This RAND/DoD tabletop wargame looks cool AF and I want it

By Joe Robinson 07 Oct 2020 1

You may have picked up on this already, but I’m kind of fascinated by the games professional defence industry institutions play. Wargaming, when used to describe how various defence entities try to develop policy and strategy, is a time-honoured tradition that doesn’t get talked about that often.

While recent years have seen games like CMANO (later, CMO) and even Combat Mission get picked up by the DoD and MoD as pioneers of digital wargaming, traditionally this kind of research and testing is done via tabletop or analogue experiences. A lot of this is behind closed doors however and rarely would a member of the public get to interact with these experiences… until now!

The RAND corporation, a nonprofit think-tank that’s historically tried to support the American armed forces through research and analysis, has released a commercial version of a game they created that helped formulate the US’s 2018 National Defence Strategy.

It’s called Hedgemony, and is a game set in modern times that’s designed to emulate the strategic trade-offs major nations need to make when dealing with a global defence strategy. Even a nation as affluent as America can’t be everywhere, all the time, and the game’s name is a play on the idea of ‘Hedging your bets’. It seems really, really cool, and I want it.

It’s a game primarily to test U.S. global strategy & policy - the American team, representing the Department of Defence, can comprise up to three people in an example set-up. There is then a fourth ‘Blue’ player representing NATO & the EU, who will have similar but also competing objectives. There are then four ‘Red’ Players, each representing Iran, The People’s Republic of China, Russia and North Korea respectively.

The game these other teams play though takes its cue from the U.S. team. They essentially are there as training tools to test the US team’s thoughts and moves, rather than existing for their own sake. If you’re interested in learning more about the game, the Rulebook, Player Guide and Glossary documents are available for free.

The closest you’d come to something like this would be the Megagame scene - amongst the original UK group that run events like these there are many who contract for the Defence industry. Jim Wallman’s designs are usually consistent between the games he puts on for the public and games he puts on for the MoD - there’s just a difference in purpose between the two. It’s really cool to see something like this available for commercial use, although to be fair to Jim he also offers plenty of his creations for sale as well.

stone paper sicissor games

They’re far cheaper than Hedgemony’s eye watering $250 price-tag, at least. I wonder how much shipping would cost to the UK?

A couple of years ago I almost got to play around with a copy of STRIKE. This was a tabletop game developed and published by DSTL - the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory where the UK MoD’s wargaming team is located. It was a game designed (if memory serves) to help play out scenarios and test the effectiveness of the UK’s Strike Brigades, a keystone of current British Army doctrine for overseas operations. I think they were talking about making it available as a commercial product, but I can’t remember if that ever came about.

So there you go. A wonderfully ridiculous tabletop wargame for a (less than wonderful) ridiculous price. I still want one.



Log in to join the discussion.

Related Posts from Wargamer