Punched #3 out now

https://www.cardboardemperors.co.uk/punched-3

James Buckley of Cardboard Emperors has just put out #3 of Punched, his free online-only magazine on wargames and wargame culture. Contents include:

  • a feature article on five compact wargames that are really good (I’ve actually played three of them – Table Battles, Cousin’s War and 13 Days – and I agree)
  • the Mini Games series from Decision Games (IMO remarkable in its variety of subjects and the sameness of its treatments of same)
  • an article on Bonsai Games products (mostly designed by Yasushi Nakaguro) written by the entertaining Charles Vasey
  • an interview with Florent Coupeau of NUTS! Publishing (he makes a side mention of We Are Coming Nineveh)
  • an interesting article by Riccardo Massini on Napoleon Bonaparte as a “political” general (of course he was), and on the games that show his talent in this arena
  • and reviews of the Campaign Commander Series, Atlantic Chase, World War Africa, Battle for Kursk: The Tigers are Burning 1943, and Prophecy of Kings (TI4)

It’s World War Africa that attracts James’ attention (and mine! though as yet, I have no horizontal surface in my house to play it on, as The Great House Renos enter their 13th month), as in his editorial he discusses the termination of Modern War magazine.

I’m becoming ever more interested in magazine wargames. They often cover the less beaten path, and by their nature tend to be less complex and of lower counter density than big box games (a good thing, in my mind). Also importantly for me given the lack of shelf space in my stuffy London flat, I can fit five magazine zip lock games in the space that one larger production takes up.

The flip side is the games typically have much less time spent on design, play-testing and production, which can result in a fair number of duds and/or mountains of errata. Worth it though, I believe, for when something like World War Africa comes along.

So farewell Modern War magazine. It wasn’t in anyway modern in terms of graphic design, layout, or accessibility (probably a factor in it’s demise), but it sure produced some good games, and will be missed.

Well, I have my own take on why Modern War didn’t last and I do not agree that magazine wargames have more than their share of duds and errata… they do when they are cranked out in quantity by the one publisher that dominates the field (no names, no pack drill) and I think that rather spoils the impression for the remainder.

Anyway, go check out issue #3, it’s great!

Aint’a gonna study “Modern War” no more…

Greek Civil War, redux

Next War in Lebanon, redux

Struggle for Kandahar: the rest of the story

Decision Games’ magazine-with-game Modern War is dead.

Yesterday on Consimworld and Facebook editor Ty Bomba confirmed the rumour that had been flying around:

Ty Bomba – Aug 10, 2021 7:45 am (#2506 Total: 2512)  BookmarkEmail to Friend
The End of Modern War Magazine

Issue No. 55 is the last and final issue of MW, for both its no-game newsstand and hobby editions.

About the “Central Front Curse” — I am sure the regular attendees in this website’s Central Front Series folder WILL be blaming my “Seven Days to the Rhine Series” for the magazine’s demise.

When I asked Dr. Cummins about that, however, he said they had chosen issue 55, and its completion of the 7DttR Series, as the final issue “in order to go out on a high note.”

The simple problem has been — since the start of MW — insufficient subscription sales, which was then compounded on the single-issue impulse-buy side by the effective demise of bookstores during the worst of the pandemic.

I didn’t care for the 7 Days to the Rhine series, and while it wasn’t Central Front, it wasn’t Warmaster Chess either… though that series of games had nothing to do with the demise of Command magazine.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I long ago reached the conclusion that most wargamers, while they may have an incredible knowledge about certain historical periods, are no more interested in contemporary events than non-wargamers. Therefore they won’t subscribe to a game magazine devoted entirely to contemporary events, and magazines live and die on subscriptions.

A look at the 55 issue run shows more than 30 titles were hypothetical subjects: about 10 of them “past hypotheticals” like Objective Havana and the 1970s-80s “Cold War Goes Hot” chestnut and 20 were future hypotheticals like the “Putin Boxes The Compass” series. Twenty-two were devoted to actual conflicts, 13 from the 20th century and 9 from the 21st. So it goes.

Well, I will just say “Ave!” and turn the page, and hope that Javier Romero will be able to find a good home for some of the very good work he has been doing.

District Commander ZNO: now available!

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

Now available – the fourth and so far final module in the District Commander series.

ZNO stands for Zone Nord Oranais, the operational area depicted in this game… the hill country generally to the south and east of Mostaganem in Algeria, around Mascara – Pelikao – Relizane.

external image

The game is set roughly during 1958-59, when generally either the 4th Motorized Infantry Division or the 5th Armoured Division was responsible for most of the area (it’s difficult and rather pointless to pin down as areas of responsibility were constantly in flux depending on mission and deployments of other units).

French combat units that appear in the game include:

Cavalry
1st Cuirassiers (French Army unit, cavalry reorganized for infantry role)
2nd Spahis (mixed French-Algerian cavalry unit)
30th Dragoons

Infantry
6th Chasseurs d’Afrique (mixed French-Algerian light infantry unit)
19th and 20th Chasseurs (French Army light infantry units)
21st Regiment Tirailleurs Algeriens (mixed French-Algerian unit)
battalions of the 93rd and 158 French line infantry regiments

Other
4th, 31st Bataillon Parachutiste Coloniale (elite French parachute unit)
8th Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine (elite French parachute unit)

Fun things you get to play with in the game include:
– FLN supply convoys;
Commandos de chasse (special small units of mixed French-Algerian troops (including turned guerrillas) who specialized in reconnaissance and tracking);
Sections Administrative Specialisees or SAS (French officers given special training and sent to assume control of all aspects of life in selected rural villages to organize indigenous resistance to the insurgents);
– population resettlement (when the SAS didn’t do a good job);
– double agents and psychological war assets;
– terror cells;
and more!

Note: Now that this one is properly published, I will be taking the PnP files for this module (with my substandard artwork) down and substituting PnP files for the Maracas module, so a free game of the District Commander system will still be available.

Free Games!

CFS: TESA Collective wants to see your game design!

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https://www.tesacollective.com/we-are-seeking-to-sign-and-publish-new-board-and-card-games-about-changing-the-world

After 10 years of publishing work by internal designers and commissioned work by social organizations, the TESA (Toolbox for Education and Social Action) Collective is calling for outside designs.

A link for a submission form and additional details are available at the link above, but here is information on what they are looking for:

Please read: What we are and are not looking for

Here’s what we’re looking for: Board and card games that address an issue – such as nature and environmentalism, social justice/social change matters, historical events, building people’s power, climate change, and other important issues. The issue your game addresses can be big (like stopping climate change) or small (like growing a community garden) or anywhere in between. In summary, we are looking for games with a strong theme and a message about making the world a better place, in either a big or small way.

  • The game you pitch to us can be literal, but it does not have to be literal. Allegories or addressing important topics in fantastical settings is just fine. For instance, our games Space Cats Fight Fascism and STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion both do this. Either approach – literal or fantastical representation of the theme – is fine, as long as the game is about something.

  • We are primarily looking for games that would be exciting to be played during game nights with friends and family.

  • Your game doesn’t have to be finished for you to pitch it to us, but you should have a playable demo that you feel good about – even if it will still needs some fine tuning. Part of our responsibility is to help get the game to the finish line. We would prefer if you have at least some minimal graphic design and placeholder art (do not commission final artwork, that would be our responsibility) to help us when we play the game. But if we sign the game, it is our responsibility to make the game beautiful and ready for print.

  • We’re not looking for pitches that are just an idea you have for a game. (If you want us to develop a game for your organization, however, that’s a service we offer.) We are looking for games that have been created and playtested already (even if they are not 100% done).

  • We prefer games that are accessible. They don’t have to be super easy to learn, but we’re not looking for incredibly complex games that take an hour to learn and 4 – 5 hours to play.

  • We are looking to work with people who are open to collaboration. We may have some gameplay improvement suggestions as well as other ideas for marketability purposes. While we will not steamroll your vision, we want to make sure folks we work with are open to suggestions.

  • Though not a requirement, we have a preference for games that have a hopeful message.

  • We are open to both cooperative and competitive games.

Strategist, 2000

orwell_1984

Once upon a time, I edited Strategist, the monthly newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society. Boardgamegeek.com says that “the American Wargaming Association (AWA) merged with the National Wargaming Alliance (NWA) in 1984. The combined organization was renamed the Strategy Gaming Society (SGS). The AWA’s newsletter was called “The American Wargamer“, issued from 1973 to November 1984. The NWA’s newsletter was called “Kriegsrat“, issued until November 1984. With the December 1984 issue, the combined publication became “Strategist”.

George Phillies, who is still quite active in wargaming, was a central figure in the Society from way back, but I think the Society has been defunct for quite a while now. Anyway, I took over the newsletter after John Kula had had it for a while and edited it for a year before concluding I just did not have the time or energy to keep it going the way I wanted it (I was then still in the process of recovering from getting run over by a car at the end of 1998).

This was all 20 years in the past, and in the interests of oh I don’t know future ludic archaeologists I am putting up those dozen issues, in PDF form, on the Resources page (converted cheaply from their original MS Publisher format, so there might be an oopsy or two somewhere). They give you 3 GB of space here at WordPress and I am not using much of it so far. Game Links and Resources

Here is an index to the contents, nothing really remarkable except that I did publish a few simple games in its pages: Attrition, War Fair, Wolf Pack and Zulu Spears by Lloyd Krassner; Battle of Seattle by me; and the first appearance of Waterloo 20 by Joe Miranda. Another funny thing I ran was a series of “Military Movie Star” bios where I wrote about the star’s service career and the war/action movies they were in later. Did you know James Mason was a pacifist and conscientious objector in World War Two?

STRATEGIST index for 2000

PostGUWS

This is the link to the slide deck used for this presentation. Hope you enjoyed it!

PDF version, about 2 MB.

Also, here is the link to the Youtube recording of the presentation… people seemed to like it, though I hate the way I look and sound on media.

Here is the link to the excellent series of posts on game development written by Neal Durando in his blog, that I referenced in the Q&A: http://defling.com/blog/?cat=8

Thanks to everyone who attended, and thanks to Sebastian Bae of GUWS for giving me the chance to talk!

Civil Power: preview video!

Ray Weiss has gotten a proof copy of Civil Power! Here he spends a few minutes talking about the game, its mechanics, options and scenarios, and shows off the very nice components.

Sales should start Real Soon Now.

BTR Games available through Wargame Vault

I am making my whole line of “BTR Games” products available for PnP on Wargame Vault.

To produce these games, I would go to the copy shop to have small batches of counter sticker sheets, maps etc. made up. But I’ve been working from home since March 2020 and can’t get near any copy shops, and it is not worth trying to print all this at home, so I have run out of components for most titles. I can’t print 11×17″ maps at home anyway. This also saves any delay in my having to organize a trip to the post office (which was also proving occasionally difficult).

The real value, though, from the customer’s point of view is that they can order Brian Train products drunk at 3 am, as most online purchases are made, and get them right away.

https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/18373/BTR-Games

When things begin to stabilize and I return to my office, I do plan to have physical versions of the games available again for people who do not want to go the PnP route.

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….