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An 1894 Kriegsspiel curriculum

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Post  Annaeruo Tue Apr 20, 2021 5:46 pm

In 1894, Spenser Wilkinson, who would later become the first professor of military history at Oxford, published the book Citizen Soldiers. In this book, he advocated for the formation of tactical societies by the English Volunteer Regiments. (He had founded the first tactical society in Manchester in 1880, and before that started the Oxford Kriegspiel Club in 1876.) These tactical societies were to study tactics and play Kriegsspiels (I will write a post more in depth on tactical societies in a few weeks.) In chapter 8 of this book, “The method of study” he writes about the importance of kriegsspiel, and how one can prepare to play it. He recommendsWilkinson J. Shaw’s “The Elements of Modern Tactics” for all players to read before they play, and says that umpires should read several additional books. First they should familiarize themselves with strategy by reading “The Operations of War”, by Sir Edward Hamley. They should also read up on battles, for which he says the examples given in Sir. C. Francis Clery’s Minor tactics are the best available in english, but you should really read Kritische und Unkritische Wanderungen iiber die Gefechtsfelder der Preuszischen Armeen in Bohmen, which is only available in German. This should be read in conjunction with Du Vernois’ Studies in Troop Leading. Du vernois’ Beltrag Zum Kriegsspiel (In Translation) can also be helpful. I think that this curriculum can also help us current Kriegsspielers to prepare for a game.


Last edited by Annaeruo on Tue Apr 20, 2021 5:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Fixed links)

Annaeruo

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Post  Martin Wed Apr 21, 2021 2:41 pm

That's very interesting, Annaeruo, and thanks for posting.

I'm looking forward to you posting in more in depth on tactical societies. I wonder why the craze fizzled-out.....and when? A reaction to WW1, or was it earlier?

Martin J

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Post  alexbond Sat May 15, 2021 5:53 am

Martin,

This is a late response,

but I think Kriegsspiel died off as it's very difficult to run in person with the amount of charts and management required. Even free Kriegsspiel still has quite a bit of Umpire management.

Of course, with computers this is a cinch. I have started running games using my TTS mods and it is stunningly easy to track damage and courier messages on TTS, thanks to the ability to name pieces. . .and of course because computers are just so easy to manage heh.

Alex
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Post  Martin Sun May 16, 2021 12:43 pm

Hi Alex

Managing a traditional kriegsspiel does take organisation and hard-work. To keep the game moving you need a team of umpires. We also streamline the Reisswitz combat mechanisms to help speed things up. With an umpire-player ratio of 1:1. we are able to go at twice historical speed. On a good day Wink

I agree TTS is a real advance, and the Little Gaddesden group have started to play around with it.

Martin

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Post  alexbond Mon May 17, 2021 4:19 pm

Martin,

I don't find it terribly difficult to go fast with the amount of technology we have available. With our system of not bothering to update player tables and instead just sending them pictures and commander reports, we've been able to run games much faster and actually use (a streamlined) strict kriegsspiel rulesets - I do not agree with free kriegsspiel as I think dice are required for fair arbitration.

But since rolling and reading a bunch of dice in TTS literally takes seconds, it's not that bad. What I'd really like to do is make a script to move blocks, but I'm not good enough at scripting to do that. Maybe one day.

This also allows us to ignore any issues with player visibility of other pieces, because they will never see the master board anyway - and updating just one board is incredibly simple.

Alex
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Post  Martin Wed May 19, 2021 10:35 am

That all sounds grand Alex

I agree with you re free kriegsspiel. Not only does it introduce the risk of umpire bias, but it fails to allow for the impact of chance. The side with numbers, quality positional advantage etc did not always win historically. That said, we aim to reduce die-rolling to a minimum.

Good luck and keep going.

Martin J

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