As you know, I love the COIN Series and anything associated with it. Stephen Rangazas has been active over the past few years behind the scenes with the COIN Series with his development work on Fall of Saigon: A Fire in the Lake Expansion. He has used his background and research capabilities to great effect as he did the background work on the Event cards in the game. From that experience, he has now come forward with his own design in The British Way: Counterinsurgency at the End of Empire from GMT Games which was announced last year.
The COIN Series Multi-Pack format is new and The British Way is the first game in this new shootoff from the main series with the games containing two to four separate games exploring a series of thematically related insurgencies. If you want to better understand this new addition to the COIN Series, you can read the excellent InsideGMT Blog post by Stephen Rangazas with an introduction to The British Way as well as a look at what you can expect in the Multi-Pack format at the following link: https://insidegmt.com/the-british-way-introduction-to-the-multi-pack/
We have agreed to provide a home for this series of quick articles on the History Behind the Cards involved in the game as the game continues to move through development and playtesting. Thanks go out to the game’s developer Joe Dewhurst and designer Stephen Rangazas for their work on these articles which are very informative and should give you a better understanding of how The British Way deals with each of these counterinsurgencies.
One other note, I think that the new layout and design of the cards looks really great and this work is being performed by Matthew Wallhead. Keep in mind though that nothing is finalized and these layouts are still just “near final”.
*Note: The cards highlighted and their event text, as well as any pictures used showing any of the various components, are still just the prototype versions which is only intended for playtesting purposes and the design and event effects and text might still change prior to final development and publication.
History Behind the Cards – The British Way: Palestine
In The British Way: Palestine, one of the players will take on the role of Irgun, a clandestine Jewish insurgent group fighting to end the British rule of Mandatory Palestine. However, during the Jewish insurgency against British rule (1945-1947), there were three active major Jewish insurgent groups: Irgun, Lehi, and Haganah.
Lehi, also known derisively as the Stern Gang, was the smallest of the insurgent groups. The group focused on assassinations and bombings against the British. One of their most prominent attacks, the assassination of Lord Moyne, occurred prior to the start of the game. Due to its small size of only a few hundred fighters, Lehi never became a serious threat to British rule. They also coordinated quite closely with Irgun during the period covered by the game, and Lehi is therefore represented with an Event Card and otherwise abstracted into Irgun’s available pieces.
Haganah, by far the largest of the three groups, was the paramilitary wing of the Jewish Agency, a civilian organization that campaigned for independence and aided Jewish immigration into Mandatory Palestine. Haganah shifted between cooperation and confrontation with Irgun. During World War II, Haganah cooperated with Britain in targeting Irgun through a campaign known as the ‘Saison’. After the war, due to British refusals to open Palestine to Jewish immigration, Haganah coordinated with Irgun as part of the United Resistance Movement (URM), an alliance of the three Jewish insurgent groups. The alliance launched widespread sabotage attacks on major railways throughout Palestine. Haganah primarily carried out sabotage attacks against the British while participating in the URM, refraining from more violent actions such as assassinations. Once the URM collapsed in August 1946, Haganah’s attacks became limited to facilitating illegal immigration. For the rest of the conflict, the Jewish Agency either condemned or worked against Irgun actions as part of a ‘little Saison.’ Jewish Agency leaders such as Ben Gurion wanted to conserve Haganah’s strength for any struggle following Britain’s exit and did not want to risk damaging the organization by provoking British repression. The Jewish Agency also condemned Irgun’s most violent attacks such as the King David Hotel bombing and cooperated with British forces in locating soldiers kidnapped by Irgun.
Due to Haganah’s shifting cooperation with Irgun and their decision to forgo direct confrontation with British forces after the collapse of the United Resistance Movement, the group is represented by a track rather than a playable faction. During the URM period, Irgun received financial support and loaned Haganah fighters, bolstering their ability to conduct attacks. To model this support, when the Haganah Track is closer to full cooperation, Irgun gains a larger pool of available pieces and the ability to select an additional space when carrying out any of their Operations. As Haganah’s cooperation with Irgun breaks down through Event Card play, brutal Irgun Terror attacks, and successful British negotiations with the Jewish Agency, Irgun’s total pool of available pieces shrinks and eventually the Haganah Track provides the British player with Intel Chits, assisting their Operations against Irgun.
In the next article in the series, we will learn about some of the cards and events in The British Way: Malaya.
If you haven’t paid attention over the past few years, Stephen knows his stuff and does a bang up job of explaining how the history of the highlighted conflicts has been incorporated into the design of The British Way. I feel like after reading these cards I can better understand and see the connection and motivations behind the events of the various conflicts.
If you are interested in The British Way: Counterinsurgency at the End of Empire, you can pre-order a copy for the special P500 price of $55.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-945-the-british-way-counterinsurgency-at-the-end-of-empire.aspx
We also published an interview with designer Stephen Rangazas and if you are interested you can read that at the following link: https://theplayersaid.com/2022/03/07/interview-with-stephen-rangazas-designer-of-the-british-way-counterinsurgency-at-the-end-of-empire-from-gmt-games/