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Professional Wargaming

Matrix Games cover

Advanced Matrix Games for Professional Wargaming

9 October 2023 by John Curry, Tom Mouat and Tim Price MBE

The innovation of the method of Matrix Games has taken the Professional Wargaming world by storm. This book aims to bring together some of the best practise since the first book on Matrix Games was published in 2014. 

This book is divided into three sections.

The first part includes an updated detailed guide to running matrix games based on several decades experience of running these games professionally.

The second part of the book includes five new games about conflict, procurement, the High North and protecting Critical national Infrastructure.

The final part of the book includes the five scenarios about simulating historical conflicts for military education. These games were included in the first book on matrix games Matrix Games for Professional Wargaming that was first published in 2014 (reprinted in 2022).

Taken as a whole, the book includes the best current practical advice on running games, with ten examples of future, current and historical conflicts.

A foreword by Peter Perla, author of the classic Art of Wargaming.

1: Practical Advice on Matrix Games.

2: Current and Future Crises.

     Ukraine 2022: The Sins of Our Father.

     One China.

     The High North: The Future of the Arctic (and the World)

     Hope and Glory: Protecting

     Defence Procurement.

3: Historical Crises.

     The Falklands War (1982)

     Chaoslavia (1993)

     Crisis in Crimea: A Counter Revolution (March 2014)

     The Red Line: Civil War in Syria (August 2013)

     Lasgah Pol: Afghanistan (2008)

This book replaces the previous edition Matrix Games for Modern Wargaming

Note: matrix games as noted in this work is a term used to describe the Chris Engle wargaming matrix game methodology and is not connected or related in any way to Matrix Games Limited or their video game products.

The book is available from Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle

Product details:
     Paperback: 179 pages
History of Wargaming    Project
     Dimensions (cm):
21.59 wide x 27.94 tall   

  Supporting Materials for Matrix Games

Matrix Game Handouts

Sins of Our Fathers
      Urkaine Map

One China
       One China Map

High North
       High North Map
       Sample Corporations
Hope and Glory
      Hope and Glory Map
      Extremists 1
      Extremists 2

The Falklands War (1982)
      Falklands Map

Chaoslavia (1993)
     Chaoslavia Map

Crisis in Crimea: A Counter Revolution (March 2014)
     Ukraine Map
     Counters 1
     Counters 2

The Red Line: Civil War in Syria (August 2013)

Lasgah Pol- Afghanistan (2008)
     Lasgah Pol Map

Playing aids

Academic References for Matrix games

I was preparing a lecture on the use of wargaming for education for a conference at Bristol University in July 2016, when I started looking for references to the use matrix games (invented by Chris Engle). I stopped after the first 10.
Bryan R. (2016) Exploring matrix games for mass atrocity prevention and response
Major Mouat T. (2016) Matrix games for language training
Colonel Hall J. and Lt Col Chretien J. (2016) Matrix games at the US Army War College
Taylor B. (2014) Toward serious matrix games
Dixson M., Couillard M., Gongora T., Massel P. (2016) Wargaming to Support Strategic Planning
Capt Davis C., (2016) Using a matrix game as an intelligence training tool
Nicastro L. and Platz I (2016) “Burning Shadows”: Toward matrix gaming as a tool for joint professional military education
Major Mouat T. (2015) Cyber Operational Awareness Course matrix game
Bryan R. (2016) Exploring matrix games for mass atrocity prevention and response


Review of Matrix Games by Rex Brynan

First published on the Pax Sims Blog on 20/9/16 and is reproduced with permission

“Matrix games” were first invented by Chris Engle in the early 1990s as a free-form, umpired alternative to more rigid, rules-based games. In a matrix game players typically take turns making an argument about what they wish to do, why they believe they would be successful, and what effects they expect this to have. Other players may be invited to identify counter-arguments. The outcome is then adjudicated by the umpire, with or without the use of dice.

PAXsims was recently involved in running a matrix game on the situation in northern Iraq, accounts of which you’ll find here and (via John Curry) here. You’ll also find some published games available at Hamster Press, and a large collection put together by Tom Mouat here.

Game map of Ukraine

Matrix Games for Modern Wargaming is a slim volume by John Curry and Tim Price that outlines how to play such a game. It introduces the topic, including a brief history of the approach and examples of how it has been used within the UK defence sector and elsewhere. The booklet includes a concise discussion of the rules and procedures used, different options for resolving player arguments, as well as a simple system for determining the outcome of battles between military forces. In addition,  the authors have useful suggestions for how to deal with arguments that players wish to keep secret from others, when outcomes should require multiple sequential successful arguments, dealing with ongoing effects, and how to finish and review such games. More than half the booklet consists of five ready-to-play games, complete with scenarios, briefings, objectives, maps, and (for most of these) copy-and-cut game counters too: The Falklands  War (1982); Chaoslavia (set in the Bosnia c1993); Lasgah-Pol (a fictional tactical scenario set in Afghanistan c2008); Red Line: Civil War in Syria (chemical weapons use in Syria, 2013); and Crisis in Crimea (March 2014, but easily modified and updated for subsequent or future developments). A version of the latter is also available via an earlier PAXsims article on contemporary Ukraine-themed wargames).

Certainly the volume contains everything one needs to design, facilitate, and play such a game. I would have liked to have seen a somewhat longer discussion of game techniques, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, as well as possible modifications and alternative approaches. It would have been useful to examine how matrix games can be linked to other gaming methods (for example, providing the strategic backdrop for a series of operational- or tactical-level games), and how such games could be run by email or otherwise used in a “distributed” approach with players in different locations or playing asynchronously. Indeed, as I write this review I’m struck how easily and effectively an online role-playing game platform like Roll20 (which allows multiple players to share and manipulate an online game board while linked by video, voice and text communications) could be used to host a matrix game.

Not surprisingly for a guide published by the History of Wargaming Project, the volume places most of its emphasis on the gaming of war and warfare. However, as the authors note, matrix games can be used to game pretty much anything in which there are multiple actors with differing or overlapping objectives. It would be very easy to imagine running a matrix game of the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa, for example.

Finally, while I found the booklet clear and straight-forward in its presentation, I do think it would have been useful to have extended at least one of the brief examples to a longer narrative of a few rounds of play in order to give neophyte players or umpires a better sense of how a game might unfold.

That being said, Matrix Games for Modern Wargaming is the most useful publication yet available on how to use such games for serious analytical purposes. I certainly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn about the method, and how to use it for serious and not-so-serious wargaming alike.

Copyright John Curry (2016) About    Credits