Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

MWI: Why gamers will win the next war

At the Modern War Institute, Nick Moran and Arnel P. David argue that gamers will win the next war.

A storm is brewing. Thousands of gamers are working to upend traditional models of training, education, and analysis in government and defense. This grassroots movement has developed across several countries, under a joint venture—Fight Club International—within which civilian and military gamers are experimenting with commercial technologies to demonstrate what they can do for national security challenges. But while technology is at the core of this initiative, its more fundamental purpose is to change culture—no easy feat in military organizations, with their characteristic deep sense of history and layers of entrenched bureaucracy.

A common obstacle to introducing transformational technology is the imagination of the user—or, put differently, the willingness of the user to be genuinely imaginative. Early testing with Fight Club, in a constructive simulation called Combat Missionshowed that civilian gamers with no military training outperformed military officers with years of experience. The military gamers were constrained in their thinking and clung dogmatically to doctrine. They discovered, to their frustration, that their speed of decision-making was lacking against gamers with greater intuition and skill.

The piece is an enthusiastic care for greater inclusion of wargames in professional military education—a point with which all of us at PAXsims would agree.

On a methodological note, however, one needs to be careful not to put excessive emphasis on civilian gamers beating non-gaming officers in wargames. Certainly, games test tactical analysis and insight. However, they also test familiarity with interface, rules/algorithms, and other quirks of the simulation. No matter how engaging the graphics, they’re usually quite different from actual command. Indeed, as Sherry Turkle and her colleagues pointed out more than a decade ago, as simulations become more realistic-looking there’s a risk we overlook the important ways in which they depart from reality. I know that some recent experimental work has been done on diversity in wargaming, which among other things assessed the strategic performance of “gamers” as opposed to neophytes and subject matter experts—as soon as that report is available, we’ll share it here at PAXsims.

Simulation and gaming publications, January-June 2022

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.

Braun, Luke et al. “Quantifying a State’s Reputation in the Strategic Competition and Crisis Wargame for the Center for Army Analysis,” Proceedings of the Annual General Donald R. Keith Memorial Conference (April 2022).

The Center for Army Analysis (CAA) developed the Strategic Competition and Crisis wargame to capture how modern military competition operates in today’s world. The CAA tasked our interdisciplinary team with developing a more robust, well-rounded reputation model for quantifying a state’s reputation based on another state’s perspective using each of our respective specialties within Systems Engineering, Defense and Strategic Studies, and Operations Research. The team leveraged tools within the Systems Decision Process to quantify the theoretical, intangible concept of reputation. Research began with a qualitative value model based on expert stakeholder analysis and a literature review. The team then identified value measures to build a swing weight matrix that produced a reputation score for each state from another state’s perspective. That score, alongside an enhanced Game User Interface, can now be integrated into the existing SC2 wargame to provide a more complete, narrative experience that charts player decisions throughout the game.

Chen, Sarah, “An Analysis of Cyber Wargaming: Current Games, Limitations, and Recommendations” (2022). Claremont McKenna College Senior Theses.

Cyberspace operations and conflict pose a unique challenge to decision-makers due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of cyber capabilities. Relying on wargaming literature, public cyber wargame reports, and expert interviews, this thesis analyzes the utility of cyber wargaming for education and analysis. Cyber wargames offer a method of testing, exploring, and understanding cyberspace through the abstraction and representation of cyber tools and attack cycles.

The thesis begins by examining cyber conflict and theorizes hypothetical wargame use cases. It then creates a framework for cyber wargaming elements and examines the design of eleven analytical wargames, eight educational wargames, and three commercial games according to this model. Lastly, the paper looks at the limitations and problems of cyber wargaming, relying on interviews with wargame designers, and suggests solutions going forward for future cyber wargame design and publication.

Davis, Paul and Bracken, Paul. “Artificial intelligence for wargaming and modeling,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2022).

In this paper, we discuss how artificial intelligence (AI) could be used in political-military modeling, simulation, and wargaming of conflicts with nations having weapons of mass destruction and other high-end capabilities involving space, cyberspace, and long-range precision weapons. AI should help participants in wargames, and agents in simulations, to understand possible perspectives, perceptions, and calculations of adversaries who are operating with uncertainties and misimpressions. The content of AI should recognize the risks of escalation leading to catastrophe with no winner but also the possibility of outcomes with meaningful winners and losers. We discuss implications for the design and development of families of models, simulations, and wargames using several types of AI functionality. We also discuss decision aids for wargaming, with and without AI, informed by theory and exploratory work using simulation, history, and earlier wargaming.

de Rosa, Francesca and Strode, Christopher. “Games to support disruptive technology adoption: the MUST Game use case,” International Journal of Serious Games 9, 2 (June 2022).

Serious games can be used as a means to explore complex systems and uncertainty related challenges, therefore they may have the potential of supporting the adoption of innovative and disruptive technologies. In this paper we present the use case of the Maritime Unmanned Systems Trust (MUST) Game, which goal is to capture beliefs, attitude and perspectives of the participants with respect to the employment of maritime unmanned systems (MUS) in the maritime domain. This novel game aims at better understanding the relation between trust factors and MUS. Moreover, it explores how players make decisions with respect to MUS deployments in an increasing threat scenario. This allows to capture important information on the trade-offs related to MUS use that have an impact on maritime missions planning activities (e.g., endurance, logistics, maintenance, cost, number of assets, security and type of assets). This paper describes the game and an analysis of the outcomes of its deployment. The results show how the MUST Game design has been effective in eliciting constructive discussion around the use of MUS in maritime missions, as well as in the collection of assessments and decisions, which are currently being used in algorithmic development.

Lee, Donghwan et al. “ICSTASY: An Integrated Cybersecurity Training System for Military Personnel,” IEEE Access (2022).

Cyberwarfare can occur at any moment, anywhere on the planet, and it happens more often than we realize. The new form of warfare is wreaking havoc on not only the military but also on every aspect of our daily lives. Since cybersecurity has only recently established itself as a critical element of the military, the military community relies heavily on the private sector to ensure cyber mission assurance. Given the military’s secrecy, such reliance may increase the danger of mission degradation or failure. To address this issue, the military has attempted to build a dedicated cybersecurity training system for the purpose of internalizing cybersecurity training. However, existing cybersecurity training systems frequently lack comprehensive support for effective and efficient cybersecurity training. In this study, we propose ICSTASY, a scenario-based, interactive, and immersive cybersecurity training platform that supports a variety of training features holistically. The primary requirements and design principles required to overcome the challenges inherent in developing a cyber training system were offered based on a review of prior work. Through the demonstration of our prototype, we have proven the feasibility of efficient and truly realistic cyber training, not only for the military environment but also for the private sector.

Fielder, James. “Ghosts of the Titanomachy: Structure, Commitment, Economics, and Risk as Causal Mechanisms in an Online Battle,” Simulation & Gaming (2022).

In January 2014 over seven thousand EVE Online players engaged in a 21-h battle that came to be known as the Battle of B-R5RB, in which an estimated $330,000 of virtual property was destroyed, calculated in real U.S. dollars as measured by time.

To discern why players were willing to commit time and resources to fight in a large-scale virtual battle, which in turn informs how players perceive risk and develop large-scale emergent political structures.

Drawing from multiple case history and journalism reports on the Battle of B-R5RB, the author combines the inductive ideographic case study approach and process tracing method to uncover key causal mechanisms.

The author inductively theorizes that the Battle of B-R5RB resulted from the Null-Sec’s anarchic structure, player commitment to their respective Corporations, measurable economic value, and risk associated with permanent loss. These mechanisms closely align with the offensive realism and anarchy.

Discussion and conclusion
The Battle of B-R5B is a relevant example of real-world emergent political behavior developing in a virtual world setting. Analysis of this single battle suggests that players are willing to project actual value onto virtual assets. Perception of value is magnified in virtual worlds lacking overt governance or security structures. Players must form groups to mitigate risk, and the greater the risk, the greater the commitment to the group.

Filho, Geraldo Mulato De Lima et al. “Optimization of Unmanned Air Vehicle Tactical Formation in War Games,” IEEE Access 10 (2022).

War game simulations are decision-making tools that may provide quantitative data about the scenario analyzed by stakeholders. They are widely used to develop tactics and doctrines in the military context. Recently, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) have become a relevant element in these simulations because of their prominent role in contemporary conflicts, surveillance missions, and search and rescue missions. For instance, it is possible to admit aircraft losses from a tactical formation in favor of the victory of a squadron in a given combat scenario. The optimization of the position of UAVs in beyond visual range (BVR) combat has attracted attention in the literature, considering that the distribution of UAVs can be a determining factor in this scenario. This work aims to optimize UAV tactical formations considering enemy uncertainties such as firing distance and position using six metaheuristics and a high-fidelity simulator. A tactical formation often employed by air forces called line abreast was chosen for the RED swarm for a case study. The objective of the optimization is to obtain a tactical formation of the BLUE swarm that wins the BVR combat against the RED swarm. A procedure to confirm the robustness of the optimization is employed, varying the position of each UAV of the RED swarm up to 8 km from its initial configuration and using the war game approach. A tactical analysis is performed to confirm whether the formations found in the optimization are applicable.

Goehlert, Timothy. How Professors Implement Game-Based Learning in Higher Education Courses: A Thematic Analysis, Phd thesis, Endicott College, April 2022.

No abstract available.

Haun, Phil and O’Hara, Michael. “The Brinkmanship Game: Bargaining Under the Mutual Risk of Escalation,” Journal of Political Science Education (2022).

This article describes a simple two-player game which illustrates basic concepts of brinkmanship, to include calculations of probability and expected outcomes, and risk-taking profiles. The game befits a single 50-minute class period with introduction, gameplay, and discussion. The game can supplement the study of conflict from classic Cold War case studies of crisis bargaining, to arms control, or negotiating international protocols for global climate change such as the Paris Agreement. The Brinkmanship Game was developed for the seventh week of a 10-week graduate course called Game Theory and Decisionmaking: Exploring Strategic Situations. The course features a flipped classroom with class time devoted to experimentation, gameplay, and discussion of readings and games; lectures are online. The Brinkmanship Game would be appropriate for students in any advanced undergraduate or graduate level course in international relations, security studies, negotiation, or game theory. The Brinkmanship Game provides an active learning opportunity that can be valuable for encouraging students to come to their own understanding of concepts of mutual risk-taking. The authors have found the game to be effective in the classroom and hope it may prove valuable to those searching for ways to motivate students and to help them learn.

Hirst, A. “Wargames Resurgent: The Hyperrealities of Military Gaming from Recruitment to Rehabilitation,” International Studies Quarterly 66, 3 (2022).

While games are commonly viewed as frivolous fun, their rapid proliferation across the US defense establishment compels us to think again. Spanning spheres as diverse as total immersion training, near-peer/cyber conflict, and future force strategies, a gaming renaissance is currently underway across the US military. Surprisingly, given international relations’ (IR) interest in the production and projection of military power, the discipline has neglected to engage with this revival. This article argues that hyperreal games—that is, games that produce realities—play an increasingly important role in the attraction, production, management, and recovery of warfighters. Drawing upon one hundred hours of interviews undertaken with US military games designers, trainers, trainees, and veterans between 2017 and 2019, the article documents first-hand experiences of hyperreal gaming in warfighter recruitment, training, deployment, and rehabilitation. The core argument developed is that unlike simulations, which model scenarios, games are productive of people, values, and identity. If it is to understand games’ use as a tool of warfighter subjectification, the article argues, IR must renew its focus on military gaming disaggregated from the broader hyperrealities of modeling, simulation, and exercises with which it has hitherto been conflated.

Huang, Jun; Wu, Pengfei; Li, Xiaobao. “Research on Dynamically Corrective Hit Probability Model of Anti-air Missile Integrated in War Game System,” Engineering Letters 30 2 (June 2022).

The hit probability model is an essential performance measure for anti-air missiles, aircraft, and guided targets in different combat situations and environments. A combination of analytical and numerical fitting methods is proposed to meet the requirements of war game systems including being real-time and accurate. In this approach, a dynamically corrected hit probability model is obtained for the anti-air missiles for which the corrections are made on the distance, speed, and maneuverability correction for the aircraft target. With this method, corrections are also made on the penetrating altitude of the aircraft and guided targets, countering azimuth angle for the guided targets, and terminal maneuverability and echo or infrared signal characteristics correction for the guided targets. After that, war game case analyses show that the proposed hit probability correction method are successfully operated in real-time with a model accuracy which is 6% higher than that of existing models.

Jensen , Benjamin;  Lin, Bonny;  Ramos , Carolina. “Shadow Risk: What Crisis Simulations Reveal about the Dangers of Deferring U.S. Responses to China’s Gray Zone Campaign against Taiwan,” CSIS Brief (February 2022).

This brief examines the potential for escalation in Taiwan as a result of China’s gray zone campaigns. Through 20 crisis simulations conducted in Fall 2021, CSIS mapped how and when gray zone scenarios escalate and the implications for U.S. strategy. The research complements earlier efforts to war game crises over Taiwan but takes a new approach by applying social science methods and statistical analysis to identify unique decisionmaking pathologies at play in gray zones. Overall, the simulations hosted by CSIS indicate unique temporal dynamics associated with gray zone escalation with important policy implications. 

Keiser, Nathanael and Arthur, Jr., Winfred. “A Meta-Analysis of Task and Training Characteristics that Contribute to or Attenuate the Effectiveness of the After-Action Review (or Debrief),” Journal of Business and Psychology  (2022).

This study expands on Keiser and Arthur’s (2021) meta-analysis of the after-action review (AAR), or debrief, by examining six additional task and training characteristics that contribute to or attenuate its effectiveness. The findings based on a bare-bones meta-analysis of results from 83 studies (134 ds [955 teams; 4,684 individuals]) indicate that the effectiveness of the AAR (overall d = 0.92) does indeed vary across the pertinent characteristics. The primary impact of this study pertains to the practical implementation of AARs; notably, the findings indicate that the AAR is particularly effective in task environments that are characterized by a combination of high complexity and ambiguity in terms of offering no intrinsic feedback. The types of tasks—often project and decision-making—that more commonly entail these characteristics are frequently used in industries that do not traditionally use the AAR. The results also suggest that more recent variants of the AAR (i.e., a reaction phase, a canned performance review) do not meaningfully add to its effectiveness. These findings are combined with those from prior meta-analyses to derive 11 empirically-based practical guidelines for the use of AARs. In sum, this study highlights the complexity of the AAR that results from the independent and interdependent influence among various components and characteristics, the examination of the effects of novel and ostensibly distinct variants or approaches to AARs, and the extension of AARs to tasks and contexts in which they are less commonly used.

Khan, Manzoor Ahmed et al. “Game-based learning platform to enhance cybersecurity education,” Education and Information Technologies 27 (2022).

Computer security competitions have been playing a significant role in encouraging students to get into cybersecurity, as well as enhancing the cybersecurity education system. The level of difficulty of the computer security tasks could be intimidating for most students and learners, one of the reasons there has been a shortage of cybersecurity professionals, in addition to that the lack of technical training and materials. The risks posed by the cyberattacks keep constantly evolving that positions the cybersecurity education as constantly changing area, which are at times hard to teach. Furthermore, the cybersecurity laboratories are hard to setup and the assessment tools are not accurate. This obviously impacts the proper engagement of students and the learning outcomes. To address these issues, we propose a game-based learning platform to enhance cybersecurity education. The platform applies an adapted ARCS motivational model to design and evaluate different challenges, it includes a virtual lab for students with the necessary tools for practice and a web portal where all challenges and learning materials are hosted. The aim is to help students learn at their own pace about different cybersecurity challenges, give them the opportunity to gain hacking skills with ethics taken in mind in a much safer environment. Learning by solving fun puzzles and playing educational games has a huge impact on students’ performances in cybersecurity. Although the contributed solution is developed for UAE University, we believe it imparts same gains in similar educational institutes.

Lin-Greenberg, Erik; Pauly, Reid; Schneider, Jacquelyn. “Wargaming for International Relations research,” European Journal of International Relations 28, 1 (2022).

Political scientists are increasingly integrating wargames into their research. Either by fielding original games or by leveraging archival wargame materials, researchers can study rare events or topics where evidence is difficult to observe. However, scholars have little guidance on how to apply this novel methodological approach to political science research. This article evaluates how political scientists can use wargames as a method of scholarly inquiry and sets out to establish a research agenda for wargaming in International Relations. We first differentiate wargames from other methodological approaches and highlight their ecological validity. We then chart out how researchers can build and run their own games or draw from archival wargames for theory development and testing. In doing so, we explain how researchers can navigate issues of recruitment, bias, validity, and generalizability when using wargames for research, and identify ways to evaluate the potential benefits and pitfalls of wargames as a tool of inquiry. We argue that wargames offer unique opportunities for political scientists to study decision-making processes both in and beyond the International Relations subfield.

Oggeri Breda, Chiara. Gamification for Improving Cybersecurity, Master’s thesis, Politecnico di Torino, 2022.

This thesis explores gamification and its application to cybersecurity. It is well known that nowa- days the weak link in cybersecurity are humans. On one hand, both for personal and work businesses the connection and the use of devices are needed also for not computer science and cy- bersecurity experts. On the other, the lack of professional figures in the cybersecurity market with precise skills increases the need to train new experts in the field. For these reasons, concentrating the attention on the end users, with the purpose to create a useful education and awareness is important and the thesis proposes gamification as a possible solution.

The work starts to analyse gamification in general with its theories and frameworks. Gamifica- tion uses, in a non-gaming environment, game components and mechanics that involve and engage human attention encouraging a change of behaviour. I started to analyse gamification frameworks and theories to present as fully as possible the mechanics that are the basis of gamification and how it is used to encourage users in actions that are usually considered unpleasant. Most frame- works presented underline the motivators, user journey, rewarding system and in general guidance on the development part of experiences with gamification.

After a general presentation, the work focuses on cybersecurity fields. The work starts to analyse why the use of gamification in this specific field can bring satisfactory results. Therefore, the work starts with literature review. The key elements analysed that gamification should be offered are: immersive learning, increase participation, engagement and change of behaviours. Gamification is presented as a possible solution to counterbalance the limits of the standard training and awareness programs and general education in cybersecurity.

Ouriques, Leandro, Xexéo, Geraldo, and Barbosa, Carlos Eduardo. “A Proposal to Model Wargames in the MDA Framework,” Proceedings of SBGames (2021).

This work aims to define meaningful actions that players can take in a wargame. Starting from the premise that wargames are (serious) games, we wondered if a wargame and its actions could be well modeled as a game. We looked at formal approaches and decided to model wargames in MDA since this framework analyzes the actions in games as mechanics or dynamics. The proposed model links emotions with instincts that may arouse in players with mechanics and dynamics from wargames. Afterward, we indirectly evaluated the model through a survey among wargames experts. Although most research participants agree with the suitability of the proposed mechanics and dynamic, they suggested other actions that players could perform in wargames. The model matched most emotions and instincts selected by the participants and the results allowed us to improve the model mainly in mechanics and dynamics. An important contribution of this work is to recognize the emotions and instincts that are triggered by the dynamics and mechanics of wargames. The participants’ answers on instincts agree with our understanding from the literature, but their answers on emotions contradict some views on wargames. Many participants indicated that wargames can evoke fear, anger and sadness, but wargames have limitations to arouse these emotions in players. Most military see wargames primarily as training activities. However, few participants find enjoyment in wargames.

Park, Song Jun et al. “Deep reinforcement learning to assist command and control,” Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (2022).

Multi-domain operations drastically increase the scale and speed required to generate, evaluate, and disseminate command and control (C2) directives. In this work we evaluate the effectiveness of using reinforcement learning (RL) within an Army C2 system to design an artificial intelligence (AI) agent that accelerates the commander and staff’s decision making process. Leveraging RL’s superior ability to explore and exploit produces novel strategies that widen a commander’s decision space without increasing cognitive burden. Integrating RL into an efficient course of action war-gaming simulator and training hundreds of thousands of simulated battles using the DoD supercomputing resources generated an AI that produces acceptable strategic actions during a simulated operation. Moreover, this approach played an unexpected but significant role in strengthening the underlying wargame simulation engine by discovering and exploiting weaknesses in its design. This highlights a future role for the use of RL to test and improve DoD systems during their development.

Parkes, Roderick; McQuay, Mark. “The Use of Games in Strategic Foresight: a Warning from the Future,” (DGAP Policy Brief, 3). Berlin: Forschungsinstitut der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik e.V. (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.”

Plotkin, Alex and Plotkin, Barbara. Educational Special Operations Wargame (MA thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, 2021).

The role of special operations is becoming increasingly more critical within Multi-domain Operations (MDO). Special operations forces (SOF) are the predominant persistent military presence globally. SOF will continue to facilitate an accurate understanding of the operational environment for decision makers, shaping the environment to prevent armed conflict and, when necessary, providing a marked advantage for the general-purpose force over an adversary to return to competition quickly. In addition, SOF remains the force of choice for the DOD for countering violent extremist organizations and must balance that responsibility with their role in competition with near-peer adversaries. Currently, U.S. Army Special Warfare and School is modernizing and optimizing each Qualification Course. The Army Special Operations (ARSOF) Captains Career Course (CCC) has recently modified its curriculum to include SOF-specific training to best prepare future ARSOF leaders to employ Special Forces, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations within the MDO construct. This wargame is designed for the new ARSOF officers who attend the ARSOF CCC. The wargame allows the students to work within a simulated multi-domain environment applying the course curriculum and SOF doctrine within the constraints of the course that has limit time, resources, and personnel. The goal of the wargame is to assist SOF captains as they prepare to take operational teams overseas in operational and combat deployments.

Predd, Joel et al. “Resourcing a Mosaic Force: Lesions from an Acquisition Wargame,” Proceedings of the 19th annual Acquisition Research Symposium (May 2022).

DARPA has an ambitious vision for Mosaic Warfare, conceived by its Strategic Technology Office (STO) leadership as both a warfighting concept and a means to greatly accelerate capability development and fielding. Although the success of Mosaic depends on DARPA advancing multiple technologies, the Mosaic vision is inherently more challenging to “transition” than is a program or technology. Anticipating this challenge, DARPA sponsored RAND to examine the opportunities and challenges associated with developing and fielding a Mosaic force under existing or alternative governance models and management processes, as would be required for the vision to move from DARPA to widespread acceptance by DoD. To this end, RAND designed and executed a policy game that immersed participants in the task of fielding a Mosaic and required them to operate within the authorities, responsibilities, and constraints of the existing and an alternative governance model. This article presents select findings on the capacity of the existing acquisition resourcing system (i.e., the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution [or PPBE] process) to exploit STO’s vision of Mosaic Warfare.

Richman, Jesse; Pitman, Lora; and Nandakumar, Girish. “A Gamefied Synthetic Environment for Evaluation of Counter-Disinformation Solutions,” Journal of Simulation Engineering (2022).

This paper presents a simulation-based approach to developing strategies aimed at countering online disinformation and misinformation. This disruptive technology experiment incorporated a synthetic environment component, based on an adapted Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) epidemiological model to evaluate and visualize the effectiveness of suggested solutions to the issue. The participants in the simulation were given two realistic scenarios depicting a disinformation threat and were asked to select a number of solutions, described in Ideas-of-Systems (IoS) cards. During the event, the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the IoS cards were tested in a synthetic environment, built after a SIR model. The participants, divided into teams, presented and justified their strategy which included three IoS card selections. A jury of subject matter experts, announced the winning team, based on the merits of the proposed strategies and the compatibility of the different cards, grouped together.

Ryseff, James  and Bond, Michael. “Small is beautiful,The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2022).

As the Department of Defense looks toward the future of warfare, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the most important technologies to integrate into the military’s operational capabilities. As the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence notes, the ability for a machine to observe, decide, and act more quickly and more effectively than a human provides a world-altering competitive advantage in any field. Numerous private sector industries have already been upended by this technology and many experts believe that AI will have a similarly transformative effect on national security. As one of the DoD’s primary tools for exploring and evaluating potential courses of action, wargaming has a vital role to play in helping the Defense Department experiment with its ability to integrate AI across the full spectrum of DoD activities. Unfortunately, few wargames have been able to incorporate AI effectively into their own scenarios and gameplay. This is not because DoD wargame designers are luddites trying to protect the last bastion of analog wargaming, but rather because DoD wargames and gaming AI/ML systems currently have different design philosophies which lead unreconciled differences in cost, development time, and design flexibility. To overcome these barriers, we argue that DoD game designers and AI developers should learn from the best practices established by software engineering and switch their focus from building large, monolithic AIs that completely replace human players to small, modular AI-enabled components that augment a human team.

Schoemaker, Paul. Advanced Introduction to Scenario Planning, (Elgar, 2022).

Providing a panoramic overview of the evolving world of scenario planning, this Advanced Introduction uses topical case studies to analyze the developing methodologies of scenario planning. Written by Paul J.H. Schoemaker, a leading authority on the topic, this book synthesizes rigorous theory and practical experiences including best practises, normative views, and future challenges or opportunities for scenario planning.

Scott, Keith. “‘Out Beyond Jointery’: Developing a Model for Gaming Multi- Domain Warfare,” Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Information Warfare and Security (2022).

What Huizinga is saying here is not that conflict is playful, but rather, it is a game, following set rules of conduct and occurs within a defined zone of action. Elsewhere in Homo ludens, he argues that modern warfare operates without the ritualised, rule-based structure of, for example, the mediaeval tourney. The purpose of this paper is to consider the ways in which a model based on the structure of games may help us better engage with the challenges of Multi-Domain Conflict. We are all familiar with the concept of Cyber as the 5th Domain of warfare, but we need to consider it not as a discrete zone, but as running through and interpenetrating the other 4 (Earth, Sea, Air, Space), the informational spine that enables all other forms of conflict. This paper will: 1. Discuss the developing concept of Multi-Domain Conflict as a move ‘beyond jointery’ (as General Sir Nick Carter put it) into a truly integrated form of warfare, blurring and collapsing boundaries between kinetic and non- kinetic, between the services, and between military and civilian authority; 2. Outline a theoretical model for conceptualising Multi-Domain Conflict as gamelike in form, with environments of operation (‘boards’), protagonists (‘players’), and possible forms of action (‘moves’). As befits a conference on Cyber and Information Warfare, it will argue that the D5 model of IW (Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, Deceive and Destroy) is portable and scalable across the other 4 domains (Land, Sea, Air, Space); 3. Show how this theoretical model can be employed both to model and simulate Multi-Domain Conflict; wargames have been a key element of military planning and training for at least a century – this paper argues that we need to develop a new Kriegspiel to better understand coming conflicts.

Seaman, Christopher, and Tran, Thuan. “Intellectual Property and Tabletop Games,” Iowa Law Review 107 (2022).

There is a rich body of literature regarding intellectual property’s (“IP”) “negative spaces”—fields where creation and innovation thrive without significant formal protection from IP law. Scholars have written about innovation in diverse fields despite weak or nonexistent IP rights, such as fashion design, fine cuisine, stand-up comedy, magic tricks, tattoos, and sports plays. Instead, these fields rely on social norms, first- mover advantage, and other (non-IP) legal regimes to promote innovation in the absence of IP protection.

As a comparison to these studies, this Article comprehensively analyzes the role of IP law in facilitating innovation in tabletop gaming, including board games, card games, and pen-and-paper role-playing games. Over the past several decades, the tabletop gaming industry has seen a proliferation of innovation, but there is surprisingly little in the academic literature about IP and tabletop games. IP rights, including patents, copyrights, and trademarks, each protect certain aspects of games, while at the same time being constrained by doctrinal limitations that leave considerable flexibility for others to develop their own games and adapt or improve upon existing ones. There are also numerous examples of user-based innovation in tabletop gaming. This Article concludes by contending that IP rights, as well as their limitations, play a significant role in facilitating the robust innovation presently occurring in the tabletop gaming field.

Seipp, Adam. “Fulda Gap: A board game, West German society, and a battle that never happened, 1975–85,” War & Society (2022).

This article explores the reception of the American-made board game Fulda Gap: The First Battle of the Next War in the Federal Republic of Germany in the early 1980s. The German peace movement used the game, which depicted conventional, chemical, and nuclear war on German territory, as a potent symbol of what they believed to be American and NATO disregard for German lives and sovereignty. The controversy over the game reflected the changing character of German-American relations during the ‘Second Cold War’ and increasing concerns among Germans about the possible consequences of superpower conflict in Central Europe.

Simpson, Joseph and Brantly, Aaron. “Security Simulations in Undergraduate Education: A Review,” m (2022).

Several decades of research in simulation and gamification in higher education shows that simulations are highly effective in improving a range of outcomes for students including declarative knowledge and interest in the topic being taught. While there appears to be a broad array of options to provide education in an undergraduate setting related to security, no previous reviews have explored computer-based simulations covering all facets of security. Given the increasing importance and adoption of interdisciplinary educational programs, it is important to take stock of simulations as a tool to broaden the range of problems, perspectives, and solutions presented to students. Our review provides an overview of computer-based simulations in U.S. undergraduate institutions published in academic journals and conferences. We identify strengths and limitations of existing computer-based simulations as well as opportunities for future research.

Smith, Jeremy, and Barker, Stephen. “Methods to measure and track population perception and support within a manual wargame,” The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology 19, 2 (2022).

The outcomes of military campaigns depend to a large extent on the support of local and other wider population groups, so it is important to understand their perceptions. Here we briefly describe the approach used to represent support for organizations and factions in a professional wargame designed to represent military campaigns. This specific approach was developed originally using a simple marker track system that used a basic quantified set of relationships between military campaign effects and changes to the track levels. This marker track system was developed for military campaign wargames in the UK as a means to portray support or dissent in population groups relevant to the operations, but there was originally no mechanism to drive changes other than by expert judgment. Our improved approach continues the use of marker tracks but attempts to develop a more defensible method based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for linking events to changes and levels on the tracks. We conducted experiments to quantify the relative importance of each element in Maslow’s hierarchy. We then continued by conducting a further experiment to identify the impact of a set of effects seen in a wargame against the Maslow elements. This has led to a set of quantified scores that may be used to drive the modifications to the marker tracks when wargame events occur. These scores are based on our initial experiments and may be updated for a specific application, perhaps for a specific setting or location in the world. The revised or enhanced approach aims to produce a transparent solution that can be understood by a military or security analyst, thus facilitating refinement, updating, and change.

Stone, George. “Making simulations future proof,The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2022).

No abstract available.

Tarraf, Danielle et al. “An experiment in tactical wargaming with platforms enabled by artificial intelligence,”  The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2022).

In this report, researchers experimented with how postulated artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) capabilities could be incorporated into a wargame. We modified and augmented the rules and engagement statistics used in a commercial tabletop wargame to enable (1) remotely operated and fully autonomous combat vehicles and (2) vehicles with AI/ML-enabled situational awareness to show how the two types of vehicles would perform in company-level engagement between Blue (US) and Red (Russian) forces. The augmented rules and statistics we developed for this wargame were based in part on the US Army’s evolving plans for developing and fielding robotic and AI/ML-enabled weapon and other systems. However, we also portrayed combat vehicles with the capability to autonomously detect, identify, and engage targets without human intervention, which the Army does not presently envision. The rules we developed sought to realistically portray the capabilities and limitations of AI/ML-enabled systems, including their vulnerability to selected enemy countermeasures, such as jamming. Future work could improve the realism of both the gameplay and representation of AI/ML-enabled systems, thereby providing useful information to the acquisition and operational communities in the US Department of Defense.

Turnitsa, Charles; Blais, Curtis; and Tolk, Andrea, eds. Simulation and Wargaming (Wiley, 2021).

Based on the insights of experts in both domains, Simulation and Wargaming comprehensively explores the intersection between computer simulation and wargaming. This book shows how the practice of wargaming can be augmented and provide more detail-oriented insights using computer simulation, particularly as the complexity of military operations and the need for computational decision aids increases. 

The distinguished authors have hit upon two practical areas that have tremendous applications to share with one another but do not seem to be aware of that fact. The book includes insights into:

The application of the data-driven speed inherent to computer simulation to wargames

The application of the insight and analysis gained from wargames to computer simulation

The areas of concern raised by the combination of these two disparate yet related fields

New research and application opportunities emerging from the intersection

Addressing professionals in the wargaming, modeling, and simulation industries, as well as decision makers and organizational leaders involved with wargaming and simulation, Simulation and Wargamingoffers a multifaceted and insightful read and provides the foundation for future interdisciplinary progress in both domains.

van der Zwet, Koen  et al. “Promises and pitfalls of computational modelling for insurgency conflicts,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2022).

Insurgency conflicts pose significant challenges to societies globally. The increase of insurgency conflicts creates a need to understand how insurgencies arise, and to identify societal drivers of insurgencies or effective strategies to counter them. In this paper, we analyze the contributions of computational modeling methods for the analysis of insurgent con- flicts. We formalize a specific literature-based analysis framework using the identified key factors and drivers, which enables the evaluation of specific models in this domain. Through a systematic literature search, we identify 64 computa- tional models to apply our framework. We highlight the development and contributions of various methodologies through an in-depth analysis of 13 high-quality models. The evaluation of these computational models revealed promising directions and future topics to design specific simulation models for all identified factors. In addition, our analysis revealed specific pitfalls concerning validity issues for each of the modeling methods.

Xin, Jin et al. “Uncertainty Based Hybrid-intelligence Multi-branch Wargaming,” 7th International Conference on Computer and Communications (ICCC) (2021).

Uncertainty of war challenges command decision making, especially in the pre-war preparation stage. In newly proposed operational concepts, uncertainty is taken as a means to limit the opponent’s decision-making. How to help commanders analyze and utilize uncertainty has become a technical challenge that must be overcome to win the future combats. In this paper, a method called hybrid-intelligence multi-branch wargaming was proposed. Through combination of human intelligence in form of knowledge, and machine intelligence trained by reinforcement learning, the method realized new functions of COA evaluation and optimization analysis. Its feasibility and effectiveness has been verified through prototype development and experiments. It provides a short-term feasible way for the application of artificial intelligence technology in the field of command decision-making.

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 2 July 2022

PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on serious (and not-so-serious) gaming that may be of interest to our readers. Many thanks to Aaron Danis and Steven Sowards for suggesting items for this latest edition.

The Director General Training and Doctrine has just released the Australian Army’s first Professional Gaming List. At The Cove, David Hill discusses the list and the value of wargaming.

In 2020, I wrote an article for The Cove – Reinvigorating Wargaming – which highlighted how commercially available wargames had been employed in the United States and United Kingdom to support their reinvigoration of wargaming. Both countries recognised that wargaming had the potential to enhance the critical thinking and decision-making skills of their personnel; it enables their personnel to think, fight and win in war. The recent release of the Commander Forces Command Directive, Army Wargaming: 2021 – 2025 acknowledges that wargaming has the potential to enhance our cognitive capacity by providing opportunities to exercise decision-making in safe-to-fail adversarial environments. Critically though, the directive noted that while wargaming has been revitalised in the United States and United Kingdom within the Australian Army more investment is required. The Director General Training and Doctrine has just released the Australian Army’s first Professional Gaming List; it represents the first of the Army Wargaming: 2021 – 2025 initiatives.

This article aims to explore the value of the Professional Gaming List and outline how these games can be incorporated into a unit Professional Military Education program. For a variety of reasons, the idea of playing games as part of a unit training program will seem foreign and perhaps even wrong to many. To understand the potential value of this approach it is necessary to define wargaming and in particular dispel the notion that Course of Action – Analysis is wargaming. Incorporating one of these games into a unit training activity is a deliberate decision that requires some preparation; this article will conclude with a suggested format for these training activities.

The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. The most recent issue contains links to several recent pieces on wargaming:

From armed conflicts to global pandemics, military strategists and policymakers use gaming to gain insights into some of the most challenging problems they face. Ranging from operational wargames to strategy games, these exercises help develop and test strategies, support effective decision-making, and communicate vital lessons to key stakeholders. The Gaming Lab at CNAS develops, runs, and analyzes games to derive critical insights on a wide array of military, political, and economic challenges, with the aim to make concrete policy-relevant recommendations. 

NATO Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and the Science and Technology Organization have announced that registration is now open for the 16th annual NATO Operations Research & Analysis Conference, to be held on 17-19 October 2022 in Copenhagen.

The 2021 theme is “OR&A: New ideas, old realities”. The theme reflects the long- standing practice of Operations Research and Analysis in Defence, tackling ongoing challenges faced by the Alliance and looks to the future to bring new methods to old challenges, or well-established methods on future challenges. The conference will kick off with a keynote address and cover the following topics:



Modelling & Simulation;



Strategic Analysis;



WDI, Cross-domain Command;

WDI, Integrated multi-domain defence;

WDI, Layered resilience.

Additional details can be found at the link above.

At Military Strategy Magazine (Summer 2022), Benjamin E. Mainardi (Center for Maritime Strategy) argues that tabletop wargames have an important role to play in improving civilian strategic education.

Recently, it has become commonplace to hear arguments that the United States military ought to place a greater emphasis on incorporating wargaming into its professional military education programs, so as to better prepare future military leaders for the challenges of the twenty first century. Of course, critics have acutely identified issues with the preexisting practice of wargames and their value as planning tools; notably, that participants often fail to connect the military action with political considerations or objectives and that wargames are seldom able to simulate the realities of combat situations. The fact remains; however, that wargaming already has a long history of use by the armed services and continues to be a significant aspect of crafting operation plans and strategic futures. What is most interesting about the wargaming discourse, however, is the comparatively minor presence of arguments for incorporating wargaming into the education of civilian foreign policy and national security practitioners. This is especially confounding when one considers that it is civilians who occupy the chief roles in defining the political ends, directing the strategic ways, and approving the military means of national security policies.

The education of upcoming foreign policy practitioners and national security strategists is a subject of great interest, importance, and debate. Overwhelmingly, it occurs in the political science and international relations faculties of civilian universities. For students, what an undergraduate foreign or national security policy education looks like is largely an amalgamation of abstract theories, primarily those of the international relations field; historical case studies, mostly cherrypicked from the last two centuries of European history; the strategic canon of Clausewitz and Machiavelli, among others; perhaps a foreign language; and, for some, statistical trend analysis. This is a rather problematic way of educating some of the most important practitioners within their fields, producing graduates of disparate quality in strategic thinking capacity; an issue which has been brought up repeatedly throughout the years across a variety of disciplines in what might be considered a wider debate over the atrophy of degree programs in practicality and critical thinking development. The question of what an undergraduate education, in this case international relations and affiliated programs, truly equips students to do is one of growing significance yet remains somewhat elusive. While the application of strategic concepts and international relations theory in an academic setting likely helps to develop one’s general analytical skills, its ability to truly instill an understanding of the practice of statecraft, much less the utility of military operations and the practice of war more broadly, is rather questionable.

Enter the tabletop. That tabletop games can be effectively used to enhance learning in a variety of disciplines is a well-understood and empirically founded concept.

At The Warzone, Joseph Trevithick reports that a “massive drone swarm over strait decisive In Taiwan conflict wargames.”

Wargames that the U.S. Air Force has conducted itself and in conjunction with independent organizations continue to show the immense value offered by swarms of relatively low-cost networked drones with high degrees of autonomy. In particular, simulations have shown them to be decisive factors in the scenarios regarding the defense of the island of Taiwan against a Chinese invasion.

Last week, David Ochmanek, a senior international affairs and defense researcher at the RAND Corporation and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development during President Barack Obama’s administration, discussed the importance of unmanned platforms in Taiwan Strait crisis-related wargaming that the think tank has done in recent years. Ochmanek offered his insight during an online chat, which you can watch in full below, hosted by the Air & Space Forces Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Registration now open for Connections UK 2022

Registration is now open for the Connections UK conference for wargaming professionals on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 September 2022. This will again be remote but will help set the conditions for a return to a face-to-face conference in 2023.

The theme of this year’s conference will be ‘Becoming a seasoned wargaming practitioner’. We will offer a safe-to-fail environment where practitioners at all levels of experience can discuss and practise their art. ‘Grognard’ contributions will focus on practical top tips, including a session on the many mistakes and lessons we have painfully learned over the years. The Introduction to Wargaming Course remains available online, but will not be delivered during the 2022 conference. Following a successful hybrid seminar experiment in April, there will be at least one hybrid session.

Plenaries will use Zoom as the core medium, while parallel sessions will be delivered on the presenter’s platform of choice. Discord will take a back seat, but will be used for conference coordination and be available for private chat and networking.

Registration is via Eventbrite. The standard cost is £25, but there is a £10 ‘supported’ option for those who can’t stretch to £25. There is a cap of 120 places, and registration will close on Friday 2 September, so book your ticket now!

For more general information on Connections UK (including presentations from previous conferences), consult the Connections UK website. Connections Uk is a sponsor of the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

CNAS: Dangerous Straits

A new CNAS report by Stacie Pettyjohn, Becca Wasser, and Chris Dougherty outlines findings from Dangerous Straits, a recent strategic-operational wargame exploring a fictional 2027 war between China and the United States over Taiwan.

The wargame, hosted by the Gaming Lab at CNAS, in partnership with NBC’s Meet the Press, illuminated the dilemmas that U.S. and Chinese policymakers might face if China were to invade Taiwan, along with the strategies they might adopt to achieve their overarching objectives.

The wargame indicated a protracted conflict rather than a short war is likely if China decides to invade Taiwan. Neither side felt as though it had lost, but both had depleted their missile inventories, sustained significant losses, and still needed to resupply and rearm forces under attack. Preventing China from a quick triumph over Taipei did not equate to an American and Taiwanese victory.

Drawing from the findings of the wargame, the authors assert that the United States and its allies and partners must take several steps to change the Indo-Pacific military balance in their favor to deter China from invading Taiwan and prevent war. These steps include the following: 

The U.S. Department of Defense should make sustained investments in long-range precision-guided weapons and undersea capabilities, while also enhancing the resiliency of its posture in the Indo-Pacific region and deepening planning with key allies and partners.

The U.S. Department of Defense should plan for a protracted conflict and develop ways to reduce the risks of inadvertent escalation with a nuclear armed China.

The U.S. Congress should enable key improvements in the Indo-Pacific through the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and should help shape Taiwan’s military posture. 

Taiwan must improve its defensive capabilities by investing in asymmetric, resilient, and attritable capabilities; increasing training for its active and reserve forces; and by stockpiling key weapons and supplies.

The full report can be found here.

SFU: Post-doctoral fellowship on pandemics and borders

The Pandemics and Borders Project is an international and interdisciplinary research group, based at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada, studying the use of travel measures during public health emergencies. The team bridges the fields of political science, economics, public policy, infectious disease modelling and genomics. The team is recruiting for a Postdoctoral Fellowship in border management and global public health. The Postdoctoral Fellow will contribute to national and global efforts to understand and better respond to global health threats by conducting ground- breaking research to inform future border management.

The team invites recent and near PhD graduates with expertise in social sciences and/or public policy. The ideal candidate will have knowledge and experience of mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methods applied to public policy issues. Experience of risk assessment or simulation-based gaming is an asset.

You’ll find the full announcement below.

For examples of some of the serious gaming associated with this project, see:

Some members of the project team were also involved in Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine red-teaming and tabletop exercise.

The Guardian: Wargaming at KCL

The Guardian features a piece today by Keith Stuart about the excellent wargaming MA module at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.

Wargames aren’t employed only by the military. Corporations use them to explore business decisions; government policymakers use them to simulate major events, including pandemics; and they have a role in disaster relief. “The UNHCR has made efforts in various cities to help with the influx of Ukrainian refugees and provide relief to civic centres and to other spaces housing many people and aid workers,” says Lily Boland, co-designer of Don’t Fear the Reaper Drone. “Wargaming and/or simulating some of these crucial aspects of refugee aid work would certainly help organisations like the UN and local institutions to prepare for these scenarios in advance.”

What the situation in Ukraine has shown the world is that the outcomes of military action are becoming less predictable. Russia’s command and control strategy has been found wanting, while Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s innovative and playful use of social media has increased awareness and support for his country in a way that would have been tough to forecast. As Banks puts it, “I’m a huge believer in using historical case studies as much as possible, but a lot of the problems we’re facing in the 21st century are not ones that we have any ready guides for.”

As the world becomes ever more unpredictable and prone to disruptive global events, perhaps new strategies and solutions will be discovered in games like these.

For more on wargaming at KCL, check out the King’s Wargaming Network

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 21 May 2022

PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on serious (and not-so-serious) gaming that may be of interest to our readers.

On 25 May 2022, the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps will host  a Wargaming Extravaganza Day on Imjin Barracks in Gloucester.

The morning session will consist of a Russia Disinformation Simulation with Monkey Pox by Conducttr team followed by round-robin sessions of the new US Marine Corps Operational Wargame System (OWS), Combat Mission and some video demonstrations of multidomain warfighting with Command: Professional Edition.

UK Fight Club has more information and a registration link here.

As previously noted, CNAS recently collaborated with NBC Meet the Press to run a wargame examining a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. At Foreign Affairs, Stacie Pettyjohn and Becca Wasser have more to say about the game and the issues it raises.

The clear lesson from the war game is that the United States needs to strengthen its conventional capabilities in the Indo-Pacific to ensure that China never views an invasion of Taiwan as a prudent tactical move. To do so, the United States will need to commit to maintaining its conventional military superiority by expanding its stockpiles of long-range munitions and investing in undersea capabilities. Washington must also be able to conduct offensive operations inside the first and second island chains even while under attack. This will require access to new bases to distribute U.S. forces, enhance their survivability, and ensure that they can effectively defend Taiwan in the face of China’s attacks.

Moreover, the United States needs to develop an integrated network of partners willing to contribute to Taiwan’s defense. Allies are an asymmetric advantage: the United States has them, and China does not. The United States should deepen strategic and operational planning with key partners to send a strong signal of resolve to China. As part of these planning efforts, the United States and its allies will need to develop war-winning military strategies that do not cross Chinese red-lines. The game highlighted just how difficult this task may be; what it did not highlight is the complexity of developing military strategies that integrate the strategic objectives and military capacities of multiple nations. 

Moving forward, military planners in the United States and in Washington’s allies and partners must grapple with the fact that, in a conflict over Taiwan, China would consider all conventional and nuclear options to be on the table. And the United States is running out of time to strengthen deterrence and keep China from believing an invasion of Taiwan could be successful. The biggest risk is that Washington and its friends choose not to seize the moment and act: a year or two from now, it might already be too late. 

The Serious Play 2022 conference will feature a series of post-conference skills workshops, including one on wargame design.

In this workshop, the depth and breadth of wargames for military contexts will be discussed.  Military trainers and member of Defense Acquisition University faculty will join forces to help attendees understand the development of these types of games for a wide range of applications.  

Bring your idea (or use one of ours) and spend the day working with a team of experts in wargaming and game design to create a wargame that will allow for you to address your training or game concept. 

By the end of this workshop you should be able to create a prototype baseline of your idea and have the tools to develop it further. 

A special feature of this workshop will be the discussion and demo of a tabletop wargame about a competition between the U.S. and China over artificial intelligence created by graduate students in Security Studies at Georgetown University.

Details can be found here.

Brigham Young University recently ran a crisis game exploring the current war in Ukraine:

Adjunct professor Kerry M. Kartchner and 16 BYU students gathered at the Kennedy Center on May 18 and were separated into four groups representing Ukraine, Russia, NATO and the United States. Kartchner asked the students to discuss two nuclear crises scenarios, which were fictitious and for educational purposes only.

After receiving each scenario, the groups went into different classrooms and discussed the aftermath of the respective crises. Appointed diplomats from each group communicated with other groups to determine needs, demands and possible outcomes. After the private discourse, they came back together to negotiate.

“This is the first time we’ve done a simulation in this class,” Kartchner said. “It was a success; they asked all the right questions.”

Kartchner, who teaches several political science classes each semester depending on the needs of the department, said his favorite part of the simulations was seeing students discover the real world applications to principles they discussed in class.

Kartchner also said simulations are an important part of political science classes because they allow students to think through issues from the point of view of the organizations they represent.

“It can be frustrating, but it’s very realistic,” Kartchner said. “Often the information is incomplete or inaccurate, and there’s no good answer.”

Chris Engle—inventor of the matrix game—recently developed a short handout on how he runs such games for Origins Game Convention War College. He was kind enough to share it with PAXsims.

Videos from the Connections Online 2022 conference are all available online. You’ll find an after action report here.

Sustainment students from the Command and General Staff College used a board-based wargame, Thor’s Hammer, to practice principles of sustainment.

The game, Thor’s Hammer, (not related to the commercial e-game of the same name), set in Norway and Sweden, was designed by game-design students at Georgetown University in cooperation with the Department of Sustainment and Force Management at CGSC. CGSC’s Department of Simulation Education assisted in the design and development of the game.

“The game teaches that sustainment is more than a logistics function,” said Lt. Col. John Lord, DSE director.

Wargames are an effective teaching tool because they engage students, play into the student’s competitive nature, and make learning fun, explained Todd Guggisberg, team leader for CGSC Team 17 and lead instructor for the elective.

Lt. Col. Chris Baldwin, the assistant instructor added, “This allows them to execute the imperatives of building combat power, sustaining operational reach and enabling endurance.”

Doing it as a board game rather than a computer-driven scenario allows the instructor to have more freedom in how to incorporate the game into classes, Lord said.

While most wargames focus on maneuver and kinetic engagement, the Sustainment Department was looking for a game that downplayed the battle and focused on the importance of sustainment in the success of combat operations. They contacted Georgetown, and the design of the game became a class project for students in the university’s design class.

Jamie Hood, one of the game designers from Georgetown, said basic design of the game took about eight months and was completed in December. Since then the design team has tested and tweaked the game preparing for the CGSC elective that serves as a learning experience for the CGSC students and a culminating test for the game.

In order to simplify the game, make it quick to learn, and allow it to be played within the class framework, the designers decided not to play the air and sea elements and to limit the classes of supply to fuel, food, and ammunition. They also designed the game to be played by one or two people on each side to allow the most engagement for students.

Connections (US) 2022 registration now open

Registration for the Connections (US) 2022 professional wargaming conference is now open.

On behalf of conference founder and co-chair Matt Caffrey and the rest of the Connections organizing team, I am pleased to announce that registration for Connections 2022 is now open!  This year’s conference will be hosted by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) at their new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, July 26-29.

The registration form cane be found here.

(The above link is to a Google Form, which are sometimes difficult to access from some military networks.  If you have problems viewing or completing the form at work, please try from a personal device at home.)

More information, including a link to the draft schedule, is available at the Connections website.

Since 1993, the Connections conference has brought together practitioners with a professional interest in wargaming from all elements of the wargaming field.  Please help us expand our reach even further by passing this registration information along to those you think might be interested.

We hope you can join us at our first in-person conference since 2019, after two years of online events.  Register early to ensure that you will be able to attend in the event that we reach our capacity, and please let us know if your plans change so that we can keep an accurate count.  We expect this will be the largest in-person Connections conference yet, but only your support will get us there. 

KWN: Wojtowicz  on evaluating effectiveness in wargames

The next public lecture of the King’s Wargaming Network will take place on June 1:

The Wargaming Network is pleased to announce the third lecture in our 2021-2022 public lectures series on wargaming. The theme for this year is evaluating and assessing the impact of wargaming on individuals and organizations and will feature speakers who have made important new contributions to wargaming assessment. The lecture will take place online on 01 June, 17:00-18:30 BST. Please register for the lecture here to receive the log in details for the online event. 

Natalia Wojtowicz will showcase different methods of evaluating effectiveness of wargames, compiled from academic, industrial and governmental sector. A comparison of common and distinct factors will be analyzed to connect the effects with structure of the wargame. The question of objectivity of results will be explored based on recent experiments on adjudication. This presentation will be focused on identifying next steps in measuring and evaluating wargames.

Natalia Wojtowicz is a lecturer at the Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Safety and Security Management Programme. She teaches about wargaming, game design, and digital skills. Her research includes effectiveness of wargaming, new methods and experimental implementation. Previously she worked at the NATO Civil-Military Cooperation Center of Excellence, leading the Wargaming, Modelling and Simulation project focused on introducing civilian population into training and education. Later she designed 14 new wargames implemented across NATO. Currently she is researching adjudication in wargaming and testing an upcoming game about uprising in Belarus. You can follow her [on Twitter] at @Wojtowicz_N

Please register for the lecture here to receive the information for attending this online event on 01 June 2022. 

High North update

Tim Price has updated his High North (Arctic crisis) matrix game to include some potential ramifications of the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. You’ll find the latest version below.

CNAS Wargame on China Invasion of Taiwan

The Center for New American Security (CNAS) Gaming Lab did a game on a Chinese invasion of Taiwan for Meet the Press Reports. Over the course of multiple moves CNAS gamers Becca Wasser (Red) and Chris Dougherty (Blue) discussed the options with the players and guided team play. Working with Chuck Todd, Ed McGrady and Stacie Pettyjohn, adjudicated the outcomes and built the story of what happened. Stacie was then debriefed by Chuck on camera. The game will come out Thursday, May 12, at 10:30PM EDT streaming on NBC News Now, MTP Reports. It will also be streaming on Peacock. In addition to the game, Becca and Ed discussed gaming and Taiwan with Chuck Todd on his half hour podcast. That is forthcoming.

NBC News has a description of the game (by Carol Lee) on their website which includes a short (11 minute) sneak peak of the approximately 50 minute full episode.

Click here for the CNAS Press release (which includes a link to the full NBC episode).

Click here for the podcast of Chuck Todd (NBC) discussing the game with Becca Wasser and Ed McGrady.

Simulation & Gaming (June 2022)

The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 53, 3 (June 2022) is now available.


  • Games for Peace and Welfare 
    • Marlies P. Schijven and Toshiko Kikkawa

Research Articles

  • Proximal Processes and Problem Solving: Gamers vs. Students 
    • Lorraine A. Jacques
  • Understanding the Effects of Mixed Reality on Video Game Satisfaction, Enjoyment, and Performance
    • Weerachet Sinlapanuntakul, Jessyca L. Derby, and Barbara S. Chaparro

Short Research Article

  • A Serious Game Employed to Introduce Principles of Interprofessional Collaboration to Students of Multiple Health Professions 
    • Nicholas M. Fusco, Lisa Jane Jacobsen, Nicole Klem, Ryan Krzyzanowicz, and Patricia J. Ohtake


  • Ghosts of the Titanomachy: Structure, Commitment, Economics, and Risk as Causal Mechanisms in an Online Battle 
    • James D. Fielder


  • Therapeutic Use of Role-Playing Game (RPG) in Mental Health: A Scoping Review 
    • Daniel Luccas Arenas, Anna Viduani, and Renata Brasil Araujo

War Room: Better strategy? It’s all in the game

The US Army War College War Room podcast features a discussion by Chris Steinitz, Erin Sullivan and Ron Granieri:

Wargames can be incredible teaching and learning tools when they are built and utilized properly. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and require a skilled hand in their creation. A BETTER PEACE welcomes two such skilled developers, Chris Steinitz and Erin Sullivan to the studio to share their experiences as game developers and discuss how they started in the wargaming world. Chris and Erin join podcast editor Ron Granieri to talk about what makes a great wargame, what crucial information is necessary before even starting construction of a game and when you truly need a wargame versus tailored analysis.

You’ll find it here.

Bandera II: Ukraine matrix game update

In response to popular demand, matrix game designer Tim Price has updated his earlier Ukraine matrix game to address the current phase of the war.

You can download Bandera II below.

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