Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 14 March 2015


Some recent items on conflict simulations and serious gaming that may be of interest to PAXsims readers:

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russia-series1Stratfor has made available some of their findings from their recent “wargaming” of a possible larger-scale Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

To answer this question, Stratfor examined six basic military options that Russia might consider in addressing its security concerns in Ukraine, ranging from small harassment operations to an all-out invasion of eastern Ukraine up to the Dnieper River. We then assessed the likely time and forces required to conduct these operations in order to determine the overall effort and costs required, and the Russian military’s ability to execute each operation. In order to get a baseline assessment for operations under current conditions, we initially assumed in looking at these scenarios that the only opponent would be Ukrainian forces already involved in the conflict.

Part 1 looks at the forces and time required for each of the scenarios.

Part 2 looks at a possible NATO response—although the analysis is really about how long it would take US airpower to deploy to Europe. It contains virtually no assessment of NATO ground and naval assets, or even European air assets.

Part 3 looks at the geopolitical imperatives that would shape Russian strategy.

In fact, their analysis does not seem to be a proper adversarial wargame at all—something we suspected earlier this month, when the series was announced. It doesn’t seem to have been a true simulation either.  Rather it appears to have been a desk assessment, likely based on some fairly standardized assumptions regarding necessary force levels, densities and rates of advance through terrain. Without more information on methodology, it is rather difficult to know how much weight to place on it, although it does highlight some of the limits of both Russian military power and a possible NATO response.

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New downloadable graphics content is available for the digital game This War of Mine. Proceeds from the sale of this benefit the charity War Child. You can read more about this at Boingboing, and check out James Sterrett’s earlier review of the game at PAXsims.

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Law of the Jungle is a “free game that combines the open-ended adventure of a role-playing game with rigorous content drawn from the social science research literature.” It is produced by the Social Rules Project:

The Social Rules Project is the result of efforts by over 100 students from the Claremont Colleges and the California Institute of the Arts.  Artists, computer programmers, environmental studies majors, musicians, and many others contributed countless hours to make these materials available.  The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the institutional underpinnings of environmental problems and what it will take to solve them.  This is accomplished by using innovative multi-media approaches to translate insights from the social science literature and make them accessible to a broad public.

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The dates have been confirmed for this year’s third annual Connections UK interdisciplinary wargaming conference at King’s College London:

On September 8th we will hold introductory sessions as we did last year, with the focus this year being on wargame design techniques.  Then on September 9th and 10th will come the main conference, with an increased focus on hands-on participation in the many games on offer in the Games fair.  Please put the dates in your diaries, and visit the Connections UK website for the latest info and registration details.

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The Military Operations Research Society is planning to hold a Professional Gaming Workshop from 28 September to 1 October 2015, in Alexandria, VA. Further details will follow when available.

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The World Peace Game Foundation will be holding “Master Classes and Camps” in Emmersdorf, Austria (April 7-11), Boston, MA (April 20-22), Charlottesville, VA (June 22-26), Corvallis, OR (August 10-14). For more details, see their listing of forthcoming events.

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The Strategy Page has a recent article on wargaming in the Chinese military (h/y Rory Aylward ).

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Prof. Phil Sabin of King’s College London is BoardGameGeek’s game designer of the month!

This month’s BGG Wargame Designer of the Month is Philip Sabin.

Mr. Sabin has been a wargamer for over 40 years, and became Professor of Strategic Studies at King’s College London’s War Studies Department. Over the past 20 years, he has published several board games on ancient warfare through the Society of Ancients. In 2007, his book ‘Lost Battles’ was published, reconstructing three dozen different ancient battles using a common rules system. A deluxe board game edition was published by Fifth Column Games in 2011. In 2012, his book ‘Simulating War’ was published, containing eight different simple wargames which he has used in his military history classes. One of these (Hell’s Gate) was published in a deluxe edition by Victory Point Games in 2013, and VPG has just published a second game from the book (Angels One Five).

Besides using wargames to help his BA students to understand conflict dynamics, since 2003 Mr. Sabin has been teaching a very innovative MA option module in which students design their own simple board games of past conflicts of their choice. Many of these are available for free download (Google ‘Sabin consim’). He also writes regularly for ‘Battles’ magazine, and works closely with defense wargamers in the UK and overseas.

Find out more about his philosophy and experiences of game design here.

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