On Wargames and War: Modelling Carl von Clausewitz’s Theory of War

Ville Kankainen, Ilmari Käihkö

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The stated purpose of Carl von Clausewitz’s magnum opus On War, in which he presented the most comprehensive theory of war to date, was educational. Clausewitz saw that proper education departed from theory and concepts, which students were encouraged to reflect over and clarify. Although their common use in pedagogy, wargames often continue to struggle with incorporation of the seven factors always present at war in Clausewitz’ theory – violence, friction, chance, politics, trinity, victory and ethics. As a result, many games offer a rather conventional understanding of war that does not match reality. This chapter investigates how Clausewitz’s theory of war has been modelled in two popular ‘commercial-off-the-shelf’ tabletop wargames: Twilight Struggle and Paths of Glory. Based on an analysis of how the seven concepts of war have been modelled in these games, the chapter discusses how Clausewitz’s theory of war can be used to improve the pedagogy of war.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRepresenting Conflicts in Games
Subtitle of host publicationAntagonism, Rivalry, and Competition
EditorsBjörn Sjöblom, Jonas Linderoth, Anders Frank
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781003297406
ISBN (Print)9781032278278
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2022
Publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Game Studies


  • Clausewitz
  • Wargames
  • Games
  • Game Studies
  • War Studies

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3


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