Home Forums General Game Design The one where Mike talks politics…

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    Kind of.

    I was thinking about campaigns and how pretty much all of the ones I have read about or even been in, have been about who wins the battles.
    But for many games, modern and future, I think the campaign could benefit from a public opinion factor.
    So let us say that you are winning each battle but you are killing civilians and destroying homes along the way, would the people at home who protest about this cause the government to call off the war, or to impose TOE that restrict what you can do?

    Do any campaigns you play or know of have the politics of its home nation influence the winners?
    Does a certain side get a bonus to troop recruitment if their propaganda campaign is going well?

    No actual real life political rants though thank you.
    Just about games that may or may not use this mechanic…


    Or maybe the scenario has limitations on what is acceptable to the public, such as you can’t let more than X civilians be killed, or you lose if more than 50% of your troops are killed…?

    Fredd Bloggs

    Charley Don’t Surf from TFL has it in the game, you can win a military victory but lose a political one, for the same action.

    John D Salt

    Not a campaign game, but for the implications of “war among the people” I don’t think I’ve ever seen better than the hoary old “Grunt!” game published by SPI in Strategy & Tactics magazine no. 26. It was written by John Kramer, who had done a tour in the Nam as a field artillery FO, so he knew what he was talking about — his “Cohesion and Disintegration” piece in S&T is possibly the best and funniest short account of how C2 in modern armies *really* works, regardless of what the technophiles wish. The “Grunt” game used section (US: squad) counters, had the option of accounting for single casualties, used hidden movment (with loads of dummies) for the VC, and included civilians, booby traps, snipers, prisoner interrogation, air, arty and chopper strikes, and caches of weapons, ammo, rice, or the highly prized documents and radio. The safety distances for indirect fire were realistic, and an optional rule meant that you had to be careful of how you organised your lanes of fire to avoid hitting friends. The game included an incredible number of “firsts” in tactical boardgaming, and represents many effects I think never duplicated elesewere (except in its revised successor, “Search and Destroy”, which I will pay £50 for without quibbling if anyone has a fine copy to sell). One of the things that made it such an excellent game was that both sides had their own strengths and weaknesses — the VC knew where everything was, could place booby traps and ambushes, and suffered lower penalties if they zapped civilians, whereas the Americans could insert by helo where they liked, and as well as generally superior infantry firepower had massive sources of outside firepower available. Unfortunately the game was published in 1971 (and “Search and Destroy” in 1975), what time the American wargaming public was not big into Viet Nam games.

    I’m not aware of any other games designed by John Kramer; “Grunt” might have been his only one.

    Though not available commercially, another excellent politico-military game was Mike Young’s “Blood Diamonds” game on Sierra Leone — one of the few games I have ever seen where players were invited to consider the payoffs between conventional and terror attacks. One of the interesting things to me was that it included a small number of UN (in fact British) Paras who were, in game terms, invincible. However the mere fact of being absolutely certain to win every combat you undertake is not sufficient when victory is decided by political measures, not sheer destruction, and when you can’t be everywhere at once.

    All the best,



    I’ve played in a number of campaigns where there have been points won and lost for political and PR aspects as well as military events. And my Cod War ame is automatically lost for one side if they are too violent in their conduct.


    Not a miniatures game but the solo Falklands board game “where there is discord” tracks both Domestic and International public opinion which apparently affects the actions you can take as the game progresses.

    Tim from Gomi Designs. 15mm Vietnam riverine. www.gomidesigns.co.uk


    Victory Games ‘Vietnam’ is largely won or lost on the US political opinion track.

    Ian Drurys ‘Fall of Eagles’ tracks the national will of each of the major combatants in WW1. When their will runs out, they collapse, like Russia in 1917 or Germany in 1918. I borrowed the same mechanism for my WW1 East Africa game.

    There are plenty of games which use various types of political influence/will tracks. Played one recently about the Soviet, sorry, Russian, invasion of the Crimea.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Chris Pringle

    Speaking of the Crimea, but going back a few years: reading up on Balaclava I was struck by how both sides had lots more troops at their disposal than they actually committed, and it seemed as though they were all more scared of losing than eager to win. Similarly at The Chernaya there was some reluctance to take risks. So I built a political will element into the victory conditions for my BBB scenarios for these two Crimean War battles. Basically, each time you commit more troops in your effort to take or hold objectives and earn victory points on the military front, you roll dice with an increasing chance that you lose some victory points because of the home (political) front.


    Bloody Big BATTLES!



    Rules Junkie Jim

    Another Vietnam example, “From the Delta to the DMZ”; it costs victory points for the US player if civilian stands are destroyed, and it’s also costly if the US player even opens fire on or in a village or built up area, unless it’s been declared a “free fire zone” at the start of the game (by die roll).

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