Any interest in Kriegsspiel?

Dear all,

I was wondering whether anyone might be interested in trying a PBEM game of Kriegsspiel (in english).

Kriegsspiel was the first realistic wargame published (maybe the first made), by a preussian officer in 1824.

It runs in the way that one (or more) persons function as umpire(s), which is similar to a game master in a role paying game, meaning a player which is running the game and giving information to the actual players.

If there is any interest, I will consider first trying a game with me as umpire, and two players (one-on-one) - first served principle.

I have tried this a half time before, so I am not an expert - only one way to become one, namely by trying.

The game is 'realistic' in the sense, that each player is in charge or a regiment or a division, consisting of a certain number of battalions. We are talking napoleonics, obviously, since the game was made in 1824... There is a realistic map, and the units are pieces that are moved around on the map. I will use the map which was originally included, and which I have scanned and have digitally, and have made 'pieces' digitally in CorelDraw.

An interesting thing is, that the player can only see what his 'character' can see on the battlefield, eg if your character is on the top of a hill, I will include the units you can see on the map, and send situation reports with a picture including only those units. Any units, enemy or friendly, which are far away or behind hills or whatever, are simply not on the map or picture. Thus, a major part of the game is to send out scouts and reconnecence (?) patrols, in order to locate the enemy and try to judge his/hers intensions and maybe location and movement of forces. In the first game I tried to umpire, this, not knowing anything about the enemy (except for some info that will be giving at the start of the game) was a lot of fun, and very different from most game out there. One thing that caused the players some problems was to find out where they had actually sent their scouts - as soon as they were out of sight they would, of course, disappear from the map, and in a few cases they would actually send out scouts to verify that their first scouts were where they were supposed to be!

The players do not move units themselves (how should they? walk around pushing their thousands of soldiers?), their main tasks will be to send and receive messages and interpret information, and act at the right times. It is not always easy to make a few thousand people do what you want without precise orders. Long, detailed orders are also not always the solution.

Additionally, as mentioned before, the game is supposed to be realistic, so units move real distances in real time. This does not mean that the game will be real time (but by e-mail, and will not really be fast), but that all game-time is divided into turns of 2 minutes of time. Of course, if the players give good orders, and nothing major happens, many turns can go by without the players receiving information - eg units march along a road and no enemies are encountered and no reports are received from scouts - then I will let the game move, until any of these things happen. Most often, only when battle happens, time will have to be slowed down, but not always, as the players will not always be able to change what happens (eg if far away from their position, and the guns are heard before the news arrive).

Playing this system, some knowledge to actual napoleonic warfare is an advantage. If you are still interested, and do not feel you know enough, please still join, and I will give some intro info concerning formations (line, column, skirmishers...), tactics (artillery support, advanced force, ...) and orders (what to say, what to ask for, ...).

In practical terms, even I am still a beginner, and have other things to do (damnit!!), so it will not be a fast game. What this means exactly, is difficult to say, as it also depends on the players speed. But I expect that the game will take 2-3 months, with some mails per week (it cannot be every days, sorry). I dont mind this at all - whats the rush. Each players will initially receive a general status report - what is he doing there - and specific orders from higher powers (you do not start out with 80.000 soldiers under your command!) as to what is your goal and what is expected concerning the enemy. Also, you will get a list of your forces of course, and possibly some preliminary reports from spies or local people in the area (they do not have to be accurate of course). After that, the general course of the game will be the players sending their orders to the umpire, followed by the umpire continuing the game, and when whatever might happen, send a picture of what they see, a visual description and possibly received reports back to the players, and so on. The game will end when one of the players have reached their goal or the umpire decides that there is no point in continuing the game.

So, this is it for now. If anyone is interested, and importantly, are willing to invest the time (this will take quite some work for the umpire, so I also expect players to be patient), then please just let me know, and I will try to get it going.

Over'n out!


PS. I will try to add an image from the first game soon.

Kriegspiel was the great-grandfather of every boardgame and RPG played today. At the time it was introduced in Prussia military academies to the extend that the Franco-prussian war of 1870 was won by the them founded state of Germany in great part to the training the officer corps was made possible at this, so called, wargame. From here the wargames with miniatures where born and after that the detail that some rulesets aqquired in person-vs-person combat got to the RPG games. At the other end of the spectrum was the detail needed for formations and information needed on management of troops that miniatures could not accomplish (a miniature is essencially alive or death), going to the wargames of today, where in a single counter/block/etc there is information pertaining the defensive value, attack value, morale, etc etc of that single unit. In late 1990's, there where people that did like to play this kind of intelectual challengeging games, but didn't like the conflict simulations, and based on all this the eurogames where born.


... the rules are relatively simple (50-60 pages), but even better, a player doesn't need to know a single rule or detail about a unit.

All the player(s) have to do, is give orders and observe.

Players do not even know exactly how his units are perferming, their moral state or their losses.

On the battlefield filled with gun smoke, the commander/player will at best know that a specific unit that he can see are suffering heavy losses, and that they might be about to break and run. Thus, KS is different frm most other games where each player has to have a complete knowledge of rules. KS can be played intuitively, and the fact that only the Umpire is in charge of what happens, can be (as Pombeiro mentions) even be considered as a sort of RPG. In more advanced plays, there could be individual unit leaders with special skills and different levels of soldiers, meaning that you can not make any unit do whatever.


Image - dont know how this works...

Red on the march


KS - blue sneaking in on the unaware Red column


I've never played it, but I'm willing to give it a go. Am I still in time?