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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Message of hope from a gamer in China

I was most touched to receive this email from a gamer in China I know. So I thought I would share it.

John

Dear All:
This is Frank from MiniWarfare, China. You received this letter because your email is in my contact book. Among you, there are rule writers, manufacturers, retailers, editors, in US, UK, Italy and so on.

As far as I know, things are very bad in America and Europe. The government asked businesses to shut down and work from home, just as China did 2 months ago. You are in a very difficult time but what I would like to tell you, do not panic, it will be OK.

You know, things are getting better in China. My province has basically returned to normal work. The children will return to school in two weeks. Now we don't need to wear masks outdoors.
In your countries, the population density is lower than in China, and the medical conditions are better than in China, so don't be pessimistic, we can make it, so can you.

Wish you healthy and happy, all of you!

Thanks

Frank  

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Lessons from a pandemic game


In May 2019, I was the lead umpire in a game about a pandemic in the UK. The game was a committee game, largely free kriegsspiel. The decisions made in the game reflected those being made in the current situation in the world and are not that interesting. What is perhaps more interesting were the wider decisions in the game. 

The Welsh government used the opportunity to get a better settlement from the UK government, the Scottish declared independence in the belief London could not retain control and Russia threatened the Baltic Republics; intending to seize them while nato nations were fully tasked with the pandemic.

Of course, games are not predictive; wargamers use the shared experience of the game to explore the potential.

However, now we are in a real pandemic, the possibilities of real world scheming in Cardiff, Edinburgh or Moscow are now looking less like some wargame fantasy.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Gaming the pandemic


One of the ways of creating a model of the decisions states make facing a pandemic is using Confrontation Analysis- the Card game. This views the potential choices as cards in the government hand which can be played or not.

For example, the government can play a card- “mobilise all nursing students and direct them into hospitals to create a pool of reserve nurses!

The factors in this this situation are:

Public confidence in government

Impact on economy

Impact on virus

Each of these are rated +5 (best outcome possible) to -5 (terrible, very bad) 0 = a balance of good and bad.

The card would say “mobilise nursing students”

Public confidence + 2 (the public like the idea of mobilising and fighting the pandemic)

Impact on economy -2 (they will expect to get paid like trained nurses)

Impact on virus + 2 (it would help fight the virus)

For this card, another factor is added- Universities -1 (as they will lose money on the students not being students for a while, if universities are paid for absent students add -1 on to impact on economy as well as being paid, the universities are paid).

The pandemic has stages e.g. Contain, delay, pandemic, recovery. Each stage may have a different score. These are listed in order.

e.g. The card mobilise nursing students looks like this:

public confidence -1\0\+1\+1

Impact on economy -1\-1\-1\-1

Impact on virus 0\+1\+2\+2

Special- Universities -1, if universities paid for absent nurses score is 0 but extra -1 to impact on economy.

It does not take long to generate a whole series of cards that can be used to inform a discussion about what choices governments have at each stage of the pandemic.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Successful Professional Wargames: A practitioners handbook

New book published by the History of Wargaming Project. link

The back cover says:

"You will benefit from this book if you are a practitioner of the art of serious wargaming. Done well, the simple act of putting players in an immersive environment, asking them to make decisions and then face the consequences of those in a dynamically evolving narrative generates astounding insights and internalises learning objectives. Yet, as Clausewitz said of war, everything in wargaming is simple, but doing the simplest thing is difficult. This book explains the seemingly simple. It is a detailed guide to designing and delivering successful wargames, whether you apply the technique to Defence, other government departments, business, the emergency services, academia or humanitarian operations. This is important because good wargames save money but, first and foremost, they save lives.
The author

In his book, Graham Longley-Brown draws on his first-hand experience and those of leading professionals around the world to tell the story of wargaming best practices. From delving into the nature and applicability of wargames (they’re not just for the military), to building the best teams for producing and managing them, to articulating the life cycle of a successful game, it is a story which will prove invaluable for professional practitioners of wargames for both security and business.
Peter Perla, author of The Art of Wargaming

This book offers a cornucopia of invaluable information and ideas based on Graham Longley-Brown's decades of hands-on experience in designing and running professional wargames. There are extensive contributions from other experts, making the book a gold mine of insights from across the global wargaming community. It is essential reading for anyone wishing to use this increasingly prominent analytical and educational technique.
Professor Philip Sabin, author of Simulating War

Soldiers take great pride in being physically fit. Sport plays a major part in Army culture. But fighting power comprises three components: physical; moral and conceptual. The physical component is important, but the conceptual component is the decisive and campaign-winning differentiator: in war, the winners are the thinkers, the rest are losers. Wargaming is not only a directed element of the military planning process, but it also provides a fitness training programme for the brain in which every thinking Army officer should engage. Anyone involved in military thinking, or indeed any form of tactical or strategic thinking, from government to business, will derive huge benefit from Graham Longley-Brown’s excellent exploration and explanation of the (often neglected) art of wargaming.
General (Retired) Andrew Sharpe CBE
 

Sunday, 3 November 2019

David Rowland's The Stress of Battle: Quantifying HumanPerformance in Battle for Historical Analysis and Wargaming

by David Roland
Editor: John Curry
This is one of the classic works on historical analysis of combat by David Roland as part of his work in the Ministry of defence. It was widely recognised for its pioneering research on combat.
 
The book starts by summarising development of UK MoD historical analysis from studies in the 1970s. The development in the 1970s, of pulsed laser weapon simulators enabled real-time force-on-force exercises to be conducted and monitored. Analysis of these exercises, allowed advice to be given on more realistic combat modelling, and in particular human behaviour and reactions, underpinning operational effectiveness, force structures and equipment procurement studies.
 
Using quantitative Historical Analysis (HA), it was possible to extend to comparisons between the levels of effectiveness between simulated and real combat and to establish basic combat degradation estimates, one weapon class at a time. The effects of suppression, surprise and shock, were also quantified. The result of this research shed new light on infantry combat, armour v anti-tank weapons and heroism on the battlefield.
 
The large number of diagrams make the analysis clear and although the book is based around statistics, no in-depth maths is needed to understanding the conclusions.
 
The book has been published by the History of Wargaming Project as part of ongoing efforts to document the development of professional wargaming.
 
 

Saturday, 19 October 2019

United States Naval War College Manual Wargaming (1969)


United States Naval War College Manual Wargaming (1969)
Wargames at the Start of the Missile Era


As part of the History of Wargaming Project’s continuing wargaming ‘archaeology’, agreement was given to publish this set of rules as an example of the US Naval War College’s use of wargaming as part of their curriculum in 1969.
 

What is interesting about this set of rules is they are complete and they have a sample scenario which helps illuminate the thinking of the wargame designers. There are straightforward rules for surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), gunnery, air, torpedoes and mines etc. The use of these rules is clearly illustrated in the sample game. The rules were clearly written for others to play the game, even in the absence of the game designers.

The sample game gives the background and briefings and the two sides ORBATs. Then it sets out the plans of the two sides. It goes on to set out how the game is setup, managed and played. The rules are supported by numerous examples of the forms used to manage the game, such damage assessment flowcharts and surface to air missile assessment flowcharts. There is sufficient information for the modern wargamer to understand how the game was conducted or to recreate the games for themselves.