#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.

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

#SundaySummary – RockyMountainNavy’s recent military reading acquisitions #military #books #wargames

As much as I play wargames, I also try to keep up a good pace of reading. Here are some of my recent reading acquisitions.

Cumming, Anthony J., The Royal Navy and the Battle of Britain, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010. // Bought to compliment my learning of Paddy Griffith’s Wargaming Operations Sealion: The Game that Launched Academic Wargaming (John Curry, The History of Wargaming Project, 2021). Will also inform a future replay of Britain Stands Alone (Jim Werbaneth, GMT Games, 1994).

Photo by RMN

Dunnigan, James F., How to Make War: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare for the Post-Cold War Era, New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1993 Third Edition. // Written by one of the Elders of Wargaming, this book supposedly provides much insight not into wargame design, but what topics Mr. Dunnigan thought was best suited for inclusion in a wargame about the post-Cold War era..

Dupuy, Colonel T.N., U.S. Army, Ret., The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc, 1980 Third Edition. // Colonel Dupuy is in many ways the greatest evangelist of Operations Research, a field of military study closely related to but not the same as wargaming. I have Colonel Dupuy’s much later 1993 book Future Wars: The World’s Most Dangerous Flashpoints but inThe Evolution of Weapons he delivers a historical perspective.

Fontanellaz, Adrien, Red Star Versus Rising Sun – Volume 1: The Conquest of Manchuria 1931-1938 (Asia@War Series No. 22), Warwick: Helion & Company, 2021. // Helion books are much like Osprey; a decent short summary of the topic usually build upon secondary sources with photos, maps, and color plates. Pre-World War II in Asia is an interest of mine; here is just a sampling of the topic. More of a guide to further reading.

Fontanellaz, Adrien, Red Star Versus Rising Sun – Volume 2: The Nomonhan Incident 1939 (Asia@War Series No. 27), Warwick: Helion & Company, 2021. // I am constantly fascinated with the Battle of Nomonhan; this is a decent summary again based primarily on secondary sources.

Photo by RMN

Friedman, B.A., On Operations: Operational Art and Military Disciplines, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2021. // Argues that the military fascination with the Operational level of war is misguided; instead we should focus on Operational Art.

Photo by RMN

Schelling, Thomas C., Arms and Influence, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966. // My job has me going back to the roots of deterrence theory, which also conveniently fits with my interest in game theory and wargames.

Thorpe, George C., Pure Logistics, Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1986. // With the 2022 Russian invasion of the Ukraine the study of logistics is suddenly all-the-rage. Let’s see what was said 30 years ago…

Photo by RMN

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

#Wargame Thoughts – On being a controlled stochastic determinist

This week I continued playtesting a wargame prototype for a fellow gamer I met at CONNECTIONS 2019. Doing so has got me thinking about wargame design. He never asked me to sign an Non-Disclosure Agreement but I am going to be cautious here and not go into too many specific details and instead talk in generalities.

By way of background, I am from the school of wargamers that generally plays to study and learn. In this respect, I am a simulationist. That said, over time I also developed a taste for games that are enjoyable to play with the RockyMountainNavy Boys. Even then, I still seek out those teaching moments but, like the Teachers Guide to 1775 Rebellion – The American Revolution from Academy Games has shown me, it does not take a “simulation” to make a game “historical” and able to deliver learning moments.

The sorta-secret wargame prototype I am playtesting attempts to recreate the lower operational-level of combat on the Western Front in World War II. Actually, it it much more generic than that. So generic that, although I see the ‘theme’ and the units in the order of battle, it could be set in World War II or the Cold War era. One major item of feedback to the designer is going to be the question: “What are you trying to wargame here?”

The designer has some interesting , even innovative, design ideas but I am not sure they are enough to make a complete game out of. I feel that the designer has focused too much on his innovative idea and forgot about the rest of the game. Maybe I am being unfair; he may be early in the design process and needs a good developer to take his game to the next level.

Another part of the design that bothers me is the designer’s use of a very deterministic combat model. In the designer’s rules-as-written, there is no random determinator (such as dice or cards) used in combat. Attacks use Strength Points (SP) to determine hits. On defense, every SP can take two hits – the first disrupts the SP and the second destroys it. The application of hits is done at the choice of the defender. If hit twice, the defender has a choice of ‘disrupting’ 2x SP (if present) or destroying a single SP. To this old grognard the designer’s approach, although simple, is just too deterministic. I want to roll a die! I want to see if that lone SP defending can defy the odds and make that heroic last stand and sell itself dearly to slow down the offense. I don’t want to play McNamara’s war and reduce combat to a simplistic accounting exercise. I am a ‘controlled stochastic’ combat modeler, not a strict determinist.

“Controlled stochastic?” That’s an oxymoron, you say! To further explain, I don’t want just to reduce everything to just a random roll of a die. A combat roll must be balanced and ‘make sense.’ In 1775 Rebellion the dice have Hit, Flee, and Command results. Regular units have a better chance to hit whereas Militia units have a higher chance of fleeing. A simple application of a stochastic element balanced by history. In this prototype, maybe artillery attacking a unit in an Open Hex scores a hit on a roll of 1-5 on a d6. Against a unit in a Rough Hex a hit may only be on a roll of 1-4 and in the Woods hits only on 1-3. Some criticize this approach as “Yahtzee combat” but to me it is a simple way to introduce the vagaries of war using controlled stochastic determinism.


Feature image: 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.