Future GUWS event = me! (December 8, 2020)

 

For some time now, under the energetic direction of Sebastian Bae, the Georgetown University Wargaming Society (GUWS) has been holding regular online webinars and events. Designers and users have talked on many aspects of the professional and civilian uses of wargames. Here’s a link to the GUWS Youtube channel, where many of them can be reviewed. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw0nVuQu5KoHv0kFiC9yX4Q

Now it’s my turn!

On Tuesday, December 8, from 6pm Eastern (that’s 2200 Zulu Time) for two whole hours (maybe), I will be talking and taking questions on the whys, hows and wherefores of self-publishing and distributing your own wargames. Everything begins with something homemade, and sometimes it just stays that way.

The event is free but you have to register through Eventbrite:

Hope to see y’all there!

Or if not, I will just talk to myself for two hours… I’m good mit der in-jokes.

And later, you can talk about it on the discussion forums at Armchair Dragoons:

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/forum/index.php#c12

District Commander: on sale, sale, sale!

Starting today, District Commander Kandahar is on sale from Hollandspiele!

In fact, all three District Commander games are currently on sale.

Buy two and use the discount code “DCdiscount” at checkout will save an additional $5.

Buy all three modules and use “traingames” to save an extra $10.

I’ve made it, I’ve become a discount code!

I really like Tom’s ad copy for this one:

District Commander: Kandahar simulates the problems facing insurgent and counterinsurgent commanders in southern Afghanistan circa 2009-2010. This is not Brian Train’s first or even second game about this conflict, and you might be wondering, what does this one have to offer? We think that the District Commander system – with its emphasis on bluff and deception, scarce resources, and shifting operational goals – is an especially good fit for capturing the pace and nature of operations in Afghanistan. 

Brian Train’s District Commander is a series of operational games on counterinsurgency situations. The players alternate activation of groups of units (stacks) to perform discrete operations (missions) through the expenditure of Task Points (TP). Some missions are Tactical Missions – straightforward military tasks such as performing patrols, ambushing or attacking enemy forces, or moving from one place to another – and these may be performed multiple times by a stack during a turn. Other missions emphasize the “non-tactical” end of the campaign, establishing friendly influence, control, and infrastructure in an area, reducing the enemy’s claim to the same, and recruiting or training troops. These missions take more time to perform and so unlike the tactical missions may be the only mission performed by the stack during the turn. 

Missions are resolved by play of secretly-held Chance Chits, each with ratings that are better or worse for certain types of operations. Chits are played simultaneously and the ratings compared, modified by units, assets, and the current board state to determine the outcome. Using the right chit at the right time – knowing when to save a good chit for later and when to use it, and trying to determine if your opponent is going all-in or holding back – will require steely judgment in an atmosphere of doubt and deception.

All this is done in pursuit of objectives handed down to you by your superiors (i.e., chosen randomly) and kept secret from your opponent – objectives that may even change over the course of the game. Within this framework, the two sides – Government and Insurgent – play very differently, with the Insurgent player, in particular, depending on bluff and deception to achieve their goals. A large number of variant rules allow you to turn the game into a sandbox for exploring counterinsurgency doctrine and practice.

Now go have fun in the sandbox….

Brief Border Wars: here at last!

BBWbox

Yesterday I got my designer copies of Brief Border Wars from Compass Games!

Very pleased with the physical production… Counters nice, very pretty maps, rules printed on cardstock sheets, not paper (probably easier for them to print because everything could go on one sheet of 11×17″ stock, folded). Game was in a 2″ bookcase box, not the thinner 1″ one I was expecting. So, lots of room for the dice you’ll be rolling!

Brief Border Wars: shipping at last!

bbw-boxcover-1100px

https://www.compassgames.com/brief-border-wars.html

Available and shipping as of today!

Still shows price of $52 so perhaps you can order quickly and save a few dollars too!

As was briefly discussed in the recent interview with John Kranz, I have been mulling over another set of four conflicts… nothing succeeds like a sequel (which is rather idiotically self-referential, now that I think about it).

Interview with Compass Games, 5 June 2020

Interview with Compass Games, 5 June 2020

Coming to an Orthicon Tube near you: John Kranz of Compass Games does a live online interview with me!

Mostly we will be talking about the Brief Border Wars Quad, coming out Real Soon Now from Compass, but maybe other things if John lets Unca’ Gran’pa’s mind and mouth wander….

Friday, June 5, 2020: 1700 Pacific, 2000 Eastern

Click on the above or below to set a reminder!

Tune in, maggots!

Crepuscule d’Empire?

Image result for "colonel mathieu" gif

Saw this on the Book of Face today:

PIXIE et ASYNCRON ont l’immense plaisir d’annoncer qu’un accord avec l’éditeur américain GMT a été conclu en vue de localiser et d’éditer des jeux en français qui proviennent du catalogue de GMT et, en particulier, d’offrir à la communauté francophone, le nec plus ultra de ce qui se fait matière de jeu d’histoire asymétrique : la réputée série COIN.

Pour inaugurer cette collaboration, nous avons choisi comme premier jeu, Falling Sky (vol VI) et son extension Ariovistus. Cet opus traite de la Guerre des Gaules et de César contre les chefs gaulois, dont le célèbre Vercingétorix. L’extension Ariovistus est le prequel de Falling Sky, le début de la conquête romaine de la Gaule, qui permet de jouer la faction germanique.

Well, isn’t that something!

Makes sense they would start with Falling Sky. Everyone loves Asterix.

But I wonder if/when they will get around to Colonial Twilight. Not everyone likes Colonel Mathieu.

On s’engage, et puis on voit….

Oooppp, here is something that did not appear on the other notices, I saw this on Strategikon… (translated):

A subscription will be launched in early April on the Ulule platform in order to finance the production of the French edition of the game. If this subscription is successful, other titles will then also be located.

“The game” in this case is Falling Sky.  Ulule is a French crowdfunding platform, not sure how or if it is different from the others, though they do have a manifesto.

https://www.ulule.com/

Meanwhile, I thought that I had done this already, but here are some French-language rules for Colonial Twilight done by Sebastien Vassort:

Colonial Twilight Règles FR V.0.1

And a link to a French-language translation of the Event Cards, done by Vincent Tulasne:

http://www.ludistratege.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Traduction-cartes-V1.pdf

Click to access Traduction-cartes-V1.pdf

Brief Border Wars quad: interview at The Players Aid

 

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https://theplayersaid.com/2020/02/17/interview-with-brian-train-designer-of-brief-border-wars-from-compass-games

Just posted: Grant Kleinheinz’s interview with me on the Brief Border Wars quad, which is now available from Compass Games! (or so the website tells me)

Any curiosity you might have about this set of smaller, simpler games should be satisfied here, if not please ask!

I’d also note that today, 17 February, is the 41st anniversary of the start of the Sino-Vietnamese War, one of the games in the quad.

District Commander: Binh Dinh out now!

District Commander Binh Dinh is out today from Hollandspiele!

https://hollandspiele.com/products/district-commander-binh-dinh

The second volume is District Commander Binh Dinh, set in the jungles of Vietnam circa 1969. This is a period of transition that sees Government forces shifting their focus from pitched battles to providing population security and pacification. Mr. Train gives each player very different tools – here, we have rules for Agent Orange, the Phoenix Program, and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, among others – with which to pursue a sometimes shifting set of operational goals in a highly-customizable sandbox.

  • 17″ x 22″ mapsheet
  • 264 counters
  • 2 Display Sheets
  • 1 Player Aid
  • 16-page Series Rulebook
  • 8-page Module Rulebook
  • 10 Strategy Cards

BGG link: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/300175/district-commander-binh-dinh

Introductory price marked down to $45.00, down from $50.00 !

In fact, Hollandspiele have all of my titles with them on a discount now… District Commander Maracas is $45, Scheldt Campaign is $40, and Ukrainian Crisis/Little War is also $40. So didi mau over there and complete your collection!

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