A few months ago, we hosted a 3-part series on an upcoming COIN Series inspired game called The Troubles which deals with the struggle in Northern Ireland. Through that process I came to appreciate the designer Hugh O’Donnell’s take on this difficult conflict and really felt he was going about dealing with the nature of this bloody war as tactfully as possible as well as simultaneously providing some enlightenment and understanding about some of the issues.

Here are links to those three posts:

Part 1 – Uncomfortable questions about a game on this subject

Part 2 – Look at the map and the process behind it’s creation and genesis of events

Part 3 – Design progress to date and what “victory” looks like?

After those posts were received well, we asked Hugh if he would be interested in doing a series of Event Card spoilers for the game. The game is not yet published and has just started playtesting so there is a long road yet to travel but we thought an early look would be a good thing.

*Please keep in mind that the artwork and layout of these cards is not yet finalized (although they are getting close) and is only for playtest purposes at this point. Also, as this game is still in development, card details may still change prior to publication.

The Troubles General Election#103 General Election 1974

For the Unionist Government, the first of two General Elections in 1974 was a test of the unpopular proposed power-sharing proposal known as the Sunningdale Agreement: October would see the second as the February Election resulted in a hung parliament. And it was this second return to the polls which would provide far-reaching consequences in an event 5 years later.

In addition to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Britain Edward Heath’s Conservative Government had the additional pressures of a miners’ strike and deep economic strife. His hopes of a power-sharing Executive would be usurped by Unionist politicians and parties using the election to destroy his aims: anti-Sunningdale Unionists had captured control of the Ulster Unionist Party, Vanguard and Democratic Unionist Party resulting in them gaining 11 of the 12 possible seats; the SDLP, contending its first Westminster Election, returned Gerry Fitt to the remaining seat, West Belfast.

Thursday 10th October 1974. The United Unionist Council (UUUC) coalition secured 10 of the 12 Westminster Seats. Gerry Fitt (SDLP) held on to Belfast West, and Independent Nationalist, Frank McGuire, deposed the sitting Unionist, Harry West, in Fermanagh-South Tyrone. Fitt and McGuire’s positions would be instrumental in the fall of the Labour Party in 1979, resulting in the subsequent General Election that would see the Conservative Party come to power under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher.

The Troubles Labour Government No Confidence#130 Labour Government: No Confidence

Brought about by Conservative leader, Margaret Thatcher, who would subsequently become the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century (and first female) as a direct result, the Labour Government lost by a single vote.
On the 28th March 1979, losing with 311 to 310 votes, SDLP MP Gerry Fitt representing
Belfast West, and Independent Republican MP Frank MacGuire chose to adopt the Sinn
Fein practice of abstention specifically and publicly in protest at the findings of the Bennet
Report into the RUC’s mistreatment of interrogation internees at Castlereagh. The Labour
Government’s adoption of measures that necessitated the intervention by Amnesty
International – the abolition of special category status for prisoners, the building of the
Maize prison – had dealt the death knell to James Callaghan’s Labour Government.

And in the words of Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Fein, the female Conservative Leader would become: “an Irish folk memory. She will be remembered even when some of the hunger strikers are forgotten. All the 6- and 7-year olds have the memory of Thatcher in their heads” (Gerry Adams, February 1986).

You can catch up on the series to date by following these links:

#34 Provisional IRA Formed

#63 Four Square Laundry/MRF

#24 RTÉ Television Centre Attack

#122 Brighton Hotel Bombing

#108 SAS – Peter Cleary

As always thank you Hugh for this great insight into the history behind the game and the salient issues. One of things that draws me to these COIN Series games is the learning of something about history and this game is going to shed some really interesting light on the subject for many who do not know much about the details.