The Craft of Wargaming

A Detailed Planning Guide for Defense Planners and Analysts

  • Subject: Strategy
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    7 figures, 2 tables
  • Published:
    September 1, 2020
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    22 oz
Hardcover $43.95
Member Price $35.16 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


The Craft of Wargaming is designed to support supervisors, planners, and analysts who use wargames to support their organizations’ missions. The authors focus on providing analysts and planners with a clear methodology that allows them to initiate, design, develop, conduct, and analyze wargames. Built around the analytic wargaming construct, organizations or individuals can easily adapt this methodology to construct educational and experiential wargames. 


The book breaks the wargame creation process into five distinct phases: Initiate, Design, Develop, Conduct, and Analyze. For each phase, the authors identify key tasks a wargaming team must address to have a reasonable chance at designing, developing, conducting, and analyzing a successful wargame. While these five stages are critical to the process of constructing any wargame, it should be understood that the craft of wargaming is learned through active participation, not by reading or watching. This craft must be practiced as part of the learning process, and the included practical exercises provide an opportunity to experience the construction of an analytical wargame.


The authors also discuss critical supervisory tasks that are essential to manage the wargaming team’s efforts. While the creators are focused on the design and development of the game itself, supervisors must set conditions for the wargame to be a success (best practices) and beware of the pitfalls that may set the wargame up to fail (worst practices). The book demonstrates using the analytical wargaming framework to create relevant and useful planning wargames. It also reinforces using the analytical wargaming framework for seminar wargames that, without rigor, are useless. The book demonstrates the benefits of using the analytical wargaming process to design educational and experiential games.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“For the past three decades the professional wargaming community around the world has been wrestling with a debate on the very nature of wargaming. Is it art or is it science? In this book Professor Appleget and his colleagues have cast new light on the issue. They make a cogent argument that, art or science, the design and creation of wargames is a craft—a craft which anyone with perception, patience, and practice can learn to apply productively to professional problems requiring the exploration and understanding of human decision making under the stress of both cooperation and conflict. As a handbook for learning and engaging in this craft, The Craft of Wargaming deserves a place in the library of every serious wargamer.” —Peter P. Perla, author of The Art of Wargaming, Principal Research Scientist, Center for Naval Analyses

“The analytical war game is a vital tool in the arsenal of the military planner who faces no greater challenge than determining the concepts and capabilities required in a rapidly changing global environment. The Craft of Wargaming is a must read for any military leader sponsoring or developing analytical war games.” —Lieutenant General Michael K. Jeffery (Ret.); former Commander Canadian Army

“A must read primer on the craft of war gaming. From the initiate through to senior Commander’s this ‘how to’ text should be in every military school house and training establishment library. However, its applicability goes well beyond the military context and its simple instruction can be easily adapted to first responders, crisis management, the UN and NGOs, and even business.” —Maj. Gen. (rtd) Dave Gawn, MBE; former Commander Joint Forces and Chief of Army, New Zealand; former Head of Mission UNTSO
“Drawing on their unrivalled experience teaching wargame design and delivery, Jeff, Rob and Fred present a coherent and comprehensive guide that is essential reading for any practitioner of professional wargames, whether analytical, educational or experiential.” —Graham Longley-Brown, author of the UK MOD Wargaming Handbook and Successful Professional Wargames: A Practitioner’s Handbook
“Periods of great geopolitical and technological change, like the one we find ourselves in today, often lead to sharp changes in the character of war. But the implications of the changes are often not  apparent at first, leading to strategic surprise and changes to the global military balance. One of the best way to penetrate the “fog of future war” is to conduct war games designed to illuminate potential advances and to highlight new operational concepts and organizational constructs to exploit them. After a long period of neglect, the Department of Defense is seeing a renaissance in wargaming, and this handy guide on the craft of wargaming is sure to help keep this renaissance going strong. It is a superb compendium for both defense planners and analysts as well as the designers of quality games. An absolutely must-have addition to the shelves of any serious practitioner of war games or consumers of their output.” —Robert O. Work, 32nd United States Deputy Secretary of Defense and Undersecretary of the Navy
The Craft of Wargaming is a very useful book that guides the reader through the initiation, design, development, conduct, and analysis of wargames…. One notable feature of The Craft of Wargaming is the integration of a series of ten practical exercises, built around an included wargaming scenario: a stabilization operation in the fictional country of Zefra. This makes the volume especially useful for teaching purposes…. The book’s clarity and structure also make it very suitable for use as a self-learning guide.” —PAXsims
The Craft of Wargaming: A Detailed Planning Guide for Defense Planners and Analysts provides a primer for understanding the institutional traditions and practices that developed to support wargaming in analytical purposes. It complements previous handbooks and adds a focus on the institutional implementation of wargames.” —The Strategy Bridge
The Craft of Wargaming does a great job of summarizing the origin story of analytical wargaming in the U.S. Defense Department. The authors come from operations research backgrounds and focus much of their story on the influences of the Cold War on U.S. analytical wargaming practices. For those unfamiliar with how high levels of reliable intelligence and seemingly limited conventional military options influence the balance of science versus art in wargaming, there is much of interest in this story…. The book delivers a practical approach that novices and journeymen will find useful when crafting wargames for a wide range of analytical situations.” —Australian Journal of Defence and Strategic Studies
“Appleget, Burks and Cameron make a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of wargaming and its place in the deciphering and deconstruction of complex problems. By contextualising the current utility of analytical wargaming the book provides a readable, thoughtful and useful guide to help the military and businesses to consider problems and make decision. It is highly recommended.” —Canadian Military History
The Craft of Wargaming is a specialized textbook and reference guide designed for upcoming and experienced analytical and educational war-gaming practitioners. As such, the target audience are those assigned to or supporting organizations such as the Air Force Wargaming Institute, HAF/A9 (Studies, Analysis, and Assessments), their sister service and Office of the Secretary of Defense counterparts, or who want to expand their talents in analytical modeling and defense analysis.” —Strategic Studies Quarterly
The Craft of Wargaming is a superb book on how 'art' and 'science' can interact to enrich the craft of war gaming…. It’s an excellent primer on the science and art of war games: what they are, what they are not, and what they can provide —when properly designed and executed. Please read, mark up, and aggressively employ The Craft of Wargaming, and thereby build better commanders, leaders, planners, and staffs.” —Naval War College Review