As Charlie Wilson said about Afghanistan, "“These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world … and then we fucked up the end game”

Wargame designer's and players are always anxious to play the kinetic bits of any conflict. But what about the end game? As we have seen so recently in Iraq, we're still not so hot at end games. Should this be a subject for wargames to tackle? MCS Group is about to release Battle for Baghdad (hopefully late this summer or early fall) which deals exclusively with the political aspects of the occupation of Baghdad. What other games have tried to tackle this problem?

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Well off the top of my head comes Tito never owned or played it. Command's Moscow Burning was sort of like an end game and is pretty neat and fun to game. Other then that I am having a tough time thinking of any. There are built in pieces in a lot of operational/strategic games but it's pretty abstract.

You know there is that DTP guy (Perry something) that has some different designs on topics perhaps there is a game in there about this.
Oh, I don't think this is that hard to do--it's a question of making it exciting. There's a LOT of games that do this just don't remember them:


Just about every strategic game on the American Revolution does this--1776 being the best of the lot. There could be better games on this, certainly. I think so.

NICARAGUA! (S&T Issue game)
TITO (S&T Issue game)
WARSAW '44 (S&T Issue game) -- I may not have this title right; am working off memory
BATTLEFLEET MARS (SPI) -- one of the best insurgency games out there
The 'MILA 18" Scenario out of ASL's BEYOND VALOR module (couldn't resist including it)
"Victor Charlie Chess" out of WARCHESS 2000
VIETNAM (Victory Games)

Reconstruction Games:

AFTER THE HOLOCAUST -- yes, I know what you are thinking, but imagine grafting a similar system onto a conventional warfare aftermath...

All that said, what's missing is that most--MOST--of these games are still basically military contests (with the exception of AFTER THE HOLOCAUST). So we don't get the detailed political, information, and economic treatments we need to do the topics justice. That's the kind of games we want.

Now, there is hope. If you look at the Lutheran Player in A MIGHTY FORTRESS (SPI) and HERE I STAND (GMT), you begin to see what the possibilities are....
Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh, yes, I did forget! duh!
I think the sad part here is that not a single title is less than ten years old; some are closing in on antique status.
Oh, I forgot GRUNT (SPI) and SEARCH AND DESTROY (SPI) could I EVER forget THOSE!

Seriously, GRUNT was awesome. Dated, but really put you in the U.S. Company Commander's shoes--so many dilemmas that just seem unsolvable.
The best part about GRUNT was that it was exceedingly easy to shoot your own troops. I learned a lot about tactics playing GRUNT in high school that never was even remotely addressed at Quantico.
It would take me weeks to find it, if at all, (It may be at a friend's house.) but "Up Against the Wall M*th*rf*ck*r" was a 60's version of a DTP game. It was marketed as a tongue in cheek look at the "civil unrest" in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. It turned out to be a reasonably accurate simulation (for a two player game) that dealt with all sorts of odd interactions and assymetries.

Or maybe I remember it better than it was..., as a Child of the Sixties, I'm not expected to have any brain cells remaining from the period.

But "Up Against the Wall" does get me to my main point... there really needs to be multiple players and different and unpredicable "victory conditions". AH "Origins Of WWII" made that work in a game sense, but as with most political games, it wasn't really a simulation as much as a deterministic resource allocation game.

To make a good game/simulation on this topic, we're talking some SERIOUS work and a lot of it!

P.S. Eric... add "Junta" to your list. At least it is multi-player and the game system could be adapted to "nation building" as much as it is to rebellion and coup.
Don, I actually was thinking about JUNTA when I wrote the list, but then decided against it. That game is more about political conspiracy in any form--insurgency/counterinsurgency apart--than about occupation, reconstruction, and insurgency as discrete academic subjects. Plus, it's just so tongue in cheek! I could have listed Avalon Hill's GUERRILLA game but didn't...I just haven't played it so I can't honestly speak to it.
All you need are counters for hypocritical Liberal Pacifists and Terrorist-Propaganda-spreading Journalists. Use a few cluster bombs on those and you won't have to worry about the end game.

As for political aspects of "the occupation" of Baghdad - if you base a game on that, you've already defined the situation as hopelessly lost. First, there is no "occupation" - that's a word terrorists and terrorist sympathizers use. Second there would have been no Sunni-backed terrorism - and no chance for Al Qaeda to establish itself there - if, first, the world hadn't turned its back on Iraq, and second, they didn't know that the Liberals and the News Media in the US would do everything they could to undermine "The War" - a sick Liberal pseudonym for the Liberation of Iraq and the fight against Al Qaeda and Sunni terrorists.

We lost in Iraq (and don't even try to pretend we didn't) and saw 4,000 Americans murdered and tens of thousands injured and crippled because of the enemies in this country - not the enemies over there.

Design a game on that.
One title that gets skipped over all the time, because it's a science fiction game, is Bloodtree Rebellion by GDW. Designed by Lynn Willis, it's actually a treatment of the Vietnam War, or rather part of it. A battalion of high-tech troops is assigned to a sector of a planet to keep the resources flowing up into the sky, and they face off against a lower-tech indigenous resistance movement.

I recently designed a game called "Virtualia", which takes place in a thinly fictionalized Venezuela just after the current leader leaves power, and the challenges facing the new bosses... how long is it before the government is an occupier in its own neighbourhoods...actually, this is how a lot of "insurgency" games look to me.
Kim Kanger's/Legion Wargames's ICI, C'EST LA FRANCE is out--so we're starting to see some serious games on this topic that aren't ten years old!
If I'm not mistaken he had a piece on the game in Battles 1.


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