Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Terror from the sea: An ATLANTIC RIM megagame report


Disaster struck Atlantic Canada on February 16—but not the real kind, fortunately. Instead, this was ATLANTIC RIM, the fifth annual McGill megagame, organized by PAXsims and cosponsored by the McGill Gamers’ Guild and the McGill Political Science Students’ Association. With some 111 participaand nts it was our largest game yet. Of these, about one half were students and one half other gamers. About one quarter were national security professionals from the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Forces, Defence Research and Development Canada, Global Affairs Canada, other government departments, the US Army War College, the US Naval War College, RAND, and the Finnish Ministry of the Interior.

Everything started off quietly enough. February 15th had been a normal day in Canada—or so it seemed…


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The rest was a devastating tsunami that struck the entire Atlantic seaboard.

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And so it began. Players represented federal, provincial, and municipal officials, RCMP, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Canadian Coast Guard, RCN (CANFLTLANT), RCAF (1, 3, 4, 8, 9, 12, 14 Wings), Canadian Army (5 Cdn Div, inc 36 and 37 CBG, reinforced with units from 2 Cdn Div, CSOC, and 1 Cdn Fd Hosp), university researchers, corporations, the CBC, and even foreign powers (France, the United States, and Russia) as they struggled to to deal with the after-effects of the tsunami: destroyed infrastructure, displaced populations, blocked roads, downed power lines, ships in distress, and other challenges.


The Nova Scotia/PEI tactical map.



Military mobilization underway.

But then things started to get strange. First, there were mysterious attacks on sea by a massive fish (“Codzilla”) and flocks of giant sea gulls (“Killgulls”). Then came a rampaging angry crustacean (better known as a “RAC Lobster”) and a constantly mutating sea slug (“the Zlug”).


Codzilla strikes!


The main hall with the game underway.

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The RAC Lobster attacks power lines and generating stations.


Large areas of southern Newfoundland are plunged into darkness.


The CBC broadcast live updates from their nearby studio.


A science team, escorted by reservists, discovers a Zlug in the woods.


A flock of Killgulls attacks CFB Gagetown.


The federal cabinet is informed of the latest news in the crisis. Within the day, the Prime Minister would be ousted, and the Minister of Finance would take his place.

In southern Newfoundland things were especially dire. France heavily reinforced Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon with paratroops and naval assets, while a battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment successfully undertook a 1,500km drive from CFB Valcartier, through Québec and New Brunswick, all the wy to Sydney Nova Scotia—whereupon they boarded the ferry to Channel-Port aux Basques. Their arrival in Newfoundland would be welcome relief for the RCMP, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, local Canadian Forces reservists, and elements of Canadian Special Operations Command.


Dick Danger—star of the hit television series Survivor: Apocalypse—helps out.

Finally, when all seemed lost,  a secret weapon was deployed. It proved critical to the survival of all Atlantic Canada.


Control team HQ.

Much gratitude is due to our excellent Control team, a mix of megagame veterans and volunteers from my POLI 452 (Conflict Simulation) course.

Based on past experience we anticipate that disaster will next strike Western Canada a year or so from now, in the 2021 McGill megagame.

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