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Memoir '44» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Operation Pagliacci: Creepy Clowns vs. the National Guard rss

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Pete Belli
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Operation Pagliacci: Creepy Clowns vs. the National Guard





The bizarre "creepy clown" phenomenon has swept across the globe in 2016. These incidents have ranged from mildly amusing to extremely dangerous. One college "clown hunt" in the United States led to a gathering of hundreds of people. Who knows what might happen next...

Operation Pagliacci depicts civil unrest following a riot by a mob of drug-crazed creepy clowns. The military codename Operation Pagliacci was based on the famous opera about an evil clown. For those BGG users who missed the Seinfeld episode and are unfamiliar with the opera here is the legendary Mario Lanza performing a famous scene:







This is a solitaire design. The player controls the National Guard while the game system moves the clowns across the board. While not intended to be an accurate simulation of urban disorder Operation Pagliacci does include many elements found in these clashes.

WARNING! People suffering from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) should exercise caution while reading this Session Report.





The board portrays a portion of the Harvard University campus. The map is not exactly to scale but each hex represents several hundred yards of actual landscape. Terrain types include university facilities, metropolitan areas, parks, and the Charles River. The barricades halt all movement but have no other function.





Using the Memoir '44 system (or any Commands & Colors game) to realistically depict a location is always a challenge. This map detail shows the JFK Center on the north side of the river and the Harvard Business School on the southern bank. The famous John W. Weeks footbridge is shown on the right side of this image. Obviously, armored vehicles may not cross the river here.

Other university facilities shown on the board include the Harvard Law School and the Widener Library. If the creepy clowns occupy any of these hexes at the end of the game the player loses victory points.





National Guard formations essentially move like infantry and armored units in the original Richard Borg design. The creepy clowns maneuver and battle using a system I developed for my The Great Emu War of 1932 prototype.

Every creepy clown group draws a random token to determine the direction and distance this mob will move. Movement tokens contain instructions like SE-3 or SW-1 and require the group to move that number of hexes on the indicated compass heading. In the example shown here the clown group drew a SE-2 token and would advance along the pathway shown by the arrows.

Rioting creepy clown movement is highly unpredictable. There are "hold" tokens which immobilize a group for that turn. There are "creep" tokens which permit a mob to attack an adjacent National Guard unit with three battle dice instead of two.





Creepy clowns do not possess weapons capable of destroying armored vehicles. However, it would certainly be possible for a mob to damage a Stryker during a riot. Clowns may only attack adjacent targets and only hit on a "star" result; this red damage marker would be placed next to the infantry fighting vehicle. A damaged Stryker may not move or fire during the following turn. Damage is automatically repaired.





The player is extremely concerned with public opinion. Collateral damage inflicted during the riot will cost the player victory points so targeting Harvard University facilities with heavy weapons like a Stryker or an attack helicopter should be limited. In this photograph the helicopter has attacked the creepy clowns occupying a university building hex. This results in an automatic public opinion hit and that penalty is recorded with a special token.

Television images of military helicopters over American cities might be disturbing. Every time the helicopter is deployed another public opinion hit is recorded, even if the chopper does not strike university property. The player is never required to deploy the helicopter but since it is basically a flying tank with unlimited movement and rolls four battle dice with zero defensive subtractions the temptation is strong.





Creepy clowns are "neutralized" with an infantry symbol (or a grenade symbol if the target is adjacent) and removed from play. However, new creepy clown groups constantly enter the map as the lost figures are recycled into fresh rioters. A simple roll of an eight-sided dice indicates where the creepy clowns will enter the north edge of the board.

Here is the sequence of play:

-- Clown Movement Phase
-- Clown Attack Phase
-- Clown Replacement Phase
-- National Guard Command Card Phase
-- National Guard Movement Phase
-- National Guard Attack Phase

A special event card buried at the bottom of the deck signals the end of the session. In addition to protecting Harvard University property the player must prevent creepy clown groups from escaping off the southern edge of the board. Obviously, public opinion matters.





Fighting in an urban environment offers multiple challenges, even if non-lethal weapons are employed. The terrain rules are unusual. Wooded hexes represent parks. These parks are actually considered to be free-fire zones and have no effect on the number of battle dice rolled during combat. The open green hexes represent metropolitan areas with houses and streets. The do not block line of sight but attacking across one of these hexes lowers the number of battle dice rolled by one. Harvard University facilities block LOS and provide a defensive advantage (-1 battle dice) for either belligerent.

In the example shown here the Stryker would firing across the park hex (yellow arrows) and suffers no penalty. The infantry platoon would be firing across a metropolitan hex (red arrows) and would suffer a -1 battle dice penalty. This penalty might simulate (in an abstract fashion) the need to advance along congested streets in order to approach the enemy.

OK, I played this scenario four times. While the use of movement tokens is a relatively uncluttered system by the end of each session moving so many of those creepy clown groups was getting a bit tedious. While this kind of extra effort is a common problem with solitaire designs (it also occurred in the Emu War game) I lost my desire to test my skills as a suppressor of rioting clowns again.

I had fun with the creepy clown theme and the depiction of this cultural oddity. Hope you enjoyed reading the article...
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Joe Browes
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Fun stuff, always enjoy reading these! Here's hoping it'll all be over by Christmas Halloween.
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Pete Belli
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Interociter wrote:
Fun stuff, always enjoy reading these! Here's hoping it'll all be over by Christmas Halloween.


Thank you for the positive comments.

I did hurry to get this posted on BGG before Halloween. zombie
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Joe Browes
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pete belli wrote:
Interociter wrote:
Fun stuff, always enjoy reading these! Here's hoping it'll all be over by Christmas Halloween.


Thank you for the positive comments.

I did hurry to get this posted on BGG before Halloween. zombie


And before the creepy clowns kill us all.
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Wendell
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All the little chicks with crimson lips, go...
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Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
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This is very amusing!

How about an optional rule?

The National Guard has to first check to see whether the reports are accurate. Roll d6 when they are adjacent to a clown unit. One 1-5, they get there and there are in fact no clowns - it's all a hoax. Some teenager or drunk guy gets arrested for false reports.

On a roll of 6, re-roll.

Just for realism...

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Robert Wesley
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They're called "Juggalos" from them "Insane Clown Posse"-aficionados, and I 'personally' know of ONE! whistle
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Steve Shockley
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Pete, this is great! I love the humor, and it actually sounds pretty cool as a game on its own. I applaud your creativity.
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T. Nomad
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Many of us are deeply engaged with our games. You, Pete, are a standout: you actually play.
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Jim Jones
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Your reports are always awesome... even when frivolous.

You could have a rule for non-lethal weapons, such as tear/CS gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Units that employ these methods would not be penalized for collateral damage/public opinion.

Another possible mod to the non-lethal rule would be that clown units would retreat for every hit, instead of loosing figures. This would allow the National Guard units to "corral" the clowns away from sensitive civilian hexes.

I've always had an interest in the subject of "stability operations" (the fancy US Army term for riot control), but I've never actually seen it in implemented in any wargames.
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Pete Belli
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mao zedong wrote:
You could have a rule for non-lethal weapons, such as tear/CS gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Units that employ these methods would not be penalized for collateral damage/public opinion... I've always had an interest in the subject of "stability operations" (the fancy US Army term for riot control), but I've never actually seen it in implemented in any wargames.


It is often easier to explore these elements of military doctrine in a fictional scenario... like a creepy clown riot.
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