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Wargames in the Classroom
Does Your D20 Cheat?
Dungeons & Dragons as Culture
What Sort of Person Plays Wargames?
Tuition Aid From a Zombie Elf
WBC Rocks the Business World
The Design, Culture and Play of Modern Board Games
HG Wells Invented Our Hobby
Designer of Diplomay Dies
State of the Connecticut Game Club 2015
CGC By Laws and Officer Elections
Portable History for your iPad or iPhone


Wargaming Needs Recruits

Yuna Wong wasn't a wargamer when she first walked into the Connections Wargaming Conference five years ago. Now a policy researcher at the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit think tank that has advised government and the private sector for generations, Wong found a new path.

US Army War College Strategic Wargame Program

The US Army War College (USAWC) recently implemented a new special program, the Strategic Wargame Program (SWP). The SWP uses commercial and government wargames -- physical boardgames, miniatures, and computer simulations -- to enhance the educational experience of its students. The SWP offers optional afternoon and evening wargame events tied to the USAWC Core Curriculum. Typical wargames used in the program are at the strategic level, relevant to the curriculum, are easy to teach and play, can be ideally completed in a few hours, include command and control aspects, and can support multiple players or teams of players.

The inaugural SWP event was Fire in the Lake moderated by Volko Ruhnke, on Wednesday, 30 March 2016. Fire in The Lake is Volume IV in GMT's COIN (Counterinsurgency) Series.

Wargaming in the Classroom: An Odyssey

I repeated the same basic formula for the Civil War using GMT's For the People but added staff rides to Gettysburg and Antietam to the educational mix. For the First World War, I used another GMT game, Paths of Glory but also added an exercise of my own design to replicate 1914's July Crisis. Prior to this, the students had walked away shaking their heads at the astounding stupidity of European leaders who so blindly stumbled into war. When, however, they were placed within the context of the situation, they soon discovered just how easy it is to stumble into an unwanted war. I have run this exercise six times now, and it has never taken longer than four hours for the armies to march.

For the Second World War, in addition to the readings, lectures, and discussions, I added GMT'S Triumph and Tragedy because it is heavy on the economic and diplomatic aspects of strategy.

How a Boardgame Helps DoD Win Real Battles

The Army calls its board game C-WAM short for the Center for Army Analysis Wargaming Analysis Model. Games pit (friendly) Blue versus (enemy) Red forces and results are fed into the Joint Integrated Contingency Model (JICM), a powerful computer simulation that analyzes plans and calculates losses and supply consumption.

Are You As Smart As a 19th Century Midshipmen?

What did the professors think a young naval officer needed to know about U.S. History at the start of the 1880s? The United States was looking outward again after two decades of relative isolationism and the Navy was starting to rebuild after decades of decay. It's not surprising then that the U.S. History course had a strong military and political basis but little of the economic, social, or cultural history students might find today. Can you pass the test?

Wargaming is Necessary to Prepare for Future Conflicts

"Few historical periods match the dynamic technological disruption of the inter-war years of the 1920s and 1930s. During these decades, militaries the world over struggled to adapt to new inventions such as radar and sonar, as well as rapid improvements in wireless communications, mechanization, aviation, aircraft carriers, submarines, and a host of other militarily relevant technologies. Military planners and theorists intuitively understood that all these new technologies, systems, and advances would drive new ways of fighting, but they were forced to envision what future battlefields would look like with few clues to go by. To help navigate through this period of disruptive change, the United States military made extensive use of analytical wargaming.

Today, we are living in a time of rapid technological change and constrained defense spending, not unlike that of the inter-war years. Successfully navigating through this complex and dynamic competitive environment will once again require us to push the boundaries of technology while ensuring that innovation remains rooted in operationally realistic doctrine and capabilities. One way to do both is to re-prime and re-stoke the department's wargaming engine."


RANDOMNESS TEST: Does Your d20 Cheat?

Zocchi's Complaint

"Lou Zocchi is a man who cares deeply about dice. Zocchi's well practiced speech on on dice quality is famous. It's fairly entertaining if you have 20 minutes to spare. Part of his argument is the above photograph. Zocchi stacked twenty-sided dice from several companies. Each stack places the same numbers on the top and bottom. For example, one stack might have 1 placed on top of 20 repeatedly, while the next stack might have 9 placed on top of 12 repeatedly. Based on the height of the stacks, it appears that everyone's dice are irregularly shaped. Everyone's, except for Zocchi's."

Most d20 Dice are Notably Imbalanced

"What does it all mean? Cheap dice do in fact suffer from a dramatic imbalance, Lou Zocchi was correct. Though even his have a bias against 14."

d20 Dice: Chessex vs GameScience

The founder of GameScience, Lou Zocchi, has long claimed that GameScience dice roll more true than other gaming dice. In a well-known GenCon video Zocchi explained why GameScience dice should roll more true.

His logic is that due to how dice are made, traditional RPG dice are actually put through a process similar to a rock tumbler as part of the painting and polishing, and this process causes the dice to have rounded edges. In theory the uneven rounding gives the dice an inconsistent shape that favors certain sides. GameScience dice are not put through this process, which is why they retain their sharp edges and is also why their dice come uninked.

While Zocchi makes a good argument about egg-shaped d20s, what was lacking was any kind of actual testing of how the dice roll. Nowhere were we able to find any tests of d20s -- either GameScience or traditional d20s -- to determine whether or not they roll true. As giant fans of dice and an impartial third party, we decided to run a test ourselves and see just how randomly RPG d20s really roll.

"We pitted GameScience precision dice against Chessex dice (the largest RPG dice manufacturer) to see what science has to say."

Automated Dice Roller

"An automatic system for rolling a polyhedral die and taking photos of the rolls; extracting the image of just the die from those images; clustering the images of the die by which face is shown; and analyzing the results."



D&D Influenced a Shelf Full of Writers

"The league of ex-gamer writers also includes the 'weird fiction' author China Mieville ('The City & the City'); Brent Hartinger (author of 'Geography Club,' a novel about gay and bisexual teenagers); the sci-fi and young adult author Cory Doctorow; the poet and fiction writer Sherman Alexie; the comedian Stephen Colbert; George R. R. Martin, author of the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series (who still enjoys role-playing games). Others who have been influenced are television and film storytellers and entertainers like Robin Williams, Matt Groening ('The Simpsons'), Dan Harmon ('Community') and Chris Weitz ('American Pie')."

The Tangled Cultural Roots of D&D

"Co-created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, in 1974, D. & D. had gone from a heavily leveraged first printing of a thousand hand-assembled copies -- stored at first in a colleague's basement -- to a cultural sensation. By the early eighties, the game generated eight million dollars in annual sales, a figure that would rise to thirty million later in the decade. TSR, the company created by Gygax and Don Kaye, in 1973, became the pre-eminent purveyor of role-playing games in the world, signing a distribution deal with Random House and spinning off a Saturday morning cartoon on CBS. Yet from its earliest iteration, Dungeons & Dragons also drew suspicion."



CIA Analyst COINs a New Breed of Wargames

"When not ensconced at HQ in Langley, Ruhnke, 51, designs commercial wargames. He has invited us to his home in Vienna to playtest his most recent, A Distant Plain. Along with Cuba Libre, they'll be his fourth and fifth published board games, and the latest in his series [from GMT - ed] simulating insurgencies throughout history: Colombia, Afghanistan and Cuba, with Vietnam, Ireland and the Philippines to follow."

The Economist Outs Strategic Discussion Group

"Two evenings a month, four dozen defense and intelligence officials gather in an undisclosed building in Virginia. They chat informally about "what if" scenarios. For example: what if Israel were to bomb Iran's nuclear sites? Recent chats on this topic have been fruitful for a surprising reason, says John Patch, a member of the Strategic Discussion Group, as it is called. Nearly a quarter of those who regularly attend play a board game called Persian Incursion, which deals with the aftermath of just such an attack. For half the players, such games are part of their job."

Member of Parliament Confesses to Boardgaming Habit

"And then one birthday I opened a package that looked like a large book. But it was actually a game box, and it had the words Squad Leader on the side. So I opened it gingerly, and that's when I first set eyes on Sergeant Hamblen." - former member of Parliament and designer of Where There is Discord Dan Hodges.



College Tuition Aid from a Zombie Elf

Last year, Mr. Johnson received one of the first two grants given by Gamers Helping Gamers, a
nonprofit organization founded by a group of successful young New Yorkers to assist a very
specific group of students: those who play the fantasy trading card game Magic: The Gathering.


WBC Rocks the Business World

3 Juicy Leadership Lessons From...Boardgames?

"Scott and I recently had a chance to discuss the leadership lessons we've learned from a lifetime of
boardgaming. There are many, but I wanted to share three with you today..." - Richard Bliss of NetApp

Dealing with Stress: Lessons from a Boardgame

"When my hand in life seems full of 2's, and there are setbacks everywhere, I remind myself that soon,
I will get a new hand. That hand will be better. That hand will lead to victory. And unlike The Napoleonic
Wars, the game of life doesn't end after five rounds. As long as you're alive, the game goes on."
- Scott Pfeiffer of Marshall Fredrick & Company.



On War Games

"War and games have always been intimately related in many different ways. This new book from Cambridge University Press
studies the history of wargames - from the Old Testament to computer games - and explores their development, their links to
real warfare, and their role in human culture at large."

Zone of Control

"Games with military themes date back to antiquity, and yet they are curiously neglected in much of the academic and trade
literature on games and game history. This volume fills that gap, providing a diverse set of perspectives on wargaming's past,
present, and future. In Zones of Control, contributors consider wargames played for entertainment, education, and military
planning, in terms of design, critical analysis, and historical contexts. They consider both digital and especially tabletop
games, most of which cover specific historical conflicts or are grounded in recognizable real-world geopolitics."

On EuroGames

"When we discuss games, we are not discussing certain biologically inevitable occurrences, though they may be ethologically
probable. Rather, we are discussing multidimensional phenomena, varied in the cultural purpose to which they are
applied and inherently susceptible, for these varied reasons, to many possible systems of conceptual analysis.
-- Sutton-Smith & Avedon, 1971a, p. 4



HG Wells Invented Our Hobby with "Little Wars"

"Even now, when video games are ubiquitous, nothing can match the experience of miniature war-gaming.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with your fellow generals and surveying the troops arrayed in formation,
ready to fight and die for their little causes, brings something tactile and immediate to the activity,
a feeling rarely on offer in electronic contexts." - Mark Wallace New York Times, End Notes, 5/3/13



Diplomacy Designer Allan Calhamer Dies at 81

After being rejected by several game companies, Allan B. Calhamer published 500 copies of Diplomacy in 1959.
The game came to develop a devoted following around the world.




*** Ilan Woll Elected to Board of Directors ***

("Winter is coming..." Quoth New Dictator for Life)

Click here for the CGC Charter and Bylaws

Click here for the State of the CGC 2015


Games Workshop Trademark Marines
Fail to Colonize the Universe

Author Maggie Hogarth was told by Amazon.com that the title of her ebook Spots the Space Marine infringed
a Games Workshop trademark in December 2012. She wrote a blog post and the internet responded.
Following the intercession of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amazon has reversed its prior decision
and reinstated the ebook.

Games Workshop's Power Grab Thwarted by Electronic Frontier Foundation

In the Future, All Space Marines Will Be Warhammer 40K Space Marines...NOT!

Wikipedia: Definition of Space Marine Dates Back to Sci-Fi Pulp

Follow the Discussion on The Miniatures Page (TMP)


There are three new apps available for history buffs who love Apple products.

(We're assuming the intersection of those two groups does not define a null set.)

The Civil War Today at $2.99 is from The History Channel.

It presents the events that happened each day 150 years ago.
There is a modern summary and then snippets from
historical newspapers and magazines.

World War I for the iPad

at - $3.99 / $2.99 This is an interactive electronic textbook from
Alpha History, an Australian company. 36 chapters are
enhanced by maps, illustrations and vintage photographs.

Timeline World War 2 - $9.99 Covers the 6 years of WW2 through 2000 articles.

It also includes an 8 part video documentary
about the Pacific Theater and 100 British Pathe
film clips with vintage and modern narration. 



The Epic 20,000 Roll Dice Randomness Test
By David M. Ewalt of Forbes

Every role-playing game fan has a favorite die. Dice are essential tools in games like Dungeons & Dragons, where they're used to introduce a element of chance; even the strongest warrior can lose a fight if he rolls too low, too often. So players keep track of the dice they believe are "lucky," the ones that always seem to roll high.

Sometimes this behavior is just driven by superstition —we don't actually know that a "lucky" d20 produces more high than low numbers, we just favor it because we like the way it looks, or because it once rolled a 20 at a critical moment that stuck in our memory. But some dice really do produce better results, since mass-produced dice never can be 100% truly random.

One of the biggest manufacturers of RPG dice is a company called Chessex. They make a huge variety of dice, in all kinds of different colors and styles. These dice are put through rock tumblers that give them smooth edges and a shiny finish, so they look great. Like many RPG fans, I own a bunch of them.

I also own a set of GameScience dice. They're not polished, painted or smoothed, so they're supposed to roll better than Chessex dice, producing results closer to true random. I like them, but mostly because they don't roll too far, and their sharp edges look cool. I couldn't tell you if they truly produce more random results.

But the good folks over at the Awesome Dice Blog can. They recently completed a massive test between a Chessex d20 and a GameScience d20, rolling each over 10,000 times, by hand, to determine which rolls closer to true.

After "an insane amount of dice rolling," they determined the following:

"A casual analysis of the results suggests that neither die is rolling randomly... If we had a d20 that rolled perfectly, each face would come up 500 times. But of course randomness isn't perfect and we'd expect some deviation: over the course of 10,000 rolls we'd expect, with 85% confidence, that each face would be within about 33 of 500 — so anywhere from 467 to 533 is within the bounds of randomness. (At 95% confidence the margin of error is 45). Neither die falls within these bounds.... The Chessex d20 had a standard deviation of 78.04, and the GameScience d20 had a standard deviation of 60.89."

"...While neither die rolled true, it's certain that the Chessex die rolled far less true, with a much greater degree of deviation from the expected range across more of the dice faces."

....click HERE for more of this story. ....OR click here for more of a much more detailed accuracy study including detailed discussion and demonstration of the methodology.


Parting Shots

"When playing a game the goal is to win.
But it is the goal that is important, not the winning."

- Reiner Knizia