War Games

Featured

Wargames are analytic games that simulate aspects of warfare at the tactical, operational, or strategic level. They are used to examine warfighting concepts, train and educate commanders and analysts, explore scenarios, and assess how force planning and posture choices affect campaign outcomes. RAND has developed and can execute various types of wargames, including scenario exercises, tabletop map exercises, “Day After…” games, and computer-supported exercises.

  • Report

    Findings on Mosaic Warfare from a Colonel Blotto Game

    Jan 5, 2021

    Is Mosaic warfare more cost-effective and robust than more-monolithic approaches to conflict? Game theory can be a useful tool for studying the relative utility of these strategies.

  • Intricate real life-like models in a wargame at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia, August 23, 2017, photo by Frances Seybold/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Wargames as an Educational Tool

    Feb 8, 2021

    The benefits of games for military education are well documented. But harnessing the potential of games to foster innovation may require a commitment to sustain gaming over the years needed to explore a problem space and develop and stress-test new ideas.

Explore Wargaming

  • Tool

    Tool

    The Information Warfighter Exercise Wargame: Rulebook

    This document presents the full ruleset for the Information Warfighter Exercise Wargame, which is used by the Marine Corps to provide training for aspects of operations in the information environment.

    Aug 24, 2021

  • F-15 Strike Eagle taking off, photo by guvendemir/Getty Images

    Report

    Acquiring a Mosaic Force: Issues, Options, and Trade-Offs

    Mosaic Warfare envisions more fractionated, heterogeneous forces, dynamically composed on tactical timelines. In this report, the authors present insights from a policy game to assess alternative governance models for acquiring a Mosaic force.

    Aug 9, 2021

  • A reconstruction of the Prussian military wargame Kriegsspiel, based on a ruleset developed by Georg Heinrich Rudolf Johann von Reiswitz in 1824, photo by Matthew Kirschenbaum / CC BY 4.0

    Commentary

    Use Wargaming to Sharpen the Tactical Edge

    As a growing consensus embraces the utility of educational wargaming, a more daunting question remains: Can the Joint Force integrate and sustain educational wargaming in the operating forces? The challenges are substantial, but they are not insurmountable. The answer depends on bold leadership, sufficient tools, and eager partners.

    Mar 8, 2021

  • Red and blue profiles with thinking gears in their heads, illustration by JakeOlimb/Getty Images

    Report

    How to Avoid Aggression or Escalation in a Crisis

    Anticipating how an opponent may be reasoning, and then seeking ways to alter that thinking can inform an effective influence strategy. Deterring adversaries by threat of punishment alone is often ineffective. A better approach might involve a mix of several measures, such as being able to thwart aggression, reassurances to reduce the adversary's fears, and relationship-building.

    Feb 16, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Distributed Kill Chains: Drawing Insights for Mosaic Warfare from the Immune System and from the Navy

    In Mosaic warfare, individual warfighting platforms are assembled like ceramic tiles to make a larger "mosaic," or force package. The authors apply lessons from the human immune system and a U.S. Navy project to mosaic warfare.

    Jan 5, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Modeling Rapidly Composable, Heterogeneous, and Fractionated Forces: Findings on Mosaic Warfare from an Agent-Based Model

    Mosaic warfare is named for the idea of creating a complex image from small pieces. This report studies Mosaic warfare and explores complexity of platforms, complexity of targets, and relative density of platforms and targets.

    Jan 5, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    An Experiment in Tactical Wargaming with Platforms Enabled by Artificial Intelligence

    RAND researchers explored the capabilities and limitations of future artificial intelligence and machine learning weapon systems in two wargame experiments that brought together operators and engineers.

    Dec 29, 2020

  • Blog

    The Most Popular RAND Research of 2020

    Here are the RAND research projects that resonated most in 2020, a year unlike any in living memory. Topics include remote learning, election disinformation, income inequality, and more.

    Dec 21, 2020

  • U.S. Marines play a game of Memoir '44, a war-themed strategy board game based on historical World War II battles, on Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan, December 10, 2019, photo by Cpl. Timothy Hernandez/U.S. Marines

    Commentary

    Establishing a Wargaming Insurgency at the University

    When properly employed, wargaming can serve as a potent experiential learning tool. If educational wargaming is to evolve and endure, a global wargaming insurgency may be required. This will likely demand additional time, effort, and energy, but if successful, the dividends could be remarkable.

    Dec 16, 2020

  • A person playing Hedgemony, a tabletop military strategy game developed by RAND, photo by Evan Banks/RAND Corporation

    Blog

    Now You Can Play RAND Games at Home

    RAND is famous for its Pentagon wargames. Now the public can play defense analyst, too. In RAND's new game, Hedgemony, players create a military strategy to allocate troops and resources and hedge against the unknown.

    Nov 10, 2020

  • U.S. Marine Corps 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Amphibious Assault Vehicles rush Freshwater Beach during Talisman Sabre 2011 in Australia, on July 19, 2011, photo by Captain Staci Reidinger/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Two Vignettes: How Might Combat Operations Be Different Under the Information Joint Function?

    RAND researcher Christopher Paul employs storytelling to illustrate two distinct approaches to Joint Combat Operations. While both vignettes result in the expulsion of adversary forces and the restoration of territorial integrity, they take different approaches to kinetic and informational power.

    Oct 8, 2020

  • Blog

    How Russia Targets U.S. Elections, Black Workers and COVID-19, TikTok: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how Russia targets U.S. elections, Americans' increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic, Black workers and COVID-19, and more.

    Oct 2, 2020

  • News Release

    News Release

    New Game, the First Offered by RAND to Public, Challenges Players to Design Defense Strategies for Uncertain World

    The RAND Corporation has released a boxed version of Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choices that researchers originally developed to help the Pentagon craft its capstone guidance document, the 2018 National Defense Strategy. It is the first wargame offered by RAND to the public and carries a $250 price tag.

    Sep 22, 2020

  • A blue die sits atop a rule sheet for Hedgemony during a demonstration of gameplay.

    Multimedia

    Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choices

    Hedgemony is a tabletop game designed to challenge players to outline a strategy and then make tough choices as they try to develop, manage, posture, and employ their forces in alignment with their strategies.

    Sep 22, 2020

  • The game box cover for Hedgemony, design by Rick Penn-Kraus/RAND Corporation

    Tool

    Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choices

    In this tabletop military strategy game, players represent the United States, its allies, and its key competitors. They must use “hedging” strategies and decide how to best manage their resources and forces.

    Sep 21, 2020

  • An amphibious landing demonstration, part of Rim of the Pacific exercise at Pyramid Rock Beach, on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, July 29, 2018, photo by Sgt. Aaron Patterson/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Why Militaries Should Play Games with Each Other

    With rising rates of COVID-19 and vulnerable populations at risk, Hawaii's people are understandably nervous about the upcoming Rim of the Pacific exercise scheduled for August. But COVID-19 cannot be a blanket check on international engagement by the U.S. military. With the effects of COVID-19 expected to last for decades, the forward thinking found in games may be exactly what is needed.

    Aug 14, 2020

  • Blog

    Preparing for a COVID-19 Election, Hurricane Response, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on preparing for a COVID-19 election, how the pandemic is affecting artists, North Korea's deadly artillery, and more.

    Aug 7, 2020

  • Naval War College President Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, left, views the wargaming hub at the college's Naval Postgraduate School program in Monterey, CA, January 29, 2020, photo by Javier Chagoya/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Wargaming the Department of Defense for Strategic Advantage

    Defense acquisition, personnel, and management systems have long been seen as areas in need of reform, as costs and man-hours continue to increase over the years. Gaming new policies that govern these areas can offer early insights into potential stumbling blocks and provide leaders valuable feedback on decisions before major costs are incurred.

    Aug 3, 2020