New game: Kashmir Crisis

KC_Cover mid

Image © Nathaniel Brunt, 2014. “The view towards the India/Pakistan border from the Sadhna Pass, Kupwara. The border between the two countries, known as the ‘Line of Control’, is one of the most militarized regions in the world.”

Not long ago Nathaniel Brunt, a researcher and photographer doing postgraduate work at Ryerson Polytechnic University, contacted me about the “Game Design as Journalism” presentation I made last year at the Connections-UK conference.

Nathaniel is a gamer and has spent years travelling and taking photographs in the Kashmir Region. He suggested that perhaps we could put together a simple game, in this “gamer-citizen journalism” vein, to let people find out a bit more about the current crisis in Kashmir.

So, we did.  And in that same vein, we offer it to you for free print-and-play.

Kashmir Crisis is a quite simple card-based game for two players. It takes about 15 minutes to play. You need to print out the rules and player aid card, and optionally the player mat to help keep things organized – you also need a deck of ordinary playing cards, with one Joker.

During each game turn, players will begin by revealing the Event Card that will be in effect during that turn. Then, both players will receive a number of cards from a deck of ordinary playing cards, and play them onto Diplomatic, Information or Military Fronts (or keep them in a Reserve, for a later turn). After this, players will compare the totals of cards played to see if one player will score Victory Points on a given Front, and whether one or both players will lose cards and Victory Points.

Originally we started with something that abstractly looked at the 30 year insurgency in Kashmir, but soon decided to focus on events subsequent to the February 2019 suicide bomber attack at Pulwama. We still plan on doing a more detailed game that looks at different periods/campaigns within the insurgency; it might work well as a module in the District Commander series. Nathaniel and I are going to explore this in the next while.

So, here are the files – I hope you will give this a try, and try to enjoy it in the spirit in which it is offered. [edited to add: the “1sep” rules and player aid card now available have an additional optional rule with an alternate, “sudden death” victory option; they replace the “28aug” version]

kc-rules-1sep19 rules

kc-pac-1sep19  player aid card

kc play mat 22aug19 play mat for cards

KC Narrative Prompts narrative prompts sheet

A word on the “narrative prompts”: this game involves placing cards representing resources on different Fronts during play. This abstractly shows the scale of effort a country is investing in obtaining a favourable result in that sphere of activity. For example, the Diplomatic Front concerns a country’s efforts to get international support and assistance for its viewpoint or to condemn its adversary’s, or to pursue legal and economic threats and harassment against the enemy. “Information” is perhaps a somewhat more nebulous concept, relating to message dominance and ability to control the narrative on the conflict. Finally, the “Military” Front is a more straightforward application of covert and overt military forces and assistance to pursue insurgent/ counterinsurgent warfare, or to prepare for large-scale conventional conflict.

Some players will recognize this concept from my pol-mil game Ukrainian Crisis. Others will have no idea what’s going on, what playing a “5” represents, and why a “5” is better than a “3” but not as good as a “7”. To give them a bit of a verbal prompt in building the story of the unfolding of the conflict together (which is the goal of playing a game with another person), we include a sheet of adjectives, verbs and nouns that might help someone describe or imagine what they are doing in the game.

PS: if anyone’s moved to comment, you can do that here, or the game now has an entry on Boardgamegeek.com (approved almost suspiciously fast, too).

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/287786/kashmir-crisis

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Brief Border Wars quad now available for pre-order!

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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.

 

New free game: Maracas

dc_maracas medium

Maracas mapsnip      Maracas ctrsnip

[EDITED 9 SEPTEMBER 2019:  Now that Hollandspiele has formally published the Maracas module, I am pulling this one off the free print-and-play wagon. But I want people to try the system if they want to, so I will substitute another of the three remaining modules, and keep it up until such time as it is also published by Hollandspiele.  Check the Free Games page: Free Games!]

Maracas is one of the four games I’ve designed so far that uses the District Commander diceless, operational-level counterinsurgency system.

It takes place in Maracas, the fictional megacity capital of the equally fictitious nation of Virtualia (which was also the locale for my game Caudillo).

I am making it available for free print-and-play download as an example of

a) the District Commander system itself; and

b) an introductory game on asymmetrical warfare in a modern large city.

I intend to do more of this kind of thing. I’ve been interested in urban combat for a long time (Tupamaro was one of my first game designs) and I think this is a crucially important topic for present-day and near-future wargame work. There’s certainly going to be a certain amount of the real thing soon enough.

Game components consist of:

  • System rules (a bit long and chatty but they introduce concepts and many variations) DC RB
  • Exclusive rules (a lot shorter but they introduce some changes and extra units)
  • Player aids and charts
  • Set of standard counters (176 x 5/8″): infrastructure, chance chits, intelligence chits, insurgent units and assets DC system counters 4july
  • Set of exclusive counters (88 x 5/8″): Government/Foreign units and assets, extra insurgent, intelligence pieces
  • Area movement map (made to be printed out at 17×22″)

The counters are made to be printed out at 5/8″ and the map at 17×22″, but if your eyes are young and strong and your fingers nimble go ahead and print them out smaller. Or if you’re half-blind and near-palsied like me, print them out on 1″ foamcore and as big a map as you can find.

Permission is granted to downloaders to make a copy for their own personal use, under the usual Creative Commons Licence adopted for this website.

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.

This game, and up to three or more other modules in the system (so far Algeria 1959, Vietnam 1969, Afghanistan 2009, Maracas 2019), will be released over the next year or two by Hollandspiele.

I hope you will give it a try.

Thanks!

Binh Dinh: unbagging video by Players Aid

Over at the Players Aid blog, the indefatigable Grant Kleinheinz unbags and explores the contents of Binh Dinh ’69 from OSS Games.

Thanks Grant!

Europa font symbols

europa font symbols

(Copyright whatever copyright Europa magazine has or had.)

Just for general interest, here is a scan of a page from an old issue of Europa magazine (don’t know which one, but mid-90s I guess) showing the extent of unit type symbols the game system used at the time. I’m sure they are using more now.

I do not know if the Europa symbol font is still available from GR/D; I doubt it as I can find no references to it via Google. But this is the Internet, so I am sure someone will be along to correct me on the point soon.

Now It Can Be Seen: Box art for Colonial Twilight

Rodger MacGowan has finished the box art for Colonial Twilight!

And boy it looks good. The collage-of-images is a staple for many wargame covers, but it’s particularly interesting how Rodger has arranged these and used colours to imitate and fuse the structures of both the French and Algerian flags. And the green-and-black scheme really makes it pop.

I’m very pleased with this, another great cover by Rodger!

And now, this is the very last thing there is for me to look at and approve… so that’s it.

I think we’re done here, after more than two and a half years.

*sigh*

Look for this to appear in June or July!