Urban warfare: 40ID’s new webpage

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https://calguard.ca.gov/40id-urban-warfare

The US 40th Infantry Division (headquartered in California but responsible for National Guard units from Nebraska to Guam) is becoming the centre for development of training and doctrine in urban operations. Last summer they ran the first serial of the Urban Warfare Planners course (More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course) and will do it again in July 2022.

This new webpage is a great resource for manuals, case studies, links to other resources, and yes even a page for civilian market wargames on urban combat (District Commander: Maracas gets a look in, and there’s more to come).

Check it out!

Space-Biff! on Bloc by Bloc (3rd edition)

kent state disturbance playset

(image: National Lampoon, ca. 1971)

https://spacebiff.com/2022/01/29/bloc-by-bloc

Thankfully, Bloc by Bloc isn’t ideologically agnostic. It’s radically and refreshingly committed to egalitarianism, clear-eyed about the contradictions that tug at modern efforts to effect change, and both deeply angry and hopelessly idealistic.

Oh, Daniel Thurot just keeps swinging and hitting them wayyy over the fence… what a nice surprise today to see that he has written a piece on the new edition of Bloc by Bloc: Uprising. It is the third edition, coming soon on Gamefound and I will be there for it, just as I was when the game was first noised about on Boardgamegeek.

Bloc by Bloc: compelling subject matter, good presentation, and genuinely interesting mechanics for both cooperative (Kumbayah) and semi-cooperative (duelling agendas) versions. One of the more inspiring things I’ve played in years.

The point is, change begins somewhere. The bug of hope must first be contracted. Whether it speaks of suffrage, liberty, civil rights, opportunity, or true equality before the law, Bloc by Bloc is no mere polemic. It understands its contradictions and grapples with them. It speaks a message while remaining playful. Most importantly, it instills a yearning for something better.

February 15, on Gamefound!

Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game

https://gamefound.com/projects/draft/zxc58ag7firw48g1aggj8ue80qo

More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course

The US Army’s First Urban Warfare Planners Course

(photo: Modern War Institute website)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a news item on the first ever Urban Warfare Planners Course, run by the staff of the 40th Infantry Division in California. News you can use

The Urban Warfare Project at the US Military Academy, Modern Warfare Institute has posted a very good podcast where they interviewed BG Robert Wooldridge, deputy commanding general for support about this first course – how it came about, what it is intended to do, and where they want it to go. Normally I do not have the time or patience to listen to podcasts but I did this one. You should too!

https://mwi.usma.edu/the-us-armys-first-urban-warfare-planners-course/

Podcast includes just a few tantalizing details of the tabletop exercise they ran, facilitated by LTC Luke Gygax (yes, the son of That Gygax, he serves in the California National Guard) on the adventures of a multinational task force engaging in combat operations in a dense urban area against a peer enemy. Factions included US forces, Allied forces, Civilians, the Enemy, and a Criminal element. Dice were rolled and chaos ensued!

This is inspiring me to return to work on an idea I had a while ago, the Scaleable Urban Combat Kriegsspiel… I had thought about the District Commander system could be useful as a manual system the Army could use for tabletop exercises, and it quite likely is, but perhaps I could work out something even easier to get into than District Commander Maracas. I easily forget how far these manual games lie outside “ordinary” people’s experience and frame of reference.

[ETA: A later post about their thoughts on offering the course, and what they plan to do next: https://mwi.usma.edu/what-we-learned-creating-the-armys-first-urban-planners-course]

News you can use

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[Unfortunately could not link to a corker of a photo by BGEN Wooldridge of the course students standing around a giant map with their hands in their pockets.]

https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/entertainment/story/2021-10-26/with-an-eye-on-china-los-alamitos-based-army-division-looks-at-fighting-in-cities

PRIMUS

An interesting piece on the US 40th Infantry Division (a National Guard formation, with brigades in Hawaii, Oregon and California) and its offering of the Urban Warfare Planners course, a first on the topic.

Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division, and Wooldridge have led the charge on urban warfare training partly because they could be called upon to fight in an all-out war with the People’s Liberation Army.

While the U.S. Army has long maintained its Ranger and Mountain Warfare schools, urban warfare has no equivalent training center in the service.

[Brig. Gen. Robert] Wooldridge underscored his division’s readiness to fight wherever and whenever they’re called, but he still wants to do everything possible to avoid some of the casualties U.S. forces will endure fighting in megacities.

“I hope we never have to use this, but if we’re planning to take back some city in the Indo-Pacific region maybe some staff officer or planner will think back to the course and say, ‘Thank god we went through this,’” he said.

Sir, I do not think a one-week engagement with the subject material is enough. 

And realistically, if the 29th Infantry BCT (Hawaii component of the 40th) finds itself fighting to clear formations of regular PLA troops out of a major city, several Very Large Things have already gone wrong. 

But I maintain that there will continue to be irregular warfare within cities, some of them very large, and it behooves professional militaries to learn how to deal with them, as best they can. So it’s a start. 

 

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Playing Guerrilla Checkers with Michel Boucher – deux vieux avec un jeu nouveau.

https://www.wired.com/story/this-ai-resurrects-ancient-board-games-lets-you-play-them

http://ludeme.eu/outputs/index.html

SECUNDUS

Here is a new word for you to learn today: digital archaeoludology, “a new field of study involving the analysis and reconstruction of ancient games from incomplete descriptions and archaeological evidence using modern computational techniques.”

First link is to a story in Wired about the Digital Ludeme Project, which is I guess the first and possibly only institution dedicated to this field. The Artificial Intelligence described in the article breaks what is known about the dug-up ancient game into “ludemes” which are then cross-referenced with other similar pieces to try and reconstruct how the game might have been played and to what end, and then to attempt playing the reconstructed item. Fortunately the team includes an anthropologist who evaluates the games via their social aspect and probable alterations to the rules, since there are rulesets that are perfectly logical but make for bad games. I wonder what this software would do with Monopoly or RISK.

Second link is to the outputs page of the Project itself, where you can find and use the Ludii software and see its applications. One of these is a Youtube demonstration video I haven’t had time to see yet on “Designing, Playing and Testing Games with Ludii”, which seems interesting.

TERTIUS

https://rockymountainnavy.com/2021/10/27/wargame-wednesday-my-wargame-news-feeds

A link back to RockyMountainNavy’s blog where he talks about where he gets his wargame news from. He’s a lot more choosy than I am, I think!

Meanwhile… in a faraway city

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/08/venezuela-caracas-gun-battles-police-gangs

H/t to James Buckley for noticing this one!

What would Jesus Shaves do?

Get your free print-and-play copy of District Commander Maracas here!

Free Games!

Vive La Commune!

One hundred and fifty years ago today: March 18, 1871 marked the first of the 71 days of the Paris Commune, a remarkable episode of political, social and class revolt before it was crushed by its own government.

A “last stand of the Paris Commune” scenario is included in Civil Power.

Red Flag Over Paris, a game on the Paris Commune designed by Fred Serval and which uses the Fort Sumter system is on P500 at GMT Games. Looks interesting, I’m awaiting it!

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-849-red-flag-over-paris.aspx

“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

 

 

Political Boardgames; Italian Rumbles

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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.

District Commander Maracas: interview at The Players Aid

dc_maracas medium

https://theplayersaid.com/2019/07/22/interview-with-brian-train-designer-of-district-commander-maracas-from-hollandspiele/

The doughty (now that I’ve looked it up, I’m confident that’s a good word) Grant Kleinheinz over at The Players Aid has published an interview with me about District Commander: Maracas, the first of four modules in the District Commander series to come from Hollandspiele.

Grant says this is the eighth interview I’ve had with him, and I believe it!

(Why wouldn’t I? Well, perhaps I should – these days I’m feeling rather like Hank Kimball from Green Acres.)

Image result for "hank kimball"

It’s quite long – over 7,000 words – but it tells you most everything you might want to know about the system itself, and the changes rung on it for the Maracas module, which covers the action in a made-up large city (the capital of Virtualia, reeling in the aftermath of the sudden departure from power of the charismatic strongman Jesus Shaves).

Hollandspiele will bring the game out in probably late August; I’m not sure of the price at this point. But in the meantime, you can still score a free print-and-play copy here, if you want a closer look at the rules and mechanics of play.

Free Games!

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.