#Wargame Library – Alternate History/FICINT for Wargamers (updated June 2022)

Excellent fodder for helping think about the “what if” in a wargame.

Ackerman, Elliot and Admiral James Stavridis, 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, New York: Penguin Press, 2021. Another China war FICINT book in the mold of Ghost Fleet (below).

Bresnahan, Jim (Ed.), Refighting the Pacific War: An Alternative History of World War II, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011. Using a slightly different approach, each chapter describes a situation and then learned commentary by authors and historians follows.

Bywater, Hector C., The Great Pacific War: The History of the American-Japanese Campaign 0f 1931-1933, Bedford: Applewood Book, original copyright 1925. Often called, “The book that predicted Pearl Harbor,” the reality is much deeper and is tied to advocacy regarding the development of U.S. military warplans in the inter-war period. Obvious inspiration for many wargames like Great War at Sea: War War Plan Orange (Avalanche Press, 1998) or Plan Orange: Pacific War 1932 – 1935 by Mark Herman from RBM Studios (2016).

Clancy, Tom, Red Storm Rising, New York: G.P. Putnam Sons, 1986. Co-written in parts with Larry Bond, lead designer of the Harpoon-series of wargames (Admiralty Trilogy Group). This includes the famous “Dance of the Vampires” chapter that was developed using Harpoon.

Cowley, Robert (Ed.), The Collected What If? Eminent Historians Image What Might Have Been (Includes the complete texts of What If? and What If? 2), New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001. More than just military alternative history…

Deighton, Len, SS-GB, New York: Sterling, 1979 (2012 edition). Britain under Nazi German rule. Essential tie-in to most any Operation Sealion wargame.

Deighton, Len, Spy Story, St. Albans: Panther Books Ltd., 1974. Interesting because wargames are used as a major plot point. According to the book back of my copy:

“Patrick Armstrong is a tough, dedicated agent and war-games player. But in Armstrong’s violent, complex world, war-games are all too often played for real. Soon the chase (or is it escape?) is on. From the secretive computerized college of war studies in London via a bleak, sinister Scottish redoubt to the Arctic ice cap where nuclear submarines prowl ominously beneath frozen wastes, a lethal web of violence and doublecross is woven. And Europe’s whole future hangs by a deadly thread…”

The beginning of each chapter has excerpts from the “TACWARGAME” wargame rules or a Glossary or other “Notes for Wargamers” from the “Studies Centre, London.”

Dick, Philip K., The Man in the High Castle, New York: Vintage Books, 1962 (1992 edition). Nightmare Nazi German and Imperial Japan rule a conquered America.

Downing, David, The Moscow Option: An Alternative Second World War, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2001. Moscow falls in ’41…then what?

Hackett, General Sir John & Other Top-Ranking NATO Generals & Advisors, The Third World War: August 1985, New York: Berkley Books, 1979.Written as an act of policy advocacy, this book reignited the genre of speculative military fiction (and policy advocacy) that had laid dormant since Bywater’s Great Pacific War from over 50 years earlier.

Harris, Robert, Fatherland: A Novel, New York: Random House, 1992 A masterpiece of world-building fiction. There are parts where, with a little imagination, one can see the broad outlines of “post-war” conflict.

Macksey, Kenneth (Ed.), The Hitler Options: Alternate Decisions of World War II, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1995. Ten short stories; my favorite may be “The Jet Fighter Menace: 1943” written by the esteemed Dr. Alfred Price.

Showalter, Dennis E. & Harold C. Deutsch (Eds.), If the Allies Had Fallen: Sixty Alternate Scenarios of World War II, New York: MJF Books, 2010. Sixty means much shorter, lesser developed scenarios.

Singer, P.W. and August Cole, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. The first in the new fictional intelligence (FICINT) genre of books picking up long after Hackett’s The Third World War.

Stieber, Whitley and James Kunetka, War Day: and the Journey Onward, New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1984. While at least one chapter may make a good Harpoon scenario, I found the post-World War III elements also intriguing for post-apocalyptic scenario design.

Tsouras, Peter G. (Ed), Cold War Hot: Alternate Decisions of the Cold War, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2003. Ten short stories from end of World War II thru the Cold War.

Tsouras, Peter G., Disaster at D-Day: The Germans Defeat the Allies, June 1944, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1994. One of the earliest Alternate History titles in the 1990’s.

Tsouras, Peter G., Gettysburg: An Alternate History, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1997. Unlike many other Tsouras books this is authored exclusively by Peter.

Tsouras, Peter G. (Ed.), Rising Sun Victorious: The Alternate History of How the Japanese Won the Pacific War, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Turtledove, Harry, S.M. Stirling, Mayr Gentle, and Walter Jon Williams, Worlds That Weren’t, New York: Penguin, 2003. Four novellas by master authors.


Feature image Red Storm Rising, TSR, 1989 (personal collection)courtesy

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#Wargame Library – Military Science for Wargames (updated June 2022)

Not strictly wargaming but useful texts for designers and players.

Brown, Ian T., A New Conception of War: John Boyd, the U.S. Marines, and Maneuver Warfare, Quantico: Marine Corps University Press, 2018. Major Brown, USMC, tells the story of Col John Boyd and how his concepts of war came to influence the U.S. Marines as expressed in their own seminal doctrine manual, Warfighting. A must read to understand Boyd and his theories.

Clausewitz, Carl Von, On War, New York: Penguin Books, 1968. How can you study military science without the (western) Father of Military Science?

Dunnigan, James F., How to Make War: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare in the 21st Century (Fourth Edition), New York: Harper, 2003. Dunnigan is a prolific wargamer designer and while this book is not a set of rules or the like, it does provide insight into what it was about war he considered important enough to model in his games.

Dupuy, Col. Trevor N., U.S. Army [Ret.], Attrition: Forecasting Battle Casualties and Equipment Loses in Modern War, Falls Church: NOVA Publications, 1995. A follow-on to Numbers, Prediction & War that expands on the QJM (Quantified Judgement Model) and TNDM (Tactical Numeric Deterministic Model).

Dupuy, Col. Trevor N., U.S. Army [Ret.], Future Wars: The World’s Most Dangerous Flashpoints, New York: Warner Books, 1992. Excellent inspiration material for wargame designers. Appendix B is a short tutorial on “The Tactical Numeric Deterministic Model (TNDM)” which is very useful for wargame designers to study.

Dupuy, Col. Trevor N., U.S. Army [Ret.], Numbers, Predictions & War: Using History to Evaluate Combat Factors and Predict the Outcome of Battles, Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc., 1979. This book is where Col. Dupuy’s Quantified Judgement Model (QJM) that eventually becomes the Tactical Numeric Deterministic Model (TNDM) is born.

Dupuy, Col. Trevor N., U.S. Army [Ret.], Understanding War: History and Theory of Combat, Falls Church: NOVA Publications, 1987. Discusses much of the historical basis for the QJM and TNDM.

Hughes Jr., Capt. Wayne P. (USN, RET), Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice (First Edition), Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1986. Written at the height of the “Reagan Navy” built by Navy Secretary Lehman, this was the book that underpinned the Maritime Strategy. First introduction of the “Salvo Equation” that today not only is used to describe anti-ship cruise missile combat but even modern artillery theories apply it.

Hughes Jr., Capt. Wayne P. (USN, RET), Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (Second Edition), Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000. Updated for the emphasis on littoral combat.

Hughes Jr., Capt. Wayne P. (USN, RET) and RADM Robert P. Girrier (USN, RET), Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations (Third Edition), Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2018. Updated yet again to show the connection of fleet tactics to naval operations.

Lawrence, Christopher A., War By Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat, Lincoln: Potomac, 2017. Lawrence is the successor to Col. Dupuy at The Dupuy Institute. This book explains the work of “quantitative historical analysis” as it applies to modern conventional combat. Students of the War in Ukraine should be dusting off this text and the previous works of Trevor Dupuy.

Ryan, Mick, War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2022. Mick Ryan is a retired Army Major General from the Australian Defense Forces who brings a perspective steeped in U.S. and U.K. military thinking but with that different “down under” approach and mentality.


Feature image Col. Trevor N. Dupuy, father of the Tactical Numerical Deterministic Model (TNDM) and the Quantified Judgement Model (QJM). Read about Col. Dupuy and TNDM/QJM at the Dupuy Institute.

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#Wargame Library – Wargame-related Texts (updated June 2022)

Titles that are related to wargaming (not necessarily design) and often with a focus on the history of the profession/hobby.

Antal, John F., Armor Attacks: An Interactive Exercise in Small-Unit Tactics & Leadership, Novato: Presidio, 1991. A “choose your own adventure” approach to wargaming.

Appleget, Col. Jeff, USA (Ret.), Col. Robert Burks, USA (Ret.), and Fred Cameron, The Craft of Wargaming: A Detailed Planning Guide for Defense Planners and Analysts, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2020. Focuses on wargaming as part of the military planning process.

Curry, John, United States Naval War College Manual Wargaming (1969): Wargames at the Start of the Missile Era, The History of Wargaming Project http://www.wargaming.co, 2019. These were the rules used in wargames at the Naval War College in the late 1960’s; provides a “professional” set of rules to compare other games to.

Curry, John and Chris Carlson (ed), The United States Naval War College 1936 Wargame Rules: USN Wargaming Before WWII, Volume 1, The History of Wargaming Project http://www.wargaming.co, 2019. Another set of historical Naval War College rules; these are very similar to those used by the U.S. Navy before World War II that trained so many of the senior officers that fought that war.

Curry, John and Paddy Griffith, Paddy Griffith’s Wargaming Operation Sealion: The Game that Launched Academic Wargaming, The History of Wargame Project www. wargame.co, 2021.Explores Paddy Griffith’s 1974 Operation Sealion wargame for the British Army Staff College that attempted to use a wargame to seriously explore military history.

Friedman, Hal M., Blue Versus Orange: The U.S. Naval War College, Japan and the Old Enemy in the Pacific, 1945-1946, Newport: Naval War College Press, 2013. Focuses on wargaming at the Naval War College in the 1945-1946 academic year and the role it played in planning for a post-war Navy.

Harris, Christopher and Patricia Harris with Brian Mayer, Teaching the American Revolution Through Play, A middle-school teacher’s guide for using Academy Games’ 1775: Rebellion in the classroom (or homeschool).

Lockwood, Jonathan S., PhD and LtCol Donald J. Hanle (USAF), Wargaming and Intelligence Education: Joint Military Intelligence College Discussion Paper Number Six, Washington, D.C.: Joint Military Intelligence College, 1998. Short essays on the use of wargames in professional military education (PME).

Nofi, Albert A., To Train the Fleet for War: The U.S. Navy Fleet Problems, 1923-1940, Newport: Naval War College Press, 2010. Recounting of the Fleet Problems that leveraged wargaming at the Naval War College and how they prepared the U.S. Navy for war against Japan.

Parkin, Simon, A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II, New York: Little Brown & Co., 2020. Actually a book describing early Operations Research, it still is close enough for wargaming to be part of the family.

Peterson, Jon, The Elusive Shift: How Role-Playing Games Forged Their Identity, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2020. Although focused on role-playing games, there is some good history here about how skirmish miniatures wargamers and role-playing games diverged.

Peterson, Jon, Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2021. Another entry in MIT Press’ Game Histories series. Chronicles the story of Dungeons & Dragons without the hyperbole of the major characters, Gygax and Arneson. Fans of Chainmail and other skirmish miniatures games that helped birth D&D will find more morsels of interest here.

Prados, John, Pentagon Games: Wargames and the American Military (Includes three playable wargames), New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1987. Another “advocate” text for professional defense wargaming; of great interest is the three games included.

  • Pentagon: Monopoly in the Military—”Create your own defense budget and then protect it from bureaucratic politics inside the Pentagon”
  • The R&D Game: Congressional Chutes & Ladders—”Design new weapons systems and guide your project through to Congressional Approval”
  • Last Days of Saigon: Playing to Break Even—”Match wits with the joint chiefs as you plan the evacuation of U.S. troops from South Vietnam”

Only the last game is hex & counter, showing even in the 1980’s professional wargaming was looking at “serious” gaming using different gaming mechanisms.


Feature image courtesy Imperial War Museum

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#Wargame Library – Highly Recommended Wargame Texts (updated June 2022)

Reading to further expand on the seminal texts.

Caffrey Jr., Matthew B., On Wargaming: How Wargames Have Shaped History and How They May Shape the Future, Newport: Naval War College Press (Naval War College Newport Papers 43), 2019. Part history and part advocate for wargames in defense planning. Matt Caffrey is one of the “Old Guard” (dare I say, Grognard) in wargaming and for many years ran the CONNECTIONS professional wargaming conferences.

Friedman, Norman, Winning a Future War: War Gaming and Victory in the Pacific War, Friedman is a well respected naval historian who adds another perspective on how wargaming prepared the U.S. Navy for the Pacific conflict in World War II…and how there are lessons to be learned and applied even today.

Harrigan, Pat and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (eds), Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. A wide-ranging collection of essays that cover the gamut of modern wargame issues and design. Part of MIT Press’ Game Histories series.

McHugh, Francis J., The United States Naval War College Fundamentals of War Gaming, 3rd Edition, March 1966 (Reprint), Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Fundamentals…for professional wargamers.


Feature image courtesy https://www.militarynews.com/norfolk-navy-flagship/news/quarterdeck/naval-war-college-reenacts-jutland-war-game/article_0f668bba-5fbc-5b22-9c64-f8a9df65e33a.html

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

#Wargame Library – Seminal Wargame Texts (updated May 2022)

These are the primary works on wargaming. If you only read these you can’t go wrong.

Dunnigan, James F., Wargames Handbook, Third Edition: How to Play and Design Commercial and Professional Wargames, San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2000. Written by the Godfather of Wargaming, this is your basic “how to” guide to commercial AND professional wargame design. Admittedly a bit dated; read for the core concepts.

Perla, Peter P., The Art of Wargaming, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1990. Written from the professional wargaming perspective, there is also useful history of wargaming included.

Sabin, Philip, Simulating War: Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games, London: Bloomsbury 2012, 2014. Sabin delivers a more modern, nuanced approach to wargaming simulation games.


Feature image TACTICS II by Charles S. Roberts, Avalon Hill, 1958 (personal collection)

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0