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 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-1sep19  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 Boardgamegeek.com (approved almost suspiciously fast, too).

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/287786/kashmir-crisis

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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.

New free game: Maracas

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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.

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.

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.

Thanks!

Caudillo now available for free PnP

caudillo-cover-2

Cover by John Kula. His last published work.

Several times over the past few years I have mentioned Caudillo (pronounced “caw-DEE-yo“), a 2-5 player card game I designed three years ago on power politics in the fictional Latin American country of Virtualia, after the departure from power of its strongman leader Jesus Shaves (pronounced “hay-sus sha-bezz“).

The game was of course about a thinly-disguised post-Chavez Venezuela (though in 2013 it wasn’t post-Chavez yet), and just to drive it home, its original title was Dios o Federacion, a takeoff on “Dios y Federacion”, the national motto of Venezuela.

I liked working on this game because there is a constant tension within it between competition and cooperation. As players vie to create the largest and most durable personal power base, the card deck delivers more and more crises that players must deal with collectively, or the country will collapse. There are coups, too!

Anyway, I do not think that there will be any time soon that I could find this game a properly professional publisher, with 90 pieces of original card art and high-class production to match. And Venezuela looks as if it is really about to implode, with rampant inflation, riots, political intrigue and so on.

So, as my Christmas present to you all, I am now making the files for Caudillo available for free download and print-and-play (PnP).

The free PnP version consists of 90 cards, 230 counters, and the usual rules and play aids. You print ’em, you cut ’em, you stick ’em or sleeve ’em.

And, just for fun, I will also be making a limited number of hand-made copies of the game for sale too, through BTR Games. Besides the rules and play aids, this version has:

  • 90 cards printed on coloured cardstock and hand-cut;
  • 120 die-cut, pre-punched counters;
  • 120 small coloured wooden cubes;
  • nice cover art by John Kula. His last published work.

Price is $50 US, which includes postage. If you want one of these, let me know at brian.train@gmail.com; I take (and prefer) Paypal.

Here are the files for the free version:

caudillo-pnp-crisis-cards (Crisis cards and Scoring Round cards)

caudillo-pnp-group-cards (Group cards, Personality cards, Sequence of Play reminders)

caudillo-ctrs-pnp191216 (counters)

caudrls-124 (rules and play aid)

caud-pnp-assembly-notes (notes on how to print and assemble the cards and counters)

I hope you will enjoy this game, in either format.

Feliz Navidad!

PS: the game now has a Boardgamegeek entry: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/216686/caudillo

Coming soon from Hollandspiele: Ukrainian Crisis and The Little War!

uacrlwcover

Another interesting cover design by Tom Russell.

Coming in March 2017, from Hollandspiele!

Ukrainian Crisis will be much the same as the PnP version available now here, except that the Resource cards will be chits (they can’t print up that many cards), the game length is increased to 9 turns and there are a few extra units, for variety and to fill up the counter sheet.

Even better, this will be half of a two-game package… the other game will be the mini-game The Little War, on the brief Slovak-Hungarian border war of March 1939! This one uses only 30 counters and a deck of ordinary playing cards to drive the action. I designed this one last year.

The free print-and-play version of Ukrainian Crisis will remain available. But you know Hollandspiele and their printing partner Blue Panther LLC have been doing a very good job of production!

A New PnP Game: UKRAINIAN CRISIS

 

New paper on Third Lebanon War

IMG_20141107_143443768

http://www.defenddemocracy.org/content/uploads/documents/Schanzer_Badran_Daoud_Third_Lebanon_War.pdf

From the “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” (how’s that for a caption on your business card), a paper on the likelihood and implications of a third engagement between Israel and Hezbollah, taking into account the effects of the Syrian Civil War, the Iranian nuclear deal and Russian engagement in the area – all things that hadn’t happened when I designed my Third Lebanon War game.

[ETA: Here are two other pieces by David Daoud, one of the authors of the above paper, on the possible look of a third Lebanon war, published in September 2016. The first one is long but quite interesting.

http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/david-daoud-the-new-hezbollah-israels-next-war-will-be-a-godawful-mess/

http://www.defenddemocracy.org/media-hit/david-daoud-israel-prepares-home-front-for-next-war-with-hezbollah/ ]

Anyway, the game is still playable as it is, since it focuses on the situation in southern Lebanon and not on the lead-up to actual operations. It’s quite adaptable, so have a read of the paper and download the game if you like – still free – and change some of the rules as you see fit; for example simply leaving the Syrian forces and intervention out, or accounting for the possible use of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system against IDF aircraft by strengthening optional rule O3.3, and so forth.

Free Games! page (scroll down to Third Lebanon War entry for files)

New New rules etc. for Ukrainian Crisis

A little early for St. Nicholas Day but I’ve made some changes to the Ukrainian Crisis game and want to share them with you.

The game now concentrates specifically on the first 6 months of the crisis, from Yanukovytch’s departure in late February 2014 to about the time of the adoption of the first Minsk Protocol in September. This was the period in which a large and overt Russian military intervention might have taken place, and while violence continues in Ukraine, the main threat of a military invasion seems to have passed.

Two important changes to the game include: game is lengthened to 8 turns, and instead of there being a pre-invasion and invasion phase of the game either player can declare a Combat or a Strategic turn . This gives players a bit more time to fill out strategies, and fits with the stop-and-start nature of how the crisis played out militarily. Following on from this, the map has been revised slightly and the cards also have additional or changed functions.

Still no NATO units.

The latest files for the game are here, and links are also on the original page:

uacr-rls-20 (the latest rules)

uacr-cds-20 (latest cards, to match the longer length of the game and some slight revisions to event cards)

UA crisis map1722-1 (latest version of the map with revised point values for Ukrainian ethnic zones)

UA_Crisis_ctrs2 (game counters, same as always; cut off and throw away the right-hand portion as the rules it refers to have been replaced)

Material is copyright 2014-2015 Brian Train.

EDIT!

Ukrainian Crisis published by Hollandspiele in March 2017!

Coming soon from Hollandspiele: Ukrainian Crisis and The Little War!