Search Results for: caffrey

Mayviation Interview With Matthew Caffrey, AFRL

Brant Guillory, 31 May 2013

COL(R) Matt Caffrey works at the Air Force Research Labs wargaming office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  He is also the organizer behind the Connections conference that brings together military wargaming practitioners, academics, and industry professionals to advance the art, science, and application of wargaming.

Splash-PMWSome opening comments from Mr Caffrey:
Before I answer your specific questions I need to make two disclaimers:
First, the views expressed in these responses are those of the author (myself) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Second, I am not so pretentious to believe I know of all US defense Wargaming.  Growing up in New York City I heard the expression, “only the dead know Brookline.”  That is, that borough was (and is) so big and so diverse that no living individual could know all of it.  No one living individual can know all of defense wargaming. The Joint Staff and each Service use wargaming for a host of applications.  Though I a student of wargaming and have worked in defense wargaming as a primary or additional duty since 1983 I would be surprised if some wargame somewhere is an exception to my below generalizations.  I do not know what I do not know.

GrogHeads Reviews Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming

The new “big book of wargaming” goes under the GrogHeads microscope ~

Brant Guillory, 15 May 2016

Zones of Control is the book that wargaming has been waiting for.  Seriously.  And that’s a pretty grandiose statement, but the truth is, it’s a long-needed book from a hard-to-ignore-and-harder-to-impugn publisher that tries to comprehensively examine the breadth and depth of wargaming under one cover.  ZOC-CoverWhere previous ‘seminal’ works of wargaming – Simulating War or  The Art of Wargaming or The Complete Wargames Handbook – were concerned with specific facets of wargaming (academic explorations, professional uses, or hobbyists, for example), Zones of Control brings them all into one giant melting pot, and then sprinkles in the occasional dose of aesthetics, role-playing, and digital design.


Interestingly, Zones of Control is able to swing such a wide arc precisely by avoiding the overly-pedantic and never-solved argument about “what is a wargame?”  It is conspicuously absent throughout the book, and there isn’t even a cursory attempt at it.  Avoiding that discussion allows the editors a wide range of latitude to include discussions of Twilight Struggle, Tunnels & Trolls, and battlefield re-enactors.  And truthfully, the book is much richer for it.

It is that very breadth that can make Zones of Control a challenge to review, however.  To what are we comparing it?  It’s scope alone puts the book in its own category among the wargaming literature.  There’s no comparable volume in the pop music world, whose attempts at a broad-scope literary volume end up more an inventory of artists than an exploration of types of music.  One might compare this book to something like a collected academic volume like the Communication Technology Update, but with technology and its markets moving as they do, that textbook is updated every 2 years. The collected essays of Zones of Control are almost “the greatest hits” of a year or two of erudite magazine articles from a flagship wargaming analysis journal, if such a thing ever existed.  Spread over 5 years of quarterly issues, rather than collected into a consolidated volume, the essays of Zones of Control might have have become the catalyzing agent around which a comprehensive cross-domain association of wargaming might have coalesced – a worthy literary companion to the Connections wargaming conference.  But to deconstruct the book and instead attempt to feature the writers over the span of several years would have cost the critical momentum needed to even publish the book at all.  Instead, we’re forced to hope that someone picks up the baton and starts a recurring publication as a companion to this volume.  But that’s putting the cart at least a mile or two before the horse that Kirschenbaum & Harrigan have saddled for us.

The GrogHeads Year In Review

31 December 2014

We reached out to our friends* in the game industry for some thoughts about the past year in games, and asked them for some insight about what’s coming next.

* yes, we actually have friends

Matthew Kirschenbaum, Academic-Gamer / Professor

2014 Highlight(s):  Highlight for me was working with the dozens of contributors on the Zones of Control book Pat Harrigan and I are editing for the MIT Press. This is an interdisciplinary as well as inter-professional volume, bringing together contributors from policy gaming, hobby gaming, and academia, writing about both tabletop and digital wargames. We have DoD types alongside of cultural theorists, and we designers alongside of their critics. We have the full spectrum represented in terms of politics and ethics as well. The book is on track for an early 2016 publication.

Looking Ahead at 2015:  In terms of a prediction, I’ll venture this: one major publisher in tabletop wargaming is going to go under. No, I don’t have anyone in particular in mind and I have no inside information–just a gut feeling.


Jim Zabek, GrogDude

2014 Highlight(s):  For me it seems the simplest things are worth the most. Game-wise two things stand out. First, I have managed to fall in with a great gaming crowd at the FLGS. The other thing that was a highlight was the re-issuance (I’m not sure how many times before) of Car Wars in more or less its original format. I don’t know why that seems to please me so much, but I guess it is the memory going back to my younger days and discovering it for the first time.

Looking Ahead at 2015:  As for what I think might make headlines in 2015? There are certain to be some sleepers that simply aren’t on my radar. But the one game I think lots of folks are going to be talking about – at least on Grogheads – will be Atilla Total War. There are over 3800 discussion posts on Rome 2 in the Grogheads forums. I suspect that Atilla may draw an equal amount of attention.


Erik Rutins, Director of Product Development at Matrix Games

2014 Highlight(s):  Distant Worlds: Universe and War in the West, two major new releases for 2014 that have been in the works for years and both were very well received by the community.  It was also great to work with the Command and Flashpoint Campaigns teams on their well-deserved re-launches.

Looking Ahead at 2015:  Lots of exciting releases coming – the new Brother against Brother Civil War wargame, the return of SSG, expansions for War in the West, a new Flashpoint Campaigns game and the first Command expansions!


Brain Train, Game Designer and Theorist (though he won’t admit to the latter) 

2014 Highlight(s):  Three little personal highlights for 2014 for me instead of one big one:

  • Getting a brief ripple of attention for Ukrainian Crisis, a 48-hour “one-man jam” game designed in the middle of the Crimean referendum crisis;
  • Speaking with Volko Ruhnke about the COIN series at Tableflip!, a very interesting conference on games and game design;
  • Launching BTR Games, a line of my personal games in DTP format released when and how I want them to be, with sales in the half-dozens so far.

Looking Ahead at 2015:  Three biggest news items in gaming in 2015 that I feel safest in predicting:

  • The COIN series will continue to attract talent and attention, with new designs and reprints coming;
  • More and more projects will be announced on Kickstarter, to chase less and less money;
  • BTR Games will have double-digit sales!

A Report From Connections 2014

Guest columnist Brian Train gives us a peek inside the annual premier gathering of professional wargaming practitioners.

Once there was an Air Force Captain named Matt Caffrey who realized that commercial wargame designers had a lot to teach and learn from military and government analysts, planners and other subject matter experts. So in 1993 he organized the first CONNECTIONS conference, for the purpose of bringing these two worlds together to talk, for a few days at least. Now retired, Lieutenant Colonel Caffrey has worked to make this conference happen each and every year since then. The 21st annual CONNECTIONS conference on professional wargaming was held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, August 4-7, 2014, and I attended.


Monday, August 4, was a half-day featuring presentations and discussions by individual speakers. Matt Caffrey spoke on the history of wargaming using information from his upcoming book, the engaging Dr. Peter Perla, author of The Art of Wargaming spoke on analytical wargaming, and Dr. Joe Saur and Chris Weuve spoke on the basics and pitfalls of wargame design.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead – the Game Industry Weighs in on 2013 and 2014

We cast our inquiries far and wide in search of opinions about 2013 and 2014.  Respondents were asked two questions:

1. What was the highlight of the past year in gaming for you?

2. What do you think will be the biggest news in gaming in 2014?

We put no other constraints on them for subject matter, self-promotion, or response length.  As you can imagine, we got a wide array of responses.

Mark H Walker, Designer, Lock’n’Load Publishing

2013 – Seeing the explosion of new titles on Kickstarter. Probably the best non-LNLP game that I played was Band of Brothers, but Legendary and Sentinels of the Multiverse were a close second.

2014 – Big deal of next year will be Golem Arcana. It looks to seamlessly meld board and digital. That and the importance of Kindle Direct Publishing as Indy authors continue to erode the market share of the traditional publishers.

Tim Van der Moer, CEO, The Lordz Games Studio

2013 – For me number one has been getting the Panzer Corps series out on iPad. On big games, I really enjoyed GTA V  and Assassins Creed Black Flag.

2014 – Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon cross platform will be our big highlight for sure. On traditional videogames, I am really curious to see how the Xbox One will evolve into a cross media entertainment system.

Matthew B. Caffrey Jr, Command Lead, AF Future Capabilities Game

2013 –  The first Connections UK. Run in the UK by British wargames Connections UK extends Connections mission to advance and sustain the Art, science and application of wargaming to the UK and Europe. As it is less costly in time and money for Europeans to get to the UK 75 individuals from about a dozen countries participated at Kings College London.

2014 –  If it is pulled off, the first Connections Australia.

Brian Train, Game Designer

2013 – My personal highlight in gaming was seeing A Distant Plain roll out. In less than 18 months, Volko Ruhnke and I went from “hey, we should do this” to a beautifully produced, challenging wargame on a very contemporary subject.

2014 – I think the next Big News thing will be wargames produced for tablets (iPads and so forth). No idea how many will actually be produced, or if they will be any good, but people will be talking about them. I won’t be programming any of them, but at least for now they will be ports of manual (board) games, so there’s opportunity there for all of us.