Wargame SITREP 230127 N5 Plans: A Compendium of Wargaming Terms hosted by GUWS

The Georgetown University Wargaming Society (GUWS) announced they are hosting an online the latest version of A Compendium of Wargaming Terms. PAXSIMS was the first to bring this to my attention, and they provided this background:

Purpose and Description: Since there is no single agreed-upon set of wargaming terms, this compendium is an unofficial collection that attempts to gather and post as broad a collection of terms and definitions as possible. Its purpose is to inform gamers of the variety of terms and definitions in use rather than to impose a single set of rigid definitions.

This unofficial collection was originally assembled by Bill Simpson, a GS-13 Wargaming Specialist, with 22+ years of experience at Wargaming Division, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory June 1992 to October 2015, and at the Center for Naval Analysis as a Senior Wargaming Specialist January 2017 to January 2019. He continues to work on updates along with a small group of volunteers.


There is a reason I put this post under my new ‘Wargame Practitioner’ category. A Compendium of Wargaming Terms is meant to serve the wargame practitioner—not the hobby boardgame—community. Many times those two overlap and all too often they are not properly disassociated from each other. For example, one Twitter commentator grenade thrower wrote, “Thus debate is an exceptional waste of time and often meant to be divisive. ‘That’s not a wargame’ crowd use it to divide, not build. The only time it matters is if you and I agree to play a “wargame” then we need to figure out what that is.”

I’m going to ‘jump on that grenade’ and state that the only time it matters to that commentator is when it doesn’t matter to a wargame practitioner.

In their book The Craft of Wargaming: A Detailed Planning Guide for Defense Planners and Analysts, authors Col. Jeff Appleget, USA (Ret.) and Col Robert Burks, USA (Ret.) along with Fred Cameron, identify three major purposes of wargames, “educational, experiential, and analytical.” They go on to point out, “we have consciously left out entertainment as a primary purpose despite the fact that games for entertainment dwarf all other types in terms of dollars spent on them.” The intent, the authors state, “is to keep the focus on the most likely wargames that young planners and analysts will encounter or utilize in their profession.” (Craft of Wargaming, 5)


Natalia Wojtowicz, in her chapter “Professional Wargaming: From Competence to Qualifying Certification” found in Forging Wargamers: A Framework for Professional Military Education edited by Sebastian Bae, points out: “Publications on wargaming are rare, and in most cases link to a research problem in another discipline, causing lack of independent research on wargaming.” (Forging Wargamers, 13). This makes “publication” of products like A Compendium of Wargaming Terms all the more important because they represent one of the few cornerstone publications that wargame practitioners can point to.

Which is a kinda long-winded way of saying that if you are a hobby gamer who occasionally plays conflict simulations or historical simulations or whatever your chosen gaming adjective of endearment is, understand that A Compendium of Wargaming Terms is NOT for you.

Yes, I’m being divisive. I’m doing it to save you. Now take the life ring and float away…

Feature image book cover for Forging Wargamers by Sebastian Bae courtesy MCU Press

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2023 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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