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Simulating War: Studying Conflict through Simulation Games Paperback – 10 Apr 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; Reprint edition (10 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472533917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472533913
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.2 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Brilliant. Professor Sabin has produced a masterwork, one worthy to grace bookshelves that are home to Von Reisswitz's Kriegsspiel, Wells's Little Wars, Morse and Kimball's Methods of Operations Research and Schelling's The Strategy of Conflict. If you want to learn more about the unquestionably horrible but quintessentially human activity that is war, you need to read this book. --Dr Peter Perla, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, Alexandria VA, USA and author of 'The Art of Wargaming'

In Simulating War Professor Sabin provides us with a scholarly and very useable toolkit that allows us to supplement the dry data of statistical analysis or computer simulation with the realities of human interaction and the play of Clausewitz's "chance". Wargaming is a neglected and misunderstood art in the modern military: this book does much to put that right, and should be on the shelf of any thinking military professional. --Major General Andrew Sharpe, Director General of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, UK Defence Academy

Anyone with an interest in wargaming, be it professional or recreational, must buy this book... Simulating War is a clear, logical and balanced guide that provides all the building blocks and insights necessary to design manual games and then use them to best effect. This expert knowledge will be just as useful to military planners, trainers and educators alike, to gaming software developers, operational analysts, those in experimentation and to recreational wargamers. --LBS Blog

About the Author

Philip Sabin is Professor of Strategic Studies in the Department of War Studies at King's College, London, UK. He has worked closely with the armed services and appears regularly on TV and radio. He has also co-edited the two volume Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare (2007).

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Review of Phil Sabin's (2012) Simulating War Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games

As someone who has edited and written more wargaming books than most, I am always pleased when a new book says something original about wargaming. This book has a message. The message is micro board wargames are good for education and training. This book argues the case that wargames, in particular manual board games, are an invaluable tool for examining tactical and operational military history. The best of these games are worthy of inclusion of any study of military history.

The first part of the book is a summary of the academic potential of wargaming techniques. The value of games to education and training is indisputable in the academic and business world. Phil takes that view and argues that wargaming can be used as tool to understand military history, supporting this with some academic evidence and his own experiences of using games as part of his teaching of military history at Kings College London.

The second part of the book is a straightforward guide to building simple `micro-board games'. These are games that are smaller than even the smallest of commercial `folio' type board games. Small and simple enough to be used as part of a two hour teaching session. Building on the work of Peter Perla's Art of Wargaming and James Dunnigan's The Complete Wagames Handbook, the book offers a recipe for analysing historical conflicts and distilling them into a board game format.

The third part of the book gives a number of worked examples of such micro-board games. It includes games from the ancient world and World War II. There are also two tactical games; one about a battalion attack in WWII and the other about a company level assault on a built up area.
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By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Phil Sabin has been teaching historical military simulations to students at KCL and in the armed services for many a year. During that time he has not only designed a number of excellent games but also delved into how one might simulate war quickly, effectively and historically. It is no use expecting students to play large professional wargames in a single class session. Even relatively simple hobby games are going to exhaust both time and the experience of the players. If they are so intent on the rules then the historical experience will suffer. Not for Professor Sabin the Rabelaisian feasts of the Naval War College. Even the three-courser Hobby meal is too much. He has to design and teach from an assiette de dégustation; a single plate with all the elements of the full cuisine. This means much must be removed and what remains must be of moment: the essence of history if you will.

The book takes one handily through the limits of this approach, the batterie de cuisine of the designer (which is useful for those designing larger games) and a number of recipes (games Phil has designed on these principles). The games can be assembled from the book or from downloads and range from a multi-year, multi-player simulation of the Second Punic War to companies slogging it out in Normandy in 1944.

I greatly enjoyed the book which has a light style (a true Paul Bocuse) but considerable depth. You may not agree with Phil's design choices but you will be engaged by his processes and his approach. You will not be bored.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A really good book, the best one of yet in term of actually looking at how games are designed, from the highest-level design concepts to the real nitty-gritty of making the game, including the discussion of how and why certain concepts may be appropriate to some games and not others and how to use simple mechanics to fit allow the creation of simulations which do not require lots of components, voluminuous rules or already experienced players.
He (generally) favours looking at many games as tools for study in the widest sense, rather than being command trainers (i.e. Simulating the actual decision making environment of actual commanders) or simply a military-themed entertainment but can help in understanding the processes involved in the conflicts studied. I have found this personally very insightful in understanding why some gamers prefer certain games which neither work as a command simulator or an engaging entertainment.
The book contains lots of small games which the author uses to illustrate his approach to designing games, including a strategic game set in the Roman world and games set at various different levels in World War Two, including two air warfare games. I am very much looking forward to trying out these games myself, in particular the infantry battalion attack game and the interception of a bombing raid game.
The book has been rigorously written, copiously foot-noted and has an extensive bibliography (and ludography? A very extensive list of actual games referred to, anyway).
I did find two (related) things difficult about this book. Firstly, I found the initial chapters very hard going.
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