Archives for November 2008

Scenarios for Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts`

I’ve come up with a list of the first 12 scenarios I’d like to include in the first book. As always I am interested in comments.

Embrace the Suck: Patrolling the local neighborhood – deal with civilians, IED attacks, and the elusive tango head honcho code named Delta. Patrolling sucks but you have to do it so smile and embrace the suck.

Ten Four Good Buddy: The patrol has to get a convoy through a rough neighborhood. Random factoid: the blast radius of a full tanker truck is 2000 meters.

The Negative Benefits of Payback: Tanks, gunships and all the infantry you have vs. BZ drugged opponents that act more like fast zombies than the enemy you trained for. (Title is a double entendre.)

Leave None Behind: Private “Bootlick” got split from his team when they fell back. Now you’ve got to go get him if you can find him.

Love Thine Enemy: “Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies.” W. L. George. Will the recent cooperation pact strengthen friendship between you and your new ally? Different ROE, different fighting styles and a language barrier make for great fun.

Inherent Right of Self Defense: New Rules of Engagement have the soldiers questioning whom to shoot! The enemy doesn’t seem to have this problem oddly enough.

We’re From the Government and We’re Here to Help: Your platoon finds itself between two factions – both of whom you need to make friends with. Embedded journalists and a missing girl make for added excitement.

Unwelcome Guest: You finally cemented the deal between the neighborhood clan and the acting government and have sat down to dinner with the clan leader when a guest whips out a pistol and shoots him in the head. A diplomatically tricky situation ensues!

Chalk Outline: After a rival clan ruins the peace you worked out in the prior scenario you send in a team of cold hearted snipers to demonstrate the principle of Best Friend/Worst Enemy. ROE is whatever you think you can get away with.

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Wise polititians at home have seen the great benefit your troops would have if lawers were embedded at the front line to determine “intent!” Meanwhile you have a shipment of guns and money to aid the “concerned local citizens” resist foreign fighters. The rub is, the news media can’t find out about the guns and money and the foreign fighters would love to hijack the shipment. Oh and the CLCs would be less than pleased if they weren’t paid.

Article 15: You witnessed your Captain accepting a bribe and shooting a civilian. For some reason you think he is trying to kill you because this patrol you’ve been sent on is into the heart of enemy territory. Can you link up with friendly forces in time to alert authorities?

At Ease: You are short with just one mission to go before the Freedom Bird whisks you back to the World. Can you dodge mortars an RPGs long enough to gripe about the in-flight movie?

Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts

Here is my proposed intro to the game. It states clearly what I intend to do and especially what I intend to not do with the game. I am curious what people think.

MOUT: Mobility Operations on Urban Terrain

When Rome was sacked in July of 390 B.C. it was Gaul invaders. Though they likely didn’t have a term like MOUT to describe what happened after they got through the city walls they certainly knew that taking a big city was not a walk in the park. Back then the narrow streets and alleyways were a great hindrance on the ability of both the Gaul and the Romans to fight. Well over 2000 years later we are still perfecting the ability to fight in urban terrain. The equipment has changed but the problem remains doggedly similar.

In this game you will lead teams opting to secure town and city blocks. MOUT reflects the reality of urban fighting today – close encounter ranges, a need to utilize available cover as much as possible and an environment where the enemy could be anywhere. In fact the enemy could just as easily appear in your rear as well as to your front. MOUT also attempts to show the basic differences between combatants with highly developed combat skills, equipment and complex Rules Of Engagement against combatants that lack both sophistication and tactical doctrine. When your platoon shows up on the battlefield with its own attached lawyer you can be sure this isn’t your grandpa’s Army. Likewise when you face an enemy with a high birthrate, a low regard for human life and a fanatical zeal you can be sure of one thing: you will be up to your ass in Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts in no time.

This game is not about guns in their bountiful configurations. It is not about camouflage pattern differences. It is not about right or wrong. It is about tactics and culture as it influences strategy and about problem solving. Comparing the 5.56mm vs. the 7.62mm or the effectiveness of DPM vs. ACUPAT are not important factors we consider. The game scenarios are as familiar as the headlines. This game is being written during a time when several nations are at war in the Middle East. These wars involve state and non-state actors. This game is an exercise to simulate the urban environment and the tactics needed to conquer it. It is not an attempt to play out the conflicts and judge their merit. At this point in time we do not know the legacy of these conflicts nor what the morale judgment of time will be. For all we care about is “embracing the suck” and slaying the same beast the Gaul Invaders had to 24 centuries ago.

NEWS: Site reaches milestone, New MOUT game on way.

One of the goals of this blog has been to make it useful beyond hearing myself talk. In order to do that I’ve tried to encourage others with descriptions and pictures of my projects and to provide information on products I really like. Several months ago I had to re-assess. You see, one way of measuring interest is tallying the number of hits on the website and the number of clicks on the ads provided by Google. After 3 years I had made less than $25, if I remember right. So I made changes. I added more information and wrote longer articles. You my readers have responded in kind. In 6 months my readership has matched what I had the previous three years worth. Many thanks go to the the blogs in my blog roll for carrying links to me and some of them even keep community headlines. Thanks also goes to Rackham for profiling me in their Cry Havoc newsletter. I am very grateful. We hit a milestone today. The blog has made more than $50 now. While not a Kingly sum it is my way of measuring your interest. Google only writes checks for $100 so by that calculation I have a year to go to make the next $50. My goal now is to make is sooner by adding more and more interesting content.

One of those things is my latest game. In the 90’s I was pretty prolific with rules writing and produced 4 games. Life changes in 2000 ground that to a halt. Today I can proudly say that my writing is back on track for the first time. I have this weekend had the first successful playtest of a new game that I’ve been kicking around conceptually for 12 months. It is based upon MOUT (Mobility Operations in Urban Terrain) and it has several very interesting features:

1. It works just as well with a single player as with multiple. It is being designed for solo play concurrently with multi-player play.
2. It is not WWII with M16A4s stapled on. This is modern doctrine set in a very focused environment.
3. It is players vs. the system. There, I said it. The problem with systems is they aren’t usually intelligent. I am doing my best to make the enemy react the way the after-action reports say they do. You will feel the gut wrenching tension of knowing that if they aren’t in your OODA Loop, you are in theirs. My success here will make or break this game and I am very critical of my own work.
4. I am using LITKO counters for many of the systems. You can make your own but if you want high quality markers for your game you can get them from a source you already know and love. I have mine and I am very excited about them. They make the game really shine!
5. Miniatures aren’t needed; this could be played on a board or a map or via email. This along with the solo-option will excite people. My friend Olaf first suggested the move to incorporate solo-play. The mental exercise of doing that made me see the entire problem from another angle and really it was that suggestion that produced this new approach to gaming these situations out.

The result of the successful playtest this weekend means I can now start taking my 40 pages of notes and condensing them down into a format that will allow for playtesters to give it a shot. It may be that by the start of the new year there will be an initial release to the public. I plan on combining the usual written rules with video instruction that I’ll post on youtube. At that point it will become a community project.

I’m really excited by this game and I hope to have some convention games ready as early as Cold Wars. I am confident that this will be a welcome addition to the many other modern rulesets available today.

Today is November 4th. If you are an American and have not yet done it, get out and vote. This is a historic vote and every voter is needed to help guide the US. Let us get out there and get it done. I voted early over a week ago and I am happy I did. I accept either candidate as the new President. The question is upon us Americans as to what we can do to make this a better place. It starts but does not end with responsible voting.