Category Archives: megagames

Megagame: Invasion from Mars 02

Dateline 3127.105-109

General Buck’s advanced HQ on West Continent, Cydonia

Operation VALKYRIE has been a major success! A successful seaborne assault by 3rd Tank Brigade has taken DEANVILLE cutting off the line of retreat of an enemy armoured division (although at a cost of 3,000 civilian casualties and ejecting an enemy infantry brigade West along the coast).

A simultaneous assault by the 1st & 2nd Tank Brigades from the front line to the North has reduced the enemy Division to less than half strength and prevented its escape.

Additionally an Airborne assault has taken place landing a sea marine force in both OLYMPUS and ENSEMBLE, threatening the enemy Air Logistics Base to the South of OLYMPUS.

The news is greeted with delight back home, and I have been awarded a medal. I also have four more RMP and reinforcements in the shape of an Infantry Brigade and the temporary loan of two shuttles to land them in OLYMPUS as soon as it can be arranged.

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Megagame: Invasion from Mars 01

Invasion from Mars is one of Megagame Makers megagames, designed by Jim Wallman and played in Anerley Town Hall in south London. The Invasion from Mars website has the game rules and the map as well as some background info on the downloads page.

I played the part of General Stanley Buck, a loyal and competent commander of the Democratic Republic of Cydonia’s Army Group West (AGW) (in reality about Corps strength, three two brigade armoured divisions plus air and sea components with appropriate logistics support). (details of some typical units)

At the game start AGW is already committed and has captured the Eastern end of the West Continent (link to map). This gives a firm jumping off point for the next phase of the offensive and the military balance shows that AGW slightly outnumbers the New Cydonia Colony (NCC) forces.

In my pre-game thinking I had decided to try an air and sea outflanking move, perhaps directed at the enemy Capital AGRIPPA (see map). One of the things that was clear though, was that the sea logistics base needed to be moved closer to the front to support operations beyond the current front line, it being at the maximum extent of the range from the current location.

Invasion from Mars

[3127.100 – 3127.104]

Operations in this period were intended to probe forwards while the logistics assets were moved forwards. Additionally some of the damaged units (two combat flyers and a tank brigade) were repaired using the available four RMP (Repair & Maintenance Points). The Operation on the Northern coast was called off as my tank brigade was outmatched by the armoured division it faced (a tank brigade, an infantry brigade and air support).

Original caption: CLOSE SUPPORT-- This is one ...
Image via Wikipedia

However the deployment of the enemy was clear and it appeared that the majority of forces were in the front line to defend against further advances. There was an infantry brigade in the Capital, another with the air logistics base and a third moving on the North coast towards DEANVILLE. The cities of OLYMPUS, ENSEMBLE and ALI were empty.


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War in the West: German Plan

Alex Kleanthous, Trevor Duguid-Farrant and I got together a couple of weeks before the megagame to do the German plan.

At the planning session we had a discussion about the plan to use, we were constrained to the historical planning directive issued by Hitler, but not to the historical operational plan. After a debate we decided not to follow the historical plan as that would allow the Allied player the option to use hindsight against us. Instead we developed a different plan with some different groupings of forces, and also changed the positions of the Army Groups and Armies concerned.

In outline, the main thrust is against the Belgians and it is intended to push onto the Belgian coast west of Antwerp and then sweep down the channel coast to the west (destination Dieppe). The thinking is that the Allies will not allow the British to secure their flank on the sea in fear that they evacuate. This ought to leave the Belgians on the flank and we believe that they are easier to defeat. If they are pushed back then this is likely to cause the British to retreat in fear of their lines of communication and in turn the French also.

Across the remainder of the line there will be a steady pressure so that if the enemy retire we will be able to close up and take any ground that they cede. In the North there will also be a determined assault on the western Netherlands to secure their capital and major conurbations.

All the available mobile forces have been used, and we checked with Jim that we had them all (a few that existed on paper, still forming or training but which played no active part in the campaign have been omitted from the orbat).

The attached documents show the chosen groupings of forces and their tasks. There is a preponderance of mobile forces in the Pz Gp (9 Divisions, 6 Pz 3 Mot Inf) with another mobile corps (1 Pz & 1 Mot Inf) in the flanking Army to ensure that it can also make progress. The remaining 3 Panzer Divisions have been allocated one to each army to allow them to make rapid progress along their points of main effort. In total we have 14 mobile divisions and 11 of these have been assigned to the main effort and will be working in a relatively narrow front, so penny packets is not a suitable description of their employment.

Airborne forces have also been employed to neutralise a choke point 48 hours ahead of the panzer group advance so that they can remain mobile.

The key to the plan is keeping the panzers mobile. I am sure that people can appreciate the importance of this.


PS – have now re-posted this to the brand new Megagamer Forum that I set up for megagamers to discuss games, both before and after.

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Book Review – Blitzkrieg Legend

"In the West (Western campaign).- Panzer ...
“In the West (Western campaign) – Panzer II and Panzer I in the woods; KBK Lw Kompanie Luftwaffe, “Luftwaffe war-reporting company 4” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the WestThe Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West by Karl-Heinz Frieser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As part of the planning for the megagame War in the West I bought myself a copy of Blitzkrieg Legend because it is the German Army’s official history (although it didn’t get written until the 1990s).

Blitzkrieg Legend Review

From reading the first couple of chapters and looking through the maps you can see the evolution of the German plan. You can see why the directive was written the way that it was in October 1939.

The most interesting thing for me is that there is no concept of a lightning war, the general staffs & high command all believe that the start of the world war was a gross mistake and spells certain doom for Germany as being too soon to be winnable. the strong belief is that the strength of the economy is what wins wars, not surprise attacks (and for my money they were right).

After the planning phase there is a fairly detailed examination of the attacks themselves. What becomes clear is how lucky the Germans were, although some of this is down to the way that the 100,000 man army has trained its troops, and this training continues into the expanded army. It is human factors rather than technology that makes the blitzkreig work. The Germans were exceedingly lucky, when they infiltrate forward and put small parties over rivers and obstacle the enemy retires rather than counter-attacks.

I would certainly recommend this book strongly to anyone who has an interest in WW2, and particularly the Fall of France in 1940.

View all my reviews

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Master of Europe 3

The megagame of the 1813 campaign in Europe was played at Anerley Town Hall on Saturday 7th November 2009. My role was as General Blucher, the senior Prussian Military Commander and also the Commander of the joint Prussian-Russian Army of Silesia.

We started off during the ceasefire period of August 1813, with my army in the furthest South East section of the map, in Reichenbach, near Breslau, in what I think is now Poland. The other member of my team was Mike Young, playing a Russian General. Our orders were to stay put until a general plan of action had been agreed. The initial army council of war having failed to set an objective other than to defeat Napoleon.

We were up against Marshal Ney’s army, which was immediately to our front across a river. We also had some distance between us and Ney’s Army, about 1 turn’s worth of tactical marching. However the first turn still had the ceasefire in effect.

A quick conflab with my staff officer sorted out the Army of Silesia’s plan. We weren’t going to wait for a plan before we started operations. We were going to take the war to the French and see how far West we could get, fighting French armies on the way. We decided to operate two parallel columns of about equal strength along parallel roads taking us due West to the Elbe near Dresden and then North-West on the Eastern bank of the Elbe (because we expected the Army of Bohemia to our South to be operating into the west Bank of the Elbe towards Leipzig).

Having decided what we wanted as army boundaries we then informed both the Army of Poland (to our North and in the process of forming) and also the Army of Bohemia (commanded and co-located with Prince Schwarzenberg, the overall C-in-C of the allied armies).

That done orders were written for our army columns to move non-tactically. One column of mainly Russians would move directly up the main roads into contact with the French armies. The other column, with mostly Prussians and under my direct command, took a southerly route and force marched to attempt to cut off the French army from its source of supplies. These manoeuvres were successfully completed without breaking the terms of the ceasefire or alerting the French to the outflanking.

The moment the ceasefire ended we were on the move. The Prussian column moved northward and successfully cut off the French from their supplies (evidenced by reports of having captured many French supply waggons). The other column knocked on the front door and the French retired in front of them. We encircled MacDonald’s corps and another by the end of the second turn, and forced Marshal Ney’s HQ & a third corps to retire as well.

We then attempted to fight a battle against the two French corps from both sides as the fog closed in. The result was a very confusing action in the fog during which the two French Corps managed to slip away over a river and through some woods. (Rob, my liaison umpire, told me that we had been incredibly unlucky as he had rolled a 0 on the d10. Any other result would have been a clear allied victory). None the less, we had attacked the French, held the battlefield while they retreated and so claimed this as a victory!

We followed closely on the heels of the French army, and several times I issued orders for battle at first light to find that the French had already started their retreat. Harrying them to the West I finally decided to forced march to bring them to battle, which resulted in another Prussian victory around turn 6. Unfortunately I didn’t make notes of the place where this battle was fought and don’t have a copy of the map to refer to, but it was about 60km North-East of Dresden.

It was at this point that the Army of Bohemia started to get in my way. Despite an exchange of several letters where I made it clear what progress we were making and insisting that their plan was flawed and unnecessary they had persisted in their drive due North from their start point (rather than North-West as I had suggested). They had decided that they wanted to take Ney’s Army in the rear (which I had already done before they told me that they wanted to do it).   

What happened next was that my Army was prevented from moving West by a column of the army of Bohemia that I had corresponded with in the immediate previous turn as I saw it close to my line of march. The commander had deliberately ignored my correspondence and move down the road I had claimed as my line of advance (which had been sanctioned by the C-in-C).

I was bloody furious about this and shouted at the players concerned, threatening to attack any army that was in my way. In part this had some good effects, but it stalled us moving west for two turns, and limited my area of operations significantly as the Army of Bohemia de facto claimed a chunk of the Eastern bank of the Elbe as their own operating area (leaving the Western bank more or less clear apart from a couple of corps that stuck close to the river and took some of the crossings from the west).

At the same time Berlin got taken by the French and set on fire (not entirely sure by whom). I was then instructed by the King of Prussia to do what I could to liberate Berlin. he also gave instructions to the Guard Corps and the Reserve Cavalry to join my Army along with the Prussian II Corps.

At the same time Marshal Ney’s Army had turned North, and one of my two columns had pursued him. We fought a third battle at a city with a river to the east (where the allied Army of Poland was waiting just across the river). I took the city and my engineers repaired the bridges over the river. The Army of Poland then took the initiative and surged west following Ney’s Army. I had a fruitful liaison meeting with the Army of Poland while the two Army Commanders were co-located and we agreed some boundaries and a strategy.

My Northern column turned South again and marched back to the rest of the army, some 80-100 Km due North of Dresden. Rumours of Napoleon’s Guard were arriving, along with reliable reports of lots of French troops. Uncharacteristically I ordered my army to dig in around the town while we concentrated. This was just as well. Ney attacked us supported by the French Guard Artillery. Following an Arty duel our Artillery Corps destroyed the French Guard Artillery. Ney’s Army was bloodily repulsed, but only because the Prussian Guards and Reserve Cavalry had been committed. This resulted in the Cavalry being destroyed (it only had 1 strength point) and the Guard down to 50% off original strength.

The next turn Ney came back, but this time my entire Army was present and I had rotated two very battered Russian Corps out of the front line and replaced them with the Prussian I Corps. At the same time Napoleon was attacked by the army of Poland 20km to our North. The French lost both battles. 

This, I decided, was the time to attack. The fresh Prussian II Corps arrived and we moved North with bayonets fixed, the order “Advance implacably & kill the French” duly issued. In the course of the next two turns pursuit we killed four French Corps, plus the Old Guard. The surviving Prussians equipped themselves with bearskins and then moved back South to clear the road for the Army of Poland.

We found ourselves with no avenue of advance, surrounded by friends. So we started south again in pursuit of some French stragglers that were moving for Dresden in the hope of getting across the Elbe there. However the Army of Bohemia had taken both Dresden and all the nearby crossings.

Another about turn ensued and we went back to the North and got in contact with Napoleon’s army just east of Wittenberg (about 40km or so). Although by this time Napoleon was no longer with the Army. We were on the direct Southern flank of the Army of Poland again and this limited our flexibility and ability to go anywhere. Our only option that allowed free movement was attacking into the French who almost a

lways retired in front of us

On approaching Wittemberg we met the local armed forces outside the town. They were claiming neutrality and I offered them the opportunity to join the alliance against Napoleon. They were at least partly convinced by my proffered arguments that we’d fought with Napoleon in 1812, but could see that he was now a spent force and that us Germans ought to band together to get rid of the foreigners interfering in how we enjoyed our sovereignty.

At that point the game ended, which was just as well as we’d been thoroughly boxed in by our supposed allies. 

The only trouble we had was from our friends, the enemy were most accommodating…

What you missed at the January meeting of CLWG

The Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group (CLWG) January meeting (Sunday 9th January) was in Jim’s office near Holborn. This one had 14 members in attendance.

When I turned up there was a promotion board going on for one of the characters in our long-running Starship Marine campaign (details of the campaign and a history of the 130th Regiment). To make this more interesting for the players who were on the board (i.e. the interviewers) there were a couple of candidates for promotion, including one marine Captain who brought a bomb in with him to prove how easy they were to defuse. A nice piece of live role-play from Jerry (who improvised the bombs immediately beforehand.)

I was called upon to defuse the device which consisted of an ice-cream box with an anti-tilt device on it and a fuse inside which had to be unscrewed without disturbing the rest of the device. The fuse was a marker pen and the anti-tilt device was a post-it holding it onto the side of the box, if the box had been tilted or nudged then the pen would have fallen off the side of the box and set the device off. Similarly if I had pulled the pen off the back of the box it would also have set the device off.

We also had a tryout of a convoy destruction game intended for wargames shows which Michael Dollin and I are working on. This involves players attacking a convoy in successive waves of torpedo bombers, dive-bombers and perhaps also PT boats and high/medium-level bombers. We mainly tried out the torpedo and dive-bomber mechanisms. These appeared to work very well and played in around twice real time, so a full torpedo run took us around 5 minutes to do. We managed to do dive bomber attacks much faster, around one every minute or so.

The torpedo attacks were done in a conventional figure game way. You fly up with your torpedo bomber, getting shot at as you come in, and launch your torpedo on a likely track when you feel that you are close enough for it to count.

The dive-bombing was a bit different. We had two possible methods for this, but the one we tried most was a co-ordinate system (ripped off from Graham Hockley). As you start your descent you are shown a grid with a slowly moving ship on it (which was magnetic). You can also see your altimeter (a modified clock). When you have got as low as you want you say “Bombs gone” and the grid is turned round so that you can no longer see it. The ship keeps moving the same way it had before and when the altimeter gets to 0 (i.e. then the bombs hit) the umpire stops moving the ship. The player tells the umpire what co-ordinates he wanted the bomb to hit. The grid is then revealed (and with it the position of the ship) and the position of the bomb compared to the ship.

Hits to aircraft were delivered using playing cards. We would print the actual outcome onto cards to speed things up if we did it for a wargame show. The players don’t get told what the effect of a hit is unless it is obvious (or becomes so). This represents the fact that pilots often don’t know how badly damaged their aircraft is except where it affects the handling of the aircraft.

We also developed a bombsight to simulate level bombing. This used a small periscope attached to a wooden arm and a level to release the ‘bombs’ (pieces of chalk). The test target was a block of wood painted matt black so that the chalk marks would be obvious. We did find that the bombing was a too accurate, especially given that level bombing was notoriously inaccurate and the bombs being over-scale didn’t help much. It had a good feel though.

The other game that was run at the same time was called ‘Directory Enquiries‘ by John Rutherford and was a political role-playing game about the French foreign policy immediately after the revolution in 1789. I didn’t take part for the obvious reason that I was running the convoy tryout so can’t really comment on how well it went.

After that another tryout was run, this time as a feasibility for a megagame on WWI. It was “A Great War” from Brian Cameron (an associate member of the Warlords). It ran fairly well as a game but had some pauses in it, which gave Brian doubts about how well it might run as a megagame without more work on the design of the game. I wasn’t involved in this tryout because I was too busy playing a network game of Warcraft with Jim, excellent fun if you can get your hands on it. That was pretty much all of it, we finished up around six and headed for home.

AD69 Megagame of the Year of Four Emperors

The AD69 megagame was held in Eardley School, Streatham on Saturday 14th June 1997.

“Bust of Emperor Vespasian” Originally uploaded to wikipedia by user:shakko – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

As all historians know, primary sources are often good for giving you an idea of what was going on, but are often biased by the perceptions of the people involved. For megagames this is even more so, since the players will have you believe that they personally triumphed over all the others. AD 69 is particularly prone to this phenomenon. To this end I collected the papers of Glitius Decianus, the Procurator of Belgica after the game. I also collected a number of papers from the ruins of the Senate including some of the letters from Fabius Fabullus the legate of Legio V, Alaudae and Defender of Belgica.

The recovered papers are:

  • About Glitius Decianus
  • The Belgican Treasury accounts showing (the official version of) where all the money went to.
  • Glitius Decianus’ letters to Rome. These give a chronological account to the Imperial Treasury & the Senate of events in the Belgica/Germania region.
  • Other’s letters found on the floor of the Senate after it had been sacked. These give an idea of what the other players were telling the Senate.
  • Fabius Fabullus wrote home to his Mother & Father regularly describing what was going on at the front in Belgica. When the other German Legions marched on Rome he bravely stayed and defended the frontier from the barbarian hordes which attempted to exploit the reduced garrisons. His deeds in defence of the empire should be rembered always…
  • Glitius’ Story. Events during the year A.D. 69 (as represented in the game) as experienced by Glitius Decianus, the Procurator of Belgica. It focuses on the West and tends to ignore all but the most monumentous events in other parts of the Empire.
  • Glitius Decianus’ eventual fate as the paymaster of the German Legions.
A full write up is on my games wiki


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It's No Picnic!

It’s No Picnic! – Press Briefings

The following are the collected press releases/public statements made by the players and the umpire produced Headlines for the Frost City Herald during the Disaster Simulation Tryout Game on Saturday 17 May 1997.

Mayor‘s Speech on Local Radio

During this dry weather it is especially important that we all act responsibly to avoid starting fires and quickly report any we come across. The forest rangers have already put out eight today thanks to prompt reporting on the part of you, the public.

Keep up the good work and keep watching for fires

NOTE: This is a copy of the Mayor’s speaking notes as no transcript of the actual speech is available. There were a few minor differences.

Frost City Herald

Mayor Says No to Nuclear Power – Thousands of Jobs Threatened!

Frost City Press Briefing

Mayor Safeguards Tourist Trade

It is untrue to say that the refusal of planning permission for the nuclear power station has jeapordised jobs in Frost County.

Our main industry is tourism and it is without doubt that people would not come to Frost County to spend their hard earned money if there was a nuclear power station. People remember Three Mile Island & don’t wish to take their holidays next to a nuke plant – although it might help their tan!

So the Mayor’s brave decision has been made in order to safeguard jobs & protect the natural environment that we all know & the tourists love.

Frost City Herald

Mayor Denies that Job-losses will be his fault

– Places Faith In Fly-by-night Tourists
– Compares Frost With 3-Mile Island

Threat To Re-Election Campaign Funds

Frost National Park Public Information


to Frost National Park. We hope your visit is enjoyable & Safe.

To aid your safety please observe the following:

  • Be careful when lighting & using fires, stoves, matches, glass bottles and cigarettes.
  • If a fire occurs alert the authorities by dialing 911.
  • In a fire alert please move to tracks & roads and use emergency phones to report fires
  • The authorities may close the park to protect your safety.

Frost City Herald

Mayor Quoted As “Not Giving A Toss About Local Businesses” (The Chemical Plant)

Mayor Panicking – Why Didn’t He Act Sooner?

Is The Fire Service “Incapable”? 
Will The National Guard Be Called In?
State Department Quoted as “We Have No Plans For Federal Funding”

Frost Rangers Call For “Stay-Out” Order For Park

Was The Mayor Asked For Help Earlier?

Mayoral Address

It has now become clear that the fires sweeping through Frost County are beyond the capability of local Fire Departments & Forest Rangers. It is therefore necessary for me to call for assistance from the State Governor.

Frost City Herald

Mayor Says That Everybody Else is Incompetent

How Will He Fund The National Guard?

Frost City Press Briefing

Mayor Declares State of Emergency

There is no question of the competency of our brave firement & foresters in the development of the fires.

This is a natural disaster on an unprecedented scale and the fire is bigger than our most herculean efforts can deal with.

It was in recognition of this that we called for assistance early in order to limit the amount of damage to the absolute minimum.

Frost City Herald

Mayor’s PR Officer Advises Him to Resign

Mayor Considers Pulling Out And Relocating To Dulwich

Chief Forest Ranger Says “I Wouldn’t Vote For The Mayor” (Has he voted illegally before?)

Frost City Press Briefing

Mayor Fights Forest Fire

The Mayor participated in the fighting of the Forest Fire near the Cameron Chemical Works

Frost City Herald

Emergency ‘Copters to Land in City Centre

Authorities Say “Don’t Panic!”

Mayor Rumored to Have Fallen Out With State Govt.

Interstate Will Be Closed

That’s all. I’ve resisted the temptation to write the story this time as none of the players would believe it. I was the Mayor’s PR Officer, Dr Spin.

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Serenity Station Post-Hunt Report

Post-Hunt Report.

As one of the two members of the Climbing Lodge With Gallantry (CLWG) hunting party in the Serenity Station Hunt I was impressed by the excellent hunt set-up. The combination of prey was most challenging and allowed for an excellent day out.

After entering the station and having a good look around I watched the initial human entry and fired a few rounds from extreme range [OOC – around 60 inches, perhaps more] at them as they disembarked. This caused them to disappear (I suspect that they have developed some sort of cloaking technology, although they did not use it when I encountered them later, so it cannot be much good.) This fire was ineffective because the humans were wearing reasonable, if crude, personal armour. The armour was breachable at close range, as my first kill testified.

I stalked a group of 10 prey and 2 machines while they moved from the docking bay, throuh my original position, to the centre of the station. As they moved past me I engaged one of the prey in close combat and killed it with ease. After taking the head as a trophy I abandoned the body and went looking for some real sport, the human being too easy a kill.

After a brief wander around the station I came across a gg’gvnt adult alone in a corridor. Not messing about I shot it from medium range & took the head, this too was rather easy, so I returned to corridor A where I could watch the entry of a lot more humans through the main docking bay.

I had some fun for a while sniping at the prey, and watching their bewilderment and not being able to see what was doing it. At about hte same time Pickles, my compatriot, was doing much the same from corridor C. I didn’t manage to hit anything because the prey was armoured. After a bit decided to go hunt some gg’vnt until the humans had made it a bit farther out of the entry area & were more spread out.

I sensed that there was a reasonable sized group of gg’gvnt adlts in area G. On entering area G, which had only one entrance/exit, I moved to despatch another lone gg’gvnt before taking on the group.

I first encountered the lone gg’gvnt adult as we both attempted to use a doorway at the same time. Giving it a quick shot at point blank range had little effect other than enraging it. A brief hand-to-hand combat ensued during which the gg’gvnt scratched me before I managed to finish it off with my spear. A good fight which nicely warmed me up for what was to follow…

As I took the head I noticed several gg’gvnt adults approaching, more than I could hope to take on at one time. I then carefully chose my ground so that I would be able to take them on without being overwhelmed. Moving into a doorway I sensed that there were about 12-15 gg’gvnt adults closing in on me, lambs to the slaughter!

They spread out to find me and as the first one came through my doorway I tried to shoot it but my weapon refused to fire. Getting out my spear I resolved to have a good look at the D.E.W. when I had dealt with the prey at hand. This weapon failure allowed the gg’vnt the opportunity to strike me & push me away from the door. I finished it off using my spear after receiving a few more scratches and giving some ground.

A large gathering of gg’gvnt adults had formed outside the door at this stage, all baying to get in. The death of the second adult didn’t seem to stop another one launching itself at me. As it charged in I slipped on the blood of it’s friend and it managed to gore me rather painfully. For it’s impudence I immediately killed it when I recovered my footing. I was no longer in a mood to play with these things.

My change in attitude, expressed in the violent death of the third gg’gvnt adult, seemed to transmit itself to the mass of gg’gvnt who took the opportunity to leave me alone. They obviously realised that I was too dangerous to take on. I took the two heads and went off to a place where I could look at my D.E.W. and from where I could shoot at some humans. Now that I was seriously wounded I reckoned that the humans might well be fair game.

I limped down to the medical bay on the station, which had a few gg’vnt eggs around as well as three machines that the humans had abandoned earlier. Inside the medical bay I tested by now-repaired D.E.W. by despatching a lone gg’gvnt adult, for which I also took the head. I then decided that I would go back & see where the humans had got to, and moved off down corridor J where I ran into a some humans rushing towards me, although it was apparent they hadn’t seen me as they were very surprised when I shot the lead figure, which was a machine I had mistaken for prey (I later took the head for novelty value – it being worthless otherwise).

This timely shot slowed the prey down and allowed me to lead them onto the gg’gvnt eggs. As I moved backwards down the corridor the prey carried on towards me, shooting wildly down the corridor. None of this wild fire came close to hitting me but it did destroy one of the human’s machines. (It shows just how indiscrimately destructive these humans are and why we need to avoid them finding out where our planets are.)

I shot two of the humans cleanly before they got close enough for the eggs to start going off. This confused them somewhat as they had apparently not seen this before and suffered badly for it. Four humans were hit by the ‘face-huggers’ and rather strangely they were then killed by their comrades, a strange phenomenon, especially since their comrade didn’t take the heads. I shot the remaining two prey and left their last machine where it was.

As I was finishing off this group of prey anothe rone the same size appeared from behind it, as did a third come down corridor I. Both these new groups tried to locate what had killed the first group, and came close to finding me, although I shot the two which I suspect detected me. The humans concentrated on destroying all the gg’vnt eggs that they could see by using their machines to crush them. They als employed a couple of radiation grenades which landed almost at my feet, although these didn’t appear to have any effect on my suit.

After a while most of the humans moved on up corridor K leaving behind the bodies of the prey I’d killed. As I started to move in to collect my trophies the humans put the fallen prey onto some machines which then trundled off up corridor J. Seeing this I broke cover & ran after them. As I opened the med-bay door a gg’gvnt seed pod got one of the humans which distracted thm a little from detecting me as I ran up the corridor.

Just behind me a horde of gg’gvnt adults burst out of the same door I had come out of and attacked the humans, allowing me to chase my trophies unmolested. The machines were moving faster than me so I was forced to shoot them to stop them getting away. I shot the first machine no trouble, but as I was closing on the prey a third machine started to pick up the trophies, so I destroyed it too.

At this point a large group of gg’vnt adults swept past me up the corridor and blocked my view of the second machine carrying the other trophies. When they passed I carried on to chase the second machine, which was getting away. As I rounded the corner it left my line of sight and I was unable to shoot it. I did however have to bash a fourth machine, which was attempting to recover the trophies, with my spear.

Realising that I wasn’t going to catch up with the second machine I cut my losses and took the two heads that the machines had been trying to get away from me, I also took the head of the human-like machine that I had shot earlier when I met the group in the corridor.

After that I reluctantly decided that it was time to leave Serenity Station. If I had been in perfect health I would have gladly carried on the hunt, but my wound was beginning to trouble me and had prevented me from being able to recover my trophies.

During the hunt I had killed: 1 SAS trooper (Hand-to hand); 2 human marines (both by D.E.W.); 1 human-like robot (D.E.W. but not for scoring purposes); and 5 gg’gvnt adults (2 by D.E.W. & 3 hand-to-hand)

. I had also been responsible for the deaths of 3 other marines by D.E.W. and 5 by luring them into gg’gvnt pod range. On top of this I destroyed 3 of the human trophy-stealing machines.

Not a bad day’s hunt.

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Design Session for "The Lion Comes Home" – Onside report

This CLWG session yesterday was a very loose and rambling affair with myself and three (or perhaps four) others in John Rutherford’s living room.

Despite the great number of digressions I managed to get quite a few useful pointers about structure, level of detail, team composition and, importantly, how much more research I had to do.

With luck the game will appear some time during 1996 for a first showing, but until I’m nearer completion I won’t go as far as putting a date on it. For those potentially interested in playing the probable format is along the lines of:

Start Point – July 1945

The Labour Government has just come to power and the war is continuing against the Japanese. The basic agenda is to

  • get the war ended,
  • demobilise the armed forces,
  • implement their policies to create a welfare state,
  • rebuild Britain,
  • bring order to British occupied areas after the European war,
  • honour commitments to give independence to colonial states and
  • ensure the security of Britain and British interests abroad.

Game turns

Each game turn will represent one year and will last about 30 minutes.

The only mandatory part of the turn will be the setting of the budget for the following turn at the very beginning of the current turn. This will allow for some of the nature of Government Accounting (GA) to show through.

Other events will be conducted as the players feel it necessary – anything missed will be slipped into the next year (or lost completely as appropriate).

Public Opinion

After each event an opinion poll will be conducted and the Government/Opposition ratings given. This should help the Government of the day decide how effective the people think it is and should give an indication to when elections are best held.

Given that the electorate are a fickle lot, and opinion pollsters not necessarily unbiased, the ratings are at best only a general guide to the trend rather than an absolute.

Other feedback will be provided in the form of press cuttings (i.e. as a headline or suitable ‘printbite’ from the editorial). I hope to have a few of these made up before the game and will dish them out as appropriate.

Changes of Government

As our democratic system requires the Government to hold a General Election within at least five years of the last one I expect that there will be at least two elections during the course of the game.

In the event that the Government loses the election then all those holding Ministerial rank will be reshuffled, this may also coincide with the retirement or resignation of senior officials or commissioned officers.



The main decision making team consisting of the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary (FCO) and Secretary of State for War (WO).

War Office (WO)

Responsible for allocation of manpower, spending the Defence budget and protecting Britain and her interests abroad.

The team will have three players each representing one of the forces, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) will have the casting vote and will be responsible for reporting to the Secretary of State.

Foreign & Colonial Office (FCO)

The FCO will co-ordinate all external relations and dealings with colonies. One of the main sources of information about the local conditions and factions, also the key negotiators with colonial governments in the run-up to independence.

All major decisions will have to be referred to Cabinet through the Foreign Secretary.

The team will comprise the Head of the Diplomatic Service, two senior diplomats and one junior minister (the Colonial Office).

Cabinet Office

A small team looking after the Machinery of Government (MOG) and domestic policy issues.

This team will have as members the head of the Home Civil Service, the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and the PM’s Private Secretary.


Apart from myself I expect that three other umpires will be required. Two to keep the War Office and FCO busy with information from afar and one other to deal with domestic issues.

I intend that the information provided to the players will come from three distinct sources, from Diplomatic sources (embassies, experts & espionage), military sources (patrols & photo-reconnaissance) and from news media (print and radio).

These sources may not always agree and may have exclusive coverage of certain events – news media may also be prone to disinformation, political bias or censorship.

Things to tell

As the potential for information overload is very high the majority of colonies will be ignored for a variety of reasons, size, strategic importance/unimportance, lack of conflict, timescale for independence et cetera.

The main thrust of the game will concentrate on not more than half a dozen colonies – probably India, Palestine/Israel (a mandate), Kenya, Malaya and one or two other smaller areas where things could have gone wrong.

I intend to produce a compendium of colonies. This will represent the distilled wisdom of the FCO in the form of:

  • a brief history of the colony,
  • its political/religious/tribal factions
  • faction attitudes to the British, independence, the other factions, communism, and the economy.
  • The economic implications of withdrawal
  • an estimated timetable for establishing a stable native government.
  • The relative strategic importance of each colony
  • projected consequences of its loss for the viability of other colonies.

Although the compendium can be relied on absolutely for history it only represents the belief at the time it was prepared for projected future outcomes and attitudes of factions given are those perceived by local diplomats and colonial civil servants.

Cold War Perspectives

At the start of the game the hot war is still in progress. The Americans have developed the Atomic Bomb, but have not yet used it.

As we depart from history before the Bomb is dropped it may not be, or it could be a bit earlier or later. One major point of focus for the latter part of the game (from around the third turn) is relations with the Soviet Union and the Cold War.

Although I intend to fudge history a little to prevent hindsight from being 20/20 the general attitudes of the superpowers will remain as they are.

One of the drivers of the British decolonisation must be to reduce Defence spending whilst maintaining sufficient forces in Europe to fight World War Three. In the race to go home the government must do its utmost to ensure that none of the colonies fall into communist hands.

This should have a major influence on policy and put a brake on the speed of decolonisation.

Also worth considering is the effect that the cold war has on defence spending. Britain will have to consider its independent nuclear deterrent and the method of its delivery to the target. It will also have to consider the type of conventional forces to be deployed. A list of unit types and costs will be given to the War Office and will be updated as new technology becomes available.

Military Operations

A level of commander competence will be assumed for all military operations. All that the War Office/Cabinet will be expected to provide are

  • rules of engagement,
  • directions for operations (e.g. low intensity counter revolutionary warfare, aggressive patrolling, high profile guarding of government & commercial assets),
  • the level of manpower and any extra funds necessary to conduct operations.

Obviously many of these will be dependent upon the funds and total manpower available to the armed forces. Too many conflicts breaking out in the same year will quickly drain the treasury.

Government Accounting (GA)

GA is a very horrible area to deal with. I intend to produce a simple chart for both expenditure and income.

The income chart will show probable yields for a number of taxes at several rates – these may not fit any economic models anyone has ever studied but should give a reasonable indication for the Chancellor to plan his budget.

The expenditure chart will show Public Spending as a series of categories – some controllable and others immutable. For the controllable areas, Defence, Welfare State and Foreign & Colonial spending a chart will give approximate costs of certain activities, programmes and military units.

This should give the three planning teams a chance to tailor their activities to the funds available. It is my intention to have a laptop available to do the number crunching – a bit out of period but rather necessary given the number of factors that can be altered.

Like real GA there will be no requirement to balance the budget, nor to stick with it if it is insufficient. There is also the contingencies fund to play with as well as the ability to take supplementary estimates during the year. The only constraint that will be applied is that the original budget be delivered at the very start of the previous turn.

The first action in turn 1 (1945) will be a post-election budget setting the turn 2 (1946) budget. This introduces a time lag between setting a budget and starting to work with it of one whole turn, not that far from real GA where the budget is set in the Autumn for the following April.


I have deliberately not mentioned any mechanisms for two reasons, the first is that they will remain hidden on the day and the second is that I haven’t yet worked them out well enough to explain.

I do have some very useful ideas which were supplied from the design session and I will happily explain them after the event. It is a bit of a cop-out but then we are not necessarily aware of what drives real political events and I would rather keep those playing much in the dark regarding detail of the opinion polls etc. Anyone with a burning curiosity should talk to me about it quietly and I will explain so long as they promise to umpire.


I am aware that I have rambled a bit about what I hope the game will look like and have in its details and mechanisms. This is because I am typing this immediately from memory and a few incoherent, illegible notes the evening after the session.

All this detail is fresh and if not typed now will doubtless be forgotten, hence the stream of consciousness style of narration. Hopefully by the time of the game it will have coalesced into a more coherent whole and the details will all be readily available for my compendium of colonies.

If all goes smoothly I hope to put the first version on at an all day venue sometime in late Spring/early Summer. The game will require around 20 people to run, of which around three or four will have to be umpires.

If you are interested in playing or umpiring then please let me know and I will try and give you plenty of advance warning of the intended date and your probable role.

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