PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 27/09/2020

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 27 September 2020

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

Aaron Danis, Volko Ruhnke, and Paul Strong suggested material for this latest edition.

Episode #10 of the Krulak Center (US Marine Corps) BruteCast video series features a panel discussion on wargaming featuring Andrew Reddie, James Fielder, Damien O’Connell, and Sebastian Bae.

On the subject of the US Marine Corps, Military.com reports on construction of the new Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center.

The Marine Corps is building a new state-of-the-art facility where it will run classified wargaming scenarios in preparation for a fight with a high-tech enemy.

A new Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center is expected to be up and running in Quantico, Virginia, by 2024. The 100,000-square foot center, which will be built on the Marine Corps University campus, will host more than a dozen wargames every year — including two large-scale, 250-person exercises, a new announcement on the center states.

Foreign Policy magazine features a report on Hedgemony, the recent RAND board game of US defence strategy.

According to the South China Morning Post, Taiwan recently completed an exercise and wargame designed to examine defence against a possible Chinese invasion.

Taiwan began five days of computer-aided war games on Monday, simulating an attack on the island by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The drills are part of the Han Kuang exercises, Taiwan’s largest annual war games. An earlier phase of the exercises in July included live-fire drills.

The war games were designed to test Taiwanese commanders’ ability to adopt the right defence strategy and coordinate different forces while under attack, the defence ministry said.

..

The five-day exercise is being held at the defence ministry’s joint training centre in Taipei and is being observed by experts from the National Defence University.

The drills will also use the Joint Theatre Level Simulation (JTLS) system bought from the US to simulate combined operations.

The JTLS was designed to create a realistic environment in which military commanders could operate as they would in a real-world situation, the source said, adding that it would help them to hone their decision-making skills and work out how to counter various attacks.

Operational data collected during the exercise would later be sent to the US experts for analysis and feedback, the person said.

At the Beyond Solitaire podcast, Natalia Wojtowicz discusses “wargaming with NATO.”

At Armchair Dragoons, Brant Guillory discusses team play of the GMT Games COIN series wargames, specifically A Distant Plain.

It’s hard to overstate the influence that the COIN series of games has had on the wargaming world over the past decade.  Heck, its influence has gone beyond just wargaming (Root!), unless you write for Meeple Mountain.  They’ve been covered in the Washington Post, and used by the military for training exercises.  Volko Ruhnke, the godfather of the COIN series games, even spent a few hours with GUWS explaining how to design one.

In our wargaming program at Origins, the COIN games have been a popular addition, largely because they are designed for 4 players, so we can get more gamers around the table than with something like Ft Sumter.  One year, we actually had to get out a GM’s personal copy of Liberty or Death to start a third full 4-player table, because there were so many interested gamers that wanted to join the fun.

However, there’s a set of modifications that we made to the COIN games – specifically A Distant Plain – that went beyond the traditional 4-player experience. By crafting each faction as a team, and moving much of the interpersonal diplomacy, horse-trading, backstabbing, etc away from the board itself, we’ve evolved the basic 4-player game into a more free-wheeling and dynamic environment that dramatically reduces the opportunity for analysis paralysis, amps up the possibility… nay, ‘likelihood’ of confusion and fog of war, and keeps the game moving to where everyone stays involved at all times….

While the article isn’t about wargaming, Jason Lamb and Jeremy Buyer, offer some useful reflections on “the psychological high ground: the surprising key to accelerating change” at War on the Rocks.

The The Indie Game Reading Club blog features an insightful guest column by Paul Mitchener on gender, race, and historicity in historically-themed RPGs.

I’ve run an awful lot of history-themed RPGs and written a few. It’s an area I love gaming in, both taken straight, and mixed with a dose of fantastic elements. Yet I would be doing the topic an injustice if I did not admit there are difficulties, both in subject matter and attitudes. So what are they, and how can you overcome them?

The focus here is Medieval Europe and the Ancient World, as that’s where I have the most experience. But much of what I say you can apply to other times and places.

PAXsims has already discussed the work of the Transitions Integrity Project, which has used matrix games to explore what could go wrong during a contested transition following the November 2020 US presidential election.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this has attracted negative comment from Russia Today:

Curiously, the TIP did not test a scenario in which Trump wins by a landslide. Nor did the organization consider the possibility of a narrow Trump victory and a refusal by Biden to concede – a possibility raised by Hillary Clinton, who urged Biden last month not to concede “under any circumstances,” and to launch a “massive legal operation” in the event of a narrow Trump win on election night. 

Regardless of the result, some top Democrats have called for continued “unrest in the streets” after November’s election. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, said earlier this summer that the riots sweeping America are “not gonna stop before election day in November, and they’re not gonna stop after election day. They’re not gonna let up and they should not.” 

At the conservative Claremont Institute blog The American Mind, Michael Anton goes a step further and characterizes the TIP project as nothing less than Democratic planning for a revolution and coup.

Democrats are laying the groundwork for revolution right in front of our eyes.

As if 2020 were not insane enough already, we now have Democrats and their ruling class masters openly talking about staging a coup. You might have missed it, what with the riots, lockdowns and other daily mayhem we’re forced to endure in this, the most wretched year of my lifetime. But it’s happening.

One might dismiss such comments as the ravings of a dementia patient and a has-been who never got over his own electoral loss. But before you do, consider also this. Over the summer a story was deliberately leaked to the press of a meeting at which 100 Democratic grandees, anti-Trump former Republicans, and other ruling class apparatchiks got together (on George Soros’s dime) to “game out” various outcomes of the 2020 election. One such outcome was a clear Trump win. In that eventuality, former Bill Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, playing Biden, refused to concede, pressured states that Trump won to send Democrats to the formal Electoral College vote, and trusted that the military would take care of the rest.

The leaked report from the exercise darkly concluded that “technocratic solutions, courts, and reliance on elites observing norms are not the answer here,” promising that what would follow the November election would be “a street fight, not a legal battle.”

These items are, to repeat, merely a short but representative list of what Byron York recently labeled “coup porn.” York seems to think this is just harmless fantasizing on the part of the ruling class and its Democratic servants. For some of them, no doubt that’s true. But for all of them? I’m not so sure.

In his famously exhaustive discussion of conspiracies, Machiavelli goes out of his way to emphasize the indispensability of “operational security”—i.e., silence—to success. The first rule of conspiracy is, you do not talk about the conspiracy. The second rule of conspiracy is, you do not talk about the conspiracy.

So why are the Democrats—publicly—talking about the conspiracy?

Because they know that, for it to succeed, it must not look like a conspiracy. They need to plant the idea in the public mind, now, that their unlawful and illegitimate removal of President Trump from office will somehow be his fault.

Never mind the pesky detail that the president would refuse to leave only if he were convinced he legitimately won. Remember: Biden should not concede under any circumstances.

The second part of the plan is either to produce enough harvested ballots—lawfully or not—to tip close states, or else dispute the results in close states and insist, no matter what the tally says, that Biden won them. The worst-case scenario (for the country, but not for the ruling class) would be results in a handful of states that are so ambiguous and hotly disputed that no one can rightly say who won. Of course, that will not stop the Democrats from insisting that they won.

The public preparation for that has also already begun: streams of stories and social media posts “explaining” how, while on election night it might look as if Trump won, close states will tip to Biden as all the mail-in ballots are “counted.”

The third piece is to get the vast and loud Dem-Left propaganda machine ready for war. That leaked report exhorted Democrats to identify “key influencers in the media and among local activists who can affect political perceptions and mobilize political action…[who could] establish pre-commitments to playing a constructive role in event of a contested election.” I.e., in blaring from every rooftop that “Trump lost.”

At this point, it’s safe to assume that unless Trump wins in a blowout that can’t be overcome by cheating and/or denied via the ruling class’s massive propaganda operation, that’s exactly what every Democratic politician and media organ will shout.

As someone who routinely games political transitions for a living, this all strikes me as bizarre conspiracy theory stuff, undoubtedly amplified by the certain social media ecosystems as well as actors like Russia Today. Given that Pizzagate led one deranged individual to open fire at a pizza restaurant with a rifle, so I hope all concerned are taking appropriate precautions.

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