27 December 2009

COIN Game of the Day: Jagged Alliance 2

I wasted countless hours in college in the late 90s playing a game called "Jagged Alliance 2". It's really a bit of two games in one--a turn-based small-unit infantry tactical game, combined with a strategy aspect.

The plot of the game involves you, the player, as the head of a mercenary organization hired to lead a rebellion against an evil dictator. During the game, you need to gain the support of the population, many of whom run about the battlefield hoping to not be shot by either the insurgents or the government forces. As the insurgent, you need to undertake an "oil spot" campaign, gradually seizing terrain as you help the people of the fictional nation fight their dictator. Clearing, holding, and building upon your successes in the cities and villages, you must train militia fighters in the areas you seize in order to gradually control the entire country.

I just re-downloaded the game from Steam, and I've spent the past few hours amazed at how much population-centric COIN theory I found in this pre-9/11 video game.

Focus: Are there any other games which incorporate COIN theory?

1 comment:

Reach 364 said...

I can't answer your question, but I've thought a lot about how the military could create wargames with a COIN component--at least for the Air Force.

There was an article in the Air & Space Power Journal a couple years ago about how the AF assesses bomb damage. Basically, the AF just looks at how thoroughly our bombs destroyed the target. The author argued that we need a multi-dimensional analysis that looks not just at the target, but at the political and social consequences as well. How has the bombing changed our relationship with this or that faction, the perception of the population, etc.?

Every Air Force wargame I've played is a standard "red vs blue" scenario. In some games, a single strike destroyed the target. In other games, you did some percentage of damage, until you launched enough strikes to complete the destruction. I would love to see a game that used the BDA model proposed by this article. Maybe you have ten or fifteen factions, and to win the game, you need to either destroy each one, win it over, arrange a ceasefire, etc. Every attack you launch would change your favorability rating with each faction. If you introduced a game like that early in an officer's career--say, at the Service Academies--it would totally reshape how they think about firepower.