Designing Tactical Games Course

Designing Tactical Games

Designing Tactical Games Course

24-26 September 2024
1000 to 1800 ET
3 Day Course
On-line (Zoom)


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The MORS Designing Tactical Games Short Course is a three-day course that focuses on building tactical games. Tactical games deal with maneuver and combat during individual battles. This requires the game designer to manage large numbers of complex variables in ways that allow the players to make the appropriate Warfighting decisions. Whether this is done using computer or manual techniques, it demands no small degree of simulation—the interaction of forces, the effects of human factors and technology, and the effects of the environment on combat. Any good wargame strives to produce realistic adjudications and outcomes, but the realism of tactical games is tested even more stringently because the players can more easily relate game mechanics and adjudication to their own personal experiences. All of this makes designing tactical games different—and even more challenging—than designing operational or strategic games. This class will examine some of these challenges and possible solutions in both theoretical and practical terms.

Please note: this course is not intended to be an introduction to wargaming. For an introduction, please refer to our Certificate in Wargaming.



  • Our expert instructors will address tactical games according to the different combat domains: ground, naval, and air. Participants will learn varying aspects of game design and explore future challenges from these perspectives, including but not limited to:
  • Designing exploratory games—that is, games to create or test new tactics, weapon systems, or operational concepts
  • Ground games:
  • How good design must address basic concepts such as mission, time, space, forces, and command relationships
  • How to bring all the variables together to create a realistic tactical environment for players to engage in ground warfare
  • Different ways of representing ground combat based on a wide range of commercial and professional games
  • Air and Naval games:
  • Integration of multi-domain operations (MDO) from space to surface into the overall air-battle kill chain
  • How do build games that focus on air combat operations, and air combat operations in support of ground forces
  • Methods for abstracting and estimating air combat values
  • Putting ordnance on not only the target, but the entire kill chain, from identification to battle damage assessment
  • Additional topics, depending on participant interest


Learning from Commercial Games
Tactical Games Variables (sight, terrain, control, time, distance, etc.) Multidomain Operations at the Tactical Edge
Gaming the Air War in a Joint, Multi-Domain, Environment
Designing Operational Air Games
Airpower in Operational Games
Air to Air (1v1) Games and Adjudication
Designing Modern Naval Games
Building Blocks of Modern Naval Games (Time, Systems, Operational Control)

Confirmed Instructors



Mr Phil Pournelle
Phil Pournelle

After 26 Years in the Navy, and eight years conducting Net Assessments, Mr. Pournelle joined Group W. He constantly seeks to analyze national defense strategies and conduct Net Assessments employing multi-method approaches.

Mr. Pournelle has extensive experience in analytic and managerial aspects of strategic studies within the national security apparatus. His national security experience includes expertise in contingency planning, wargaming, modeling, simulation, & analysis and assessment and he received his Master's degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Operations Research.


Mr. Paul Vebber
Mr. Paul Vebber

Specialties: Wargame Design, Execution, and Analysis; Operations Research; Concept Development & Experimentation; Philosophy and Application of Complexity Science

To employ over 30 years of military operations, operations research, and wargaming experience in support of the development of an effective undersea warfare force through the disciplined application of both analytic and synthetic methods within the "Cycle of Research" (Perla 1990) framework. Read More

Air and Special Forces:

Dr. Ed McGrady
Dr. Ed McGrady Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for New American Security Instructor and Course Coordinator on Gaming, Military Operations Research Society Principal, MonksHood Media LLC

Dr. McGrady writes, speaks, and teaches on the design of professional games. He is an adjunct senior fellow in gaming at CNAS, teaches and manages game design courses for MORS/Virginia Tech, and runs a business devoted to using games and game techniques to bring innovative experiences in new areas. His recent book, Roll to Save: Gaming Disease Response, describes designing games in support of public health professionals. Read More


Register Payment Options

The "Invoice Me" option can only be used for the registration fee. This option won't appear if you have social tickets, CEU courses or tutorials in your cart. If you need assistance registering please contact Ms. Sarah Madonia,

Register Now, Pay Later:

Take advantage of the option to register now and pay later with the “invoice me” option at checkout. The "Invoice Me" option can only be used for the registration fee. This option will display in the credit card dropdown menu on the checkout page. It won't appear if you have social tickets, CEU courses or tutorials in your cart. If you need assistance registering, please contact Ms. Sarah Madonia,

Employer Member Non-Member
MORS Government Sponsor*  $1,620  $1,680
U.S. Federal Government  $1,680  $1,740
National Research Partner
(IDA Employees Only)
 $1,653  $1,710
 All Others  $1,740  $1,800

*Government Sponsor organizations include: Center for Army Analysis, HQDA/DCS Program G-8; Marine Corps Combat Development and Integration; Naval Operations, N81; Secretariat of the Air Force, Studies and Analysis SAF/SA; OSD, A&S; and DHS S&T/OSE/ORA