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simulation rules


(Winter 2020 edition)


The Brynania simulation is intended to recreate many of the issues, challenges and operational dilemmas confronting real-life decision makers concerned with war-to-peace transitions. Participants (or teams of participants) will assume the role of the various parties to the conflict, regional actors, selected external states, international organizations and NGOs. The preparatory phase will begin at 09h00 on March 18 The simulation itself will take place from 12h00 on March 25 until 12h00 on April 1. There is no class on March 2 (SIM recovery day). There will be an in-class simulation debriefing on April 6.

The simulation is largely conducted by email, supplemented by occasional face-to-face or online meetings. In addition, a variety of critical resources are available via the web. I will act as game moderator/referee (“Control”)

There are two central rules to remember:

Control is omnipotent. All simulation actions–deploying military personnel, engaging in combat operation, transferring or expending financial resources, undertaking relief initiatives, and so forth–are excecuted by emailing an appropriate message to me. If you can’t do what you’re asking to do, you’ll usually be told (unless you ought to have known better, in which case it will probably all go horribly wrong).

Control is omniscient, or is supposed to be. Thus, all communications must be CCed to me. Failure to abide by this rule is to invite a string of really bad luck. In the case of major face-to-face or online meetings, I’ll try to attend many of these. If not, you should either tape it for me, or send me a summary within 12 hours. Please include the preface SIM in ALL email communications, otherwise it will slip past my email filtering software.


During the preparatory phase participants may engage in pre-SIM planning. Internal meetings may be held by members of the same state/organization (for example, US players may meet, or members of the Brynanian government, or UN actors), and future meetings may be arranged/scheduled. However, no humanitarian or military activities can be undertaken during this run-up, and no meetings or emails may be exchanged with people outside your group.

Once the simulation starts, each “day” of real time will represent one “month” of simulation time. Accordingly:

  • March 25 = April 2020
  • March 26 = May 220
  • March 27 = June 2020
  • March 28 = July 2020
  • March 29 = August 2020
  • March 30 = September 2020
  • March 31 = October 2020
  • April 1 = November 2020

By convention, the real hour of the day equals the simulated “day” of the “month”. Hence 12h00 on March 29 (real time) = “June 12” (Cyberian time), or 15h00 on March 30 (RT) = July 15 (CT).

In order to allow Control to get a reasonable amount of sleep during the simulation, no emails may be sent between 20h00 and 09h00 on weekdays, and between 18h00 and 10h00 on weekends (including Friday night). Also, in fairness to other participants, meetings should not normally be held at times outside curfew hours.

On March 26, (face-to-face) meetings are scheduled during class time (16h35) for the UN Security Council in the classroom. You may arrange other in-person or online meetings as you wish, but remember the rule about informing Control.


Communication is primarily carried out by email, and by a simulation listerv ( that circulates to all players. As noted above, it is essential that all email correspondence be copied to Control.

Players may use group chat functions (Facebook, Skype, etc.), but must either periodically send a transcript to Control or add Control to the group conversation. Do not use videoconferencing or group chat applications to circumvent the complications of setting up meetings—real peace conference do not occur via social media.

News items and press releases should be sent to Anything sent to the list will immediately be distributed to all other players. Public opinion players may not post to the list. Some actors may need to pay to post material to the list.Listserv posts should be in plain text—attachments can impose a heavy burden on the list server, causing a serious slow down for all McGill users.

In conducting simulation business, keep your official correspondence clear and professional. Also, be sure to identify the addressee(s) in text of the message itself. The following are examples drawn from the 1997 version of the simulation. The first is an official message between the then President of Brynania and the UN Special Representative; the second is an Amnesty International fundraising appeal.

From: President Jose Hamra (GoB)To: Dominique Orsini (UN SRSG)CC: Gerry Yemen (US DoS) CC: God Mr. Orsini,This morning I received an urgent report from the McGilldishu command of the Armed Forces of Brynania. The PFLZ's brutal and aggressive siege of the city has created an unbearable humanitarian situation for McGilldishu's population. The continuous PFLZ violations of the cease-fire brokered by your efforts are putting the Peace Conference on the brink of a total failure. Humanitarian and food aid to McGilldishu's population has been subject to several attacks by mines planted on the main N-S highway.The participation of the Government of Brynania (GoB) in your peace efforts cannot continue under these conditions. Hence, GoB participation in the Peace Conference will depend of the following:1.- Withdrawl of the PFLZ forces from the McGilldishu area, including heavy weapons,2.- Mine clearence from the N-S highway.3.- Verification of the cease-fireI have to reiterate that any failure of the Peace Conference will depend on the PFLZ's actions,Sincerely,President Jose Hamra
 ZAHRA AL-ZAHRA DISAPPEARED!! SHE NEEDS YOUR HELP--SO DO WE. "The children--we embrace them with barbed wireThe children--we feed them with poisonThe children--we play with them on fields of cindersSoon our children will love us with guns."--Zahra Al-Zahra Zahra Al-Zahra is Brynania's most outspoken poet. She has continually criticized not only the government's anti-Zaharian policies but all human rights abuses that have occured during her country's 13-year civil war. She has spent 7 of the last 10 years in jail. There was never a charge, trial or conviction.Zahra Al-Zahra was taken from her home where she lives with her mother and 2-year old son. Her whereabouts are unknown. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is working to find her and ensure her safety.WE NEED YOUR HELP!! There are hundreds like Zahra--disappeared and unheard from. There are thousands more who are political prisoners, held in detention without charge or trial. There are hundreds of thousands more who are prisoners of war, held in lifethreatening conditions. Please help AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ensure their safety and fair trial.AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL does not discriminate on the basis of colour, sex, ethnic origin, language or religion.PLEASE DONATE NOW. We desperately need your help to ensure that Zahra's voice will remain heard.DONATIONS to Amnesty International's BRYNANIA APPEAL should be sent to .

It is essential that everyone use email in a responsible way: posting from anonymous address, spoofing of return addresses, stealing of email addresses, or anything similar will NOT be permitted. Violation of the rules in this regard (or the McGill Code of Conduct) will result in immediate termination from the simulation.


All geographic references in the simulation should use the map below. All grid references by Control will refer to this map (click to enlarge).



Although the rules that govern humanitarian assistance and NGO and IO operations may seem complicated at first, they aren’t really. However, they do require some accurate record-keeping on your part.

In the simulation, the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance is carried out by three sets of actors:

  • UN actors (UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF)
  • NGOs
  • the Government of Brynania

All of these actors will be assigned a certain budget at the outset of the simulation. Additional fundraising will be required, however.


Resources can be acquired from donor agencies and from private contributions. In order to receive funds, the donor must send an email to the recipient noting how much money is being transferred, the currency, and any conditions on its use. A copy of this “cheque” (see below) must be sent to Control, or the transaction is void.


To: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


From: Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)

Pay to the order of UNDP the sum of CAD$150,0000, for UNDP's "Seeds for Guns" civilian disarmament programme.

The Government of Brynania, the PFLZ, and the FPA also derive revenues from the control of various border crossings (highways, airports, ports), towns, and strategic points:

location value (per month) control (at start of sim)
Icasia-Brynania border (I1) $50,000 PFLZ
Icasia-Brynania border (D2) $50,000 government
Icasia-Brynania border (A4) $50,000 government
Icasia-Brynania border (B10) $50,000 FPA
Ruritania-Brynania border (F13) $50,000 government
Ruritania-Brynania border (L6) $50,000 none–closed by PFLZ, Ruritania
Aiku, Biku, Ciku, Diku $50,000 each government
Zahrville $50,000 PFLZ
Hamraville (airport) $150,000 government
Mcgilldishu port $200,000 none–closed by fighting
Eiku (diamond mines) $200,000 FPA

Border crossings create no revenue if they are closed by military action or blockade. 

Delivery of Assistance

Relief and development efforts can’t be everywhere all the time. Instead, choices have to be made. To reflect this, Brynania and its surrounding area are divided into 30 sectors:

  • Alpha province
    • north (rural)
    • central (rural)
    • south (rural)
    • Aiku (city)
    • McGilldishu (city)
    • camp #7 (IDP camp)
    • camp#10 (IDP camp)
  • Beta Province
    • west (rural)
    • central (rural)
    • east (rural)
    • Diku (urban)
    • Zahrville (urban)
  • Gamma province
    • north (rural)
    • central (rural)
    • east (rural)
    • Biku (urban)
    • Ciku (urban)
    • Eiku (urban)
    • Hamraville (urban)
    • camp #8 (IDP camp)
    • camp #9 (IDP camp)
  • Icasia
    • north (rural)
    • south (rural)
    • camp #1 (refugee camp)
    • camp #2 (refugee camp)
    • camp #3 (refugee camp)
  • Ruritania
    • north (rural)
    • west (rural)
    • camp #4 (refugee camp)
    • camp #5 (refugee camp)
    • camp #6 (refugee camp)

In order to deliver assistance in any given sector, you must first establish infrastructure there. Infrastructure represents the administrative and overhead costs of delivering aid (hiring staff, renting offices, purchasing vehicles and equipment). As such it doesn’t directly help beneficiaries, but rather creates the capacity to operate programmes. There are three levels of aid infrastructure:

  • small (capable of delivering up to $25,000/month in assistance),
  • medium (capable of delivering up to $100,000/month in assistance)
  • large (capable of delivering up to $400,000/month in assistance)

There are costs associated with establishing, maintaining or upgrading infrastructure. Normal infrastructure upgrades take place next month, and you may only upgrade by one level per month. At a higher (triple) cost you may undertake emergency upgrades, which become effective immediately.

If you fail to maintain infrastructure, it is eliminated. The only player exempted from this rule is the government of Brynania, which may expend relief funds without maintaining infrastructure (which is presumed to already exist).

Once an infrastructure is in place, you may (the following month) begin to expend resources on relief and development. All actors will start with certain programs and levels of monthly assistance in place. These may be changed by sending an email to Control, and reflecting them in the budget you submit at the end of the month. If you don’t change your expenditure levels, they are assumed to remain the same from turn to turn.

The effect of relief expenditures varies depending on the amount spent, the design of the program (that is, you’ll be rewarded for more efficient program design), and the size of population and level of need in a given sectors. The sectors, estimated populations and reported needs are delineated on the UN OCHA web page. You may also receive periodic updates directly from your field operations (if you don’t feel free to ask for one, via Control).


Players involved in delivering humanitarian assistance must maintain a record of each month’s (“day”) revenues and expenditures. Expenses–above and beyond funds spent on actual humanitarian assistance–are listed below. Note that the amounts are for simulation purposes, and do not represent real-world costs.

  • establish (small) infrastructure: $10,000 (takes effect next turn)
  • upgrade infrastructure (small>medium or medium>large): $20,000 (takes effect next turn)
  • emergency (same-turn) start-up or upgrade costs: triple
  • maintain small infrastructure: $5,000/month
  • maintain medium infrastructure: $10,000/month
  • maintain large infrastructure: $20,000/month
  • refugee repatriation: $20/person (basic transport only)
  • field assessment mission (any three contiguous areas): $5,000

The following additional costs apply to NGOs only:

  • each external email sent: $250 (per email, not per destination)
    • first message per day free
    • all internal emails free
    • all emails to CONTROL are free
  • each meeting attended (travel): $1,000
    • all internal meetings are free
  • each Skype or instant messenger session (conference calls): $500
    • all internal IMs are free
  • advertising (Brynania googlegroup): $5,000 per item
  • modify web page: $1,000 (per day)
  • Twitter use: $1,000 (per day)
  • Facebook group: $2,000 (per day, no charge if in-group only)

There are no costs for emails or publicity prior to the first day of the simulation. If you want to do something that isn’t on the list above, email Control for the cost.

It is important not to spend more money than you have. Accordingly, players are responsible for monitoring their own cash flow, and providing full financial records at the end of the simulation. If you do run out of funds, email Control immediately.

Records should be kept using the Excel workbook here, which also includes a sample page and a list of costs. A summary of all expenditures (or, better yet, a copy of the excel workbook itself) must be emailed to Control at the end of each day. Currency conversions should be done using the conversion rates posted on the simulation website (for Cyberian countries) or at (for others).

AREA (list) infrastructure maintenance infrastructure upgrade (if any) assistance delivered subtotal
Alpha north small/$5,000 $25,000 $30,000
Alpha central med/$10,000 $100,000 $110,000
Mcgilldishu med/$10,000 up to large/$10,000 $70,000 $90,000
SUBTOTAL: program expenditures


email costs ( 12@$500) $6,000
IM costs (2@$500) $1,000
advertising ( 2 @$5,000) $10,000
meetings ( 1 @$2,000) $2,000
SUBTOTAL: communications




Item Amount
Balance Forward:
received from Canada $200,000
private donation (Jane Doe) $10,000





There are no complex rules for military engagements–simply send orders to your units (via Control), and you’ll get back reports of what transpired. Remember that real military units (as opposed to those in the movies) have limits, that information is always imperfect, and that plans often go astray. There may also be an unavoidable lag while Control waits for the response of other actors to your actions.

Military units may not normally be broken up into smaller sub-units..

In the event that a peace operation is to be organized, CONTROL will provide more detailed instructions on how this should be organized.

Insurgent actors will be allocated a limited number of covert teams in Brynanian towns and cities. These may be given orders to LIE LOW, SPY, RECRUIT, or SABOTAGE each month. These teams have a chance of being caught, depending on how dangerous the mission and how often they are used. They may not change location.


Eight countries—China, France, Germany, Russia, South Africa, Udem, United States, and the United Kingdom—will serve as members of the UN Security Council in the 2020 version of the simulation. The presidency of the UN Security Council will rotate in alphabetical order each month (turn). The president is responsible for chairing meetings of the UNSC. In the simulation, the DPA or SRSG will represent the UN Secretary-General in all UNSC meetings (which isn’t the way it really works, but there is no UN S-G in the sim). In the simulation UNSC decisions must be taken by an affirmative vote of six of the eight members, with none of the P5 members casting a veto.

The UN Peacebuilding Commission does not have Brynania on its agenda at the start of the SIM. It may choose to set up a Brynania working group, however, once a peace agreement is reached and is being implemented. The US, UK, France, Russia, China, South Africa, Germany, Norway, Canada, and Ruritania are the members of the Commission represented in this year’s SIM. Brynania would also be represented in any working group, as would UN specialized agencies, and any others that the Commission chooses to invite. Up to $1 million in additional UN assistance from the UN Peacebuilding Fund may be allocated in support on peacebuilding and development activtities in Brynania. (In reality this fund is allocated by the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, but since they aren’t represented in the SIM a different procedure will be adopted: the funds are allocated by a joint decision of DPA, DPKO, and UNDP, in consultation with the Peacebuilding Commission.) Such funds are not intended to support humanitarian relief or peacekeeping operations, but rather to support the long-term transition to peace following implementation of a peace agreement.

France, Germany, and Sweden are the members of the European Union represented in the this year’s version of the simulation. The European External Action Service serves the EU’s “foreign ministry,” with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy acting as EU “foreign minister.” 

The US must convene a G7 Summit in June 2020, consisting of the UK, US, France, Germany, Canada, and the EU. This should produce a G7 policy statement on the situation in Equatorial Cyberspace.

The “Organization of Cyberian Nations” is a regional organization consisting of all countries of Equitorial Cyberspace: Brynania, Concordia, Icasia, Ruritania, Udem, and Uqamistan. The Presidency of the OCN rotates alphabetically each month. The Secretary-General of the OCN serves the Organization’s common policies and decisions. 


Media actors (Radio Unity, Radio Democracy, the World News Service, and media postings by Control) may post to BRYNANIA email list at no cost.

Radio Unity and the WNS neither receive nor expend funds. Radio Democracy, however, must expend operational funds each month, and hence must fund-raise to survive. It need not, however, pay for emails, travel, etc.


A number of players from outside the class will be assuming the role of “public opinion.” Public opinion actors perform two main functions:

  • donate money to worthy NGOs, UN agencies, etc. Public opinion actors start the simulation with a total of $80,000 each. Each day of the SIM they make charitable donations of a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $20,000 per day. Please try to spend all of your money by the end of the simulation, and to spread it out a little (rather than donating everything to only one actor all the time). You may use whatever criteria you wish for donations, but clearly you should be trying to reward the actors that you think are doing the best job (by reading the press, listserv, etc). To donate money, simply email a simulated cheque to the actor concerned and CC it to Control.
  • express your views. Public opinion actors might write to a donor government, expressing your concerns as a citizen; to combatants, expressing your outrage at human rights abuses; or to the press.(If you do a good job in this, you might receive more charitable money to give away, or a special role.)

Public opinion actors may may not post to the BRYNANIA listserv. If they wish to have material appear on the listserv, the best way of doing so is by writing to the press (in the hope that they might publish it).

10. TIPS

In the past, students have highly rated the simulation as a learning tool. It can also be enjoyable, in an express-elevator-to-hell-going-down sort of way. However, it is also quite a challenge. These tips should help you make the best of it:

  • research your actor before the SIM starts—the briefing notes are not enough. Work out the broad outlines of your policies in Cyberia.
  • If you are in a team, the essential first step is to decide who is responsible for what. One person might be responsible for communications, for example, and another for drawing up development plans. Discuss how your team will share information and coordinate activities. Let other players know, via Control, which address (or addresses) communications should be sent to.
  • Organize your communications capabilities. We will be using McGill-provided email addresses for the SIM. Set these up with nicknames for the major actors (SRSG, Government of Brynania, etc.) so that you don’t have to continually look up email addresses. If you are one of the busier actors, you’ll need to check your email several times a day, and especially in the evening. Players are not permitted to spoof email addresses, hack accounts, use anonymous email addresses, or violate McGill’s email policy in any way. Doing so will result in immediate removal from the simulation, and a grade of zero for class participation.
  • Make use of online chat/conference software. CONTROL should be invited to such meetings, if available.
  • Use the preparatory phase to get your plans ready. If you don’t, you’ll spend much of the simulation playing catch-up. Peace mediators will have to be particularly active in this phase if they are to have a peace plan ready to propose by the start of the simulation.
  • When fundraising (as either and NGO or UN agency) it is essential to have a program to present to donors–otherwise, they probably won’t give you any money. You can make up the realistic-sounding details (check out some real NGO websites for some ideas), but the budget should reflect the amount of money you plan to spend on the initiative.
  • Stay informed. Much information will come across the course listserv, but don’t rely on this alone.
  • Stay in character. You are all meant to be operating within real-world constraints, and in the real operations foolish initiatives usually result in embarrassing press, getting fired, or–in the case of peacekeeping missions–dead people. Control will, through judicious exercise of divine powers, punish those who stray wildly from their roles.

There are a lot of other lessons about relief, peacemaking, and development activities that you should have learned from the course. Try to apply them.

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