Thursday 9 June 2011

Big Boys Rules

So what does our 'revolution' look like? Whats the timeline?

Well, during the course of Winter of '79 so far we have sketched out a brief series of events. In some cases we played them out the low key stuff in the fictional towns of East Whittington and Borchester. We also posted the 'revolution roadmap' from the British Army's own counter-insurgency manual.

We've decided that a timeline that has to be adhered to is too restrictive. We might want to play out a game from the easrly phase of the conflict in East Whittington this week and several linked games set around Borchester next, then East Whittington again. The world has moved on since the days of SPI's Wacht Am Rhine where you would spend months of your life pouring over maps and moving counters. Remember, for us Winter of '79 is a box within which to play our games and sometimes we just want to shake the box and see what ticket we pull out.

Campaigns, especially when blogged, also fall prey to "ah yes, but the RAF would have intervened and ......" . So we are going to play episodes from the revolution and civil war instead. Let's say we kick it off with a section patrol from 'N' Para or the government's new Raid Deployment Unit, bumping a Trot gun shipment in the lanes near the The Slaughtered Ferret. Events take their course – presume some losses on both sides but as Paras have a operating base and the Trots don’t as such. The Paras absorb the losses, take on intel and build up to a sweep of Ambridge parish. We decide if the Paras now have it in for the Trots or if they remain being professional Paras from now on….the Trots attitude to Paras is likewise determined and again, do more Trots join the revolution to become field a bigger force or do the survivors harden up and become cadre? 

So, next game is Para section doing a sweep. Or perhaps taking up a “observation/reaction position” at the anvil end of a sweep. Assets now include say a Humber, an armoured Land Rover and a qrf in a couple of Lightweights. 

We don’t have fixed “armies” to do the paperwork on or keep in command radius on map as the whole thing is “virtual” and decided by chinese parliament. Do we really need to use much more than common sense and perhaps a d6 for randomness. If I say “well, I want a gunned up westland scout” its only fair (for sake of fun game) that somehow, Maff the 'Mad Trot' get a few rpgs/Laws or perhaps a Dushka type weapon. Op Sec? lets presume it cancels out and leaks happen on both sides. 

Let's say you want a bit more than that. Maybe I do as a solo campaign whilst im recuperating. What would it look like? Let's take the example of the IRA in East Tyrone in the 1980's and transplant it to the UK.

Jim Lynagh, the leader of the IRA in East Tyrone devised a campaign based on Maoist military theory. This theory involved creating "zones of liberation" that the security forces in Northern Ireland did not control and then gradually expanding them to make the country as a whole ungovernable. Sounds right up our street in the context of Winter of '79.

South Armagh was considered as a liberated zone already, since British forces and the RUC could not use the roads for fear of roadside bombs. The strategy therefore began by establishing another area which the British military did not control. East Tyrone, a Republican stronghold was ideal. The IRA East Tyrone Brigade therefore launched attacks, mostly occurring in East Tyrone in areas close to South Armagh, which offered good escape routes across the border.

Remember that the IRA was on paper at least a Marxist revolutionary organisation and would in all probability not only have offered assitance to Marxist brothers in arms but also tried to profit from the situation on the UK mainland. This in itself offers a whole new range of potential within our games and we neatly answer the question how student rioters at Borchester Poly can be turned into armed insurgents.

Using the example of a real campaign above, we can instantly see how we can move from the 'Passive' phase box to the 'Active' - 'Insurgency' phase of the war; " a whole series of operations ranging from actions between formed units with a simultaneous situation of wide-spread guerrilla activity" (LAND OPERATIONS: Volume III Counter Revolutionary Operations (Parts 1 to 3), 1969 (revised 1973)). Or in other words, the raison d'tre for pushing model soldiers in DPM around a table. The fun stuff.



  1. This is an excellent post. I feel that you really nailed it on the head here. I've played some really simple, flexible games and they were often much more satisfying than ones played with detailed rules sets.


  2. Agreed. Flexibility is the key to any Military operation or wargame. Playing by the rules restricts ones enjoyment and imagination.

  3. An excellent post. I too regard the wargames 'campaign' not as an end in itself but as an excuse to fight several linked (however tenuously) scenarios. Good stuff.

  4. Looking forward to seeing the games - soon I hope. Much to think about in what you have written.

  5. Great post and good concepts for any campaign.
    Have to say Wo79 is coming along so very well.

  6. Thanks guys! In my succedding posts I've taken a different approach to look at what if one wanted a more deliberate background and campaign structure, but still without the book keeping.