May 23, 2024

Connections Online 2023 Archive

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Connections Online 2023

WHAT: Connections Online Wargame Conference
WHEN: 18-20 April, with extended events from 17-24 April
WHY: To advance and preserve the art, science, and application of wargaming

The Connections Online executive committee is pleased to announce the theme of this year’s Connections Online conference: “The Enemy Gets a Vote — Playing Red.” We’ll look at playing Red in wargaming, as well as what various professional communities mean by the term “red teaming.” (Hint: The definitions overlap, more or less, but terms frequently has discipline-specific connotations that may not be entirely obvious.)

The Core of the conference will run from 18-20 April 2023, with events scheduled from 1000-1600 EDT. Extended events (including both games and workshops) will run from the weekend before to the weekend after.

Among the 13 planned core events we will have: What Is Red-Teaming, Red-Teaming Acts of God, Advice for New Practitioners, Gaming & Red-Teaming the Pandemic, and Wargaming Novel Concepts
Extended events will include the Wargame Bootcamp to learn to use Discord, VASSAL, and TTS; a Littoral Commander demo; a discussion of the state-of-the-art of the hobby wargaming space; and a multi-player Discord-driven Kriegsspiel with the International Kriegsspiel Society, among others

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Original announcement / page info

Connections is an international series of conferences dedicated to advancing and preserving the art, science, and application of wargaming (to include gaming of business and non-war topics) by bringing together wargaming professionals (and some dedicated hobbyists) interested in the theory and practice of wargaming for analysis, education, and training — and fun, too.  

The Connections Online executive committee is pleased to announce the theme of this year’s Connections Online conference: “The Enemy Gets a Vote — Playing Red.” We’ll look at playing Red in wargaming, as well as what various professional communities mean by the term “red teaming.” (Hint: The definitions overlap, more or less, but terms frequently has discipline-specific connotations that may not be entirely obvious.)

The Core Events were 18-20 April 2023, with events scheduled from 1000-1600 EDT.
Extended events (including both games and workshops) will run from the weekend before to the weekend after.

As before, we are also planning “Extended” events, including games, niche topic panels/presentations, networking sessions, etc. These will be hosted using the tools deemed most useful by our volunteers and will run from 17-24 April, outside of the core event hours, and we will schedule to minimize ‘fratricide’ (“overlap”) between events.

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The Armchair Dragoons AAR

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Note that while most of the events have been recorded from their live streams, the accompanying chat from Discord was not archived.  Please see below for the recordings for those events that were streamed.

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Event Proceedings (Core Events)

The Dictator’s Image in Wargaming ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Natalia Wojtowicz will present a talk on the dictator’s image in wargaming based upon her most recent game design, “I’m Not Afraid.”

What Is Red-Teaming ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Many different fields use the terms “Red Team” or “Red Cell,” but each community uses the terms in a different way. This panel will explore how the term is used.

What Surprised Me The Most ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
This panel of early career wargame professionals will discuss the paths they took to enter their wargaming career and talk about what met their expectations and what surprised them and what advice they would offer anyone interested iin making wargaming a career.

Discussion of Wargaming Manuals ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
A quick discussion of wargaming resources, with an emphasis on wargaming manuals.

How an Opponent Wargames is an Intel Collection Requirement ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Studying the wargaming approaches of an opponent or ally and the wargame performance of selected military and political leaders should be an intelligence collection requirement. Dr. Stephen Downes-Martin discusses how to think about this.

Re-centering Red: New Approaches to Game Design ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Some diverse perspectives on red teaming in wargame design from the Strand Simulations Group.

Red-Teaming by Mercyhurst University ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
MercyHurst University staff discuss views on Red Teaming from tactical, strategic, and business perspectives to include government red teaming experiences. This will include examples of their experiences and the origins of the Mercyhurst program.

Red-Teaming Wargame Design Challenges ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Is red teaming just learning to think like your enemy? There are challenges for developing a red team wargame. This session will explore specific analytic methodologies, plausibility assumptions, systems evaluations, and multi-level effects that will help you put an effective wargame on the table.

Gaming the Vaccine: Red Teaming & Gaming in COVID-19 Response ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
In late 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Armed Forces used a combination of red teaming and a large tabletop exercise as part of the planning process for COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the country. The output of the red team sessions and TTX were briefed to the head of PHAC, senior military officials, the Prime Minister and federal cabinet. This presentation will discuss the approaches adopted, why they were adopted, and subsequent evaluation of their effectiveness.

Wargaming Novel Concepts — Is Red doing the same? ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Our enemies will employ novel concepts against us at all levels of war, and so we must understand how they wargame novel concepts. Dr. Downes-Martin will expand on the problem and walk through a six stage plan for how we should be wargaming the novel ways in which we can be defeated by a smart red.

Command PE – The Better Mouse Trap ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
How Command PE has been implemented by AFRL / USAF

What to Do When Mother Nature Plays for the Red Team ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
What does it mean for gaming when your OPFOR is the force of nature? Gaming a threat with no agency calls for a very different approach than traditional wargaming. Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Sharon Burke and Naval War College Prof. Andrea Cameron discuss the history and lessons learned of such games. With a focus on how to structure these exercises in a way that gets beyond exposing audiences to new concepts while keeping the findings appropriate for military organizations.

Wargaming Red in a Ukraine War Context ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
This is a discussion on playing Russia in a series of Ukraine wargames. Key points will focus on preparing to play a Red Cell in a wargame, key design decisions associated with depicting and playing Red forces, what we’ve learned by comparing our “wargamed” Russia versus what we’ve seen in real life, and thoughts on playing Russia in future wargames.

Event Proceedings (Extended Events)

Ad Astra (Only Fear is Dread) NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
Learn the ins and outs of Squadron Strike with the Newton’s Cradle setting! Simple ships, simple guns, vector movement with fuel, and all in 3D in a future shaped by a Kessler cascade, and a mad scramble for survival in the Jovian moons suddenly cut off from Earth!

BAOR – Operational Wargaming (Fulda Gap 1960) NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
We will perform a roughly Corps vs Corps battle in the Fulda Gap region of Germany in 1960 using the BAOR Operational Wargaming rules that the British produced in the mid-1950s. Limited use of tactical nukes may come into play. British and Soviet forces will duke it out in a double-blinded KS format.

How to think about the Other ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
How to think about the Other- “Red” as a creativity prompt: Game designers and players Brian Train (hobbyland) and Robert Domaingue (ex-State Department) will talk about their thoughts on the broader concept of “Red” in games. Questions from the audience welcome.

Introductory Kriegsspiel on the Italian Campaign of 1796/97 NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
The original military red-teaming developed for staff officer training is a valuable tool for teaching skills and testing tactical to strategic procedures and plans. Run by umpires, Kriegsspiel creates fog of war, friction and contingency for players to overcome.  As an examplary Kriegsspiel the International Kriegsspiel Society will host a game on the Italian Campaign during the French Revolutionary Wars, combining operational and tactical elements, concluding in an after action discussion.

Littoral Commander Demo Game NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
Learn to play Littoral Commander, the hybrid hobby/pro wargame

NSDM Retrospective ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
The National Security Decision-Making Game has been running large live-action multi-player role-based wargames for 33 years in public, academic & professional venues. This retrospective provides insights gained about design, preparation, & delivery of thought-provoking events to diverse audiences.

Pragmatic X-Teaming in Game Design ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
We’ll examine both the philosophy and tooling in Flashpoint Campaigns: Southern Storm with an eye to assisting players representing National behavior.

Punching Above Their Weight: Microgame Design ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Discussion of the design & execution of microgames – small footprint wargames played in a fraction of the normal time

Rally The Troops online platform demo NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
Learn to use the online wargaming platform Rally The Troops, as demo’ed by Volko Ruhnke

Social & Happy Hour NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
Meet & Greet with your fellow attendees in the Discord voice channels

The State of Hobby Wargaming ~ WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Two of hobby wargaming’s most prominent YouTube boradcasters – Moe Fitzgerald and Gary Mengle – take a look at the current state of the art of hobby wargaming design, and a quick overview of the marketplace

Wargame Bootcamp – Learn to Use Discord, VASSAL, TTS NOT STREAMED OR RECORDED
Intro on how to play board wargames online using Discord, Vassal, & Tabletop Simulator. Acquire practical exp & confidence in how to effectively use these apps. No prior exp req’d, but MUST have VASSAL / TTS installed in advance on your computer.

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