Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Connections UK Wargaming Conference 2023!

After two years of scaled-down remote events, Connections UK returns with a face-to-face conference at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) Old College, from Tuesday 5th – Thursday 7th September 2023.

Those who have attended previous Connections UK conferences will recognise the proven format:

  • A large plenary icebreaker game, designed to bring wargamers together to play, interact and network.
  • A hands-on Games Fair, which will provide an opportunity to develop games and practise your art.
  • Workshops, deep dives and continuing professional development sessions that support the conference theme and inform ongoing wargaming initiatives both in the UK and globally.
  • A portion of the conference will be hosted and facilitated by Connections Next Generation.
  • Plenaries delivered by many of the best wargamers from around the world.
  • Plus, plenty of time for networking!

Click here for full details and to track when registration opens.

Connections US 2023 Call for Presentations CLOSING soon!

The 2023 Connections Wargaming Conference will be hosted by National Defense University, at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC, June 21-23. Our theme: Next Generation Tools & Methods (however, as always, any sufficiently interesting wargaming related presentation is welcome!) Full details of the conference are on the Connections US website.

The Call for Presentations will close on March 13, after which feel free to suggest a late-emerging idea, but we will only be able to accommodate you if there is space on the agenda.

Handbook for Survey Development for Wargamers

The War Gaming Department at the U.S. Naval War College has been war gaming since 1887. This Survey Development Handbook describes how we think about incorporating survey methods into our analysis and survey development steps to consider across each phase of our war gaming process. It augments the War Gamers’ Handbook to provide background on analytical war gaming, our terminology, and our research design process.

The goal of this handbook is to enable war gamers to prepare and conduct surveys and to help war gamers become better users of survey results. Specifically, this handbook attempts to address how to ask questions, how to collect reliable and valid information, and how to analyze and report results.

— Douglas R. Ducharme, EdD

MORS Wargaming Community of Practice Presentation Files

A folder of all Wargaming CoP presentations for which we have files is now available on the Georgetown University Wargaming Society website under “Wargaming Resources” at:

The folder also contains an Index organized by year, with titles and authors, of ALL presentations including those for which we are missing the files. The Index has links to those files which we do have.

If you ever gave a presentation to the Wargaming CoP, please check the index, and if your presentation is missing please email it to me ( and I will add it. Many thanks.

Simpson’s “Compendium of Wargaming Terms”

Bill Simpson’s “Compendium of Wargaming Terms” is now hosted on the Georgetown University Wargaming Society Webpage (thanks to Sebastian Bae and William Simpson) under “Wargaming Resources“. This is the Dec 2022 version and is the most recent one that Bill has edited. This document will be updated annually, and you can propose additions, deletions and edits using a form on the Compendium landing page.

Purpose and Description: Since there is no single agreed-upon set of wargaming terms, this compendium is an unofficial collection that attempts to gather and post as broad a collection of terms and definitions as possible. Its purpose is to inform gamers of the variety of terms and definitions in use rather than to impose a single set of rigid definitions.

This unofficial collection was originally assembled by Bill Simpson, a GS-13 Wargaming Specialist, with 22+ years of experience at Wargaming Division, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory June 1992 to October 2015, and at the Center for Naval Analysis as a Senior Wargaming Specialist January 2017 to January 2019. He continues to work on updates along with a small group od volunteers.

The opinions contained in the Compendium are those of the compilers alone, they do not reflect official policy of any organization.

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 Studies5(1), 197–208. DOI:

Connections US 2022 Presentations now online

The Connections US 2022 Wargaming Conference materials are now available on the Connections USA Wargaming Conference Proceedings website.

If you presented materials at the conference, and do not find them in the 2022 tab, then upload them via this form. Thank you.

Does Wargaming influence US Strategy?

This question comes from Professor Hiroyasu (Hiro) AKUTSU, Professor of International Politics and Security Studies at Heisei International University, Japan.

In what ways has wargaming contributed to the shaping and making of US (DoD and Government) Strategic documents?

(For example the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, National Military Strategy, QDR, National Intelligence Strategy, National Security Space Strategy, National Strategy for Maritime Security, etc.)

Email from Hiro, 29 July 2022

Has wargaming contributed to these? Which documents, and where are the wargames written up? Please post responses as comments to this post. Thank you in advance.

Wargames in the Pink Tower

“Wargames in the Pink Tower” (part two of a four part BBC miniseries on nuclear weapons and war) is about nuclear deterrence and the use of wargaming during the Cold War. The producers used parts of the audio recording of Thomas Schelling’s keynote to the Connections US 2014 Conference along with material from Fred Kaplan, Sir Lawrence Freedman, Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi, Graham Allison, and Paul Bracken. A fascinating glimpse into how nuclear deterrence and wargaming is presented to the general public.

What parts of a professional wargame design can be defined by the sponsor’s objective (and what parts require designer creativity)?

Wargame design has been described as a creative art with a science component. Identifying which parts of the design can be defined based on the sponsor’s objectives will free the designer to focus all their efforts on the creative components.

There are three one hour Game Lab sessions scheduled at the Connections US 2022 Wargaming Conference during which multiple parallel small groups will meet and discuss different questions or topics.

I will run a three part Game Lab on the question “How much of a professional wargame design can be defined by the sponsor’s objective?” broken into three sub questions, one question per one-hour facilitated discussion.

  1. “What parts of the professional wargame design process can and should be routinized and what characteristics of the sponsor’s objectives should we seek to assist us in doing so?”

  2. “What information in addition to the sponsor’s objectives do we need and how can this help define the design of the professional wargame?”

  3. “What are the barriers to obtaining the information necessary to design a professional wargame and how can we overcome them?”

If you are registered to participate in the conference, you may come to any or all of the sessions.

Even if you are not coming to Connections, or are coming but choose to participate in other Game Labs, I invite you to provide your answers to each of the above sub questions via this form (click here or on the image). You may submit this form as often as you like, and I will ensure you receive a copy of the final report.

Thank you in advance for your inputs.

Stephen Downes-Martin

Scalarization functions for decision matrices

Click on the image to view the briefing on YouTube

My thanks to the Ruddy Nice team for the opportunity to deliver this briefing remotely to the 2022 UK Defence Simulation Education & Training conference. In the briefing I show how the simplistic scoring mechanism commonly used by many civilian and military organizations in their decision matrices and more complex decision support tools simply does not make sense — being a linear scalarization function — and explain why that function must instead be concave up. Then, and only then, will your decision matrix satisfy the minimum reasonableness requirement.

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.

Russian Logistics for the Invasion of Ukraine

Recent news from Ukraine has brought into sharp focus the effects of Russia’s logistics, transport and supply chain management failures, one of which is the decision to double down and start massacring civilians, creating international strategic blowback. If one is going to wargame (or plan!) a war then the necessity of including an appropriate logistics model as part of the wargame has been confirmed by Russia.

Michael Hugos at SCM Globe researches enhancing wargames with realistic logistic simulations (see his Connections US 2020 presentation “Enhancing Wargames with Realistic Logistics” on the Connections US Conference Archive site). He is currently working with the Air Force Institute of Technology to model and simulate the supply chains supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Michael is looking for people interested in further building out the supply chain model, keeping it current each day as events progress, assisting with running the simulations and analyzing results, and who can comment on the strategic implications of what the simulations and performance indicators show. He’ll provide free SCM Globe accounts and training to anyone interested in participating. To participate contact Michael at

Connections US Wargaming Conference Proceedings needs your help!

All the materials that we have for 1993 — 2021 are now loaded onto the Connections US Wargaming Conference Proceedings website. But a LOT of it is missing.

Please help!

If you ever attended a Connections US Wargaming Conference or presented at one, please go through your garage, basement, attic etc. for old paper and CD copies of materials, even resurrect that old laptop you used to give a presentation, and email to discuss how to get any materials you find to me.

Thank You!

Connections Japan Pre-Launch!

Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS — the research arm and thinktank of Japan’s Ministry of Defense) held a preparatory meeting for the launch of “Connections Japan”, slated to for autumn this year. The meeting was opened by Professor Nobushige Takamizawa (a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, former NIDS President, and ex-Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament).

Professor Nobushige Takamizawa speaking at the January 28th “Conference of Policy Simulation Experts”

The following is an unofficial English translation of an article on this meeting that was carried by the Asagumo Shimbun Newspaper on February 17, 2022:

The National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in August 2022, held a “Conference of Policy Simulation Experts” as part of the institute’s memorial programs on January 28. Masakazu Saito, President of NIDS, said in his opening remarks, “This conference is a preparatory meeting for the launch of “Connections Japan,” which would join the international network of the “Connections” conferences, slated for autumn this year.”

In the morning session, following the opening remarks, Nobushige Takamizawa, a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and former NIDS President and ex-Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Japan to the Conference on Disarmament, delivered a keynote speech entitled “Policy Simulation: Background Issues and Their Changes.” Professor Takamizawa emphasized the importance of theme selection, scenario development, to execution effectiveness and pointed out further challenges to effective policy simulation including facilitator education and database construction. He concluded his speech by stressing the necessity of executing more imaginative policy simulations and of building overseas networks.

A second speaker was Tomonori Yoshizaki, Director of Policy Simulation at NIDS. He emphasized the significance of learning state-of-the art methods and of enhancing overseas networks of professionals through “Connections Japan.”

The third speaker was Hiroyasu Akutsu, Chief of Policy Simulation Office at NIDS. He described the history of Connections Conferences and how actively they have been held in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and the Netherlands from their respective perspectives. He emphasized that it is important for Japan to prepare for “Connections Japan” from its own perspective.

In the afternoon session, Katsuya Yamamoto, Captain of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Director of the Education Department at NIDS, explained the effectiveness of introducing policy simulation into the NIDS’ educational programs.

There are high expectations that this first-ever official conference among Ministry of Defense of Japan and Japan Self-Defense Forces policy simulation experts will further strengthen their internal connections and overseas networks.

We look forward to Connections Japan, and wish the organizers every success!

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