You are US Army soldiers tasked with clearing the road between Kabul to Kandahar of IEDs during the invasion of Afghanistan. Remove all face cards and jokers from a deck of playing cards. Shuffle it. Place the top twelve cards end to end and face down along the length of the table to represent the road. One end is Kabul and the other is Kandahar. Each player names and describes their soldier, and narrates a short scene from their basic training, reflecting their motivation for serving. Each turn a player flips over the next card on the road, starting with Kabul, and narrates a short scene based on the suit: Clubs: Action or danger Spades: Emotional difficulty or hardship Hearts: Humour or comradery Diamonds: Reflection or contemplation The higher the number on the card, the more intense the experience. Scenes can include flashbacks, and, with agreement, other characters. An ace of any suit represents a major setback or threat (such as deadly attack or a severe emotional crisis), which the player must describe and narrate. After the last card, each player narrates an end scene for their soldier, including whether they come through the experience physically, emotionally or mentally intact.
This works draws on a number of things that have been rattling around in my brain recently: the TV series ‘Generation Kill’, boards games ‘A Distant Plain’ and ‘The Grizzled’, and number of magazine articles about the war in Afghanistan. It also draws on both ‘The Quiet Year’ and ‘The Fall of Magic’.
I’m working on an expanded version to publish in the near future.
A special thanks to Dale Elvy for all his feedback and encouragement.
Playing soldiers in Afghanistan is quite original. I like the idea of the physical layout of the cards representing the road to Kandahar; it’s a neat marriage of mechanics and theme. It seems like the stories that come out of this one could be really intense and emotional. - Jason Cordova