Using Political Tokens for Military-Political Climate in an Insurgency Campaign

I think the maxim “war is the continuation of politics by other means” particularly applies to insurgencies such as the Portuguese Colonial War. So I wondered how I could use Political Tokens for a campaign set in the Portuguese Colonial War.

Playing pieces

Well, given the starting point is to simulate politics in a wargaming campaign with Political Tokens, I need some Political Tokens. And a map of the Military-Political Climate.

I have designed some double sided tokens. 11 double sided Political Tokens with the Insurgents on one side and the Government on the other. I’ve also designed a token to show Popular Support with a Pro-insurgent Population side and Pro-government Population side.

Military-Political Climate 1 - Tokens
Military-Political Climate 1 – Tokens

Next up is my map of the Military-Political Climate. The Government, the Insurgency and the Uncommitted each have a section of the map. The idea is to place the 12 tokens of the game in the appropriate area.

Military-Political Climate 2 – Political Map
Military-Political Climate 2 – Political Map

Of course, all these images and colours are just flavour. I could have replaced all of them with a simple “Vote” token. And the map just becomes three piles of tokens or perhaps bowls to hold them.

Military-Political Climate 8 – Vote Token
Military-Political Climate 8 – Vote Token

Military-Political Climate

For my insurgency campaign there are two factions (Government, Insurgents) competing for 11 Political Tokens. Each political token is controlled one of the factions or is Uncommitted. The number of Political Tokens a side has are its Constituency.

The Portuguese start with three Political Tokens (Government Constituency = 3), the Insurgents with three (Insurgent Constituency = 3), and the remaining five are uncommitted (Uncommitted Constituency = 5). Having more tokens is good; less is bad.

The Government or Insurgents can win Popular Support making the population Pro-government or Pro-insurgent – this is the twelfth token in the game. But if neither faction has Popular Support then the population is Contested. Both the size of the Constituency and having Popular Support impact the Military Activity of a faction.

That requires a few more definitions:

Military-Political Definitions
Term Definition
Constituency The number of Political Tokens controlled
Insurgent Constituency The number of Political Tokens controlled by the Insurgents
Government Constituency The number of Political Tokens controlled by the Government
Uncommitted Constituency The number of Political Token that are neither controlled by the Insurgents nor the Government
Popular Support
Popular Support One side has Popular Support if its Constituency exceeds the opponent’s Constituency by two or more
Pro-insurgent Population If the Insurgents have Popular Support
Pro-government Population If Government has Popular Support
Contested Population If population neither Pro-insurgent nor Pro-government
Military Activity
Military Activity Calculated as Constituency, with a +1 modifier if the faction has Popular Support
Insurgent Activity Calculated as Insurgent Constituency, with a +1 modifier if a Pro-insurgent Population
Government Activity Calculated as Government Constituency, with a +1 modifier if the area is Pro-government Population

As an example of Military-Political Climate the 11 Political Tokens are divided between the insurgents (3), government (5) and uncommitted (3). Both the Insurgent Constituency and Uncommitted Constituency are 3. The Insurgent Activity is the same as the Government Constituency i.e. 3. The Government Constituency is 5. However there is a Pro-government Population because the Government Constituency is 2 or more greater than the Insurgent Constituency (5 versus 3). Having a Pro-government Population adds one to the Government Activity i.e. 5 becomes 6.

Military-Political Climate 3 - Definitions
Military-Political Climate 3 – Definitions

Optional Rule: Insurgent Factions

For a more realistic campaign you could separately assign Political Tokens to each insurgent group that was active in the theatre. The starting allocation is:

  • Angola: MPLA, UPA / FNLA and UNITA all start with one Political Token
  • Mozambique: FRELIMO get two Political Tokens and COREMO one
  • Guinea-Bissau: PAIGC starts with two Political Tokens and FLING one

Political Impact of a Wargame

The victor of a wargame has the potential, but only potential, to gain political power relative to their opponent. There are three ways to do this: gain uncommitted support, agitate amongst enemy waverers, or convert opponents. The victor of a particular battle can choose to do only one of these political actions. But success is not guaranteed and you often have to roll 1d6 to see what happens.

Political Action Chance of success (1d6) Effect
Gain uncommitted support Automatic Add a single uncommitted Political Token (if any left) to their own collection
Agitate amongst enemy waverers 3+ Convert one of their opponent’s Political Tokens to uncommitted
Convert Opponents 5+ Seize one of their opponent’s Political Tokens and add it to their own collection

Campaign Victory Conditions

A faction (Government or Insurgent) wins the campaign immediately when that side’s Constituency is both:

  • more than twice that of the opponent’s Constituency
  • equal to or more than Uncommitted Constituency

Here are a few examples of assessing victory conditions. The first example reflects the starting conditions. Obviously there is no victory.

Military-Political Climate 4 – Start Map
Military-Political Climate 4 – Start Map

In example 2 the Government is getting stronger in the population but still needs to improve compared to the Insurgents. There is a Pro-government Population and so the Government gets a bonus to Government Activity. But they still do not have double the Constituency of the Insurgents.

Military-Political Climate 5 - Pro-government
Military-Political Climate 5 – Pro-government

In example 3 the Insurgents are strong compared to the Government but Uncommitted Constituency is high, so they have to combat indifference in the general population.

Military-Political Climate 6 – Pro-insurgent
Military-Political Climate 6 – Pro-insurgent

In examples 4 to 6 the Insurgents gain a victory. They have larger Constituency than the Uncommitted and more than twice that of the Government.

Military-Political Climate 7 – Insurgent victory
Military-Political Climate 7 – Insurgent victory

The impact of the Military-Political Climate on Table

That is enough rules to play an insurgency at the campaign level. But I think the Military-Political Climate should have an impact on table. That is why I introduce the concept of Military Activity. The Military Activity for a faction is based on size of its Constituency and dominating the populating, i.e. having Popular Support, boosts the Military Activity for that faction. For the moment these are just rough suggestions. I will elaborate in a subsequent post.

Military Activity for a faction should impact the number and quality of friendly forces, both:

  • initial
  • reinforcements

The higher the Military Activity the more and better the troops initially engaged in the game.

Military Activity should also impact reinforcements in the same way. The higher the Military Activity the more and better the reinforcements. But very high levels of Activity might bring different types of reinforcements e.g. airpower for the Government.

In a search and destroy type game, the Insurgent Activity would influence the what Government troops discover when searching for an insurgent camp. The higher the Insurgent Activity the more likely to find something … and to find insurgents guarding the cache.

Leave a Reply