Tag Archives: Politics

Clausewitz’ Trinity in 1989 (1989, #7)

Is 1989 a wargame? Countless gamers have engaged in that debate. While 1989 was published by GMT Games, the leading wargame company, it features no armed conflict. There is barely any violence that goes beyond police repression against protesters in the game. Still, it shares some of the classic traits of a wargame: It’s a tense, confrontational game for two players which takes the history covered in it seriously. Maybe we should move away from the term “wargame” for 1989 and rather use “historical conflict simulation”.
Wargame or not, can 1989 by analyzed with the theory of war? This time, the answer is a resounding Yes. This article will conclude the 1989 series by looking at the game through the lens of Clausewitz’s trinity of violent emotion, chance, and reason.

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American Protest (1968, #1)

Fifty years ago, protest shook the world. Young people rose against tradition and authority in places as different as Berlin and Beijing. Some of the most dramatic events, however, took place in the Americas. 1968 might be a long time ago, and many people who took part in the uprisings, who helped quell them or who just watched with sympathies for one or the other side are dead by now, and most others have changed markedly since then. One thing, however, has not changed: Mention the upheaval of the 1960s and you’ll spark a debate. Many countries – including the United States – still debate the times and fight to interpret their meaning. But where did that big summer of discontent come from? What happened during the uprisings, and how did they end? This article will try to answer these questions – mostly for the United States, but to a lesser extent (due to my lack of knowledge, not for a lack of historical drama) also for Latin America.

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Towards a Bipolar World: The Marshall Plan

Seventy years ago, the Cold War had just begun. World War II had just ended. But how did the Cold War begin, and what did it have to do with World War II? Was it a natural consequence, inevitable even? We’ll explore some of these questions through the lens of a major event that linked World War II and Cold War: The Marshall Plan.

Today, the Marshall Plan is often forgotten or simply remembered as a foreign aid scheme (mostly when its memory is invoked for new programs like a “Global Marshall Plan”). We will, however, not only look at what the Marshall Plan was and which effect it had for rebuilding the European economy, but also at its implications for US influence in Europe, and how and why American and Soviet treatment of Europe differed so sharply. We’ll use two board games to have a closer look at these things: Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games) and Wir sind das Volk! including the 2+2 expansion (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame).

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The Military Bubble – And How to Find Out of It

Wargaming is one of the traditional sub-sections of boardgaming. It’s not hard to see why. By definition, games need to be interactive (that is, the game state changes according to the actions of the players, in contrast to, say, a puzzle) and provide struggle (that is, non-trivial effort is required to achieve the goals). Conflict between players provides amply for both, and one of the prime kinds of conflict is that of a military nature. Games with a historical theme are no exception, depicting wars from antiquity to our age. However, the popularity of wars and military conflict as a subject for historical games is not without problems. It overshadows other areas of human enterprise (and conflict). In addition, many wargames present a de-contextualized version of war. Therefore, it’s easy to live within a military bubble as a gamer. This article will explore these problems, but also look at the solutions already being implemented to deal with it.

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