Obligatory end-of-year review, 2019

headthames

Well, another year has zipped by. A busy year too, though day job stuff dominated my busy:

Game publishing

Game design work and future publication

Work and or testing continued throughout the year on some of the following:

  • China’s War: testing testing, and hoping to get into development in early 2020. Almost 900 pre-orders now.
  • Strongman, an extensive rework of Caudillo that may be a while coming, and publisher not completely confirmed. Really need to spend some time on this but it needs multiple people to play it.
  • Brief Border Wars Quad, from Compass Games – up for pre-order and probably will come out in the first half of 2020: not sure what conditions they apply to pull the trigger.
  • District Commander series, from Hollandspiele – Maracas is out, Binh Dinh is coming next; maybe Kandahar might be out in 2020, or maybe not. Meanwhile, the Algeria module is available for free PnP.
  • Semi-abstract urban counterinsurgency games: I have been working on two of these for some time now, can’t get time to finish them off. Will likely put them up for free PnP as few people seem interested in this kind of thing.
  • Civil Power: This was one of the first games I ever designed (1991-92) and revising it after 25 years is proving almost as much work as doing a new one. Like the original version, this will have a lot of new scenarios based on contemporary headlines: Hong Kong 2019, duelling mobs in Caracas, Violent Demo USA, etc..

Conferences and conventions

Not so busy year on this front:

  • February: I attended Connections North for the first time, at McGill University. It was a great but short event: I made a presentation, met some nice folks, role-played CDS John Vance in the megagame about a zombie outbreak, and spent some quality time talking with Jim Wallman! Into the White
  • April: I went to Marine Corps University at MCB Quantico April 2-5 for a special MORS event on urban warfare. I presented on the different games I had worked on to cover urban conflict at the operational level. There were some really imaginative analyses but it seems to me that the professional military is still consumed by the likely problems of standing armies fighting “peer” forces in an urban environment, not the far more likely and nastier irregular warfare. Studies in Concrete
  • June: Consimworld Expo at Tempe, AZ. High point was meeting and spending time with Nick Karp and Mark Herman, two Gods of Design, and a long, fun interview with Harold Buchanan for his podcast! Back from Consimworld Expo 2019
  • July-August-September: no Connections conferences for me, in any flavour, as Day Job kept me too busy. I intend to attend as many as I can in 2020.
  • November: BottosCon was fun as it usually is, though I got there rather late. Still, got some testing of China’s War and Kashmir Crisis in, and picked up a couple of nice games in the flea market. BottosCon pictures  .

Writing

  • Not a productive year, as far as writing about war and games. Nothing formally published, just the usual torrent of wise-guy stuff on blogs, sites and social media.
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Near-meaningless digest of site statistics:

  • I seem to be cruising still at just below 2,000 views per month, but about 3,000 fewer than 2018. About 8,000 visitors. The five most curious countries were: US (by a very wide margin), UK, Canada, Italy and Australia. One guy clicked in from Ghana! Don’t know what to make of that.
  • Besides the then-current post, popular pages or posts included the BTR Games, Free Games and Scenarios and Variants pages. No surprises there.
  • The most clicked-on and/or downloaded documents (WordPress started measuring downloads in July 2019) were the files for the free games District Commander,  Ukrainian Crisis, Third Lebanon War and Battle of Seattle.

“At man in purple suit waving axe, one round, FIRE!” – CIVIL POWER now available for pre-order from Conflict Simulations Ltd.

civilpowerdraft.png

Preliminary cover design by Ray Weiss.

Now it can be told:

CIVIL POWER, one of the first games I designed, will be given a proper publication by Conflict Simulations Ltd.!

Constant Readers and obsessive ludographers will know that this game has already had a couple of editions: in 1996, as the issue game in #294 of Strategist, the newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society, and more recently from my BTR Games. In both cases they were DTP level products where you had to copy out the counters and mount them on cardboard and cut out – or just stick them to cardboard and cut out – but in either case you had to do a little craft project first.

Conflict Simulations is going to release this as part of their “2140” series, with 140 back-printed counters and nice maps (by Ilya Kudriashov) in a small cardboard  box (about the same size as GDW used to use for the boxed editions of its Series 120 games, if you go back that far in the hobby).

As of today, the game is available for pre-order for $34.99 at:

https://www.consimsltd.com/shop/civil-power

Expected release is Q1 or Q2 of 2020, if’n the crick don’ rise… Meanwhile, here is the ad copy:

“In this critical hour we don’t need love, we need WEAPONS — the newest and best and most efficient weapons we can get our hands on. This is a time of extreme peril. The rising tide is almost on us….” – Raoul Duke

Civil Power is a game from Brian Train which models mass civil disorder, riots, raids, and other violent urban phenomena. One player will take command of the Police/local authorities while the other player takes command of the Mob. The game is asymmetrical in its means, motives and opportunities: the Police player has discipline, firepower and esoteric technology while the Mob player has outrage, numbers and Molotov cocktails. The Police must manage to contain and subdue the crowd through carefully distributed violence: the right amount will suppress or demoralize Mob forces, while too much will cause casualties costing the police victory points. The Mob player is less constrained but is also aware that a riot is a temporary thing.

Scenarios are included for several types of situations: riots (including a five-day Chicago 1968 campaign and a three-player Belfast 1975 scenario); raids (featuring a skirmish by the Berlin Wall); and gang warfare (including the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a Crips-Bloods gang war, and a 1944 Warsaw Uprising scenario). There are enough examples supplied that players will easily be able to design their own scenarios, inspired by the headlines of today and tomorrow.

Brian Train was inspired to design this game after reading “The Police Chief”, a particularly savage article by Hunter S. Thompson writing as “Raoul Duke, Master of Weaponry” about the inadequacy of equipment in the police armory to deal with civil disorder. We hope you, animated by the Spirit of Gonzo, will take the chance to explore his take on modern urban violence.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” – Raoul Duke

Civil Power includes:

2 8.5×11 geomorphic square-grid maps of an imaginary urban area
140 double-sided  counters
1 rulebook
Player aids & displays

 

 

DC Maracas: available for sale!

dc_maracas medium

https://hollandspiele.com/products/district-commander-maracas

The day has come!

Yeet Yeet Woohoo!

GET IT NOW for $45.00, ’cause it will be $50.00 later.

I’m withdrawing the Maracas module from my free Print and Play selection, but I will be replacing it with another. Other modules will be published in due course by Hollandspiele but I still want to leave up a District Commander module with the core rules, so that people can try the system for free.

So which module should I put up next?
Help me decide!

I can’t have a poll with this thing unless I get an account with some other creepy sounding company, so I put one up over on Boardgamegeek:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2273252/what-dc-module-should-i-post-next-free-pnp

or you can let me know your desire in the comments.

ZNO (Zone Nord Oranais) (Algeria 1959)
Features supply units, airmobility, population resettlement, random terror

Binh Dinh (Vietnam 1969)
Features US and ROK units, supply units, airmobility, Agent Orange, random terror, monsoon rains, the Phoenix program

Kandahar (Afghanistan 2009)
Features ISAF units, non-State militia, criminals, airmobility, Command Nodes, KAF and Pakistan sanctuaries

I’m leaning towards Kandahar myself….

District Commander Maracas nears release!

dc_maracas medium

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/286616/district-commander-maracas

It’s so close… it now has a Boardgamegeek entry!

Strike for Berlin, yong zhongwen

Yaah 11 cover

http://www.bananaboardgames.com/

I was informed yesterday that a Chinese-language version of my game Strike for Berlin will be published in folio format by Banana Board Games. I don’t know if they are based in Taiwan or on the mainland. They are offering a few products already, including Hostage Negotiator and Neanderthal, so we’ll see what develops. I’m not sure why they went for this particular title with the publisher.

Meanwhile, to any Chinese fans out there – enjoy!

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

 

Nights of Fire: almost here, I promise!

NOF first prodn copies

Photo: David Turczi, from Facebook.

Now appearing, on David Turczi’s living room carpet: the first production copies of Nights of Fire, the Nights of Fire expansion kit with miniatures and extra cards, and the reprint of Days of Ire.

Originally these were supposed to arrive in February or March, but there have been hitches of some kind at the factories so the new ETA is June… but with these production examples in hand, that should be a firm date.

Thank you for your patience! I think everyone will be happy with this game; I am certainly proud of it.

NOF credits

Photo and thumb: David Turczi, from Facebook.