For heaven's sake! April's over and I hardly noticed, was I sleeping???. My blog activity over the past month was null, not a single post written (first time in years). Looking back into the past weeks, I just noticed that did not play a single game since Easter due to a combination of family engagements during weekends and some forays of my gaming group members into other wargaming interests... terrible.
I’ve been active on the painting front nonetheless and have managed to conclude a couple of units for my El Cid Project and some WWII bit and pieces (a US Airborne ATG and a mid-war German Panzer III).
Perhaps the most relevant news last month was the announcement by TooFatLardies of a new set of rules to play modern conflicts called Fighting Season, powered by the game mechanics of its 2 WW skirmish rules Chain of Command.
It was publicly tested in the recent London gathering Salute, with great success from what I grabbed from tweeter on the day and by the follow-up reports of different bloggers afterwards. This announcement also opened some interesting debates in the TFL Yahoo Group related to both how to simulate these type of asymmetrical conflicts and the convenience or not to “play” a conflict so close to our times that can arise high sensibilities.
As for the first aspect, the military prowess and strength of the Western armies forming the coalitions in Afghanistan, Iraq etc. always create a risk of creating a totally unbalanced and sort of whack-o-mole type of game, where one player just shot and destroy anything coming on its way.
As in the case of Vietnam is not only the military side that counts towards victory, but winning the political side of the conflict. The fact that the enemy is an irregular force, blended with the civilian population, imposes important restriction to the way the Coalition units can operate. This is an aspect already tried and effectively handled by TooFatLardies in the Vietnam-era rules Charlie Don’t Surf. I’m confident that the mechanics of Fighting Season to simulate the military/political tension will be nicely embedded in the game and will be one of the key differencing factors versus other modern-era rules in the market.
The aspect of the sensibilities and moral dimensions about “playing” when there are still troops actively engaged in the ground. Already Richard Clarke put some thoughts out stating that while some people find it inconvenient, a British Army officer’ finds it a great opportunity to train platoon leaders. And as Mike Peterson discusses in a recent post: is it morally more questionable to play a modern period than a game set in Ancient Rome? Note that Mike is probably highly qualified to discuss these type of issues considering he is a an active military padre of the Canadian Army.
I must admit to have had some ethical reservations about playing modern-era games. However, the recent discussions have changed some of my views and specially the arguments provided by Mike.
Coincidentally, over the last months I have been taking a personal interest in better understanding the global political situation and specially that related to the fast spreading of Muslim-based political movements in Africa and the Middle East, many of them adopting a terrorist stance.
The military response so far looked to have been pretty ineffective and some even argue that were a driver of to help spreading terrorism in these areas. Certainly, games like the one sketched by TFL could be a good tool, among others, to understand the actual limitations encountered by the military side and to reflect on the alternatives.
As with any other rules set produced by Richard Clarke, it is important to invest some time in searching for reading materials to understand the context of the period involved. I recently open a thread in the TFL Yahoo Group asking for advice on published materials and the list that came out was the following.
- Task Force Helmand
- Dusty Warriors
- Company Commander
- Callsign Hades
- One Bullet Away
- Dead Men Risen
- 3 Para
- Attack State Red
- Outlaw Platoon
- House to house
- The Good Soldiers
Leigh Neville is assisting Richard Clarke in Fighting Season. Leigh is the author of the Afgan War supplement for Force of Force and author of several books published by Ospreyon the conflict; these books are incredible useful to get introduced into the period and will be sonme of my first readings in this project
Finally, the Combined Arms Research Library of the US Army also provides a good number of papers on the conflict, (click here). The two top on my list now are the Vanguard of Valor I & II, describing engagements fitting in the Fighting Season scale.