KCL wargame coverage in the Grauniad

Don’t Fear the Reaper Drone at KCL

https://www.theguardian.com/games/2022/may/27/from-the-invasion-of-ukraine-to-weapons-procurement-the-war-games-seeking-solutions-to-real-life-conflicts

A nice piece in The Guardian about the MA course “Designing Games for Education and Analysis” at Kings College London. The writer tried out some of the games designed by students and was impressed by the wide variety of treatments and topics. An unnamed “expert from MoD” is also cited (but we think we know who it is!).

And even better, the piece was not illustrated by a picture of a game of Risk….

Coming up: Connections Online 2022

https://www.armchairdragoons.com/acdcons/connections/

Hey all!

Next week will see the 2022 edition of Connections Online, the second iteration of the purposely online version of the long-standing Connections franchise of conferences. As such it joins Connections-US, Connections-UK, Connections North, Connections Oz, and so forth in trying to create lasting, uh, connections between the hobby and professional wargaming worlds.

Core events are 19-21 April, with a series of extended events to either side 18-24 April.

The theme this year is “Developing Wargame Practitioners.” Panels on this topic include:

  • Recent Innovations in Wargaming
  • Hiring new Wargamers
  • Designing a Professional Wargame
  • Resources for Professional Development of Wargamers
  • Wargamer Professional Certification: Necessary or Not? (a perennial favourite!)
  • Wargaming outside the National Security Space

Lots of other things to see and do as well! I plan to attend events on Innovations in Hobby Wargaming, Wargaming Other than War, and Wargaming Politics.

Cost is $5.00 to attend the whole thing, everything else is free but you have to get a ticket to attend an event. Core events such as I have listed above will be posted on Youtube later, but the extended events will likely not.

Please plan to attend!

Urban warfare: 40ID’s new webpage

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https://calguard.ca.gov/40id-urban-warfare

The US 40th Infantry Division (headquartered in California but responsible for National Guard units from Nebraska to Guam) is becoming the centre for development of training and doctrine in urban operations. Last summer they ran the first serial of the Urban Warfare Planners course (More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course) and will do it again in July 2022.

This new webpage is a great resource for manuals, case studies, links to other resources, and yes even a page for civilian market wargames on urban combat (District Commander: Maracas gets a look in, and there’s more to come).

Check it out!

Connections North 2022: there’s still time!

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There is still time to register for the Connections-North conference happening this weekend!

It’s free, and online, and always interesting.

For general information: https://paxsims.wordpress.com/connections-north/

Link to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/connections-north-2022-tickets-238439548107

Conference programme: https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2022/01/23/connections-north-2022-conference-programme/

I will be chairing a panel on how games can model “influence operations” on Sunday the 20th… which operations are succinctly defined by Jim Wallman as, “doing stuff short of actually shooting people to get them to do what we want”.

How do we game social, political, and diplomatic influence in an age of digital communications and social media?

This is of central concern to all of us right now, as we are still working through a major episode and demonstration of all forms of influence operations by Russia, the United States, and practically everyone else who possibly could get into the act.

But of course, there is much much more happening because this is after all a Connections conference… so please come and join us!

Hiding in plain sight: connecting commercial and professional wargames

December 7, 2021 – John Curry gives a great talk to the Georgetown University Wargaming Society on the connections between the commercial (or hobby) wargame world and professional wargaming.

The talk is focused on the theme of how the hobby have influenced developments in professional gaming. Highlighting that the hobby games introduced concepts such as tabletop landscape, miniatures and political gaming. I then outline the wargaming evangelists who have influenced the direction of professional gaming, with the examples of HG Wells, Donald Featherstone, Colonel Dupuy, James Dunnigan and Paddy Griffith. I will then demonstrate how Matrix Games and Confrontational Analysis has spawned a whole series of professional wargames. My analysis suggests that professional gaming should openly acknowledge the need to borrow good practise from other disciplines, as well as the hobby sector. The world is facing critical threats and games are being played to help inform decision making and prepare leaders. If developments from hobby wargaming can improve the value of these professional games, this is of potential benefit to us all.

Nothing I want to argue about in here!

There is a fair amount of historical development/narrative so you might want to skip ahead if you are already familiar with the Big Names, but his talk is only about 47 minutes – he spends the last half hour fielding some very good questions.

More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course

The US Army’s First Urban Warfare Planners Course

(photo: Modern War Institute website)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a news item on the first ever Urban Warfare Planners Course, run by the staff of the 40th Infantry Division in California. News you can use

The Urban Warfare Project at the US Military Academy, Modern Warfare Institute has posted a very good podcast where they interviewed BG Robert Wooldridge, deputy commanding general for support about this first course – how it came about, what it is intended to do, and where they want it to go. Normally I do not have the time or patience to listen to podcasts but I did this one. You should too!

https://mwi.usma.edu/the-us-armys-first-urban-warfare-planners-course/

Podcast includes just a few tantalizing details of the tabletop exercise they ran, facilitated by LTC Luke Gygax (yes, the son of That Gygax, he serves in the California National Guard) on the adventures of a multinational task force engaging in combat operations in a dense urban area against a peer enemy. Factions included US forces, Allied forces, Civilians, the Enemy, and a Criminal element. Dice were rolled and chaos ensued!

This is inspiring me to return to work on an idea I had a while ago, the Scaleable Urban Combat Kriegsspiel… I had thought about the District Commander system could be useful as a manual system the Army could use for tabletop exercises, and it quite likely is, but perhaps I could work out something even easier to get into than District Commander Maracas. I easily forget how far these manual games lie outside “ordinary” people’s experience and frame of reference.

[ETA: A later post about their thoughts on offering the course, and what they plan to do next: https://mwi.usma.edu/what-we-learned-creating-the-armys-first-urban-planners-course]

Alan Paull: professional differences

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https://www.surprisedstaregames.co.uk/single-post/amateurs-talk-strategy-professionals-talk-game-design

Over at his blog for Surprised Stare Games, the very clever Alan Paull writes on the differences between professional and recreational wargame design processes.

Perhaps not a revelation for some readers, but a good description of his own design and development process as a recreational wargame designer (but frequent attendee at Connections-UK).

CFP: Wargaming and the Military (Journal of Advanced Military Studies)

Found off H-net feed:

CFPs for the Journal of Advanced Military Studies: Wargaming and the Military

by Jason Gosnell

Call for Submissions for the Fall 2021 Journal of Advanced Military Studies (JAMS)

Marine Corps University Press publishes JAMS on topics of concern to the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense on international relations, political science, security studies, and political economics topics.

Our Fall 2021 issue will have a broadly construed theme:

Wargaming and the Military

This issue will address the past, present, and future state of wargaming and the military. The editors are interested in exploring the topic from a variety of perspectives, including the current status of wargaming and how the Services can prepare for tomorrow with innovative professional military education and wargaming. This exploration can include a historical analysis of wargaming and PME; an analysis of current military use of wargaming in an operational setting; and future wargaming concepts for PME and the battlefield. Article submissions are due by May 31.

The Journal of Advanced Military Studies is a peer-reviewed journal, and submissions should be 4,000–10,000 words, footnoted, and formatted according to Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition). Junior faculty and advanced graduate students are encouraged to submit. MCUP is also looking for book reviewers from international studies, political science, and contemporary history fields.

To receive a copy of the journal or to discuss an article idea or book review, please contact MCU_Press@usmcu.edu.

The Uses of Simple Games

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(image: Nanda van Dijk)

On February 19 I got up early to give a short talk to a class of officers at the US Army War College on “The Uses of Simple Games”.

Simplicity vs. depth in games (yes to both); the value of simple games for personal learning, development and innovative habits of mind (oh yeah); these concepts in action at the GlobalECCO gaming portal (still chugging along!).

Script (OpenDoc) Simple Games script 18 feb 21

Slides (PDF) Simple Games slides 18 feb 21

Wargames and experiential learning

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Every so often you encounter an article or blog post that ties a lot of things together, and expresses for you things you have thought about – only in a much more coherent way. Today I found one of these by Roger Mason, in a blog he keeps for LECMgt, his consulting company.

https://www.lecmgt.com/blog/commercial-wargames-and-experiential-learning/

In the post, he talks about the value of civilian/commercial wargames (and their designers): how they teach lessons, how they teach adults, and what they have to offer the professional wargaming world and the learners it serves. Nothing that new, on the surface – we know how commercial off the shelf (COTS) games are sometimes mined for ideas by the professionals – but Roger ties it in with principles of andragogy (how adults learn, as opposed to children) particularly the theory of experiential learning as shown by the Kolb cycle, and shows the layers of learning that player-learners can extract from playing (experiencing) games: from concepts to context to application of learning.

A certain part of my day job involves knowing about work-integrated learning (a form of experiential learning) and encouraging it in post-secondary educational institutions… so I have been familiar with these concepts for a long time, and the value of games in assisting learning (games generally, and wargames specifically). But Roger has put it so much better than I would ever have been able to write it… so go read it!

(Also, Roger talks about the work of John Clerk, a British civilian who was interested in naval tactics and studied their history and development, and worked out a few ideas of his own using maps and miniatures. He published them in 1782, as one of the first examples of operational research in the Western world, a Royal Navy Board of Inquiry concluded they had merit, and that was part of the story of why and how Nelson “crossed the T” at Trafalgar! This was a new one to me…)

[Edited to add:]

Just a few days later, here is another excellent post on wargaming and Professional Military Education (PME) by RAAF Group Captain Jo Brick writing in The Forge, an online portal of the Australian Defence College (where she is currently Chief of Staff):

https://theforge.defence.gov.au/wargaming/gaming-and-professional-military-education

The Forge has a whole series of excellent articles on the uses of wargaming of which this is only the latest example. See them all at:

https://theforge.defence.gov.au/wargaming