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Philip Sabin

Simulating War

Studying Conflict through Simulation Games


‘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. Take its lessons to heart and play or, even better, design some wargames of your own.’

Dr Peter Perla, Center for Naval Analyses, author of The Art of Wargaming.

'War is, at its roots, a competitive human activity: it is, in the final analysis more about ‘minds’ than it is about ‘stuff’. In Simulating War Professor Sabin gets deep under the skin of this essential fact, and 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’. This book provides an accessible and genuinely useful aid not only to the academic understanding of the history of warfare, but also to the very practical and current demands of military force development, of concept and courses-of-action testing, and of training. 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.


'If I had to recommend one military history book I’ve read this year it would be Philip Sabin’s Simulating War.' Dr Brett Holman, Society for Military History.

Buy the book from Bloomsbury with an online discount here, or you may order it from Amazon here or here or from the Book Depository here.


 SimulatingWarThis is the sequel to Philip Sabin’s acclaimed work Lost Battles which uses simulation techniques to cast new light on famous Greek and Roman land engagements through a highly innovative process of ‘comparative dynamic modelling’.

In his new book, Professor Sabin focuses on simulation techniques in their own right.  He draws on the thousands of wargames which have been published over the past 50 years, and on his own 30 years of experience in designing wargames and using them to help educate both military and civilian students.  Simulating War is a thorough research study of a long neglected corpus of source material and of a valuable and underrated means of understanding conflict dynamics.  It sets wargaming in the context of established scholarly techniques such as mathematical modelling, operational research, game theory and role playing, and explains how it unites all of these approaches in a synergistic whole. 

The book contains over 150,000 words of detailed content, plus thousands of references and dozens of colour plates and text figures.  It proceeds through the following three parts:


  • Modelling War
  • Accuracy vs Simplicity
  • Educational Utility
  • Simulation Research



  • Designing the Components
  • Modelling Conflict Dynamics
  • Modelling Command Dynamics
  • Integration and Testing



  • Ancient Warfare
  • World War Two
  • Tactical Combat

War Simulation class The book’s main aim is to teach you how to research and design your own simple wargames on conflicts of your choice, just as do Professor Sabin’s own students in his MA course on Conflict Simulation.  You can use this design process to  raise new questions to enhance your understanding of the conflict, or as an innovative device for active learning with your own colleagues and students.

Simulating War is essential reading for all recreational or professional simulation gamers, and for anyone from teachers to military officers who is interested in modelling war.  Professor Sabin has been working closely with the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre of the UK Defence Academy in its own recent efforts to encourage greater use of wargaming techniques in military education and force development.

A key feature of the book is its inclusion of no fewer than EIGHT simple illustrative wargames designed by Professor Sabin for use in class, complete with rules and full colour maps and counters.  These are as follows:

- Second Punic War (multiplayer diplomacy)

- Roma Invicta? (Hannibal’s early campaigns in Italy)

- Kartenspiel (card game of Napoleonic battle)

- Hell’s Gate (the Korsun pocket, winter 1944)

- Big Week (US bombing raids, February 1944)

- Fire and Movement (WW2 British infantry battalion attack)

- Block Busting (WW2 urban combat)

- Angels One Five (grand tactical aerial dogfighting in WW2)



The book contains full colour graphics which you may cut out to produce counters and maps up to 16 inches square.  However, if you prefer, the downloads below contain graphics files which you may print out for yourself at any desired scale, or which you may use to play the simulations on your PC screen.

Simulating War was published by Bloomsbury in 2012 and in paperback in Spring 2014.  You may order the book from Amazon here or here or from the Book Depository here.  As with Lost Battles, we have also established a Yahoo! group for you to discuss the issues raised in the book. This group is flourishing, with over two thousand posts and lots of debate among leading simulation experts, so do drop in for a look.


 A deluxe boardgame edition of the Hell's Gate simulation was published in 2013 by Victory Point Games.  As shown below, this includes a full colour rule book with extensive examples of play, thick laser cut counters, and a professionally designed map. In 2015, Victory Point Games produced a similar deluxe edition of the Angels One Five simulation from the book.  For more details, and to order your copies of these deluxe editions, click here.  Videos and reviews of the games may be found here  and here.




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