Mayhem Monday – November 2013


The second Mayhem Monday got under way with two games: Amir and Peleg tackled Commands and Colors. Ben, David, Roy and I tackled Cold War.

Peleg had played Commands and Colors before, and he helped me set the game up while I did a rules briefing for Amir. That game went well. Amir was soon comfortable enough with the rules to make his own way, and he gave Peleg a tough, tough time of it, just sneaking the win by a single point.


I had chosen Cold War because I had fond memories of it as being tense, but fun. Well, my memory is clearly playing tricks, because this game was not a success. What made it worse was that my rules recollection was flawed, and we played several turns before Ben wisely spotted something that was crucial to the game, and which I had been doing incorrectly. Oh dear. Fortunately, for me, everyone was very good about it. Ben even said he had quite liked the game, though I think it was a minority opinion!

Ben went off home, as he had an early start. Peleg also retired. David waited while I got Roy up to speed on Commands and Colors, and then they played it to a conclusion. David and I had a couple of games of Battleline, both of which he thrashed me at.


So, the winner was Commands and Colors. The feedback was clearly that people wanted a real wargame and none of the pseudo wargame/euro mix that is Cold War… Hint taken, guys.

Thanks to everyone who came and took part. It’s possible that December’s Mayhem Monday will be a multi-player Commands and Colors. Ironically, I had thought about doing that but wasn’t sure if people were interested in that. It turns out they are, and I am delighted.

From here on, we will be true wargamers!


Waltzing by the Guardian

What do you think is the top animated film? Well, according to the Guardian, it’s not Fantasia or Chicken Run. And it’s not Persepolis. (And forget the Lion King, the Incredibles, Toy Story and the Little Mermaid, none of which make the top ten.)

The top animated film is, of course, Waltz with Bashir, a fine piece of Israel bashing. Let’s cut to the venom:

This extraordinary, hallucinatory animation by Israeli film-maker Ari Folman is the story of what he sees as his nation’s willed amnesia at the Sabra and Chatila massacres during the Lebanese civil war. The “Bashir” of the title is Lebanon’s internationally admired Phalangist leader Bashir Gemayel who was engaged in a tricky diplomatic and strategic dance with Israel, appearing to connive at the Israelis’ invasion of his country in 1982 to help drive out the Syrians and the PLO.

I have to hand it to these people. They really know how to pursue their One True Way.


Your own money

From the Times of Israel:

Abbas gives every freed prisoner $50,000 and a top job

In addition to lump sum, former inmates promoted to senior Palestinian Authority positions that carry large monthly salaries

I don’t like it. But I suppose they can do whatever they want with their own money.

…Hey, wait a minute!


Another victory like that…

While Hamas was celebrating its ‘victory’ against Israel in Pillar of Defense, external commentators were taking it to task for its failures. And there are many of them, all to do with looking after the population they rule over.

The current issue of the Economist, for example, has this:

Miserable and weak again

The Palestinians’ coastal enclave is abandoned once more, in every way

IN THE vanguard of the Islamist surge across the region a few years ago, Gaza’s Islamists now feel like the last men standing. Trapped between the Mediterranean sea and the walls of two hostile neighbours, Egypt and Israel, they wonder how long they, too, can survive. “It’s hopeless,” cries a senior man from Hamas, the Palestinians’ Islamist movement. “We tried democracy and we failed. We tried to reach out to the Israelis, accepting two states, and failed. We tried the armed struggle, and we paid the price.”

What? Accepting two states? Since when? The only two states they accepted were Jordan and Egypt!

In olden times a crossroads between Africa and Asia, the tiny enclave of Gaza has rarely felt more isolated. Egypt’s generals, who took power last summer, have destroyed 90% of the tunnels through which Gaza got its fuel, shrouding the place in darkness. Mothers wake at midnight when the electricity briefly flickers on, to flush toilets and iron clothes. Lifts in high-rise buildings do not work. Sewage flows untreated. Farmers, unable to irrigate their fields, face ruin. “I should never have tried it,” says the owner of a hotel that opened last summer, overlooking Gaza’s picturesque port. Paying for his generators costs him more than he earns in a night.

And this is the fault of?

Much of the mess is of Hamas’s own making. Carried away by the Arab awakening, its politburo abandoned its old patrons in Syria and Iran and rushed to embrace the Islamists who had taken power in Egypt. But the fall of its president, Muhammad Morsi, has left Hamas friendless. It has been kept out of the current negotiations, under America’s aegis, between Palestine and Israel. The only time the world seems to notice Gaza is when violence erupts. Gazans say they have dropped off the map.

Yes, much of the mess is Hamas’ own making. Bonus points for the Economist.

Wait a minute. What’s it not responsible for? Why are its relations so bad with Egypt? Could it be that little terror thing? You know, killing folk and the like? Could that have anything to do with it?

This suits most Israelis. “The past year was a great one,” says the commander of Israel’s division that watches Gaza, Brigadier Michael Edelstein, celebrating the ceasefire that Israel agreed on with Hamas a year ago. Missiles lobbed at Israel from Gaza have fallen from 1,500 last year to about 50 so far this year, he says. Thanks to Hamas forces guarding the frontier against militants, he adds, children in Israel’s border towns can sleep in their beds, not in shelters, and no longer go to school in armoured buses.

But Israel’s reciprocal promise to help revive Gaza’s economy has not been kept. Egypt’s closure of the tunnels and its border crossing at Rafah has left Gaza’s 1.8m people dependent on Israel. Food is allowed in but not—for example—solar panels, which could provide Gazans with an independent source of electricity. Israel stops most Gazan goods from being exported. Last month it joined Egypt in preventing building material from being brought in, because Hamas’s military arm, it says, uses such supplies for building fortifications—and for digging tunnels, like a recently discovered one that stretched 200 yards into Israel. Cement prices have quadrupled in the past few months and tens of thousands of labourers have lost work. Collective punishment, say the Gazans.

What the hell is this: “But Israel’s reciprocal promise to help revive Gaza’s economy has not been kept.

I posted at the site asking for a source for this. Answer came there none. But the damage has been done – again – because, it’s Israel’s fault.

Notice also how the 50 missiles are treated as if they are of no significance. Can we send the journalist to Sderot, and then see what he writes?

And why should Israel supply cement for terror tunnels? Hello? Is the Logic Department of the publication on holiday? It’s almost as if the hectoring tendencies of the Economist have been put on hold, because they  have already gone too far by blaming Hamas!

If you want, you can read the whole thing here.


A little inside story

We have a friend who has a well developed social conscience. She volunteers frequently for the IDF through the Sar-El organization. Essentially, the work she and others like her do, frees up soldiers. It’s hard, but worthwhile, and we guess she enjoys it from the way her face beams as she recounts her many experiences there.

This friend, let’s call her Ann, is in the middle of a Sar-El session right now. Last week she spent time packing emergency aid for the Philippines. The IDF is part of the Israeli contribution to international aid. Well done Ann, the IDF, and Israel.

All of which makes this snapshot from the BBC, a little galling:


Can you see Israel on this list? No, neither can I. BBC Watch has the full story, here.

You know, it’s funny.

Whenever anything bad happens (or appears to happen) in Israel, you can almost guarantee it will feature with organizations like the BBC. Stuff that would not get a sniff of the media if it happened in Bangor, Brighton, or Blairgowrie, becomes a Big Deal.

Whenever Israel does anything good…

Hypocrisy also comes in a three letter form, starting with “B”.


Five for Friday

Here we are again. Where did that week go? At this rate, it will soon be Chanukah… Anyway, before you get into a state of PPP (present purchasing paralysis), here are this Friday’s regular set of links for your attention:

Shabbat Shalom!


Kick a man when he’s down?


This week’s session started off with a tutorial in how to play San Juan, led by Yehuda. (Yes, he won.) Amir, David, and Ben, watched, learned, played, and got crushed. My excuse? I was helping first timer Amir, and getting the tea ready for latecomer Laurie…

That brings me to the main game of the night: the excellent Antike. There were three highlights of the game.

First, early on, Ben wiped out two of Yehuda’s cities and reduced him to a quivering wreck. Yehuda told Ben about how wrong this was, and he should not be so aggressive. Ben believed him. Ben left Yehuda alone. Yehuda recovered. Yehuda won… From zero to winner. Wow.

Here comes Yellow!

Here comes Yellow!

Here’s this week’s lesson, Ben: when the man is down, kick him. And then kick him again! There’s no room for compassion in time of war!

(And, Yehuda, you owe me for not telling Ben to stick it to you!)

The second highlight was newcomer Amir stabbing me in the back, and claiming one of my good cities, just as I was powering up for the win. Ah well, who wants a non-aggression pact, anyway?

The third highlight was being a part of this game. It went really smoothly, all things considered, and was highly entertaining. David and Laurie played their parts, too. Indeed, although Yehuda won, it was a close game. By my reckoning, if Yehuda had miscalculated, someone else would have won in the same turn as he did.

I don’t have the killer instinct that I cheekily criticized Ben for not having, and shied away from some great backstabbing and winning opportunities. That’s because the game was fun enough as it was. But next time…

Thanks to all who came and made it a good night. I hope you had fun, too.