Thursday, 15 February 2018

UK Connections 2018 Itinery Released

Coming in September 2018 the Hottest Wargame Show in (London) Town: UK Connections 2018

Note: Sadly the 2017 event coincided with a significant birthday of mine [I have to realise I am getting old as I am now looking forward to Saga priced holidays] so I "missed" the 2017 Conference. Looking at the 2018 line-up I am so sorely tempted to "go again" primarily because the event is focused on the "very practical" side of "doing wargames" (even being in the 10% hobbyist minority this should make it very interesting). However seeing as I am already committed to going to CoW2018 this year would this be simply too much for me to go to two mega events in a year? The horns of a terrible dilemma. 

Let the invitation email speak for itself  from Graham Longley-Brown
PS If this post looks "ugly in its pasted from email format" Rex has "done it very professionally" here 

Hi All,

Many thanks to everyone who completed the Connections UK 2017 feedback survey, and a warm welcome to those who have expressed an interest in finding out more about professional wargaming.

The Connections UK 2018 conference will be, as far as we can make it, a precise reflection of your views and requests in the 2017 feedback survey. The resulting conference outline is below. If this is of interest, please note the dates 4 – 6 September 2018 in your diary. I will send you registration details presently. More details of Connections UK, including all previous presentations, can be found at If you do not wish to be on this email distribution list, please let me know and your name will be removed from future announcements relating to Connections UK.

Connections UK 2018

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. 91% of survey respondents found the 2017 conference useful or very useful; 85% said you would attend a future Connections UK; and 91% thought the conference was the right length. Some survey comments:

  • ‘An excellent event, a great opportunity to meet professional wargamers and those crossing over into the hobby side. An invaluable experience for the UK wargaming community.’
  • ‘Overall this was an excellent and extremely encouraging event demonstrating the high international standing of UK wargaming.’
  • ‘Looking forward to 2018!’

However, as the comments below illustrate, there are compelling reasons to go into more depth at Connections UK 2018. Answers to the question ‘How do we make the event better?’ included:

  • ‘More on practical approaches, case studies and insights.’
  • ‘Deep dives on game design and data capture, versus ‘we did this.’
  • ‘More emphasis on lessons learned from developing and delivering wargames.’
  • ‘Intellectual depth into the art and science of wargaming.’
  • ‘Methodology and best practice for analysis in wargames.’

Adopting a ‘deep, not broad’ approach accords with the Connections purpose, which is to advance and preserve the art, science and application of wargaming. So, this year we will concentrate on the ‘how to’ of wargaming, from design through execution and analysis to refinement. Expert speakers will talk in detail about the practicalities of designing and delivering wargames, and will include best practice and lessons identified, both positive and negative. The Games Fair and various breakout sessions will give you a hands-on experience of a large number of game designs and tools, and there will be plenty of time to network with many of the world’s best wargamers.

Three points the organisers would like to add:

  • The ‘High North’ was briefed last year by the UK MOD’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC). This remains a topic of interest for Defence. Games that feature the ‘High North’ would be most welcome at the Games Fair. DCDC’s presentation is at
  • There were a number of requests in the survey to feature the psychology of wargaming, human decision-making and such like. Rather than try to squeeze that – large and significant – topic into the 2018 conference, we are considering devoting most or all of Connections UK 2019 to this.
  • Games selected to be shown at the Games Fair will qualify for one free place per game. Conference fees for all three days will be waived.

Connections UK 2018 details

  • Connections UK purpose. Advance and preserve the art, science and application of wargaming.
  • DatesTuesday 4 – Thursday 6 September 2018.
  • Venue. Kings College London, The Strand, London, UK.
  • Cost: no change from 2017 (and 2016!): £60 for the megagame/Introduction to wargaming day; plus £135 for the two main days. Connections UK is not for profit; the cost covers administration and food, which is provided.
  • Themes. ‘How to’ wargame. Best practice, in-depth insights, and lessons identified in the wargame ‘steps’ below. You will note a striking resemblance between these and the MOD Wargaming Handbook, which can be downloaded at
    • Design.
    • Development.
    • Execution.
    • Analysis.
    • Validation.
    • Refinement.
  • Key note speakers: Volko Ruhnke and Brian Train. We are extremely fortunate that Volko and Brian, two of the world’s leading wargame designers, have agreed to help us. Straddling recreational and serious gaming, and with decades of award-winning and high-profile game design behind them, they will participate in multiple plenary sessions, as well as deliver the key note address. For any who don’t know Volko and Brian:

Volko Ruhnke is a game designer with three decades of experience in the US intelligence community. He most recently served as an analytic instructor, making extensive use of boardgames in the classroom. He also is an award-winning creator of numerous commercial wargames, such as GMT Games’ COIN Series about insurgency and counterinsurgency.

Brian Train has been designing conflict simulation games for the civilian market for over 20 years, with over 45 published designs to date. His articles and games have been published by a wide range of large and small firms. His special interests in game design are irregular warfare, "pol-mil" games, concepts of political influence in games, and asymmetry in games generally. In his spare time, he is an Education Officer in the Ministry of Advanced Education of British Columbia, Canada.

  • Outline. Some details remain to be confirmed, but the conference structure should look like that shown below. The left-hand column includes the themes, or wargame ‘steps’, mentioned above, and shouldn’t change much. The right-hand column includes topics drawn from your feedback survey suggestions. These will be refined as we confirm speakers and chairs.

Day 1. Tuesday 4 September
Introduction to wargaming for newcomers
This will be an entirely separate event to the megagame, with a series of games interleaved with talks
This will be an engaging and fun ice-breaker on a serious and contemporary topic.
Component production
Informal evening session.
Day 2. Wednesday 5 September
Relating the conference structure to the MOD Wargaming Handbook wargame process.
1. Dilemmas and Trade-Offs in wargame design.
2. Serious wargame design.
3. Design factors and choices.
1. Game mechanics and processes.
2. Play-testing and Test Exercises.
3. Scenario development.
(Look forward to Execution)
Scenario execution.
Games Fair session 1
Key note address
Volko Ruhnke and Brian Train.
Games Fair session 2
Day 3. Thursday 6 September
1. Wargaming uses.
2. Wargaming Case Study.
(3. Facilitation will be covered in a grand finale; see below).
4. Adjudication.
5. Automation – break out and demonstrations.
1. Analysing wargames.
2. Data capture.
3. Lessons identified from the analysis of the 2017 Dire Straits megagame.
1. Validating wargames.
2. Applying wargaming lessons identified to the real world.
1. Making wargames better.
2. Sharing best practice.
Facilitation (from Execution)
Hands-on learning experience.

 Please reply to me with any questions. Registration details will follow presently.


Graham Longley-Brown
Connections UK Co-organiser


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Seem to be getting a lot of hits from servers based in France and Russia for this!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Not so much from China (yet - or are they pretending to be French)