We’re back into the megagame season! After a long cold dark winter, summer is on the horizon (if you squint), and with it, the first megagame of 2017. Its name was A Very British Civil War 2: The Midlands Strike Back.
(FYI: scroll to the end for a full video of most of the BBC reports throughout the game).
What’s Going on in A Very British Civil War?
It was the sequel to one of last year’s games, and the setting followed straight on. It’s 1938, and King Edward has refused to abdicate over Wallis Simpson. The Anglican church is up in arms, while the Royalists are keen to keep him on the throne. The fascist movement is rising in Germany, Italy and Spain. It’s spilling over onto British shores, headed up by Prime Minister Oswald Mosley. And the Socialist party is seizing the opportunity to make its own bid for the freedom of the common man – supported by Russia.
I reprised my role from last year, as Joan Valentine, Public Information Officer for the British Union of Fascists in Yorkshire. And the “Face of Female Fascism”, as I’d managed to get myself titled in the previous run. My aims aligned with the BUF, but I had one additional goal – to reap as much political capital and fame from my position as possible!
Given the current political climate, the setting touched a deeper nerve than it had a year ago. According to game designer Paul Howarth, it was a lot harder to find people willing to play fascists. I never hesitated though – I love a challenging role!
I’d like to take a note to comment on the incredible venue we had. Endcliffe Hall in Sheffield is a current army base, but not like any army base I would have imagined. The interior was nothing short of majestic. Clearly we were doing Important Work.
Let’s Get Going
At the game start, I was in a much stronger position than this time last year. In my first run, I’d been “the fascist in South Yorkshire”, a.k.a. it was only a matter of time before I lost and ran away with my tail between my legs.
This year, the fascists were pretty powerful on both sides of the Pennines. In my region, we started out with a strong hold on both Leeds and Harrogate. Preston was our powerbase over the far side of the mountain range.
We started out on pretty good terms with the Royalists (it helps to have your party in office). We were hopeful that the Anglicans wouldn’t be start out outright antagonistic. So our big problem was the Communists (or Socialists, or whatever they were calling themselves these days).
The first turn was pretty chill on my end. I managed to get Worksop and Bradford to declare for us without breaking a sweat. We were set up to gain support from Chesterfield the next turn. I spent money on political favours and gossip scoops, that I could use against my enemies in later turns. Next I got on good terms with Lady Julia Flyte, my counterpart on the Royalist team. We agreed to divvy up the cities between us and work together rather than against each other.
Best of all, the BBC announced the publication of my new book! “A Style Guide for the Modern Fascist Wife and Mother” included tips on the perfect winged eyeliner and how to wear leather. Clearly I was way ahead of my time…
In the map room, some of our battles hadn’t gone quite to plan. It had taken longer to seize Chesterfield and Worksop than planned. But the biggest cause of concern came from the north east, where the Archbishop of York was acting strangely…
Madness in the Church
I will be honest, even now I have no idea how the Church was working internally. So I’ll do my best to explain it from the outside.
Around turn 3, the Anglican player at my table, the Bishop of Lincoln, made an open move against me.
We persuaded cities to support us by playing poker chips, with a secret value of 1-3, on various cities. We could play them either in support of ourselves, or against a specific faction. In the first two rounds, everyone had been playing the basics, just bigging up their own score.
But in turn 3, the Bishop of Lincoln played some chips as negatives on my own pile in one of the cities I was trying to take.
I was a bit thrown. I understood that they wouldn’t exactly be pleased we were siding with the Royalists (their more obvious foes). But surely the most sensible course of action would be to play against them! I couldn’t actually say this out loud with my Royalist ally close by… but I made sure to report to my team that the Anglicans had already started moving against us.
When we spoke to the Archbishop of York, he acted confused why Lincoln was actively moving against us. He himself was allowing the Soviets to march past the city of York. It seemed the best we could hope for from the Anglicans was abstention from aggression – and from some we could expect a lot worse.
At the end of turn three, it was our first “Tea Break”. This was a 15 minute break from the mechanics side of the game, where the teams could scheme in private. Afterwards we would receive income based on the towns occupied by us or declared for us. We returned to the game with our wallets full and our minds focused on the task at hand.
Taking them DOWN
We had two main targets:
- Sheffield, one of the Socialist’s key cities
- Lincoln, where the possibly-renegade, possibly-just-doing-what-he-was-told Bishop had his flock
Lincoln was the more immediate threat. The Archbishop of Canterbury lay ill in Lambeth Palace. Despite the attempts of my teammates, he wasn’t going to be able to help. I took matters into my own hands.
The city’s favour was pretty far out of my reach – the bishop had an approval score of 10, while I was on 4. So I chose a less conventional attack: a political card. “Power Failure” caused Economic Disruption and Civil Unrest in the city. I then leaked to the BBC that his affairs elsewhere in the area had caused him to lose control of his home town. Ha.
Next, Lady Flyte and I turned our attentions to the Socialists. With a combination of cards and guile, we managed to throw them out of favour in both Rotherham and Sheffield. This set us up for a pretty sweet windfall of cash going into the Tea Break.
Really Need that Cup of Tea
Our second Tea Break began with the announcement that the Socialists had rebranded as the Christian Socialist Alliance. Say what? This was followed by a statement from the Archbishop of York… calling for ceasefire and a peace conference.
For those who had been at the previous game, this definitely sparked some deja vu. Last time, we agreed to a conference, and the last few turns of the game saw us lose a lot of the ground we gained. We would not have it again.
We called on the Royalists to join us in ignoring the ceasefire. They were hesitant to agree. It turned out that there was treachery in their ranks. Already a group, headed by the Duke of Westminster, had splintered off and begun to disobey the King. His first action was to agree with the Archbishop that Wallis Simpson should have a few duchies, rather than pressing to make her Queen.
During the Tea Break, we decided we would change our name to the Anglican Union of Fascists. After all, a Brits, we were naturally CofE, right? In return we wanted one thing – the removal of York as an archbishop, and the elevation of the Bishop of Chester to his post.
Meanwhile, our March Warden in the North, Roderick Spode, had been removed from office. Our new commander, Oliver Simmonds, had one task on his mind for the next turn – to arrest the Duke of Westminster.
With these plans in mind, we set out. Unfortunately turn seven marked a significant downturn for the Fascists.
The suggestion that the Archbishop be replaced went down dreadfully, and lost us ground with the Anglicans. Next, the Duke of Westminster managed to evade capture for at least a turn.
Our troops were driven out of our key positions at both Leeds and Preston. Our desperate position led the military to bring in troops from Germany. Oh, the press had a field day with that. Foreign troops fighting British soliders on British soil? How unacceptable. How unpatriotic!
Turn seven also saw the death of Roderick Spode. Posthumously I remembered that I had actually married him during the first game… I seized the opportunity to turn the drama to my advantage, by publishing my first column in the Yorkshire Evening Post. The topic? How to grieve respectfully when you already always wear black.
The strong position my favour had been in earlier in the game began to dissipate. There were too many towns that I wanted to keep hold of. I lost at least one a turn – and though I often gained it back the next, it was always at the expense of another. There was too much to keep an eye on.
Most critically for me, I slipped out of high favour in Leeds, and this was when Lady Flyte showed her true colours. “It was up for grabs,” she stated, when I reminded her that Leeds was mine. I gave her the option to lower her favour manually, and she stalled, saying she needed to confer with her team. The Tea Break was coming up, and Leeds was under heavy civil unrest. I threatened that if she didn’t lower her favour on her own, I wouldn’t remove the unrest, meaning she’d get no money for that town. She could lower it, and get £2 (while I got £6), or she could stay where she was and get nothing.
She waited me out. Last minute I had to relent and remove the unrest, losing any leverage I had.
The only positive note to come of this session was that the Bishop of Lincoln was gunned down on his own Cathedral’s steps.
The Beginning of the End
The final Tea Break was tense. We knew we were on the way out.
The other three teams were on the verge of a formal alliance that would settle the issue of Edward and Wallis Simpson. The fascists had already lost most of their ground in the West. Battles weren’t going well on my side of the Pennines either.
Just before the political round began, the House of Lords called a session. The representatives were Royalists and Anglicans, with a single Fascist voice objecting. They decreed that Prince Albert (better known these days as King George VI) would be regent for King Edward. The King was considered unfit to sit the throne.
The western political battle was lost. My western political counterpart ended up handing over most of his chips to use at my table. This had the benefit of meaning that I went into the final political hustings with double the chips of any other player. But there were still three of them against one of me.
It wasn’t a disaster. I managed to retain the support of Worksop, and miraculously pull back sole favour of Leeds. I also ensured that Lincoln remained disputed in its support. But it was too little, too late.
The North had fallen. To the Duke of Westminster and the Anglicans, with the support of the Socialists.
All was not lost, however. The final BBC report reminded us that there was life outside the North.
Prime Minister Mosley had moved King Edward to a safe location, far from the clutches of the northern traitors. Mosley was securely in power. The only possible course of action for the North was to call in the Germans to fix the situation.
And so the game ended with more questions than it started with. How could the north recover? If Wallis got pregnant, would her child take the throne? And would Joan Valentine’s second book “How a Modern Fascist Woman Recovers From Death, Disaster and Downfall” fare as well as the first?
We’ll surely see the answers if Paul dares do a third run…
For everyone interested, here is are the full reports from the BBC (excluding those at the end of turn 2 and 9, which I didn’t film):
The next Megagame I’m headed to is Foxes and Devils on April 8th in London. The next Megagame in the North is my own Everybody Dies Harder on April 22nd in Manchester.