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Subject: We need your help to playtest a Gaza wargame rss

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Michael Peck
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Paul Rohrbaugh is playtesting a game on the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, and he has generously allowed Foreign Policy Magazine to sponsor a public playtest. This is a first for FP, and we'd like the wargame community to participate. You can find the files at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/27/launch_your... Leave your suggestions in the Comments section there, or send them to me at michael.peck1@gmail.com We will post the best suggestions later.

Michael
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Kent Reuber
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I think the title on the page "Launch Your Own Gaza War" is in poor taste. Perhaps something more neutral such as "Gaza War Simulation".
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Michael Peck
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I don't write the headlines.

Michael
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Roger Brandon
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It's cool that we can have print and play games about current events!
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jumbit
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Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews killed is no wargame at all.
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Isaac Citrom
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jumbit wrote:
Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews killed is no wargame at all.


From the rules:

D10: 6 or 7 - Martyr’s Strike: A Hamas-affiliated bomber detonates in Tel Aviv. DR result of 6 causes 1 MVP award to Hamas. DR result of 7 moves Israeli Diplomatic marker 1 space to the left in addition to the 1 MVP award to Hamas.


We wargamers fully understand that the conflict simulations we play are based on actual historical military conflicts where people, in particular soldiers, have died. We abstract these notions because at the end of the day these are games.

We do not roleplay atrocities, sacrificing historicity. We would not play an hypothetical Deathcamp Commander nor do we include elements that are strictly about murder, such as the SS' Einsatzgruppen units.

Jumbits is exactly right. Any game that awards victory points for the slaughter of Jews is no wargame at all. Similarly, a game that puts the player into the position of having to make strategic and tactical decisions about how many civilian Palestinians might be killed, is no wargame I'm interested in.

These are current events. The game's model's assumptions are wholly arbitrary and in the end makes the game pointless to play. That is to say, if the designer has indeed come up with the right answers, he ought to send it off immediately to the Israeli government.

I have no intention of playing this game. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of other well-designed wargames that can occupy my time.
.
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Doe Gibson
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This is tasteless. The ceasefire is not even a week old. There is no distance in time from the raw here and now to make this a 'game'.
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Michael Dorosh
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As a suggestion - those that are truly upset by this are advised that perhaps the best way to make their displeasure known are to write to Foreign Policy's advertisers and explain why they feel FP made a bad decision in publishing this "game".
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Just playing devil's advocate here but isn't the mass killing of civilians with a WMD in a war that is ongoing in the same category?...because that won a CSR...Labyrinth. (And it begins with the actual death of thousands of civilians)

Just saying.

As a side note I don't see this as a death camp commander torturing people for points (unlike video games that are interactive snuff films). I think we should examine it and condemn or confirm. Remember, this activity we participate in is different and needs to be examined and yes contact the parties involved and express your opinion if you feel the need. But remember, for the most part, wargaming is about the death of millions of people throughout history. I would expect no less scrutiny of this than I would of any other conflict.
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michael confoy
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jumbit wrote:
Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews killed is no wargame at all.


Where in the rules does it say that you score points according to the number of Jews killed? Besides that I don't know of too many wargames where you are not awarded for killing the other guy's men.
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Philip Yaure
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jumbit wrote:
Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews civilian non-combatants killed is no wargame at all.


FTFY. (Obviously Jewish civilian non-combatants are a subset of the larger category, but it's this status, not one's religious or ethnic status itself which motivates an objection along these lines to the game).

Also, it seems, from the second paragraph of the article and first section of the rulebook, that no player is being given the role of targeting civilians-- 'points' are awarded to a non-player faction (the only playable faction appears to be the Israelis). This doesn't seem to be quite as objectionable as having a player take on a role in which they are rewarded for targeting civilians directly-- presumably the idea is that the player, playing as the "Israeli military high command" should seek to (inter alia) minimize civilian losses on their end, and the 'points' serve to quantify the degree to which the player is effective in achieving this end.
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jumbit
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papahoth wrote:
jumbit wrote:
Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews killed is no wargame at all.


Where in the rules does it say that you score points according to the number of Jews killed? Besides that I don't know of too many wargames where you are not awarded for killing the other guy's men.

The game awards more points for killing more Jews.

7.2.3 Rocket Attacks
Whenever a Hamas Rocket ends its movement in an appropriate zone (dependent upon its range) the player rolls a D10. Add 1 to the DR if an un-depleted Iron Dome unit is in the same area as the rocket.
DR 0 or 1
Rocket strikes and causes severe damage. Award 1 MVP to Hamas. If the DR was 1 move the Hamas Diplomacy marker 1 space to the right.
Note: Hamas is awarded 2 MVP if the Rocket struck an area with a black dot city (example: Ashdod); 3 VP if it impacts in the area with Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Dimona (red dot cities).
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jumbit wrote:

The game awards more points for killing more Jews.


The game awards points for killing Israelis. There is quite a bit of difference between the two nouns.

Does it also award points to the Israeli forces for starving children and denying them medical care, intentional breaking of the Geneva Convention, leveling schools full of wounded and children clearly marked as Red Cross relief stations, etc etc? It seems churlish only to allow one side's collective punishments be represented, although, of course, since hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians are killed for every Israeli who dies in a bomb attack, the numbers would have to be weighted quite drastically.

To suicide puppet's question: Labyrinth is at least as offensive as this game, but it's likely to be perceived as less so in an American-dominated forum on an America-based website covering a game genre that is largely, though not completely, American. Like many bits of popular culture, those who might be most offended by Labyrinth (and other games about, say, the carpet bombing campaign over Vietnam) have been pre-excluded, if you will.
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So basically, if I understand correctly, we are not to produce any simulation of an Asymmetrical design that occurs after 1946? Because it seems that people dying in uniform is 'acceptable' but any modern conflict should remain unexamined.

I agree that the title and wording of the article should be held to a higher standard, but I don't run simulations of conflicts, past present or future, because it's 'cool'. I'm trying to learn and understand the world I live in better and humans tend to use violence more often than not to resolve situations. I will not turn away from these acts because only by studying the subject (which I do extensively when running a simulation - currently Angola) can I hope to learn and share with others what we might gather from these conflicts about ourselves and the world we live in.

War is war. Yesterday or a thousand years ago. To say that the death of 10's of thousands in the firestorms of Europe in WWII is less offensive and thus acceptable material to recreate than what happened last week to me is far more tasteless and offensive. Dresden wasn't a military base. It was a city filled with civilians. Let's try not to forget that.
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Philip Yaure
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suicidepuppet wrote:
War is war. Yesterday or a thousand years ago. To say that the death of 10's of thousands in the firestorms of Europe in WWII is less offensive and thus acceptable material to recreate than what happened last week to me is far more tasteless and offensive. Dresden wasn't a military base. It was a city filled with civilians. Let's try not to forget that.


For what it's worth, there was a notable outcry recently over Bomber Command, which depicts the Dresden bombings, so I'm not sure it's charitable to think that the objection is merely a temporal one. A more appropriate comparison may be between games about the European east front in the Second World War, where civilian casualties are typically glossed over or ignored, in contrast to the game in question, in which civilian casualties are represented as part of the game's mechanics.

I agree with you that there is still significant merit in engaging with games such as this in order to gain an appreciation of the dynamics of the conflict, but we might as well do battle with a non-strawman opponent while we're at it.
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Juha Metsäkallas
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I haven't played the game, so I can't say how well it simulates or models the current events. But I'm more concerned about the comments made here.

Traditionally wargames have depicted only clashing of more or less regular armies, leaving the suffering of civilian population to play only a minor or no role at all. This kind of modelling works in "clean" or "justified" wars, e.g. wwii, but is hopefully inaccurate in any insurgent wars, like in the Palestinian struggle for an own state. You can't deny that civilian surfering would not play any role in this on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So, if the designer Paul Rohrbaugh has put into the game a mechanism that simulates this civilian suffering, it is only correct how repulsive/distasteful you may find that.

I find it distasteful that more cry is kept for ,what, less than 10 dead Israelis than ,what, several tens of Palestian deads (the actual numbers are irrelevant, the ratio is the issue). It is as if Palestian lives would matter less than Israeli lives. All lives count, no one should die.

A long time ago, I read somewhere an article stating (no, I don't have the reference) that the keys for solving this on-going conflict lay mostly in Israeli hands. Basically it boils down to three alternatives for Israel:

- a democratic Israel: equal rights for every citizen without current system of apartheid
- a Jewish Israel: a state where the Jewish fait will rule
- a greater Israel: a state that streches beyond the 1967 borders

Israel can have any two and peace will be possible. Aim for all, and the conflict will continue.
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I find that I have to balance the simulations that I examine. My current collection consists primarily of controversial titles not because I find a need to shock others, but that these seem to be the titles that help to answer my questions about modern events. Since this topic happened so recently I have been able to see the social, political and economic aspect of this conflict to a certain degree in the media. This part however I have not seen. This helps me to complete the picture.

With older conflicts I find the need for the pre-play research and that the simulation covers not only the military aspect but the social, political and economic impact. Titles like Twilight Struggle, 1989, Labyrinth, Andean Abyss, Algeria, etc start the dialogue and give me a visual frame of reference, however abstract, to begin my understanding of the events they cover.

It's a long way from the games I learned as a child.
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Metsis wrote:
I haven't played the game, so I can't say how well it simulates or models the current events. But I'm more concerned about the comments made here.

Traditionally wargames have depicted only clashing of more or less regular armies, leaving the suffering of civilian population to play only a minor or no role at all. This kind of modelling works in "clean" or "justified" wars, e.g. wwii, but is hopefully inaccurate in any insurgent wars, like in the Palestinian struggle for an own state. You can't deny that civilian surfering would not play any role in this on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So, if the designer Paul Rohrbaugh has put into the game a mechanism that simulates this civilian suffering, it is only correct how repulsive/distasteful you may find that.

I find it distasteful that more cry is kept for ,what, less than 10 dead Israelis than ,what, several tens of Palestian deads (the actual numbers are irrelevant, the ratio is the issue). It is as if Palestian lives would matter less than Israeli lives. All lives count, no one should die.

A long time ago, I read somewhere an article stating (no, I don't have the reference) that the keys for solving this on-going conflict lay mostly in Israeli hands. Basically it boils down to three alternatives for Israel:

- a democratic Israel: equal rights for every citizen without current system of apartheid
- a Jewish Israel: a state where the Jewish fait will rule
- a greater Israel: a state that streches beyond the 1967 borders

Israel can have any two and peace will be possible. Aim for all, and the conflict will continue.


And this is a play test. That means we have an opportunity to look for that balance. If this had simply been a pitch to sell a product on the situation I would probably feel the urge to break this down too.

This is a chance to add something to the dialogue. Let's not miss that chance. I plan on studying this in full first thing and comment as requested. They may not like what I have to say either.

(And do comment on the title if nothing else. THAT is offensive.)
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Eric Lai
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I don't get why the apartheid of South Africa is unacceptable but the apartheid of Israel is acceptable and even supported by Western Countries like the U.S. Can someone enlighten me? I understand the geopolitical history of the area but apartheid is still apartheid. Two wrongs don't make a right. Whose idea was it to give land to people to create a religious state should be shot, have we not learnt from history that religion and the state should not mix. Religion by definition is usually isolationist, self-serving and undemocratic at its best and fanatical and paranoid at its worst.
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Lucius Cornelius
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Instead of using my superpower to bring peace to the Middle East, I was only happy about getting myself a free solo wargame! yuk
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Pete Belli
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As I mentioned last week, just change the theme to sci-fi and avoid much of the controversy.



BTW, I'm reasonably certain the latest Gaza conflict is being studied with a professional military "wargame" right now in the bowels of the Pentagon and in other places.
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Leonardo Martino
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I see no problems doing a game about the matter. I see games just like newspapers. If Newspapers talk and witness about the matter, I see no problems about a games that talks about the very same matter.

I mostly agree about the reference about Labyrinth. A game about the Gaza events shouldn't be done? Then I think a game like Labyrinth shouldnt be done either.

Furthermore, talking about Gaza and make a game about Gaza is, in my view, talking (and make a game) about a conflict that started back in 1948 so the subject isn't exactly fresh. I may simplify it but "it's the same old war as yesterday".
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Donald Acker
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jumbit wrote:
Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews killed is no wargame at all.


You don't. It's a solitaire game and you play Israel.
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Freddy Dekker
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I've just downloaded the files out of curiosity, but that's probably all I'll do.


I feel a bit iffy about this whole project.
To create a game about a conflict that is happening as we speak somehow feels just wrong.
I can't shake the feeling that there must be another motive for this than just create a game.
But you'll probably just call me paranoid.

Of course I do like war games, there is no denying that.
But my games are about wars that have become history i.e. they are in the past and we all know what happened and how it ended {in tears as usual}

For me the fun in these games is to know what happened and than to recreate the situation and try to do better with the same knowledge and the same means that the commanders back than had.


And I do aggree that titel is so very wrong.
Oh and Pete, very good point.
If this game was presented as a SF game representing a fictional situation, even if it came close to the one the designer wants it to be about, it would be far more acceptable to people.

I also aggree that in games about modern wars you can't get around civilian cassualties as we've now entered the age of dirty wars.

Yeah sure civilians have allways been cassualties in wars, but back than it was more cause they used to get in the way {I'm talking about battles, not aobut after battle events where they simply killed every one] but in the modern wars it seems ever more the practise to target the population.

A game where one side is stupid enough to send some crap rocket and kill a dozen people, after wich the other side launches an airstrike and eliminates a dozen villages?

No thanks,

edit: [off topic comment] while I typed this I saw a kickstarter ad about a new fun family game about the holy war.
never thought I'd see FUN, FAMILY and HOLY WAR in one sentence....shake





 
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Cosmic Charlie
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jumbit wrote:
Any game where you score points according to the number of Jews killed is no wargame at all.


Right. Because ONLY the Jews are people..
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