In late 2019, we hosted a 3-part series on an upcoming game called The Troubles: Shadow War in Northern Ireland 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.

#184 The Loughgall Ambush

The SAS shot eight members of the IRA and one civilian on the 8th May, 1987, when the paramilitary group were attacking a police station in Loughgall, Armagh. Codenamed Operation Judy, forty SAS members ambushed the Provisionals as one of their number drove a digger with a bomb in its bucket through the perimeter fence of the station, whilst the others fired from a van parked nearby. One civilian was fatally wounded, mistaken for a member of the IRA’s East Tyrone Brigade, which was active mainly in eastern County Tyrone and neighbouring parts of County Armagh; by the mid-1980’s it had become one of the IRA’s most aggressive formations. Three members of the IRA did, however, escape.

There was suspicion that informers had led the British to this planned attack, but a British army intelligence unit later claimed in a book that they found out about the planned Loughgall attack after spotting a known IRA man scouting diggers to steal in the area.

On 2 December 2011 some details of an Historical Enquires Team (HET) report into the incident were released by The Belfast Telegraph. The newspaper article claimed that the HET report would conclude that members of the IRA opened fire first and thus the SAS soldiers were within their rights to return fire.

Here are some links that provide additional insight into the event:

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

#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

#31b Bernadette Devlin Elected

#114 Birmingham Pub Bombings

#2 The Hand of Friendship

#35 Prime Minister Terence O’Neill Resigns

As always thank you Hugh for this great insight into the history behind the game and the salient issues. One of the 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.