Off to Consimworld Expo!

At oh-my-god-it’s-early hours tomorrow morning, we’re taking off to attend the 2014 Consimworld Expo in Tempe Arizona!

I don’t usually go to conventions, but this one is a good one – usually about 200 very hard-core gamers, with people coming from as far away as England and New Zealand to attend. I have been to this one several times but last went in 2011, before the release of Andean Abyss, the first of the COIN system of games from GMT Games, and the subsequent ignition of interest in counterinsurgency gaming.

It’s also a publisher’s expo, so it is a good time to talk about projects with various companies, though I don’t think I will be doing so much of that this year. I will be bringing copies for sale of the first wave of BTR Games offerings: 1848, Andartes, Land of the Free, Green Beret, Kandahar, Shining Path, Tupamaro, Ukrainian Crisis. I will also be bringing Dios o Federacion, Palace Coup, Balkan Gambit, and District Commander Kandahar to playtest, with anyone who’s inclined.

Finally, on Thursday night Joe Miranda and I will hold a short seminar on “Simulating Modern Warfare”, where we talk about recent games n contemporary topics and the special challenges they represent. This is a reprise of an event we did in 2011, again before the COIN system became a thing in the world (as the kids say nowadays).

But I also want to spend some time relaxing – as I said, I’ve been several times and have never gotten into Phoenix itself; there’s lots of exploring to do. One problem with my trying to take vacations is that they turn out to be second shifts at a poorly paid job.

Anyway, fun in the sun and perhaps I will post from the Con now and then!

New page added: BTR Games!

Okay, so maybe a step up from this… and this is not a picture of me, either!

I’ve added a new page to the blog – BTR Games, featuring some of my old and new game designs, in glorious Desk-Top Published format!

US$15 each, postpaid anywhere on the planet.

Titles available now: 1848, Andartes, Civil Power, Green Beret, Kandahar, Land of the Free, Shining Path, Tupamaro!

Look up at the header!

The Immaculate Invasion


Russia may achieve goals without Ukraine invasion: NATO commander
Gen. Philip Breedlove meeting Canadian political, military leaders this week

Thomson Reuters Posted: May 05, 2014 2:48 PM ET Last Updated: May 05, 2014 10:05 PM ET

NATO’s top military commander in Europe said on Monday he no longer thought regular Russian troops would enter eastern Ukraine, predicting Moscow could achieve its goals through the unconventional forces stirring up trouble there.

U.S. air force Gen. Philip Breedlove said it was a completely false Russian narrative that it was only Ukrainians rebelling in the east of their country, saying it was clear that special forces troops from Russia were operating there as they did in Crimea before its annexation.

Breedlove is embarking on two days of talks with Canadian political and military leaders just as heavy clashes erupt between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in Ukraine’s eastern region.

He met briefly with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson.

“Exactly what we saw in Crimea is being mirrored in eastern Ukraine,” added Breedlove.

Russia setting stage for separatist movement

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops on its border with eastern Ukraine, prompting fears that Moscow might send ground forces in to protect the rights of ethnic Russians.

Breedlove said that until a week ago, he thought the most likely military response from Russia would be to send in troops to southern Ukraine and secure a land bridge to the peninsula of Crimea — which voted in March to join Russia — before possibly pushing on toward the Black Sea port of Odesa and then farther west toward Moldova.

“Today I would tell you I don’t think that’s the most likely course of action … I think now that Putin may be able to accomplish his objectives in eastern Ukraine and never go across the border with his forces,” he said.

“Now I think probably the most likely course of action is that he will continue doing what he’s doing — discrediting the government, creating unrest, trying to set the stage for a separatist movement,” and that would make it easier to cement Moscow’s military and economic hold on eastern Ukraine, Breedlove added.

“In that case, I think it’s the most troublesome for NATO because if the forces do not come across the border, my guess is that many will want to try to quickly go back to business as usual, and I, for one, do not believe annexing Crimea is business as usual.”

‘Slow-motion invasion’

Shortly before his public remarks, Breedlove discussed Ukraine and Russia in a meeting with Harper, who told reporters beforehand that Russia was mounting a “a slow-motion invasion” of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister’s Office had invited cameras into the meeting but said no questions from reporters would be allowed. [Note to non-Canadian readers: this is actually rather typical of the press non-conferences the PMO permits, regardless of the occasion. We seem to be getting used to it.]

The meetings are being held as Ukraine’s elite troops have been dispatched to quell unrest in the key southern port city of Odesa. [Coverage I have read elsewhere identifies these troops as National Guard, the irregular but presumably quite loyal forces recently raised by the Ukraine government.]

So far the Ukrainian Crisis game seems to be not exactly mirroring events, but permitting events analogous to real ones to take place in the game. So, Putin may win the game without ever declaring an invasion — but which Strategic Round are we in? It’s difficult to tell.

CONNECTIONS 2014: Main Keynote Speaker will be THOMAS SCHELLING

Not exactly as illustrated.

The CONNECTIONS conference on professional wargaming will be held in Quantico, Virginia, August 4-7 2014.

Here is the latest news from organizer Matt Caffrey:

THE Professor Thomas Schelling has agreed to be our lead keynote speaker!

“There is no Nobel Prize for wargaming, but if there was, Professor Thomas Schelling would have one to go along with his 2005 Nobel Prize in economics. While he is best known as a game theorist and nuclear strategist, his contributions to the field of wargaming have been hugely significant. An advocate for the unique analytic value of gaming, while at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs he wargamed with RAND at Camp David and undisclosed locations. His writings pioneered the application of wargaming to diplomatic deliberations and international political-military crises. I can think of no better Keynote, especially in a year when our theme emphasizes understanding across international wargaming cultures and across wargame applications.”

Thomas Schelling’s most influential works that touch on negotiation behaviours and game theory as applied to the military are The Strategy of Conflict (1960) and Arms and Influence (1966). His 2005 Nobel Prize was for his work in understanding conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.

He also indirectly contributed to the making of the famous Stanley Kubrick film “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” when Kubrick read an article he had written on nuclear warfare that mentioned the (very serious) Peter George novel Red Alert, which became the base for the script (and which, coincidentally, I reread last weekend).

If you have spent any time studying negotiation or game theory, you will have heard of Schelling – don’t miss this chance to hear him speak!

In other news:

On Monday, August 4, Matt Caffrey will present his famed “Wargaming 101” briefing from 1200 to 1345. At 1400 there will be THREE choices of speaker:

– Dr. Peter Perla, author of The Art of Wargaming speaking on analytical wargaming
– Dr. Joe Saur and Chris Weuve on wargame design, its basics and its pitfalls
– Matt Caffrey speaking on the history of wargaming using information from his upcoming book.

Details on registration and how to participate in Connections virtually are still coming, but if you needed something else to help make up your mind, there will be ZERO registration fee for the conference. While there will be options to buy lunch, if you bring your own lunch (and live within driving distance of Quantico) Connections can literally be free!

The Connections website is here:

Finally, I will be attending the Consimworld Expo in Tempe AZ in late May, and plan to put on a special event on “Simulating Modern Warfare” with Joe Miranda. This is a reprise of an event Joe and I did at the Expo a few years ago, but we will also be talking about the Connections conference, as we’ve both attended a few (though this will be the 21st Connections conference).