At least for the moment..., until there is a better choice, or at least a consensus choice, I've selected Paddy Blackett for the group's Icon. As icon's go, we can find something sexier. As examples of great Ops Analysts go, we'd be hard pressed. Check out Wiki for a start:

I enjoy taking my games apart and putting them back together again. Even when I was eight and just getting started, I like conducting analysis on how to play better. Eventually, wargaming led me to selecting Operations Analysis as a major. Once I understood some of what I'd been taught, I immediately started applying it to games.

I plan on posting some of my analyses in this group. I've had trouble finding appreciative audiences in the past! And I know I will appreciate the work that others have done as well.

Using OA tools and techniques to better understand the games and game design is going down the street in one direction. But this street runs both ways.

So I'm also interested in how gamers have applied what they've learned from consim games to real world problems. At least for me, this tends to be more esoteric, but it's certainly true. However, I often find that my views are better accepted if I explain what's going on, but leave out the fact that I figured it out while playing an entertainment game.

So, please! Be welcome. Share your secret love for analysis with others who have the same dark mistress!

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Replies to This Discussion

Analysis is a dark mistress? I always thought she was a red-head. Hmmmm.
Welcome aboard, Eric! I knew you'd be one of the first.

For those that don't know, Eric has a love-hate relationship with Ops Analysts! He's run into far too many ORSAs who only turn the crank on computer models. So he wants to lump all of us into that group. On the other hand, he does know some (like me) who understand the limits of current mainstream models and acknowledge the primacy of non-material factors on the battlefield. What he doesn't buy, or at least hasn't yet, is my premise that many of these "soft factors" can in fact be quantified and studied... tho I admit that we haven't figured out exactly how in most cases.

But that discussion can wait for later. It's one of my favorite soap boxes!

For the nonce, it's going to be great having a fan who is going to be very critical.
Don and Eric,

If this makes my head hurt too much, I'll pull out Achmed the Terrorist :-)
Okay, if this wasn't a "teaser," I don't know what is....

Yeah, Don is right, I have a love-hate relationship with Ops Analysis. On the purely theoretical level, I love it. I think it's got huge possibilities. On the practical level, the Ops Analysts I often deal with drive me crazy. Mathemagicians with no concept of history. Thankfully, Don, you are blessedly NOT in that category. Neither is Rich Phares, or Peter Perla, or a number of other folks I love.

Well, soft factors CAN be modeled and studied. But it depends what uses you are putting the results and insight towards. I just have little patience for those that hope to use these insights and results predictively. Don't have much truck with that most of the time. Regarding educational uses, I'm all about it.

After all, where would the state-of-the art in wargaming be without some of the sophisticated treatments we've seen regarding leadership, command and control, morale, tactical effectiveness/proficiency, and so on? Nowhere. These advances are incredibly important and deservedly so.

For those who are real OA experts, I'll confess I'm a novice at this. Most of my OA training came when I was studying Soviet Assessment Methods in grad school. John Battilega and Judy Grange of SAIC were my professors--for some of you, that means something. Sure, most of my studies involved strategic weapon effectiveness calculations using Soviet quantitative indices and methods in support of arms control negotiations. But my real bent was on Soviet tactical Troop Control/Cybernetic theory, and that's where I really cut my teeth on OA applications (at least those I could use in wargaming!).

Just my two cents, for what it's worth.

I largely share Eric's PoV on this subject. My own background is in political science IR and formal modeling methods, so I have a fairly strong understanding of OR issues and methods.

I think that the lack of historical knowledge is only matched by their frequent lack of theoretical or empirical bases for assumptions and foundations. Garbage in garbage out is often lost on them. Now that said, I think quantitative analysis is a gold mine of opportunity, but it has to be tempered with solid understanding of the related softer sciences.
The tactical analyst lady in "Top Gun" ? A real analyst guy said she was patterned from a real lady in a real organization...
From Wikipedia's article on "Top Gun":
"There were also concerns that the lead female was not appropriate and was a stereotype; subsequently changes were made to the lead female character, Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood. She was loosely based on the real-life Christine H. Fox, a mathematician, who at the time was a representative of the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) at NAS Miramar. She briefed aircrew members for multiple types of aircraft before a series of exercises known by the name Hey, Rube!. She was later appointed as the President of CNA in March, 2004."
Thanks Mircea! Nice Research!
I am a real newbie to OA. I first started out in war game due to my interest in history over time I was fascinated by the likes of JFD and other war game designers and likewise in the detailed analysis of war game play or design has always intrigued me. Little wonder I am a technical/analysis in varying capacities in the technology world over the years.

A few years ago (I must admit my lateness to finding these and these may or may not cause a stir in the OA world) I stumbled upon a person by the name of Trevor Dupay and I purchased 3 or 4 of his OA books. It was quite interesting reading. The obvious things that I saw missing in his analysis were the FOW and psychological pieces that make up warfare.

As far as war games are concerned there are several that emulate FOW and psych elements (namely ASL) however in Advanced Third Reich I was the Axis player at one time and was getting crushed on all fronts. Mainly to make myself feel better and the fact that I am not a quitter I said to Allied player as he was planning out a massive assault that would pulverizer me and run into the oil resources of Rumania's I said ah, I got you right where I want you.. He totally freaked and stopped his planning and played cautious for a couple of turns. Afterwards I laughed when he asked what trick I had up my sleeve and said absolutely nothing.

Anyway, I hope I have not strayed to far off the path and will take a back seat to your discussions.

I don't know of any really good "real life" OA models on deception, which is the one aspect of the psychological dimension you've mentioned. It is possible that it can be handled by Mark Herman's "Entropy Based Warfare", but only his customers know for sure. (It's my understanding that this approach is still Booz Allen Hamilton proprietary, but I eagerly await the day that the cat gets out of the bag! In the mean time maybe he'll republish his original paper here!)

If one visits the MORS site ( there will be some stuff that is related to the more accessible parts of battle psychology, like concepts of suppression and other behaviorial models. Check the publications index. A more diligent researcher could also check the authors of previous symposiums and then google up their other published papers etc.

I must admit, that unless I'm being paid to do so, I seldom take the time to work thru the math. I just read over that lightly and get to the author's conclusions and recommendations. It's only when I really "need to know" that I bother with cranking thru the math myself.

In any case, this part of the topic is definitely "on topic". Deception is a crucial element of warfare and being able to exercise it in boardgames (as you did in your example) is one of the reasons I prefer them to computer AI. If you have more of an interest, please help us all out and start a discussion stream of your own on this topic! It'll be interesting to see what the professional intelligence officers (Tom and Eric) have to offer.

Thank you.

I am not familiar with the terms Entropy Based Warfare or Booz Allen Hamilton (I'll have to research these terms later today) assuming Mark wrote some type of paper.

I'll have to read through the MORS stuff more in detail (I stumbled across this a couple of years ago).

I'll do what I can on deception I have a players perspective on it from both the face to face and versus the AI. An obvious note is that the computer AI has a very hard time (if at all) of using deception. I have my theories on this and I'll write them up and post them here. Deception (again stating the obvious) comes to light in face to face gaming, the first rule is to size up your foe and determine his make-up. When sizing up your foe there are so many variables involved that it is difficult to list them out. Likewise determining the make-up is a bit easier because it is looking at the human nature elements (when he gets hammered in several locations at once the pressure causes him to only 'retreat'/'give-up' or become 'indifferent' to the situation for example). I'll try to dig into this and come up with a list and then we can pool our ideas together with all the concepts and I'll let the mathematicians try to devise some type of formula.

My work background as a computer programmer is less on math and more on a bit of logic. I started out programming databases, and that is a bit different then designing/developing applications. For example I have had more experience with interviewing customers in relation to what their database data points mean in order to understand what they are trying to get and need and then this has always helped me to understand their data system (meaning once you know what their data needs you can analyze the system that needs to hold and and either build it or recommend what they should purchase). So the reason I brought that bit of info up is I'll try later today to sift through my mind on face to face experiences and then do my analysis and categorization and present you with a list to let the group try (if possible or of interest) to develop some type of math formula to fit that model.

I would love to assist in this matter where I can.
Don Lazov - no backseat necessary, stay right up here with us!

OA is really over my head, but I like to learn from the likes of Eric and Don C (and am firends with Phares and Perla too).

While I don't have the background in math to really develop theories and models on my own, I appreciate being able to get OA types to look at problems for me, which at least gives me another perspecitve when working on my own conclusions, decisions, and recommendations.


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