David Dockter
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Background...


Playtest? Sure.

So, in 2015, after reading a pile of RCW (Russian Civil War) books printed since my Triumph of Chaos was published in 2005, I got inspired to do another version. The game had evolved due to some fanatical fans (thank you all; Heinzmann, Nels, Anner, Byd, Malcomson, Serge, etc...the "Recommendation on Condition of Insanity" review - the support for the game has been incredible), WBC tournament play (very helpful to have WBC sharks bang on the design) and 10,000 messages, reviews, podcasts, BGG commnts/ratings, AARs, etc posted - and the resulting dialogue. The game reached its final state in 2007 with v1.5. There really weren't that many changes (nothing on map, cards or counters); less than 3 pages (original game had 64 pages of rules/supplement).



After we sold out of a couple of print runs and the add-on, Triumph of Chaos Comrades Guide, Ed at Clash of Arms Games suggested we do another version. I thought about it and quickly decided to take the plunge in 2015: who doesn't want to try to improve their baby: their first design? Also, given that the 100 year anniversary of the RCW was approaching, I thought some renewed topic interest existed.

So, work began. Some rewriting of the rules...adding a few mechanics to address what I thought had gotten wrong...streamlining this and that...tossing in a few mechanics to reflect new insights into this epic story... a number of playtesting sessions. We put it up for preorder on New Years 2016, anticipating an mid 2016 publish date (ToC took only 5 months from preorder to publish). We (Ed and I) searched for graphics artist to redo the map (it is now 44 in x 34 x - a doubling). Had one lined up, but, life intervened. We then secured Terry Leeds (much rejoicing). Terry did the first game's map. Terry took just few months and then delivered big time: a gem of map.

I printed out the beauty a few days ago. I schlepped it to JR's group on a snowy NYC Tuesday night. I laid it out at JR's lair and mentioned I was going to do some playtesting this week and Herman said, "Let's do it".



Not often does one get to playtest a game with great designer - let alone the dude that gave us the Card Driven Wargame genre, so, I jumped at the chance. Mark subsequently told me during our session that at the vaunted Victory Games (I) , the designers (Karp, Smith, Butterfield, etc) frequently play tested each other's games and provided very constructive feedback. It shows; VG produced great games - The Korean War being a favorite of mine.




Set up begins...the wood shown will probably NOT be included in the game (although maybe in a pimp out option - see below). The upright blocks indicate Resource Centers, the sticks depict the front line and the brown pyramids show where the Socialist Revolutionaries exist.

Playtest Session Begins; The Diplomatic Tussle


...and setup is complete


Faction Control Table

The game begins with the first political phase where each side slugs it out to pull factions (major powers, countries or soviet republics) to there side. The game uses political cards to determine how factions move towards WHITE or RED control. I borrowed the mechanic developed in Persian Gulf: Battle for the Middle East and then made famous in Days of Decision . With Triumph of Chaos v.2 (Deluxe Edition) (ToCv2), I've made also no changes to this part of the game. I did streamline the rules governing Ukraine and Poland (which really should have their own players).



Herman's REDs were able to nab the usual suspects: Turkistan, Belarus and Makhno, while my WHITEs snagged the allies (USA, Britain, France), the Czech Legion and Khiva. On turn 1, Herman invested a healthy amount of juice (Card Value of Action Cards) to get some diplomatic mo-jo. He also executed the Tsar's and his family (there is a RED Political Card that does that; if RED fails to "play it", there is slight chance he will be rescued by WHITE forces. As an aside, historically, WHITEs got close to saving the Tsar.)

One tweak on the Faction Control Chart, which tracks the diplomatic leanings/control of each faction, slowed RED momentum down: speed bumps or "gates". In order for a side to get control of some factions during the Diplomatic Phase, they must play a certain Action Card to "open up the gate". In this case Astrakhan was initially prevented from going commie, until Herman played the appropriate enabling Action Card. And speaking of changes (ToCv2 vs ToCv1), a few more...

So what did I want to tweak/change with ToCv2?

CARDS!


Deck structure


Hopefully more card angst

Cards are the heart of any Card Driven Wargame. So, what did I want to change with my second bite of the apple? More cad angst; RED just didn't have enough in ToCv1.


A simple adjustment and enhancement in card utility

While we were playing, I pointed out the little diagonal banner in the upper left hand corner of each Action Card, so that when a player holds their hand of cards they can easily see which every AC does. Mark asked, "Why is the number (Card Value) still in the right?" I responded, "That's how it always has been; Paths of Glory did it that way."

Herman, "Why?". Me, "No idea?". Herman explained, "That's how Mark Simonitch did it with Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage . It should be the upper left hand corner, like your cool banner idea. In fact, I've placed the Card Value in the upper left hand corner for Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars ." As a result, I'll be making that change. Again, we really do need a guild.


Nels T's incredible interaction chart for ToC 1. More detail here: http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?233@@.1dcfcaab!enclosure=.1...

RCW DYNAMICS

The initial chaotic way the RCW unfolded.


The Socialist Revolutionaries

The Socialist Revolutionary Party, or Party of Socialists Revolutionaries (the SRs; Russian: Партия социалистов-революционеров (ПСР), эсеры, esery) was a major political party in early 20th century Russia and a key player in the Russian Revolution...After the February Revolution of 1917, it shared power with other liberal and democratic socialist forces within the Russian Provisional Government. In November 1917, it won a plurality of the national vote in Russia's first-ever democratic elections (to the Russian Constituent Assembly), but the October Revolution had changed the political landscape and the Bolsheviks disbanded the Constituent Assembly in January 1918.[1] The SRs soon split into pro-Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik factions. The anti-Bolshevik faction of this party, known as the Right SRs, which remained loyal to the Provisional Government leader Alexander Kerensky was defeated and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the course of the Russian Civil War and subsequent persecution.



One book I read since ToCv1 was published a Socialist Revolutionaries book. The SRs were primarily concentrated in the east; sort a buffer position between RED and WHITE. They split into two factions. I had always wanted to pumped more variability into the initial position. I thought about some dice based/random thing, but rejected it. I decided to build upon a kernel of an idea I had in ToCv1 or maybe it was the Comrades Guild.

I had a unit, the SR army (there really wasn't, just a scattering of units somewhat controlled by the SRs) that could switch sides once Kolchak's coup occurred. What I've decided to do is to expand upon that idea and place the scattering of SR units between ("a buffer") RED and WHITE in the east. RED and WHITE then compete early (prior to the Central Powers withdrawal or a couple of other events) to win SR loyalty. How? Well, Herman helped me clean up the clunky mechanic I had for the play test.

One thing I dig in Empire of the Sun is Herman's China Track; simple and reflective of a dynamic of WWII Pacific Theatre Operations. So winning the SRs is determined by:

1) Action Card play: some shift the SRs in your favor - some in your opponents direction - will move the control marker on the SR track

2) Victory Points: the side leading gets a shift (or possibly 2)

3) Random Event: a die roll modified by players purchase of Influence Points to determine shifts

If neither side has secured before the Central Powers withdraws, Kolchak's Coup or Siberian Autonomy is played , each player dice's off for each unit (3 weak armies and 6 corps) using the die modifier in the box containing the SR control marker.


SR army from ToCv1

The Far East: Warlords and Japanese Intervention

How to handle the Far East? This is a conflict that stretched over 8 time zones. ToCv1 heavily abstracted it except for three time zones in the west & central. Two relatively recent books changed my view; the Far East should be more granular that I had previously reflected it in ToCv1 :


White Terror


Japanese Siberian Intervention

The approach I used was to again "borrow" from PoG ("Bad designers invent; good designers steal") - transform Ted's model of the WW1 Near East Theatre into the RCW Far East in this game. Reading about Japanese intervention in the RCW led me to a buying binge of games and books regarding Russo-Japanese War including:

* The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Ruso-Japanese War 1904-1905

* Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan

* The Short Victorious War: The Russo-Japanese Conflict, 1904-5


Sadly, a LOW Tide in St.Paul: 1st MN gives Tide at Sunrise a Toss...and Grumbles....


Red Sun Rising
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was kind enough to hook me up with a copy of this old SPI game

...and a geeklist regarding the conflict: The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905

Back to the Russian Civil War...a few other recent books that influenced some of my design work:



Related, you are looking for books on the RCW, check this link out:
http://www.angelfire.com/games3/jacksongamer/RCWbooks.htm

Ability to concentrate builds or not


Factory inspectors as a proxy for economic production?

I never liked the ability of a player in a strategic level game to concentrate replacement expenditure in very narrow front; especially given the in-fighting and disparage camps existing in this conflict. In ToCv1, I addressed this with a somewhat clunky rule (Replacement Distribution Rule). I'm trying a different approach now: basically using resource centers ("facets") to run replacement thru to repair or rebuild units. This also will assist with emphasizing the importance of railroads, since units repaired or rebuilt must be on a rail line tracing to a resource center.

How did I know where to place the Resource Centers? I stumbled across some interesting data, including where factory inspectors were in Russia prior to the revolution; it seemed like a decent proxy.

A Mind of Their Own: The Antithesis of Chess



Something I detest in war-games (and chess!) is a players perfect control over their pieces (or troops). This does not remotely occur in the real world. Pieces and people do not do what they are told for many reasons. This grit in the gears of implementation of strategy should be in any war game. I heavily reflected this in ToCv1 (ex: infighting, road 2 rule, mutinies, greens, etc). I also nibbled at it with faction rules for Ukraine and Poland. I've tried to clean those rules up with Intervention Tracks.

Intervention Tracks handles how a player may use the Ukrainian, Polish and Japanese forces. There are ability to use forces moves up the track (each side has Action Cards that may shift it higher - but not lower...plus action by players may trigger upward movement):

1) Initial: forces may be activated with their home region

2) Limited Near Abroad: forces may move into in regions bordering their home region. They may attacked, but, need to make a successful die roll

3) Full Near Abroad: No die roll required to attack in bordering regions

4) Cooperation: forces may be activated along with a sides other units (otherwise, they may not be activated in Action Round with any other forces) and may stack with friendly forces

5) Unrestricted: use them as you wish.

MAP!



Map changes


The long finger in SPI's RCW

The primary changes in the map (not many) are in where the railroads are located (better data) and the addition of the Trans Siberian Railroad. For that, I borrowed a trick from Dunnigan's Russian Civil War 1918-1922 (first edition) - "long finger covering four time zones". Instead of going horizontal (and requiring a map add on), I went vertical - running the railroad on the extreme right of the game map.

Other Components...


Had to add THE railroad; some great scenes in Dr.Zhivago


Red army counters


White army; specifically the Siberian camp counters


Sadly, no Julie Christie from Dr.Zhivago counter...yet

...and, of course, I stumbled across a few missing actors in the story that I had left out in ToCv1; a few more insurrectionist units (ex: Karelia), a few changes in the leader roster and some tweaks to RED and WHITE OOB

Enough with that, a summary of all the changes in ToCv2, below, and then back to the playtest session.

...and a summary of the changes...

Improvements in ToCv2 (vs ToCv1)

A richer game experience…

More card angst/decision tension: Significant revisions to the Action Cards (the majority of them) to reflect learnings from new research and hopefully make the choices faced by each player more gut wrenching.

Invited the Socialist Revolutionaries to the party: The SRs now occupy a “buffer position” between RED & WHITE in the east as the game begins; making for a nail-biting opening. The SRs may go either way as governed by a track and play of both Political and Action cards with significant ramifications for both players.

Leader state: A few leaders now have an alternative “state” (ex: Kolchak: drug abuse, Mai-Mavesky: debauchery, etc), making them more unreliable than your usual wargame leader counter.

Far east part of the story added: Japan, far-east warlords and red partisans are all now apart of play.

A little less clunky game engine…

A few tweaks to the basic game engine: artillery, tanks and air are now simply “assets” that modify combat die rolls. A Resource Center mechanic now controls where replacements may be spent (much more reflective of historic constraints).

Infighting: Gameplay impacts the composition of each player’s in-fighting pool; changing the internal political dynamics that both players must manage.

Better Faction rules: A streamlining of the Ukraine and Poland rules. Nips and tucks to Makhno, West Ukraine and Finland.

..and improved kit & bits (game look & feel):

Doubled the map: Most of that is a result of simply “blowing up” the original map by 40% (for our tired/old eyes) and adding the Far East and Trans-Siberian railroad all the way to glorious Vladivostok.

Bigger counters: Armies & leaders are now represented by ½ in x 1 in counters (basically double the size as before), while corps have 5/8 in counters and only informational markers get the wargame traditionally small ½ in counters.

Bigger & better game aids: Faction Control Table larger and contains better information regarding the factions…force composition charts now provided…and more!


Back to the session report!

Turns 1 & 2: Action in the Don!


Trotsky strikes

Neither Mark or I had played ToC in sometime. Consequently, we studied the map to explore what should be addressed early. A number of choices:

1) The South: Two RED armies are deep in the DON without secure lines of communication. WHITE almost always takes out the corps guarding RED lines. WHITE must also decide how to concentrate scattered forces to position to place pressure on RED. If WHITE does not get off to an early, strong start, they are likely doomed. RED has a decision about whether to stand firm in the northern Don region and how to reinforce Tsaritsyn (you can goggle The Battle of Tsaritsyn for details).

2) The East: RED is somewhat stymied by the buffer forces of the Socialist Revolutionaries. Attack the bums or not? WHITE may want to invest some operations by concentrating their forces in preparation for better early game position. WHITE may also gain early control of the Czech Legion and thus have significantly improved offensive options.

3) Urals North: A couple of Resource Centers and a low hanging Victory City fruit called Perm beckon. RED is weak in the area, but WHITE is far from the front. Again a question for both sides on whether to invest early activations in the area.

In contrast to ToCv1, there is no Finnish civil war at the start of this game. Although it occurred just prior (27 January – 15 May 1918) to start of where I begin this game (summer of 1918), I included it in the previous version due to its impact on the RCW. If you are interest in that conflict, I just picked up Finnish Civil War by Brian Train and am itching to give it a try.



In our session, WHITE played it conservatively: it took out the important RED corps southwest of Tsaritsyn, marshaled one force in the Don and spent an op in the Urals. Herman responded by attacking the position, but boofed the combat.


Denkin responds

Denikin, with support from forces in west Don, then used the opportunity to pressure Trotsky. Trotsky decided to fall back an abandon most of the Don. One subtle game change is that in order to rebuild or reinforce, a location must be on or adjacent to a friendly rail line tracing back to a Resource Center. This means that a place like Tsaritsyn can be isolated from reps or reinforcements - bringing up another question: how should the effects of rivers by modeled?

In ToCv1, I simply depicted combat effects of river crossings: a negative shift to the attacker. In ToCv2, I've included the Volga as an additional line of communication to supplement the rail net. Did some reading and came to the conclusion it should be included for this supply purpose. Back to playlets session...


First big battle

So Denikin marshaled his forces for a multispace attack on the soviet bastion in the south. Some healthy trash talk. Drum roll...out pop'd a "5" for RED and a disgusting "1" for WHITE. We consulted the combat results tables: defender inflicted a 5 loss factor (LF) loss on the attacker, while the attacker managed only 4 LF loss on the defender: the city stayed Soviet. WHITE did manage to cut the rail and Volga river line of communication meaning that RED could not spend replacements in the city; meaning that RED was quite vulnerable to renewed WHITE attacks on Turn 3.

In the Urals, WHITE pushed forward with two Siberian armies. RED spent their time between events and generating replacements. No real action in the east. Turn ended with WHITE generating 4 VPs (turn one they generate 3 VPs): RED was feeling some pressure.

During the Logistics Phase, the Central Powers failed to withdraw (needing a 1 or 2 on a die roll). Turn 3...

Turn 3: What possibly could go wrong? Everything!


Central Powers offensive begins


Switching sides

Turn 3 diplomatic phase witnessed a shocking development: the Central Powers decided to toss in its lot with Soviets. Of course, historically, the CP would have never aligned with RED, but, it was quite possible not pressuring RED, for whatever reason, would have negatively impacted WHITE's fortunes of war (and this is what is simulated). Herman jumped out of his chair at the possibility of using CP forces to hammer the hapless WHITEs.

WHITE began the turn by both pressuring RED in the DON, the Urals and setting up an attack on the Soviet bastion in the south. RED used his early turn to maneuver forces to hammer WHITE in the Don. Just as he got in position, disaster stuck: WHITE played a switch sides card on the Germans. Another drum roll as the dice were tossed: the German army switch sides (think that they either refused to attack, mutiny or some other such nonsense). Since that meant that opposing forces were in the same stack, an immediate battle resulted in the loss of the RED controlled German army. And, so ended the great CP offensive in the Don. Herman commented, "Sh*t happens".


Battle of Tsaritsyn

The turn continued with further good fortune for WHITE: advances in the Urals (the capture of Perm) and the liberation of Tsaritsyn. As the turn ended, WHITE had built a double digit lead in VPs: a healthy start for WHITE, but, no means decisive. The Socialist Revolutionaries had also moved in their direction and diplomatic game was going well. We checked the clock; the beloved Minnesota Gophers NCAA tourney game was beginning; we had given the early game a go. Time to call it a day.



Wrap up: Pimped out ToC option? Publish date?


Hope to get another Guns, Dice, Butter soon and provide some discussion on the playtest session with Mr.Herman

We had a blast. Equally important is that Mr.H provided some insightful design feedback that I will incorporate.

Something else...during play Herman commented on how he liked the wood, the geeky attack markers, etc. ...it got me to thinking...I'll see if we can sell an pimped out add-on: mounted board, some wood, attack markers, maybe a Russian miniature or two. I'd buy it arrrh

Publish date. No reason I should not get this out by X-Mas...maybe earlier if I get some time to do a final scrub of everything - and then have it proofed this time (a good idea)...and maybe have the rules edited (I've had a number of offers to do that). Will keep you posted and thank you, ToC pre-order boys & girls for your support!





Other 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr AARs: 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr Session Reports

========

To preorder https://clashofarms.com/ToCV2.html

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Sen Jans
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Thanks for the update/long write-up! I for one would be interested in getting myself a pimp-up copy.

Hopefully, the pimp-up will be its own version available at retails, please keep us updated!

Edit: wording
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Ros Hermans
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I've been stalking ToC for a while now. Happy to see v2 is near.

If at all feasible offer a pimped out option or sold separately pimp out kit. Love how this looked in the those pics.
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Tiggo Morrison
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Thank you David, a wonderful write up. Triumph of (More) Chaos and I can hardly wait.

A couple of weeks ago I was in London and went to the Russian Revolutionary Art exhibition at the Royal Academy. Some really awe inspiring pieces and an incredible range of media, most especially the photography. Check it out here:

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/revolution-russia...

I think I can honestly say that without your game and the reading and other gaming it has prompted over the last decade I would never have gone to this exhibition.
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David Dockter
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Thank you Tiggo for the kind feedback and the link to the exhibit.
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ivan pittaluga
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Awesome....

Count me in for a preorder. Cannot wait...

let me know if I can assist.

Ivan
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Ivan on the left Tons of Heart, Little Hood: 1st MN's Winter Thaw Meets Mokszycki’s Red Winter: Jan 23, 2015

Thank you Ivan! Wish I was back in MPLS pushing counters in some monster game.
 
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David Dockter
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News regarding publishing : Available for Preorder!
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Marcin Woźniak
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I wish there was Poland as a third player. maybe some expansion? Great potential experience
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Re:
Hurray!

(advice: David, remove that "card interaction diagram" and destroy all existing copies. It's gonna scare the shit out of newcomers)
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Ha! I'll have a youtube "Here is how you play this beast" video this time.
 
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Wow, I just learned about this game today. but it's already shot to the top of my list of anticipated new releases! As someone who finds himself frequently referring to White Terror and Japan's Siberian Intervention for other research projects, I'm very excited about this version giving the Far East a more thorough treatment in accordance with its significance to the war than RCW games traditionally do.

I am curious though: there's a reference to a Red political card for the execution of the royal family. Is there also an option for the Red player to instead stage Trotsky's anticipated grand show trial of the tsar?
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Thank you for the interest. Yes, the extreme east theatre of the conflict is quite fascinating.

In response to your questions:

1) There is currently a political card that results in the execution of the family.

2) No show trial option...but an interesting idea.

I have been thinking that there should be a Special Action available to RED: execution of the family, but, maybe I could also bake in "the show trial" option also. I'll goggle it, but, do you have a link somewhere the Trotsky Show Trial possibility?

I did find this...

The 300-year-old Romanov dynasty came to an end on March 2, 1917 (old
style), when Nicholas II abdicated his office in favor of his brother Michael, and Michael declined to ascend to the throne. The Provisional Government was unable to decide what should be done with the former tsar and his family, who lived under house arrest in their country palace after the February Revo­ lution. Monarchists hoped to restore him to power, while others negotiated on the Romanovs' behalf for asylum in England. When these discussions came to naught, and with the increasingly unstable political situation in Pet­ rograd, the prime minister, Alexander Kerensky, decided in August 19I 7 to move the royal family secretly to a safer location in Tobol'sk, in Siberia. They remained quietly there until April 1918, when Bolshevik authorities decided that Tobol'sk was too vulnerable to monarchist forces, and they ordered the Romanovs transferred to the more solidly revolutionary city of Ekaterinburg, in the Urals.

In mid-May Nicholas, Alexandra, their five children, and some servants were installed in a house that had belonged to the merchant family Ipatiev. By July 1918, even Ekaterinburg was not safe, and there were fears that White forces might liberate the Romanovs and use them to rally the anti-Bolshevik forces. The Cheka increased its security around the Ipatiev home in the be­ ginning of July. Meanwhile, the Regional Soviet of the Urals had voted for the Romanovs' execution, but first they sent a representative to secure Moscow's approval.

The Bolshevik leadership decided to use the occasion for a public trial of the Romanovs. But with the Whites advancing rapidly on Ekaterin­ burg, the Bolsheviks feared they had only two or three days in which to act, or Nicholas would fall into the hands of the enemy. The Regional Soviet ordered the execution to be carried out immediately. The family was shot in the base­ ment of the Ipatiev house early in the morning of July 17, and their bodies were burned and buried in deserted mine shafts outside of the city.

Many of the facts of the execution were uncovered by investigators for Ad­ miral Kolchak when his White forces captured the city. In 1993 scientists confirmed, using DNA matching, that the bones discovered in the mine shaft were indeed the remains of the Romanovs. But there has always been contro­ versy about whether the execution was a decision taken at local initiative in the heat and chaos of the Civil War, or whether the order to eliminate the tsar and his family came from Moscow, from Lenin. Trotsky reported in 1935, for example, that he was told Lenin had approved the execution. If indeed the Council of People's Commissars decided to authorize the execution on July 2, as circumstantial evidence suggests, then Lenin's July 16 telegram reassuring the Danish press, "czar safe," is utterly and deliberately misleading and false.




Thank you for bringing up the topic of the execution. I wonder what were the talks with the United Kingdom - and why they failed...
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Stephen Rynerson
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Herr Dr wrote:
Thank you for the interest. Yes, the extreme east theatre of the conflict is quite fascinating.

In response to your questions:

1) There is currently a political card that results in the execution of the family.

2) No show trial option...but an interesting idea.

I have been thinking that there should be a Special Action available to RED: execution of the family, but, maybe I could also bake in "the show trial" option also. I'll goggle it, but, do you have a link somewhere the Trotsky Show Trial possibility?


Thank you for the response! AFAICT, the main source for most discussion about what the show trial would have consisted of is Trotsky himself. See pages 79-80 of the book here: https://rosswolfe.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/leon-trotskii-...

Another source could be Isaac Steinberg, Spiridonova, Revolutionary Terrorist (1935). I'll caution that I haven't read it and there's unfortunately no preview available in Google books, but there's a discussion of it here that suggests it could have some additional information about the subject: https://books.google.com/books?id=EMhNJIe-EEMC&pg=PA747&lpg=...
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Thanks! I uploaded the Trotsky stuff here.
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Michael Hershey
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I would also like the "pimped out" version - if I place a pre-order will I have the option to upgrade or should I wait and see if you offer this as a separate choice?
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Let me check with Ed at Clash.
 
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hershmeister wrote:
I would also like the "pimped out" version - if I place a pre-order will I have the option to upgrade or should I wait and see if you offer this as a separate choice?


Wondering the same, very much looking forward to playing this!
 
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David Dockter
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Stumbled across this:

https://sites.google.com/site/calvinuslab/triumph-of-chaos/t...

...and I am hoping to play either Democracy under Siege or Rise of Totalitarianism this week
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