Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choices

Hedgemony is a tabletop game that presents players, representing the United States and its key strategic partners and competitors, with a global situation, competing national incentives, constraints, and objectives; a set of military forces with defined capacities and capabilities; and a pool of periodically renewable resources. The players are asked to outline their strategies and are then challenged to make difficult choices by managing the allocation of resources and forces in alignment with their strategies to accomplish their objectives within resource and time constraints.

More information on how and why RAND researchers developed Hedgemony and a link to purchase the game is available here.



Tabletop games that focus on the military typically focus on how one armed force might match up against another. RAND researchers created a different kind of game, one that focuses on the bigger picture of defense policy. It's called Hedgemony.

Michael E. Linick, Senior International/Defense Researcher, RAND Corporation

The name Hedgemony, for me—we were talking with a bunch of players one time, and they made the observation that for the U.S. player in the game, the way we sort of designed it, which was our vision of how the U.S. actually plays in the world, the U.S. is essentially a status quo power, and the world is driven by this tremendous amount of uncertainty. When you face a tremendous amount of uncertainty, the best sort of way to deal with it is what's called a hedging strategy.

Yuna Huh Wong, Former Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation

The game does sort of force you to take on hedging strategies against what might happen in the future and how the future might develop. And also, hegemony without the "D" is from, you know, in political science, hegemonic stability theory, and the hegemon is the, sort of, the strongest country in the globe and tends to enforce, like, an order.

Michael E. Linick

That sort of was the germ of the idea, is we're not trying to go out and become a world hegemon with no "D." What we're trying to do is to devise a strategy that allows us to hedge against all this uncertainty with a "D." And so that was where the name Hedgemony came from.

Chris Dougherty, Former Contributing Author, 2018 National Defense Strategy

The games I had seen previously for other strategic efforts had either been operational games masquerading as strategic games. So you're moving tanks and planes and ships around on a map. Really what you're doing is conducting military operations. You're not thinking about defense strategy issues.

Jim Mitre, Former Executive Director, 2018 National Defense Strategy

And those are great when you're looking at how well one military would do against another. But they're not at all helpful if you're trying to think about how you would prioritize your resources across the world, and across times, and across a range of different missions.

Chris Dougherty

And what I really liked about this game was that it put the big strategic choices at the front.

Yuna Huh Wong

You could see how immediately engaged they were. They immediately seemed to take the situation, especially with certain adversaries like China or Russia, very seriously in the game. You could see that they brought it with them, and for them it was sort of living as soon as they got into the game.

Chris Dougherty

It was those kind of things, those kind of feelings, and those kind of reactions that Hedgemony drove that helped us develop the national defense strategy, but also were really educational for all the people who participated in it.