The new Clancy & Bond, writing a book based on a game? Cool!
For people who might not know, Red Storm Rising, and possibly other Clancy and/or Bond books, were wargamed with Bond's Harpoon game. There's an article I came across a while ago called Choreographing the Dance of the Vampires, about the chapter in Red Storm Rising where the Soviets attack a US carrier group using decoys to draw off the F-14s. According to the article, Clancy and Bond and some of their wargamer friends played several versions of the scenario with Harpoon, and used the results to help write a believable and realistic narrative in the game. They knew that for plot purposes, the Soviets were going to win, but exactly what tactics would be used and how the battle could develop was something they used Harpoon to help with.
In fact the battle depicted in the book—in what by all indications became one of the most difficult chapters for the pair to plot and write—was gamed out in three separate Harpoon sessions, designated Vampire I, II, and III between December 1984 and July 1985. Vampire I is documented in a thirty-page report that contains briefing materials for both sides, detailed tables listing the ships in the NATO task force, the aircraft and ordnance available to the Soviets, diagrams of the ships’ formation, weather conditions, and so forth. There then follows a blow-by-blow account of the battle, which moves through several distinct phases, from the Soviets’ attempts to locate and “fix” the course of the NATO warships to the “outer air battle” as fighters from the carriers scramble to intercept the incoming bombers to the missile launch and resolution of the strike—which ends up leaving the NATO formation decimated. Vampire II, played in March 1985, yielded even more extensive documentation; in addition to an after-action report similar in format to the previous, there are copious players’ notes as well. This time the game appears to have moved more slowly, with the battle never reaching its climactic end-stage (despite the session lasting into the early hours of the morning). Nonetheless, the materials suggest that much of the “play” consisted in the preparatory activity by which plans were laid, forces tasked with missions, and contingencies evaluated. Clearly by this point the scope and complexity of the scenarios were straining the Harpoon system (and Bond, as the referee) to the limit. Vampire III, played out over multiple game sessions several months later, concluded with the spectacular destruction of USS Nimitz by missiles launched from a Soviet submarine.
Scrutiny of the game materials makes plain that none of the three Vampire scenarios provided the storyboard for events precisely as they unfolded in the book chapter. None were narrativized whole cloth. (Notably, the Soviets’ use of drones, a tactic which seals the fate of the NATO ships in the novel, does not appear in the game materials.) Yet the details regarding weapons systems, ranges, the relative positions of ships and aircraft—all necessary for lending consistency and coherence to the fictive engagement—were fully articulated as operable elements in the Harpoon simulation, and in that respect the game functioned as exactly the “matrix of detail” Clancy said it would.
A bit more information is available in a writeup by Larry Bond at The Wargame Vault.