...or: How I stopped worrying about the bomb and learned to love penguins.
Being some memories of the Falklands War Matrix Game.
This game was first run at Sheffield Wargames Society in 2000 and it is of this first game that my memories are least vague. I ran it again the same year as a core session at Wargame Developments’ Course on Designing Military Conflict Simulations, then at a private games weekend in Nottinghamshire in 2005 and most recently at the Sheffield club again to mark the 25 anniversary of the conflict in 2007.
Having played and run several previous Matrix Games, I introduced a variation on the normal method of allocating the player order. I had cards printed with the numbers 1 – 7, there being 7 players in this particular game. This enabled me to decide the order in which arguments were to be made in a turn, giving the player I felt was doing best number 1 and thus giving players doing less well more time to concoct their arguments. I don’t recall being the first to devise this variant but Tom Mouat credits me with its invention so that’s good enough for me!
As always with Matrix Games, a good set of players will greatly enhance the experience and add considerably to the stock of post-game anecdotes! No-one who was there will readily forget ‘General Pinochet’ (a bearded Yorkshireman) flirting with ‘Mrs Thatcher’ (a tall and completely bald gentleman), calling ‘her’ a “beeg sexy woman…” This first game saw a number of broadly historical events, including the dispatch of the British Task Force, many comings and goings at the UN and the sinking of the Belgrano. Rather less predictable was the brief appearance of a Soviet fleet and some not very covert Chilean military assistance. In the end, the Brits recaptured the Islands with modest losses and Galtieri found himself out of work. As far as I can recall, the Brits have taken back the Falklands in every game – albeit with varying levels of unpleasantness
Map and counters
I drew the stylised map onto a sheet of flip chart paper (A1 sized – around 23 by 33 inches). For the various units you could just use cardboard counters but I used various toys I had to hand. The naval units were represented by 1/3000 warship models and the ground and air units by 1/300 scale models. After the first game I even acquired a 1/600 scale Vulcan – just in case!
A final word
Don’t be tempted to read text messages while driving. The Sheffield game in 2000 led to the receipt of my first ever text message and the laughter thus generated damn nearly led to a Volvo 850-shaped hole in a hedge. Sent by er, ‘General Pinochet’ it read simply “GOTCHA!”
The Falklands War game is included in the book on Matrix Games recently published by the History of Wargaming Project.