Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Revolutionary Warfare – Onside by James Kemp

Revolutionary Warfare in France 1789

Another post from the Archives, this is James Kemp’s onside report of Revolutionary Warfare from January 2003. It was written for milmud and archived on his website at

Revolutionary Warfare – Onside Report by James Kemp

When I played Andy Grainger’s A Month in Country I immediately thought of some of the parallels with my Revolutionary Warfare game.  I have run this at CLWG couple of times, although with only a few players. I would particularly like to re-do the Palestine game as one player in particular couldn’t cope with the concept of the role that they were given. (I won’t name names, but those that were there know who I am talking about – the British Governor wanted a PR power sharing assembly between the Palestinians and the Jews).

Revolutionary Warfare

revolutionary warfare in France 1789The concept I was playing with was similar to Andy’s but on a slightly larger scale. At the time of design I was considering producing ‘Lion Comes Home’ as a megagame. So the Revolutionary Warfare module had to work very smoothly. It is essentially one sided. A small group of roving revolutionaries start a new revolution when their current one had been crushed, or at a point determined by the political control team. I haven’t completely shelved LCH, but development has stalled. I’m not volunteering something like this as a megagame until I’ve written it all.


In the Revolutionary Warfare module the resolution is at province level. In the Palestine tryout there were 16 provinces. This could be too low level for a megagame, but I didn’t want governments suddenly losing control of entire colonies as that didn’t happen historically. The Government players set the rules of engagement and the alert levels for the police forces and any military units in the colony.

Each province has an unrest level that is affected by the actions of both the government and the revolutionaries. If the revolutionaries are successful (or the government inept) then the tension levels can escalate from content to ungovernable via stable, unrest & tense.


Each revolutionary player represents a separate faction of the revolutionaries. They can either co-operate or compete as they choose. The forces of revolution start out with a small amount of support to get them going. They gain support from the effects of their actions. They use support to perform actions as there is only so much support that can be called upon at any time. Revolutionary warfare may espouse peaceful or military action or a combination of both.

Stages of Revolutionary Warfare

At different stages of the revolution different strategies will reap the best rewards in increased tension levels and the downfall of the government. The stages of revolution are broadly:

1.Raising Awareness. Getting the people to realise that there is a problem with the government and that they can help to change things.

2.Low Intensity Struggle. Starting to make small demonstrations against the government and perhaps attacking key figures or installations.

3.High Intensity Struggle. Making the country ungovernable and forcing the government to make concessions to the revolution.

4.Open warfare. Becoming a government and opposing the old regime openly to ensure its downfall.

In Andy’s game the revolutionaries are somewhere between stages 2 & 3 depending on where they are in the country. Some parts are probably even in stage 4.


The role of the government in revolutionary warfare is not purely reactionary. It is possible to be proactive and prevent terrorism before it has any great effect. The setting has a political framework to work within. The government players represent the colonial governor, and possibly the garrison commander. There is scope for the home government to become involved in solving problems. For a tryout I would either play it one-sided (only with revolutionary factions) or have a couple of reliable players to play the local governor and military commander.

Government actions are determined on a matrix of the current alert state and the general intention of the active units under command. Each police district and company sized unit can be given an intention and an area of responsibility. Doctrine for dealing with internal trouble is of police primacy unless a state of emergency has been declared. Declaration of a state of emergency is not something that should be done lightly, and certainly not before the police have lost the ability to deal with the situation.

Next Steps

If there is sufficient interest, I could test my revolutionary warfare module at the Games Weekend. It would need five or six players and would take about three hours. If interest is very high I can run two simultaneous colonial engagements. I would also like to do a design session on modelling opinion polls and elections.

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