Governmental Role-Play:

Kaotian Crisis


Bruce Patton

Two-team, ten-party international crisis negotiation between U.S. and "Kaotian" military and security officials to address Kaotian seizure of an American vessel and the ensuing military crisis


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
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This case is modeled on the Cambodian seizure of the Mayaguez in 1975. The American-registry merchant container ship Youraguez has been seized five miles off the coast of an uninhabited island claimed by both Kaotia and Dominia. Kaotia has seized and released 23 other vessels in these waters in the last five years; only one American. The situation is complicated, however, by the bitter civil war in Dominia. Kaotia, which favors Eastern Dominia, has publicly accused the U.S. at the U.N. of basing CIA operatives in remote Kaotian mountain sites, but has presented no proof. Western Dominia, supported by the U.S., is unexpectedly facing military collapse and catastrophe. The U.S. is using all available means to evacuate personnel and equipment before the end; the Youraguez undoubtedly contains military equipment from the evacuation. The crew is en route to the mainland, with no allied forces close enough to reach the scene (except jet fighters). An update further complicates the situation and the potential consequences of action.



The exercise is usually conducted with American and Kaotian teams of 5 or more players each. Typically each team has 1 hour to analyze the situation and formulate an approach, including any message they want to communicate to the other side. At the end of the hour, the instructor simultaneously passes these messages and delivers the factual update that moves the time frame forward 12 hours. Usually the exercise continues with a 45-minute period to formulate a second “move,” including any further message, followed by a final 30-minute period with one or more final messages. Alternatively, the free movement of messages (still delivered by the instructor, however) can commence immediately after the first hour. Additional time can easily be accommodated ; the exercise could be run over several weekly classes, if necessary, but it might lose its sense of immediacy.



  • This case highlights how easy, but counterproductive, it can be to react without careful analysis to a seeming provocation.
  • Also illustrated is the importance of formulating an objective and analyzing whether it can be achieved by self-help or whether it requires a decision or change of attitude by the other side. If self-help is unrealistic, then an effective action plan should be developed and judged in terms of its effect on the other side’s perceptions.
  • The large teams inevitably make group process a major issue in debriefing the case. How should a group organize itself to avoid group-think and stil achieve quality analysis efficiently?
  • Effective analysis can produce dramatically superior results in this case for either party. When more than one set of teams play, comparisons are illuminating.



For Kaotian team:

  • Memo to file of the Kaotian Central Security Committee
  • Update to Kaotian Central Security Committee
  • Confidential instructions for Kaotian team members:


Confidential Instructions for the Kaotian team members:

  • Representative of Kaotian Ministry of Internal Security
  • Representative of Kaotian Foreign Ministry
  • Representative of Kaotian Military
  • Representative of Kaotian Communist Party
  • Representative of Kaotian Intelligence Agency


For U.S. team:

  • Meme to file of the U.S. National Security Committee
  • Update to U.S. National Security Committee


Confidential Instructions for U.S. team members:

  • Representative of U.S. State Department, Legal Advisor’s Office
  • Representative of U.S. State Department, Political-Military Affairs
  • Representative of U.S. Chief of Staff
  • Representative of U.S. Defense Department
  • Representative of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency


Teacher’s package includes:

  • All of the above
  • Teaching notes



BATNA; Communication; Communication, public v. private; Compliance; Credibility; Currently perceived choice analysis; Education, as a means; Force; Group process; Group-think; Interest analysis; Issue control; Linkage; Meaning of “success”; Media; Meeting design; Message analysis; Partisan perceptions; Precedents; Self-help; Threats; Yesable propositions

Kaotian Crisis Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 10
Teams involved: Yes
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: Yes