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Thread: Wargaming Small Wars (merged thread)

  1. #241
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wargaming the occupation of an embassy?

    Infanteer,

    You asked, I emphasis the later part:
    How do I wargame children throwing rocks at tanks or a the occupation of an embassy?
    Might be worth asking the RCMP / Foreign Affairs about an occupation, as a few years ago diplomatic premises featured in a number of violent incidents. Not likely to be a war game, I would expect a panel discussion though.

    Perhaps our USMC members can comment?
    davidbfpo

  2. #242
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Getting serious about video games

    Hat tip to Lowy Institute Thomas Ricks in a short article:http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts...YVjJ54.twitter
    davidbfpo

  3. #243
    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    http://tsjonline.com/story.php?F=7681050

    Steve Goodwin, director of the strategy and operations division of National Defense University’s Center for Applied Strategic Learning, echoes Lambert’s assessment.

    “The exercise community has not generally been successful in developing COIN models and simulations that can predict outcomes with a reasonable degree of confidence,” he said. “This is particularly true of games looking at complex contingencies, where psychological and social lines of operation, such as information operations and political negotiation, are hard to capture in mathematical models.”

    But in just the past few years, the mood has changed. Don’t call it optimism. Call it realism, a sense of what is possible and what isn’t. Irregular warfare models and simulations are coming. But if you’re hoping for a computer program to tell you how to beat the Taliban, don’t hold your breath.
    further down the article...

    Another example is Gemstone, a strategic simulation for senior leaders that was developed at the Center for Applied Strategic Learning at National Defense University (NDU).

    “Most COIN sims and games have existed at the operational level and lower,” said Guillory, who co-designed Gemstone. “Their focus was on the guys in the field. How does the grunt talk to people? How does he avoid pissing people off? We have also done OK with battalion and brigade staffs. What we haven’t done is look at the strategic-level thinkers that are putting out policy, allocating resources, money and time over the course of two, three, 10 years. If I’m going to put a lot of budget into governance, or infrastructure, or military development, will it pay off for me in five years? We don’t game those things very well, if at all.”

    Gemstone is essentially a BOGSAT (bunch of guys sitting around a table) seminar-style game, backed up by computer adjudication. Originally designed to orient new students at NCU’s College of International Security Affairs, the game puts players in senior central government roles in a nation beset by insurgency. Last year, the game was set in Colombia, and Colombian officials participated. A subsequent exercise in September centered on the Philippines.

    Gemstone divides a country into provinces or states. Players allocate resources such as troops, police and economic funding. Their decisions are fed into the computerized adjudication model, and the results are displayed as color-coded outcomes on a scale of red to green. The simulation is expressly designed to incorporate Field Manual 3-24, the Army’s COIN doctrine.

    “Elements of the doctrine include the game’s focus on lines of operation, including service provision, governance, perceived security, information operations and economic development,” said NDU’s Goodwin. “There is a lot of emphasis on gaining an understanding of how the parts feed into the whole in 3-24.”
    Last edited by BayonetBrant; 01-13-2012 at 04:24 PM. Reason: spacing
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    “their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

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  4. #244
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    Default “Getting serious about video games”—and some caveats

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Hat tip to Lowy Institute Thomas Ricks in a short article:http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts...YVjJ54.twitter
    And some thoughts on the piece at PAXsims.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  5. #245
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    The Vietnamese take on 'Call Of Duty'. Can their brand of tactical simulations be far behind?

    Anybody with a computer can slay virtual terrorists, storm troopers or kamikaze pilots.

    Now videogamers can play the role of Ho Chi Minh's communist forces as they rout French colonists in a blood-spattered shoot'em-up.

    Developed by Hanoi-based Emobi Games, "7554" is an example of how Vietnamese entrepreneurs are setting their sights on creating their own brands, instead of doing piece work for foreign companies. That can help them avoid falling into the so-called middle-income trap afflicting many emerging-market businesses.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...200588958.html

    http://www.emobigames.vn/EN/Games/7554.html

    http://www.marketwatch.com/video/ass...C-5B7EBAFA69BA
    Last edited by AdamG; 02-13-2012 at 08:36 PM.
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  6. #246
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    Default Afghan Provincial Reconstruction game

    I ran some student volunteers through a stabilization game today that worked quite well:

    Afghan Provincial Reconstruction game

    It certainly isn't a high fidelity (or even medium fidelity) simulation of Afghanistan by any stretch, and has relatively little to say about the kinetic end of things. However it does do a nice job of representing the challenges of security and development in conflict-affected states in an easily playable package, especially as they related to issues of resource allocation, donor coordination, and the importance building local community support.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  7. #247
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    Default Sabin: Simulating War

    Philip Sabin (a military historian at King's College London) recently published an excellent book on the use of wargames for education, research, and policy development: Simulating War: Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games (London: Continuum, 2012).

    While the book is heavy on his own experiences at KCL using boardgames, it is nevertheless an excellent read (and certainly the best academic wargaming book since Peter Perla's The Art of Wargaming). You'll find my own review of it at PAXsims.
    Last edited by Rex Brynen; 03-26-2012 at 06:18 PM.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  8. #248
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Great review, Rex! I'd seen mention of this in the solitaire rules Sabin developed for the game Nightfighter and was curious. Guess I'll be adding it to my list now.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  9. #249
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I'm currently designing a board game simulation of the Afghan War. I'm about done with the rule book and am developing the supporting appendices (i.e. cards and effects, etc) this week. The idea is to depict the three-way strategy tango between the US/ISAF, GIRoA, and the Taliban. When I have a more completee product (hopefully by next week), I intend to showcase it here to elicit some feedback and commentary to make it more realistic.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  10. #250
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I'm currently designing a board game simulation of the Afghan War. I'm about done with the rule book and am developing the supporting appendices (i.e. cards and effects, etc) this week. The idea is to depict the three-way strategy tango between the US/ISAF, GIRoA, and the Taliban. When I have a more completee product (hopefully by next week), I intend to showcase it here to elicit some feedback and commentary to make it more realistic.
    We'll look forward to it!
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  11. #251
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I figure I might as well share the concept while I hammer out the remaining details. I intend to set up a quick website or forum in the near future to help facilitate play testing. If anyone is interested in helping develop the project (or just play testing for the fun of it), please PM me.

    Anyway, The Long War: Afghanistan 2001 - 2016 is a strategic simulation of the War in Afghanistan allowing players to control the US (and NATO/ISAF), GIRoA, or the Taliban (and its affiliated networks). Players must pursue distinct victory conditions by the end of 2016 while contending with the complexities of a protracted small war in a fourth world state. The game board will depict Afghanistan's 34 provinces, four of its major cities, eight Pakistani border provinces, and AFG's northern and western neighbors. Each province has a terrain, weather, stability, and development modifier.

    Turns represent six months of time, starting in Fall 2001 and ending in Fall 2016. There are fixed events tied to some turns, such as US Presidential Elections, that affect game rules for that turn.

    Each side has a respective opinion rating measured 0 - 100 that is at the core of the player's objectives. Not only are they tied to victory conditions, but the rating also affects the number of available actions in a turn as well as how many cards that can be drawn at the end of a turn. There is also a fourth rating to measure international interest in the conflict.

    Each side also has unique rules, policies, cards, and units. Policies are overarching strategies that affect which cards are available (i.e. counter-terrorism vs counter-insurgency). Because each card also has a condition that must be met (often tied to the type of unit in a province), there is a direct connection between policy decisions, force structure, and tactical/operational decisions. Policies can be changed at will but at considerable cost to oneself, or under specific conditions at no cost (i.e. after an election for a US player).

    During a turn, a player may conduct a certain amount of actions. These actions may be with a specific unit (each unit has its own mission type, and mobility and survivability ratings), which have minimal affects on the big picture, or with an operational card, which represent tactical and operational decisions (such as a "Night Raid") and have a slightly larger impact. However, besides their immediate effects, cards also have counter-actions and unintended consequences. Counter-actions are designated operational cards in another player's deck that can be played out of turn in immediate response to a played card (both operational and strategic). Counter-actions can be played until players decide to quit using them or until the card hand is exhausted. Cards can also have unintended consequences, which is determined by a die roll and have a negative impact on either the player himself or another player. For example, the "Night Raid" card might be effective in removing Taliban pieces from the board, but it also reduces GIRoA legitimacy. Legitimacy is further damaged if "civilian casualties" occur. The playing of the card can prompt the GIRoA player to use the "Denounce Civilian Casualties" card as a counter-action, which repairs GIRoA legitimacy to some extent but at the cost of US domestic opinion.

    Players can also play one strategic card during a turn, which has a greater impact on the game or even game mechanics. It may significantly improve ratings across the board, or it might suspend the use of another player's advantage. These reflect larger political decisions that shape the battlefield on its edges. The US can play a "Political Pressure on Pakistan" card to reduce Taliban unit survivability across the board in Pakistani provinces (making them more vulnerable to some US operational cards). Like operational cards, these too have a counteraction and unintended consequence. But they are more severe -- the UI to the US card mentioned above is the low-risk of prompting a military coup that jealously guards its sovereignty, resulting in the revocation of the US in using some cards.

    Lastly, victory conditions are "complex". That is, they are not necessarily dependent on the success or failure of the other players, which can result in any combination of players "winning", or none winning at all. For example, the US and GIRoA share a common victory condition in measuring GIRoA legitimacy, but the necessary number is different, giving some space for tension (and exploitation by a shrewd Taliban player).

    There are a host of other details, such as US force caps and deployment schedules and Taliban key leaders, but I'll leave that for later in the conversation. The intent is to capture the complexity of decision-making, with its constant change in opportunities and dangers, while trying to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and keeping the other players at arms length. The US could crush the Taliban militarily, but at what cost to GIRoA? And what would it cost and how long would it take for the US to shift policies? Can GIRoA afford to forgo development to focus on security and stability? And what strategy can the Taliban implement to exploit the narrow but deep differences in its two adversaries?
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 04-09-2012 at 05:38 AM.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  12. #252
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    A few updates:

    - I decided to add ethnicity as a major game play factor. I am still considering how this will influence the basic ruleset since I want to avoid the RPG-like model of different groups have people having inherently different advantages (or disadvantages). With that in mind, ethnicity will be probably be abstract and relational.

    - Key Leaders will be a central element for each side, who will have unique leaders (i.e. commanders, diplomats, aid workers, etc) that represent different parts of the institutional effort. I am still working out how this look precisely, though they will be extensively tied into policies, cards, and actions. Having key leaders in the wrong place at the wrong time (and using the wrong policy and units) will have an incredibly negative impact on the player's strategy implementation to reflect bureaucratic resistance and the necessity of political buy-in by supporting agencies.

    - Although using real-world military designations would add some flavor to the game, I decided against it so players focus instead on the operational and strategic options made available by the use of some types of units in lieu of others. So Army light infantry brigades, special operations forces, and paramilitaries, among others, will all be abstracted (though at a future date I may change this, as I see opportunities to add another dimension to strategy here).

    - Lastly, I am looking at scrapping the hard end date of Fall 2016 to something more gradual. An array of conditions will likely trigger an "End-Game", which will use a series of fixed events to move the game towards a conclusion. Right now, this might be when a faction achieves its victory conditions in any turn, which will trigger a set series of events to allow for the other players to grab what's left; i.e. the US might achieve its objectives earlier than anticipated, triggering a gradual US drawdown, encouraging GIRoA and the Taliban to redouble efforts in a set amount of time. This is still under consideration so any feedback is welcome.
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 04-09-2012 at 06:37 PM.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  13. #253
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    I honestly don't see how you could model something like this without using ethnicity in some way. Personally, I'd be inclined to base it more along the lines of a negative interaction modifier if local groups aren't of the same ethnicity. It's not so much giving one ethnic group a bonus as it is modeling the difficulty often present when it comes to getting two different groups to work together or trust each other. The modifier could be negated over time (possibly by steps taken by the outside nation), or it could actually be enhanced (due to a number of factors).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  14. #254
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I honestly don't see how you could model something like this without using ethnicity in some way. Personally, I'd be inclined to base it more along the lines of a negative interaction modifier if local groups aren't of the same ethnicity. It's not so much giving one ethnic group a bonus as it is modeling the difficulty often present when it comes to getting two different groups to work together or trust each other. The modifier could be negated over time (possibly by steps taken by the outside nation), or it could actually be enhanced (due to a number of factors).
    That is what I am leaning towards right now. Some background: there will be operational leaders (people in the field) and policy leaders (people in Washington, Kabul, or Quetta, etc). Anyway, operational leaders will have an ethnicity trait that will influence their effectiveness in different provinces, all of which will have a fixed ethnicity assigned to it. So, the US, GIRoA, and Taliban will all face this challenge.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Of course, ethnicity is a fairly fluid thing, and could be modeled down to tribal affiliation if necessary (although it sounds like at the level you're talking about this would be a touch too micro). I'd be tempted to take it one step further and have ethnicity and "outsider" status modifiers, with "outsider" (or whatever) applying to US/Western folks (with a higher negative, at least at first) and then the internal ethnic considerations. Over time, one player could work to lessen the "outsider" penalties (although they'd likely never go away completely).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  16. #256
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I think I'm simply going to have US leaders labelled with "American" ethnicity, with a few and far between exceptions among some of the diplomatic, aid, and contractor staff. I don't know yet what the penalty will be, however. I'm thinking a penalty in unit/leader survivability and an increase chance for the UI of a played card in that province.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    What's the intended audience? Is the boardgame for hobbyists, educational uses, or other purposes?

    Mike Markowitz's presentation at the NDU gaming roundtable today was about developing an operational-level Afghanistan boardgame for the TRADOC Analysis Center (that also interfaced with tactical, digital sims). The audio and slides may be up later at NDU CASL, but you'll find some detail in Brant's live blog of the event at Grog News (and a little discussion at PAXsims too).
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  18. #258
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    What's the intended audience? Is the boardgame for hobbyists, educational uses, or other purposes?

    Mike Markowitz's presentation at the NDU gaming roundtable today was about developing an operational-level Afghanistan boardgame for the TRADOC Analysis Center (that also interfaced with tactical, digital sims). The audio and slides may be up later at NDU CASL, but you'll find some detail in Brant's live blog of the event at Grog News (and a little discussion at PAXsims too).
    Thanks for sharing the links. I'm of the general opinion that context determines everything, and so my focus is on developing a strategic-policy level game. I have not thought much about the audience, though it's definitely not the way families are going to want to spend their Friday nights.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  19. #259
    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    updated link to the article, since TSJ's website has been rearranged

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/2.../Firmer-Ground
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    “their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

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  20. #260
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post

    just an update, the corrected link is

    http://www.defensenews.com/article/2.../Firmer-Ground

    since TSJOnline rearranged all their content
    Brant
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    Military news and views at GrogNews

    “their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

    Play more wargames!

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