(photo of Ukrainian Crisis in play, from Paxsims website)

Over at the Paxsims blog, Rex Brynen tells about a recent and very busy week spent at the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL):


Among many other things, people played a series of games to explore “hybrid warfare”, including LCOL Dave Barsness’ Kaliningrad 2017, Volko Ruhnke’s Labyrinth, and my own Ukrainian Crisis.

Rex concludes matrix games FTW for analyzing this form of warfare, at least for the broad strokes, and I would tend to agree. But here’s the typical Brynen wit:

Ironically, one of the problems of a matrix game approach is that it does not require a great deal of preparation, nor need it involve a great deal of materials and complexity. This makes it an unattractive proposition for defence contractors and consultants since product creation and delivery generates relatively few billable hours. Similarly, a sponsor may feel that it does not seem enough of a tangible product compared with a more complex, traditional wargame.

Hm! Words to live by, I guess… though a poorly prepared and executed matrix game is just as much a failure as a poorly done game of another type.

A bit in The Guardian about political board games

Thanks to Rodger MacGowan for the nice C3i banner.

Thanks to Rodger MacGowan for the nice C3i banner.


Games referenced: Labyrinth, Train by Brenda Romero, and A Distant Plain. As you might expect though, the article is illustrated with a stock photo of Risk. The writer, Matt Thrower (“MattDP” on Boardgamegeek), had a long interview with Volko Ruhnke and while I am certain that Volko mentioned it, there is nothing in the article to indicate that ADP was a co-design, still less one with me. The writer also indicated in the comments that he had a lengthy discussion with Volko where he vigorously defended the bipolar political model in Labyrinth, but there was no room for it in the article. Sigh, so it goes… little room for those who think and speak in paragraphs, and so much is left on the cutting room floor by tin-eared editors who think it’s all variations on Risk.

James Kemp (http://www.themself.org/) pops in to the comments to mention megagames, the ones that he and Jim Wallman (http://www.jimwallman.org.uk/) have run are very good examples. The comments also contain this absolute gem by one “Winston Smith”:

“Any 5 year old can create a board game, but the same can not be said of Crusader Kings II, one of the most genius strategy games of all time. I’ve played thousands of board games, and none of them come close to CKII. You have to be a moron, or have some secret agenda to think board games will ever hold up as anything other than a novelty in 20 years. “