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A Game of War & Strategoes

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A Game of War & Strategoes

Post  henridecat on Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:48 pm

Discussion copied from the Yahoo group

A silly question, I'm sure, but my introduction to KS was "A Game of
War" (which I'd love to see again), and I was wondering what ruleset
was used?

Bryn Monnery
Hi Bryn

This was a series of 3 TV programs presented by Paddy Griffith and Arthur Harman several years ago.

Arthur is a member of this Yahoo group, but I think he is under a lot of work pressure at the moment. I dare say he will respond, but you may have to be patient. Am seeing him in a few days and will mention your question if he hasn't commented by then.

Martin James
Hi Bryn

Here is a belated response to your question. I originally tried Arthur, but he remains submerged under a ton of work, so asked Paddy instead. Here is his response.

"Oh Crikey - that was almost exactly ten years ago, and in any case Arthur was the one in charge of the rules. I know they were a simplified version of one of the 19th century kriegspiels (an American one?) - but alas it's all on my other computer which is broke & inaccessible. Very sorry. But in any case the SPIRIT of the game was free KS rather than the use of rules.

No wargamer worth his salt should be unable to devise a simple system for comparing the (physical & mental) strengths of forces in presence, as well as their type, adding a factor for posture (defending, attacking, cavorting &c) and then rolling a die to resolve it. I seem to remember that there were half a dozen possible outcomes ranging from 'both sides go to ground with light casualties' to 'Total rout of the defending force with light casualties to the attacker' (or vice versa). - ie it's Elementary, my dear Reisswitz!

Please can you pass this on to Bryn?"

If Paddy is correct about the rules being based on an American 19th C k/spiel, I would guess that it was the 'Strategos' rules. These were devised by a US army officer, and published in 1880. Arthur did write an article on them in the newsletter many years ago, and has occasionally used the combat system for games with our group. Quite neat. Richard may have some details on the website, but I'm not sure.


I have a copy of the Strategos rules, though frankly I think they are overcomplicated. They do include some devices to assist the umpire/player with the math, but that I think just reflects the designers over-thinking of his system. What is really of interest in the rule set is the additional background data provided that provides insight into what the designer was thinking and on the warfare that is being replicated in the rules.

Robert A. Mosher
Can you elaborate on the overcomplication & background data please Robert?

I've never read the rules, and Arthur's original KN article was pretty brief.

The background data was collected in the Appendices organized into twelve sections plus tables and charts. These included such things as various tables on casualties suffered during the American Civil War, tables of fire taken from firing range data for the .45 calibre Springfield rifle, Gatling gun, 12-pounder gun, Hotchkiss Revolving cannon, and information about the strengths and installations associated with the American military.

The complications included using a table to help determine what table to use to resolve combats and other events within the game, as well as multiple tables to determine what a game unit can or cannot do within a specific situation or within a given turn. STRATEGOS was reportedly designed in complete ignorance of Kriegsspiel and other wargames of the period (Totten and Livermore appear to have sniped at each other over the relative novelties and qualities of their respective game systems.)

I think what contributed to Totten's design problems (in addition to the apparent ignorance of what any other game designers were doing) was that he was trying to design a complete game system that would support a whole family of games ranging from tactical to operational/strategic games - including a "siege" game for the artillery.

Robert A. Mosher
Are those rules in print? |f not, they are well out of copyright by now, so it would be a generally useful if they fell onto a scanner and fund their way into the files for the group!

Mike Cosgrave
I bought my xerox copy from an online dealer in such rare old texts - a bit pricy for what you get. I can dig out the url if you're interested.

Robert A. Mosher
Thanks Robert. I think what Arthur gave us was very much 'Totten-light'. Just as well, it seems Smile

I would be interested - it has to be cheaper than $7,500! I googled him and found this

"Totten, Lieutenant C. A. L Strategos: the American Game of War
New York: Hartley & Graham, 1880 According to a publisher’s label on the inside of the box, the various playing pieces can be used in any of six different games. A quick perusal of the rules suggests that this is not a game for children, but for thoughtful adults truly interested in the strategies of warfare. In a printed prospectus by the game’s creator which accompanies the playing pieces, he recommends the game for Professors of Military Science and Tactics. The elaborate presentation of the game speaks to the fact that the game was very expensive when issued (priced at $75.00!), which undoubtedly restricted its sale. While definitely no more than 200 sets were issued, it’s likely that 100-200 sets were issued, and quite probable that never more than 100 were issued. A remarkable game of military strategy, unlike any we have seen before (MILITARY GAME) . Incredible boxed game created by Lieutenant C. A. L. Totten of the United States Army, and designed to be used in teaching strategies involved in warfare. Includes hundreds of playing pieces, die cups with die, compass, rules, score boards for pegs, sound boards, sheets of tables for calculations, two copies each of the two manuals of play, etc.; the entire elaborately housed in a large beautiful box of American hardwood with two stackable wooden trays
Price: USD 7,500.00 other currencies order no. 124942"

The vendor is James Cummins Bookseller Inc.
699 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10065

so I suppose if you were in the area, you could go and look.

Mike Cosgrave
Mike -

Wow - what a find. This might be the only complete set in existence. All I have located up until now are the books in a few war college libraries. I wonder if he would let you actually look at it if you visited the store in New York?

Robert A. Mosher

Posts : 141
Join date : 2008-12-10

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Re: A Game of War & Strategoes

Post  henridecat on Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:59 pm


A clip featuring international sex symbol Angela Rippon, the Lili
Marlene of the wargames table.


Eamon Honan

Not to mention international sex symbols Paddy Griffith and Arthur Harman!

Can someone explain this one before I ban all and sundry as being
dangerously off-topic?

Chris Russell

Look at the clip.

The clip is of a TV shop called "Game of War" which is probably one of
the greatest shows ever crafted by the hand of mortal man.

It featured aforementioned international sex symbols Messrs Griffith
and Harman (the Montgomery Clift and the Clark Gable of the wargames
tables respectively) running Kriegsspiel in a studio, usually with
former Generals as players.

I still have wistful memories of the siege of Sebastopol, I was really
rooting for those Russians.


Yes I remember it! Sort of a low tech Time Commanders!

David Commerford
Somewhere I have the whole series on tape.

If only I could find them ...

Bob Cordery
Dear Bob, I confess to having the Crimean and Waterloo games on tape -
and I know where mine are, as I occasionally (with the curtains drawn
when my my wife and children are safely out of the way) watch them
I seem to remember they caused a bit of a furore at the time with the
toy soldier brigade, who raged about the missed oportunity of not using
figures. Thought plain markers would have been better than the bizarre
plastic 3d Risk type things that did get used. I think they only ever
made three programmes didn't they? The other one was Edgehill - which
didn't really work for me - too much control for the period I thought.

Guy Farrish
It was actually Naseby, but your point remains valid: Kriegsspiel
really doesn't suit tactical engagements in periods where
battlefield command largely consisted of riding up to a unit and
leading/rallying it oneself. One could argue that it best represents
the perspective of a Berthier, Napoleon in his later years, or
Gneisenau, rather than that of Wellington.

I'm very pleased to see that I'm the 'Clark Gable' of the wargames
world - though Alan Ladd or Audie Murphy might be more appropriate
in view of my stature - and not 'Montgomery Clift'! But perhaps
there is some subtle reference to 'The Misfits' here?

Incidentally, if you look closely at the You Tube clip, you can see
my version of the Strategos Combat Results Table...

Arthur Harman
Hello, sorry re the Edgehill/Naseby confusion - it is 10 years since I
saw that one- the reason I don't have it is simply an accidental
overtaping by a then girlfriend (at least I think it was accidental?).
I really enjoyed the series and hoped for more but alas...
As for ECW I think it could have made a good strategic/operational
level game (I think you have run several successful versions?) but as
you indicate the battlefield in this era seems to offer so few sensible
chances for intervention by the commander in this period.
Anyway, Montgomery Clift or Alan Ladd, definitely a starring role. I
for one was left wanting more.

Best wishes


when you find them, please copy them to dvd. It was never aired over here,
although I saw one episode on video at a show some time.

I will even buy you the dvd recorder if required!

Todd Mason

Posts : 141
Join date : 2008-12-10

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