Wheel of Misfortune

A role-playing game for incident management training.

Inspired by the Site Reliability Engineering book

Instructions


Wheel of Misfortune is a game that aims to build confidence to oncall engineers via simulated outage scenarios. With the game, you practice problem debugging under stress, the understanding of the incident management protocol, and effective communication with other engineers of your team and organization. It is a great way to train new hires, interns, and seasoned engineers to become well-rounded oncall engineers.

Terminology

Feel free to fork the repository or download the stable release.
Insert your incident scenarios into the general_incidents.json file inside the incidents/ folder. The file has the following format:

title the title of the incident.
scenario the description of the incident. It is useful to include URLs from monitoring systems, dashboards, time-series databases and playbooks.
difficulty the difficulty level of the outage.
ID the unique ID of the outage (you can just auto-increment).

However, you can also use general_incidents.jsonnet as an example in case you want to generate your incident scenarios using Jsonnet.

Game Master

  1. Choose a volunteer to be the primary oncall engineer in front of the group.
  2. Find a balance between volunteer's experience and incident's difficulty.
  3. Assist volunteer by answering questions that may arise in each theoretical action or dashboard observation.
    • Engage with the rest of the team and ask for different ways to debug the problem following the volunteer's explanation.
    • Team members may be made available over time for assistance in various topics.
  4. At the end, have a debrief on the learnings of the session.

Volunteer

  1. Spin the wheel and attempt to fix the theoretical outage scenario.
  2. Explain to the Game Master and the rest of the group what actions you would take (lookup queries, checks in dashboards, etc.) to find the root causes, and eventually solve the incident.
  3. Always keep an eye on the time, since it is simulated incident response scenario and not a routine troubleshooting process. During a real incident you might have an SLA or SLO breach and therefore you should take timing into account.
  4. Engage with the rest of the group. Keep them in the loop. Ask questions to different members depending on their expertise.

Most importantly, have fun!

You can read a comprehensive example on how to conduct the exercise here.

Resources