, only a Constituency piece can.

INTEREST GROUP -> ISSUE (# issue chits)

Chemical -> Healthcare (1)
Farmers -> Environment (2)
Francophone -> Language (1)
Hydro -> Territory (2)
Indigenous -> Indigenous (1)
Intellectual -> Education (2)
Manufacturing -> Industry (3)
Media -> Media (3)
Petro -> Finance/Banking (2)
Transport -> Transport (1)
Unions -> Immigration (1)
Wood -> Tariff/Trade (2)

Most of these are fairly logical I think, and cover all of the Issues except Foreign Affairs and Taxes.

I thought of letting the Prime Minister match to Foreign Affairs, since the PM counter isn’t the PM him/herself but the Prime Minister’s Office and functionaries/staff, who wield even more power than they did in 1976, but decided to leave it consistently Interest Groups, which don’t change when there is a change of government. Also, Taxes didn’t have a logical single IG match, quite complex so best to leave it as it was, I thought.

Anyway, if you give this scenario a try, add this small change to the rules. Or even retrofit it to the original game.

“STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion” is now on Kickstarter

 

Backer #68!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1713701812/strike-the-game-of-worker-rebellion

STRIKE! is a strategic, cooperative, and beautifully-illustrated board game for 2 – 4 players about building a city-wide rebellion to stop a mega-corporation’s takeover. It was created in a collaboration between The TESA Collective, a publisher of games about changing the world, and Jobs with Justice, a leading labor rights organization.

Complete description of play, videos showing the game, a preview of the rulebook, etc. etc. all at the above link. Rules are pretty short but gameplay looks interesting and so do the components.

Basic pledge for a copy of the game is US$35 plus $5 off shipping; stretch goals include T-shirts, cheaper copies of TESA Collective’s other radical games (Rise Up, Space Cats Fight Fascism) and notoriety.

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Image: TESA Collective.

EDIT: this piece in VICE magazine (US) underlines the irony of how this game on solidarity and union-building is being funded through Kickstarter, which right now is fighting against exactly this thing in its labour force, and how TESA Collective and Jobs for Justice are using it.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/pa7wyg/this-board-game-about-labor-revolts-is-protesting-kickstarter-on-kickstarter

(oh, and as of this posting they are 62% of the way to their goal, after 36 hours)

ANOTHER EDIT: As of the afternoon of the 25th, the game reached “funded”, with 27 days to go!

More from TESA Collective: “STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion” and what you can do to help Kickstarter do the right thing.

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Image: some art from the upcoming game.

I got an email today from the folks at TESA Collective: the Kickstarter campaign for their new game “STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion” begins next Wednesday, October 16.

[Edited To Add: technical difficulties have postponed the launch to Monday, October 21.]

I intend to be there, and on that day I’ll post a link in case you were looking as well.  TESA also added something that I’ve been wondering about, since I saw a short news clip a couple of weeks ago. Quoted from the email:

We Support the Workers of Kickstarter – And We Want You to Do So Too!

Recently, the workers of Kickstarter started organizing a union – and they have faced resistance from Kickstarter’s management. We absolutely stand with the workers of Kickstarter. You can read our full statement of support here.

The workers of Kickstarter have asked people to continue launching campaigns and supporting campaigns on the platform while showing their support for the workers and their unionization drive. As always, we will follow the lead of people building movements.

So that’s exactly what we’re we’re going to do: We’re not just going to make this a Kickstarter campaign; we’re going to make this a labor campaign too. We are going to use this campaign as a way to lift up the voices of the Kickstarter workers. When we launch the Kickstarter campaign, we will launch it with a number of ways you can support the Kickstarter workers as well.

In addition, we’ve teamed up with Jobs with Justice to make it so funds from this game go to benefit real campaigns fighting for working people. When the campaign launches mid-next week, we hope you’ll share the game with your friends to help us raise funds for JWJ’s work!

In solidarity,

The TESA Collective

I respect this, and I hope that you’ll consider this in your decision to back this game (and the workers of Kickstarter).