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Subject: Coin/Guerrilla Warfare wargames rss

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Jeb
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Growing up in the Vietnam era, I always had a soft spot for guerrilla warfare games and wanted to hear about what other folks like, dislike, suggest for these types of games.

My favorite games include:
Vietnam 1965-1975: Epic strategic monster Vietnam war games. Like this one a lot.
Tonkin: The Indochina war 1950-54 (second edition): A strategic OCS like French Indo-China wargame. Huge favorite of mine.

Games that I'm interested in playing:
Ici, c'est la France! The Algerian War of Independence 1954 - 1962: Intrigued but have not gotten it to the table yet.
Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble: Battle of Dien Bien Phu tactical struggle. Have not gotten it to the table yet.
Citadel: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu: Heard great things about this one
Bloodtree Rebellion: Guerrilla warfare of the future. Intrigued by this one.

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.

What are other games folks like/play and why?
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Chad: The Toyota Wars is very detailed but also features economic and political aspects.
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Nicola S
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Nicaragua

It is considered to be the first COIN game ever (1988) and from the reviews looks very good. So good that I own it (but never played it...yet).

You may also look into two Brian Train's designs (he is the co-author of A Distant Plain):

Green Beret
Shining Path: The Struggle for Peru

They have been recently printed by One Small Step. The focus is more and the military aspect rather than political/economics.

Another option (modern) is:

BCT Command: Kandahar

Again quite biased on the military side, but with some 'resource gathering' and political elements.

HTH
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Jordi Cairol
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Angola is one of my all-times overall favourite wargames. Same scenario, but a few years later there is Angola. It looks pretty good, but I haven't played it yet.

A really enjoyable and asymmetrical multiplayer game is Battle for Baghdad, that shares the system and mechanics with the acclaimed SF classic Dune.

If you want a good Vietnam solo experience, you have A Week In Hell: The Battle of Hue.

And last but not least, also set in Vietnam, Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975 also focuses in the political aspect of the war.
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Jeff Gringer
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Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series. It's from a more operational/strategic level, if that's your cup of tea, but these are very rich simulations that feature nut-cutting diplomacy with four factions, tough choices, friction in carrying out plans, and lots of replayability with the random event cards that drive initiative for four factions. It's Volko Ruhnke's baby, but it was heavily influenced by Brian Train's earlier work.

There are four out now, with three (IIRC) in the pipeline.

Andean Abyss covers Colombia's struggle to claw back the state from narcotrafficers, Marxist rebels, and rightist paramilitaries filling the security void.

Cuba Libre takes the series to Batista's Cuba, which faced Fidel's insurgency, spiced up with the Syndicate, and rival non-Marxist insurgents. To make it even harder, US support generally declines as the game progresses. A post-revolution expansion is now in the works, Invierno Cubano: Castro's Counterinsurgency, 1959-1965.

A Distant Plain covers today's COIN in Afghanistan, at least up to the point where the US draws down. Factions include US/NATO/ISAF, the Karzai government, Taliban, and fence-sitting Warlords more interested in growing poppies. This game is particularly compelling as the two COIN factions find themselves constantly at cross-purposes, where you often wish you could shot at the other guy, in a situation best described as "the bad marriage."

Fire in the Lake is the latest release, covering Vietnam with three scenarios. Here you have the US, ARVN, VC, and the North as distinct factions. The "bad marriage" of Afghanistan is richly repeated here. In this game you also have hybrid forces, with special operators for the US and ARVN, along with North Vietnamese regulars fighting conventionally.

In the works are a three premodern COINs (Ceasar's Gaul, the American War of Independence, and late Roman Britain), along with a two-player treatment of Algeria by Brian Train.

Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection
Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar
Pendragon
Colonial Twilight: The French-Algerian War, 1954-62

Many others dealing with off-beat topics are gestating as well...
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Brandon
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GringerJD wrote:
Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series.


jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.
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Jeb
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jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
GringerJD wrote:
Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series.


jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.


That's ok, I want to hear about other system and why folks like them even if I'm not a fan. I can always have my opinion changed by a good report! Besides there are other people who are hopefully interested in the thread who want to know about these other games.
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Jeb
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jcairol wrote:
Angola is one of my all-times overall favourite wargames. Same scenario, but a few years later there is Angola. It looks pretty good, but I haven't played it yet.

A really enjoyable and asymmetrical multiplayer game is Battle for Baghdad, that shares the system and mechanics with the acclaimed SF classic Dune.

If you want a good Vietnam solo experience, you have A Week In Hell: The Battle of Hue.

And last but not least, also set in Vietnam, Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975 also focuses in the political aspect of the war.


I forgot about Angola. I've actually played it and it's great. My only issue is that it is REALLY a four player game that can be played two or three played ... but you miss out on the really cool aspect of the game.
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Brandon
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jeb123 wrote:
jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
GringerJD wrote:
Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series.


jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.


That's ok, I want to hear about other system and why folks like them even if I'm not a fan. I can always have my opinion changed by a good report! Besides there are other people who are hopefully interested in the thread who want to know about these other games.


OK sorry for the shoot-down!
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Michael Rinella
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MMP has Storm Over Dien Bien Phu.
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Matt Jolly
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And let's not forget Insurgency, which has the potential to be interesting, but I have not actually got around to playing it yet.

It's less in a fictional country as in an abstract or undifferentiated country. It claims to reflect an "abstract model" of an insurgency, and despite the BGG entry claims to be playable with up to 10 players!

The designer's introduction is helpful in explaining that it is specifically based on the Sadec Province, Vietnam in 1967/8

Cheers,

Matt

Edit: Just read the rules again!
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Jeff Gringer
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jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
jeb123 wrote:
jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
GringerJD wrote:
Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series.


jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.


That's ok, I want to hear about other system and why folks like them even if I'm not a fan. I can always have my opinion changed by a good report! Besides there are other people who are hopefully interested in the thread who want to know about these other games.


OK sorry for the shoot-down!

No worries, I'd missed that line in the opening preamble. Obviously I'm an unabashed GMT COIN fan. That said, I'm 'COIN-curious' and would certainly entertain other fine COIN simulations. Am especially interest at more operational treatments.
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Ron A
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jeb123 wrote:
Growing up in the Vietnam era, I always had a soft spot for guerrilla warfare games and wanted to hear about what other folks like, dislike, suggest for these types of games.


Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble: Battle of Dien Bien Phu tactical struggle. Have not gotten it to the table yet.
Citadel: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu: Heard great things about this one

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.



COIN might be 'too Euro-ish,' but they are one of the few games on the list that actually deals with guerrilla-type actions.

Citadel: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu is awesome, but there are no guerrilla elements, it is 2 armies slugging it out toe to toe. There is a lot of flavor here, the French have regular army, paras, Foreign Legion, national troops from Algeria and Morocco, as well as T'ai auxilaries, and each type has its own color counter. French paratroop battalions drop in as reinforcements, the French player has a lot of toys for somebody holding a doomed position. For elite French units (usually Paras and I think Foreign Legion), their morale goes UP as they take a step loss, which reflects history, the chaff is separated out, and many times in the actual battle reduced French companies successfully counterattacked VietMinh battalions that had assaulted strong points.

The air system is pretty cool. The French base has an airfield, and any light aircraft (F8Fs and arty spotters) based there can fly in several phases per day. Aircraft based off map can only fly once per day. For the French player, easy decision, right? Nope, if the VM player brings up AAA they get to shoot at every plane coming and going from the base.

There is also an off map supply battle. The French can use their aircraft as on map close support, OR they can bomb VietMinh supplies lines off map. I never had a chance to play it out all the way, but a rough peek at the numbers indicated that MAYBE, the French could reduce VietMinh ammo to zero IF they used all their bombers on supply route missions. Of course, it would take a while to reduce them, and in the meanwhile the troops in positions would be fighting without aircraft.

Anyhow, Citadel is a very interesting game. I don't have Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble, but it appears to be close to Citadel is scale and scope. This might be a better choice as there are more people who have the game, more articles written about it on the 'geek.
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Jeff Gringer
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SBGrad wrote:
COIN might be 'too Euro-ish,' but they are one of the few games on the list that actually deals with guerrilla-type actions.

Citadel: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu is awesome, but there are no guerrilla elements, it is 2 armies slugging it out toe to toe. There is a lot of flavor here, the French have regular army, paras, Foreign Legion, national troops from Algeria and Morocco, as well as T'ai auxilaries, and each type has its own color counter. French paratroop battalions drop in as reinforcements, the French player has a lot of toys for somebody holding a doomed position. For elite French units (usually Paras and I think Foreign Legion), their morale goes UP as they take a step loss, which reflects history, the chaff is separated out, and many times in the actual battle reduced French companies successfully counterattacked VietMinh battalions that had assaulted strong points.

The air system is pretty cool. The French base has an airfield, and any light aircraft (F8Fs and arty spotters) based there can fly in several phases per day. Aircraft based off map can only fly once per day. For the French player, easy decision, right? Nope, if the VM player brings up AAA they get to shoot at every plane coming and going from the base.

There is also an off map supply battle. The French can use their aircraft as on map close support, OR they can bomb VietMinh supplies lines off map. I never had a chance to play it out all the way, but a rough peek at the numbers indicated that MAYBE, the French could reduce VietMinh ammo to zero IF they used all their bombers on supply route missions. Of course, it would take a while to reduce them, and in the meanwhile the troops in positions would be fighting without aircraft.

Anyhow, Citadel is a very interesting game. I don't have Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble, but it appears to be close to Citadel is scale and scope. This might be a better choice as there are more people who have the game, more articles written about it on the 'geek.

I had a copy of Citadel way back in the day, and noodled around with it quite a bit, but I could never find any opponents. From what I've seen, DBP: the Final Gamble is a much more streamlined game, reflecting the advances of the hobby since the late '70s.

Interesting to hear how different the real battle developed from GDW's Citadel. The Viet Minh managed to almost completely shut down the airport from the very beginning. They also suppressed or destroyed most of the French artillery inside the compound on Day 1. The French artillery commander committed suicide then, after realizing his boasts that they could destroy the VM artillery in counterfire turned out to be a fantasy.

A more guerrilla-y, COIN-y game is Kim Kanger's Tonkin: The Indochina war 1950-54 (second edition), which gives a feel for the scope of Indochina in the north (the main theater) 1950-54.
 
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Jeb
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GringerJD wrote:
jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
jeb123 wrote:
jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
GringerJD wrote:
Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series.


jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.


That's ok, I want to hear about other system and why folks like them even if I'm not a fan. I can always have my opinion changed by a good report! Besides there are other people who are hopefully interested in the thread who want to know about these other games.


OK sorry for the shoot-down!

No worries, I'd missed that line in the opening preamble. Obviously I'm an unabashed GMT COIN fan. That said, I'm 'COIN-curious' and would certainly entertain other fine COIN simulations. Am especially interest at more operational treatments.


Tonkin: The Indochina war 1950-54 (second edition) and Vietnam 1965-1975 are both operational. Tonkin is in my top 5 favorite all time wargames so I can't recommend it high enough.
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Brian Train
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You knew I'd show up sooner or later (usually
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could be relied on to show up within ten minutes of being mentioned, but he's slipping!).

Most of what I have designed has to do with counterinsurgency, guerrilla conflict, irregular war generally; unlike the OP, I was only 10 when the Vietnam War ended but from the time I started wargaming (at age 15), I knew there was a gap between what was available and what I wanted to play.
The games of Brian Train

Some useful geeklists:

Games of the Revolution!
Principles of strategy #4: wargames with politics
Jungle Warfare
Revolts, Revolutions and Civil Wars
Insurgency and terrorism

Some of my personal favourites that I enjoyed playing and learning include Nicaragua, Minuteman: The Second American Revolution, National Liberation Front, Insurgency, Tito and South Africa.

I did play Vietnam 1965-1975 a lot back in the day but it's always been more of a military game to me than a true insurgency game.
The story goes that Nick Karp had a pacification/ hearts and minds section to the design just as detailed as the conventional fighting rules, but it had to be left out due to length, and that when it comes down to it the publishers thought the players would prefer the bomby-shooty. Hence, a year or two later when Victory Games brought out Central America, a game about a guerrilla war without any real reflection of or role for guerrillas, I wasn't surprised (though I am surprised when people trot it out as an example of a COIN game).

Still putting out new stuff as well:

http://brtrain.wordpress.com

Thanks for your interest in this niche of the hobby!

Brian
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No one's quite had the balls to do a Northern Ireland game yet, despite it being the world's leading COIN laboratory. There's the highest-quality far left opposition, albeit of a weird Gaelic nature.

 
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Sean McCormick
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If you find the COIN series too abstract then you're not likely to enjoy this one, either, but easily my favorite game on the topic of COIN is Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?.
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seanmac wrote:
If you find the COIN series too abstract then you're not likely to enjoy this one, either, but easily my favorite game on the topic of COIN is Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?.


I have been keeping an eye on this one. My wife will play Twilight Struggle so there is certainly that going for the game.

What about this game do you really like?
 
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Quote:
You knew I'd show up sooner or later (usually Kim Kanger could be relied on to show up within ten minutes of being mentioned, but he's slipping!).


Sorry, I'm getting lazy
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GringerJD wrote:
jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
jeb123 wrote:
jakobcreutzfeldt wrote:
GringerJD wrote:
Great topic. No such discussion would be complete without mentioning GMT's COIN series.


jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.


That's ok, I want to hear about other system and why folks like them even if I'm not a fan. I can always have my opinion changed by a good report! Besides there are other people who are hopefully interested in the thread who want to know about these other games.


OK sorry for the shoot-down!

No worries, I'd missed that line in the opening preamble. Obviously I'm an unabashed GMT COIN fan. That said, I'm 'COIN-curious' and would certainly entertain other fine COIN simulations. Am especially interest at more operational treatments.


What about this style of COIN game really catches your interest?

If I had to quantify my hesitance about the series it would be that I believe the game is maniacally focused on the strategic aspects of these conflict but leaves out the operational aspects.

I like the political wheeling and dealing but want to see my decisions impact operational play. When you look at what games I like this is what is going on ... with the exception of some set piece battles (which I also like).

I as stated earlier can be convinced otherwise ...
 
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jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.



To me, the defining quality of a Euro is that it is designed purely for the game (as distinguished from simulation) experience for the players. The games focus on play balance and streamlined rules. The only purpose of the pasted-on theme is to facilitate game play by making execution of the game's mechanics intuitive. In short, the games are typically designed by starting with interesting mechanics first and then the subject matter is added on.

In contrast wargames/consims are designed from the opposite starting point: the subject matter they wish to portray. Instead of the mechanics and player interactions driving the design, the external considerations of the underlying subject matter are driving the design.

In that context, the COIN series are [i]not[/u] Euros. They are designed from the standpoint of their subject matter. The mechanics employed may resemble a Euro, but that's where the similarities end. The games are very serious attempts to model the counterinsurgencies they portray. If you want to learn about COIN--or at least the designer(s) interpretation thereof--I'd highly recommend giving one of them a try.
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ltmurnau wrote:


Still putting out new stuff as well:

http://brtrain.wordpress.com

Thanks for your interest in this niche of the hobby!

Brian

My pleasure. Thanks for putting new games out!

ltmurnau wrote:


The story goes that Nick Karp had a pacification/ hearts and minds section to the design just as detailed as the conventional fighting rules, but it had to be left out due to length, and that when it comes down to it the publishers thought the players would prefer the bomby-shooty.



Interesting ... I would have loved to have seen this other aspect of the game. Since I'm a monster game addict the opportunity to have a much more detailed pacification process would be great even if it lengthened the game. A game that has a strong operational as well as pacificaction aspect would be ideal for me though I expect it would increase the expense and thus reduce the market for the game.

The one other game that I know of but have not played that may include this is GDW For Whom the Bell Tolls.
 
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jeb123 wrote:
seanmac wrote:
If you find the COIN series too abstract then you're not likely to enjoy this one, either, but easily my favorite game on the topic of COIN is Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?.


I have been keeping an eye on this one. My wife will play Twilight Struggle so there is certainly that going for the game.

What about this game do you really like?



It has all the smoothness of play and tense decision making of Twilight Struggle, but it also has asymmetrical sides, so you get a very different experience depending on whether you are operating as the US or the Jihadists. I also find the mechanics much more intuitive than the COIN series games--I can always read the board and remember what my options are, whereas I have a hard time not scuttling back to the rulebook every turn when I'm playing, say, Fire in the Lake.

It's really a superlative design.

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rstites25 wrote:
jeb123 wrote:

I know of the COIN games that GMT put out but they seem to Euro-ish to me to pique my interest.



To me, the defining quality of a Euro is that it is designed purely for the game (as distinguished from simulation) experience for the players. The games focus on play balance and streamlined rules. The only purpose of the pasted-on theme is to facilitate game play by making execution of the game's mechanics intuitive. In short, the games are typically designed by starting with interesting mechanics first and then the subject matter is added on.

In contrast wargames/consims are designed from the opposite starting point: the subject matter they wish to portray. Instead of the mechanics and player interactions driving the design, the external considerations of the underlying subject matter are driving the design.

In that context, the COIN series are [i]not[/u] Euros. They are designed from the standpoint of their subject matter. The mechanics employed may resemble a Euro, but that's where the similarities end. The games are very serious attempts to model the counterinsurgencies they portray. If you want to learn about COIN--or at least the designer(s) interpretation thereof--I'd highly recommend giving one of them a try.

Agreed. While the game is more of a strategic take, you do have, I think, more options available in how you unwrap your COIN (or insurgent) operations--e.g. military or civic action focus, and when you shift from one to the other. For the insurgents, do you employ brute force, or win over the locals. In Fire in the Lake the Viet Cong have to decide how much money they shake out of their controlled populations, at the risk of alienating them. The other balancing act common to both games is to maintain momentum on your chosen strategy while being tempted by events of the moment.
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