The DTA course on seminar war gaming will deal with analytic practices associated with seminar war games. This web site is
intended to provide read-in material for participants who will be attending the course.
See the general outline of the course for the topics that will be covered and the agenda.
The main topics covered in this web site are shown in the sidebar on the left. In the sidebar on the right are elements
of a seminar war game set in and around Zefra, a troubled nation in the South Pacific. The game has both military and
civilian components; it is not a traditional war game that would be focussed on combat.
A short game based on this scenario will be played by course participants as part of an introduction. Participants will be
expected to take on roles within the scenario. So please be prepared.
The material for the course have been adapted from similar material used for a course in war game applications at the
US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. Most of the techniques used for seminar war games can and have been
adapted to situation that do not involve war, and indeed to situations where the military may have no role or a very constrained
one. While the term war game may be used from time to time, in most cases the material has been revised to show its
application across the full panoply of professional gaming.
Since data and analysis are woven through all aspects of seminar war gaming involving operational research, this web-based
material will cover many issues related to preparing for and delivering a seminar war game as part of an operational research
study. When seminar war games are used by the operational research community, it is best that these games be planned from the
beginning to be operational research studies (with the gaming methods merely as part of the methods applied to overall study)
and to engage analysts from step 1. The steps in preparing for such a game are shown in the diagram,
and addressed in some detail under procedures.
Professional seminar war games may be conducted where no deep analysis is expected or required. For example, many role-playing
games are conducted simply for entertainment value. Or they may be played for educational or training purposes. Such games
need not have an operational research component (although some may benefit from it).
This web-based material will occasionally refer to professional games that have been conducted for non-OR purposes; many
of these may be well-designed and very valuable within the context of their purposes, although they may totally lack an
analysis component. Many of the best practices from such non-OR activities can be incorporated with considerable success into
professional games that are part of an operational research study.
Reading assignments for the DTA course
Before the start of the course:
Scan References and follow links you find interesting.
Read web pages at History and Definitions
(and scan Characteristics)
Scan The Zefra Scenario to prepare to play a short role-playing game on the afternoon of
For more scenario background, see The Army of Tomorrow Seminar Wargame Handbook:
scan pp 23-37 and scan pp 38-46. (discretionary)
Once you have an assigned role, review the scenario for elements that
are particularly relevant to your role.
Read web page at Procedures (and scan Rules and
Read web pages at Records, Feedback, and
1. The pages have many links. These are to provide background for the points on the main pages. Follow and read
the embedded links at your discretion.
2. Some changes have been introduced into the Zefra scenario specifically for role-playing at DTA.
This means there are some differences from the Army of Tomorrow scenario. Where
there are such differences the scenario material at this web site should be taken as authoritative for the meeting.
Seminar War Games at Taught at the US Naval Postgraduate School
Within the larger realm of professional games, seminar war games have been widely used within the defence and security
domains for a couple of centuries. Seminar war gaming is a special topic within a course at the US Naval Postgraduate
School (NPS) Wargaming Applications
(course OA4604) as taught in the Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences (GSOIS).
The Seminar War Game Week at NPS covers many techniques associated with war games, but is primarily intended to
provide students with skills they can use in the design and construction of seminar war games, a form of wargaming that
blends in many aspects of seminar-style education.
The purposes for a specific seminar war game can range from educational, through development and assessment of
potential courses of action for some upcoming operation, and on to evaluations of future concepts or assessments of
prototype systems and new technology. A specific seminar war game may have a combination of objectives, say to educate
the participants on selected issues while also evaluating courses of action for the commander. As with most military
activities, striving for too many objectives may result in failing to achieve any, so objectives for a specific seminar
war game must be carefully chosen. At NPS the students are exposed to seminar war games as they would be used within an
operations research project, although there are many other purposes to which seminar war games may be applied.
Participants in the NPS course conduct an abbreviated seminar war game set in the fictional world of Zefra, a failed
state in the South Pacific Ocean. This case is then used for further study of seminar war gaming techniques.
For the NPS the four lessons of Seminar War Game Week have the following structure:
- Lesson 1: Introduction to Seminar War Gaming
- Sample video from a previous seminar war game
- Background on seminar war gaming
- History of Seminar War Gaming, within the context of the history of more general
forms of war gaming
- Introduction to the Republic of Zefra, all its pressing problems, and why the world cares
- Lesson 2: Play the Zefra Operations Game (ZOG)
- Roles for Class Members: players, data collectors, and analysts
- Role Playing
- Review of What Just Happened
- Lesson 3: SWG Design/Scenario Design/Analysis
- Lesson 4: SWG Analysis