Site addition: Scenarios and Variants page

One thing I like to do, when I have the time and inspiration, is to write scenarios and variants for other peoples’ games. I think this is probably how many designers got started. Sometimes I write or revise items of my own work, too.

Anyway, today I created a page on this website for these items, moved over from my other older website. Have a look, there are items there for many old and new games!

Scenarios and Variants

Copyrights remain with the original creators or holders. No challenge is intended. The variant material is all created by me and is free for the downloader’s personal use, but I would appreciate name-checks and notifications of its use… motivates me to make more of these. Right?

I’d appreciate if you would send me any comments you may have, provided they are constructive and/or adulatory. (as always, I am not responsible if any of these files make your machine go **SPUNG**… though I don’t see how, they are all .docx and .pdf files)

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.

Please contact me if you want to discuss other uses of the content.

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War Plan Crimson, Mark II

WPC Cover 8sm

Faithful Readuhs will recall (or they can refer to my ludography) that I have designed four games in a family of games I call the “Between the Wars” system. In chronological order of design they are Freikorps (1998), War Plan Crimson (2000), Konarmiya (2007) and Finnish Civil War (2009).

Finnish Civil War, as the last one to be designed, was the first to use the three-Operations-Segment, interleaved sequence of play when it was published by Compass Games in Paper Wars magazine in 2016.

Subsequently Konarmiya got an overhaul to use this system and was published by Tiny Battle as Red Horde 1920 (along with the upgraded system it also had a new map, new order of battle research, some new rules and different components, so it really did need a new title too).

Freikorps was next to get a similar treatment and will be published in April 2018 in Yaah! magazine #11 (from Flying Pig Games, which is Tiny Battle’s sister company) as Strike for Berlin.

That leaves War Plan Crimson as the only one of the family left using the old mechanics and sequence of play. There’s nothing I want to change in the game’s content, just its mechanics, so today I rewrote the rules to update the game for the new system.

You can use these, or not; playing with the new system will probably give you a more chaotic experience, which is fun for many, but not all (I know some of you out there probably wince even at the idea of random events).

Warplancrimson mkII rules

Warplancrimson MkII charts

charts in pdf: warplancrimson-mkii-chartspdf

The rules and charts replace those supplied with the game. I might have missed a numerical reference here or there, deal with it.

You will have to make two sets of three Operations Chits each using blank markers, poker chips or something like that. That’s about all the physical conversion required.

I hope you will give this a try!

A Distant Plain, 5-10-15 Years On…

pic1733403_md

Recently on Consimworld someone suggested that I should do some kind of update kit for A Distant Plain, to cover the years since the end of the game’s scenarios in 2013 (coinciding with the NATO withdrawal from combat operations, and the physical release of the game in summer 2013).

People tell me it should be easy… you know, a couple of dozen new event cards and you’re done… right? Just like the people who thought there should be a simple 1979-89 conversion kit, for the Soviet-Afghan War (I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone why this one doesn’t fly).

Hmmm…but what particular events could there be after the  that could not be reflected in the cards we already have? I can’t think of any, because it’s been mostly a story of gradually declining Government control of the country matched with steady state or increasing strength of the two insurgent factions… even things that could still happen now, like peace talks, were reflected by a card in the existing deck.

Off the top of my head, a post-2013 version of ADP would effectively resemble a three-player game… the Coalition would have mostly withdrawn its troops and bases, leaving just some training units – and continuing to pay the bills for the Afghan army and police, the cost of which is double or triple the country’s current Gross Domestic Product. There are two COIN system games that are being worked on right now that feature three-player mechanisms, so that could be adapted possibly. More details are coming out on All Bridges Burning, Vesa Arponen’s very clever 3-faction game on the Finnish Civil War of 1918, which offers some mechanics worth thinking about.

http://www.insidegmt.com/?p=18759

Maybe the simplest thing to do would be to play a short game this way, as a three-player game of say 3 or 4 Propaganda Rounds, with an edited deck of event cards that have been prepared by removing cards that are specific to the Coalition, e.g. #1 1 ISR, #2 and #3 Predators and Reapers, #7 Find Fix Finish.. even then you would probably have to discuss the effect of some cards to reflect the mostly missing Coalition (although it’s not quite missing, a card like #9 Special Forces could still work because there are still substantial special operations troops there).  You’d have to review the deck carefully, but it could be done, I suppose. People are certainly welcome to try.

In the end though, I’m not sure what you would be proving, because the war has simply ground on in the last four or five years… no one seems closer to “winning”, in any sense of the word. Here is a recent article on the state of affairs in Afghanistan, and the tiny expensive/ laborious circles everyone is describing around each other.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2018-01-03/why-taliban-isnt-winning-afghanistan

 

Spielenexperiment II: turning 2 into 4

Katie Aidley with CT from twitterfeed

Katie Aidley with CT rulebook. (photo: Katie Aidley, Twitterfeed)

So, Colonial Twilight has been out for a few months now, some reviews have appeared (Armchair General , Space-Biff! , No Fun Allowed , The Players Aid , Katie’s Game Corner) and the comments on Boardgamegeek.com have been piling up , for whatever they might be worth.

They have been mostly very positive, but once in a while someone has said that a COIN system game with two factions does not have the depth, complexity, and interaction (which I think is euphemism for “backstabbery, bickering and scheming”) that a four-faction game does… like in A Distant Plain or Fire in the Lake.

I won’t deny that “2 < 4”, even for very large values of “2”. I’ve also done my best to explain why the “2”, when others thought it should be 3, 4, 5 or more. But I was thinking the other day: what if you had four people who wanted to play Colonial Twilight and there was only one copy? Or even less likely, you had a group of four who wanted to explore some of those divided aims, treacheries and further asymmetries within those two monolithic factions?

So here are my proposed rule changes to accommodate four people in a match of Colonial Twilight: preliminary, untested, result of solitary musings but mostly thought through (I think). Likely immediate results will be overall lengthening of game time and extensive bickering, followed by a longer-term resolution not to have anything to do with that Train fellow anymore….

VARIANT: FOUR-PLAYER COLONIAL TWILIGHT

(10 January 2018)

Concept

  • Each of the two factions is played by a team of two players (if you have three, subdivide Government). The players have different responsibilities (geographical and functional) within the team.
  • During each campaign, one of the two players in each faction will be the Leading player, determined at the beginning of each Propaganda Round by who is leading in terms of Victory Points (VP). These VP have different sources, depending on player and faction. The Leading player will make some, but not all, decisions for the team during the campaign.
  • The ultimate winner among the four players is the Leading player of the team that won the game, at the moment the game ends.

Definitions

  • The FLN is divided into Interior and Exterior players (that is, controlling the FLN forces inside and outside of Algeria, respectively).
  • The Government is divided into Intervention Force and Sector Force players (the first represents the professional and more kinetic-minded parts of the French Army and their political backers (both French and pied-noir); the second represents the conscript sector troops, police, civil administration and parts of the civilian government in Paris).

Setup

  • This variant can be played in the Medium and Short Scenarios only. Set up pieces and markers normally, but when building the Event Deck players should remove Event Cards #49 (Factional Plot) and #58 (Army in Waiting) from the Event Deck before play, as these cards would unfairly affect the Exterior player.
  • At the start of the Medium Scenario, the Interior and Intervention players are the Leading players for their teams. At the start of the Short Scenario, the Exterior and Sector players are the Leading players.

Actions during Campaigns

FLN:

  • The Leading player for the FLN faction will decide what option on the Initiative Track to take, and which Operation (and possibly Special Activity) will be executed  (this holds whether the faction is First or Second Eligible). Each player within the faction will carry out Operations and Special Activities as required, alternately and within the areas over which they have responsibility:
    • Internal: all spaces within Algeria
    • External: Morocco, Tunisia and the France Track
    • Leading player: Event Card, Pass
  • Players will select spaces for conduct of the Operation alternately, one at a time and Leading player’s choice who goes first (if the Leading player chose a Limited Operation, only one Operation is executed by one player in one space, but it does not have to be the Leading player). If a Special Activity is involved, both players must conduct that Special Activity at the time the Leading Player chooses (i.e. before, during or after the Operation).
  • (See below for a suggested option that adds some logistical concerns for the FLN.)

Example: The FLN is 1st Eligible. The Leading player for the faction is the Internal player. He decides to do an Operation + Special Activity: in this case, Rally + Extort. The Internal player begins by selecting Tizi Ouzu (-1 Resource), then the External player selects Morocco (-1 Resource), then the Internal player selects Mostaganem (-1 Resource), then the External player selects the France Track marker (-1 Resource). That’s 4 Resources expended so far and the stock is getting low, so the Internal player chooses to Extort at this time. She selects Tlemcen (+1 Resource), then the External player selects Tunisia (+1 Resource), then the Internal player selects Tizi Ouzu and Bordj Bou Arreridj (since there are no more spaces where the External player can Extort; +2 Resources). The Internal player finishes by selecting Tlemcen, where the FLN happens to have Control, to Agitate one level, for -1 Resource. Finally she places the FLN cylinder in the “Execute Op + Special Activity” space on the Initiative Track.

Government:

  • The Leading player for the Government faction will decide what option on the Initiative Track to take, and which Operation (and possibly Special Activity) will be executed  (this holds whether the faction is First or Second Eligible). The other player decides where and how the Operation (and possibly Special Activity) is executed, if it is their responsibility (it would be nice if the Leading player agreed, but it is not necessary). Responsibilities are as follows:
    • Intervention Forces: Sweep, Assault, Troop Lift
    • Sector Forces: Train, Garrison, Deploy, Neutralize
    • Leading Player: Event Card, Pass
  • If a Special Activity is involved, the responsible player must conduct that Special Activity at the time the Leading Player chooses (i.e. before, during or after the Operation).

Example: The Government is 1st Eligible. The Leading player for the faction is the Intervention Forces player. He thinks it’s time for some strategic movement of pieces around the country and decides to do an Operation + Special Activity: in this case, Garrison + Troop Lift. Because the Sector Forces player is responsible for the Garrison Operation she executes the Garrison, moving 5 Police cubes around, Activating 2 Guerrillas in Souk Ahras and expending 2 Resources (the Intervention Forces player would have preferred her to Activate a Guerrilla in Tlemcen, but too bad, she’s setting up for a Neutralize in Souk Ahras). The Intervention Forces player is responsible for Troop Lift and so redistributes French Troops among 3 spaces. He could have done the Troop Lift before or after the Garrison was executed.

Actions during Propaganda Rounds

  • Victory Phase: If Victory Check ends the game, the Leading player of the winning faction during the immediately preceding campaign is the ultimate winner.
  • Resources and Commitment Phase: The Leading player for the Government faction decides which French pieces will be moved between Available and Out of Play.
  • Support Phase: The Leading player for each faction decides which spaces will be Pacified or Agitated, and by how many levels. At the end of the Support Phase judge who will be the new Leading player for the following campaign. See below for how the players score Victory Points (VP); the new Leading player is the one with more VP. If the two players tie, there is no change in Leading player. If this is the final Propaganda Round, the ultimate winner is the one who would be the Leading player of the winning faction, if another campaign were about to be run.

FLN Victory Points:

  • Internal player:
    • + Total Oppose
    • +2 for each French cube in the Casualties Box
    • +3 for each Government Base in the Casualties Box
  • External player:
    • + Resource number from box on the France Track
    • + total number of Guerrillas and Bases in Morocco and Tunisia

Government Victory Points:

  • Intervention Forces player:
    • + the number of Guerrillas that were removed in Assaults this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign; the player gets credit for these “kills” even if Police were part of the Assaulting force (e.g. an Assault in a City or Border Sector, or if the Challe Plan card was in effect)
    • +2 for each Base that was removed in Assaults during this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign; player gets credit even if Police were involved, as above)
  • Sector Forces player:
    • + the number of Guerrillas that were removed in Neutralizes this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign)
    • +2 for each Base that was removed in Neutralizes during this campaign (keep a total of this during the campaign)
    • + Total Support

Example: It is the Support Phase of the first Propaganda Round of the Short Scenario. During the campaign the Intervention Forces player has removed 8 Guerrillas and 1 Base in Assaults. His VP total is therefore (8+2 =) 10. The Sector Forces player has removed 4 Guerrillas and Total Support is 7. Her VP total is therefore (4+7 =) 11. The Sector Forces player will be the Leading player in the next campaign.

  • Redeployment Phase: The Intervention Forces player redeploys Troop cubes as desired and permitted. The Sector Forces player redeploys Police cubes as desired and permitted. The Internal player may redeploy Guerrillas within Wilayas with friendly Bases, but the External player may not move Guerrillas between Morocco and Tunisia.

Event Cards

The Leading player for each faction will be the one to select and execute the text on the Event Card. However, no player ever gets Victory Points as a result of executing any of this text (e.g. removing pieces): Victory Points are calculated only in the Support Phase.

Pivotal Event Cards

If any player has control over play of a Pivotal Event Card, and wishes and is able to play it (see 2.3.2: pre-conditions are met, and 1st Eligible has not yet chosen an option), that action pre-empts anything any other player was about to do.

FLN: the Internal player has control over the play of the OAS card, and is the only FLN player who can execute the OAS-related Capability the card confers.

Government: In both scenarios, the Intervention Forces player has control over the play of the Coup d’etat card (edit: see additional suggestion below). If the FLN has played the OAS card, the Intervention Forces player is the only Government player who can execute the OAS-related Capability the card confers. In the Medium Scenario, the Sector Forces player has control over the Recall de Gaulle card.

Conclusion

By reading through this simple variant, you can see the divisions within the different organizations. The FLN within and without Algeria had divided aims – the units within the country needed to win the people over to their side and continue resisting the French on the ground, while the FLN sitting in the sanctuaries of the Tunisian and Moroccan camps were concerned with preserving an army and government in waiting, to assume power quickly when the French finally left. Meanwhile, the different elements in the French Army, the pieds-noirs and the civilian government had rival methods in mind to deal with the insurgency.

But neither player can give themselves over completely to actions that will benefit only them; they must use all the methods and resources at their disposal in order to win the game.

Let me know if you try this!

Below is a link to the variant rules for you to print out, if you like. Edits and options have been incorporated.

4pct-160118

14 January 2018: After posting these rules, I had a thought, based on the suggestion of “Fred J”, a user on Boardgamegeek.com:

  • If the Intervention Forces player plays the Coup d’etat Pivotal Event and wins the die roll, they become the Leading Player for the rest of the campaign. If they lose, no change.
  • In the Propaganda Round, judge the VP and assign the Leading player for the next campaign normally (no change if the two are tied).

This way, the Intervention Forces player has the option during a campaign to “grab the steering wheel” and throw things his way (and maybe grab a bunch of Commitment and Resources too, as well as getting rid of De Gaulle if he was in play – which will make things less easy for the Sector Forces player).

Try this and let me know how it goes… I think I might add this rule to this ongoing experiment permanently. [ETA: has been added to document]

16 January 2018: Meanwhile, my only other concern for this is that the FLN Exterior player might not have much to do (in the game), so it’s a bit less fun for them. Therefore, this variant might make a better three-player game than a four-player – that is, with two Government players and one FLN player.

But adding a bit of extra complexity and historical detail might not go amiss, depending on the crowd. Historically, the Army of National Liberation (the military arm of the FLN) forces inside Algeria were very dependent on resources reaching them from the logistical depots in Morocco and Tunisia, from weapons to shoes and rations. The FLN members in the depots were constantly busy keeping the internal effort supplied as well as possible across the French border defences, but in the COIN system as in most wargames, logistics and supply does not cross over into exciting game mechanics. So try this optional addition:

  • At the end of each Reset Phase, just before the new campaign begins, the External player divides the FLN’s available Resources into two pools, “internal” and “external”. The number of external resources is equal to the lesser of either the number of FLN Resources currently available, or the sum of the Resource number from the current box on the France Track and the number of Bases in Morocco and Tunisia. These are assumed to be resources stockpiled in Morocco and Tunisia and are under the control of the External player. The remaining Resources, if any, are under the control of the Internal player.
  • Players may keep track of these two pools by any mutually agreeable method: scrap paper, two markers on the Edge Track, glass beads or other tokens, small coins, etc..
  • During campaigns, each FLN player must pay for the Operations they conduct from the pool of Resources under their control.
  • Any Resources added through the Extort Special Activity are added to the pool of Resources controlled by the player whose piece conducted the Extort. Your knife, your pie….
  • Any gains or losses in FLN Resources due to Event Cards (e.g. #15 Jean-Paul Sartre, or #25 Purge) are enjoyed or suffered by the External player. Exception: Resources lost by the use of the OAS Capability by either faction are taken from the Internal player’s pool.
  • The External player may transfer Resources from their pool to the Internal player’s pool (but not vice versa). In game terms, this is done under a March Operation, and it costs 1 Resource (to a “virtual” destination not depicted on the map). The External player may transfer as many Resources as desired, up to the total number in their pool, but each time the player does this, they must remove a number of Guerrillas equal to the current Border Zone Status number from their Guerrillas in Morocco and/or Tunisia and place them directly in Available. If they do not have sufficient Guerrillas to do this, they cannot transfer Resources.

Examples: 

  • At the beginning of the new campaign, there are 9 FLN Resources available. The Resource number in the current box in the France Track is +2 and there are 4 Bases in Morocco and Tunisia. Therefore, the campaign starts with (2+4 =) 6 Resources under control of the External player, and (9-6 =) 3 Resources under control of the Internal player.
  • Later during the campaign, the External player (reluctantly) decides to transfer Resources to the Internal player’s pool. The Border Zone Status number is 2. The player also happens to be the Leading player at the moment, so they choose a Limited Operation – March on the Initiative Track. The player “Marches” 5 Resources (all they have available) into the Internal player’s pool, spending an additional 1 Resource to do so, and removes 2 of their Guerrillas (in this case 1 from Morocco and 1 from Tunisia, but both could have come from one Country) to Available.

[ETA: this has been added to the document]

 

Operation Whirlwind: more historical scenario.

FS04OW

Last night I put together a scenario for Operation Whirlwind with some simple rule changes to reflect the historical and operational limitations placed on both sides. OK to use for any of the game’s three or four editions. Briefly:

  • The city is divided into three divisional sectors that constrain Soviet movement and operations;
  • Hungarian Civilian and Recruit units cannot move (Recruit units represent the large numbers of semi-organized insurgents who turned out to defend their own neighbourhoods);
  • There is no Western intervention and there are no Hungarian Army units (the deserters have been subsumed into the Insurgent counter mix).

This will likely give a greater challenge to both sides, for what people tell me is already an interesting situation. Have a look! (PDF file)

opwwhistorical

Ukrainian Crisis (Kryzyz Ukrainski) Polish rules

UkraineCrisis2014BrianTrain sm

Banner by Rodger MacGowan.

Thanks to the efforts of user “Grisz” on Boardgamegeek, Polish language rules for Ukrainian Crisis are now available!

Go here:

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/135681/kryzys-ukrainski-polskie-tlumaczenie-zasad

Many thanks Grisz!

Network-centric Go

 

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Well now, this is kind of interesting:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-networks-fight-jeff-cares

Basically, about 10 years ago the author came up with an idea to re-wire the Go board. The new Network-Centric Go board had the same number of nodes and links (381 nodes, 684 links), but were arranged according to the “preferential attachment” process that researchers have found in models of the internet and world-wide web. You can see from the diagram this kind of network has a very, very large number of lightly connected nodes, a moderate number of moderately connected nodes, and a very small number of very, very well connected nodes.

The first-move advantages are obvious: the move in each turn will be to occupy the point with the highest number of nodes connected to it, until all available points have the same number of nodes. The author claims to have fixed this and made it susceptible to analysis by reducing the board to about a quarter of its size (a 10×10 grid) and adopting a “decreasing clustering coefficient” strategy. (“Clustering Coefficient is a measure of local cohesion, representing the proportion of a node’s neighbors that are also neighbors of each other” – so it kind of sounds like he decided to play normal territorial Go).

Now he has an Indiegogo project to make this game playable online. And you can give him your money!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kayanet#/