The idea of turning the violence of war into a game seems self-contradictory, yet despite this fundamental contradiction, or perhaps even because of it, games about war continue to grow in popularity. Until now, however, books on the subject have focused either on the recreational side of wargaming or on its military application. Here, Peter Perla presents the first genuine synthesis of both aspects, drawing on his own longtime experiences as a gaming hobbyist and a professional wargamer, in the U.S. defense community. Such a dual, inside perspective is unique among authors and enables him to offer a thorough evaluation of the two arenas, their similarities and differences and their influence on each other. This book provides the most comprehensive and coherent discussion and analysis of wargaming ever written. Avoiding the sensationalism and superficiality of other works on the subject, it carefully explains the nature of the tool - the wargame - and the process of using it - wargaming. It argues for a better balance between professional realism and hobby playability and for increased cross-fertilization to educate and enlighten users. Perla looks first at the history of wargaming in both its hobby and professional incarnations, and especially at its use by the Naval War College. He then draws on historical experience to define the fundamental principles of what wargaming is, and what it is not, and describes the subjects that wargaming is most useful for exploring. He also suggests how best to take advantage of its capabilities and downplay its limitiations. Finally, he examines current trends in wargaming in light of those historical perspectives and theoritical principles and projects into the future.