Archive For The “Analysis” Category

SPACECORP 2025-2300 AD – The AAR, XI

SPACECORP 2025-2300 AD – The AAR, XI

Michael Eckenfels, 20 May 2019

It strikes me as funny that we’re only about a third of the way through the Planeteers era, at least insofar as my card deck is concerned. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the Competitor’s cards, and aren’t anywhere near in danger of claiming six Contracts, so I hope you’re enjoying this era because it might take a bit to get through! With that in mind, I’m going to try to write longer chapters moving forward so that it doesn’t take ten years to get all of this posted!



Well, they’re extending their reach. Again.


They’re going to land a team on Charon, Pluto’s moon. (more…)

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Battle Lab: Recon & Intel in Wargaming, Deep Dive on COA Development

Battle Lab: Recon & Intel in Wargaming, Deep Dive on COA Development

Brant Guillory, 14 May 2019

originally published at

Note that this is a companion piece to the original column on recon & intel in tabletop wargaming.

In the tactical world, we have several different tools we use to ensure that we get the right data at the right time.

One of the key methods involves the use of map graphics. We use transparent overlays on standard-size military maps (1:50k) and use graphics to indicate enemy actions: locations of units, routes for movement, places we expect them to attack or defend, etc.

For every operation we draw at least two sets of these graphics. The first is the most likely course of action (COA), based on our knowledge of how the enemy fights. That knowledge may come from doctrine, observed behavior, or (best of all) an inside source. The second course of action is usually what we call the “most dangerous” and is based on what we think the enemy would do if they had perfect knowledge of us and our plans.

For these examples, we’re using a hex-grid version of the central corridor at Fort Irwin, the US Army’s National Training Center.

Enemy COA 1


Enemy COA 2


as always, click to enlarge the images

Once we have two sets of graphics drawn out, we take the two overlays and lay them one on top of the other. This lets us visualize where the differences/similarities are between the courses of action. Where the COAs diverge are areas that we need to target with some form of observation, to try and identify which course of action the enemy is pursuing.

In a time-constrained environment, these graphics will often become the basis of our own plan, where the divergent points become the focus of recon efforts, and the similarities become target reference points or engagement areas, since we expect the enemy to appear there regardless of COA.

NAIs – Where to look for differences


Targeting/Engagement Areas – Where you expect to find the enemy


as always, click to enlarge the images

Once we’ve identified where we need to look, the next step is to identify when we need to look there, since some information is time-specific. When I say “look” I don’t just mean literally “a guy on a hillside with binoculars and a radio.” It can be a variety of sensors: ground surveillance radar, JSTARS, UAVs, counter-battery radars, or other sensors. We determine when we need to have what type of coverage based on (a) what we are looking for, and (b) how easy we can get the appropriate sensors in place. Sometimes the best we get is a satellite overflight from the NRO, but we have to take what we can get.

Those NAIs are important because they give us clues to the enemy’s expected course of action.  If we identify the airborne units in the mountain passes on the north side of the battlefield, then we would expect the enemy to commit to something similar to COA1.  If we find them closer to town, then we’re looking to confirm the enemy following COA2.

In the end, we have our list of Named Areas of Interest (NAIs) and what indicators we are looking for there. Then we assign at least 2 sets of sensors to each. Some may be duplicative; some may only be backup measures. The commander may also give us some guidance on his priorities, and require that we have three or even four sets of eyes on certain things, if they’re deemed critical. Based on what we find in each of the NAIs, the commander may trigger certain actions among our forces to react to the new info.

Depending on the amount of time available to (a) plan and (b) execute, we may develop more than two COAs, but we virtually always develop at least 2. We may also alter the amount of analysis we do during the mission of before the mission. NAIs are often based on analysis conducted before the mission, where we project certain indicators and the meaning of those indicators. If the indicators are triggered, then that adds to the overall picture we can confirm/deny.

This is pretty specialized, I know. But it’s also pretty important, and we practice/refine/rehearse this a lot.

Here’s some random annoying guy explaining all of this, using graphics that look awfully similar to what’s up above.


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Wargaming Evolved: We’ll Always Have Hexes

Wargaming Evolved: We’ll Always Have Hexes

by Gary Mengle, 8 October 2018

Around 1998 I declared wargaming as a hobby finished, washed my hands of it and sold off most of my games.

Yeah. That was dumb.

I mean, it seemed logical at the time. The wargame-as-simulation designs that the hobby was then still in the grip of could clearly be better accomplished on computers. Non-CCG tabletop gaming was getting crowded out of retail spaces and conventions. Gamers’ time was increasingly being devoured by computer games. And wargaming, by then a niche for the better part of two decades, was the first to vanish from the major convention scene.

Digital wargaming

Digital wargaming


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Field of Glory vs C&C: Ancients – A Comparison of Digital Wargames

Field of Glory vs C&C: Ancients – A Comparison of Digital Wargames

by Jim Owczarski, 2 October 2018

Given what is about to happen here, I really ought to establish my bona fides.  I am a huge fan of Richard Borg’s Commands and Colors series. I own the entirety of the Ancients series and have taught it as an introductory wargame at Origins.  I think its clean design and relative simplicity make it one of the the best gateways to this hobby of which I am so fond.

Despite this, when GMT Games announced that it had partnered with Hexwar to bring C&C:A to the PC, I was skeptical.  For me, C&C in all its flavors is the perfect game for face-to-face play.  The learning curve is reasonable, the time commitment is modest, and it still brings a decent amount of historical flavor.  As much as I love more complicated games, my ratio of C&C played to any other system these days is very high.  As a result, I felt no particular need for a digital version.

And then there is the fact that Field of Glory 2 exists. (more…)

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