Studies in Concrete


…is the name of my presentation at the Military Operations Research Society’s (MORS) event “Analysis of Urban Warfare”, April 2-5 2019 at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

I’m speaking on Wednesday afternoon but I’m putting my script and slides up here now, just before I leave home because I don’t know what kind of Net access I will have on the base.

The point of my talk is to take three civilian wargames on urban irregular war, and  talk about how basic concepts for the situations and supporting research flowed into game mechanics. The three games are

Duration Urban centre Type of conflict
Tupamaro 4 years 1968-72 Montevideo

~1.5 million

Low-intensity insurgency, frequent terrorism
Operation “Whirlwind”/ Nights of Fire 5 days    1956 Budapest

~ 1.6 million

Corps-sized operations against disorganized and unprepared insurgents
“We Are Coming, Nineveh” ~ 5 months 2017 West Mosul

~ 600,000?

Corps-sized operations against organized and prepared insurgents

So here are the items:

script Studies in Concrete am 26 mar

slides (PDF) Studies slides am 27 mar

It’s going to be an intense three days – I wish I weren’t fighting off a cold right now. After that I will be in Washington for a day and a half, then back home to the usual three ring circus here….

While in Washington, I hope to check out the Compleat Strategist satellite store in Falls Church!

Back to Quantico


Next mission: back to Quantico!

The Military Operations Research Society (MORS) is having a special “Analysis of Urban Warfare” event, 2-5 April at Marine Corps University. I’ve been asked to join the Analytical Tools working group, which hits on wargaming, so I’ll be presenting on some aspect of how urban combat’s been treated, in both my and other’s work. If all goes well, I may have a new playable thing to bring too….

Details here:

MORS Workshop on Professional Gaming, 28 September – 1 October

Hopefully not as illustrated.

Week after next I am heading out for a few days in Fairfax, Virginia, to co-facilitate a working group at the Military Operations Research Society’s (MORS) Workshop on Professional Gaming.

Wargames used for analytic purposes have been around almost as long as operations research, maybe even longer if you are flexible about the word “analysis”. Many of the members of MORS are military, or civilians working for the military, with backgrounds in math, computer science or engineering so the games they produce and use tend to be quite technical and numbers-based, with results to a specific question validated by data. But there are also others in the organization, often with social science backgrounds, who struggle with the more qualitative side of contemporary problems and questions. More and different methods of looking at these problems through games are being used, and I think that’s where my contribution to this workshop will lie… games for analysis are a bit out of my line of country, but they still have to work as games, which in this case are a particular kind of model I have some experience building. It’s all in how you frame the problem, right….

The workshop will have eight working groups, and I will be working in the “Quick-Turnaround Game Development” one – plan is to take the participants from idea to (at least partially) playtested design, on a topic of their choice, within 36 hours. The inestimable Rex Brynen of Paxsims will be there too!

We’ll also have a chance to show and demonstrate some new game designs. I will be bringing demo copies of

  • Algeria (140-counter rework of first design on Algeria, for OSS Games’ Folio line)
  • Binh Dinh 69 (Vietnam 1969, for OSS Games as well)
  • Caudillo
  • Colonial Twilight
  • District Commander Kandahar
  • Guerrilla Checkers (free copies to give away)
  • Third Lebanon War
  • Ukrainian Crisis (have made some changes to the design recently, will post later)

I hope there’ll be room for all that lot, and clothes too… otherwise I’ll have to bring some binder clips, and use the hotel sheets and blankets instead.

Also, Rex will be demonstrating his very clever humanitarian aid/ disaster relief game Aftershock, and possibly ISIS Crisis as well, to introduce people to the idea of matrix games.

Will be a busy but fun week!

Broadcasting Across a Series of Tubes: MORS 81.1 Virtual Symposium

Next week will the the 81st symposium of the Military Operations Research Society (MORS), in Alexandria, VA.

Because of sequestration, cutbacks (the original venue was to be West Point) and the near total cancellation of travel and conference permissions for military and civilian Department of Defense staff, for the first time there will be a virtual component to the symposium, running slightly before and parallel to the physical meeting.

As a non-US citizen with no security clearance, I could not attend the “real” event anyway, but I can present at the unclassified portion of the virtual symposium – so that’s what I will be doing, at 1430 EDT on Saturday, June 15. I’ll be giving a presentation called “Ploughing in the COIN Field: Recent Developments in Commercial Insurgency Wargames”. Basically, it’s a short talk on the scarcity and low acceptance of irregular warfare games in the civilian market, the qualities of a good game and its value nevertheless as a means of insight, and short mentions of recent games that have these qualities.

I’ll be posting my slides and script on the Game Links and Resources page later, so if you have better things to do with your Saturday, I won’t mind. But it would be nice if someone came, and there are some interesting topics given by others on the schedule.

From the invitation email:

MORS is pleased to present the Inaugural MORS Virtual Symposium – a series of on-line presentations and special discussions that coincide with the 81st Symposium.  These virtual meetings are being made available to members and friends of MORS.  The unclassified Virtual Symposium will take place June 14th and Saturday, June 15th.

– Not sure what MORS 81.1 is?  Checkout our video link:

– Not registered for MORS 81.1?  Visit

Registration is FREE!

– Please view the following links to the unclassified schedule and abstract list to help plan your attendance online. Schedule | Abstract List | Virtual MORS DCO Help Guide