Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Bae: A tale of many kinds of wargames (for many kinds of purposes)

Yesterday we posted a link to Jon Compton’s War on the Rocks piece “A Tale of Two Wargames.” Today, Sebastian Bae (CNA) adds some thoughts of his own in a series of Twitter posts.

He correctly notes that wargame sponsors may have rather different objectives, and that there are many different game approaches depending on those purposes. As a result, he suggests, “not every game will need the kind of approach outlined in this article.” He goes on to add “this binary between multi-method games and ‘event wargames’ is misleading. Some sponsors need event wargames for LOTS of people because they want to socialize an idea or get stakeholders together. Or have a specific timeline. There is no ‘ideal’ perfect form for a wargame.”

He concludes:

You can read the full thread on Twitter.

Connections Oz 2022

Connections Oz will take place at the Australian Defence College (Canberra) on 14-15 December 2022.

For more information and to register, see the Connections Oz website.

Compton: A tale of two wargames

At War on the Rocks, John Compton presents a story of two (not) entirely fictitious wargames.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there was a secretary of defense who had a difficult problem. He believed that this problem required deep analytical wargaming to unravel, so he posed his problem to a famous wargame provider who gladly accepted the challenge. Meanwhile, he also posed the question to his own staff, who went unto their own staffs. Ultimately the challenge was also taken up by a lowly minion armed with a small budget and the freedom to develop his own approach to understanding the problem the secretary had posed.

See how it all turns out at the link above.

International wargaming conference in Budapest, 25 October

The Education and Youth Strategy Department of the Ministry of Defense and the National University of Public Service are organizing an international (English-Hungarian) conference on 25 October 2022 (Tuesday) between 10.00 and 15.00 at the StefĂĄnia Palace – HonvĂ©d Cultural Center, Budapest.

The topic of the conference is the current state of modern professional and hobby wargaming in Hungary and the Central Eastern European Region, serious gaming and game-based pedagogy/learning, and the possible future role of wargaming in research & development and innovation. The goal of the conference is to build relationship between wargamers and those interested in wargaming, to help further cooperation.

Full details below.

Wargaming and The Cycle of Research and Learning

The Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies has just published a new paper by Peter Perla (who needs no introduction — and if he does you have not been paying attention) in which he expands on his ideas concerning the cycle of research.


“Some thirty years ago, I coined the concept of the Cycle of Research, which described how wargaming, exercises and analysis, coupled with real-world operations and history, have worked together in concert to help the national-security community to understand better political-military reality and its past and future evolutions. When first proposed, I had in mind the uses of Wargaming in the analytical context, or what the community of professional wargamers most often calls research wargaming. Over the years, however, I began to recognize how much the same integration of tools and techniques can—and should—influence education and training for national-security professionals, both uniform and civilian: In essence, a Cycle of Learning. In this paper I explore these ideas more fully.”

Perla, P. (2022). Wargaming and The Cycle of Research and Learning. Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies, 5(1), 197–208. DOI:

Wargaming position at CGSC

The US Army Command and General Staff College is looking for a “simulation specialist.”

Serve as a modeling, simulation, wargaming, and gaming expert and technical authority at the Command and General Staff College, responsible for the management and execution of the college wide Modeling and Simulation (M&S) Program. Provide support to classroom education using simulations and wargames, and teach graduate-level courses on the use and design of simulations and wargames.

Full details at USAJobs. The closing date for applications is 22 September 2022.

Simulation & Gaming, October 2022

The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 53, 5 (October 2022) is now available.


  • One Winner for Games? 
    • Marlies P. Schijven and Toshiko Kikkawa


  • The Effect of 2D and 3D Action Video Game Interventions on Executive Functions in Male Students 
    • Faride Sadat Hoseini, Masood Khodadadi, and Alireza Khorambakht
  • Same Gaming: An Exploration of Relationships Between Gender Traits, Sexual Orientation, Motivations, and Enjoyment of Playing Video Games 
    • Julia Kneer, Yubo Zhang, Bartosz Grzegorz Ć»erebecki, and Tim Wulf
  • Legitimate Peripheral Participation by Novices in a Dungeons and Dragons Community 
    • Michael J. Giordano

Research Articles

  • Improving Environmental Outcomes With Games: An Exploration of Behavioural and Technological Design and Evaluation Approaches 
    • Kristy de Salas, Louise Ashbarry, Mikaela Seabourne, Ian Lewis, Lindsay Wells, Julian Dermoudy, Erin Roehrer, Matthew Springer, James D. Sauer, and Jenn Scott
  • Roles of Serious Game in Diabetes Patient Education 
    • Chen Ling, Shriram Seetharaman, and Lubna Mirza


  • Association between Clinical Simulation Design Features and Novice Healthcare Professionals’ Cognitive Load: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
    • Alexandra Lapierre, Caroline Arbour, Marc-AndrĂ© Maheu-Cadotte, Billy Vinette, Guillaume Fontaine, and Patrick Lavoie

Short Research Article

  • “What if We Explore
” Promoting Engaged Learning and Collaboration with MOUNTAIN RESCUE 
    • Denise M. Bressler, M. Shane Tutwiler, Amanda Siebert-Evenstone, Leonard A. Annetta, and Jason A. Chen

Simulation & gaming miscellany, 3 September 2022

Norsemen SE03 EP04 (2020)

PAXsims is pleased to present some recent(-ish) items on conflict simulation and serious (and not-so-serious) gaming that may be of interest to our readers. See something we should include in our next update? Email us!

CNN reports on how the “US war-gamed with Ukraine ahead of counteroffensive and encouraged more limited mission.”

In the buildup to the current Ukrainian counteroffensive, the US urged Kyiv to keep the operation limited in both its objectives and its geography to avoid getting overextended and bogged down on multiple fronts, multiple US and western officials and Ukrainian sources tell CNN. 

Those discussions involved engaging in “war-gaming” with Kyiv, the sources said – analytical exercises that were intended to help the Ukrainian forces understand what force levels they would need to muster to be successful in different scenarios.

The Ukrainians were initially considering a broader counteroffensive, but narrowed their mission to the south, in the Kherson region, in recent weeks, US and Ukrainian officials said.

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told CNN that “the United States has routine military-to-military dialogue at multiple levels with Ukraine. We will not comment on the specifics of those engagements. Generally speaking, we provide the Ukrainians with information to help them better understand the threats they face and defend their country against Russian aggression. Ultimately, the Ukrainians are making the final decisions for their operations.”

On a similar note, the latest BruteCast videocast from the Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare (Marine Corps University) features a discussion on panel on “Rapid Wargame Prototyping for Crises.”

An earlier episode in July also addressed wargaming the war in Ukraine.

If you missed the original live presentation, the King’s Wargaming Network has posted a June 2022 lecture by Natalia Wojtowicz on “Evaluating Effectiveness in Wargames” to their YouTube channel.

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 at @Wojtowicz_N

The King’s Wargaming Network has also posted the video of a May 2022 presentation by Ralf Beerens on “Improving Disaster Response Evaluation.”

The dynamic disaster response environment in which his research took place, and the challenges it both poses and faces, resembles that of wargames. Overall, this research shows that to gain maximum benefit from disaster response evaluations, the outcomes must be systematic, rigorous, evidence-based and actionable. This is also challenging as this creates a dilemma around the so called ‘rigor-relevance gap’ which refers to the hurdle of simultaneously delivering practitioner relevance and scholarly rigour. There will be a mixture of scholarly rigour and practitioner relevance by introducing and discussing various approaches, concepts, processes and models such as the research design strategy, design science and evaluation descriptions. This is combined with insights into the Dutch Crisis Management system and practical experiences (with evaluation) as well as key research findings that can be transferred to wargames. This lecture will propose some ways forward and open a conversation regarding how to manage both the process and the products of an evaluation and possible scientific and practical contributions, in order to optimise its usefulness for a range of purposes and users. In general the session is aimed at enhancing our understanding of the role(s) of evaluation in dynamic and complex environments such as disaster risk management and the transfer of these insights to wargames, keeping in mind that it is not the evaluation itself that leads to improvement; it is the use of the evaluation that can lead to improvement. Evaluation should be seen as a means to an end.

Dr. Ralf Beerens is a senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Public Safety (NIPV) and is also a senior lecturer for the Institute’s Master in Crisis and Public Order Management (MCPM). In September 2021 he received his Ph.D. from Lund University, Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, where he remains affiliated as a visiting research fellow. In this research he focused on disaster response (exercise) evaluation. He remains particularly interested in the evaluation of the operational performance of (international) emergency response organisations, teams or modules during exercises and crises, which also reflects his professional experience as an evaluator.

And another lecture, by Kate Kuehn on Valid and Meaningful Assessment of Wargames (April 2022) is also now available on YouTube.

Wargames offer a promising avenue for analyzing the quality of plans or decisions as well as for developing and assessing player or team capabilities. Within a military education context, wargames can reproduce authentic, complex environments that facilitate application and integration of critical 21st century learning skills like creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. At the same time, these dynamic environments pose a challenge for traditional measurement approaches, evidenced by numerous critiques of simulation-based learning, games-based learning, and wargaming assessment practices. Purposeful integration of assessment into wargaming design is essential to demonstrating the value of wargaming for individuals and institutions. This lecture will highlight key principles of sound and meaningful assessment within wargaming contexts, synthesizing literature from measurement and gaming disciplines. The discussion will also integrate lessons from a case study that examined assessment challenges and practices of a U.S. military education program that is rapidly expanding these activities in its curriculum. The findings highlighted key mechanisms and opportunities to “bake assessment in” to wargame design and facilitation. The presentation seeks to offer a guide for practitioners who are seeking to implement valid and meaningful assessment of learning that can be adapted to their own wargaming practices.

Kate Kuehn is the Director of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning at Marine Corps University (MCU). In addition to managing the University’s institutional effectiveness process, she supports the evaluation of all MCU professional military education programs and directorates. Kate has spent 12 years working on evaluation and assessment of military education programs, providing advice on the design of learning assessments at the classroom, program, and institutional level. She is a member of the Military Education Assessment Advisory Group and has frequently served on military accreditation teams. Her research focuses on assessment and performance evaluation in complex contexts. More specifically, she is currently focused on assessment in team-based simulated learning environments. Kate has an MA from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a BA from the College of William and Mary. She is a doctoral candidate at George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development with specializations in education research methodology and educational psychology. Her dissertation proposes an assessment framework for collaborative, ill-structured games, and examines its application to educational wargaming practice.

In August, the US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), together with European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), conducted a wargaming course on hybrid threats.

Representing six Participating States, NATO, various national ministries, think tanks and armed forces, thecourse brought together a unique group of students in Helsinki. Aimed at a diverse group of participants, thispractical and educational two-week workshop was designed to encourage a whole-of-society approach to cooperation in countering hybrid threats. In this iteration of the wargaming course, students tackled the challenge of building an exploratory wargame which considered the influence of various actors on European energy security. 

The students went through the process of creating a wargame from start to finish, with the help of lectures, practical exercises and learning by doing. Through the creation of unique hybrid threat wargames, the courses not only increased awareness of hybrid threats but also overall understanding with regard to nations’ ability to respond to them.

A forthcoming issue of the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology features an editorial by Phillip Pournelle on “The need for cooperation between wargaming and modeling & simulation for examining Cyber, Space, Electronic Warfare, and other topics.” You can read it here.

In the June 2022 issue of War & Society, Adam Seipp discusses “Fulda Gap: A board game, West German society, and a battle that never happened, 1975–85.”

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.

In turn, RockyMountainNavy reviews the game, its treatment of nuclear war, and historical and cultural context at Armchair Dragoons: “Wargame History – An anti-nuclear wargame in Fulda Gap.” He tends to the view that it was perhaps a little less significant that Seipp argues.

NovaTech has had several interesting reports and interviews on its webpage this year, including a profile of UK Fight Club and an interview with Anthony Sharman (Evocatus):

This week, we’re talking to Anthony Sharman, director of Evocatus Consulting, a company set up to help military organisations and businesses to communicate through games and exercises. As is the case with many of our interview subjects, whereas Anthony’s work once relied heavily on rudimentary tabletop games, today, Evocatus utilises bleeding edge technology to produce realistic simulations that will soon be almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

So, what makes Anthony and his team tick, why are simulations such a powerful training tool and is there any definite science behind these highly technical war games?

The Georgetown University Wargame Society continues to host lectures, post videos, organize games, and do many other things–more than we can keep up with! Be sure to check out their forthcoming events, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and follow them on Twitter.

1CMBG homebrew wargame development

LCol Cole Petersen, Chief of Staff at 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, recently took to Twitter to discuss the process whereby 1CMBG is producing its own home-brew wargame. The thread is well worth a read!

There’s also an update:

Connections NL 2022

The Connections Netherlands 2022 professional wargaming/conflict simulation conference will be held on 28 November.

Full details can be found at the Connections NL website.

IDA: Wargaming analyst

The Joint Advanced Warfighting Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses is looking for a Research Associate (Joint Military Operations & Wargaming Analyst). Full details of the position can be found at the IDA website. Applications close 30 September 2022.

WWN: Introduction to wargaming

The Women’s Wargaming Network will be holding will be holding a wargaming event from 1400 to 1800 on Saturday, September 3 at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia. The session will include a “Wargaming 1010” introduction to wargaming, followed by a Russia-Ukraine matrix game.

Sign up for the event here.

You can also follow @WomensWargaming on Twitter.

One China matrix game

From the ever-productive keyboard of reclusive matrix game designer Tim Price comes this latest scenario, One China.

The package contains an overview of the current situation regarding Taiwan and the East China Sea, some basic information on playing a matrix game, briefing documents maps, basic event cards, and counters. The game is configured for six players (or team): China and the People’s Liberation Army, Taiwan, the United States, Japan, and Australia.

One needs nothing more than a computer, printer, imagination, and an understanding of matrix games to design matrix game scenarios like this. If you’re looking for additional resources and guidance, however, there is always the Matrix Game Construction Kit (MaGCK).

International Kriegsspiel Society endorses Derby House Principles

The International Kriegsspiel Society has become the latest group to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

The International Kriegsspiel Society is the world’s largest, online association dedicated to Kriegsspiel. It unites over 750 members from all over the world in the passion of studying, discussing and playing Kriegsspiel.

The International Kriegsspiel Society is an open, welcoming, inclusive and diverse community. Wargaming and especially Kriegsspiel as we understand it, focus on people, diversity of thought and perspectives, on learning from others, and reflecting about preconceptions and established concepts of thought.

The International Kriegsspiel Society is open to everyone interested in the game, no matter the experience level or background. Kriegsspiel is easy to play, hard to master, as players don’t need to know any rules!

Our mission is to preserve Kriegsspiel, to make it accessible to enthusiasts, hobbyists and practitioners, to provide extensive resources to study and play Kriegsspiel, and to contribute to the development of new Kriegsspiel systems.

In order to reach these goals, we encourage every personinterested to learn more about and play Kriegsspiel to join the community, no matter their experience level, social, educational, national or religious background, age, or gender.Although we keep being positively surprised by the communication culture of our community, our moderation policy is dedicated to firmly ensure that this remains to be the case. We pledge to keep the IKS a space where you can be you, without the toxicity or inappropriate attention.

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 22 August 2022

PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on conflict simulation and serious (and not-so-serious) gaming.

Episode 63 of the US Army Mad Scientist podcast is all about wargaming, featuring Ian Sullivan (TRADOC), Mitchell Land (GMT Games Next War series), Peter Soendergaard (Royal Danish Army), Jennifer McArdle (Improbable U.S. Defense & National Security), Becca Wasser (CNAS), Stacie Pettyjohn (CNAS), Sebastian Bae (CNA), Dan Mahoney (Center for Army Analysis), and Jeff Hodges (US. Army Modeling and Simulation School).

Key points from the discussion:

  • Learning from Wargaming can be broken down into two categories: discovery/analytic and experiential. Both categories are important but have different end-goals. Discovery/analytic wargaminghelps one develop new insights or better understand some type of phenomena (e.g., concept or capability development). Experiential wargaming supports training and education and is designed to instill best practices, lessons learned, and develop creativity and agility among future leaders. Wargaming allows players to transcend their current realities and build cognitive warfighting proficiencies. 
  • Experiential learning leads to far higher learning retention than traditional passive methods of instruction, such as classroom-based lectures. It allows individuals to follow their ideas, work through problems as they arise, experience failure in a safe environment, and ultimately learn how to overcome challenges. 
  • The key to a successful wargame is an informed, accurate, and thinking adversary. It is vital that the Red Cell depicts an adversary as close to reality as possible, providing players with the best opportunities to learn about adversarial tactics and capabilities, decision-making, and thought-processes. 
  • Wargaming is used extensively at different levels in the Army — to explore ideas, look at alternatives, and think about the future, but also to test concepts and capabilities. Wargaming formats range from traditional table top board games, to discussion-based exercises, to computerized simulationsthat provide players with a realistic, immersive environment to visualize the fight. 
  • Designing an effective and successful wargame is dependent on one’s focus and learning demands. Designers should start the process by identifying the goal(s) that they want to accomplish and then work backwards. Carefully selecting the correct tools and technology to support players achieving the end-goal(s) is pivotal to eliciting the desired learning outcome. 
  • While wargaming can provide an accurate and realistic representation of a real-world adversary’s tactics, techniques, and procedures,it can also uncover unexpected TTPs that our forces may not have anticipated.  Encountering these actions in the game allows players to develop and implement courses of action in a consequence-free environment, helping them to avoid operational surprise on the battlefield, while building confidence in their ability to successfully overcome it when it inevitably occurs. 
  • The future of wargaming will likely be more technology-heavy, interactive, distributed, and realistic while still having a significant amount of traditional and manual games. Learning goals can be achieved via both conventional (e.g., table top) wargaming and immersive simulations employing emergent technologies. Regardless of the media, some posit that the golden age of wargaming is coming to an end, as there is a dearth of young talent in the pipelineto replace the old guard.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has developed “simple software tool to stress test a hypothetical People’s Republic of China (PRC) surprise attack against U.S. facilities in the Indo-Pacific.”

The past 10 years have seen a steady cadence of reporting on highly classified and time-consuming wargames showing that the United States consistently “loses” to China. The results, easily summarized as “bad!,” lack sufficient publicly available detail to enable informed debate on how best to resolve the potential shortcomings.

Wargames that are classified or complex can offer benefits to policymakers, though frequently to a small number of highly technical individuals; however, open-source analysis and DOD’s own publications create a wealth of information which can—and should—be closely analyzed to encourage DOD leaders, lawmakers, and the public to consider how best to prioritize limited resources, including money, time, and personnel. Combined with simple and affordable modern software capabilities, this information should be leveraged to improve and focus more time-intensive wargaming efforts.

That is why, over a six-week period, the authors developed a relatively simple and low-cost tool to assess what might happen in the first hours of a potential future conflict in the Western Pacific. The model assumes China conducts a surprise missile attack using only its land-based People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces (PLARF). Drawing on DOD’s annual China Military Power Reports and available data on PLARF operating locations, organization, and capabilities, the study team created an algorithm to compute the most likely U.S. and allied targets along with a rough assessment of the operational consequence of such strikes.

Despite an initial hypothesis that, “it won’t be that bad,” this analysis suggests that early phases of a conflict could be very bad for U.S. forces and facilities in the Western Pacific.

You can access the full brief here.

In Military Strategy Magazine, Benjamin E. Mainardi discusses Towards Better Civilian Strategic Education: A Case for Tabletop Wargames.

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.[i] 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.

In the Jerusalem Post, Ehud Eiran, Michal Hatuel Radoshitzky, and Scott Lasensky discuss “Simulating the Jewish future – gaming-out possible scenarios.”

What will the looming Israeli elections mean for the country’s anchor alliance with North American Jewry? How could escalations in Gaza or Ukraine impact Jewish interests? These are just two of the top concerns weighing on Jewish communities, but rather than worry, now is an ideal time to game-out future scenarios.

Those in positions to guide and steward Jewish affairs in Israel and across the Jewish world all-too-often find themselves in crises for which they have not drilled, even though careful preparation and planning are utilized in so many other realms. As we explored in-depth at the Z3 conference in Palo Alto, there is much to be gained from the broader adoption and utilization of crisis simulations.

Gaming is one of the most highly developed practices in the national security and foreign policy community, which explains why Israelis are so comfortable with war gaming and why the concept is mostly foreign to Jewish leaders elsewhere.

This wargaming update from the Kansas US National Guard:

According to the Washington Post, military fans of War Thunder have been leaking classified documents in player forums during online arguments about weapon effectiveness in the game.

Beginning in 2021, players of “War Thunder,” a popular, free-to-play vehicular combat video game, have thrice posted classified documents related to three tanks of British, French and Chinese origin in an online forum dedicated to the game. The posting of the documents was reported first by UK Defence Journal, which wrote that one poster, who uploaded the manual to a British Challenger 2 tank, said he was motivated by a desire to get a “War Thunder” developer to make the tank more accurate in the game. Another poster, who claimed to be part of a French tank unit, uploaded a Leclerc S2 manual while engaged in an online debate about its turret rotation speed. The motivations of the user who posted allegedly classified information about China’s DTC10-125 tank and a piece of materiel were not clear.

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