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Advice for a New Umpire

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Post  Gamer2000 Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:12 pm

I have been reading through the kriegsspiel rules and working through some situation solo and I think I have a grasp of the system. In fact I am confident enough to run a small game for a couple of friends who have expressed an interest. What would be the best advice the forum could give a newcomer to the umpire's role?


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Post  MJ1 Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:57 pm

Be consistent and keep it fast don't get bogged down in rules. The players are not going to see all the effort taken in calculating the results so keep it snappy to keep the game rolling.


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Post  Martin Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:01 pm

Excellent advice. With just you umpiring 2 players, you may nevertheless find things take longer than you expect, so I would suggest you aim not to be too ambitious/complex with your first scenario.

If there are just 3 of you in total, you might consider having both of your friends on the same team, playing against an enemy force for which you can pre-script an outline plan.

The reason I suggest this is that the fog-of-war concerning one's opponents is only half the fiun of k/spiel. The lack of knowledge about where a part of your own forces are, whether they are winning or losing, and the commuunication lags involved as you try and communicate by messenger are very entertaining.

Of course you can be really sneaky and not tell your friends they are on the same side. That way, when they receive a message, they will assume it comes from an umpire-controlled character.

Hope that helps.



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Post  Martin Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:36 pm

I've been meaning of adding a checklist to assist new umpires, so here goes. I've no doubt forgotton some things, so please chip-in if you spot any errors or omissions......

Exclamation When designing your scenario, trying and work through some likely moves by both sides, based on the briefings you are giving them. There's no accounting for players, so you will not catch everything, but this may for example alert you to the fact that the forces are starting to close, or too far apart.

Exclamation If you can, bounce your scenario off someone. They will be less close to it than you, and may pick up issues with it.

Exclamation Make sure you have enough umpires. There's a temptation to a have too high a ratio of players to umpires, as you can then develop a richer scenario. That will only work however, if you have time to administer it. With too few umpires the game will be slow, the players may get bored, and all of your work will have been wasted. A ratio of 1:1 is a good one to aim at.

Exclamation If you are intending to appoint fellow umpires, send them a copy of both sides' briefings before the game. Also any responses from the players. If you leave it until the game to brief your umpires, they will have too much on their plate dealing with player queries to get up to speed quickly.

Exclamation Send out briefings, and ask for initial orders a few days before the game. This allows you (& your fellow umpires) to work out the marches in a calm unhurried atmosphere. It can also get the game off to a flying start, as you can often advance the clock, and work out where on the map the troops now are.

Next post will be a checkist for the day of the game.



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Post  Martin Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:17 pm

Last post was a pre-game checklist. Here are some guidelines for the day......


Exclamation Aim to get to the venue before the game in time to set up the umpire map in peace & quiet. If any of your umpires can do the same, that is even better.

Exclamation It's often a good idea to collect mobile phone numbers from attendees, particularly those who are travelling some distance. If the game is due to start, and one or more folks have not appeared, you can then at least make a more informed decision as to whether to delay or press ahead.

Exclamation Maintain the fog of war as much as you can. It is not necessary to tell the players who (or how many) are on each side, or even how many are umpires & how many players. You want them playing the situation, not the system.

Exclamation If you are playing at someone's home, space considerations are likely to mean that you have more than one player in each room. In that event consider putting players from different teams in the same room (or at least say you are doing so). That way careless talk is likely to be limited.

Exclamation Consider arming the two sides with different coloured pens. That way, the umpires can tell at a glance from which team any new set of written orders originates. A small thing, but it can ease the admin burden on the day.

Exclamation If you have more than one umpire, allocate each specific tasks. You might have one dealing with each team, although it often works better to allocate them sectors of the battlefield instead. That way most umpires only need to keep track of the situation in their own sector.

Exclamation One umpire needs to be in charge of moving the game clock forward. This sometimes involves cutting-off discussion among the umpires if it is beginning to slow things down. It's very easy for the umpires to lose themselves in an interesting situation, but however fascinating the 'eye in the sky' is for them, if the game is slowed to a crawl, it will not be for the players.

Exclamation Keep things moving generally. This is actually the most important thing of all. Better a quick combat mechanism for example than a 100% accurate one which takes 10 minutes to administer.


Exclamation An umpire map and troop blocks or counters to represent the troops. You also need something to represent each commander on the map, as his/her position will be critical in determining what he can see, and also in establishing how long messages will take to reach him.

Exclamation Player maps in sufficient detail that they can give most or all orders based on them. The maps should ideally be laminated or otherwise covered in plastic, so the players can make troops dispositions in washable pens.

Exclamation You can always call players to the umpire map for a particular situation, but you will need to cover the bits they cannot 'see' from their current location, and the whole process tends to slow the game down, so should be used sparingly.

Exclamation Paper & pens for the players to write detailed orders, or notes for themselves.

Exclamation A plentiful supply of message sheets (I think there are samples somewhere on the KN website). From an umpiring standpoint it's quite helpful if these are a different size to those used for orders, as the umpires do not need to study messages, just work out how long they will take to arrive.

Exclamation A message box can be quite useful, particularly in a game with several players. It's one of those plastic card file boxes with cardboard tab inserts. You can mark the tabs up in various time increments (we often use 15-minutes), and whichever umpire has been deputed to look after messages, just works out how long they will take to arrive, and pops them in that section of the box.

Exclamation Some means of keeping track of the game time. In the heat of play it's actually quite easy for the umpires to loose track of the time. We sometimes use a large plastic child's play-clock. Alternatively you can just write the current time on the umpire map if it is plastic-coated.

Exclamation Any charts & tables you need in ready-reference format. Do not attempt to hunt through a rule-book (even Reisswitz) when trying to umpire a game. It just takes too long.

Hope that helps, and please can experienced players pipe-up with whatever I've missed.



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