Stepping out East for a bit

Tomorrow I’m heading out for Montreal, to attend the third annual Stack Academie game convention!

I’m taking a pile of my unpublished and to-test designs, but some of my already-published games will be in play… and the big draw will be plays of A Distant Plain, as Volko Ruhnke will be there too! We hope to get a discussion going on the problems of designing games on very very contemporary topics like Afghanistan and Iraq… something that may arouse some comment when the game is finally released in August.

Probably will not be live-blogging or those other things Kids Today do, but I will  still be taking pictures and notes… so more later.

Connections: Call for Panelists From the Future

Constant Readuhs will remember my mention of and attendance at the annual “Connections” interdisciplinary conference on wargaming, organized by Matt Caffrey and now having its twentieth iteration 22-25 June at the Wright Brothers Institute, next door to Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

Herewith an email from Dr Stephen Downes-Martin of the Naval War College, who is chairing a panel at Connections on “Wargaming the Far Future”:


I am co-chairing the “Wargaming the Far Future” panel, and am looking for panelists!  Are you interested, or do you know someone else who might be (especially from the intelligence community)?  If you control or run a wargaming related web site please consider posting the body of this email (without the “To” list please) to it.  Thanks!
This panel will deal with war gaming requirements and approaches to supporting force structure budget and S&T acquisition decisions to best satisfy long term (half century) US national security interests.  This panel will fit within the theme of the Conference (“Enhancing Wargaming Support to Budget Decisions”), but will focus on problems of supporting decisions with very long term (50 year) implications.
If you are interested please email me with a proposed title and a paragraph abstract of your panel presentation.  Many thanks!

All the best


Stephen Downes-Martin, Ph.D.
Professor, Warfare Analysis
U.S. Naval War College

[Any opinions in this email are solely mine and do not reflect official policy of the US Government or any civilian or military branch of the US Government]

Even if you don’t have anything to contribute to this particular panel, please take a look at the agenda on the Connections Website and consider attending. Though the emphasis is on military/professional gaming, the conference is unclassified and quite open to designers, testers and players of “serious” wargames. The draft agenda so far features:


  • Wargaming 101, by Mr. Matt Caffrey, Col USAFR (ret) (this is a very good and detailed history of military and civilian wargaming and its uses, excellent presentation)
  • Air Force Material Command & Air Force Research Lab 101
  • Wargame Design 101 – Joe Miranda has done this in the past but I don’t know if he is attending yet.

Panel Discussions:

  • Wargaming in Support of Budgeting Today
  • Wargaming Innovations in Support of Budgeting
  • Enhancing the depicting of Agile Combat Support in Wargaming
  • Enhancing the Utility of Wargaming for S&T Prioritization
  • Wargaming the Far Future – Why and How

You can also contribute to the standing Working Groups

  • Enhancing Wargaming Support to Budget Decisions
  • Creating Online Resources for Wargamers
  • Developing the Wargame Community

Possibly the most exciting part is the “Connections Game Lab Practicum“: the conference splits into groups and accomplishes an initial wargame design, while attendees who are not in a design group may wander between groups.  A great exercise in “blitz” game making.


More on post-Chavez Venezuela

Well, Nicolas Maduro won the election for President, so it looks as if it’s going to be Business as Usual for a while… or does it?

The last couple of weeks I have been working on a multiplayer card game (2-5 players but you could have more) on the building political and social crises in Venezuela today. The point of the design is to instil a balance and tension between individual competition (as players strive to build and maintain power bases within Venezuelan institutions and social groups) and limited cooperation (as players must work together to address the worst of the issues facing Venezuela’s economy and society, or else they will all be worse off).

Control, Secrecy, Hidden Agendas, “Alo Presidente”, Negotiation, Coups d’etat – what more could you want? Well, the actual product perhaps, but the last couple of weekends have been busy with tax return preparation and so forth, but I think I have the design the way I want it. Now for some testing.

Right now I am calling it Dios Y/O Federacion (“God and/or Federation“), a takeoff of Venezuela’s national motto. But I admit I am bad with titles.