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

Exclusive! 
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

Welcome

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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On the Bounce – CLWG Game Report

a post-operation Press briefing from Democracy and Freedom Today! (Game played at CLWG on Sunday 2nd February 1997). This was run by Jim Wallman and was set in the not too distant future. Needless to say Democracy and Freedom Today! (aka DAFT) were somebody’s freedom fighters and the PEC’s terrorists

PEC Troops Terrorise Teenagers

In the early hours of this morning a heavily armed PEC force flagrantly violated Libyan territory in contravention to UN resolution 1385. The unprovoked raid by PEC forces quickly turned into an orgy of destruction, kidnap and murder.

The PEC killing spree started when a bus carrying school-children from the local academy for gifted children was ambushed on its return from a field trip. The children, aged between 12 and 16, had been out looking at the night sky as part of the Astronomy 101 course. The field trip was a regular routine that the PEC planners would have known about from their much vaunted satellite reconnaissance.

On hearing of the malicious murder of their class-mates other members of the Academy came out in an impromptu demonstration of sympathy in front of their dormitories. The PEC hovertanks then compounded their atrocity by mowing down the young demonstrators and destroying the dormitories with missile fire. These scenes were captured on camera by a courageous CNN crew who were then calously killed in cold-blood. Also killed at the same time was a PEC doctor who, realising the danger, obeyed his hippocratic oath by warning the demonstrators to run away.

It was at this point that the local militia appeared on the scene to chase the cowardly coalition cohorts away. During the engagement three PEC hovertanks were critically damaged and one knocked out. Several lighter vehicles were also hit and some helicopters downed. Libyan losses were much lower than had been expected for this type of operation. The main casualties were the civilians, 73 were killed at the Academy and nearby village and over 50 were kidnapped, presumably to be sold into the slavery of the capitalist corporations controlling the coalition.

The libyan Ambassador to the UN will be lodging an official complaint when this morning’s session opens later today. A suitable form of retaliatory strike is being considered should diplomatic action fail to produce suitable redress and bring the perpetrators of this atrocity to justice. A spokesman from Democracy & Freedom Today said “We can not tolerate the rich Northern Nations using bully-boy tactics to intimidate us in our own homes. This is the sort of action that we have been campaigning against for years”.

This is Ali Hussein, of Libya Today, reporting live from the scene of devastion in Northern Libya.

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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.

Teams

Cabinet

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.

Umpires

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.

Mechanisms

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.

Conclusions

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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A Young Officer’s Guide to Fighting in Built Up Areas (FIBUA)

Belgian soldiers during an exercise
Belgian soldiers during an exercise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I promised that I would do a bit on Fighting In Built-Up Areas (FIBUA) because I thought that I would be able to add one or two bits of my experience to the pool. Because of laziness I thought that I would just provide the following extract from an Aide Memoire I acquired whilst an Officer Cadet.

There is much more from where this comes. Also possible is the section on Counter-Revolutionary Warfare (CRW), the chapter on use of artillery and the ever-useful Close Quarters Battle (“Fix Bayonets!”) chapter useful for those awkward occasions when you wake up to find that you’ve accidentally dug-in in the middle of an enemy position.

Chapter 11 – Fighting in Built Up Areas (FIBUA)

Following lessons learnt in the latter part of WWII where many young officers were killed, maimed, or lost the confidence of their men in house to house fighting it was decided that all officers had to be trained in the techniques of surviving FIBUA with their reputations intact. The following points should always be borne firmly in the front of your mind every time you and your men enter a Built Up Area (BUA).

Entering Buildings

MILES simulation (note the laser emitters atta...
MILES simulation (note the laser emitters attached to the rifles’ barrels, and the laser receptors on the soldiers’ helmets and harnesses). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Don’t run at a plywood door and then try to open it by giving it a good kick right in the middle. It is highly probable that your foot will go straight through the door. Not only is this uncomfortable it will not inspire confidence in your men. Let your platoon fool do this instead, it will be very good for morale.

2. When someone suggests that you stand atop a ladder while four of your men hold it and run at a first floor window remind them that you cannot adequately control the battle from atop a ladder and that your platoon sergeant would be a better candidate.

3. Don’t go in first, or second, third, fourth or fifth, in fact if possible wait until the building has been declared clear before going anywhere near it. Best of all is to sit a couple of hundred metres back and ask to have the village shelled flat for an hour or so before going in.

4. If you must go into a building avoid using holes anyone else has made – this includes doors and windows, especially doors. Always do it quickly with full auto selected, along with a nervous paranoiac disposition if you can manage it. (It must be stated that this cannot ever be real paranoia because the people in the building will be out to get you.)

5. Avoid windows with wire across them – wire tangles – the less said about this the better.

In the Building

1. Remember to give whoever is in the room you are about to enter the respect they deserve – at least one grenade and the contents of your magazine. This is where plenty of practice at the game “I bet I can empty my magazine faster than you” really pays off.

2. When you’re in a fortified house always remember that your helmet makes your head bigger (or your beret if you’re a Para) and avoid all those beams and ammo-box sangars inside the building. Especially worth remembering if your command post is set up under a table.

3. Whatever you do remember not to brew up with your hexy stove on wooden floorboards! If you need smoke then it’s much more effective to pop a signal grenade.

4. Keep all your smoke grenades inside your jacket, or at least securely taped up with the pins bent. Smoke indoors is an absolute bitch and the little buggers tend to catch on doorways, wire, etc and go off. If they do you need to wear a respirator or get out fast, neither is to be recommended.

5. When the building is safe stay in it, any excuse will do – local defence, protecting a flank, establishing an OP, setting up a Command Post, organising resupply, guarding prisoners, treating the wounded. All good officers should be able to think up something original and appropriate in order to let their men carry on without them. Besides, everyone knows what soldiers think of their officers and they would far rather they weren’t there. If all else fails a simple “Well done Sergeant – Carry on” will do the trick. It’s worked for generations, there is no reason why it should fail now for you. (Possible exception here being lack of intelligence on the part of Paras requiring their officers to actually lead them and thus risk their lives. Not a recommended course of action – but then anyone foolish enough to leave a perfectly serviceable aeroplane when it isn’t on the ground must be rather suspect.)

Leaving the Building

fibua1. Avoid if possible, if not use the back door. This is the only circumstance in which you should lead from the front. Make sure that you have identified some good cover within five metres or so of the door or window you intend to leave from. Once you have get up and run as fast as you can and dive for the cover rolling into it to present the smallest possible target. This will undoubtably have alerted the enemy and any poor sod that follows you will almost certainly get shot at, the more that follow you the higher their chance of being hit. Hence the advisability of leaving first.

2. When making your mad, frantic dash for cover remember that bushes can conceal barbed wire. Also watch out for loose cartridge cases, they tend to be very destabilising on concrete/roads. Going arse over tit will not do your reputation much good.

3. Remember to take all your kit with you, and tie it down so that you don’t lose it on the way out either. It can be rather frustrating to find that you have left your hip-flask behind, and one does not want to have to risk one’s life more than is necessary. If you leave something behind send a soldier back for it – they are expendable, you are not.

Being Outside

1. Don’t do it – unless you’re a few hundred metres back and have access to artillery. If you do then you can have some good fun – especially if you mix White Phosphorous (WP) with delay High Explosive (HE). The WP sets the buildings on fire and the delay either explodes inside them or weakens/collapses drains and cellars. It should be borne in mind that using WP for anti-personnel or incendiary purposes is against the Geneva Convention.

2. If you must be outside get in cover. Nowhere is truly open and if you can’t find cover you’re not scared enough. Puddles always lie in low ground. Gutters provide decent cover if you are being mortared or shelled, but bugger-all if it’s a sniper. Cars are okay, but most high-velocity rounds will go straight through them – although they’ll stop 9mm quite happily (at least on the way out). As high-velocity rounds go there is not much you can hide behind – an old fashioned stone built wall or building is your best bet. If it’s a fifty calibre machine-gun don’t bother hiding, just pray that he’s a lousy shot and none of the rounds come anywhere near you.

CLWG Games Weekend 1995 – Sunday

Sunday

Military Spin

Sunday dawned a new day and I had done my homework on the Charge of the Light Brigade. The reason for my homework was Jon Casey’s game at lunchtime which involved each one of the participants being given a piece of paper with a great military disaster.

As originally set this had to be glossed over and presented in a positive light, the only prohibition being outright lies. A late rule change, which I missed, was that it was to be unidentifiable so others could guess which defeat you had been dealt.

It was very entertaining, whether or not the defeat was disguised, and it shows the possibilities for deception without lying. I like the idea of this game, perhaps it has other outings ahead of it? Although I wrote several versions of what I needed the one I used in the end was as follows:

“In an audacious action Lord Lucan lead the Light Brigade against enemy artillery. The Light Brigade attacked & captured, unsupported, a Russian Battery defended by a numerically superior force. In so doing a large hole was created in the enemy line which the enemy reacted to by committing a sizeable counter-force. Overwhelmingly outnumbered the Brigade withdrew taking relatively few casualties.
 
Never before has such an action occurred and it is unlikely that any other cavalry would have contemplated a similar action, let alone been capable of succeeding in what our cavalry achieved. The bravery & tenacity of the Light Brigade in pressing home their charge under heavy artillery fire will be forever burned upon the pages of history.”

Retreat to Victory

In the morning, before going to the festival of truth I joined in Nigel Howorth’s planning session for a game called “Retreat to Victory”. This was interesting for me as I hadn’t seen a design session before.

As far as I recall it the session was quite wide ranging with several people contributing ideas. Almost every angle was discussed, at what point to start, how the teams should be structured etc.

I was amazed by the level of detail gone into, although it was also reassuring the everyone was keen to help. I hope I get a similar response when I have to plan my game. I hope Nigel’s game is around in the near future as I’d like to see how it turns out.

Incidentally if anyone wants to help I’m interested in doing an end of empire game starting in 1946, or alternatively an economic game, a military restructuring game or even all three rolled into one, although that would perhaps be a bit too ambitious.

Breakers are Breaking

The game I remember most about, and have the most useful criticism for was Phil McCarty’s “Breakers are Breaking”.

I managed to get the briefing on Saturday and had a good chance to look through it beforehand. I played Admiral Canaris in the plot against Hitler.

Although I know a fair bit about the Second World War I didn’t really know anything about the July plot other than it happened and that a bomb had been left in a briefcase under the table in Hitler‘s briefing room. I also knew that Hitler was saved by the table.

With this scant background my briefing seemed quite good. With hindsight there were one or two things missing. None of the resistance team knew what scale the plotters organisation had, things that the characters certainly would have. This in turn affected how we saw certain cues and how we acted. Just a little more detail would have turned round how I played the game.

Another major factor which influenced the resistance team was that the briefing said that the turns would last four days, this meant that we didn’t really try to plan the immediate post-explosion takeover, instead we planned for contacting the Allies to negotiate a cease-fire and the post-coup control of Germany.

We took it as read that if we offered the Wehrmacht control of all ground forces that they would follow us. Had we known that the turns were actually to be one day long we would have taken a less strategic view and probably planned the immediate stuff. I’m not saying that the outcome would have been different but we would have planned differently.

All in I enjoyed the game, even though I quickly decided to leave Germany. Originally to talk secretly with the OSS and latterly permanently (or until the Allies had won the war and made me head of the new Abwehr) when an arrest warrant was issued for me.

I think the game itself worked fairly well, the idea was engaging and the format worked. All it needs is for a slightly expanded briefing for the resistance (I can’t speak for the others) and an agreed turn duration. We had a fairly extensive debrief and most of this was talked through, so I’m sure Phil has his new improved version waiting on the shelf for another outing. I’ll look forward to it.

That’s all, at least for now.

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CLWG Games Weekend 1995 – Saturday

This was the first Chestnut Lodge event I had attended and I must say that I enjoyed it. I was fortunate enough to have read the last few editions of MilMud. So I had a vague-ish idea of what was going on. I managed to find Chestnut Lodge eventually and turned up in the middle of the first turn for the Origins of World War One.

Origins of World War One

This was a rather intriguing game, with a good dash of paranoia all round. The game went quite well, although the timing was a bit confused. It wasn’t clear to the players what year it was, although I am sure that the umpires knew quite well. This wasn’t a serious problem in the sense that everything happened when it happened and not in any particular time sequence. At least that’s how I perceived it to be, I may be wrong. I’ll say no more as I’m sure others are better placed to offer more constructive stuff.

Pickles’ Railway Game

The next thing I was involved in was Jonathon Pickles Railway game. From talking to Jonathon this started out as a time-filler and grew into a behemoth so fast that he was forced to put it out of its misery on the Saturday evening.

It was a very good game as it went, although I thought that it went a bit slowly. Jon blames that on the lack of mechanical counting devices and help in sorting out the railways. Doing everything manually took time and contributed to the sudden demise of the game.

That apart the game would be worth doing in it’s own right, it was fairly engaging and involved as much activity as one was willing to give it. About the only concept that I didn’t quite get to understand was exactly how the stock market was operating, but then I never actually asked anyone to explain it.

The rest of the game seemed very obvious with only a minor skim through the brief, which seems ideal as I understand that not reading briefing is common. (Government Ministers certainly don’t read their briefing, so why should anyone else be expected to?)

Watch the Skies

As a blow by blow account of what I did at the games weekend I ought to mention Jim Wallman’s game, well he brought it along with him anyway. It was an MB game that Games Workshop could have written, the less said the better. Especially as my side (the baddies) got wiped out.

I did play in Jim’s trainer for Watch the Skies which I enjoyed, and managed to get landed with command of the SAS team. In the process of the operation we saw lots of strange stuff, reported it all back to Hereford, and didn’t fire a single shot!

This lead on nicely to the evening session of Watch the Skies. I had arranged with Mukul to join the Chinese team and looked after their operation. I managed to cause a fair amount of paranoia amongst some of the other teams, especially the Brits.

After peacefully resisting any attempt by the British to board my container ship, during which no-one was hurt or threatened by any weapon, the British shot a dozen or so of my crew after attempting to abseil onto the deck of my ship.  I had handcuffed the first two down. After such severe provocation I was forced to retaliate by shooting down the helicopter.

I also engaged the frigate with an ATGW, successfully hitting it amidships. Unfortunately a freighter is no match for a warship, however small, and I had to allow the Brits aboard before the 4.5″ shells hit something vital. After we got the fire out and the Brits had searched the ship, and found nothing with which to justify their piratical actions they apologised and withdrew rapidly.

I have learnt my lesson, there is no paranoia at Chestnut, everyone is out to get everyone else. Next time I’ll have anti-ship missiles.

face to face game design, war, politics, history & science fiction gaming from two player to megagames!

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