Friday 8 September 2017

Connections UK 2017: Day 1

The programme for the day was as follows:
  • 9.00am – 09.30am: Arrivals and coffee.
  • 9.30am – 09.40am: Welcome and introduction.
  • 9.40am – 10.20am: Wargaming 101 for new-comers or Megagame 202: designing the Megagame.
  • 10.20am – 5.10pm: Megagame – ‘Dire Straits'. (Breaks for drinks during the sessions, and for lunch from 1.00pm to 2.00pm.)
  • 5.10pm – 6.00pm: Megagame After Action Review.
  • 6.00pm – 6.30pm: Buffet supper.
  • 6.30pm onwards: Informal games session.

After registering in the main entrance hall of the Strand entrance to King's College, London ...

... we assembled in one of the large lecture theatres for a briefing.

The attendees then dispersed, some going to the Wargaming 101 session for new-comers and some (including me) to the Megagame 202 session to prepare for the Megagame. The room was set up as follows:

© Jim Wallman (2017).

The maps used looked like this:

Himalayas Sector Map

© Jim Wallman (2017).

South Sector Map

© Jim Wallman (2017).

Central Sector Map

© Jim Wallman (2017).

North Sector Map

© Jim Wallman (2017).

Once all the participants were assembled, there was a short briefing that included a video that covered the events and background to the political and military situation the game was going to cover. There was also a Twitter feed that was constantly updated by the Media Team and various participants throughout the Megagame.

During the game I acted as Central Sector Map Control ... which meant that I had to translate the actions passed to me by the various teams and to adjudicate on any political and/or military events that occurred. The following records what happened in the area covered by my map and is not a complete description of all the events that took place during the Megagame.

Pre-game Positions
Before the game commenced a number of military units were already positioned on the map.
  • There was a large US presence around Okinawa
  • The Taiwanese had their armed forces at either 'Ready' or on 'Alert' status
  • The Philippines had a Surface Action Group at 'Alert' status and other units on exercise

Turn 1
During the turn the North Koreans launched a Multiple Re-Entry Vehicle test missile over Japan. At the same time the Philippines units in the south of the country went to 'Alert' status to undertake counter-insurgency operations against local guerrilla fighters.

Turn 2
In response to increasing levels of tension in the region:
  • The US moved their Carrier and Surface Action Groups near Okinawa up to 'Alert' status
  • US forces (including ABM systems) on Okinawa moved up to 'High Alert' status
  • The Chinese deployed two Surface Action Groups and a Carrier Group in the sea between the mainland and Taiwan, with the former at 'Alert' status

Turn 3
Things really started to look as if they were hotting up:
  • A US deployment took place in the sea area eat of Okinawa
  • Joint Chinese/Russian naval exercises began to the north-east of the Philippines ... observed at some distance by a British nuclear submarine
  • US naval forces began to shadow the Chinese Carrier Group as it sailed off the west coast of Taiwan

Turn 4
The situation began to change:
  • The massive US naval force near Okinawa moved northwards towards Japan
  • The joint Chinese/Russian naval exercises moved eastwards and away from Taiwan and the Philippines ... still observed at some distance by a British nuclear submarine!
  • The US naval forces that had been shadowing the Chinese Carrier Group moved to the east of Taiwan and to 'High Alert' status.

Turn 5
The situation remained as it was.

Turn 6
The French sent a Carrier Group to take point in joint exercises with units of the Philippines Navy, and these were joined by a British Surface Action Group.

Turn 7
Units of the Malaysian Navy joined the exercise off the western Philippines.

Turn 8
The Philippines Surface Action Group moved up to 'High Alert' in response to a potential threat to some of the country's southernmost islands. At the same time the joint Chinese/Russian naval exercises came to an end.

Turn 9
The Megagame came to an end ... and no military conflict had occurred!

We then all returned to the lecture theatre for a game debrief ...

... led by Jim Wallman (left) and Professor Rex Brynen (right).

I left to go home after the debrief, and did not take part in the informal after-supper game sessions.

Please note that the maps shown above are © Jim Wallman (2017), and I have reproduced them to a size that enables readers to identify the main features of the playing areas but which renders them impractical to reproduce.


  1. Sounds very fast paced
    I can almost smell the sweat
    I bet their were tense moments when things "could have" kicked off

    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      The game moved along at a fair pace. The turns were neither too long or too short, and players kept to turn sequence ... which helped considerably.

      Things did get tense once or twice, but a gentle work of advice helped. At one point it looked as if the US Navy and Chinese Navy were going to be in the same sea area at the same time. Separately I asked the players what they would do if their ships met. Neither player knew what the normal procedure was ... so I told them that it would be to render the other navy's ships 'honours' and not to open fire unless they were at war. Both players separately agreed that if their ships met, they would render 'honours'. Clash avoided.

      All the best,


  2. Note: The Kit (maps) and AV presentation [quality and relevance] looked fantastic :)

    PS Good work helping avoid WWIII ;)

    You would get a reward in New Years Honour List in real life ;)

    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      The quality of the maps, counters, paperwork, and playing aids was top notch ... which helped to impress and inform newcomers and sceptics alike.

      As to me ever getting a gong of some sort in a forthcoming Honours List ... well I suspect that I am not the sort of person who will ever get an honour, regardless of what I do.

      All the best,


  3. Somehow I missed this posting! That looks like a fun session, with everyone winning in the end. Just one point, though. New Zealand is so insignificant it didn't rate a place in the game?

    Now, why do I find that encouraging?! :-D

    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      It was very interesting session. I'm not sure what the game's designers had in mind for the role of the smaller nations. I certainly don't remember interacting with any Australian players, so there might well not have been an Australian team taking part.

      Al least they didn't just lump the New Zealanders in with the Australians!

      All the best,



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