Thursday 26 January 2023

Putins Heirs

John put on a committee game covering machinations in the Kremlin should anything unfortunate befall President Putin. This was run using a revised matrix argument system, the main innovations were:

  • Players could make a standard argument (action, result, up to three reasons) OR support/oppose another argument OR pass. 
  • The players set their own objectives, but had to address three key areas: The Special Military Operation, the Presidential succession, and their own prospects/position in the new regime.

The turn order was determined by who made successful arguments (and supported them), so there were some benefits to passing as it meant you dropped to the bottom of the turn order so could respond to other players arguments. As I rapidly discovered, going early left you extremely exposed!

The general sequence of events was modelled on the death of Stalin (all very familiar from the film of the same name). Perhaps not in the best possible taste, but hey ho. 

Committee Games are never very photogenic. A suitably motley crowd turned up with a range of hats. I had my trusty Ushanka (well, it is January).

We were all given extensive character briefings (I was Medvedev) and had to come up with our three objectives. Mine were:

Retain control of the liberated territories at all costs
Regain my old role of Prime Minister in the new regime
My good pal Bortnikov (current head of the FSB) for President

And off we rolled. I busily set about preparing for the operational deployment of tactical nuclear weapons (as tbh I can't see any way Russia can retain control of its invaded regions without them), before Putins demise from a stroke distracted everyone.

After that, it was a lot of scurrying for position. The new argument sequence and support/oppose structure worked really well for a this sort of situation. Going early  in the turn left you very exposed if you contradicted other peoples agenda, and it was far safer to pile on later in the turn to support someone elses argument - but only if it helped further your own objectives.

My attempts to start WW3 failed dismally, but I was fortunate in that there was a bit of a wave of support for Bortnikov (I'm sure the pre-game bargaining had nothing to do with that, ahem). In a thoroughly satisfactory mutual back scratching arrangement I ended up safely installed as PM again, while Bortnikov ended up as President. As the game only covered a few days, the military situation didn't change much so we were left still in the occupied territories. Result.

The new matrix argument system worked really well, and perhaps most importantly, was very quick to resolve, as in each turn we only generally had two or three arguments to resolve (plus supporters/detractors). Traditional matrix games can drag on a bit, particularly with more than half a dozen chatty players, and it also helped avoid players making poor arguments as they couldn't think of anything useful - instead they could pile on (or against) someone elses. I'd be keen to try it out with some of our existing historical scenarios to see how it works.



  1. Hmmm.....interesting stuff...not something I have ever done or been involved with but seemed to kee you all entertained .

    1. Matrix Games are a lot of fun. Essentially more structured committee games, and they can cover a wide range of topics.