Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

A virtual crisis in the South China Sea

Students at the Institute of World Politics recently completed a matrix game exploring geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea:

The stand-alone game was held by IWP adjunct professor Aaron Danis, with invaluable assistance from Professor Wayne Hugar, a China military expert and colleague of Prof. Danis at National Intelligence University, where Prof. Danis works in his day job.

Prof. Danis commented: “I use games in my IWP courses, and I have wanted to try this one on the South China Sea (SCS) for a while.  It required that the players do some read-ahead and research over the winter break, with unbelievable support and guidance from Wayne who has participated in such games in the Department of Defense and deployed to the SCS during his previous US Navy career.”

The two-month (four-turn) crisis scenario postulated that China had just moved sand dredgers and coast guard vessels to the contested (with the Philippines) Scarborough Shoal, threatening to turn it into an artificial island or military outpost.  “This is a real possibility,” said Prof. Hugar, “as China has had de facto control of the shoal since 2012 and could literally do this at any time.”  This threatened act to “change the facts on the ground” forced players into negotiations with allies and adversaries, while maneuvering military and non-military assets in the region.  This action occurred against the background of the annual Philippine-U.S.-Australia Balikatan military exercise in Luzon.  The Chinese simultaneously threatened Vietnamese fishing fleets using its People’s Maritime Militia and launched a global propaganda offensive.

The virtual nature of the game, brought on by bad weather and COVID restrictions, gave students a feel for the real-world difficulties of coordinating within their assigned country teams, let alone between countries thousands of miles away.  The U.S. Army War College gaming center let IWP borrow its virtual version of this game, which would normally be played in person on a board at IWP. The game was originally designed by an active-duty UK Army officer.

As suggested above, the original version of the game was designed by Tom Mouat, and can be found here at PAXsims.

‘Data for Wargaming’ roundtable

The SISO Simulation and Wargaming Study Group invites you to participate in an online, open roundtable discussion regarding the challenges related to data used in professional wargaming.

January 19, 2022      11:00am – 1:00pm (Eastern US Time), via Zoom

From this roundtable, we plan to schedule a later forum, where two or three of the top challenges are discussed in detail.

Professional wargaming both requires and produces a great amount of data, and in many cases, there are challenges that are specific to wargaming.  We are looking for participants to share a short (5-10 minute) description of the problems they have with either acquiring or using wargaming data – this can be either a challenge or a clever solution.  The possible topics that this could include are listed (but not limited to) those below.  

Possible topics Include:

  • Scenario Data 
  • Data for Adjudication 
  • Capturing Data during a game 
  • Representing data in a  wargame? 
  • Turning AAR data into a Narrative 
  • Security classification issues with Data Sources 
  • Validation issues with Data Sources
  • MetaData
  • Interoperability

Anyone interested in contributing please contact Chuck Turnitsa at

To join the Round Table on January 19, 11:00am (Eastern US Time), click on this link:  

Teaching and Learning Conference at APSA 2022

The American Political Science Association will hold its annual conference in Montreal on 15-18 September 2022. As part of that, the annual APSA Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) will meet on September 17.

There will be four tracks to the TLC this year:

  • Civic Engagement Education 
  • Simulations & Games 
  • Technology and Innovative Pedagogy in the Classroom 
  • Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Classroom 

The deadline to submit abstracts is January 18. More information on the TLC (and the larger APSA annual conference) can be found here.

Military Operations Research Society 90th annual symposium (13-16 June 2022)

The Military Operations Research Society’s 90th annual symposium will take place in Quantico, VA on 13-16 June 2022. The deadline to submit an abstract for a presentation is February 11.

Further information is available at the MORS website.

Connections North 2022 registration open

Registration is now open for the Connections North 2022 professional (war)gaming conference, to be held online on February 19-20 (Saturday-Sunday).

CONNECTIONS NORTH is an annual conference devoted to conflict simulation, wargaming, and other serious games. It is intended for national security professionals, policymakers, researchers, educators, game designers, university students, and others interested in the field of wargaming and other serious games.

Themes to be addressed this year include:

  • Canada gaming update (two sessions)
  • Gaming coalitions: beyond “generic Blue”
  • Institutional uptake of serious games
  • Promotion de la coopération dans le jeu sérieux
  • Influence gaming
  • Whose game is it anyway?
  • Looking ahead 

Registration for the conference is required, but is free.

Please share this announcement within your networks.

Connections North is a sponsor of the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

Review: Barnhart, Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations

Review: Michael A. Barnhart, Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations (Cornell University Press, 2021). 198pp. $22.95 pb, $14.99 e-book.

This is a fantastic book for a range of educationalists and those seeking to understand the range of value that wargames and/or simulations can contribute to understanding events and the interactions of individuals. 

This book is organised almost as a ‘starter-pack’ for those thinking about using simulations in their courses – whether they are working in further or higher education. The book tackles some of the most difficult issues up front (Chapter 1) – what is the point of conducting simulations? what do they contribute to student learning? and how much time do they take – both the time in the education plan (an afternoon, a week, a semester) and the amount of instructor time they will take to design, organise and run. 

Possibly my favourite line in the whole book is “composing a simulation involves as much preparation as writing a scholarly article, or even a book.” (p.15) For me this sums up the clear-eyed analysis of the value of simulations in teaching – this is not a silver bullet to outstanding student evaluations, they are not the ‘easy route’ to assessment, instead they are likely to be highly demanding both for the students and the instructor. Barnhart is effusive in his praise for the immersive qualities of simulations (especially if you have correctly identified the roles, rules, and requirements) but he is also very pragmatic and practical about the challenges teachers will (and do face) in pulling them off. This balance in the book should also make it a must read for all directors of study / teaching and university deans who seek to pursue agendas that ‘diversify methods of assessment’. 

The practical tips in the book and the questions for consideration that imbue all chapters will be extremely helpful to those who are new to using or playing simulations (I have already recommended the book to some of my colleagues in this position). These practical considerations need to be viewed through the limitations of your own institution – for example, trying to find the ideal room (p.80 onwards) or at least the least-worst room for a simulation will require readers to understand some of the dark arts of university administration and room bookings – easy for some, very hard for others. 

There is an excellent and very well considered discussion throughout the book of some of the most significant challenges for historical simulations: morals, ethics, and engagement. Again, Barnhart does well to identify that there are a range of solutions to some of these questions and these solutions (for example p.54) will depend on your own education context and your students. I would also argue that they depend on the instructor and your personal skills as a games master, increasingly from the perspective of the UK I would also strongly encourage all instructors to have a good and clear conversation with  a university leader that has extensive knowledge of ethical considerations for teaching. 

The book also reflects on the importance of managing the dynamics of different types of students and how they engage. Whilst the book is clear that most students will fully embrace their role and the activity, he is clear that you need strategies to deal with “the student who would not speak” (p.100). These strategies can be built into the game design, but they will also depend on how much you know your students before assigning roles and also the internal group dynamics that emerge between students as the simulation progresses. 

One area where I think the book could have added a chapter would have been on accessibility. That is how to make the materials accessible to a range of students who might have different needs or requirements for engagement – which in term might turn the quiet or shy student into the active dynamic student. I would argue this is even more importance in simulations given their dynamic and all-encompassing nature, the need to consider the speed of interaction, the importance or unimportance of instant recall, the ability to speak rather than write, or indeed write rather than speak in order to interact. Increasingly it is important to draw out these considerations as a part and parcel of the activity of teaching but call all too easily be overlooked. I did exactly that until Sally Davis’s Make me a Dyslexic simulation. 

In the current COVID world, it might also have been helpful to have an endnote – or an acknowledgement of how simulations can be done differently in a hybrid or online teaching situation. But, perhaps this good fodder for the second edition? 

Overall, this is a fantastic book that is a must read for those considering using simulations and is also helpful for those who already do use them and seek to improve their praxis. I would also argue it is a great book to recommend for those who are plagued by questions of the ilk: what is the point of simulations? 

Catherine Jones, University of St. Andrews

Connections US 2022 call for papers (and Connections North update)

Connections US has issued a call for papers for its July 2022 professional wargaming conference:

Connections US 2022 is expected to be conducted in person at The Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) Alexandria, Virginia, July 26-29. We will reassess our plans should public health considerations warrant.

The Call for Presentations is now open and can be accessed here.

For more information, vist the Connections 2022 website.

The Connections Wargaming Conference is an annual event which is held each summer to bring together practitioners from every segment of the wargaming community. Connections is open to all wargaming practitioners, and we welcome international participation.

Connections US has been held every year since 1993, Connections UK was established in 2013 at Kings College London, Connections Australia was established in 2014 at the University of Melbourne, and Connections Netherlandswas established in 2014 by SAGANET, and Connections North (Canada) was established in 2016. These conferences are all independently managed and hosted, but they share a common mission to provide wargaming practitioners with a venue to share best practices and advance the field. Together, the Connections conferences around the world are building the wargaming community of practice and working to improve the use of wargaming as a tool for research, analysis, education, and policy.

As for Connections North (virtual, February 19-20), the conference registration site will go live in a few days. Look for the announcement here on PAXsims.

Gaming the vaccine (January 14)

On January 14 (1500-1630 EST), Dr. Ben Taylor (Defence Research and Development Canada) and I will offer an online presentation on Gaming the Vaccine: Using Red Teaming and Serious Games to Support Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning, in conjunction with the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.

In late 2020 Canada was preparing its national roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations. What might could go wrong? How could the risks be mitigated? To examine these questions, a series of “red team” analyses was conducted at the request of the federal Vaccine Rollout Task Force, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Armed Forces. These culminated in a day-long tabletop exercise (TTX), involving more than 150 participants from eight federal government departments and agencies, all 13 provinces and territories, and the Canadian Red Cross. Additional risk mitigation analysis then followed.

This presentation will examine why and how the process was undertaken, assess its contribution to planning, and identify lessons-learned for the use of red-teaming and serious gaming techniques to support planning and risk analysis of urgent policy initiatives.

Rex Brynen is Professor of Political Science at McGill University and editor of the conflict simulation website PAXsims ( In addition to his regular teaching and academic work, he has worked as a serious games consultant to the Department of National Defence, Global Affairs Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the US State Department, the UK Ministry of Defence, NATO, the Ready Initiative, and the WHO.

Ben Taylor is a senior defence scientist at Defence Research and Development Canada. He has worked as an analyst in both Canadian and British governments supporting national force development planning. In recent years he has led efforts to introduce wargames to this work in Canada. During 2020-21 he has developed games to explore policy making by governments facing pandemics.  

PAXsim readers are welcome to attend. The Zoom link for the presentation will be:

If you missed the presentation, here it is on YouTube:

Gaming the Irrational — Connections US 2021 Working Group 3 Report

In this working group report Ed McGrady, Justin Peachey, John Hanley and Roger Mason discussed the problem of including counter-factual, irrational, or awkward elements in game play. While there are simple solutions such as “put it in as an inject” what they looked for was:

  • a discussion of how to shape the game, and player behavior, so that these events emerge organically from the game play
  • how to include characters in the game who are manifestly “different” from the accepted liberal/neo-conservative internationalist approach that typically informs Western foreign policy in games.
  • adjudication of actions that encourage miss-behavior in games, from counter-factual2propaganda to deliberate spoofing and other shenanigans. This would include insider threats, supply chain attacks, and other actions that corrupt the decision process from the inside.
  • how to deal with common, but often ignored, elements such as morale, fratricide, fog of war,3 and battlefield chaos on a standard player/controller game.
  • how to deal with politically sensitive topics such as Congress, lobbyists, and other sensitive issues so as not to generate real-world blowback from the game.

Their discussion and papers divided into two general ways to think about the problem, which they characterize as “player centric irrationality” and “problem centric irrationality”:

  • Irrational taken literally as “not rational.” This tended to lead the discussion into areas of definitions, game theory, and ways in which the players in a game make decisions. We could also call this the game or player centric view of the problem.
  • A sweeping interpretation of the problem to include items, issues, and behaviors that are socially liminal, emotionally charged, politically difficult, or just plain crazy. Especially behaviors that violate the “polite” acceptance of a neo-conservative, liberal, western, interpretation of behavior between individuals and societies that has emerged as a consensus value during and after the Cold War. This tended to lead the discussion far afield into areas that would note easily fit into the idea of “not rational.”

Click here to download the report.

 2022 NATO Field School and Simulation Program

The 2022 NATO Field School and Simulation Programme, organized by Simon Fraser University’s Department of Political Science in collaboration with the NATO Defense College in Rome and Canada’s Joint Delegation to NATO, is accepting applications.

This programme is intended for current undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must be 19 years of age or older prior to departure, and must be Canadian citizens or a NATO-nation passport holder.

Wargaming with Unity

One good thing to come out of the pandemic has been another, much more enjoyable, pandemic: Rex Brynen’s zombie appocalypse skirmish game, Viralpalooza:

Played in a dark inversion of Mr Roger’s Neighbourhood, the webcam-view of the game turns regular tabletop miniatures gaming into something closer to a first person shooter.

Here I am, stealing a cybernetic soon-to-be-sidekick while the rest of the party throw hand-grenades at zombies.

We also played a modern armour campaign, and good golly webcam view completely changed the experience. 

Oh my poor Bradleys! Note to self: keep moving or ARTY will smoosh you…

Rex put Red and Blue in different breakout rooms and hopped between with the game view. There was real line of sight, including more-effective-than-you-might-think terrain made from books under the fabric. Here’s Blue mechanised infantry (dead centre) making a sneak-attack straight down the High Street on Red at the far end of town, having been able to creep up completely unobserved below the brow of the hill.

There was real fog of war with the miniatures difficult to identify. The infantry tokens especially were difficult to spot and impossible to identify at range. Smoke screens were magically effective. We had some jolly moments with minefields (hilariously Red managed to pick the safe route through the field, but then reversed out over the mines, bwuhahahaha) and artillery strikes on buildings.

But most of all, the nature of the battles were an order of magnitude better than a standard tabletop setup because neither side really knew where the others were. Our final battle of the campaign was a last stand on the outskirts of Tallinn. If Red had just rolled down the Highway it would have been an easy victory. But Red assumed we’d have it covered, and instead sucked themselves into a battle to take a village as a staging-post to the final push. Blue’s irregulars were perfectly suited to this task, and we held them off for a victory. This was a battle that would never have happened if we’d both been able to see each others’ pieces maneuvering.

There were down-sides to the zoom-and-webcam setup. For one, the camera is still a little god’s-eye-view, more so in the modern armour game for using smaller-scale miniatures. It’s not always easy or possible to get a webcam down into the right position. A fibreoptic inspection camera could do better, and overhead cable-management, but we’re playing on a budget ;-)

Meanwhile in Unity, camera positioning is the easiest thing in the world—plus there’s scope for more ambitious terrain and special effects…which got me thinking: could I make a Unity game where God has a strategic game style camera, allowing them to move freely about the map, to place, move, and remove units, and give the players a view of the game from the eyes of their units only ?

I whipped up an extremely hokey concept demonstrator to explore the idea and it seemed promising. So, wind forward 18 months (I’ve been busy!), and behold my adorable toy soldiers:

Here’s Rex Brynen’s heroic squad emerging from a smoke screen, all guns (and RPGs) blazing, surprising a bunch of Nazis, viewed from the about-to-be-killed eyes of said Nazi light-machine-gunner. The hex grid you can see on the floor is a clever projection for measurement, showing the centre US grunt’s movement ability.

Design Concept

The aim of the game is to be a virtual box of miniatures and scenery: no rules, no restrictions, just the ability to place, move, and remove objects like real tabletop gaming, with the player’s-eye-view of the board.

Yes, computers are excellent at rolling dice and calculating probabilities for you, but the point was to be a blank slate to bring your own rule set to, rather than to implement a specific game (40k, D&D5e, modern armour, viralpaloza, etc).

The only ‘calculations’ to go in are a line of sight check visual in the style of using a laser pointer/spirit level from a tabletop game, and a range measurement device (test-play above is using a hex grid, but it can be a square grid, a straight-up ruler, or whatever you want to project). Everything else is presumed to be handled as you would in a physical game, with dice-rolling, look-up tables, adjudication etc.

It’s designed to run alongside Discord for voice/text comms rather than piping any of that through the game, but will include a top-down map with anotation functionality to communicate intent to the DM and team-mates. Here’s the temporary Zoom solution and Rex’s intent for this turn. His objective is that large (burning; he threw an RPG at it) building in the centre of town.

And here’s the RPG-strike, trying to take out the heavy machine gun firing from the upper-floor window. He missed, but did manage to supress firing for a turn:

How does it work?

Cameras: there are two cameras in the game—the god camera with a bird’s-eye-view, and the power to pick up and put down pieces; and the player camera, which shows you only what your units can see (you can look left and right, but you have to ask god to move or rotate the piece).

Here’s God watching Rex’s squad move up to Hellfire Corner:

And Player Cam for the guy to the right of the red door:

Units: this is a pretty loose concept in the game. It’s anything that can be placed on the board—soldiers, tanks, aircraft, or any other kind of player piece—but equally doors and other interactive furniture, and smokes, fire, explosions, objective markers etc. Player pieces have camera positions setup, so when a player selects this piece their game view hops to that. 

I’m 100% sure it’s historically legit that T-Rex was at D-Day.

The units are all held in an ORBAT (the thing on the left in all the screenshots) with fully-controllable heirachy. Players are nodes in the heirachy with access to their subordinate units only. God can re-arrange things during play to give or remove units, and has their own node for NPCs, interactive scenery, and special effects.

Effects: for the fun of it, when units fire they have a firing animation with muzzle-flash and tracer. Explosions explode, fires burn, smoke drifts. The game is presuming turn-based play, so rather than firing a single shot at the time of firing, these are looped so that the opposition can see incoming fire while making decisions during their turn. There’s also some charming lighting and camera effects (simulating a macro lens) to trick your brain into thinking you’re looking at miniatures rather than full-size humans. I have plans to add weather and time-of-day hooked up to turn progression, too.


It’s a pretty good fun set of toy soldiers on its own, but obviously the value of this game is in being a networked multiplayer rather than a hotseat or splitscreen multiplayer.

Here comes the sciencey bit:

It’s running with a Node.js server which acts as a relay between the clients. Whenever god updates the position of a unit, that gets sent to the server as a websocket (JSON) packet, and from there to the other clients. The server isn’t doing anything but relaying packets, no calculations or data-storage. 

You can run the server locally, on a LAN, or host it on the internet. I have it running on a free Heroku server. You can also run it without a server and just have a box of toy soldiers to play with.

God is logging all your moves (C# no log4J, lols), so you can capture the game for AARs and analysis, or rewind and try a different strategy, or just save the state of the board to pick up again later.


I’m using utterly charming low-poly artwork by Synty Studios. The scenery and units are entirely interchangeable inside Unity—I have this D-Day themed WW2 setup, plus a number of other scenarios (zombie apocalypse, Afghanistan, some epic dungeons, DINOSAURS etc).

Because it’s Unity, there’s plenty of other potential: 

Use Cases

Miniatures wargaming, obviously. Networked for socially-distanced gaming, or to put Red and Blue cells in different rooms, or opposite sides of a room. Even if you’re playing in the same room, the sandbox gives you some rather excellent scenery options beyond the scope of most dining room tables. The most useful feature from my perspective is control of the server for classified games.

Rapid prototyping tool. Want to playtest a new game? Simples: there are no rules to plug in, you can move the pieces any way you like.

Vignette creation tool. Painlessly create visuals for use in other wargames (faux media footage, ISTAR injects, physical game components) or AARs, briefings, virtual battlefield tours, etc. You can create a diorama and screen-capture it without having to know your way around things like Unity or Blendr.

When can I buy it on Steam??

Lols, not yet. For the moment it’s limited to scenery & units I set up in the Unity Editor, and BYO server. Currently beta-testing on Windows & Mac, the user interface is still a work in progress. Leave a comment or drop me a line if you’re interested in using it in anger.

Grr, argh!

PAXsims 2021 in review

Happy New Year, everyone! As usual, we thought we would present some statistics from the past year here at PAXsims.

In 2021 we had a total of 56,095 visitors and 114,495 page views. That’s down from our record of 94,842 visitors in 2020—but statistics that year were boosted by the many thousands of people who read our coverage of the Transition Integrity Project crisis games on potential disruption of the US presidential election and transition. The number of visitors in 2021 was very similar to the statistics for 2016-2019.

Over six hundred of you subscribe to our posts via email or WordPress—a good way to guarantee you don’t miss anything.

In total, since PAXsims was first launched in 2009, we have had 519,185 visitors and our posts have been viewed over 1.1 million times. That’s a lot of serious gamers.

In 2021, our visitors came from 183 countries and territories. Again, the US provided by far the largest share of visitors. However, the continued rise of China in the rankings is noteworthy.

  1. United States 88.6%
  2. United Kingdom 27.7%
  3. Canada 15.8%
  4. Netherlands 7.4%
  5. Australia 6.3%
  6. Germany 5.3%
  7. China 5.0%
  8. Japan 4.0%
  9. France 3.8%
  10. Spain 3.6%

We posted 172 items in 2021. Our five most popular new posts from the past year were:

  1. Wargaming an invasion of Taiwan
  2. COVID Buster : An Epidemic Crisis Management Game
  3. Preparing for the doomsday variant
  4. Sabin on strategic wargaming
  5. Bae on educational wargaming

Among our posts from earlier years, those on accessibility in D&D, AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game, the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming, and the annual Connections North professional (war)gaming conference remained popular.

Google Analytics estimates that 27% of our readers are women. Regarding age, our largest demographic appears to be those ages 25-34 (27.4%). It seems, therefore, we are reaching those relatively new to serious gaming as well as the well-established grognards.

Finally, we would very much like to thank our Patreon supporters over the past year. Your support makes PAXsims possible!


Simulation and gaming publications, September-December 2021

PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address conflict, peacebuilding, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis. Others might address “gaming-adjacent” issues such as group dynamics and decision-making, assessment, forecasting, or related topics. If you have published something recently and we haven’t yet included it, let us know!

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.

Brown, Patrick. “Flights of Fancy: The Kriegsspiel and the Cinema in Weimar Germany,German Studies Review 44, 3 (October 2021).

No abstract available.

De Fio, Marzio. “Overcoming Complexity of (Cyber)War: The Logic of Useful Fiction in Cyber Exercises Scenarios,” CEUR Workshop Proceedings 2940, 2020.

The paper is an attempt to analyze the logic and the impact of “useful fiction” (or “fictional intelligence”) in cyber exercises scenarios as an approach to prepare for future conflicts. Cyberspace increased the complexity of war phenomenon with its characteristics of artificiality, plasticity, and uncertainty. To overcome this complexity, cyber warriors need to adapt to everchanging scenarios. In this view, the development of a new epistemology of wargaming and cyber exercises could provide a deeper understanding of war and, thus, enhance the capability to cope with this instability. In this framework, fictional intelligence would enrich the research of (un)imaginable phenomena to prevent future threats.

Ackerman, Gary, and Clifford, Douglas. “Red Teaming and Crisis Preparedness,” Oxford Dictionary of Politics, 2021.

Simulations are an important component of crisis preparedness, because they allow for training responders and testing plans in advance of a crisis materializing. However, traditional simulations can all too easily fall prey to a range of cognitive and organizational distortions that tend to reduce their efficacy. These shortcomings become even more problematic in the increasingly complex, highly dynamic crisis environment of the early 21st century. This situation calls for the incorporation of alternative approaches to crisis simulation, ones that by design incorporate multiple perspectives and explicit challenges to the status quo.

As a distinct approach to formulating, conducting, and analyzing simulations and exercises, the central distinguishing feature of red teaming is the simulation of adversaries or competitors (or at least adopting an adversarial perspective). In this respect, red teaming can be viewed as practices that simulate adversary or adversarial decisions or behaviors, where the purpose is informing or improving defensive capabilities, and outputs are measured. Red teaming, according to this definition, significantly overlaps with but does not directly correspond to related activities such as wargaming, alternative analysis, and risk assessment.

Some of the more important additional benefits provided by red teaming include the following:

▪ The explicit recognition and amelioration of several cognitive biases and other critical thinking shortfalls displayed by crisis decision makers and managers in both their planning processes and their decision-making during a crisis.

▪ The ability to robustly test existing standard operating procedures and plans at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels against emerging threats and hazards by exposing them to the machinations of adaptive, creative adversaries and other potentially problematic actors.

▪ Instilling more flexible, adaptive, and in-depth sense-making and decision-making skills in crisis response personnel at all levels by focusing the training aspects of simulations on iterated, evolving scenarios with high degrees of realism, unpredictability through exploration of nth-order effects, and multiple stakeholders.

▪ The identification of new vulnerabilities, opportunities, and risks that might otherwise remain hidden if relying on traditional, nonadversarial simulation approaches.

Key guidance in conducting red teaming in the crisis preparedness context includes avoiding mirror imaging, having clear objectives and simulation parameters, remaining independent of the organizational unit being served, judicious application in terms of the frequency of red teaming, and the proper recording and presentation of red-teaming simulation outputs. Overall, red teaming—as a specific species of simulation—holds much promise for enhancing crisis preparedness and the crucial decision-making that attends a variety of emerging issues in the crisis management context.

Britt, Kyle. Operation Swift Withdrawal: A Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (Neo) Wargame. MSc thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2021.

As the contemporary operational environment shifts, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) will be increasingly relied upon to conduct missions as the nation’s force-in-readiness. One category of these missions is Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEOs). NEOs are Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of State (DOS) operations that evacuate noncombatant and other designated evacuees from hostile countries to safe locations. The USMC has encountered NEOs for the past 50 years and must be prepared to execute NEOs because of future uncertainty. However, because of the infrequency of mission rehearsals, NEO skill atrophy is a concern. Thus, an interactive classroom training tool that augments the passive learning associated with PowerPoint presentations could be beneficial. Therefore, this thesis describes a novel experiential exercise in the form of an educational wargame that reinforces the three NEO guiding principles. The data collected from several iterations of this wargame suggests that this educational training tool can be utilized to reinforce NEO guiding principles and augment current NEO training methods.

Cronkite, Maximilian Stewart-Hawley, “Divided Kingdom, 561, A Case Study: Communicating Historical Narratives Through Board Games,” MA thesis, Carleton University, 2021.

This thesis explores the potential of communicating complex ideas about the past through board games. The thesis will start with exploring and defining its theoretical understanding of historical narratives and procedural rhetoric. Then, the thesis will continue with how other scholars have discussed the role of and potential that games have in the imparting of historical knowledge. Using this established methodology and theory of game-based learning, this thesis will analyze three historical board games for their ability to impart historical understanding. After the analysis of the three case studies this thesis will showcase an annotated version of the rules for the historical board game: Divided Kingdom, 561 which was created for this thesis. In the annotated rulebook, and design journal that follows it, the author elaborates on the game’s intention as a pedagogical tool and how it is designed to communicate historical understanding of sixth century Frankish Gaul.

DeBerry, William T. “The Wargaming Commodity Course of Action Automated Analysis Method,” MSc thesis, Air Force Institute of Technology, 2021.

This research presents the Wargaming Commodity Course of Action Automated Analysis Method (WCCAAM), a novel approach to assist wargame commanders in developing and analyzing courses of action (COAs) through semi-automation of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP). MDMP is a seven-step iterative method that commanders and mission partners follow to build an operational course of action to achieve strategic objectives. MDMP requires time, resources, and coordination – all competing items the commander weighs to make the optimal decision. WCCAAM receives the MDMP’s Mission Analysis phase as input, converts the wargame into a directed graph, processes a multi-commodity flow algorithm on the nodes and edges, where the commodities represent units, and the nodes represent blue bases and red threats, and then programmatically processes the MDMP steps to output the recommended COA. To demonstrate WCCAAM effectiveness, a wargame scenario compares COA outcomes within the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) and statistical analysis. The AFSIM results demonstrate a 71% objective completion improvement with the WCCAAM COA versus a human-generated COA. Statistical analysis reveals that over a 300 run test matrix, WCCAAM produces the optimal, minimal risk COA.

Emery, John R. “Moral Choices Without Moral Language: 1950s Political-Military Wargaming at the RAND Corporation,” Texas National Security Review, 4, 4 (Fall 2021).

The RAND Corporation was the site of early-Cold War knowledge production. Its scientists laid the foundations of nuclear deterrence, game theoretic approaches to international politics, defense acquisition, and theories on the future of war. The popularized understanding of RAND as filled with cold, detached rationalists who casually discussed killing millions with no moral abhorrence misses the immense contestation in the early 1950s between the mathematics and the social sciences divisions, which sought to understand the impact of nuclear weapons on war and international politics. To do so, they created the first political-military simulations, called the “Cold War Games.” The games had divergent outcomes, with the mathematicians quick to launch nuclear weapons and the social scientists acting with nuclear restraint. The key difference in the game models was a high degree of realism in the social science game that engaged the players’ emotions. This immersive experience had lasting effects beyond the game itself as defense intellectuals bore the weight of decision-making and confronted the catastrophic consequences of using nuclear weapons. The role of emotion is central to both ethics and decision-making, and is essential for wargaming today, yet often remains excluded in rational theories of nuclear deterrence.

Guangya, Si; and Yanzheng, Wang. “Challenges and Reflection on Next-generation Large-scale Computer Wargame System,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

In view of the systematic, networked and intelligent characteristics of the future war, the major challenges of the new generation of large computer warfare system are proposed, and the next-generation large-scale computer wargame system is constructed. The key technologies of building a new generation of large computer warfare systems, such as intelligent war modeling, architecture integration, resource service management and human-computer interaction are researched.

Kim, Jun-Sung; Kim, Young-Soo; and Park, Sang-Chul. “A Study of Artificial Intelligence Learning Model to Support Military Decision Making: Focused on the Wargame Model,” Journal of the Korea Society for Simulation 30, 3 (2021).

Commander and staffs on the battlefield are aware of the situation and, based on the results, they perform military activities through their military decisions. Recently, with the development of information technology, the demand for artificial intelligence to support military decisions has increased. It is essential to identify, collect, and pre-process the data set for reinforcement learning to utilize artificial intelligence. However, data on enemies lacking in terms of accuracy, timeliness, and abundance is not suitable for use as AI learning data, so a training model is needed to collect AI learning data. In this paper, a methodology for learning artificial intelligence was presented using the constructive wargame model exercise data. First, the role and scope of artificial intelligence to support the commander and staff in the military decision-making process were specified, and to train artificial intelligence according to the role, learning data was identified in the Chang-Jo 21 model exercise data and the learning results were simulated. The simulation data set was created as imaginary sample data, and the doctrine of ROK Army, which is restricted to disclosure, was utilized with US Army’s doctrine that can be collected on the Internet.

Kodalle, Thorsten, “Gamification of strategic thinking: A COTS boardgame for learning scrum, strategy development and strategy implementation,” European Conference on Games-based Learning (2021).

The Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BCSC) facilitated the Gamification of Strategic Thinking seminar from 11. Nov 2020 – 24. March 2021 with students from the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and Staff Officers from the Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning. This paper describes the seminar from construction to end, the sophisticated online facilitation, and the results and evaluation. Thereby, it contributes to discussing how to implement commercial of the shelf (COTS) conflict simulations (wargames) to education, particularly for political science and management. The seminar used the COTS board game ‘Scythe’ as the strategy development and strategy implementation environment. Seminar goals were applying management tools like SWOT-Analysis, Kanban Board, and the OODA-Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) to strategy development and strategy implementation in a competitive environment characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Six Teams consisting of five players each competed at the end of the seminar for three days, had to use the decision-making process several times, and faced the consequences of past decisions. Furthermore, four team members had to Red-Team other competitors and learned how to implement this (business) Wargaming technique into the decision-making cycle. Finally, all participants had to develop a strategy, either their own or their adversary’s strategy. The seminar was conducted in eight sprints, following the Scrum framework for agile project management in an agile education approach. Students had to practice an agile mindset, followed the scrum events Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective, taking care of the Project Backlog, honouring the Scrum Values courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness. The lead author planned the seminar as a distributed learning experience with an on-premises final. However, due to COVID-19, the TUHH and the BCSC cancelled the on-premises final. As a result, the lead author had to facilitate the complete seminar entirely distributed using various web 2.0 collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, Zoom and, of course, WhatsApp. The seminar was evaluated regarding the Learning Objective-Game Design framework and the Agile Education approach. This paper provides a new perspective on combining agile education, using a Scrum framework as the organisational overlay over the curriculum, and explicit gamification, using a COTS wargame. It is an update to the ECGBL 2020’s paper. In comparison to serious games, explicit gamification is supposed to provide the element of fun by design.

Kowalik, Adam. “The Perception Of Business Wargaming Results Among Strategic And Competitive Intelligence Community,” Organization & Management 2, 54 (2021).

Introduction/background: Achieving a market success is not an easy task for companies. To win in the market companies apply numerous strategic, market and competitive intelligence methods including business wargaming which is considered as one of the most advanced methods.

Aim of the paper: The main aim of this paper is to investigate the perception of business wargames practices among strategic and competitive intelligence professionals with special emphasis on results of business wargames.

Materials and methods: To achieve the aim of the paper the online survey was conducted among the members of a leading global professional association “Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals”. The survey was sent to 12566 emails from SCIP database. The responses were collected anonymously via Survey Monkey in April-May 2017. As a result 227 responses were collected.

Results and conclusions: The results of the study suggest that according to respondents business wargaming allows to achieve results on each of the proposed 5 levels of results representing the cause-effect chain of translating business wargaming effects into business benefits, i.e. insights, recommendations, implementation, competitive situation, measurable benefits. Moreover, the respondents indicate that the business wargaming can be considered a relatively attractive analytical method in terms of its effectiveness. The costs of business wargaming are rated as slightly lower or significantly lower than the benefits. Business wargaming is also assessed as better than any other method of generating insight. The research suggests that the more difficult the conditions for competition, the more commonly the business wargaming method is used. Respondents predict that the use of this method will increase in the future.

Lara, Mauricio Antonio Duarte. “Prototyping A Serious Game On Information Manipulation,” MSc thesis, Tallinn University of Technology, 2021.

Adversarial actors leverage social media to achieve political objectives by employing information manipulation. This poses a risk to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. These risks erode trust in institutions, distorts informed decisions, and affects democratic processes. A better defence can be obtained by a better understanding of adversaries. However, previous serious games on information manipulation have focused on psychological inoculation, ignoring the strategic motivations of adversaries in social media. With cybersecurity safeguarding information and operations in the context of adversaries, this thesis proposes to introduce policymakers to adversarial thinking through a Serious Game (SG). To achieve that aim, a document analysis was performed to identify the necessary considerations concerning learning, information manipulation, and serious games. The design of the prototype SG used a research design-oriented approach. The pilot testing employed an applied exploratory study with twelve participants, six from a legal background and the remaining six from an e-governance background. Data collection utilized two surveys with open- ended, multiple choice, and rating scale questions. Learning outcomes was measured by evaluating the participants’ confidence levels on their definition of a concept. Given the sample size, the results are not conclusive. However, the data shows an increase in the confidence for all participants. This thesis has three key contributions. First, the application of the SG on the novel audience of policymakers. Second, the design of the prototype SG which incorporates the previously mentioned educational considerations. And last, further exploration on the contributions of cybersecurity to address information manipulation on social media.

Lawson, Ewan, Considering a UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Donbas, Royal United Services Institute conference report, 2019.

No abstract available.

Lee, Byeong-Ho et al. “A Study on Fully Automated OPFOR for ‘Next Generation ROKA Wargame Simulation Model’ Based on Gamer Behavior,” Proceedings of the Korea Information Processing Association, 2021.

No abstract available.

Li, Yang et al. “Developing Public Health Emergency Response Leaders in Incident Management: A Lee, Byeong-HoScoping Review of Educational Interventions,” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, published first online, 31 August 2021.

During emergency responses, public health leaders frequently serve in incident management roles that differ from their routine job functions. Leaders’ familiarity with incident management principles and functions can influence response outcomes. Therefore, training and exercises in incident management are often required for public health leaders. To describe existing methods of incident management training and exercises in the literature, we queried 6 English language databases and found 786 relevant articles. Five themes emerged: (1) experiential learning as an established approach to foster engaging and interactive learning environments and optimize training design; (2) technology-aided decision support tools are increasingly common for crisis decision-making; (3) integration of leadership training in the education continuum is needed for developing public health response leaders; (4) equal emphasis on competency and character is needed for developing capable and adaptable leaders; and (5) consistent evaluation methodologies and metrics are needed to assess the effectiveness of educational interventions.

These findings offer important strategic and practical considerations for improving the design and delivery of educational interventions to develop public health emergency response leaders. This review and ongoing real-world events could facilitate further exploration of current practices, emerging trends, and challenges for continuous improvements in developing public health emergency response leaders.

Lin, Wu et al, “Wargaming Eco-system for Intelligence Growing,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

The construction of the next generation intelligent wargaming system can not be accomplished at one move, but through building an ecosystem to gradually grow intelligence. The basic concepts of the intelligent wargame ecosystem, and are defined the idea of dynamic openness, diversified levels and co-evolution are proposed. Drawing lessons from the human intelligence growing process and learning-evolution mechanism, the double helix model of the next generation of wargame cognitive intelligent evolution and growth is constructed. On the basis of the OLTA cycle, the wargame deduction ecosystem system framework is given. The application of the technologies, such as digital twins, human-machine integration and symbiosis, sample generation, intelligence testing and evaluation, cloud native and so on, in the construction of an ecological environment for wargaming games are analyzed.

Lutters, Samuel. “Reflections on Violence and Death in Critical War Games,” MSc thesis, Ghent University, 2021.

Death and violence are prominent features in video games centered around war. These are largely dominated by hegemonic war/military games that – among other things – render them an “authentic” and pleasurable experience to be engaged in. In this dissertation, I focus on critical war games that oppose these, and question how these manage to kindle reflection about violence and death in their respective gaming communities. For this, I have dedicated myself to the study of three specific games. I have mainly used two methods: autoethnography, where I played the games myself to gain a better understanding of them and participant observation to capture the experiences and reflections of others. My findings are diverse and have to be understood within the contours of each game. However, what underpins these games is their ability to be perceived “realistic” when it comes to representing war. This is done through creating a digital death world that functions on negative emotions, rather than fun or pleasure. As discussed by others, there is a dynamic relation between having negative emotions and perceiving something as realistic or authentic. Interesting for this research, is the fact that having negative emotions while being engaged in killing and mortality, offers players a foundation for reflection. The player is encouraged to first feel and then think. These reflections go beyond digital play and questions some important aspects of war, violence and death, such as the futility of war. Moreover, having these negative emotions and reflections gives the player a better understanding in the lived experiences of both victims and perpetrators of war alike.

Medeiros, Sabrina ; Mendes, Cintiene Sandes Monfredo ; and e Paiva, Ana Luiza Bravo, “Learning Process for Collective Decision-Making in Defense and Security: Inter-Agency Policy Building,” Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice 21, 4 (2021).

This work analyzes the decision-making behavior among security actors in cooperative inter-agency arrangements. To this end, we will use case studies of state officials’ simulations, which target the improvement of the agents’ relations in particular learning processes. Undeniably, Brazil’s internationalization expanded practices related to the configuration of its homeland security model, especially after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. On the other hand, training and learning experiences were also internalized, expanding the common lexicon and coordinated policies and assignments. The paper’s central objective is to identify the patterns of inter-agency decision-making processes, analyzing the possibilities for creating and disseminating practices that may ultimately constitute policies. For this purpose, the work begins with the apprehension of the Brazilian security inter-agencies practices typology, which emerged by an adequately built database.

Medeiros, Sabrina ; Paiva, Ana Luiza Bravo; and Mendes, Cintiene Sandes Monfredo. “Policy Diffusion by Means of Defense and Security Simulations and the Uses of Agent-Based Modelling,” July 2020.

This paper is about three elements: inter-agency cooperation simulations with security and defense practitioners as actors; policy diffusion as a way of innovative and incremental gains using practices and the observation of behaviors; and, agent-based modelling as a tool to enhance performance, observing tendencies and acquiring more visibility of the processes and practices imbibed. For this, the first part of the paper is focused on the uses of the literature that expresses decision making process behaviors as a fundamental part of the institutionalization process in terms of cooperation. Adaptive institutionalization is the core element of this approach; in which we believe policy diffusion can derive progressively and in an incremental way. Secondly, we are going to present the inter-agency simulation cases we are working with as part of an inter-institutional effort; researching on those ties and proposing new forms of arrangements and possibilities of increasing dynamics efficiency in the sector, observing both the cases and the exercises chosen in agent-based modelling (ABM).

Murray, Charlie Murray; Loidl, Hans-Wolfgang; and Train, Brian. “A Playful Learning Exercise: Kashmir Crisis,” International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance, 2021.

This paper summarises the development and evaluation of a digital board game on the “Kashmir Crisis” in 2019. It is based on a card-driven board-game design of one of the authors, with the concept of “games as journalism” as one underlying design principle. As such, this is a serious game with the aim of providing information on the context of recent political events in Kashmir. In this paper we focus on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a multi-platform, digital instance of this game. The evaluation results of using the game show significantly increased engagement and slightly better learning effectiveness, compared to a control group using standard learning techniques.

Parkes, Roderick; McQuay, Mark. “The Use of Games in Strategic Foresight: A Warning from the Future,”DGAP Policy Brief, July 2021.

After a decade of crisis, the EU now routinely uses futures meth- ods to anticipate the unexpected. Its aim is to address its blind spots. This paper details our experience of designing a foresight exercise to help EU diplomats face up to one of the most ingrained types of blind spot: a taboo issue. But our experience showed instead the dangers of such exercises. Far from needing encour- agement to address a taboo, our target audience wanted an excuse to do so, reflecting a shift to a more “geopolitical EU.”

Strategic foresight exercises are designed to help participants recognize their cognitive biases. But the more policymakers adopt them as routine, the more they use them to reinforce their existing aims. Simply: they learn to manipulate outcomes.

To prevent cheating, experts introduced adversarial elements, where colleagues paired off against one another. Competition was meant to inject new thinking into policy and break up bureaucratic hierarchies. In fact, these too reinforced old biases.

Table-top exercises (TTXs) are now the go-to tool, adopted by the EU: rather than competing, participants play as a single team. Col- laboration encourages the kind of “risky-shifty” behavior which policymakers need in order to drop old shibboleths..

Table-top exercises (TTXs) are now the go-to tool, adopted by the EU: rather than competing, participants play as a single team. Collaboration encourages the kind of “risky- shifty” behavior which policymakers need in order to drop old shibboleths.

Paschkewitz, John; Russell, Bart; Main, John. “An AI That’s Not Artificial at All,” Issues in Science and Technology 38, 1  (Fall 2021).

In the wargame, we realized we needed to focus on more than just maintaining operational speed and minimizing casualties. We needed to maximize options for individual users and increase the learning rate across the whole system. Providing individuals with more options and the autonomy to use them makes the rigid, monolithic systems of slowmoving bureaucracies and the technologies they use more adaptable to new situations and innovations. In Major Evans’s case, if she were able to get a drone to fly blood to her unit, she might be able to boost her dwindling blood supplies faster than it would take to fix the ruined airstrip. But thoughtful workarounds can only benefit the larger system if the knowhow circulates throughout the enterprise and others can begin to help find the drones and arrange for the delivery. The larger system needs to effectively learn and adapt to the consequences of her changes or it will soon be caught in another cycle of cascading ad hoc responses to problems.

A new design methodology

To build a system that was capable of encouraging individual innovation and system-wide learning, we came up with a new approach: liminal design. It employs four core concepts: abstraction, composition, mediation, and learning. Collectively, these ideas create the foundation for an “operating system” that works in an adaptive ecosystem, bridging the worlds of user-centered and system-centered design.

Peeks, Ryan. “‘An Object Lesson to the Country’—The 1915 Atlantic Fleet Summer Exercise and the U.S. Navy on the Eve of World War I,Naval War College Review 74, 3 (Summer 2021).

On 26 May 1915, the Washington Post warned its readers that an invading force had “established a base, and landed troops on the shore of Chesapeake Bay,” in preparation for a march on Washington. The cause of this invasion? Defeat of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet by “a foreign foe of superior naval strength.” Over the course of several days, the enemy fleet had made its way across the Atlantic and destroyed the American scouting line. The American commander, Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher, was convinced that its target was New England and let the enemy fleet slip unmolested into the Chesapeake with a twenty- thousand-man invading force, the vanguard of another hundred thousand soldiers en route from Europe. Shortcomings in the quantity and quality of the Atlantic Fleet’s scouting force had rendered its seventeen battleships irrelevant.

Fortunately for the capital, this enemy fleet and invasion army were imag- inary, part of the Atlantic Fleet’s summer exercise. They were, however, the culmination of a very real campaign to embarrass the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, and force a naval expansion program onto the heretofore skeptical Wilson administration. The leader of this campaign, the outgoing Aide for Operations, Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske, designed the exercises for
maximum political effect. By grafting an unreal- istic and lurid invasion scenario featuring a thinly disguised German fleet onto the Atlantic Fleet’s exercise program, he hoped to “prove” that Dan- iels had failed to prepare the Navy for war and force Woodrow Wilson’s administration to sup- port a renewed naval buildup. 

Reese, Joshua et al., “Integrating Cost as a Decision Variable in Wargames,” Air & Space Power Journal (Winter 2021).

The US military can no longer afford to be reactive, leaving critical cost analyses to the months and years following operations or full-scale con- flicts. By leveraging cost in wargaming, as part of the Joint planning process, the Department of Defense (DOD) can provide Congress and the American taxpayers a range of potential costs associated with various military engagements. If senior leaders can consider costs as part of effectiveness analy- ses during wargames, they can provide more fully informed decisions reflecting fiscal and operational realities.

Rolls, Matthew. “Developing Coup D’oeil: Tactical Decision Games and Their Training Value for the Canadian Army,” Canadian Army Journal 18, 2 (2021).

Tactical Decision Games (TDG) are abbreviated tactical exercises without troops (TEWT) meant to place those executing them into a scenario with little information and time to arrive at a solution. They require few resources, allowing for a repetitious approach to training. TDGs have been prominent training tools for the US Army and particularly the United States Marine Corps for several years. They are a flexible and effective training aide that will help soldiers, non-commissioned officers (NCO), and officers with their analytical and intuitive decision-making skills. TDGs are not completely foreign to the Canadian Army (CA); however, their use has not been institutionalized.

Tactical Decision Games are a highly efficient means of training tactical decision-making and should be institutionalized within the CA, within both schools and operational units. Commanders employing TDGs will be able to mentor and develop the decision-making skills of their subordinates during periods outside collective training. Trainers can use them to discuss and exercise concepts prior to deploying to the field for practical application.

This article provides an overview of TDGs and how they differ from other training tools. It then reviews what makes TDGs useful training aides and concludes with a discussion on how to conduct a training session. A TDG example is included at the end of the article.

Shahnahpur, Saeedeh. ” ‘Destruction Operation’: Iranian-Made Digital Games of the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88),” International Journal of Persian Literature 6 (2021).

No abstract available.

Smithson, Michael S. Wargaming Reliance On Commercial Space Partners: A Determination of Guiding Principles and Applications. MSc thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2021.

The 2010s saw a revolution in the space industry leading to the commercial proliferation of space technologies once reserved for national space programs and militaries, dubbed by many as Space 2.0. This rapid rebalancing of capabilities from traditional state actors to commercial entities contributed to a reevaluation of U.S. space institutions and practices resulting in an increased U.S. military reliance on commercial entities to build space capability, capacity, and resilience. To that end, there is renewed interest in discerning the impacts of this expanded commercial space reliance on current U.S. military doctrine, thus placing new demands on the practice of wargaming among the U.S. military services. Specifically, wargaming must now account for this increased reliance by establishing guiding principles and wargaming methodologies to properly account for this revolution in space-based capabilities. This thesis addresses this problem by sampling the scope of commercial space capabilities, evaluating governing policy and doctrine, and examining a representative sample of the U.S. military’s reliance on commercial space. The unique qualities of commercial space are evaluated to identify a list of guiding principles for wargaming applications. Then, wargaming methodologies that encompass these guiding principles are identified and proposed. Finally, these principles are applied to the USMC’s Assassin’s Mace wargame to demonstrate and evaluate their utility and application.

Teo, Grace et al. “Measures for Assessing Command Staff Team Performance in Wargaming Training,” Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), 2021.

Despite the rapid rise in technological aids and decision support tools to assist with command and control activities, wargaming remains an artful and challenging process for command teams to perform. Wargaming, a critical stage in the military decision-making process (MDMP), is a collective activity where command staff representing multiple warfighting functions step through one or more courses of action (COAs) in detail. By considering actions, reactions, and counteractions for each critical event of a COA, the command staff gains an understanding of the decision points, possible coordination problems, feasibility, risks, benefits, likelihood of success, and impact on campaign outcomes. Although there are prescribed MDMP methods and outputs, the art of effective wargaming lies in achieving sufficient team coordination across the command staff to adequately appraise a COA and anticipate synchronization that will be needed for execution, all within the time constraints available for analysis. Consequently, an effective approach to training wargaming ideally involves opportunities for staff to engage in realistic and challenging exercises where they can receive performance assessment and feedback via measures grounded in established constructs for team proficiencies. This paper presents a synthesis of constructs and findings on command team training pertinent to the construction of wargaming exercises. Specifically, a foundation for general principles of teamwork has been established in the literature, and there have also been studies identifying determinants of wargaming effectiveness tied to declarative measures intended for assessment by human instructors or subject matter experts. In order to build on existing research and apply it in an intelligent tutor, these measures and teamwork constructs are synthesized in a model tailored to wargaming performance assessment and feedback for simulation-based team training. Outcomes of this effort will contribute to the development of a prototype for collective training of Army command groups.

Tryhorn, Dillo, et al. “Modeling fog of war effects in AFSIM.” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology, published first online, 27 August 2021.

This research identifies specific communication sensor features vulnerable to fog and provides a method to introduce them into an Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) wargame scenario. Military leaders use multiple information sources about the battlespace to make timely decisions that advance their operational objectives while attempting to deny their opponent’s actions. Unfortunately, the complexities of battle combined with uncertainty in situational awareness of the battlespace, too much or too little intelligence, and the opponent’s intentional interference with friendly command and control actions yield an abstract layer of battlespace fog. Decision-makers must understand, characterize and overcome this “battlespace fog” to accomplish operational objectives. This research proposes a novel tool, the Fog Analysis Tool (FAT), to automatically compile a list of communication and sensor objects within a scenario and list options that may impact decision-making processes. FAT improves wargame realism by introducing and standardizing fog levels across communication links and sensor feeds in an AFSIM scenario. Research results confirm that FAT provides significant benefits and enables the measurement of fog impacts to tactical command and control decisions within AFSIM scenarios.

Xi, Wu; Xianglin, Meng; and Jingyu, Yang. “Study on Next-generation Strategic Wargame System,”  Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

Strategic wargame is an important support to the strategic decision. The research status and challenges of the strategic wargame are analyzed, and the influence of big data and artificial intelligence technology on the strategic wargame system is studied. The prospects and key technologies of the next-generation strategic wargame system are studied, including the construction of event association graph for strategic topics, generation of strategic decision sparse samples based on generative adversarial nets, gaming strategy learning of human-in-loop hybrid enhancement, and public opinion dissemination modeling technology based on social network. The development trend of the strategic wargame is proposed.

Yubo, Tang et al. “Research on the Issues of Next Generation Wargame System Model Engine,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

Aiming at the more and more complex war systems, widely used artificial intelligence technology is needed to make up the human deficiencies in future wargame deduction, which is necessary for the next generation wargame system model engine. To address these challenges, a framework prototype of the next generation wargame model engine based on the experience of the long-term development and application is proposed. The decoupling method for the complexity of structure and computation is researched. The human-computer integration architecture on digital twinning technology is studied. Some new modeling techniques which the threshold of model development is reduced and the efficiency is improved are explored. The engine mechanism is provided to support the machine learning, and to achieve the integrated design for distributed hardware environment.

Zhanguang, TCao et al. “Abroad Wargaming Deduction and System Research,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

Wargaming is an important auxiliary means of war deduction, scheme evaluation and operational analysis. Wargaming deduction system can support the research of operational problems, innovation of tactics and development of operational concepts. The development status of foreign computer wargaming system from the deduction method and system research is reviewed, and the online deduction the multi-level joint deduction, as well as the research status of multi-level wargaming fusion design, the multi system combination and auxiliary tool development are mainly introduced, which can providereference to the development and application of computer wargame system.

Updated PAXsims bibliography

PAXsims research associate Anne Johnson recently surveyed some three dozen wargaming experts to pull together a list of their recommended readings for new and experienced serious game designers alike. You’ll find the list here.

Wargaming position at CGSC

The Directorate of Simulation Education at the US Army Command and General Staff College is hiring a wargamer:


Research and prepare simulation/gaming databases/scenarios to support specific exercises and curriculum for four school curriculums and six different educational tracks.

Assist the active force to provide model, simulation, wargame, and/or game instruction, and teach digital and manual tactics, techniques, and procedures(TTP) through experimentation and assistance visits.

Develop and resolve organizational and technology issues as they relate to computing, network delivery, and system compatibility or processing issues.

Mentor FA 57 students tasked with conducting exercises and/or completing simulation related course work.

Support education on models, simulations, wargames, and games through instruction, instruction support, facilitation, and technical support.

Lead multi-agency task forces to establish and validate academic training simulation requirements.

Assist in the development and implementation of a plan for the integration of training models, simulations, wargames, and/or games to ensure execution-centric decision-making is stressed, observed and assessed.

Resolve critical, technical problems in existing systems or models, using knowledge of the industry guidelines and application of models, simulations, wargames, and/or games policies and procedures.

Participate in comprehensive studies to identify and propose solutions to deficiencies in models, simulations, and wargames.

At present, only those in certain federal employment categories are eligible to apply (although that could change).* The full details and application process can be found at USAJOBS, and the closing date is January 5.

*If you are a US citizen but do not currently fall into one of the eligible federal employment categories, post your resume into the system, then email and to let them know you have applied.

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