Late last year, we hosted a 3-part series on an upcoming game called The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Irelands 1964-1998. 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.
#31b Bernadette Devlin Elected
On 15th April, 1969 in a by-election to the Westminster Parliament Bernadette Devlin, standing as a Unity candidate in Mid-Ulster, won the contest. At 21 years of age she became the youngest woman ever to be elected as a Member of Parliament (MP).
“I will take your seat and fight for your rights” which alluded to her rejection of the abstentionism practiced then and still continued to this day by Sinn Fein, who reject the legitimacy of the Westminster Parliament.
After participating in the Battle of the Bogside, she served a short jail term before travelling to the United States to join the Civil Rights movements that had inspired and continued to parallel events in Northern Ireland.
However, it was Bloody Sunday and its aftermath that would lead Devlin to infamy. She was infuriated that she was later consistently denied the floor in the House of Commons by the Speaker Selwyn Lloyd, despite the fact that parliamentary convention decreed that any MP witnessing an incident under discussion would be granted an opportunity to speak about it therein.
The day following Bloody Sunday, Devlin slapped Conservative Home Secretary Reginald Maudling across the face when he incorrectly asserted in the House of Commons that the paratroopers had fired in self-defence on Bloody Sunday.
Thirteen years later, Edward Heath recalled the event: “I remember very well when an hon. Lady rushed from the Opposition Benches and hit Mr. Maudling. I remember that vividly because I thought that she was going to hit me. She could not stretch as far as that, so she had to make do with him.”
Devlin served in Parliament from 1969 until 1974 participating in various Independent, mainly Socialist roles, and in 1981 she was wounded by shots fired at her by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters.
Presently she works with a number of civic and community development and support organisations.
You can catch up on the series to date by following these links:
#24 RTÉ Television Centre Attack
#103 General Election 1974 & #130 Labour Government: No Confidence
#20 People’s Democracy March: Burntollet
#108 Dublin and Monaghan Bombings
Triple Feature including #166 Shergar, #169 Don Tidey Kidnapping and #154 Ben Dunne Kidnapping
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 irregular counter insurgency 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.
Hugh does have an update on the status of the design and I will copy what he posted on Social Media here:
“Compass Games Agreement
It is with great pleasure to announce that Compass Games and I have just signed a formal Agreement that will see them publish my design of the simulation, ‘The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 1964-1998‘.
It was imperative that this subject matter be afforded the precision and attention to detail that it – and the many thousands of lives affected – deserved; I am privileged that an organisation such as Compass Games will deliver this product with such important demands.
The Troubles makes its final journey to the table; to tell its story – honestly and immersively.”
Do you have a folder for this game discussion on Consimworld forum?
Thanks, Keith. I’d love to create a game discussion folder! I’ll give it a try.
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I remain fascinated by the progress of this work and am happy that Compass Games has elected to publish this. I understand why you decided to use the Westminster constituencies but a lot of the violence settled in was specific areas in Belast (e.g Ardoyne, Falls, Shankill, Unity Flats, Markets, Duncairn and post GFA it has migrated to where paramilitaries maintain an active presence (e.g UDA’s erstwhile SE Antrim) or the border areas like South Armagh, Donegeal/Derry, or the so called ‘Murder Triangle’ within a radius of Portadown, etc . I am not suggested going to ward levels but a little more granular than MP boundaries. Regarding the MRF card. it is good the modern IRA attempting to replicate the Squad and Dublin Brigade of the Irish War of Independence, but the MRF did not just do intelligence collection, members of MRF murdered people on the streets in some weird acknowledgement to Kitson’s Countergangs. How is intelligence on the part of the security forces going to be simulated–some progression of old RUC SB, initial hapless MI5/6, to Field Recon to 14th INT, 9 Det, FRU, the Tactical and Coordination Groups and increased coordination with Garda? Generally the Security Forces acquired information three ways: electronic surveillance, collation by forces on the ground like VCPs and patrols, and covert human resources–how that did progress over 30 years? How are dickers, and informants within the state apparatus for the paramilitaries simulated? Does it matter that the Provos went back to roots and had specific commands like Northern and Southern Command? Was it all ASUs post late 70s for PIRA? How prominent were the the Republican CATs–were they like the old Republican Courts? On the loyalist side, what role did initial military experience or closeness to some unionist politicians play? The questions are starting to be endless as is the fascination and anticipation for the game/simulation. Thank you, and if you need betas, please let me know.
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Bern, many thanks for this verbose response. There is – of course – a limit to what can be simulated; but I think that you will be happy with what I’ve attempted. take care – H
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Why not with GMT the home of COIN?
Now we will end up with half the quality for twice the price!
I know the game was pitched to GMT and they had discussions. In the end, I am not sure what transpired to have the game move to Compass Games.
Cheers for reply a great shame
Thanks, James. I’m certainly striving to provide a quality product…
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