Friday, April 16, 2021

Andreivia: an imagi-nation (part two)

Andreivia's first appearance on a wargame table was at the Gauntlet show in North Wales in July of 2007.  This was to be the second game I'd run at Gauntlet under the banner of the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers.

I'd been doing some thinking about scenario design and wanted to run a linear game that would keep multiple players engaged with events happening at opposite ends of a long table. I'd also been inspired to build a modern patrol boat from a kid's toy picked up at the local flea market. So I decided on a lake-side town at the mouth of a valley. The town would be contested by rival militias whilst interventionist forces would have to fight their way along the valley to reach the town.

To give the scenario in some historical context I created a 'history of Andreivia' timeline:

Medieval times – Christian nation surrounded by Moslem neighbours. Slavic Andreivians share the territory with Moslem Turks and, in the eastern mountains, a smaller Armenian community.

19th century – successfully avoids integration into the growing Russian Empire but is a battleground during the Russo-Turkish War.

early 20th century – the Armenian population is swelled by refugees fleeing Turkish persecution. There is some inter-ethnic violence.

WW1 – sends a small expeditionary force to fight against the Germans on the Eastern Front.

Russian Civil War – King Alexei V is deposed in a coup and Andreivia briefly joins the Trans-Caucasian Republic but withdraws before the Republic is swallowed up by the Soviet Union. In 1924 the King is invited to return.

1941 – Hitler invades the USSR. Andreivian Prime Minister Mishkin declares the Kingdom neutral and states that she will defend her borders against any attack. Mishkin flirts with the Axis side and a volunteer Andreivian Legion fights with the Germans in Russia. Many Andreivians also join the Red Army and eventually a Regiment of Andreivian Riflemen sees hard fighting in Hungary.

1945 – Soviet Forces occupy Andreivia and install a Communist regime under Istvan Sakhvashev, the highest ranking Andreivian in the Red Army.

Post War – Sakhvashev proves to be a skilled diplomat and successfully rebuffs attempts to integrate Andreivia into the Soviet Union. Subsequently, he even wins for the nation a special status in relation to the Warsaw Pact. Andreivia does not receive the benefits of a large Soviet military presence.

early 1990s – The death of President Sakhvashev and the dissolution of the Soviet Union trigger a scrabble for power within Andreivia and the resurgence of ancient ethnic rivalries. Ivan Dzhugashev is elected President but many Armenian and Turkish delegates boycott the Party Congress.

This year – Dzhugashev proclaims Andreivian to be the sole national language and calls for a renewal of Andreivia's national identity as an Orthodox Christian Republic. Andreivian-Armenian Deputy Serj Benkian declares the republic dissolved and calls for an uprising to establish an Armenian Republic in Eastern Andreivia. Achmed Karamanoglu, professor of art history at Tcherbevan University makes a similar call on behalf of Andreivia's Turkic people. Fighting breaks out throughout the country.

This month – On the strength of a hastily agreed UN resolution, NATO forces cross from Turkey into southern Andreivia. On Russian insistence, the UN resolution severely limits the strength of the NATO contingent.

This week – The charming, lake-side town of Tuzkhur sees heavy fighting. Benkian's Armenians hold most of the town but they are being shelled from the surrounding hills by Andreivian-Turkish artillery. Elsewhere, the main NATO effort is aimed at clearing a corridor to bring humanitarian relief to the capital Tcherbevan.

Today – A small NATO force is tasked with breaking through to Tuzkhur and rescuing trapped foreigners.

Suddenly the internal geography and politics of Andreivia were starting to emerge. Many of the details in this, often deliberately vague, timeline would go on to provide inspiration for later Andreivian events.

But in the meantime I had my starting set up. My small collection of modern US troops (in that mix of temperate and desert camo you may recall from part one) backed up by Richard Baber's Spanish mechanised platoon, would force their way along the Tuzkhur Valley. The valley was held by Andreivian-Turk militia; colleagues of the forces besieging lakeside Tuzkhur. 

The town itself was mostly held by Andreivian-Armenian militia, the exception being "The Important Building" in which forces loyal to the Andreivian government in Tcherbevan were holding out and where the foreign nationals were being held (or kept safe depending on your view of events). Andreivian Government gunboats patrolled the lake.

The events of the action in the Tuzkhur Valley have been described elsewhere. They culminated in a spectacular helicopter-borne landing on the roof of The Important Building by the SAS and the subsequent rescue of the hostages. The game was a success and the players declared themselves keen to play more games in the setting.

Our next outing came about because Phil Gray got us the opportunity (in February 2009) to put on a participation game at the Hammerhead show, then held at Kelham Hall near Newark. I'd built some desert terrain for a previous game and I was keen to reuse it. Thus we established that somewhere on the border between Andreivia and Turkey were the dusty, red, Dagras Hills. A radar station on the peak of disputed Hill 154 would form the centre of the action. Once more, multiple factions were involved as this made it easier to create stand-alone forces that passers-by could pick up and play for a while.

Andreivian government armour attacks 
the Turkish radar station on Hill 154

So now we'd played two games in Andreivia. Over a dozen gamers had taken part. We'd happily used Scott Fisher and Chris Pringle's Arc of Fire rules for both and it was beginning to feel like a campaign of sorts. Obviously there was no detailed tracking of casualties and logistics from game to game, but we were building up a pleasing progressive narrative.

Our next game drove forward regional events rather more significantly. My Soviet/Russian VDV airborne platoon had so far sat on the sidelines. I was keen to see it used in its proper role, however, so I decided that the Russians would launch a coup de main operation to capture the international airport near the Andreivian capital of Tcherbevan! 

Several of the players from the previous two games returned to fight out this action at a church hall in Wirral. This was a fund-raising event so I introduced a couple of "interesting" mechanisms to the game. Players could donate money to purchase artillery support in the form of darts. A dartboard was set up in the room and there were twenty numbered locations identified on a map of the table. Hitting the dartboard would cause an artillery round to land at the appropriately numbered location. Doubles or trebles would reduce the incoming round's deviation. Sadly I hadn't allowed for Rob Connolly's inability to hit the dartboard at all!

Air support could also be purchased for a
charitable donation - here a Russian MiG-27
targets an Andreivian tank on the runway

The game ended with a narrow victory for the Russians. By this point in the development of Andreivia I had firmly settled on the idea that events in "official Andreivian games" established "facts on the ground". These facts would form the previous history to be taken into account in future game development.  In this case, we now knew that the Russians had captured the airport but that the operation had been far from flawless. The Russians would clearly struggle to gain control of the capital. 

I say "official Andreivia games" here because by now Andreivia was being used as a setting by other gamers. I understand some of the guys at the Deeside Defenders club were using the setting, particularly fighting actions in the breakaway eastern region. My attitude to this is, "Go ahead, the more the merrier". However, to keep my own timeline consistent, I'm adopting the approach of "Your Andreivia May Vary". That is to say, take Andreivia where you like but my campaign will only take account of events in games I've organised.

I'll leave it there for now. In the next part of the story we'll cover how Andreivia became the focus for the Crisis Point wargaming weekend and how the development of the plot became even more of a collaborative process.

11 comments:

Sologamer said...

It’s good seeing how it all came together at the start, I’ve been following Andreivia for years. I hope this will be enough to start me off creating something similar.

John Y said...

I'm really enjoying this history of your Imagi-nation. I am looking forward to the next installment.

Fire at Will said...

Revisionist drivel from a would-be ruler of Andrevia.

History belongs to the people

Tales from Shed HQ said...

πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ Will M. That there is fighting talk! Looking forward to many more visits to Tcherbevan and the surrounding area in future games.

Tales from Shed HQ said...

I have a Type 61 and I'm not afraid to use it πŸ˜‚

Counterpane said...

Sologamer,

Thanks for that; it’s good to hear that there are fans of Andreiva out there. I had no idea!

Counterpane said...

John,

Thanks. I’ll endeavour to get the next update out soon!

Counterpane said...

Will,

Revisionist? Wait till you read my postmodernist analysis of Andreivia as a social construct perpetuating phallocentric modes of discourse!

Counterpane said...

Richard,

At least one if I remember correctly.

Andy Canham said...

Phallocentric - does that mean we're all big c*ck warriors?

Tales from Shed HQ said...

C**k Wombles more like :-)