Gaming the Future with #NextWar: Kaliningrad Fires

The Next War series on The Strategy Bridge publishes decision games designed to help military professionals visualize and describe the changing character of war and warfare. The games all consist of the same format:

  • An overarching situation and objective

  • An assessment of the enemy in terms of their disposition and composition

  • A space to articulate how players would approach the situation in terms of a central idea, necessary capabilities, and spatial and temporal dimensions (e.g. deep, close, security or shaping, decisive, etc.)

  • A course of action (COA) graphic and narrative

The games are designed to be short thought experiments that fit easily into training schedules. Individuals should take no more than one hour to complete the game and then one hour to compare results with other players in a group setting. These games can be used by military professionals in tactical units, from battalion to brigade, as well as on larger staffs to practice operational art and define new theories of victory. The wargames are experiments in which professionals can test their ideas (i.e. COAs = hypotheses) and identify candidates for further concept and capability development. By exchanging findings with the larger military professional network, practitioners crowdsource military innovation. Wargame results can be sent to

None of the games published as part of the #NextWar series is a government-endorsed prediction of a future war, much less a policy recommendation. Rather, they are imagined scenarios—scenarios the authors hope NEVER happen, to be frank, but designed to help military professionals think about new concepts and capabilities.

Scenario #1 - Kaliningrad Fires

In this decision game, you are the lead elements of a NATO force sent to stop a Russian force from securing key terrain in the opening stages of a conventional fight. The game is designed to assist players in thinking through how to use fires in the defense to disrupt an adversary. You should assume the lead echelon of the advancing Russian force is just that, the lead echelon and likely to be followed by a larger force.

The concepts and capabilities you are testing are fictional and not a current program of record or prototype. The Advanced Artillery System is the brainchild of MAJ Dan Mahoney (USA) based on his work in the Marine Corps University, Advanced Studies Program (ASP) as a part of a study on Manned-Unmanned Teaming.


  • How would you integrate a Manned-Unmanned Teaming artillery swarm with attack aviation and ground units assuming hasty defensive positions?
  • How would you tie into terrain to create a defensive line

Be creative!

Game materials are available for download in PDF and PowerPoint formats.

Daniel Mahoney is a U.S. Army officer and a student at Marine Corps University’s Command and Staff College. He is a Field Artillery Officer who has served as a Company, Battalion, and Brigade Fire Support Officer, as well as a Battery Commander.

Benjamin M. Jensen is an Associate Professor at Marine Corps University, where he runs the Advanced Studies Program, and a Scholar-in-Residence at the American University, School of International Service.  He is the author of Forging the Sword: Doctrinal Change in the U.S. Army

The views expressed are the authors' and do not reflect the position of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

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Header Image: New AM General 105mm lightweight self-propelled howitzer at at AUSA 2016, Association of United States Army Exhibition and Conference, in Washington D.C.