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Subject: A Sneak Peek at an Upcoming COIN Title rss

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Vez A
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@Sakari, as Örjan says, there's a bibliography in the rule book ---though sometimes I wonder whether it's pointless to list the Finnish language sources there.

For those who read Finnish, for an interesting look at the war from contemporaries' eyes, I'd recommend:

Aho, Juhani: Hajamietteitä kapinaviikoilta, vols 1-3 (this is freely and legally downloadable online ---and an absolute thriller of a diary recording the rise and fall of the Reds as seen by Aho in Helsinki)

Tanner, Väinö: Kuinka se oikein tapahtui (you'll need to find this second hand ---not difficult).

Both are, sadly, not translated in English.

For the English speaking readers, the classic novel by V. Linna, translated in English as Under the North Star, is an invaluable look at the war (though I cannot vouch for the quality of the translation).

@Örjan (the developer of the game)... I had not thought of that name for Govt faction, but I like it! Let them be the Senate, then.
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The upcoming C3i magazine Nr31 by Rodger MacGowan will feature a longer article discussing the design.

Here's Rodger breaking the news as well as the game's official title:






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Kevin Walsh
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So if I'm reading the sequence of play right, all players can act or pass every turn (unless Ineligible), and if you pass and another player takes a Limited Command, you'll be ahead of that player on the following turn?
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Amaranth wrote:
So if I'm reading the sequence of play right, all players can act or pass every turn (unless Ineligible), and if you pass and another player takes a Limited Command, you'll be ahead of that player on the following turn?
Exactly!

There are no faction symbols on the cards. The eligibility order is determined solely by the actions the factions chose from one turn to the next.
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Oerjan Ariander
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If no faction Passes on a given card, one of them must take the full Command (possibly combined with an SA) - which will make it Ineligible for the upcoming card. Forcing your opponent to do that can be a very sound tactical choice.

Sometimes you'll also want to be 1st Eligible just so you get the first choice whether or not to Pass to become 1st Eligible on the next card...

Later,
Oerjan
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Ulrik Bøe
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Oho, the only way to deny an event as 1st player is to choose LimCom, not merely full command no SA.

Evil. I like it.

Also, a-b-c-d is the player order? So if you pass first (getting a) you'll be first next turn, and if you do a limcom or event you'll get either slot c or d for next turn's player order?

edit: no, that doesn't quite match. The "pass" box is marked "a", and has slots A-B-C, while the events and limcom boxes are marked "c" or "d". Where's the "b"?
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Kevin Walsh
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ulrik wrote:

edit: no, that doesn't quite match. The "pass" box is marked "a", and has slots A-B-C, while the events and limcom boxes are marked "c" or "d". Where's the "b"?
"B" is for the second player who passes.
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With a relatively small map (13 spaces, with only about 7 to 10 used actively), I figured the option to do a command only in multiple spaces would be too powerful. Hence there is no such option anywhere in the sequence of play. This mashes well with there being a couple of other things that are amped down in this design. For example, there are no big massive op+sa combos like, say, FitL's Sweep+Airlift. Also, the event cards are low impact for the most part as more of them tend to get played than in any other volume to date.

The boxed small alphabets in the boxes indicate the order in which the factions return to available: Pass [a], Ineligible Faction [b], actions [c, d]. Note that the [b] is hidden underneath the blue cylinder.

The capital alphabets (A-C) in the Pass box simple indicate the order in which the factions have passed.

Shout out to Westwardhough for coming up with the alphabets as indicators of order!
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Ulrik Bøe
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Aha! In that biiiig ineligble box you managed to put it just on top of the tiny [b]!
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Sakari Lindhen
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Thanks for the Aho info, I've downloaded it...it's been decades since I read Linna, so am buying a new copy....will try to find the Tanner as well...thanks
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Jari Kemppainen
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There is a new biography book of Väinö Tanner published just recently. Written by Lasse Lehtinen and named as "Tanner - Itsenäisen Suomen mies".
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Kiitos tiedosta. Will check it out!
 
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Ivor Bolakov
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masil wrote:
@Sakari, as Örjan says, there's a bibliography in the rule book ---though sometimes I wonder whether it's pointless to list the Finnish language sources there.
I would say otherwise. Releasing a game like this is going to stir interest, and alert more people to the existence of the conflict and material about it. That's how sufficient interest is gained to get things translated.
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Ron A
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Got to play All Bridges Burning with Volko this past weekend.

All Bridges Burning Impression/Session Report
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Antero Kuusi
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The project seems nice, but there are some descriptions of the Civil War that seems to be in odds with the historical view of the conflict as far as I know.

One that seems really strange is considering the Social Democrats the winner of the conflict. That seems to completely ignore the real political situation in the country post-war. First thing worth pointing out is that while Social Democrats were the largest party in the first post-war parliamentary election in 1919, they lost about 15% of their vote share and equal amount of seats combined to the previous pre-war election of 1917.

However, the more important point is that parliamentary seats are completely irrelevant measure of political power in the post-war system. The Finnish political systems was extremely president-centric (far more than, say current one in France). Goverments were formed approval of the president, not the parliament. This all meant that despite their share of the parliament seats, Social Democrats were systematically excluded from all positions in government. Until 1926 all governments, and also the top positions in civil service, were exclusively manned by centrist-right coalition - the Senate Army faction in terms of the game.

Social Democrats, and specifically Tanner, did ultimately do a lot to unify the nation later. But that only happened when they were allowed to "prove their patriotism" by letting them to form a government in late 1926. And even then it was clear to all that they were allowed to do this only with countenance of the centrist-right coalition - should they have tried to implement anything too leftist, the government would have been dissolved by the president and replaced by centrist-right government.

So, after the Civil War, Social Democrats were completely excluded from any positions of political power for 10 years and even then only allowed in government as far as approved by the centrist-right side. The best can be said of the result is that it managed to survive and this hardly seems like a victory.
 
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Antero Kuusi
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Another point that seems completely at odds with current understanding of the conflict is describing the red side as Bolshevist. While the most radical wing of the red side and the leaders were Bolshevik, the main ideological influence of the left side was Karl Kautsky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Kautsky), who was very much anti-Bolshevik. Also while some of the high-profile Social Democrats, such as Tanner and Matti Paasivuori refused to take part in the People's Delegation (the government on the red side), majority of the Social Democrat leaders, even those who had opposed armed resistance, did take part. Out of 11 members of party committee of the Social Democratic party, 10 joined the People's Delegation, some after longish persuasion.

Also, the People's Delegation prepared a new constitution, which was even more democratic than the constitution in force at that time. It used as an example the constitutions of USA, Switzerland, and France.

Nevertheless, there were of course also a lot of the more radical parts on the red side - and they had managed to start the armed resistance that the moderates did not want. But once it started, large part of the moderates did join in, considering the radical side lesser of two evils compared to the whites. The most likely consequence of red victory would have been internal power struggle among the moderates and radicals of the red side. But naming the whole side Bolsheviks and especially statement "The fact remains though, regardless of the motivations of the Red rank and file, had the Reds won, Bolshevism and all that follows from it would have followed simply because the Red leaders were Bolsheviks to a good extent" are vastly overstating the influence and positions of the radicals.

In a way, it reflects the first revisionist interpretation of the war that specifically aimed to understate the influence of moderate Social Democrats in the red side. This interpretation was advanced during WWII to try to downplay the differences. There is a pretty much a consensus that this interpretation was purely a result of political expediency and not of real analysis.
 
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Sakari Lindhen
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I agree
 
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Hi Antero,

Many thanks for your notes. It is great to see this little gamed topic engage people ---even if it just the Finns discussing amongst themselves.

As to your first challenge, I don't dispute your observations regarding the effective exclusion of the social democratic party from the Finnish politics after the civil war.

However, the game does not equate the social democrats faction with the social democratic party. There is some overlap certainly, but the aim of a national reconciliation ---and that this would involve addressing the social causes of the Red revolt and working class unhappiness by instituting social democratic policies--- was essentially a more widely spread than just among those with the social democratic party membership. The social democrat faction is intended to stand for that broader phenomenon.

Thus, for example, the novelist Juhani Aho ---who was an ardent, self-confessed critic of the Red revolt--- wrote in his war-time diary: "Those ideals, that drove the worker's movement, have also belonged to others, to us as well, to that entire generation to which I belong".

Elsewhere in this diary, Aho records a meeting between "about ten persons influential and active in different walks of society" unanimous on the urgent need to find reconciliation along pathways at times strikingly reminiscent of the Social Democrat manifesto: a land reform must be instituted, a wide spread amnesty must be issued to Red Guards other than their leadership, and more. Aho summarizes a discussion point of the meeting as follows: "wide spread among the working class is the sincere belief that the Reds are fighting for justice. Do we not see thousands of them unflinchingly sacrifice themselves for their putative cause? That builds upon a certain seriousness. We have to recognize that. We can no more return to the old forms. A new society must be built. We must begin with a confession of sins. The causes that have led to this situation must be eliminated."

So clearly even among the "white" intelligentsia there were social democratic tendencies of thought and even political activity to that effect going on. My broader design philosophy has been to suggest that hadn't that kind of a reconciliatory, socially reformist, spirit not survived the civil war (and in a sense "won" the civil war), Finland would not have become the kind of a Nordic social democratic wellfare state that it did.

The above passages are my translations of the original Finnish text published as Juhani Aho, Hajamietteitä kapinaviikoilta (available online for free).

As to the second challenge, yes, you are quite right, it is misleading to refer to the Reds as the Bolsheviks. In fact, as those who have play tested this game, a good few weeks ago the Bolshevik faction was renamed the Reds precisely for the reason you state.

I also agree with your distinction between the moderate and "Bolshevist" Reds and that a power struggle between them would have ensued had there been a Red victory. In fact, you could say that historically an exactly parallel power struggle ensued among the white Senate ---the late 1918 project to make Finland a monarchy led by a German individual was a case in point in so far as the "kingmakers" were in part motivated by the desire to install a strong, external political authority in order to present a robust voice in any future debates about social reforms. Tanner's Kuinka se oikein tapahtui certainly does cast the project in that light supporting the interpretation with reports from personal discussions with Paasikivi, one of the chief kingmakers.

Thematically the game takes the liberty of casting a Red victory as an instance of a Bolshevik victory, just as it casts a Senate victory as a victory of the "kingmakers" in the above sense. Certainly these are historical what-if's involved here, but that should be OK in a game, especially since these aren't obviously outlandish what-if's.

Game mechanically there isn't anything there that depends on the interpretation of the Reds as Bolsheviks, or the Senate as the kingmakers. In fact, one of the chief tasks of the Reds in the game is the building of a working a civil society (represented abstractly by the building of red "bases" and the creation of opposition) while the Senate's main task is the military retaking of the most important towns.
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Antero Kuusi
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That sounds good, except that I'm not sure if Social Democrats is the best name for the "third party" that you describe. The term is strongly associated with the Social Democrat Party and its position on the red side, but as you describe there, the faction in the game includes broader part of the society, including some factions also on the white side. The name might give a wrong impression on what they are representing - but I can't come up with better name, either.

As you mention, the white side had its internal disputes as well, mainly between the Royalists (the "kingmakers" as you described) and Parlamentarists (who could at least partly fit within the "Social Democrat faction). It's a bit of what viewpoint you want to take, but I would say the result of the Civil War in those terms was victory by Royalists and Social Democrats coming close second.

The Royalists in fact did achieve pretty much all of their objectives. After the war it seemed clear that Finland would have a king. The parliament even formally selected Frederick Charles of Hesse as the new king in October 1918 (the Civil War had ended in May) and the coronation preparations were ongoing. Only the collapse of Imperial Germany in November prevented this from happening. It was only the external events after the was that prevented the Royalists from completely getting what they were after, not the result of the war.
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Totally agree on the point that, effectively, affairs external to Finland decided the fate of the nation: the implosions of Russia and Germany, respectively, were at different points of the process essential to the final outcome. And of course the Germans did a lot of the most consequential fighting during the civil war.

In the game there are the Russian and German Vassalage markers traveling up and down the edge track simulating the role of foreign involvement in the conflict. The Reds and the Senate have control over the level of foreign involvement right down to having the ability of bringing it down to zero (though it’s costly in terms of time and resources). There‘s a little bit of historical what-if-ism to this but I think it does bring out the historical role of Russia and Germany in this conflict in a way that enhances the players‘ understanding of what was significant. The game does by no means cover simply the period of the actual war (January-May 1918) but stretches out to the events prior and after the war.

As to renaming the Soc Dems, well, the thought has occurred to me as well, but coming up with an alternative name is tough. I remain open to any ideas.
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Matias Vierimaa
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Thanks for the great topic!

I think it is perfectly fine to call rebellious side as reds. It is true that some known social democratics such as Tanner did not approve the rebellion, but then, they never took part to it, only radical side of party did (with some less eager ones).

In the rebellion, Reds replaced advanced parlamentary democracy with their revolutionary board and later during the war made state (ref. Soviet state) agreement with Russian bolsheviks and declared their rebellion leader as dictator of Finland.

[My opinion]: I would say that Left wing parties have been ashamed of pointless rebellion and therefore history rewriting have occurred especially in the 2000’s. This is mostly visible in continuous attempts to undermine impact of white victory to continuation of parlamentary democracy.

Having more neutral view, one should see that seven year absence of scoial democratic party (not ten) from goverment does not show how undemocratic Finland was then. Quite the opposite, it shows how strong the democracy was! Just imagine having confederate leaders in us goverment seven years after civil war. [opinion off]

White victory ensured continuation of parlamentary democracy as it still exists today in Finland. Of red victory, enough is said when one realises that key leader of rebellion was later leader of soviet staged puppet government during winter war 1939-40. In fact, this was the guy who wrote the ”red constitution”.

Four factions of war IMO were germans, whites (senate), reds and russians (bolsheviks). I don’t really understand at all SDP player. If you refer to ”modern SDP thinking” they were, like explained above, more a pacifist minority in SDP and/or senate than a fourth player. Russians did not have that much political influence within Finnish people but they had lot of troops and they politically pressured the reds. Also, you can argue that they had slightly different goals with respect to how close a relationship reds and Russian bolsheviks would establish.

Regarding military issues, what do you mean by ”germans did a lot of of the most consequential fighting in the civil war”??? This is simply not true. Largest battle of Tampere occurred when there were no german troops. German troops were seen as kind of ”gods of war” and certainly they shortened the war significantly. However, whites would have won without german direct involvement as war was largely over after battle of Tampere. In fact, german participation caused political crisis as Mannerheim did not consider it necessary at all.

P.S This includes my opinion of political issues and I do not plan to discuss them further as it usuallu is rather pointless. Military issues are a different beast. Thanks for the great topic though but I would seriously consider rewriting the factions and replacing SDP with Russians. (I am aware of how big a work that is but then again, that would be more historical.

If anything, you could call such a player as pacifists etc but then, that would be rather ahistorical. It would be rather strange to have a game that relates to country's indepence related issues without taking into account former ruler of the country. If you allow, bit like having american indendence war without british or algerian independence struggle without french.

Bolsheviks played a major role: Agitated reds to conduct a rebellion, supported rebellion by arming the reds, send military officers to support reds military and directly used Russian troops loyal to bolsheviks in war.
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Brian Train
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In other news, All Bridges Burning is now up for P500 orders!

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-675-all-bridges-burning-red-revol...

259 orders so far, I just put mine in...

Brian
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ltmurnau wrote:

In other news, All Bridges Burning is now up for P500 orders!

https://www.gmtgames.com/p-675-all-bridges-burning-red-revol...

259 orders so far, I just put mine in...

Brian
I got my order in too!

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Hi Matias,

Thanks for your comments. A few comments to some of the points you make:

Quote:
In the rebellion, Reds replaced most advanced parlamentary democracy with their revolutionary board and later during the war made state (ref. Soviet state) agreement with Russian bolsheviks and declared their rebellion leader as dictator of Finland.
True, there was a 'revolutionary board', but then, according to the historian Risto Alapuro (State and Revolution in Finland, p. 172):

"Governmental organs were estab­lished largely following the organizational principles of the earlier government and the Parliament. Civilian and military functions were separated, and after the revolution Finland was to become a democratic, parliamentary republic with a controlled capitalist economy."

Also, from what I have been reading, for most of the duration of the revolt, apparently the Reds ran an extreme form of socialist decision making in their ranks: there'd be votes on everything, including whether troops would be sent out to fight that day. If I recall right, the very declaration of the revolt contained a clause saying that the people are at all times able to vote their current representatives out and install new ones.

A power struggle among the moderate and the hardliner Reds probable would have followed had the Reds won the civil war. It seems a Soviet style party dictatorship would have been one of the options along that road.

The Reds did install Kullervo Manner as the dictator, but that came as late as on 10 May 1918 --the war is officially taken to have ended on 15 May 2918. I have not read much on this decision, but it smacks of a desperate hardliner attempt to rein in on a situation of which the Reds no longer had any control.

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Having more neutral view, one should see that seven year absence of scoial democratic party (not ten) from goverment does not show how undemocratic Finland was then. Quite the opposite, it shows how strong the democracy was! Just imagine having confederate leaders in us goverment seven years after civil war.
Agreed. But then, one major development from late 1918 casts an uncomfortable shadow on the democratic aspirations of the White Senate after their victory. This is the monarchist project that very very nearly succeeded in installing a German individual as the king of Finland. This is remarkable for at least three reasons.

One, the idea of Finland becoming a monarchy came seemingly out of nowhere and contradicted the idea of a parliamentary system that the country had committed to in the Declaration of Independence from December 1917.

Two, the monarchist project appears to have been an attempt to circumvent the need for the democratic process. The monarchists were (according to the historian Vesa Vares, see his chapter in the anthology Sisallissodan pikkujattilainen) motivated by the idea that the country needed a strong and independent leader, especially as the fear among the White victors was that the next election would propel the left back to power again. They were fully aware that the reformist, social democratic cause still enjoyed remarkable levels of support in the country. By installing a king with extensive domestic political powers would mean there'd be no real need to debate with the social democrats.

Three, the monarchist project was pursued in the first post-war rump parliament dominated by the bourgeoisie as all but one of the social democrat representatives were absent (having been killed, fled the country, or gone underground).

Quote:
Regarding military issues, what do you mean by ”germans did a lot of of the most consequential fighting in the civil war”??? This is simply not true. Largest battle of Tampere occurred when there were no german troops. German troops were seen as kind of ”gods of war” and certainly they shortened the war significantly.
Yes, the Germans shortened the war. I don't know what would have happened had the White Senate had to clear Helsinki all by themselves. I suspect the battle of Helsinki sans the Germans would have been a bigger battle than that for Tampere, hence it seems reasonable to argue that the Germans fought the most consequential fights of the war. This is not to say that taking Tampere was not tough and a major achievement from Mannerheim, the White supreme commander.

In any case, the entire situation would have been totally different had the Germans not been involved. This is because the fact that the Germans were there, but the Russians (largely) not, was due to the Brest-Litovsk treaty of March 1918 and via that due to the fortunes in WW1. Therefore, to imagine no Germans in Finland is to imagine a counterfactual situation that differs hugely from the actual historical course of things.

Quote:
I would seriously consider rewriting the factions and replacing SDP with Russians
No way, man! My entire philosophy behind this game is based on the idea that the reconciliatory, moderate, reformist spirit ran high in Finland and that it was that spirit that won the war for the nation. (The game labels that spirit social democracy, to be distinguished from the party of the same name, as discussed above.)
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Matias Vierimaa
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thanks for the discussion! Well then, what are the four factions?

Historically, it would make sense to have germans, whites, reds and russians. If you are looking more into internal situation in Finland, then moderate social democrats, reds, royalists and parlamentarists would make sense. This may become a challenge, as in SDP reason for division was rebellion whereas in senate side it was more a question whether country becomes president led democracy or sweden style kingdom.

If factions are germans, whites, reds, SDP (whatever that means) as I have understood IMO it confuses finnish internal politics and countries and does not make much sense thematically. If you are looking at situation in Finland 1917-1921 it would feel really strange to include Germany and omit Bolshevik Russia.
 
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