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High Level Overview / Plan

This is intended to give you the helicopter view of what I'm try to do and where my thought process is at.

Urban and City Development

Since I want to look beyond simple FIBUA I need to understand how modern urban spaces are designed, evolve and operate, and how this might change in the future.

There’s also a question of definitions - what is a built up area, what is an urban environment, or a dense urban environment (John Spencer’s favourite phrase), and of course how big does a conurbation have to be to be a city, or even a mega city?

History of Urban Conflict

I need to see how urban conflict has evolved over the millennia, with probably a main focus on the mechanised, post 1939 era. I’ll certainly reach back to Classical times (Troy, Jericho, Jerusalem etc) and take in the sieges of Constantinople, the Lace Wars (Vauban forts) and the Napoleonic period (Badajoz etc), and maybe the Franco-Prussian War (Paris).

It’s then the urban battles of WW2 where some modern lessons begin to be learnt (e.g. Aachen, Stalingrad), and then into the post-War battles of Seoul, Hue, Algeria etc. There’s also the question of how urban counter-insurgency and terrorism fits in - my current preference is to focus on more “total war” situations if focus is needed (pity since my only first-hand experience is Northern Ireland).

It’s in late C20 and into C21 where modern urban really seems to take off (why? - Anthony King has an argument) with battles like Fallujah, Mosul, Grozny, Donetsk and who knows where else next?

Characteristics of Urban Warfare

From that survey needs to come an analysis of what the principal characteristics of urban warfare are, and how these might change in the immediate future(probably looking 5-10 years out from PhD end). It would be good to try and validate this with friendly militaries.

Wargame Design Theory

In parallel with all this I’ll be reading up on wargame theory; Perla, Sabin, Appleget, Train, Brynen et al.

Urban Wargames

Then of course it’s time to actually play some games. My existing list shows over 100 games, most board & counter games, but also including miniatures rules, card games, matrix games etc. I’m not so focussed on pure computer/automated games (esp FPS/RTS) - but need to justify that.

No way I’ll be able to play them all, so need some rationale to filter. I also need a lot of observed play, ideally from a mix of audiences (hobby, academic/pro, military) and some way of relative game outcomes to historical outcomes. There also needs to be some comparative play - there are multiple games on Constantinople and several games on other key battles. Setting up some “modern” scenarios and playing across system would also be good.

Being a miniatures gamer at heart I’m keen to compare the miniatures vs “board” approach - possibly crucial given the 3D nature of urban terrain. Given my focus on Bn/Bde this probably means 10mm (already got a Dropzone Commander city set), or 6mm or maybe even 2/3mm.

Gap Analysis

Only then does the serious work really start - where are the gaps between the experience and predictions of urban conflict and what current games deliver.

Novel Urban Wargame Designs

Then it’s time to start writing my own urban wargames! My feeling is that there is no way it can be “one wargame to rule them all”, and my approach may well be to do a small (2-4) number of games, each focussing on a different issue, and potentially in a different style. My “game ideas” list already runs to over a dozen games.

Evaluation Strategies

This is a PhD, so it’s not just about designing and playing games, but evaluating them against the goals I’ve set for them - so I need to be clear about how I’m going to be doing that.

Novel Game Evaluation

Then people get to play the games and contribute to the evaluation. This is game development so it’s bound to be an iterative process - so how do you manage evaluation and player audiences in that context, and how do you measure “success”?

Guide to Urban Wargame Design

An annex to the PhD, if I’m feeling bold, might be a set of thoughts, even guidelines, to help other game designers create better urban Wargames.


Then at the end of it all, have I understood the challenges, and found some novel and better ways to address them?

We’ll that’s the plan……

high_level_overview_-_plan.txt · Last modified: 2022/02/13 18:05 by admin