Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

A well-deserved honour

If you’re part of a professional wargaming organization who would like to support the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion, let us know!

King’s Wargaming Network recruiting graduate students for analyst training

The King’s Wargaming Network is recruiting graduate students for its annual Analyst Training for Analytical Wargaming Programme:

The programme provides King’s students with an opportunity to support King’s researchers in the execution of wargames for research purposes.

The programme is now in its sixth year and is highly competitive. Analysts will support a PhD research project examining US Army doctrinal development practices for current and near-future warfighting. The project is led by Anna Nettleship.

If selected, you will:

Receive 8 hours over 4 sessions of practical training in wargame testing, data collection and analysis

Engage with cutting-edge methods and research

Support the in-person or remote execution of a strategic analytical wargame

Network with peers and wargaming experts

Applications are due no later than 25 October 2021. If interested, please fill out an application here. 

Wargaming positions

The Net Technical Assessment Group at SPA (Systems Planning and Analysis) is looking for a senior wargaming lead.

SPA seeks a passionate and dedicated wargame professional with a demonstrated record of success in dynamic, high-impact environments to support a rapidly growing project. The individual will support a cross-functional, high-performance team designing wargames, planning classified and unclassified events, and executing analytic wargames and workshops. Relevant tasks include conducting research, developing scenarios, generating reporting products, briefing Senior decision makers, and providing clear and concise status updates of current or future efforts to leadership. Candidates can expect to work with government customers to define objectives. Candidates can expect to manage multiple tasks concurrently, often with constrained timelines. Tasks may be aligned to the individual’s expertise and interests but will often require individuals to rapidly learn and apply new knowledge and skills. Successful candidates will quickly be rewarded with leadership opportunities and direct engagement with external clients and stakeholders. 

A Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and 7 – 15 years of relevant national security experience is required, as well experience supporting the design, development, planning facilitating, and reporting of wargames, exercises, experiments, seminars, simulations, workshops, or other similar events and an active DoD Secret security clearance. A Master’s degree is desirable, as is experience in developing multi-step analytic projects or reports; expert knowledge of modern military operations; asssessing the operational impact of planned or conceptual weapon systems; and/or developing warfighting scenarios to support analysis. A full description of the position and and a link to the job application can be found at the SPA website.

The US Department of Defense (Force Structure, Resource and Assessment (J8), Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) is seeking a strategic wargaming analyst.

This position is part of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The incumbent will be responsible for developing, maintaining, supporting and producing multiple, timely analytic products and wargame events related to defense strategy, national security policy, and force development.

As a STRATEGIC WARGAMING ANALYST at the GS-0301-14 some of your typical work assignments may include:

Designs, develops, executes, and facilitates war games; analyzes event results and develops key insights and observations. Recommends changes to war games based on studies and analyses that are conducted post-event.

Prepares all wargame materials, interfaces with the game sponsor and participants in the execution of the game and analyzes game results.

Prepares final reports and briefings for division leadership and senior 4-star and civilian equivalent officials.

The closing date is 25 October 2021. Full details can be found at USAJOBS.

Zenobia Award winners announced

The winners of the Zenobia Award have been announced!

Historical board games are enjoyed by people from all walks of life, but their designers are predominately white men. The Zenobia Award hopes to change this by encouraging game submissions by people from marginalized groups.

The Zenobia Award is not an ordinary design award. Promising applicants will receive mentorship on their designs from established industry designers, and the winners will receive help navigating the game publication process in addition to a cash prize.

Contestants must belong to an underrepresented group, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people. A design team prominently including members of these groups also may enter. 

The winning game design is Tyranny of Blood, by designer Akar Bharadvaj.

Second place went to Winter Rabbit, designed by Will Thompson.

Third place went to Wiñay Kawsay, by Alison Collins.

In the video below, Harold Buchanan and Volko Ruhnke announce the winners.

As a member of the Zenobia board, I can say it was very close and there were many terrific entries. If you’re a game publisher who might be interested in publishing one of these, check out the forty-six games that made it to the second round, as well as the eight Zenobia finalists and two honourable mentions.

GAC endorses the Derby House Principles

We are pleased to announce that Global Affairs Canada is the latest organization to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

For more information on strategic gaming and Canadian foreign policy, contact Madeline Johnson (GAC Strategic Gaming Specialist).

GWUSCS: Ruined Tempest

The George Washington University Strategic Crisis Simulations will be holding a (in-person) crisis simulation on 16 October 2021 at GWU.

In partnership with the Elliott School’s Leadership, Ethics, and Practice Initiative, GWUSCS presents our first simulation of the 2021-22 academic year! Ruined Tempest will take place on Saturday, October 16th, 2021 from 12 PM EST to 5 PM EST in Funger Hall.

After a cyclone strikes Sri Lanka, leaving vital infrastructure destroyed and thousands displaced, the nation is left to pick up the pieces and begin the process of rebuilding. However, with competing influences from abroad, Sri Lanka finds itself at a crossroads. Does it continue its partnership with China, looking to the East for investments in crucial roads and ports, or does it instead turn to the United States, which has long sought to secure the movement of its navy through the Indian Ocean? At the same time, how will Sri Lanka tackle rising internal ethnic tensions as destroyed communities and refugee camps once again fester into civil strife?

Further information and registration can be found here. Note that if If you are NOT a GWU Student who is registered with GWU on campus you MUST register yourself as a visitor—you will find the procedure for this on the registration page.

If you are interested in being a mentor for this simulation, please contact Ryan Li, Vice President of Programming at

Forthcoming GUWS seminars

There’s always so much going on at the Georgetown University Wargaming Society that we can’t keep up! Here are a couple of their forthcoming events that might be of interest to PAXsims readers.

October 12: Going to the Ground: Virtual Games at the Canadian Forces College (1800-2100 ET)

This talk will discuss the crash development, execution, and maturation of a robust virtual wargaming program at Canadian Forces College (CFC) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. CFC took the last part of its 2019-2020, the entirety of its 2020-2021, and much of its 2021-2022 academic years fully online as a result of the pandemic, and virtually-executed wargaming emerged as an important new way to allow students, teachers, and directing staff to undertake active learning despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Robert C. Engen is an assistant professor at the Canadian Forces College (CFC), Canada’s senior professional military education institute. He is the Deputy Director of the Department of Military Planning and Operations at CFC, holds primary responsibility for wargame development and execution at the college, and teaches a wargame design course. He is the author of three books on combat motivation, has a forthcoming two-volume series on force health protection and disease prevention, and is the official regimental historian of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). He is also the author of the Canadian Land Warfare Centre’s forthcoming fictional novella of future warfare, Crisis in Baltika.

Register here.

October 19: Brain Matters in Wargaming (1800-2100 ET)

Our brains are changing, or so neuroscientists say – in part due to reliance on technology. As scientists work to develop a deeper understanding of these changes, other important trends continue to reveal the need for more inclusive approaches to learning as the definition and identification of neurodivergent learners grow, signaling an important call to action for educators and instructors across disciplines including national security and defense.

In this session, Lauren will share important trends in cognition, key observations and questions around how changing brains will continue to challenge outmoded learning models, and notable developments. In addition, Lauren will discuss how wargaming already includes promising approaches to maximizing engagement of all learners, but also identify areas for potential advancement in wargaming to build a more inclusive and dynamic learning environment for a future national security workforce. 

Lauren Buitta is founder and CEO of Girl Security. Lauren began her career in national security in Chicago, IL in 2003 as a policy analyst with the National Strategy Forum, a nonpartisan national security think tank. In 2009 while attending law school, Lauren launched her consulting firm, Stele Consulting, where she worked on local policy issues related to exclusionary zoning policies and racial discrimination. In 2016, Lauren recognized both the continued underrepresentation of women in national security and the need for a more intersectional approach to security. In response, she launched Girl Security – the only organization dedicated to preparing girls, women, and gender minorities for national security. Lauren is a former Fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2003), Truman National Security Project (2006), American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security (2012) and Chicago Council on Global Affairs (2017). She has authored articles, reports and book chapters on national security, foreign policy, and public policy. Lauren was recently named one of “50 Women Making the World a Better Place” by Instyle Magazine and is the recipient of the 2021 21st Century Leader Award by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.

Register here.

For previous GUWS seminars, see their YouTube channel.

Using serious games to improve police response to emergencies

Glen Mills, a Lieutenant in the Burlington (MA) Police Department, has written PAXsims to ask about the use of simulation and games to improve police response to emergency situations and disasters. He notes:

I think that police are lagging behind fire services in the real world use of incident command and I feel that there must be more effective ways to make training in this area more interesting, engaging and useful. Ideas around wargames, serious games, simulations, etc. could be very helpful in this regard

If you work in policing, public safety, or emergency response, why not drop him an email and share ideas?

US Army Fight Club: Battle for Moscow showdown

US Army Fight Club and Army University will be hosting their first virtual showdown: a Battle for Moscow tournament, via Discord and VASSAL.

The event will take place on Saturday, 16 October 2021 from 0900 (EDT) until complete (likely all day).

Full details are available from MAJ Wayne McInnis (Directorate of Simulation Education (DSE), Army University and Command and General Staff College). Please RSVP (individual player or team) no later than Saturday, 09 October 2021.

h/t James Sterrett

Dstl: Diversity on the virtual battlefield

Dstl has highlighted their commitment to diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming with a new video and accompanying article.

Dstl Head of the Defence Wargaming Centre (DWC) Mike said:

The first step is to recognise the issue and to commit to do something about it.

The Derby House Principles were co-created by a Dstl wargamer and Dstl – all of Dstl, not just the wargaming centre – was an early signatory.

We are committed to ensuring the Defence Wargaming Centre is an inclusive environment. We display the Derby House Principles prominently in the DWC and brief them to players at our games in order to make clear that we are an inclusive environment. We include diversity and inclusion in our training and development.

He went on to say they were looking at the barriers to diversity and inclusion in how we design our games and are seeking to address them. And we encourage our partners to value diversity and inclusion – including encouraging them to update their software to represent more diverse armed forces.

Slitherine Software adopted the Derby House Principles in September.

NARUC Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise GuideïżŒ

In September 2020, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, with the support of the US Department of Energy, published a Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise Guide.

Public utility commissions (PUCs) are responsible for ensuring adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at reasonable rates. As such, they need to know that jurisdictional utilities’ cybersecurity risk management plans and practices—put in place to mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities, counter malicious cyber threats, and rapidly respond and recover from successful attacks—are comprehensive and effective. Exercises are useful for this purpose.

Exercises provide opportunities for participants to demonstrate and assess capabilities in specific areas of interest, including cybersecurity risk management. They also facilitate coordination and help clarify organizational roles and responsibilities.

This Tabletop Exercise (TTX) Guide steps PUCs through the process of creating and executing an exercise specifically designed to examine capacities and capabilities to plan for, respond to, and recover from a cybersecurity incident involving critical energy infrastructure. It complements other resources in NARUC’s Cybersecurity Manual, particularly Understanding Cybersecurity Preparedness: Questions for Utilities, and the Cybersecurity Preparedness Evaluation Tool.1 Coupled with the TTX Guide, these tools comprise a structured, process-driven approach to identifying, assessing, and testing the efficacy of utilities’ cyber risk management plans and practices. This knowledge helps commissions identify cybersecurity gaps, spur utilities’ adoption of additional mitigation and response strategies, and encourage improvements.

Part I details the steps to plan and execute a TTX. Part II reviews the steps required to conduct a seminar-based exercise.2 TTXs are discussion based, typically led by a facilitator who guides participants through one or more scenarios for the purpose of testing the thoroughness and efficacy of relevant plans, processes, and procedures. This format is well suited for commissions’ objective assessment of utilities’ cybersecurity preparedness as well as their own cyber incident response capabilities. Seminars, which are also discussion-based exercises, typically examine a single procedure within a larger plan or a single step in a multistep process.

The exercise guide can be found at the link above. The fuller cybersecurity manual can be found here.

Slitherine/Matrix Games adopts the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming

We are very pleased to announce that Slitherine Software / Matrix Games are the latest company to embrace the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming:

We have been playing and working in wargames for over thirty years and we’ve witnessed a slow and steady shift to a more diverse audience. As players, the move to a more diverse and inclusive environment has opened the market to a wide range of opportunities, and it’s happening at an organic and consistent pace. As professionals, we also have a corporate responsibility to boost this shift with our hiring opportunities, our ability to open career possibility, and our active efforts to promote inclusion in professional wargaming. We are delighted to adhere to the Derby House Principles as a testament to efforts in the present and commitment to our plans for the future. 

Iain McNeil, CEO Slitherine Software UK Ltd

The Derby House Principles have been endorsed by more than thirty major professional organizations, defence establishments, and research institutions, as well as professional wargame designers, developers, consultancies, and companies. If your company or organization would like to join this growing list, contact us for more details.

Simulation & Gaming (October 2021)

The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 52, 5 (October 2021) is now available (paywalled).


  • Plowing Ahead 
    • Marlies P. Schijven and Toshiko Kikkawa


  • We Are the Champions? Performing whiteness in ASCENSION: DAWN OF CHAMPIONS 
    • Sabine Harrer
  • Effect of Digital Serious Games Related to Patient Care in Pharmacy Education: A Systematic Review
    • Rafaella de Oliveira Santos Silva, AndrĂ© Mascarenhas Pereira, Dyego Carlos Souza Anacleto de AraĂșjo, KĂ©rilin Stancine Santos Rocha, Mairim Russo Serafini, and Divaldo Pereira de Lyra Jr.
  • The Impact of Training on Teamwork and Simulated Debriefings on Real-Life Cardiopulmonary Arrest Events 
    • Tara Mahramus Hunt, Mindi Anderson, Mai Vo, and Daleen Aragon Penoyer
  • Research-Based Game Design for Serious Games 
    • Keith Watt and Tamarah Smith
  • Virtual Reality Technology and Remote Digital Application for Tele-Simulation and Global Medical Education: An Innovative Hybrid System for Clinical Training 
    • Omamah Almousa, Ruby Zhang, Meghan Dimma, Jieming Yao, Arden Allen, Leo Chen, Parastou Heidari, and Karim Qayumi
  • A Human Reliability Assessment of Marine Engineering Students through Engine Room Simulator Technology 
    • Cagatay Kandemir,  and Metin Celik

Short Research Article

  • The Iterative Development and Testing of an Interactive Mobile Application for Skill Retention of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Among High School Students: A Pilot Study 
    • Adeel Arif, Amber Arif, Kimberly Anne Fasciglione, and Farrukh Nadeem Jafri

Simulations Read to Use

  • Enabling Players to Develop Theories of Change for Sustainable Development: A Serious Game 
    • Theresa Tribaldos and Flurina Schneider

Simulation and gaming publications, May-August 2021

PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address conflict, peacebuilding, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis. Others might address “gaming-adjacent” issues such as group dynamics and decision-making, assessment, forecasting, or related topics. If you have published something recently and we haven’t yet included it, let us know!

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.

Michael A. Barnhart, Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History through Simulations (Cornell University Press, 2021).

How do you get students to engage in a historical episode or era? How do you bring the immediacy and contingency of history to life? Michael A. Barnhart shares the secret to his award-winning success in the classroom with Can You Beat Churchill?, which encourages role-playing for immersive teaching and learning. Combating the declining enrollment in humanities classes, this innovative approach reminds us how critical learning skills are transmitted to students: by reactivating their curiosity and problem-solving abilities.

Barnhart provides advice and procedures, both for the use of off-the-shelf commercial simulations and for the instructor who wishes to custom design a simulation from scratch. These reenactments allow students to step into the past, requiring them to think and act in ways historical figures might have. Students must make crucial or dramatic decisions, though these decisions need not align with the historical record. In doing so, they learn, through action and strategic consideration, the impact of real individuals and groups of people on the course of history. 

There is a quiet revolution underway in how history is taught to undergraduates. Can You Beat Churchill? hopes to make it a noisy one.

Rebecca Beigel and Julia Schuetze, Cybersecurity Exercises for Policy Work: Exploring the Potential of Cybersecurity Exercises as an Instrument for Cybersecurity Policy Work (Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, April 2021).

Malicious cyber activities are increasing worldwide and getting increasingly more sophisticated. Individuals, businesses, and governments explore different ways of tackling this development, for example, through developing policies to counter or mitigate cyber threats. One promising instrument for doing so is cybersecurity ex- ercises. Different cybersecurity exercises (e.g., red team/blue team exercises, cyber wargames, workshops, tabletop exercises, and simulations) can address different audiences and goals – from examining technical responses by critical infrastruc- ture providers to assessing diplomatic responses to a cyber incident. To grasp the potential of cybersecurity exercises – particularly for policy work – it is important to explore the different types of exercises in more detail.

The paper first highlights defining features of each cybersecurity exercise type to emphasize each type’s advantages. Workshops, for example, are speculative, collab- orative, and can improve understanding between different actors. Meanwhile, simu- lations can replicate reality as much as possible using digital networks, which helps simulate attacks and the reactions to such attacks. Secondly, the different exercise types are applied to different stages of the policy cycle – a cycle mapping policy work from defining a problem to the implementation and evaluation of a policy – to explore reasons for using them at certain stages of policy work. Simulations, for ex- ample, are particularly beneficial to use when implementing or evaluating a policy, for example, for testing its effectiveness.

The paper creates a simple guide for exploring the potential application of cyberse- curity exercises for policy work and for strategically using them. It is recommended to go through a three-step process to find whether cybersecurity exercises are an instrument to be used for a specific policy objective.

1) Firstly, scope out the policy work – consider the policy work at hand and the target audience to be reached.

2) Secondly, identify the stage of use – identify where the policy work is best situat- ed on the policy cycle.

3) Thirdly, consider the defining features of cybersecurity exercise types and identify which exercise type is the best to achieve the policy work goal.

Ultimately, the paper highlights that cybersecurity exercises are an instrument that decision-makers should consider when developing cybersecurity policies and/or aiming to achieve different cybersecurity policy goals. 

Arvid Bell and Alexander Bollfrass, “To Hell with the Cell: The Case for Immersive Statecraft Education,” International Studies Perspectives (June 2021).

Current wargaming techniques are effective training and research instruments for military scenarios with fixed tools and boundaries on the problem. Control cells composed of officiants adjudicating and evaluating moves enforce these boundaries. Real-world crises, however, unfold in several dimensions in a chaotic context, a condition requiring decision-making under deep uncertainty. In this article, we assess how pedagogical exercises can be designed to effectively capture this level of complexity and describe a new framework for developing deeply immersive exercises. We propose a method for designing crisis environments that are dynamic, deep, and decentralized (3D). These obviate the need for a control cell and enhance the usefulness of exercises in preparing military and policy practitioners by better replicating real-world decision-making dynamics. This paper presents the application of this 3D method, which integrates findings from wargame and negotiation simulation design into immersive crisis exercises. We share observations from the research, design, and execution of “Red Horizon,” an immersive crisis exercise held three times at Harvard University with senior civilian and military participants from multiple countries. It further explores connections to contemporary trends in international relations scholarship.

William DeBerry et al, “The wargame commodity course of action automated analysis method,”  Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2021).

his research presents the wargaming commodity course of action automated analysis method (WCCAAM) – a novel approach to assist wargame commanders in developing and analyzing courses of action (COAs) through semi-automation of the military decision making process (MDMP). MDMP is a seven-step iterative method that commanders and mission partners follow to build an operational course of action to achieve strategic objectives. MDMP requires time, resources, and coordination – all competing items the commander weighs to make the optimal decision. WCCAAM receives the MDMP’s Mission Analysis phase as input, converts the wargame into a directed graph, processes a multi-commodity flow algorithm on the nodes and edges, where the commodities represent units, and the nodes represent blue bases and red threats, and then programmatically processes the MDMP steps to output the recommended COA. To demonstrate its use, a military scenario developed in the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) processes the various factors through WCCAAM and produces an optimal, minimal risk COA.

Pia Henning, “‘Game on!’ A research project on the Prussian Kriegsspiel,British Journal for Military History 7, 2 (2021).

The Prussian Kriegsspiel was the very first professional wargame and was originally introduced in the Prussian army in 1824 but has so far seen very little systematic research. This research project has compiled a corpus from all the rulesets currently extant, which was then made subject to formal and linguistic analysis. This yielded results in three important areas: First, by comparing them with a collection of contemporary texts on military theory it was possible to identify Kriegsspiel rulesets as distinctive text types. Second, comparing the rulesets gave valuable insights into the developmental history of the Kriegsspiel. And finally, it was possible to distinguish three distinctive phases in the development of the Kriegsspiel.

Mary Ann Hopper, “From Lessons Learned to Improvements Implemented: Some Roles for Gaming in Cybersecurity Risk Management,” in Advances in Cybersecurity Management (Springer, 2021)

Effective cybersecurity risk management hinges on a strategic blend of people, processes, and technology working together to recognize and prevent attacks; mitigate and minimize negative impacts should attacks succeed; and resume operations after recovery. Ideally, risk management involves processes that engage the entire organization continually and holistically—not just episodic reactions by a few key personnel in times of crisis. The translation of lessons learned into implemented and validated improvements may be a missing or underutilized best practice. This chapter explores ways gaming can be used as a complement to authoritative standards and frameworks to optimize an organization’s cybersecurity posture and preparedness. A variety of gamified approaches are described and presented as useful tools with differentiating value at multiple stages in an ongoing cybersecurity risk management cycle. State-of-the-practice exemplars and successes are cited as are approaches to adapting games to both assess and improve an organization’s cybersecurity posture. The chapter concludes with some speculations about how games focused on cybersecurity can be expected to evolve and gain greater traction for risk management in light of emergent technologies and increasingly complex threat and defense landscapes.

Bong Seok Kim , Bong Wan Choi , Chong Su Kim, “Methodology of battle damage assessment in the naval wargame model – Forcusing on damage assessment of warship,” Journal of KOSSE 17, 1 (2021). [In Korean]

Wargame is a simulated military operation with certain rules, specifications, and procedures, in which soldiers can virtually and indirectly experience the war. The ROK Navy operates the Cheonghae model, a training wargame model for helping commanders and staff master the procedures for conducting the war. It is important for commanders, staff and analysts to know whether a warship can perform its missions and how long it can last during a war. In existing model, the Cheonghae, the probability of kill of a warship is calculated simply considering the number of tonnage without any stochastic elements, and the warship’s mission availability is also determined based on predetermined values. With this model, it is difficult to get a value of the probability of kill that makes sense. In this dissertation, the author has developed a probabilistic model in which the warship vulnerability data of ROK-JMEM can be used. A conceptual model and methodology that can evaluate the mission performance of personnel, equipment, and supplies has been proposed. This can be expanded to a comprehensive assessment of wartime warship loss rates by integrating damage rates for personnel, equipment, and supplies in wartime.

Nina Kollars and Benjamin Schechter, Pathologies of Obfuscation: Nobody Understands Cyber Operations or Wargaming, Atlantic Council, February 2021. 

National security and defense professionals have long utilized wargames to better understand hypothetical conflict scenarios. With conflict in the cyber domain becoming a more prominent piece in wargames in the national security community, this issue brief seeks to identify the common pathologies, or potential pitfalls, of cyber wargaming. It argues that the inherent turbulence of the cyber domain and segmented knowledge about cyber weapons negatively affect three components of cyber wargaming: the scenario development, the data usability, and the cross-participant comprehensibility. The brief offers some initial solutions to these problems, but, ultimately, the purpose of identifying pathologies is to prepare designers to meet these challenges in each unique design.  

Xuan Liu et al, Tactical Intention Recognition in Wargame, IEEE 6th International Conference on Computer and Communication Systems (2021).

Opponent modeling is a significant method in imperfect information games. And intention recognition is regarded as the important but difficult in opponent modeling. This paper focuses on the task of tactical intention recognition in computational wargame. We propose an approach to recognize opponents’ intention which models the intention as long-term trajectories. The approach consists of situation encoding model and position prediction model. The first model uses attention mechanism to attach the statistic map data with dynamic feature and adopt CNN to learn the representation of battlefield situation. The position prediction model then predicts the long-term trajectories of opponents, based on well-represented situation vectors. Experiment indicates that our approach is proven to be effective on the task of tactical intention recognition in wargame. Meanwhile, a high-quality replay data set for analyzing the actions’ characteristics is also provided in this paper.

Jon-Wyatt Matlack, “Operation Barbarossa 2021: Practices (Re)Rendering the Myth Of The ‘Clean’ Wehrmacht In Contemporary Grand Strategy Computer Gaming,” Europe and America in the Modern World blog, 28 July 2021.

ScienceCampus doctoral researcher Jon-Wyatt Matlack explores the significance of computer games in shaping imaginations of the past. Focusing on Hearts of Iron IV, he considers how the format can encourage revision of the Nazi past, going against the grain of efforts towards critical VergangenheitsbewĂ€ltigung, or working through the past. The article explores how gamers can take up positions perpetuating the myth of a clean Wehrmacht while perpetuating narratives of a barbarian Eastern Europe where the USSR poses the greatest threat to humanity. He shows how reconstructions of historical narratives in digital spaces deserve more critical interrogation as a medium for the production of counterfactual history, especially given how popular and successful they are as depictions of the past, albeit a counterfactual one that draws on players’ affective urges and distorts historical reality.

Miles Paca et al, “Tactical Nuclear Wargaming: An Innovative Approach to Conventional Nuclear Integration Techniques,” Cô°€ô°ô°‚ô°ƒô°„ô°…ô°†ountering WMD Journalô°€ô°ô°…ô°‚ô°ˆô°‰Â  22 (2021). 

The current requirements for CWMD preparedness across all levels of the Joint Forc- es have led to focused initiatives in the realm of nuclear weapons defense planning, training and exercise1. Techniques like military wargaming for putting such initiatives into action are of critical importance to addressing the centralized concepts of nuclear defense and deterrence. Conventional Nuclear Integration (CNI), a concept referring to the side- by-side operation of nuclear and conventional forces referenced by Kinman2, is a field of nuclear defense strategy that includes nuclear weapons employment on the battlefield. Though not always expressly grouped under the umbrella of CNI, military wargame ex- ercises which could be considered within the subset of CNI have provided insights into operations on the nuclear battlefield since the Cold War era.

Roderick Parkes and Mark McQuay, The Use of Games in Strategic Foresight, DGAP Policy Brief (July 2021).

After a decade of crisis, the EU now routinely uses futures meth- ods to anticipate the unexpected. Its aim is to address its blind spots. This paper details our experience of designing a foresight exercise to help EU diplomats face up to one of the most ingrained types of blind spot: a taboo issue. But our experience showed instead the dangers of such exercises. Far from needing encour- agement to address a taboo, our target audience wanted an excuse to do so, reflecting a shift to a more “geopolitical EU.”

Strategic foresight exercises are designed to help participants recognize their cognitive biases. But the more policymakers adopt them as routine, the more they use them to reinforce their existing aims. Simply: they learn to manipulate outcomes.

To prevent cheating, experts introduced adversarial elements, where colleagues paired off against one another. Competition was meant to inject new thinking into policy and break up bureaucratic hierarchies. In fact, these too reinforced old biases.

Table-top exercises (TTXs) are now the go-to tool, adopted by the EU: rather than competing, participants play as a single team. Collaboration encourages the kind of “risky- shifty” behavior which policymakers need in order to drop old shibboleths.

Alicia Ruvinsky et al, An Approach to Gamifying Acquisitions for Assessing Impact on Military Strategy of Nation States, IEEE Conference on Cognitive and Computational Aspects of Situation Management (CogSIMA) (2021).

Complex Systems in which humans play a role, namely Human-Integrated Complex Systems (HICS), can be difficult to model or simulate due to the uncertainty introduced by the human component. Traditional modeling approaches such as physics-based modeling do not provide predictive insight towards situation awareness and management. War game designers, and game architects are familiar with HICS problem spaces, and use gamification of such complex contexts as a means of modeling human behavior to inform, predict, and manage an HICS style problem. The game play thereby becomes a means of providing situation awareness and management of the HICS by using human action during game play as a heuristic for pruning the intractable possibility space of the problem at large into a likely probability subspace based on the actions players actually take when playing an HICS game simulation. This paper explores the approach of gamification of real-world HICS problem spaces for situation awareness and management. A gamification methodology is introduced and investigated through the use case of military acquisitions.

Peng Sun, Jian Zhang, and Ling-hui Wang, “The Application Study on Accurately Search&Rescue of the Wounded on the land battlefield base on ‘Beidou+ Armored ambulance’“, 2021 International Conference on Mechanics and Civil, Hydraulic Engineering.

The accurately program of search&rescue of the wounded is designed and an initial design idea of various subsystems is proposed in order to provide theoretical explorations and solutions for making the search & rescue of the wounded on a land battlefield immediate, intelligent and accurate and for lowering the death and disability rates of the wounded. A full combination of skill features and functional advantages is made between BDS and Armored ambulance, which is systematically applied to the search & rescue on the land battlefield. The rationality and feasibility of the program of search&rescue are guaranteed by functional combinations, comprehensive integration and experimental verification. The verification of the program of search&rescue is made in the form of war-game exercises. The result finds that the “BDS + Armored ambulance” pattern of search & rescue can accurately acquire real-time locations of the wounded, immediately provide on-site first-aid services and emergency aid & treatment for the wounded and rapidly receive and transfer the wounded, which demonstrate a better practice and application prospect of health services. As the BDS-3 is to be put into service in 2020, the informationized upgrading and transformation of Armored ambulance will be gradually completed and the “BDS+ Armored ambulance” program of search &rescue will exert a more obvious influence on the search & rescue of the wounded on the land battlefield, which provide a capability support for realizing the idea of “Medical Treatment be with Soldiers”.

Ben Taylor, COVID-35: A game of pandemic management, Defence Research and Development Canada DRDC-RDDC-2021-D042

The Simon Fraser University Faculty of Health Sciences ran course HSCI 486—Global Perspectives on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic—for fourth year undergraduates in the fall of 2020. The course instructors designed the course to culminate in a class game to expose undergraduate students to a complex public health decision-making environment. A game was developed by the author in consultation with the class instructors to allow teams of students to make policy decisions as the governments of neighbouring countries facing a pandemic similar in nature to COVID-19. The game was set on a fictional continent with fictional countries which nevertheless shared some characteristics of certain real countries. The game was supported by a spreadsheet model to evaluate player decisions, which was kept as simple as possible to create believable behaviours without seeking to be an accurate simulation. The game was successfully run in a 3-hour class and received very positive feedback from both students and instructors.

Dillon Tryhorn, Exploring Fog of War Concepts in Wargame Scenarios, Air Force Institute of Technology Theses and Dissertations (March 2021).

This thesis explores fog of war concepts through three submitted journal articles. The Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force are attempting to analyze war sce- narios to aid the decision-making process; fog modeling improves realism in these wargame scenarios. The first article “Navigating an Enemy Contested Area with a Parallel Search Algorithm” [1] investigates a parallel algorithm’s speedup, compared to the sequential implementation, with varying map configurations in a tile-based wargame. The parallel speedup tends to exceed 50 but in certain situations. The sequential algorithm outperforms it depending on the configuration of enemy loca- tion and amount on the map. The second article “Modeling Fog of War Effects in AFSIM” [2] introduces the Fog Analysis Tool (FAT) for the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) to introduce and manipulate fog in wargame scenarios. FAT integrates into AFSIM version 2.7.0 and scenario results ver- ify the tool’s fog effects for positioning error, hits, and probability affect the success rate. The third article “Applying Fog Analysis Tool to AFSIM Multi-Domain CLASS scenarios” [3] furthers the verification of FAT to introduce fog across all warfighting domains using a set of Cyber Land Air Sea Space (CLASS) scenarios. The success rate trends with fog impact for each domain scenario support FAT’s effectiveness in disrupting the decision-making process for multi-domain operations. The three ar- ticles demonstrate fog can affect search, tasking, and decision-making processes for various types of wargame scenarios. The capabilities introduced in this thesis support wargame analysts to improve decision-making in AFSIM military scenarios.

Ying Zhao et al, Simulating a Logistics Enterprise Using an Asymmetrical Wargame Simulation with Soar Reinforcement Learning and Coevolutionary Algorithms, GECCO ’21 Companion, July 10–14, 2021.

We demonstrate an innovative framework (CoEvSoarRL) that lever- ages machine learning algorithms to optimize and simulate a re- silient and agile logistics enterprise to improve the readiness and sustainment, as well as reduce the operational risk. The CoEv- SoarRL is an asymmetrical wargame simulation that leverages re- inforcement learning and coevolutionary algorithms to improve the functions of a total logistics enterprise value chain. We address two of the key challenges: (1) the need to apply holistic predic- tion, optimization, and wargame simulation to improve the total logistics enterprise readiness; (2) the uncertainty and lack of data which require large-scale systematic what-if scenarios and analysis of alternatives to simulate potential new and unknown situations. Our CoEvSoarRL learns a model of a logistic enterprise environ- ment from historical data with Soar reinforcement learning. Then the Soar model is used to evaluate new decisions and operating conditions. We simulate the logistics enterprise vulnerability (risk) and evolve new and more difficult operating conditions (tests); meanwhile we also coevolve better logistics enterprise decision (solutions) to counter the tests. We present proof-of-concept results from a US Marine Corps maintenance and supply chain data set. 

More (war)gaming positions

The Joint Advanced Warfighting Division of IDA is looking for a research associate in National Security Operations and Wargaming.

The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) is a non-profit federally funded research and development center.  IDA provides answers to questions posed by the Department of Defense and other agencies that require careful analysis. IDA takes great pride in the high caliber and timeliness of its analyses, which are produced in an atmosphere that encourages independent thinking and objective results.


The Joint Advanced Warfighting Division (JAWD) has an immediate opening for a Research Associate with strong analytical skills and relevant educational training. Full-time professional staff at IDA are expected to be able to work independently, as a member of a study team, or under the direction of senior study leaders and analysts.

Research Staff are expected to be generally familiar with standard methods for collecting, compiling, summarizing, analyzing and presenting qualitative and quantitative data/information. They should be adaptable and open to learning in order to support the needs of particular studies or analyses.  As members of interdisciplinary research teams, researchers must demonstrate good communication (oral and written) and interpersonal skills with the ability to contribute effectively to a team approach to problem solving.

The national security issues that IDA addresses change constantly, and researchers are expected to be adaptable and self- motivated, demonstrate a capacity for independent thought, sound judgment, and creativity in analyzing complex policy, operational, and technical problems. As part of the research process, IDA research teams may travel to US government or US security partner locations (typically, but not always headquarters or office-like locations).  Researchers may be asked to assist in these field research activities as projects require.  

A Master’s degree is required, along with 2-4 years of relevant work experience (including “experience in design, execution, and analysis of wargames and related approaches”). Applicants must be US citizens able to obtain and maintain security clearance. You’ll find the full details here. The deadline for applications is 30 September 2021.

Labcorp is seeking a Training and Exercise Specialist “to develop and execute training and exercises designed to meet performance requirements, ensure successful delivery, report on performance, and maintain supporting documentation in accordance with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).” Full details here.

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