HMS Iron Duke
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Excerpts from the book: Broken Alliance: A History of the Franco-American Caribbean War in the 1920's.

Significant Events in the run-up to war.

June 28, 1919: Treaty of Versailles signed. It was not ratified by the US Senate.

June 12, 1920: In search of a strong leader, Republicans nominate General Leonard Wood to run for the presidency. Hiram Johnson, former governor of California is selected as Wood's Vice-Presidential candidate to balance the ticket and provide a much needed domestic policy boost. Wood campaigns on the repudiation of Versailles and the goal of greater US influence in Europe. His acceptance speech for the nomination contains the quote "Peace without honor is no peace at all. Germany must be rebuilt into a friend and ally, not beaten like a cur."

November 2, 1920: Wood and Johnson win by a healthy margin, only the deep south votes for the Democratic Cox/Roosevelt ticket.

August 14, 1921: President Wood reestablishes diplomatic relations with the Weimar Republic, promising much needed food aid to the German people. French President Alexandre Millerand is quoted in L'Humanite as saying "Today the United States has soiled the garments of the Statue of Liberty. By aiding the Bosche, America aids the enemies of France."

November 1, 1921: Marshal Ferdinand Foch leaves the groundbreaking ceremony for the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City after a violent argument with General John Pershing over US involvement in Europe.

December 22, 1921: President Wood sends a letter to the French and English governments urging them to forgo reparation payments for "the good of Europe."

January 17, 1922: Prime Minister George Leygues and Marshal Foch urge a "Short Victorious War" with the United States in order to check their European ambitions. President Millerand instructs his new Secretary of the Navy to engage the United States in the Caribbean with the following goals:

1. Capture of the port of Colon on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. This will keep the US Pacific Fleet from coming east.

2. Capture the Island of Puerto Rico, specifically the port of Ponce to be used as a coaling station in the Upper Caribbean and operations against the US mainland if needed.

3. Attack US flagged merchant shipping in the Southern Caribbean outside of the reach of US forces in an effort to protect the main body of the French fleet.

4. Bombard the Florida peninsula and/or the Florida Keys.

As a result of these instructions Operational Plan Bastille was drawn up.



April 30, 1922: The French Caribbean fleet sorties to begin the war.

The plan was to attack coaling stations and a major fleet anchorage in the Southern Caribbean as well as harass American Merchant shipping between the Yucatan Peninsula and the North Coast of S. America. Three Normandie class dreadnoughts were sent on the bombardment mission while the main strength of the French Caribbean fleet was divided into two task groups, the smaller consisting of FNS Normandie and FNS Gascoigne along with a group of transports would seize Puerto Rico while the rest of the dreadnoughts with a large escort of destroyers would proceed to Colon on the isthmus of Panama and occupy the fleet anchorage and eastern end of the canal zone. All was set for the Short Victorious War that the French government desired.

Authors Note: This is a pre-session report for a game that hasn't happened yet. I like writing session reports as if they were period accounts, it's far more interesting to me to read a narrative instead of Bob moved his infantry on the right flank. All due respect to Bob, but that's dull. Navy Plan Gold presented an interesting set of problems in that it's a war without a reason. The US Navy made plans on how and where to fight the French without developing possible reasons. Since narrative is so important to me (why am I fighting this battle), I decided to do a little bit of research and come up with a plausible reason for war.

Most significant in my alternate history is Warren Harding not becoming president. Without Harding, the Washington Naval Treaty doesn't take place and all of the speculative ships in NP Gold can come into being. I also needed a reason for the two nations to fight. Unwanted meddling in post-war Europe and the apparent support of a petulant Germany seemed like a good enough reason to me and so I had the core of the narrative for my next game.

Planning the battle from the French perspective was an interesting exercise in and of itself. NP Gold requires the use of the fuel rules so not only did I have to plan the battle, I had to plan the logistics. Where to put the colliers, what ports to try and refuel at etc. I use solo rules so the entire French movement is preplanned, the US will use semi-random orders to move about their assigned tasks but they aren't actually plotted. After Bastille has run it's course, I'll post a second session report with the results.
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Nice. Bring it on!
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I'd be interested in other peoples views of speculative history and the importance of narrative in wargames.
 
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Leo Zappa
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As my session reports reflect, I'm a big fan of narrative. Without narrative and context, wargames can boil down to rather abstract puzzles without soul. While I suspect there are some who may actually prefer to approach wargaming in this manner, most of us wargamers are students of history (both real and speculative), and for us, the wargame is not merely an intellectual exercise, but a story unfolding before us, one whose ending is unknown until the final turn. To me, the story is as important as the competition. That's why at times I frown on overly analytical descriptions of wargame strategies or sessions ("my opponent then placed a "10" factor infantry counter in hex 3203, forcing me to make a 2-1 attack in order for me to score the necessary 5 victory points for the win"). I'd rather read it written as "the Soviet commander then ordered the 10th Guards rifle division to occupy Voronezh, which forced me to consider a very risky attack to force the Don crossing, vital to my mission." Both approaches in writing the report may accurately describe what transpired, but the first one leaves me cold, while the second fires my imagination, taking me back to books I've read on the Eastern Front.

As an example, I will often read a book on the subject of a wargame that I'm planning on playing. Right now, I am preparing to start "Drive on Stalingrad", and in preparation, I am rereading Edwin Hoyt's "199 Days: The Battle for Stalingrad". Reading this book will enhance my playing experience, and I guarantee you I will be writing my session reports with that book and others in mind.

Bottom line - I can not fathom playing wargames without an appreciation for the history (real or speculative) and the narrative. To me, these elements do not merely enhance the wargaming experience; they are central to my desire to play in the first place.
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Mike Sisson wrote:
I'd be interested in other peoples views of speculative history and the importance of narrative in wargames.


Descriptions like this (from Panzer Grenadier:Road to Berlin, Scenario #43: The Potato Fortress):

Quote:
Piece by piece, the Kurmark Panzer Grenadier Division took control over so many small ad-hoc battalions and regiments that it approached the strength of some of the German armies deployed at the front in the Spring of 1945. Among these were regiments of officer school cadets, highly motivated and usually combat-experienced young soldiers. One of these had been assigned to the village of Wuhden just south of Reitwein and west of the Oder. When Soviet troops surrounded them there, the division commander, Col. Willi Langkeit, ordered the cadets to break out. Adolf Hitler personally countermanded Langkeit's order, declaring Wuhden a "fortress" to be held to the last man, its importance due to the key military facility located there. The "facility" turned out to be a barn holding several tons of potatoes slated for the Army commissariat. Having already ignored numerous "Fuhrer Orders" to execute his own troops for cowardice, Langkeit tossed this latest into the fire as well and confirmed the order for the cadets to make their way out of town.

The Germans ate the last potatoes, then broke out of Wuhden. They managed to reach their own lines, but not without the loss of 80 percent of the cadets. Langkeit continued to file fictitious reports of the heroic resistance of Fortress Wuhden for the next four days, at the end of which Hitler ordered the garrison to blow up the "facility" and break out. The Greatest General of All Times also directed the immediate commissioning of every survivor as a lieutenant. The division commander manufactured a suitably heroic tale of the escape for his Fuhrer, who tacked on two weeks leave as a reward for each survivor.


Make me desparate to play the scenario. It gives context and fleshes out the story. This is one of the reasons why I am happy to play wargames alone. It is like an interactive narrative. A Choose-Your-Own Adventure Story, if you wish. Without historical (or speculative history) it wouldn't be the same.


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Mike Sisson wrote:
I'd be interested in other peoples views of speculative history and the importance of narrative in wargames.


I share your view on the importance of narrative. Especially when you plot an alternate history. The thing is most times true history is way richer than my imagination. I'm designing a US-USSR limited confrontation in Kamchatka in 1983 (around KAL 007 incident) and the twists and characters involved couldn't be invented better. Fortunately, most people don't know a lot of true history, so they are not too harsh on me. On the other hand, sometimes, people not knowing that this COULD actually have happened is a drawback, since your credibility depends a great deal on the likeliness of the scenario you are presenting.

I truly like your approach to reviewing. Keep writing!
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Joshua Gottesman
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I also like the narrative. We play on the same maps over and over, so giving them more meaning really makes things more enjoyable for me.

Did you write on the map, or is it under plexiglass and you wrote on that?
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HMS Iron Duke
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I put the map in a poster frame and wrote on the plastic with a dry erase marker.
 
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Enrique Sotoca
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Hello, I would like to ask how to embed an image in a session report.
Thank you in advance.
 
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Jim S.
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High Dice Flying wrote:
Hello, I would like to ask how to embed an image in a session report.
Thank you in advance.


Hi,

When you make a post, look at the format bar... you will see two camera icons, and a picture icon. Those are:

"Upload New Geek Image": That allows you to upload a new Geek image to your personal gallery, and imbeds it in the post.

"Insert Geek Image": Allows you to insert a previously-uploaded image. This is used if, say, you first uploaded the image into a boardgame's gallery. Note images that go into game galleries are subject to moderation and will take some time to appear (and may be rejected).

"Insert external image": Allows you to insert an image from outside BGG, using the web address of the image (say, if you have posted the picture you want on another website).

-Jim

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Keith Plymale
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Mike was this ever played? The intro was great.
 
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HMS Iron Duke
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The first part of it was. Look for the AP Wire Story from Puerto Rico.
 
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