Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Modern Crisis Wargaming

 Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.”

David Bowie

I don’t usually promote Kickstarter campaigns for games, even ones I admire or back. A recent entry, however, demonstrates the value of wargames as tools to explore real-world issues. Usually we look back in time, examining conflicts from history with lots of established (and sometimes debated) research from which to draw information when crafting these simulation models. Professionals in the political/military sphere employ wargames to explore existing, developing, and future situations and possible outcomes. Sebastian Bae — a USMC veteran, wargaming consultant, and adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University stands as one of the more visible designers at the forefront of this movement. Catastrophe Games is running a Kickstarter to produce BaeCrisis in Korea, a set of two “micro games” allowing players to examine the heightening tensions in that region. Both KTO Crisis and Loose Nukes promise to introduce current-issue wargames to a wider audience, from hobby wargamers and students to military and political professionals.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

French & Indian War: Road Trip & Games

 My mission is in jeopardy as my Indian allies have murdered a captured French officer in my care, violating Articles of War. Plus, the French are quickly closing in on our position, so it is a ‘necessity’ that a fort is quickly constructed to shield us from attack....”

George Washington

View from Fort Ligonier with
fortifications and cannon.
Last week my son was off from school for spring break, so we planned a short overnight trip to some sights within driving distance that interested us: Fort Ligonier, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and Fort Necessity...two of which catered to our interest in the French and Indian War. Last summer we visited Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point in New York state; we’ve also seen skirmish reenactments at Fort Frederick. So we wanted to round out our exploration of the period with two more locations that broadened our understanding of the overall conflict. It reminded me of numerous wargames covering the Seven Years War in America, many of which serve as good introductions for kids and newcomers to the hobby.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Willing to Wait for sha-Arthan

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Those who’ve followed James Maliszewski’s for a while know he’s quite knowledgeable about M.A.R. Barker’s Tékumel setting, having run a continuous campaign for nearly a decade and published a host of wonderful fanzines about the esoteric roleplaying game setting. But Barker’s creation — and its host of different game editions — carries the stain of his anti-Semitic novel Serpent’s Walk, published under a pseudonym in 1991 (as discovered through research by the Tékumel Foundation established to perpetuate his creative legacy). Fans have had to wrestle with this unearthed reality, some walking away from Tékumel, others continuing to embrace it, and many in between trying to find some acceptable balance between the creator and his creation. Maliszewski has discussed his betrayal at learning about Barker’s shocking past before, making many points no doubt shared with Tékumel fans grappling with this issue. Maliszewski has since channeled his creative energies into developing Secrets of sha-Arthan, a game evocative of Tékumel with his own interpretations and embellishments into a wholly original, more accessible setting. Who knows when it will be ready for release? All good things take time...and I am willing to keep my embers of enthusiasm burning as I wait however long to see it published.