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Subject: Any Massive Multiplayer Political/Conflict games hosted in the US? rss

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Andrew Kluck
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As wonderful as games like Empires in Arms and Here I Stand are I'm looking for something involving a lot more people and whose primary focus is on teams and the interplay of the players in the factions themselves. For instance:

I believe TooFatLardies hosts Kriegsspiel, which is not only played double blind, but knowledge of your own teammates/subordinates dispositions and intentions is limited.

The Megagame Makers host massive political/conflict simulations, the latest was a present day take on the worlds reaction to aliens. http://vimeo.com/96203590
But in the past they have hosted a wide array of scenarios, from The Sengoku to Vietnam.

These sound like an absolute blast to play, but alas, are on the opposite side of a huge body of water.

A historical theme would be preferred, but really, if I could gather my friends for a team and drive down to a hall somewhere filled with different factions competing against one another for an afternoon I would be in heaven. Ideally located somewhere in the Midwest would be nice.
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David "Brother" Eicher
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I've been wondering exactly the same thing. Does this happen anywhere in the US? If so, where? Cuz I want in on it!
 
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brant G
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NSDM is running games at Origins this summer, and (I think) GenCon


There's also the Staff Wargaming team at Origins this summer
Details here: http://grogheads.com/?p=4346
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A friend pointed me to The National Security Decision Making Game recently, but I've never participated in their stuff. It sounds like it fits the bill for what you're looking for.

Some friends and I are headed to a gamer retreat the weekend of 6/20-22. I'm in the midst of writing an RPG for the weekend set on Air Force One in the midst of a Polish-Russian crisis. It's only nine players, but it's along the lines of what you're looking for. Sometimes, when the thing you want to do doesn't exist you can write your own. The problem is finding enough players who are interested and buy into your vision.

Plus, they're a lot of work. I wrote and ran a many-player live-action RPG when I was in college. Forty-four players on a game that ran an entire weekend. I spent eight months setting up the game and writing all the PCs. And I had a lot of help, including three friends to help me GM all weekend long (and bounce ideas off of for eight months.) It was fun, but a crushing amount of work. Now that I'm an adult with four kids I'm finding a nine-player game to be difficult to find the time for.
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Roger Hobden
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Q : Any Massive Multiplayer Political/Conflict games hosted in the US?

A : The White House vs The House of Representatives ?
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Jur dj
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Hi there


This is what Dave Boundy from Megagame Makers had to say last week:

"After the great ShutUpAndSitDown video and podcast, There was a flurry of comments that a number of us answered on their web site. Then the emails started. I have just finished processing the first 160 emails about bookings and information about Megagames in the UK. As a result, we have pretty-well filled Iron Dice and Of Gods and Men, although Bruce and Paul are looking at expanding Of Gods and Men to add the waiting list that I have just started.

I still have about 40 emails to get to that need a bit more thought. A lot of people have asked "...we are enthusiasts in.....country and would like to play a Megagame. Can Megagame Makers come here to run a game/ tell us how to run a game / help us to run a game..." and variants of that. I think so far we could , were we so inclined, run games in most of the US states, Canada, Mexico. Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Romania, New Zealand, Australia and possibly other countries that I have forgotten.


We are rather scratching our heads to wonder if and how we can help. We have started by adding some games materials on the web site: specifically Sengoku resources are there and could be used to run a Megagame with little extra prep (and if anyone is thinking of doing so, even then there might be more available if you ask Jim nicely). Even this small step has led to a peak in downloads that are taxing our server to the point of maybe putting the bill up.

We have started pointing people to this Facebook group as being the place to get in touch with others trying to do the same thing. In the next week or so, we will be able to make more material available (I shall be getting Washington Conference, Price of Victory and Interesting Times available and will be inviting other Megagame Makers to do similar). Richard has already helped someone with Alia Iacta Est and there will be other specific topics that we can maybe help with.

I shall be writing to all the rest of the emails over the next few days, explaining all this but if you want to attend a game this year, have emailed me to book and have not received an answer, then something has gone wrong: get in touch."

My advice: keep an eye on the Megagame Makers website. They are discussing the programme for 2015 and will also be looking at supporting initiatives abroad, and maybe some will be near you in the US.
http://www.megagame-makers.org.uk/

Another good source is the facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/mmakers/?fref=nf

If you can't wait and feel you can do this yourselves, there are now two games available (that is, all the materials you need to run the game) on the Megagame Makers website.

They'll be happy to help you out, like they've helped me and my friends out over the last 20 years organising megagames in the Netherlands. For some examples: http://www.megagame-makers.nl/wiki/doku.php/start

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Enrico Viglino
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bayonetbrant wrote:
NSDM is running games at Origins this summer, and (I think) GenCon

These events are outstanding. If you have a chance to play
in any of them, take it. It's more of a geopolitical RPG,
but run by people who really know their stuff.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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calandale wrote:
bayonetbrant wrote:
NSDM is running games at Origins this summer, and (I think) GenCon

These events are outstanding. If you have a chance to play
in any of them, take it. It's more of a geopolitical RPG,
but run by people who really know their stuff.
Whenever you get to this level of game, and especially when you wander into the many-multiplayer category, it stops being a "wargame" in the strictest sense of the term and veers off into RPG territory.

Experience speaking: It is impossible to "balance" a game like this beforehand. That many players in a game leads to a chaos factor that the designer can't account for. Consequently, while there's a framework to work around the GM needs to have an immense amount of power to adjudicate what happens in response to unexpected stimuli. The game doesn't function without it, and certainly stops being fun.

So you get into "Kriegspiel" territory where an experienced GM ends up making decisions on the fly to account for the wide-open territory that a freeform game like this creates.
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Brian Train
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You say that as if it's a bad thing!
Watching a good GM improvise would be fascinating....

Brian
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Enrico Viglino
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Some of the coolest parts of the NSDM game are the internal politics.
A friend was in one game where the US Congress impeached the president,
and I was in one imprisoned during a political coup in China (in the
end I got made back into a person).
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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ltmurnau wrote:
You say that as if it's a bad thing!
Watching a good GM improvise would be fascinating....

Brian
Quite the contrary, it's lots of fun. I've been on both ends of this, both as player and GM. The GMs in a big game like this are constantly reacting to the players' actions, and they can't stay on top of all of them. In part, they are "the rest of the world."

It's actually more fun to watch a good player at work, spinning lies at someone who's caught him doing something. "No, no. I wasn't betraying you. I was getting in his good graces so that I could find out his plans to help foil his evil plot! You have to believe me! I'm totally loyal!"
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Andrew Kluck
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jurdj wrote:

If you can't wait and feel you can do this yourselves, there are now two games available (that is, all the materials you need to run the game) on the Megagame Makers website.
I bought Lost Youth after hearing about them, but it requires 50 people. I can't get 14 together for an afternoon of paintball much less run something this large and enjoy it.

Thanks for the information, if MM ends up running one of their designs on this continent let us all know.
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brant G
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Some of the guys from the staff wargaming team also have a version of their events they use for corporate training, staff development, and teambuilding

http://harnessedelectrons.com/training.html
 
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robbbbbb wrote:
it stops being a "wargame" in the strictest sense of the term and...
Quote:
you get into "Kriegspiel" territory
Um...
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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I'm using the "Kriegspiel" in the original, Prussian sense of the term, which isn't anything like what we'd consider a "wargame" in the modern sense. The rules were extremely loose and most actions were adjudicated by a referee/umpire/gamemaster.

Playing at the World provides an excellent overview of this very subject and the very early days of wargaming. Highly recommended.
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Dan Taylor
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The NSDM games are very interesting. I've played in an 8 hour game and a 2 hour game. While they are very data based, as others have said they veer off the rails into very strange territory very quickly. There's also no real attempt (at least in the 2 games I played) to have any semblance of order or structure (i.e. you don't really have to listen to the leader of your faction and they can't "replace" you when you ignore them...) A lot happens very quickly and information flow is... not optimal.

As a historical/simulation game, it was pretty bad. As a simulation of what the early days of the French Revolution was like (constantly shifting factions in a chaotic soup), it's pretty awesome.

They're certainly not bad by any stretch, but do not appear to be similar to the games mentioned above.
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robbbbbb wrote:
A friend pointed me to The National Security Decision Making Game recently, but I've never participated in their stuff.
I've done NSDM both as a student at Naval War College (which is where the program began) and as an attendee at a convention. The former, being more closely regulated/supervised and populated by more "rational" players, was highly informative and enjoyable, providing a lot of insight into the thought processes involved in high-level strategic thinking in a crisis situation.

The two convention sessions of NSDM which I participated in were far less satisfying. The lack of structure to the event, coupled with unruly participants who clearly neither understood what the intent of the exercise was, nor wanted to act "correctly" in the roles they'd been assigned, created an environment which was full of frustrations (and by that I mean "above game" rather than "in game" frustrations) and produced results which can only be described as bizarre. While I'd be willing to participate in another convention NSDM session it would largely be because one of the founding members of the group that puts them on is a former Navy shipmate and personal friend, and I'd be far more interested in interacting with him than the likely game participants.
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stove wrote:
...and they can't "replace" you when you ignore them...)
That all depends on the circumstances. Pantomiming planting rice for
even a few minutes really set in mentally - and no one was allowed to
talk to me whilst I had been unpersoned.




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calandale wrote:
Pantomiming planting rice for even a few minutes really set in mentally - and no one was allowed to talk to me whilst I had been unpersoned.
That required you to be willing to submit to the "punishment" which had been imposed on you (and for the rest of the participants to "obey" the admonishment not to speak with you too). In the two NSDM convention sessions I was involved with finding folks who'd play the game that way was rare. We had folks who were abusive (I had one guy actually threaten to punch me), pursued their own agendas (which ran completely counter to what their assigned in-game objectives were supposed to be), and formed alliances with friends that made absolutely no sense at all from an in-game perspective.

I'm not saying my experiences with NSDM were typical, but for me it's a case of "twice burned, thrice shy."
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Robb Minneman
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All games of this type require buy-in from the players. The GMs set the scenario and set up the factions, individuals, and their goals, but they can only leverage so much control over the behavior of the players after the game starts. If a player decides to go off the reservation the GMs only have so many options.

When you're writing an historically-based or contemporary political game, that's a problem. When you're writing something that's more fantasy-flavored, or comes down more on the RPG side of things, then you have a little more freedom to hand that player a character that suits his personality. "Here you go. Go play the crazed barbarian! Good luck!"
 
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Enrico Viglino
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Lancer4321 wrote:
calandale wrote:
Pantomiming planting rice for even a few minutes really set in mentally - and no one was allowed to talk to me whilst I had been unpersoned.
That required you to be willing to submit to the "punishment" which had been imposed on you (and for the rest of the participants to "obey" the admonishment not to speak with you too). In the two NSDM convention sessions I was involved with finding folks who'd play the game that way was rare. We had folks who were abusive (I had one guy actually threaten to punch me), pursued their own agendas (which ran completely counter to what their assigned in-game objectives were supposed to be), and formed alliances with friends that made absolutely no sense at all from an in-game perspective.

I'm not saying my experiences with NSDM were typical, but for me it's a case of "twice burned, thrice shy."
Ouch. We had a pretty small group in this game, and it worked very well.
There was a high proportion of GMs to players, and the players were
mostly young enough that they probably had done some LARPing. It would
be pretty crappy to be playing any kind of game where people weren't
bothering with the rules - much less remaining civil.
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Lancer4321 wrote:
In the two NSDM convention sessions I was involved with finding folks who'd play the game that way was rare. We had folks who were abusive (I had one guy actually threaten to punch me)
Ouch. Talk to the GMs, who should drop the banhammer. That's unacceptable behavior in any social setting, much less a game. Kick him out.
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robbbbbb wrote:
All games of this type require buy-in from the players. The GMs set the scenario and set up the factions, individuals, and their goals, but they can only leverage so much control over the behavior of the players after the game starts. If a player decides to go off the reservation the GMs only have so many options.
fortunately, the staff wargaming team at Origins has never had a problem getting buy-in from the players, even the ones that at first glance you wonder "what the heck is he doing in here?" and turn out to be great team participants.
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jurdj wrote:
Hi there


This is what Dave Boundy from Megagame Makers had to say last week:

"After the great ShutUpAndSitDown video and podcast, There was a flurry of comments that a number of us answered on their web site. Then the emails started. I have just finished processing the first 160 emails about bookings and information about Megagames in the UK. As a result, we have pretty-well filled Iron Dice and Of Gods and Men, although Bruce and Paul are looking at expanding Of Gods and Men to add the waiting list that I have just started.

.....etc....

My advice: keep an eye on the Megagame Makers website. They are discussing the programme for 2015 and will also be looking at supporting initiatives abroad, and maybe some will be near you in the US.
http://www.megagame-makers.org.uk/

Another good source is the facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/mmakers/?fref=nf

If you can't wait and feel you can do this yourselves, there are now two games available (that is, all the materials you need to run the game) on the Megagame Makers website.

They'll be happy to help you out, like they've helped me and my friends out over the last 20 years organising megagames in the Netherlands. For some examples: http://www.megagame-makers.nl/wiki/doku.php/start

The Megagame Makers indeed run outstanding events. I've only been able to get to one due to my time commitments but they are professional in standard compared to many of the emergency planning games I go to for a living - and indeed in the one I went to, it was quite unforgettable.
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I was not very satisfied with the NSDM session that I played in at Origins some years back. The focus was entirely on the players playing U.S. roles. Those of us playing roles as other countries seemed only there to provide context for the U.S. players. My cohorts running our 'country' accomplished far more of what we were told the goals were than the U.S. players did, and were completely ignored. We spent 8 hours, achieved our goal conditions, and … nada. Perhaps this was a fluke, perhaps the umpiring has changed, but it was such an unsatisfactory experience that I would not commit the time to ever try NSDM again. Your mileage may vary.
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