Tuesday, November 24, 2020

So should I get one of the COIN games?

For a long time, I've been interested in the COIN (COunter INsurgency) games. They're discussed here.

I may be on the verge of getting one.

All of the games look interesting. Not a one seems wasted.

I gather Cuba Libre is the easiest and most accessible of them, but I watched a (fun) playthrough and I think that's enough for me. The GMT games website recommends it for a starting game, but I won't drop $80 on a game to learn how to play a different game I get.

Out of the remainder, A Distant Plain is fascinating, and topical, as we're in year, what, 20 of the US involvement in Afghanistan? Kids born after 2001 could be serving there as I write this. And the game's approach - that even your allies are not 100% aligned with your goals - is a solid one.

Here is a video look at it from GMT games.

But I keep coming back to Fire in the Lake. It covers the US involvement in Vietnam during 1964-1972. It's an easy game to divide into four factions: the US, ARVN (the South Vietnamese government and forces), the North Vietnamese government, and the Viet Cong. Each goes into two sides with related but not identical goals. What puts the ARVN into a good position isn't always exactly what satisfies US aims in the region. The VC and NV both want to topple the south, but they don't have identical views on who should be in charge and what "reunification" under Communism means.

I'd be playing it solo, almost certainly. If I got, say, Pendragon, I bet I could get three players to join me. Fire in the Lake, maybe, maybe not.

But it's sooooo tempting. I'm much more interested in 20th-21st century insurgencies than in Roman Britain, say.

Here is a review of Fire in the Lake.

I've started poking around to see if someone has a used copy of FITL 2nd edition . . . if so, and it's more in my budget than an $80 new game, I'll get it. Otherwise, I may just have to think about finding a way to play it and splurge on the game new.


  1. They're excellent. I played two of them recently – Falling Sky and Liberty or Death! – and had a lot of fun with them. I'd highly recommend them.

    1. Your posts are what reminded me to look into those games again.

      I'm torn . . . small would be good, but the topic of FITL is so tempting. I could potentially split the different with Liberty or Death! I suppose.

  2. Damn you Peter! /shakes cane at the hoodlum getting strategy games all over his lawn

    I could ill afford to spend $70 on Pendragon... on the upside I'll have Pendragon next week and I'll shoot you a report on how it plays once my crew and I have given it shakedown run.

    1. Sorry man. I'll be really curious to hear about it. You can email me, or post it here in the comments if you like.

    2. I received the box yesterday, preliminary comments:

      She's a weighty little beast. First blush, there is either an awful lot of paper products crammed tightly in there or there are a few lead plates tucked in the bottom.

      Upon opening: The box is well designed, solid manufacturing, I expect it to still be holding together in twenty years, with the way I treat boxes these days, call it 50 years. I've still got game boxes from when I was a kid, and they didn't fair well, but those construction standards were really subpar.

      Contents: I am disappointed by the lack of lead plates, but the ratio of paper to non-paper will definitely warm a tactical gamer's heart. Two rulebooks, the Rules of Play clocks in at 44 pages including the back, and it's not some bullshit 44 pages either with half pages dedicated to pictures or vastly oversized fonts. No, this booklet will put the fear of in-depth history tests into the faint of heart, yea verily there are subsections! The second booklet, the Playbook clocks in at a very weighty 72 pages and like it's counterpart, not an inch of space is wasted. The density of rules puts me to mind of Advanced Squad Leader abridged, which is why I can now understand why the Eurogamer crowd fainted and fell ill at the sight of it. Very little space is wasted in the box (it has a spacer) in containing the remaining bits: several play aid sheets, thick cardstock, well designed. A single plate of cardboard chits, standard make. The board is well made and has it's own ziplock bag to contain it, which is swank, but I'm not sure it's necessary. Time will tell. A single large bag contains all the wooden pieces and a second smaller bag the dice. They did something I wish more companies would do (some have taken to doing this the last few years), they included a set of ziplock bags to separate the wooden pieces into their own component bags, nice touch.

      Play: Coming Soon (I hope). Though at first contact (a shallow contact, meant for density checking rather than content or ease of use) I suggest these games might be better played solo first, so the owner can gain familiarity with the rules before unleashing the deluge upon the group.

    3. It sounds beautiful. I'll post my look at Fire in the Lake when I get it.

      Although "A Distant Plain" is also interesting and like 2/3 as much . . . nah, got to stick to what I really like.


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