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Pre Horse and Musket Kriegsspiels

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Pre Horse and Musket Kriegsspiels Empty Pre Horse and Musket Kriegsspiels

Post  henridecat Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:36 pm

Discussion copied from Yahoo group
Kriegsspiel was created as a result of the experiences of the
Napoleonic Wars and the issues surrounding the movement, deployment and
battlefield control of troops en masse using map contol.

However, it is perhaps of questionable value for periods prior to Horse
& Musket. Have members any smart ideas or experoences to share for:

* periods earlier in history?
* using other materials such as figures rather than maps?

Chris Russell
I believe that it is only from the late C18 onwards that firearms become effective enough and have long enough range to produce interesting interaction among a ‘holy trinity’ of protection, mobility, and firepower – infantry, cavalry, artillery (or in the C20: infantry, armour, artillery). I think prior to that a general’s important decisions on the field are largely limited to initial deployment, whether to attack or defend, and when and where to commit a reserve if he has one. Very dull for a game that is about making decisions.

Thanks for the chance to air my own prejudices. C19 and WWII rule. ;-)

Chris Pringle
What an interesting question! I suddenly realised that I was not sure what a Kriegsspiel (KS) was as I thought that you could KS anything.

In fact, I guess the important thing about KS is that the player only has his own perspective as to what he can see and there are limitations as to how he can pass orders.

On that basis I suspect that, in principle, one could KS anything.

But apart from firepower, protection and mobility I think a crucial question is order. Having looked at the Battle of Bouvines (1214) recently it struck me that the different thing about that was that whilst there were independent commands eg the vanguard, the main body etc, the fighting, once joined was done by small groups not large formed bodies. As you say, the commander had very little control and consequently a game would not be particularly interesting once battle had been joined.

On the other hand I do wonder if that might be the case even in Napoleonic warfare, to some extent. Whether Bouvines 1214 or Craonne 1814, is not the real interest in KSing the approach march of the armies rather than the clash itself?

I remember that in Slingshot of about 20 years ago there was a game that, I think, Paddy and possibly I devised about Ancient Armies deploying. It was all about making a show outside your camp each day and trying to wrong foot the enemy. In some ways a sort of card game. As you say, the critical factor in ancient warfare was seizing an advantage in deployment because you had so little control once battle was joined.

Surely, though, battles involving approach marches in, say, 16th century Netherlands offer a lot of interest. It depends if the battle is the main thing or the attempt to get into an advantageous position vis a vis the enemy.

Sorry if this sounds like a Guardian editorial "On the one hand this, on the other hand that etc".

Andy Grainger
I agree with Andy that you can kriegsspiel just about anything, and also that the pre-battle stuff is often the most interesting.

Creating the right situation is important. You often find that the best games involve fog of war on your own side, as well as the enemy's. Where exactly is that flanking column we sent out on our right? Why haven't I heard from Brigadier Fanshaw for 2 hours? That sort of thing.

Having subordinate commands which always remain in close proximity, means you miss out on that aspect, although you still may not know where the enemy is. Perhaps the relatively small medieval armies might tend to fall into that category, as there was less need to spread out to make use of roads or for logistical reasons. Even here though, I'm sure you could come up with a scenario where the forces were split temporarily into detachments for some reason. How about an English 100 Years' War chevauchée, where our noble countrymen are dispersed plundering, without realising that the local French levies are collecting to oppose them?

Martin James
Andy, Martin,

I am a tabletop miniatures wargamer, and my prejudices come partly from seeing an infinite number of tedious line-outs between (generally unhistorical) ancient/medieval/renaissance opponents. Definitely for that period it is what leads up to and shapes the battle that is the interesting part. I once ran a memorably successful fantasy/ancients postal campaign with a dozen-plus players for 4 years real-time (22 years game-time) in which I just arbitrated the actual battles with a couple of simple die rolls – all the politicking and stratagems in between were what produced the fun.

Chris Pringle
> I agree with Andy that you can kriegsspiel just about anything, and also that
the pre-battle stuff is often the most interesting.
> Creating the right situation is important. You often find that the best games
involve fog of war on your own side, as well as the enemy's. Where exactly is
that flanking column we sent out on our right? Why haven't I heard from
Brigadier Fanshaw for 2 hours? That sort of thing.

I'd certainly agree on creating the correct situation.

However, imagine doing a *good* Kriegsspiel of a medieval battle.

Each team holds some sort of pre-battle conference. "Your group goes
here, yours is there, you do X" etc.

Then we promptly cut them off from each other. The groups get into
engagements with only limited knowledge of their neighbors. Is the
enemy moving onto your flank something your neighbor is taking care
of? You've no idea.... (My limited knowledge of medieval warfare
might be shining out here. Smile )

Might even be possible for something as limited as "Defense of
Hougomont" at Waterloo, if each player is commanding a company holding
one section of the farm and a player commanding the entire defence -
what with the fires and smoke, there's plenty of uncertainty; might
need a commander who is not present at the farm, holding
reinforcements available but needing to balance that against holding
the (somewhat abstracted?) rest of the line.

I believe that the key to any Kriegsspiel scenario is that it should
be focussed on *decisions*, not on combat resolution. As soon as the
dice are having more impact, the scenario gets less interesting.
Therefore, to keep major battles interesting, we have to alter the way
they are presented or resolved in order to move through the "boring
bits" (no decisions) ASAP in order to hit as many of the "good bits"
(interesting decisions) as possible.

James Sterrett

Posts : 146
Join date : 2008-12-10

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Pre Horse and Musket Kriegsspiels Empty Re: Pre Horse and Musket Kriegsspiels

Post  henridecat Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:20 pm


It has been very interesting to read all the replies. As I went ill
the night of my original posting I have only just got back to the

I think the main points have been cogently explored by the different
contributors. I do think that one of the core elements of
Kriegsspiel is the concentration on decisions without the
intervention of figure movement and combat resolution. Unfortunately
you need a very high ratio of umpires to make this work effectively;
players need to have information overload but my own experience is
that players generally feel they have done too little while umpires
feel they have had an exhausting schedule.

I do think that Kriegsspiel gives a much more authentic experience of
command, virile figure gamers have suddenly become cautious and
nervous (or impetuously rash) when faced with limited knowledge on
which to make decisions. More modern periods give plenty of
opportunity for this. However, can prior periods offer
possibilities. I am interested in doing a WOTR battle where the
players visibility is limited to the immediate action around them
(very limited if they get involved in personal combat). Verbal
reports could do this but is it also a suitable opportunity for
figure gaming? Of course you could do figure gaming for any
Kriegsspiel and report back to commanders but that would seem rather
pointless. My irritation with figure gaming is that it too easily
has dubious processes of decision making with a high presence of die
rolling success; I like DBA for trying to be quick and simple and
dislike the greater complexity derivatives which add nothing to game
play but tactical issues without adding to the strategic battlefield
issues. I like campaigns which is why I easily fall into Kriegsspiel
is it just avoids the time consuming tactical battles.

However, is their a bliss point at which the two can merge into
heavenly (?) experience or would it just be an irritation of styles?
At the moment I do not see an effective merger of styles emerging
from the discussion but I am interested in having more ideas.

Chris Russell

Posts : 146
Join date : 2008-12-10

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