More ideas on MOUT game

I’ve gotten some great feedback privately on the MOUT game. I’ve been trying to come up with a new name for it. Today while in a waiting room I mulled it over. I’ve suggested in the last couple of days just calling it “The War” and removing any reference to actual units and politics. I would retain the tactical issues and the issues of ROE and cultural differences. I would incorporate the concepts of soft power, intelligence gathering, community policing along with COIN (Counter Insurgency). Mixing MOUT with COIN concepts is clearly a win. So the new name I am suggesting is simply “Modern Asymmetric Warfare.” This will further the generalization of the concept. I have other ideas on this as well.

One of the criticisms I got came from an Army officer who didn’t like some of the missions as stated. He especially didn’t like Article 15. However he had some great suggestions for changes. In the Article 15 one the unit would eventually discover the allegations against the Captain were false. However I can see how without that spoiler it would seem like I was pushing a negative and unfair picture of things – especially if this was a simulation of the US in either Iraq or Afghanistan. So I plan on changing that mission up – still maintaining paranoid fear but recasting it. Which leads me to the next interesting change…

Forces will be described as Blue, Red, Green or Tan. Blue are your guys or strong allies. Red are unmitigated foes. Green are allies you might not always trust. Tan are enemies you’d like to convert to friends. This covers the range pretty well. It divorces the game from actual combats around the world and, more importantly, the politics surrounding them. This leaves us with the tactical situation and the issues I find important.

In Asymmetrical warfare you have two very different approaches. The developed, high-tech side has an interest in progressing civilization and perhaps the status quo. They use technology to a great degree in how they fight. They have advanced combat skills and discipline. They have a high regard for life and a strong interest in observing International Law and fighting Just War. Opposed to this is a generally low-tech foe who is certainly not happy with the status quo. They want change and will attempt to achieve it at any cost, even if they must go against law and ethics. They use low-tech counters to thwart the high tech advantage of their foe. They have a low regard for life and limb. They tend to break contact when possible – choosing to attack in ambush only.

I’ve set about designing this game with the players being the high-tech, developed, law abiding side. I remain firmly committed to this and now I want to make it clear that this is the only option I’ll consider in what I publish. I don’t see the point or the challenge in attempting to simulate an opponent who is interested in law and order while the players act as the asymmetric opponents. The real challenge is acting ethically even when your opponent does not.

That said I am still very much interested in creating a game with mission objectives but not victory conditions. Each mission can end in many ways. The challenges you will face will differ. I want the end result to be discussion about what happened and what insight were gained more than just a tally of the dead and score at the end.

I’ll publish a revised list of scenarios later on. I will also rewrite the introduction to strongly advocate the ideals above. This project is really coming into focus now. I hope that it will change in many ways the way in which we approach gaming. I don’t know if my way is the best way of gaming sensitive topics but I do hope that it generates good and thoughtful discussion.

A couple of years ago I had a discussion about a scenario you just could not run. It involved diplomats leading groups of Chinese into the Safety Zone of Nanking. The whole subject was just not useful for gaming because of the notorious atrocities committed in real life in that city. Those diplomats had a tough problem dodging Japanese patrols trying to save as many people as they could – and it was a noble effort. However the politics have made it impossible to even consider examining that potential scenario. However if you divorce a game from the real life inspiration – make it just a game about avoiding patrols – well that can be done. Using the exact same setup but not calling the place Nanking and not calling the opponent the Japanese you have made unplayable playable.

Pretty soon the first scenario will be done and ready for play testing. I have several play testers available now. I am hoping that with the fantastic feedback I got and the great enthusiasm people are showing this project we will soon have something out there for public consumption.

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