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Subject: BGG Wargame Designer Of The Month: Brian Train rss

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Jeffrey D Myers
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Brian, do you have any interest in the Sandino affair in Nicaragua (circa 1920s)? Early use of air power, marine involvement, etc.

I don't believe that a game has ever been done on the topic.

(Might be suitable for ASL? I believe that Le Franc Tireur has done some scenarios for the early Russian Civil War.)
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Brian Train
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Yes, I'm interested in the "Banana Wars" generally, in that they are examples of foreign power projection - and protection. Smedley Butler, one of the greatest Marines of all time, put it very well:

Quote:
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.


As did Billy Bragg:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=f-y...

I'd have to go and read the Small Wars Manual over again... 500 pages of that, sigh... but it would be interesting, as a study of expeditionary forces.

I'd be interested in tackling it at the operational level, which is where I think the most interesting things happen. Tactical games are all very well, but at a certain point it just becomes one group of light infantry shooting at another... sorry, never been a great fan of tactical games.

Brian
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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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dtomato wrote:
As a patriotic American, I am very concerned at how the Canadians are taking over political-military gaming. We see Brian Train, Rex Brynen and God knows what other northern intruders taking over the quintessentially American art of kriegspiel.

First, it was Tim Horton's. Now it's pol-mil gaming. What's next? Canadian football takes over the NFL?

Michael


You already missed your best chance to avoid these problems, and Brian Train modelled it here: War Plan: Crimson
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Brian Train
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Ha ha, good one Mike!

Don't forget The Maple Leaf Forever, the expansion kit that covers the Canadian pre-emptive invasion!

Brian
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Neal Durando
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ltmurnau wrote:
Ha ha, good one Mike!

Don't forget The Maple Leaf Forever, the expansion kit that covers the Canadian pre-emptive invasion!

Brian


And upthread he advises US consumers to just relax and continue buying product. Question: Which game designer is most like the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere? Watch your step, Brian, I know of at least a few American officers who will stand on the Hudson palisades, shaking their fists over the burning hulls of Canadian landing craft, only to cry "Train, you magnificent bastard! I played your game!"
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Brian Train
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Hee hee hee hee... you kill me, Neal!

Brian
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Michael Peck
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Canada has a plan to invade the U.S.?

Time for preemptive war!

Actually, if we did occupy Canada, I wonder if we could use the Quebecois to control the Anglos. Maybe Brian can redo SPI's Canadian Civil War?

Michael
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Roger Hobden
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Brian, have you ever thought about creating a political-military simulation of the 1947-1948 War in Palestine ? Or the 1947-2017 War in Palestine ?
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Charles F.
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I'd love to see a COIN game centred on one village.

Reading say Galula's account of his time in Algeria suggests to me that such a game could be in part about CLUE-like investigation. Trying to find the hostiles in the village... while of course engaging in the other vital COIN activities.

A game that would offer similar lessons as that THE DEFENSE OF JISR AL-DOREEA (hope I got the name right).
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Mike Szarka
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charlesf wrote:
I'd love to see a COIN game centred on one village.

Reading say Galula's account of his time in Algeria suggests to me that such a game could be in part about CLUE-like investigation. Trying to find the hostiles in the village... while of course engaging in the other vital COIN activities.

A game that would offer similar lessons as that THE DEFENSE OF JISR AL-DOREEA (hope I got the name right).


Has been attempted to some extent forty years ago
Grunt
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Charles F.
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mcszarka wrote:
charlesf wrote:
I'd love to see a COIN game centred on one village.

Reading say Galula's account of his time in Algeria suggests to me that such a game could be in part about CLUE-like investigation. Trying to find the hostiles in the village... while of course engaging in the other vital COIN activities.

A game that would offer similar lessons as that THE DEFENSE OF JISR AL-DOREEA (hope I got the name right).


Has been attempted to some extent forty years ago
Grunt
Search & Destroy


Those don't look like they scratch that population-centric itch. I'd love to see a true Hearts & Minds game down on the lowest level.
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Neal Durando
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It would be an interesting situation indeed, and one with a mountain of literature to research. I think however that you'd want a regional, rather than village-wide scale. Galula's company's AO initially contained, I believe, four villages and was later expanded.

The hard part of doing this kind of game is reliable intelligence estimates of insurgent capability. Even secondary sources are a bit hard to come by.
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Brian Train
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Hi Roger, I generally haven't Gone There with respect to the Palestinian question, besides a generic scenario or two for my game Civil Power and as a sidelight in a game I did recently on a hypothetical near-future invasion of Lebanon by Israel.

I liked Joe Miranda's The First Arab-Israeli War game.
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brant G
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Hey Brian - way to get famous all of a sudden!

What are some other irregular warfare game designs you've enjoyed, and which ones have you drawn important lessons from?

Do you find it ironic that even with all your focus on irregular warfare, it's your classic shooting-war game that makes it into Dr Sabin's book?

What sorts of research/source material are you able to exploit when putting together your irregular warfare games?
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Brian Train
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Charles and Neal, interesting suggestion.

The District Commander game I alluded to upthread is just the sort of thing you are describing, but on a regional (i.e. district) level and not on a single village.

Just finsihed a third version of it - how's that for quick service?

But a game focusing on a single village would also be an interesting exercise, in deduction and decisions if nothing else - I quite enjoyed the Jisr al-Doreaa book too, thanks to Neal for introducing it to me (we used it as the basis for a very enlightening matrix game that took place in the Korengal Valley).

Neal, I quite agree about the lack of reliable intelligence and clear writing about the capabilities of insurgents. In one article they are super-ninjas who can blow stuff up just by looking at it, in another they are ignorant goat-porkers. Who is right?

Brian
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Jeffrey D Myers
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No, you are an up-and-coming, soon to be extremely talented designer!
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Brian Train
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Hey Brant!

Fame is fleeting, Internet fame the most fleeting of all. No one's come asking me to endorse their brand of athletic shoe.

Other IW games I have enjoyed: I've mentioned some of these already. The first IW situation games I played when I first got into wargaming (over 30 years ago!) were John Hill's Hue and James Dunnigan's Minuteman: The Second American Revolution. I still find urban warfare a fascinating topic and have been meaning to do games on it for years - as the world continues to urbanize, more and more of this very difficult kind of conflict is going to happen, and we need to study it. And Minuteman was all about the creation and spread of an insurgency, kind of a mechanical exercise the 17th time you play it but it's fun to explore the growth of such a movement, and its progression to open warfare against the State.

And Tito, yes of course Tito. I own multiple copies! I've played them all! I haven't done a Balkans partisan game of my own since I felt this game covered it quite well - I suppose I would streamline it a bit, but on the whole I liked it.

South Africa, how could I forget that one... I played it a LOT, never seemed to mind losing (well, I was always winning too, as I played it solitaire for days).

A game I found very influential when it came out was Joe Miranda's Nicaragua. This game explored a lot of the topics within an insurgency I was interested in - class support, covert and overt operations with large and small units, etc.. I thought it was great and played it a lot.

At about the same time (1988-89) I was also playing Vietnam 1965-1975 and Central America, which I've mentioned upthread - the latter was a design focused completely on military operations and I found it disappointing. But there were so many interesting ideas in Nick Karp's game, from play mechanics to the game within the game of posting generals to where they could do the most (or sometimes the least) damage.

I liked Search & Destroy too, but it was a tactical game and not quite what I was looking for for inspiration to do other games - but it is a good exploration of a company commander's view of things. As I said, I'm generally not big on tactical games but I like this and also Mark Herman's Raid!.

Later I got my hands on a copy of The Plot to Assassinate Hitler - the game's mechanism of "loyalty chits" was something SPI mooted for a number of spy/espionage/intelligence game proposals that never got reader support; I would have liked to have seen more of that concept. I have worked it into a revision of Power Play I did recently; just haven't had enough time to playtest it.

I'm still working my way through Dr. Sabin's book - I see that I am but a mere footnote in it, with the reference to Summer Lightning: The Invasion of Poland 1939 that you mentioned. He necessarily covers a tremendous amount of territory in the book, and I didn't expect a great deal of discussion about irregular warfare in it beyond some general remarks about how difficult it is to simulate, and how while it's an urgent issue for today's military, their numbers- and tech- heavy approach to wargames makes it more difficult still. So I was surprised that I was even mentioned in it at all, even as an entry in the game bibliography at the end of the book.

Research and source material: I have a personal library I've accumulated over the years, and the Internet has been a great boon for finding papers and out-of-print books my local university library could never obtain.

(It's kind of funny to stand in the family room where I keep most of my books and games, and play the imaginary "what will the police haul out of the house in boxes on live TV after they come to get me" game: shelf-feet of books on revolution, terrorism and violence, field manuals on guerrilla warfare, cabinets full of war games, and the other end of the room is full of videos and DVDs on serial killers, cannibalism, horror and mayhem generally (my partner is a professor of Film Studies at the local university and she specializes in alien and horror film genres))!

Brian
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Brian Train
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Thanks Jeff!
I'll get there some day.

Brian
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Jon
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I am now the proud owner of Nicaragua along with the Wargammer magazine that has notes and extra scenarios.

I kind of forget where I heard about that game.... hmmm.... ninja
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David Dockter
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Me too...I heard Mr.Train talking about it...thought I should get a copy...then remembered that I have a copy. Now, will have to play it.

At least I didn't buy a second copy - did that the last few years when I forgot this or that title was in my game collection. Please don't tell my bride...should might finally win the argument that I have toooo many games
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Jeffrey D Myers
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Brian, does your partner have a list of favorites movies in the genre?

Inquiring minds want to know....
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Brian Train
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Yes Jon,
The Wargamer supplementary material is really useful and a must-have if you are interested in the game and what it's modelling. Nice extra scenarios too.

Herr Dr.,
That's happened to me too - so I am glad I can catalogue my collection on BGG!

Jeff,
Oh gee, I'm not sure which are her actual favourites... there are some that she uses in class more than others. I think in general she likes SF more than horror, but the area where they cross is interesting - she wrote a fair bit about David Cronenberg earlier in her career. (And I'm the one who makes all the cannibalism jokes in the house.)
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Jon
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ltmurnau wrote:
Yes Jon,
The Wargamer supplementary material is really useful and a must-have if you are interested in the game and what it's modelling. Nice extra scenarios too.


Alas, my FLGS did not have Shining Path: The Struggle for Peru too else I would have gobbled that one up as well. They have had it in the past, so I will play a waiting game. ¡Arriba España! for that matter.
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Brian Train
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Jon, contact me and we'll work something out.

Brian
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brant G
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Brian - are you coming back to Connections this year?
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