UNSOC Playtest After Action Report

UNSOC = Urban Nightmare: State of Chaos. UNSOC is Jim Wallman’s latest evolution of the megagame. After the 300 player Watch the Skies the next step was multiple simultaneous and linked megagames.

I blogged about Urban Nightmare during its first run. I played as the emergency services with a friend. UNSOC is multiple cities in multiple states. Each city will have political and emergency services player teams in the same way Urban Nightmare has. There will also be state level teams covering politicals, press, emergency services and military. So far there are games planned in several locations, you can sign up to play UNSOC which runs on 1 July 2017.

UNSOC Playtest


This afternoon we played two city games (physically one in Brussels and the other in Cambridge). We also had a State Governor and a national guard player (both in Cambridge). I was the President/White House and Jim was the Pentagon. Jim and I were in our respective homes using the internet for comms.

The players in the cities had a game map with counters on it in a very traditional megagame fashion. This will continue for UNSOC. Being some distance away I couldn’t see this, and that was realistic. I got some updates by email from the Pentagon. There were also some general game updates on Facebook, mainly in a message thread.

Most of the way that I experienced UNSOC was via Twitter. I set up a temporary account @PresidentBrump to follow this, and tried to use #UNSOC when I tweeted, although I often forgot to add it. There were about four or five active people, and you can probably follow the whole game from reading their timelines. Here are some example tweets.

Lessons for UNSOC

  • The White House team probably needs some pre-programmed events to keep them busy with other things until the crisis becomes Federal
  • Twitter is good for public announcements, and OK for a 1:1 private message but not quite so good for proper behind closed doors political deal making.
  • Email is good for getting sitreps from the Pentagon players, but there probably becomes a point when POTUS needs to be in the situation room
  • The White House needs a clear method for speaking to people and communicating orders.┬áPossibly there needs to be something in the briefing materials about what communications methods will be used, and perhaps a suggested list of twitter hashtags for the game day to make it easier for people to find out what is going on.
  • There are several federal agencies that could be called on in UNSOC, not all of it is appropriate to task military players with.
  • The Federal political control needs to factor in the Senate and House views on things. There’ll be concessions needed for support to be given.
  • The President probably shouldn’t be directly played, there really aren’t that many decisions to be made. The Chief of Staff and a Press Secretary, maybe Secretary of Homeland Security or Defense could be played too if there were a lot of Federal players. When those players decide it’s above their pay grade then control can be the President.

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