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Thread: Wargaming Small Wars (merged thread)

  1. #41
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default Best Strategic Board Wargame on Insurgency & COIN

    The best board wargame I've ever played on the strategic problems of insurgency and counterinsurgency is NICARAGUA!, published as a magazine game in Strategy and Tactics #120, way back in 1988. The designer, Joe Miranda, convinced many with this game that he was the best in the business when it came to portraying unconventional warfare situations--and he still is today with no rival anywhere on the horizon.

    NICARAGUA! contains three scenarios--the first on the "Foco Insurgency" when anti-Somoza insurgents tried to take over the government in the 1960s and early 1970s; the second on the downfall of Somoza in 1977-1981; the last on American-backed Contras attempting to bring down the Sandanista government from 1982-1985.

    What sets this game apart from nearly all the others is the attention paid to political aspects of insurgency/counterinsurgency. Leaders are rated in terms of military AND political abilities, and national will is covered for both the government and rebel sides, affecting their political capabilities. Foreign Aid, Foreign intervention, Martial Law, and relationships between the espoused regime and rebel political system (e.g., Marxism-Leninism, Social Democracy, Liberal Democracy, Oligarchy) and the various Social Classes (Somocistas, Middle Class, Workers, Peasants, Intellectuals, the Church, Indians) and external players (the US, USSR, and the rest of Latin America) will affect the National Will. Political Warfare, Intelligence, Repression, Terrorism, and the more conventional tools of violence all get their due.

    Joe is considering adapting this system to the Iraq situation today--we can only hope that he does (and please encourage him on the CONSIMWORLD discussion forum!).

    You can see the components of NICARAGUA! at Boardgame Geek here.

    Find the NICARAGUA! discussion thread in the CONSIMWORLD forum here.

  2. #42
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default Games on modern Afghan Wars

    I'm summarizing three games on the Afghan insurgencies against the British in the late 19th Century and against the Soviets in the late 20th Century.

    THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR, designed by the venerable Joseph Miranda, was published in Strategy and Tactics magazine Issue #179 in 1996 and is, unfortunately, out of print. It has two scenarios covering the initial British invasion ("March To Kabul") and the eventual withdrawal ("Rebellion and Retribution"). Gameplay revolves around morale, politics, and Random Events. Rules cover atrocities, British "Fair Play," Baluchi political aspirations, and Afghan desertions. Tactically, the British are unsurpassed but often find themselves in strategically (and operationally) untenable positions in the second scenario. This game showcases how easy it is to conquer Afghanistan and how hard it is to hold it.

    To view the components of this game, check it out here.

    ASIA CROSSROADS a.k.a. THE GREAT GAME, also by Mr. Miranda, was published in Strategy and Tactics magazine Issue #216 in 2003 and is also out of print. Here, the emphasis is less on the insurgency/counterinsurgency aspects and more on the intrigues that the powers surrounding Afghanistan exerted on this particular conflict. Rules cover intelligence and the fog of war, agents/spies, massacres of civilians, international financing of such "cabinet wars," and political negotiations. Russia and Britain vie for control of Afghanistan...to say nothing of the aspirations of the Afghans and other regional players!

    To view the components of this game, check it out here.

    To follow discussions on the game, consult the CONSIMWORLD discussion forum here.

    HOLY WAR: AFGHANISTAN moves forward a hundred years or so to the Soviet invasion and occupation of the country. This is yet again another Miranda design, published in the pages of Strategy and Tactics magazine Issue #147 in 1991. As with most of Miranda's designs on such subjects, military considerations/aspects take second place to political ones. HOLY WAR is no different. We see rules for popular support, political control and military occupation, Soviet policy, Fog of War, Cross-Border operations, intelligence, defections/subversion, troop reliability, and the Jirga Loya. The games has six scenarios covering the various phases of the war to include one hypothetical situation dealing with a Soviet advance to the Persian Gulf.

    For a look at the game components, check it out here.

    To follow gamer discussions on this out-of-print title, look here.

  3. #43
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default Games on the Second Boer War

    Here I'll summarize the prominent games covering the British victory in the Second Boer War:

    BOER WAR is a magazine game published in Strategy and Tactics Issue 205 in 2001 and, unfortunately, no longer available. Joe Miranda takes his considerable talents to south Africa and covers this war from 1899-1902 at the operational level. While there is considerable attention paid to the operational art of war at this level, as in most Miranda designs there is a good bit of coverage on political aspects and intelligence--this game is no different. Rules cover Guerrillas, British tactical inefficiency, British "Harsh Measures," political reconciliation, political events/aspects of operations, and national morale. Of course, there's a good sprinkling of Random Events to keep both players on their toes. The game imparts a good bit of flavor and increases understanding of this complex conflict.

    Game components can be viewed here.

    Against the Odds magazine #13 featured BITTEREINDER: THE SECOND ANGLO-BOER WAR, 1899-1902, adapted from a popular Desk-Top Publishing title of the same name. This issue (and game) can still be had by contacting the publisher here. This area-movement game rewards patient deliberate British boa-constrictor like operations that choke off the Boer commandos from their sources of support and rob them of their ease of movement. The Boer player hopes to make the most of his initial/opening advantages and then outlast the British player, hoping to goad him into making rash mistakes. While this game does not have the color of Miranda's titles, it does address the problem of opposing morale states/national commitment and the impact of atrocities/"barbarism" well enough.

    To view the game components, go here.

    To read the discussions on this game--to include some phenomenal After Action comments and more photos of a game in progress, check here.

    If I had to choose between one or the other, I'd have to take BITTEREINDER. Both are worthy of your attention, particularly given the subject.

  4. #44
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default French COIN in Mexico, 1862-1867

    In 2006, Against the Odds magazine published CACTUS THRONE: THE MEXICAN WAR OF 1862-1867 in Issue 15, designed by Andy Nunez. Louis Napoleon decided to take advantage of American involvement in its Civil War to violate the Monroe Doctrine and place his puppet Emperor, Maximilian, on the throne of Mexico. Of course, many Mexicans took issue with this and the Republican Army opposed the French invaders. Here was where the French Foreign Legion suffered its celebrated defeat at Camerone.

    This game primarily is one of military conflict--politics is not a large player here. You'll definitely want to play with Random Events "special rules" to inject more uncertainty/politics into the situation. Most interesting are the variants postulating a Confederate victory in the northern hemisphere and the influence of General Joe Shelby, CSA, and his brigade in the war. The aged Santa Anna can even make a reappearance to suport the Republican Army.

    While the game doesn't provide a lot of insight into the political-military inter-relationships of insurgency/counter-insurgency warfare, the situation is an unusual one and deserves a bit of attention. The designer thoughtfully includes a good reading list in the rulebook.

    Issues are still available through Against The Odds magazine here.

    Discussions on the game can be found on CONSIMWORLD forum here.

  5. #45
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    I was asleep for this, I'll add slides from the last symposium that we had.

    This first one is from a MEU deplyed right now.
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  6. #46
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    This slide is our roadmap.
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  7. #47
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Systems that are part of the Master M&S Plan
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  8. #48
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    The tool set for the DVTE
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  9. #49
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    The Infantry Tool Kit
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  10. #50
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    The DVTE Suite consists of
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  11. #51
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    I need to get a photo editor for this computer, the above attachments were the only once that didn't go over the 97m limit

  12. #52
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    The above info is pretty much what's out there now in the Fleet. An effort that we are working on is a FPS; VBS-2/VTK.

    The VBS-2, out of the box with the LVC game engine links up with JSAF. The VTK portion of it was driven off of a Cognitive Task Analysis that we conducted with FAST. Two other efforts that will begin after we get the VTK is third party AI plug-ins, specifically Barry's work:

    http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~barryg/sg.html

    Following that we want to put the culture language ability that Tactical Language Training Systems delivers. This is all pretty much small scale, the big drive for sims is going to be what comes out of the Infantry Skills Simulation Work Group (ISSWG) which will determine where we go next in our quest for the Squad Immersive Training Environment (holodeck is the goal).

  13. #53
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default Getting unit copies of ITK software

    NICHOLS shared some slides on M&S architectures/tools being worked on in Quantico...of course, I have questions--

    How do I get copies of ITK software? Going to the TECOM website gave me no clues on how to do this. Am particularly interested in getting CCM, TACOPS, and MAGTF XXI, although if the other software is available, I'd love to get those as well. I've got a military mailing adress and/or get up to MCCDC from time to time...let me know how I can lay hands on these.

    Do these games come with RFS already established so we can network them on NMCI NIPRNET? If not, I've got commercial networks/boxes in the office space I can leverage...it's just that I don't have a lot of them.

    I do have some curriculum for TACOPS, by the way, to teach MCPP/IPB. Used to do that with version 2.1.2 way back when. The curriculum development was a cooperative effort between Center For Naval Analyses and Ground Intelligence Office Course instructors at the Navy-Marine Intelligence Training Center when we did this back in 1999/2000....

  14. #54
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    I've used TACOPS as well, but I've been interested (with no luck) in getting my hands on CCM to use with the ROTC course that I'm developing dealing with joint campaign planning. I preferred the CC game engine to TACOPS, and it would work better for simulating some of the small unit action that we're bound to need (the actual map exercise runs on a battalion+ level).
    "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

  15. #55
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default COIN in DVTE?

    Don't know how many can follow the technical jargon in the slides that NICHOLS posted--I'm very familiar with some of the C4 systems and simulations, dimly aware of others, and completely clueless on the rest. But I did not sense anything that spoke to scenario/situation design when DVTE is fielded that pertains to the trickier aspects of COIN. Hearken back to SULLYGOARMY's comment in Feb 2007 when he said in this thread:

    I'd like to see some Small Wars/COIN simulations similar to the close combat series of games...down at the squad and platoon level. Instead of artillery stirkes (unless in southern Baghdad... ), substitute a MEDCAP, or school building project or some other public works program. Teach guys how to do population control, issue ID cards and number houses to seperate the sheep from the wolves. And make it real time so the nintendo generation stays interested in it.
    We've seen a bit of this in the Tactical Iraqi software package--not to this degree, of course. I'd hope to portray some difficult tactical decisions at this level that are the essence of the dilemmas COIN poses.

    I know the commercial world isn't taking on any of this--at least right now. Is someone in the Army or Marine Corps doing this?

  16. #56
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericmwalters View Post
    I do have some curriculum for TACOPS, by the way, to teach MCPP/IPB. Used to do that with version 2.1.2 way back when. The curriculum development was a cooperative effort between Center For Naval Analyses and Ground Intelligence Office Course instructors at the Navy-Marine Intelligence Training Center when we did this back in 1999/2000....
    Sir, We need the curriculm for TacOps as soon as possible, that is one TDS that is lacking current use requirements.

    I see that you have registered on the TacOps portion of the TMSC website, you can get MAGTF XXI and CCM there also but you need to register on all sites within the domain.

    These three TDS will work on NMCI machines.....but they are NMCI tolerant only. They will work on NMCI computers on the same LAN ie Quantico vs Quantico but not Quantico vs Lejeune. We haven't officially put them into the NMCI system.

    Please let me know the next time that you are up here, we'll get a full blown demo at TechDiv.

  17. #57
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericmwalters View Post
    I know the commercial world isn't taking on any of this--at least right now. Is someone in the Army or Marine Corps doing this?
    Sir, The Corps is doing it with the VBS-2/VTK. We have gotten to the point where the out of the box games don't cut it. The VTK has three levels of editors;

    End User, out of the box where you change out OOB and limited psycological aspects of the AI.

    Sim Lab/DVTE, Plug in third party AI to drive the opfor pull in NGA data.

    TECOM/TRASYS, GUI editor to create a whole new game.

    We had the Tactical Language people create an Arabic version of VBS-2 specifically for Div School to train coalition forces in Iraq. Ultimately the requirement is to get the culture engine capabilites into VBS so that we can do kinetic and non-kinetic rehearsals.

    Additionally DARPA/SOCOM is working on the Real World simulation.

  18. #58
    Council Member ericmwalters's Avatar
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    Default Battalion Level Sims

    STEVE BLAIR wrote:

    I've used TACOPS as well, but I've been interested (with no luck) in getting my hands on CCM to use with the ROTC course that I'm developing dealing with joint campaign planning. I preferred the CC game engine to TACOPS, and it would work better for simulating some of the small unit action that we're bound to need (the actual map exercise runs on a battalion+ level).
    You may have better results using Shrapnel Games/ProSim's ARMORED TASK FORCE/RAGING TIGER games to simulate battalion-level actions with the requisite level of detail. Not much for COIN, mind you, but I think these are the slickest games for their scales I've yet seen.

    You can find ARMORED TASK FORCE here.

    You can find RAGING TIGER here.

    If you want a historical situation, there's also a game using the same engine on the Falklands War here.

    Mind you, these don't have the fidelity that CLOSE COMBAT has, but then again you can't run a battalion very well in that application, either! The tactical aspects are far, far better than in TACOPS--the terrain is very realistic in comparison. The downside is that the learning curve is a long one--these games are graduate schools in tactics.

    Of course, there's always POINT OF ATTACK 2, which you can get for free from the USAF, but it needs a lot of processing power to run...plus you may need their patches, depending....

    See the HPS website here and write Dr. Barker at the e-mail for the USAF POC to get the game and patches for .mil users...

  19. #59
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I've used TACOPS as well, but I've been interested (with no luck) in getting my hands on CCM
    Steve, go to:

    http://www.usmc-tds-msc.com/

    Request access, it will eventually make it to my inbox and I'll pass to the webmaster to authorize.

    They are delivering a new version of that TDS that takes it out of the blue on red type play. It now has civilians both good and bad, host nation forces, and end user trigger editors.

  20. #60
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys! I've used ATF before, but it doesn't quite meet the needs of this application. CCM certainly would, as what's needed is a lower-level tactical model. The new TDS sounds especially interesting. Of course, being with ROTC we're on a .edu and not .mil... I'll PM you with my info, Nichols, just before I put in the request. Thanks!
    "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

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