Tactical Decision Games

What is it
How do I develop it
How do I implement it
What is the benefit to my students
Tactical Decision Games (TDGs) are simulation exercises, high pressure and time limited, where one or more participants are expected to function in the role(s) they are practicing and function appropriately within the specific simulated situation. TDGs have been utilized by the military for many years and have found increasing usage in the wildland fire community. The wildland fire course called Simulation Development and Delivery classifies TDGs as Functional Simulation Exercises.

TDGs provide a simple, adaptable, and effective method of repeatedly challenging a firefighter by requiring a solution to the situation and the ability to communicate it in the form of clear instructions, the firefighter will gain precious experience and skill in actual tactical decision-making. Experience gained through TDGs can be drawn from in real-ife situations much like experience gained from real-life situations.

A Tactical Decision Game can be presented as a sandtable exercise (STEX), utilize other simulation platforms such as Google Earth, or be imbedded within a Staff Ride. Other uses are possible as well.

Fire TDGs typically have important background information that gives the participant(s) an idea about fire behavior and previous events in the scenario. Some of the information may be delivered to the participant(s) verbally, some may be presented through the simulation platform(s). After the background information has been delivered the thrust of the action moves from the facilitator to the participant(s) as they take over the situation in their simulated role.

Often TDGs require a low facilitator to participant ratio - 1 to 8 or less - to be most effective. Because of this, if TDGs are used in conjunction with a regular class,  several facilitators may be required to engage all the students in the class.

The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program web site has a Tactical Decision Games Library. At the site you will find:
  • More information about TDGs
  • Links to some helpful TDG references, including templates to use for developing your own TDGs
  • A link to upload your TDGs to the Library
  • A library of previously uploaded TDGs in a variety of different settings from initial attack to large fire, different fuel types, for different firefighter positions.

this brief write up was prepared by Paul Fieldhouse at NRTC - please contact him if you questions or comments