“Matrix games” ares a free-form, umpired alternative to more rigid, rules-based wargames, first pioneered by Chris Engle In such games players take turns making an argument about what they wish to do, why they believe they would be successful, and what effects they expect this to have. Other players may be invited to identify counter-arguments. The outcome is then adjudicated by the umpire, with or without the use of dice.
In recent months, a number of new resources have appeared on this approach to wargaming:
- John Curry and Tim Price of the History of Wargaming Project have published a booklet on the topic, Matrix Games for Modern Wargaming (2014). You’ll also find a review of this at PAXsims.
- A matrix game addressing the current situation in northern Iraq was convened in the UK in August, involving Middle East, defence, foreign policy, and intelligence experts. You’ll find a brief report here at PAXsims, and an even fuller account of play by John Curry here at the History of Wargaming Project. Revised materials for the game are also available at Tom Mouat’s wargames website.
- Ben Taylor (Defence Research and Development Canada) has offered some reflections on using matrix games for policy analysis and decision support.
UPDATE: You’ll find additional accounts of some recent games of the “ISIS Crisis” here: