Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Matrix Games Handbook

My complimentary copy of THE MATRIX GAMES HANDBOOK: PROFESSIONAL APPLICATIONS FROM EDUCATION TO ANALYSIS AND WARGAMING arrived in the post yesterday, and it was very interesting to look through the complete book. I’d seen the section that I contributed to, but other than seeing the list of contents, I had little idea what the rest of the book contained.

The book is split into five sections, with each section containing a number of chapters.
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword: The Potentially Utility of the Matrix Game Approach to Military Training, Education and Analysis by John Curry
  • Biographies of Contributors
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: The History of Matrix Games
    • The Early Days of Matrix Games in the UK by Bob Cordery
    • The American History of Matrix Games by Chris Engle
    • The Rise of Professional Matrix Games by Tim Price
  • Section 2: Practical Advice
    • Running Matrix Games by Tim Price
    • Checklist by Tim Price
    • Sample Game: Baltic Challenge: NATO and Russian posturing in the Baltic Sea
    • The Australian Perspective by Todd Mason
  • Section 3: The Theory of Matrix Games
    • Walking in the Dark: An Allegory of Knowledge by Chris Engle
    • The Intellectual Underpinnings of Matrix Games by Chris Engle
    • Verbal Algorithms and the Human Machine by Chris Engle
    • Emerging Themes from the Matrix Game Based Narrative Methodology by John Curry
  • Section 4: Matrix Games and Education
    • Gaming Multi-Agency Responses by Helen Mitchard
    • Using Matrix Games in the Classroom by Dorian Love
    • Effective Learning at the Swedish Defence University by Johan Elg
    • Language Training by Neal Durando
    • Reflections on Military Language Training by Jose Anibal Ortiz Manrique
  • Section 5: The Professional Application of Matrix Games
    • Gaming the Wars of the Future by Chris Engle
    • Operations Research Tools by Ben Taylor
    • Building Boyd Snowmobiles: Matrix Games as a Creative Catalyst for Developing Innovative Technology by Paul Vebber
    • ISIS Crisis: Using a Matrix Game to Explore Contemporary Conflict by Rex Brynen
  • Further Reading
  • Appendix 1: Simple Counter Sheets for Matrix Games
This is NOT a book about how to design or play Matrix Games. It is a book that explains how Matrix Games have evolved and how they can be used. It does examine their limitations but also points out how their potential is still being discovered and developed.

THE MATRIX GAMES HANDBOOK: PROFESSIONAL APPLICATIONS FROM EDUCATION TO ANALYSIS AND WARGAMING was edited by John Curry, Chris Engle and Peter Perla and published by the History of Wargaming Project (ISBN 978 0 244 99213 2). It costs £14.95 (plus postage and packing).


  1. Sounds like an interesting and rather arcane read! I do worry about the prevailing approach to contention, though, which, instead of dialogue and negotiation seems automatically (though unnecessarily) to lead to confrontation and conflict. Perhaps Matrix Games will be a learning medium by which world leaders (or their advisers) come to determine that there is more than one way to obtain a cat's pelt.

    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      This book is the first time that anyone has tried to produce an academic study of the development of the Matrix Game. Hopefully it will make the concept more 'acceptable' to the wider political and military communities.

      I like to use them as a means of analysing historical conflicts, but at present they are moving more into political/military planning and training. It would be a great medium for political leaders to learn how to analyse and react to possible crises ... but far too often such exercises only involve lower-echelon politicians.

      All the best,


  2. It's a good read Bob
    Almost finished it

    Enjoyed your bits and Chris Engle's bits very much
    Was rather scared out of my wits by the end of the Baltic Scenario chapter though ;)

    "Some damn foolish thing in the Balkans" comes to mind!

    1. Geordie an Exile FoG,

      I'm pleased that you enjoyed reading this book, even though some parts of it are rather disturbing and show just how much insight can be gained from playing well-designed Matrix Games.

      All the best,



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