Tuesday, 4 July 2017

New professional wargaming book: The Confrontation Analysis Handbook, How to Resolve Confrontations by Eliminating Dilemmas

“This book makes an important contribution to the development of professional wargaming practise”
Dr Peter Perla

with the foreword by Dr Peter Perla.
   Confrontation Analysis, also called dilemma analysis or drama theory, was originally devised by Professor Nigel Howard in 1997 as a way of modelling crises. Although used by UK General Rupert Smith in his 2006 book The Utility of Force, the method fell into obscurity. After 10 years work in the defence sector, the method has been developed into a tool to model and help resolve international confrontations.

     This handbook aims to document the method and equip the reader to apply Confrontation Analysis as an operational analysis technique to structure, understand and think through multi-party interactions such as negotiations. It presents examples how to apply the method, with guidance on the steps to take. It is full of advice based on years of experience of the authors applying the method in the professional arena. All the case studies in this book have been used for real training and research. 
The chapters include examples ranging from the Iranian nuclear weapons crises 2010-15, to the Euro crisis of 2011. Each example is explained in detail to help the reader apply the method for themselves.

Two variants of the method are included; the first uses the example of the Libyan Civil War (2011) to show how to quantifies the dilemmas to help users make judgements. The second uses user generated cards to map out the conflict space. The latter is illustrated by a wargame based on near future cyber conflict around the South China Sea. 

This handbook is published by the History of Wargaming Project as part of its ongoing work to document current practise in wargaming. 


  1. So this is focused on classical game theory?

    1. This is a development from game theory. In game theory, the options are defined at the start of the analysis, then the outcomes for each side are mapped against every choice. In Confrontation Analysis, the players introduce more options dynamically during the analysis (or game) to try and change the outcomes. e.g. classic game theory for a crisis in North Korea would map outcomes based on the range of options available. The Confrontation Analysis version would expect the various sides to work hard and introduce new options, not just the ones available at start. Professor Nigel Howard and General Rupert Smith placed great credence on this method.

      Hope this brief explanation helps a bit.