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Subject: Possible game theme: Speer's War rss

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I fear I will become known around here for silly and/or impractical ideas. (Oh well...)

I would like your thoughts on a possible solitaire game that focuses on the Nazi economic effort during the closing two years of World War II (or beginning when Speer was appointed minister of armaments.) Involved would be fighting the "Final Solution" so as to preserve the prisoner workforce, fighting against those who sought greater investment in various secret weapons that would theoretically end the war and save Germany from defeat, counteracting the tremendous infighting that occurred between the various branches of the military and among the political/personal factions that Hitler seemed to encourage, coordinating the civilian economy, protecting industry from the Allied bombing, adequately preparing for the Ardennes Offensive, &c. The game would necessarily be speculative, with many random events, though perhaps the ones harmful to the economy would be ameliorated by one's prior decisions. Admittedly, the game might take some wild directions if not programmed well, but a certain amount of "what if" might be fun.

What do you all think? Has something like this been done before? (I only have personal experience with the optional "War in the East" production schedule and then only by study. Or was that introduced with the "War in Europe"? Regardless... we only used the programmed reinforcement schedule.)

Don't be shy; I won't be offended if you think the idea is crazy or ... worse ... boring!
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Well I don't think it's SILLY. Could be quite interesting. I sometimes joke about World in Flames being an economic game, why not have an economic game about war?

If you're interested, recommend Adam Tooze's The Wages of Destruction, very good treatment of the German economy during the Nazi era. "Speer's War" is a good name but Tooze argues the Speer miracle is an illusion (not the subject of the book, just part of it).

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Wendell, thank you! I'll pick the book up today!
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wifwendell wrote:
Well I don't think it's SILLY. Could be quite interesting. I sometimes joke about World in Flames being an economic game,


The point purchase DYO scenarios in Combat Mission always struck me as Shopping Mission and I referred to it as such when people suggested that tournaments featuring them were a great test of "skill." I didn't see how "buying" good "stuff", or outsmarting an opponent in the purchase phase, necessarily translated into skill at playing a game.

A game in which you actually have to produce "stuff" on the other hand seems as likely a subject for simulation as any other. If they can simulate the assassination plot, any other aspect of the entire byzantine mess that was the Third Reich is ripe for treatment.

Understand it is a working title. I figured before clicking the thread open it would be on this subject, though in the back of my mind, I thought about Omar Khadr - the medic he killed in Afghanistan was called Speer also, and something in the back of my mind wondered if perhaps that might be it.

Speer was certainly a principal player in the German economy, but funny that other principals were sentenced to hang at Nuremberg for their roles. Goering laid out the four year plans, and Sauckel provided the labour.
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Brian Train
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I think it's an interesting topic, and I've always been interested into what would go into a strategic production game.

Even more interesting is that it has been almost four hours since you posted, and so far no Taste Police visits over slave labour, indentured foreign workers, diversion of resources, or the essentially immoral and reprehensible nature of wargames.

Four hours and counting....

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Michael Dorosh wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
Well I don't think it's SILLY. Could be quite interesting. I sometimes joke about World in Flames being an economic game,


Understand it is a working title. I figured before clicking the thread open it would be on this subject, though in the back of my mind, I thought about Omar Khadr - the medic he killed in Afghanistan was called Speer also, and something in the back of my mind wondered if perhaps that might be it.


Michael, you've given me idea! A simulation of a medic's role in combat would be fascinating to me. Or the good work done by the American Field Service and the Red Cross in the opening years of the Great War would be interesting for a simulation.

Well, maybe these are workable ideas. Maybe... Haha!

The craziest idea I ever cooked up was a simulation of "Slaughter House Five"? (That did not go far at all.)

And ... "Catch 22" would make for a great comedy-slash-wargame!

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ltmurnau wrote:
I think it's an interesting topic, and I've always been interested into what would go into a strategic production game.

Even more interesting is that it has been almost four hours since you posted, and so far no Taste Police visits over slave labour, indentured foreign workers, diversion of resources, or the essentially immoral and reprehensible nature of wargames.

Four hours and counting....



Well, I don't believe the Axis would ever win...

Which offers a good question: What would be victory in this game? Surviving Nuremburg?
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Kluvon wrote:
I fear I will become known around here for silly and/or impractical ideas. (Oh well...)What do you all think? Has something like this been done before? (I only have personal experience with the optional "War in the East" production schedule and then only by study. Or was that introduced with the "War in Europe"? Regardless... we only used the programmed reinforcement schedule.)

Don't be shy; I won't be offended if you think the idea is crazy or ... worse ... boring!


It could be interesting. You've got to watch for your balance between complexity and randomness, by which I mean that if a player has to deal with many factors to make decisions each turn, but those decisions can be upset by random events, he/she might get the feeling that all the work and decision making isn't worth the effort, or the "game plays itself."
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Quote:
I would like your thoughts on a possible solitaire game that focuses on the Nazi economic effort during the closing two years of World War II (or beginning when Speer was appointed minister of armaments.)


Speer's ability to increase war production during the height of the bombing campaign was remarkable, but I don't know if it would be an appropriate theme for a game. For such a game to have any historical validity, the player's role would be to manage a production system based in large part on slave labour. I think I'd be more than a little uncomfortable with that aspect of the subject.
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Don't really think it's such a great idea for a game- At its peak forced laborers comprised 20% of the German work force. Counting deaths and turnover, about 15 million men and women were forced laborers at one point or another during the war. Some say that Speer escaped the hangman for his role in the brutal use of slave labor by telling stories of trying to kill Hitler and being apologetic to the victors- I think he should have gotten the noose at Nurenberg!
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The Russian and Japanese armies had relatively brutal basic training regimes as well as compulsory military service (i.e. conscription). Won't go into the sordid history of forced prostitution or gang rape here but there are plenty of sordid tales regarding straight military service just in the Second World War alone (to say nothing of some of the ancient battles/eras on which other wargames have been based).

The objections regarding slave labour seem, frankly, a bit weak. I think a predictable response would be the same one that those ASL players who objected to the "MILA 18" scenario received - "don't play it, then."

That's assuming, of course, the game was a non-sensationalist and legitimate attempt to portray the subject.
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El Supremo wrote:
Don't really think it's such a great idea for a game- At its peak forced laborers comprised 20% of the German work force. Counting deaths and turnover, about 15 million men and women were forced laborers at one point or another during the war. Some say that Speer escaped the hangman for his role in the brutal use of slave labor by telling stories of trying to kill Hitler and being apologetic to the victors- I think he should have gotten the noose at Nurenberg!


And luckily you weren't there.

Speer's trial was one of the initial Nuremberg trials; there were many more after. Speer's contrition and penitence was exactly what the western Allies wanted - and needed. Giving a lighter sentence was one way to promote similar behaviour in all the other war crimes trials that followed. The trials were not just about the guilt of the handful of accused in the initial trial, nor even the accused in the trials that followed. The Cold War and the global political events of the next half century were taking shape, and the white-washing of the Nazi past in Germany and the strengthening of the western alliance was all linked in.
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While I was the one who first used the word "game" here, I should make clear that I view most wargames as simulations and, most importantly, history lessons. The more we know about what constitutes our history, the more we can justifiably condemn what is immoral ... and avoid repeating ourselves.

As for this particular simulation, I think managing a war economy that relied on conquest, criminal exploitation, and a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance--if not downright evil--would illustrate important lessons.

And let's not forget that the Axis do not win. Speer's task could be likened to the punishment of Sisyphus ... and if the game were successful, its playing would be accompanied with an increasing level of dismay.
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ltmurnau wrote:
I think it's an interesting topic, and I've always been interested into what would go into a strategic production game.

Even more interesting is that it has been almost four hours since you posted, and so far no Taste Police visits over slave labour, indentured foreign workers, diversion of resources, or the essentially immoral and reprehensible nature of wargames.

Four hours and counting....



I think it's a fascinating idea for a game, and quite novel.

Brian, you bring up a great point; how should a game handle such things, seeing how these things were an integral part of the Nazi war effort? There would have to be a way to handle this without making it distasteful. Perhaps just a generic "labor resources" pool?

Just having to ask that question shows what a fresh idea this is!
 
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I will bite...

Kluvon wrote:
Involved would be fighting the "Final Solution" so as to preserve the prisoner workforce


Wouldn't be that akin to accepting Speer's borderline revisionistic lies as a premise for the game?

Besides the moral considerations, it might be interesting.
But, really, I'm not sure how you can ignore those.
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ltmurnau wrote:
Even more interesting is that it has been almost four hours since you posted, and so far no Taste Police visits over slave labour, indentured foreign workers, diversion of resources, or the essentially immoral and reprehensible nature of wargames.


Pre-emptive strawman?

Stupid PC-wargame-hating-hippies: we will never get that nice economic train game about transporting "prisoners" to Poland.
What a shame: no 18XX-Final Solution
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I think it's a great idea for a game. Actually, what you're describing sounds somewhat similar to a solitaire game in development by John Welch called "Levers of Power".

I think the key is for there to be some sort of trade-off for using forced workers, like an increase in resistance activity. Or as in another Welch title Levée en Masse, there could be a trade-off where using the increased production from forced workers drives up a "War Crimes track." In Levee, you can devote your actions to winning the military battle but still lose the game if you've allowed the political situation to slide too far into Napoleonism.
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Interesting idea. If you wanted to take it to the next level, you could make it a competitive game between several players managing planned economies (Nazi, Fascist, and Communist) and the western economies operating under wartime restrictions. Relative success in economic affairs could determine the ebb and flow of the war, and you win by having the strongest economy of the winning side.
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marcnelsonjr wrote:
I think the key is for there to be some sort of trade-off for using forced workers, like an increase in resistance activity.


To include everything from partisans in the occupied territories to sabotage on the factory floors, and all the attendant effects.
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Thanks Greg, but I don't know frankly if there is any way to handle this sort of thing tastefully.

Most wargames just ignore how their tanks, planes and troops come to be on the map, just as they ignore, or at least gloss over, how those machines and men stay fed and in good repair during the fighting. Forced labour, atrocities, rationing, conscription, deportation or deliberate starvation of whole populations, looting on an industrial scale - it's all elided, and from the point of view of a player who just wants to push his panzers, quite unnecessary to play.

This game is different. I agree with the OP that Germany can't "win" the game as in winning the war; victory in the game would mean at best prolonging inevitable defeat, due to limitations and decisions in effect long before Speer took over.

Games are all about choices and tradeoffs, the discussion about more forced labour >>> somewhat more production >>> more resistance, sabotage etc. is an example of this.

The OP mentioned that he thought of this as a solitaire game; I think this might even work as a multiplayer game where Speer is only one of the players, there are others vying for different priorities for resources and production, pet projects and all that, and trying to do bureaucratic end-runs on each other.

Brian
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Obviously, I haven't thought this through very far--and I have no German, so I am entirely dependent on English-language scholarship or reliable translations--but my first idea was to assign at the beginning of each turn Influence Points to Speer which he would spend in a variety of pertinent areas. He would gain (or lose) influence points throughout the game depending on his earlier decisions and some random events.

For instance, he could spend Influence Points on maintaining his personal health--this would improve his odds in a regularly assigned health check--but the opportunity cost would be great. Wouldn't one prefer to spend Influence Points on improving one's authority with Hitler or with Goering? (One should remember that Speer fell ill during the war and nearly lost his ministry while convalescing.)

I want there to be a geographic element to the simulation; otherwise this would best be done as a computer game. Perhaps Speer's physical presence in a particular place at a particular time would improve production output.

Also, there should be a morale scale that, should it fall too low, would increase Speer's involvement in the assassination attempt and, as a result, be a great risk to his life.

It's still remarkably early on in my thinking, but I do think there is something here.
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ltmurnau wrote:
The OP mentioned that he thought of this as a solitaire game; I think this might even work as a multiplayer game where Speer is only one of the players, there are others vying for different priorities for resources and production, pet projects and all that, and trying to do bureaucratic end-runs on each other.


Brian, you've obviously read your history! The divisiveness among Hitler's close associates was fostered by Hitler; I suppose as a means of control.

I also thought about a multi-player game, but who in their right mind would elect to play Himmler?
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Given Brian's thoughts, and yours, it seems this could easily morph into a "Origins of WW2" or "Plot to Assasinate Hitler" type of game; a blend of economic and political causes and effects.

The relationship between the SS, Gestapo, and Speer/Organization Todt and Hitler himself would make for a challenging "power politics" type of game.

Could be an interesting game, but may be a hard sell given the more unsavory facets of the whole mess...
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An alternate title for the simulation might be "Faust's Bargain: Albert Speer and the Third Reich."
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Kluvon wrote:
I also thought about a multi-player game, but who in their right mind would elect to play Himmler?


You'd be surprised how many would wonder "who in their right mind would pass up the chance".

Make sure the counter is black with white print, or you will have a revolution on your hands.
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