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One-Minute Che Guevara -- Bolivia 1967

RULES VERSION 1.0




This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Ernesto "Che" Guevara during the 1967 guerilla campaign in Bolivia. One-Minute Che Guevara is a microgame attempting to portray these events with a small map and a limited number of counters. One-Minute Che Guevara is a solitaire challenge and the entire campaign can be played in a minute or two. However, the game offers a player most of the political and military choices available to Guevara in 1967.

The player represents Guevara and guerilla units represent small groups approximately the size of a platoon. Bolivian army units represent elements of the 2nd Ranger Battalion at the company level. Historical factors like propaganda, supply shortages, and Guevara's limited tactical options are contained in the rules. The political phase is played on a map of Bolivia; the military phase is played on a separate battlefield map. Event Cards are used to guide the narrative but several different outcomes are possible. Victory is determined by the level of Guevara's political and military success ... if he survives.

This is a companion game to the previously released One-Minute Waterloo and One-Minute Little Bighorn. Since the game was designed with experienced wargame players as the target audience the rules are intended to be uncluttered and relatively brief. If any BGG user stumbles across this little simulation and has a question about the instructions please feel welcome to zap me a private GeekMail.


Equipment

The components required to enjoy a session of One-Minute Che Guevara are available free in a "Print & Play" format. A complete kit includes a map, 10 playing pieces, charts, 10 cards, and the rules. Players must provide a standard six-sided die. Begin by printing the map, the charts, the cards, and the playing pieces. Next, the cards and tokens should be cut into the proper shapes. Finally, arrange the map, tokens, cards, and charts on the table.


Victory

The player scores propaganda points based on the actions taken by Guevara during the game. At the end of the session the propaganda point total determines the level of success achieved by the player. Since the player represents Guevara the victory conditions reflect the goals of el Comandante.






Guevara had fallen from a position of immense power in the Cuban regime. He had been given celebrity treatment in New York, Moscow, and other great cities. He had even been featured on the cover of TIME magazine. Now he was living like a hunted animal in the mountains of Bolivia. It had become obvious to any rational observer that a successful revolution was impossible in 1967. However, a combined political/military operation that provided Guevara with favorable propaganda might allow him to retain some honor and dignity. In any event, Guevara was ready to sacrifice everything for the communist cause.


Map



The map represents the political landscape of Bolivia with a smaller battlefield section attached. The score tracks inside Bolivia are used to record Propaganda Points, Supply Points, and Evasion Points. The two boxes inside Bolivia (Los Yungas and Santa Cruz) represent potential areas of operation for Guevara and his Ejército de Liberación Nacional or ELN... the army of national liberation.


Playing Pieces



The green playing pieces are Bolivian army formations including elements of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Ground units are depicted at the company or platoon level; the helicopter token represents an individual aircraft. The tan playing pieces are ELN formations. Each infantry unit represents a "platoon" of guerillas. Of course, Guevara has his own token. The other three markers are used to record points on the score tracks. The loudspeaker represents Propaganda, the arrow represents Evasion, and the military symbol for logistics represents Supply.








Cards



There are two types of cards in One-Minute Che Guevara, event cards and command cards. Command cards are identified with three star symbols and an italic typeface. Event cards favorable to the Bolivian government include a flag symbol; event cards favorable to the player include a star symbol. All event cards use a capitalized typeface. There are three command cards, five event cards favorable to the Bolivian government, and two event cards favorable to the player.



Setting Up



This is a photograph of the beginning of a session using the historical scenario. Place each of the score markers (Propaganda, Supply, Evasion) on the appropriate level two square. Place the Guevara token, the Vanguard token, and the Joaquin token in the Santa Cruz box. Put all four army tokens on the map near the Bolivian flag; these units are not in play during the political phase. The player controls all three command cards; place these face up where they can been easily viewed. Shuffle the remaining seven event cards and place the deck face down on the table. The player may never examine the deck; four of these cards will be revealed one at a time during the political phase. The charts and a six-sided die should be in a convenient location.











Political Phase

During the political phase four event cards will be drawn one by one as the narrative of the "revolution" in Bolivia develops. After four cards have been drawn the political phase ends and the military phase will begin.




Here is an example: this Radio Transmitter event card is considered to benefit the player (please note the star symbol in the lower right corner) and the score would be adjusted accordingly. The number next to the letter P represents the adjustment to the propaganda point level; in this case a +2 addition. The number of supply points (indicated by the letter S) would be increased by one and the number of evasion points (indicated by the letter E) would be reduced by one. A detailed explanation of each card has been provided in the Designer's Notes.

The player has the option of responding to actions beneficial to the government (cards indicated with a flag symbol) by using a command card after an unfavorable event. However, any event considered to benefit the player may not use the command card response... even though (as in this case) one of the scoring adjustments was negative.




In this example the Ambush event card is unfavorable to the player (indicated by the flag symbol) and requires the removal of the Joaquin infantry unit from the Ejército de Liberación Nacional order of battle. The propaganda level is reduced by two points. The supply level and evasion level suffer no effect as indicated by the NE result. Once again, a detailed explanation of the history behind each card is available in the Designer's Notes.




The player decides to respond with the Guerilla Warfare command card. Only one command card may be used in response to an event card. These guerilla operations will increase the propaganda level by one and increase the evasion level by two; both of these adjustments would be made immediately. The supply level (NE result) is not affected.

PLEASE NOTE: Although four event cards will be drawn during the political phase only two of the three available command cards may be used by the player during a session. Two is the maximum number of command cards that may be used; the player is never required to respond to an unfavorable event with a command card. Each command card may only be used one time during a game.

Remember, event cards are drawn randomly, one at a time. Here is the outline of a sample political phase:

Event Card #1 -- Medical Crisis

Player responds with Operation Purchase.

Event Card #2 -- Increased U.S. Involvement

Player responds with Guerilla Warfare.

Event Card #3 -- Popular Support

No response possible since the card is favorable to the player.

Event Card #4 -- Urban Network Compromised

No response possible since two command cards have already been used.

The military phase will begin after all possible responses have been made to these four event cards.



Collapse of the Revolution

If all three score tracks (Propaganda, Supply, and Evasion) fall below level 1 at any point during the political phase the revolution in Bolivia has collapsed. The player has lost the game.

PLEASE NOTE: The player may suffer an unfavorable event that would theoretically lower a score track into negative territory. However, no score track will ever be considered to have fallen below the zero points level. No score track will never be allowed to register more than five points, even if an odd sequence of event cards might possibly move the total higher.










Military Phase

The military phase has three elements. First, the player must decide if Guevara will fight a battle and attempt to withdraw from Bolivia or decide that Guevara will flee Bolivia using evasion. Next the player rolls the die to determine the response of the 2nd Ranger Battalion of the Bolivian army. Finally, the player will either fight a battle or flee depending on that earlier decision. This requires one last die roll.




This photograph shows the position of the score track markers at the beginning of the military phase based on the "sample" political phase used earlier in these instructions. The propaganda level is four, the supply level is one, and the evasion level is three. A token representing one company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion (either Company A or Company B) is always placed at each end of the valley at the beginning of the military phase.

To survive a battle with the Bolivian army the player must roll less than or equal to the current supply level. To survive an attempt to flee Bolivia the player must roll less than or equal to the evasion level. In this example, the player appears to have a better chance of fleeing the country.

If the supply track is below level one at the beginning of the military phase the player may not choose to fight a battle. If the evasion track is below level one at the beginning of the military phase the player may not choose to flee Bolivia. If both the supply track and evasion track are below level one at the beginning of the military phase there are no options left for el Comandante. The player has lost the game.











Evasion



With the Joaquin unit available to support Guevara the player decides to execute the evasion maneuver. Guevara is always placed with the Vanguard unit; if Guevara is positioned at the wide end of the valley a battle will occur but if Guevara is positioned at the narrow end of the valley (where the dead-end ravine is located) an evasion maneuver will be attempted. Guevara and the Vanguard unit are positioned accordingly with the Joaquin unit protecting the flank and rear. Support from Joaquin always lowers the player's die roll by one whether Guevara is fighting a battle or attempting to use evasion to escape Bolivia.




Now the player rolls the die and determines the response of the 2nd Ranger Battalion after consulting the chart. In this example a roll of three indicates the arrival of the OH-23 helicopter. This token is immediately placed at the narrow end of the valley and will assist that Ranger company with the search for Guevara. The player's evasion die roll is automatically increased by one.




The player does have support from the Joaquin unit but the Bolivian army helicopter has appeared so those die roll modifications cancel each other out. The required die roll is a three or less. The player tosses a five. Guevara will never leave Bolivia alive. The player has lost the game.






Battle



This is an example of battle with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional confronting the 2nd Ranger Battalion at the wide end of the valley. Guevara has a supply level of three points but the Joaquin unit was destroyed in an ambush. The player positions the Vanguard unit and the Guevara token in the appropriate hex. If the Joaquin unit is supporting Guevara during a battle the Joaquin formation should be placed in the adjacent hex closer to the narrow end of the valley.




The player rolls the die and checks the 2nd Ranger Battalion response chart. The result of six indicates that Captain Prado will support the company engaged against the ELN with mortars and infantry reinforcements. The token is placed in the proper hex and one is automatically added to the players subsequent die roll to determine the outcome of the battle. If the army response makes a battle die roll irrelevant the player has lost the game.




The player rolls a two and adds one because Captain Prado is participating. The result of three is still less than or equal to the ELN supply level so el Comandante survives the battle. The player will now determine the victory level achieved by Che Guevara, based on the number of propaganda points available.

PLEASE NOTE: The presence of the helicopter has no effect on a battle. The presence of Captain Prado and the mortars has no effect on an evasion maneuver.



Victory Levels

At the end of the game (if Guevara survives) the player consults the Victory Level chart. The triumph achieved by Che Guevara -- even as the "revolution" in Bolivia ends in defeat -- is based on the number of propaganda points that have been scored. The victory level is increased by one if Guevara withdrew after fighting a battle. The victory level is lowered by one if Guevara fled Bolivia using evasion.



Martyrdom



The legacy of Guevara has only been enhanced by the passage of fifty years. He became larger in death than he was in life, and his life was the stuff that action movies are made of. Since it is quite likely that Guevara will not survive at the end of a game the player may wish to record (on a separate sheet of paper) the number of propaganda points gathered in that session. Anything above three points would probably be higher than the actual score in 1967, so that total could be considered better than the historical outcome.



Optional Rules

Los Yungas -- Guevara had originally hoped to operate in the Los Yungas region of northern Bolivia. This fertile area would have been a better supply source and it was closer to Guevara's urban network in La Paz. Che and his guerillas had even studied Quechua, the language of the local inhabitants. However, the PCB -- Partido Comunista de Bolivia or Bolivian Communist Party -- did not approve of Guevara's anti-Moscow rhetoric and he was forced to change the ELN base of operations to the rugged mountains of southwestern Bolivia.

If the Los Yungas option is selected place the Guevara token, the Vanguard unit, and the Joaquin unit in the Los Yungas box on the map. The political phase begins with two propaganda points, three supply points, and three evasion points on the score track. All other rules remain unchanged.

Historical Event Cards -- Both of the event cards favorable to the player (Radio Transmitter and Popular Support) are based on things that might have occurred but were never part of the narrative in 1967. The radio transmitters operated by the ELN never functioned properly. Guevara failed to use his legendary charisma to gather popular support among the peasants of Bolivia... an abandonment of the proven doctrine behind any successful guerilla campaign.

If the historical event cards option is selected remove one or both of these event cards from the deck before the game begins. All other rules remain unchanged.









Designer's Notes & Historical Analysis




Guevara was sent to the Bolivian wilderness because his presence in Cuba was a political inconvenience to Fidel Castro. Prior to this operation both Guevara and Fidel Castro had written that Bolivia was not ready for a communist revolution. The so-called Ejército de Liberación Nacional led by Guevara consisted of a few dozen ragged, hungry guerillas suffering from a variety of medical problems. The citizens of Bolivia did not embrace the goals of the ELN and provided supplies to Guevara with reluctance. Quite often the peasants in the region where Guevara operated became informers. The game reflects this historical narrative and it is difficult for Guevara to leave Bolivia with anything to show for the sacrifices endured by his compañeros.



Here is some information about the command cards and the event cards with a brief summary and a bit of historical background:




Armed Propaganda -- According to Guevara this is "...the presence in certain places of liberation forces who demonstrate their power and their fighting spirit..." or in other words a show of force. Using this card the soldiers of the ELN could spread the communist message while gathering supplies from the villagers.

Guerilla Warfare -- According to Guevara this "...struggle begins with small guerilla groups which have great mobility..." but his own actions in Bolivia lacked initiative and were often a defensive response to government patrols. Using this card the ELN could move rapidly and strike quickly in the lowlands, just as Guevara did on at least one occasion in 1967.

Operation Purchase -- This was the name of a mission conducted by Guevara to obtain desperately needed supplies. The price of these "purchases" was often dictated by the ELN at the point of a gun. Not a good propaganda technique.

Popular Support -- Guevara spent months operating in this region of Bolivia but was never able to gain popular support for his revolution. This card assumes that after Guevara's presence in Bolivia was revealed by Fidel Castro an effort was made by the ELN to establish strong links with the peasants.




Radio Transmitter -- The large radio transmitters sent to Bolivia never functioned properly. This card assumes that with functioning two-way communications Guevara could broadcast propaganda and send coded messages requesting supplies. However, the government could probably use direction-finding equipment to discover the approximate location of the ELN transmitter... so the evasion level is reduced by one point.

Ambush -- A significant portion of Guevara's "army" under the command of a guerrilla leader called Joaquin was ambushed by a Bolivian patrol at the Vado de Yeso river crossing. The entire group was destroyed. This was a tremendous propaganda coup for the government and the ELN corpses were filmed by the military.

Informants -- Guevara was surrounded by peasant informants or unreliable guerillas ready to change their allegiance. On at least one occasion army patrols were guided directly to a hidden ELN supply cache. Of course, Guevara was captured based on information provided by an informant.




Increased U.S. Involvement -- Advisors from the United States helped to train the 2nd Ranger Battalion, the Bolivian army unit that defeated Guevara. CIA agents also participated in the pursuit and his capture. The unfavorable propaganda generated by increased U.S. involvement was a relatively small price for the Bolivian government to pay.

Medical Crisis -- The guerillas of the ELN did not receive adequate health care. Perhaps the most serious medical crisis occurred when asthma medicine Guevara needed desperately was captured by a Bolivian patrol. Guevara had struggled with the disease his entire life and this unhealthy campaign in the Bolivian mountains only aggravated his condition.












Urban Network Compromised -- Tamara Bunke was born in Argentina. Her parents were dedicated communists who fled Germany when Hitler gained power. The family returned to East Germany after WWII. Tamara became a translator and clandestine operative. Bunke ran the ELN's urban network in La Paz and was in charge of logistics, finance, documents, and weapons. Her network was compromised after she failed to follow basic security procedures; she then joined the guerillas on the battlefield using the nom de guerre Tania. She was killed in the ambush that wrecked the Joaquin detachment. Patty Hearst used the name "Tania" after she joined the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s as a tribute to Tamara Bunke.


After stumbling across a collection of Guevara's writings in a library used book store I realized this October will mark the 50th anniversary of his death. While he was an important historical figure I am no fan of Che Guevara. However, the situation seemed like a good match for my "One-Minute" game series. This will be the title for 2017 in the fourth year of that project following One-Minute Bulge in 2014, One-Minute Waterloo in 2015, and One-Minute Little Bighorn in 2016.

Dividing this game into a political phase and a military phase was an obvious step and it was thematically appropriate. Of course, in 1967 political and military events were completely intertwined. That is why many of the event cards drawn in the "political phase" have a military element. The smaller battle board is a standard gimmick seen in any number of wargames. Research for this project was a pleasure... I even found a declassified report on the final battle with Guevara at Churro Ravine on the internet.

Enjoy the game!
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Pete Belli
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
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To print the rules put this BGG page in "Printer Friendly" status first.

It should print 12 pages of (relatively) evenly-spaced instructions.

PLEASE NOTE: These rules print out quite well using black ink.

Please zap me a GeekMail when the inevitable errors, omissions, and contradictions are discovered.
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