Monday, 20 September 2021

'Discovering' wargaming history (4*) The most enduring Prussian contribution to the art of war

This is how Jorit Wintjes introduces his 2015 paper "Europe’s Earliest Kriegsspiel?", a paper that I 'stumbled' across as a hit from an internet search around 'Kriegsspiel'. It's a most interesting read, so I was extremely pleased that this 'guided' bit of serendipity had sent the paper my way.

Wintjes' tells us about an early war game, "Kartenspiel" created by Reinhard Graf zu Solms, a Hessian who was an artillery officer and military engineer in the Imperial army in the early 16th century. In addition to being a successful soldier, zu Solms was "a man of letters". Wintjes tells us of his main work, "Kriegsbeschreibung", which was " encyclopaedic study of military science, aiming at covering all relevant aspects of warfare". It is within this work, that he produced "Kartenspiel".

Two of the images from the paper, showing troops used in the game Kartenspiel.

As the name suggests, the game is based on cards. Wintjes describes the cards used in the game, representing infantry, cavalry and artillery of two sides as well as different strengths and formations, providing some examples of each. The rules of the game are simple and relate to the disposition and formation of the troops. There are no rules specified for combat. Wintjes suggests that, while the game may have been limited to movement and dispositions alone, it is likely that a combat system existed since two sides are represented.
The "Kriegsbeschreibung" has come to us in eight complete volumes and part of a ninth. The rules for combat may well have been published (or intended to have been) in another volume.

In addition to describing the military life of zu Solms and Kartenspiel, Wintjes' paper extremely readable and edifying paper, provides background regarding von Reisswitz's Kriegsspiel, its predecesors (identified by von Reisswitz) and the impact that the game had on Prussian military training and that of other nations. I found this part of his paper as interesting and illuminating as the main topic. His assessment of the enduring importance of Kriegsspiel, that I repeated in the title of this post, is made since "...armies have used war games ever since and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future...".

The paper is available as an 'open publication', for any and all to download and to read. It is worth doing so if you are interested in the history and impact of wargaming, in both hobby and professional capacities.

*I have not forgotten my 'counting skills', the third instalment in this 'series' is on my other blog, for anyone interested.


Wintjes, J (2015) Europe’s Earliest Kriegsspiel? Book Seven of Reinhard Graf zu Solms’ Kriegsregierung and the ‘Prehistory’ of Professional War Gaming. British Journal for Military History 2, 15-33.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

'Discovering' wargaming history (2) Getting 70–80% of the way there

In my previous post I mentioned my amazement, embarrassment and delight at 'discovering' the 1824 Kriegsspiel rules*. I was particularly taken by how different they are from my previous understanding, which I now realise was based on descriptions of the later 'free' Kriegsspiel. In this follow-up post I will outline some of the key mechanics in the rules and why, in reading and studying these rules more, my initial amazement and interest has changed to considering that they will get me 70–80% of the way there (perhaps even more).
*In looking up links and references for this post and Kriegsspiel in general, I came across a recent paper by Jorit Wintjes about an earlier, non-chess 'wargame' (see References below). I have only skimmed it so far.

A section of a game of Kriegsspiel. From 'Kriegsspiel 1824 The Prussian Army Wargame' translated by Bill Leeson, p. 4.

I do not for a minute expect that anyone will have the same reaction as me in wanting to use the rules, but you may well be interested to learn more about them for pure edification.
As I describe the mechanics of Kriegsspiel I am sure that, like me, you'll recognise many (most, perhaps all) of those that were used in the 'mechanistic' wargames rules of the 70s and 80s. What is more astounding is that Kriegsspiel also contains several of the 'abstract' elements of 'modern' sets of rules.

Like all posts, this is written due to my own interest in the topic, but also in the hope that it may be of interest to fellow-wargamers/bloggers. It's a long post, so I have added sub-headings so that you may skim the bits that you want to read; or perhaps just look at the pictures!

Background and materials

Kriegsspiel, as written are small-scale and detailed rules. The rules are intended to be played using a series of maps. It is suggested that four to six sections be combined for any particular game map. The maps indicate slope (graphically as they pre-dated contour lines), towns, villages, roads, woods and other terrain features. The ground scale was 1:8000 (although Bill Leeson adapted this to 1:7500 in the translated version available from TooFatLardies). Troops are represented by blocks, coloured red and blue for the two sides with symbols and numbers to indicate whether infantry (line or skirmishers), cavalry or artillery; the type and/or calibre of each. These were made of lead in the shape of small blocks in the original Kriegsspiel 'apparatus'. (There is a wonderful article on the Kriegsspiel website—address of site in reference list below—which includes photographs of the original 'apparatus' from a museum in Berlin). The minimum infantry block is a half-battalion (two companies wide, occupying 125 paces), squadron for cavalry and half battery for artillery. I'll explain more about these later and how formations are represented, under movement.

The troops in Kriegsspiel represent standard strength formations. "A battalion is 900 muskets with a frontage of 250 paces, including battalion intervals. A squadron of 150 riders has a frontage of 100 paces. A battery of 8 guns has a frontage of 200 paces when the guns are placed 24 paces apart^" (p. 7). Here we see the first example of how these rules were 'ahead of their time', consider how the standardised unit that has become a trendy thing in 'modern' rules!
^A compressed frontage was also permitted, see Movement below

Each move in Kriegsspiel represents two minutes. All movement and ranges are measured in paces and rulers were included in the 'apparatus' with the Kriegsspiel rules to use for measurement (von Reisswitz states that a set of calipers could be used as an alternative).

Game sequence

There is no game sequence, per se. It's funny. I have been so engrossed with the detail of the rules and how they relate to later 'offerings' that I did not think about this until I was considering what I wanted to put in this post.

Kriegsspiel are designed to have the scenario constructed by the umpire who carries out the movements (and rolls the die) according to the orders of the players. Movement is therefore simultaneous and firing and other attacks occur according to orders and circumstances. Therefore, there is no need for a command phase, move phase, fire phase, or such as the orders from the players, messages to and fro, time taken for events to occur and 'all seeing ominpresence of the umpire' (my words) make it clear what occurs when.

This is described by von Reisswitz in his introduction as follows.

Time is divided into two minute sections which are known as “moves”. The rules on movement, conflict and so on, are based on these two minute moves, and a player will see the result of two minutes action for each move that passes.

The player can move as many troops as he wishes during the move, and they can, of course, be moved in any direction. The troops will only be allowed to move as far in one move as they would be able to march in two minutes of reality. ...

During this time, of course, the enemy will also be moving his troops, or if he is already in the desired position he may be calling on them to open fire.

The result of firing for two minutes must, similarly, only be what one could reasonably expect, based upon experience, in that time. If an advancing column is to be deployed for an attack each battalion has to be brought up to position, so that the head of the column will have to be halted long enough for the tail to arrive. If this takes two moves to do then it means that the column took four minutes to deploy.

Dividing time into two minute intervals allows us to make sure that no more or no less, will happen in the game than would take place in reality in a given time.
I'll come back to this later in my considerations of how I might use the Kriegsspiel system.


There are movement rates for infantry, cavalry, artillery, patrols, messengers and wagons. Varying rates are given for marching as opposed to attacks, pursuits and retreats. Movement is modified by terrain. There is no adjustment for formation.


I thought about this and realised; this is yet another one of these aspects of wargaming lore. Oh, lines move more slowly as it was more difficult to maintain order. Poppycock. Troops had a march rate. You can have a slow march for ceremonial purposes, ordinary march rate and quick-time; perhaps even 'running away' speed. Formation is a factor of purpose and terrain. This is how it is done in Kriegsspiel. Troops do not march across vast tracts of land in line in the 'modern' army of the early 19th century. Witness the quote from von Reisswitz above. This did not need to be spelled out to the officers in the Prussian army of the day. It is such aspects of the rules that add to my sense of excitement about them as a system for historically-based wargames of the Napoleonic period.

The movement table in Kriegsspiel. From 'Kriegsspiel 1824 The Prussian Army Wargame' translated by Bill Leeson, p. 28.

Formations are represented in Kriegsspiel by adjusting the facing and stacking of the troop blocks. Infantry in line are represented by two half-battalions side by side. A column of division by two blocks one behind the other. A column of companies by turning the blocks side on and stacking one on top of the other (one behind the other for an open column when marching/manoeuvring). A closed column is represented by the blocks stacked one on the other with two-company facing (up to four in the stack). Squares are not specified in the examples in the rules (but are noted as the formation for receiving cavalry), so presumably represented in the same manner. Skirmishers are denoted by smaller blocks. "A battalion can use four skirmish blocks without affecting its frontage. If a player wants to use more men in the skirmish line – for the defence of a village or wood for example – the frontage will be affected and the exchange pieces should be used" (p. 13).

Cavalry squadron blocks (which are square) may be deployed in line, column of route, open column, closed column, two divisions or squadron columns. There are separate blocks for cavalry skirmishers.

Some formations of cavalry. From 'Kriegsspiel 1824 The Prussian Army Wargame' translated by Bill Leeson, p. 19.

Artillery are deployed on normal or compressed frontage. For movement, they are arranged one behind the other, possibly stacked to denote open or closed columns. They may also move as whole batteries in line abreast.


The infantry fire table is divided into fire by a half battalion or skirmish 'zugs' (roughly equivalent to a platoons). Skirmishers are further divided according to whether in cover or not, the latter being separated for line infantry skirmishers and jägers. Casualties, in points, are determined by the type of troops, range and roll of a six-sided die. Points translate to casualties according to whether infantry in two ranks, three ranks, skirmishers, cavalry or artillery. This is another brilliant mechanic in my book. The effect of fire does not vary according to the target, but the impact does. In the end it is bit of a matter of semantics as whether you have a separate table for different targets or adjust the fire points, but I consider von Reisswitz's system to be so much more elegant.

The use of different fire tables for skirmishers in cover or not is explained as "...we give an advantage to marksmen in the skirmish line who are under cover, and who are consequently able to take aim with more care and less agitation" (p. 32). This is an example of the detail in these rules, but it's a nice addition, I reckon (at least in theory#).
#More on this under The 1828 Supplement below

The artillery fire table is divided into four calibres (to encompass the Prussian guns of the time) with four range categories each. The die results (all dice used in the rules a six-sided, the only dice at the time) are separated into good effect and bad effect, with different hit points each. Good effect is when the ground between the battery and the target is even, with no slope up or down more than 10° (for canister shot, low elevation shot and random (long range) shot). It also applies at high elevation range when the battery has a clear view for 200 paces before or behind the target. Bad effect is when the ground between the battery and the target is swampy, marshy, full of hedges, broken or undulating, or has a slope up or down of more then 10° (for canister shot, low elevation shot and random shot. Also for high elevation shot when the ground between the battery and the target is swampy or marshy, or when the terrain between the battery and the target rises or falls more than 20° or when there is not a clear view of the target.

The impact of cover (for the target), formation, ranks, flank fire are covered separately. There is a morale effect of artillery since "it cannot be assumed that the troops will remain still for long under effective canister fire or low elevation range fire without either going forwards or back" (p. 34). A die is rolled (Die 2, see Assaults below) and, if in the favour of the artillery "...the troops must retire without any other penalty apart from the losses from artillery fire. If the dice falls in favour of the target they can choose to stay where they are or to advance, whereupon Die 2 will be used again in the next turn with the same implications" (p. 34).

Artillery fire against structures is covered separately, with chances of setting them on fire.


"The relative formations and arms of the opposing forces, numerical strengths involved [and] the circumstances of the attack, in terms of troop quality, terrain and external influences" (p. 38) are all considered when troops are attempting to "attack at close quarters". One of five possible combat dice, representing different odds, are used depending on the circumstances. The particular die is set by the situation of the close quarters combat (formation and arms in combat), with shifts in the die to be used and/or of the results for numerical strength, support, flank/rear, supporting troops.

An example of how to read one of the dice (above). Fortunately, Bill Leeson transposed the five to a tabular form for ease of reading and use (below).

The outcome of an assaults falls into one of three categories. Troops can be 'repulsed' whereby they "...have turned back from the attack, but they remain in good order as they retire, without significant losses"
(p. 44) or be 'defeated' (turned back), involving greater losses and three turns before they can defend or six before they can assume the offensive. The worst outcome is 'totally defeated' whereby the troops go back in 'full flight', take more losses and require
five turns before they can rally for defense or ten before they can assume the offensive.

Both sides take casualties in assaults. The losses of the loser are indicated in the close combat table. Attacks that succeed take losses from fire in the turns leading up to the assault. Defenders that beat off an attack "...suffer 10 points for each half battalion block, and five points for each skirmish block" (p. 44). The retreat of defeated troops and pursuit by the victors depend on the type of troops and level of the victory/defeat.

Other rules

The above summarises the main mechanisms in the rules. In addition to these are the rules for attacking strongholds, surprise attacks, prisoners, attacks by night and bridges & fords.


The 1828 Supplement

The 1828 supplement to the 1824 rules is provided along with von Reisswitz's original in the pdf from TooFatLardies. This supplement was the first of many follow-up or derivative versions of Kriegsspiel—a bibliography by Bill Leeson provides a convenient list of these in one place

The foreword to the supplement (15th March 1828) states that:

It has been felt that the rules, as they exist, leave a number of gaps in the treatment of attacks, and a number of officers from the Berlin garrison have got together with the purpose of amplifying them in certain instances.
The group formed a committee representing the three arms of the service – infantry, cavalry, artillery – with each arm represented by three officers with campaign experience, who were familiar with the game. The committee spent almost the whole winter of 1826 in the creation of new rules which would provide more guidance in the treatment of battle situations, and would at the same time modify the unnaturally heavy losses given for artillery fire.
The new rules were tried out many times in the following winter, and as they proved to be workable the committee decided to get them printed so that they might fill a much-felt need among Kriegsspiel players.

One need hardly add that the rules were not put together in haste, but are the result of many discussions. Sometimes a single rule would take up a whole sitting of the committee.

The discussions took the existing rules as a basis, and in fact the existing rules remain largely unaltered. Where there are changes the new rules are given under the same section headings as in the existing rules to make comparison easier. We have also added a new set of dice that the reader will be easily able to make use of.

At first I worried that this 'second edition' of the rules would suffer from the same problem as do so many follow-up editions to rules today; they include extra detail, people's pet peeves and hence a loss of much of what was good in the original. Fortunately, I was mistaken.

Rather than adding, the committee removed some of the detail (impact of cover on the fire of skirmishers, for example), reduced the casualties of firing~ (as described in the foreword), included the effects of cover, clarified specifics (such as artillery shot to good effect and bad effect) and added more detail and clarification around assaults (which previously relied a lot on the umpire's interpretation as to shifts for conditions, troop quality and the like).
~Interestingly, Rob had made a comment about this in response to my previous post.

Bill Leeson's tabular presentation of the adjusted fire table (above) and assault/close combat table (below) from the 1818 supplement.

All in all I get the impression that the rules have been improved because the committee built on and added clarity to von Reisswitz's system. This seems to have been one committee that did not make a camel!


How I might use Kriegsspiel

When I first read Kriegsspiel, I was amazed at the content (realising now that I had expected 'free' Kriegsspiel). I was really impressed by aspects such as the use of paces making the rules scaleable, use of hit points, the combat system and sensible approach to morale effects. When I was relating my latent 'discovery' to Julian (who also thought that they were a descriptive wargaming system) he said, "Why don't we give them a go?" "I don't think that we'd want to use them," I answered. I considered them to be too detailed, cumbersome and I certainly did not want to go back to two minute moves!

Or did I?

As I read and studied the rules more and more and related them to the ideas that are bubbling around in my head I came to the realisation that here, perhaps is the foundation (at least) of what I'd like in a set of rules. I have been seriously considering going back to produce a set of rules for myself, taking into account various mechanics and approaches that I like in others to produce a system that I think will provide the semi-game simulation I am seeking. I realise that I am gonna tread a well-worn path and there will be plenty of reinventing of wheels (and other devices), but the study and learning involved is all part of the fun for me. Besides, I do not expect to impose them on anyone else. Still, I am pragmatic enough not to do it all from scratch.

I will start with Kriegsspiel, have a go with it 'as is', either 1824 first and then 1828 or more likely putting the two together in the one 'game'. Well, sort of 'as is'. I will bring in elements that I have in mind from other rules to add aspects that I want to include. The rules March Attack, which are effectively what I term an 'Empire-successor' set of rules have a beaut system for translating unit strengths into strength points. I long ago decided to use this to produce different sized units on the table top, whereby a strength point (combat value in March Attack parlance) would be represented by a base of figures. I'll use this to have various sized units.

I intend the two minute moves to stay, but expect to be able to scale them up when the armies are chiefly manoeuvring and go to detailed, step-by-step moves when the action is 'hot'. Sound familiar to anyone?!

There will be quite a lot of record keeping. As a concept this does not phase me. I am looking for description and detail and am happy to take my time. That said, I will need to devise a simple and easy-to-use table/grid for noting what needs to be noted and set of markers to use on the table where appropriate and visually pleasing.

Having been conceived around 1811 and published in 1824, Kriegsspiel are of the late Napoleonic period. Skirmish tactics are standard. Corps structure exists (even the British had come to it by then), concentration of artillery, cavalry organised to be l'arm blanche. This is all explicit or implicit in Kriegsspiel. Depending on the game, I will may to overturn some of this. I'll use aspects of Empire, Chef de Bataiilon and Napoeon's Rules of War, as well as Nafziger's Imperial Bayonets to assist me with this. Along with these the accounts to the particular action that I am wanting to play out will/may provide guidance.

Then there is command and control. As mentioned above, this is at the heart of Krieggspiel, so is intended to be represented by players. I'll use some combination of categories from Empire, indicated by an arrow per Shako. The flexibility of what troops can do if their existing order is challenged by circumstances will be determined by specific limitations (per Empire) and perhaps with different initiative ratings for commanders; or interpretation by the umpire. I can see that there will be an element of 'free' Kriegsspiel.

A recent post by Jennifer on her excellent 'Librarian Gamer' blog explaining free Kriegsspiel with a clear and simple example has inspired me to possibly included aspects of that approach for some interpretations or situations outside the letter of the rules or aspects that would so often be decided by a roll of the dice (which I want to avoid). This was a key part of von Reisswitz's Kriegsspiel, so not anything new or particularly different anyway; depending on how far I take it.

The Battle of Voltri seems a great place to start. This will be in keeping with my intention to make this year the start of my quasquibicentennial / vigbicentennial Napoleonic anniversaries (with the 225th anniversary of 1796). Voltri is an action involving relatively small and geographically spread forces, so could be ideal as a testing ground, not only for Kriegsspiel, but for my 'telescoping scales concept'.

My table, a bit like my head, is cluttered, but there is some order in the chaos and also some space to try out a game of some kind. The Battle of Voltri 10 April 1796, using whatever troops I have to hand sounds good...

I subtitled this post 'getting 70–80% of the way there'. It remains to be seen whether my impressions of Kriegsspiel will survive 'contact with the enemy'. As Keith put it in a comment to my previous post, it will be interesting "to see how you translate this burst of inspiration into practical use on the tabletop!".


Kriegsspiel, a website dedicated to Kriegsspiel run by a "group of UK based Kriegsspielers, who meet a number of times a year at Little Gaddesdon, Hertfordshire, UK" Link to home page.

B. von Reisswitz B (1824) Kriegsspiel. Available to purchase as ''Kriegsspiel 1824' as a pdf from TooFatLardies.

Wintjes, J (2015) Europe’s Earliest Kriegsspiel? Book Seven of Reinhard Graf zu Solms’ Kriegsregierung and the ‘Prehistory’ of Professional War Gaming. British Journal for Military History 2, 15-33.

Friday, 3 September 2021

'Discovering' wargaming history (1) An embarrassment

Everyday I learn something new. This is not a throw-away line, but a genuine comment. A wonderful colleague of mine always asked, 'what have you learned?', instead of 'how are you going?' I have held on to this as an approach to work and life in general. There is so much new to learn about, be they snippets, details or entire new areas. Sometimes though, I am flabbergasted at learning something fundamental about which I was previously unaware in an area where I thought I had the basics covered (at least).

So it was a couple of week's ago with my discovery of a glaring gap in my knowledge of the history of wargaming and of the development of formalised rules for this activity: Kriegsspiel. Forget ya 'latest and greatest' wargame rules penned by some wargamer, it has all been done**, by a civil administrator and his son, a serving artillery officer, and then published—back in 1824.

Cover of the 1824 version of Kriegsspiel, translated by Bill Leeson

A little clarification, perhaps even defence, on my part.

I did not suddenly discover Kriegsspiel as such. I had heard of it before, having been told or read about it, chiefly in brief paragraphs of the origins of wargaming as ‘a game played by members of the Prussian officer corps’. From these descriptions I had assumed that it took a purely narrative approach with copious and constant interpretation by the gamemeister (umpire); some learned, 'god-like' figure. I even misinterpreted the 'spiel' as the English 'speech' rather than the German 'game' and did not realise that the name is spelt with two esses. What an ignoramus!

Thanks to a suggestion from Joe F (no relation) in a comment on my previous post, I purchased a copy of the original, 1824 version of Kriegsspiel from TooFatLardies. Having read it, I discovered something far more fascinating and quite different than I expected. What I had previously been made aware of was 'free' Kriegsspiel, a version from later in the 19th century in which the umpire was encouraged to make his own adjudications. In the original Kriegsspiel, the umpire sets the scenario, rolls the dice and makes the adjudications, but these are highly prescriptive and determined by detailed rules and tables.

The game, the first formalised wargame that was not a derivative of chess or cards, was originally developed by Baron von Reisswitz (snr) early in the 19th century—that's right, during the Napoleonic wars (no wonder Napoleonics are the queen, king and prince of wargaming!). Upon their learning of it in 1811, the young Prussian princes sought to have Reisswitz demonstrate the game to them. Suitably impressed, he was later (1812) summoned to show the game to King William III. "Between 1818 and 1822 the King would now and again make up a party for a game at Potsdam..." (Leeson, 'The Origins of Kriegsspiel'). The game was adapted, developed further and formalised in 1824 by von Reisswitz's son, an artillery officer and shown to the Prussian General staff following interest from General von Müffling (by then Chief of General Staff).

Think about that. We have a set of wargaming rules that was 'playtested' over 12 years by princes, the King and guests, by Prussian army officers (also exported to Russia) and recommended glowingly by von Muffling:

"Anyone who understands those things which have a bearing on leadership in battle can take part immediately in the game as a commander, even if he has no previous knowledge of the game or has never even seen it before" (Leeson, 'The Origins of Kriegsspiel').

That is, none other than an officer from the Napoleonic wars, who has risen to become Chief of General Staff can see this game as a valid and valuable simulation of leadership in battle. That's a five gold-star recommendation for me!

After reading them for the first time I was impressed, even amazed, that it had 'all been done'** back then. As I look at them in more detail and consider what aspects I'd like to adopt I am thinking, more and more, that they will form the basis for rules for my Napoleonic wargaming.

It's all in there, those factors that we consider to be the key elements of Napoleonic warfare: march rates, formations, length of columns, skirmishers, firing of small arms, canister, round shot and howitzers, 'assaults', terrain, impact of morale, orders, rallying and the importance of senior leadership (chiefly through the agency of the players). These are all covered in a direct, realistic manner, which is only natural since they were adapted and tested by serving officers of the time. In fact, ‘modern’ wargaming concepts such as strength points and a range of probablities for different effects that are uncontrollable (chiefly the impacts of firing) are in there too. The range of probabilities that von Reisswitz generated from a D6 by including various numbers of faces and outcomes is quite inspired (something that has morphed in modern rules to the use of dice of various configurations).

It's all there. Two player aids in Kriegsspiel: a card for march rates (note that these are all in paces, a 'modern' approach that makes the rules completely scaleable) shown above and a distance measuring device for the ranges of artillery of different calibres (below).

The rules are quite detailed and 'involved'. While this approach appeals to me, I fully recognise that they will not be to everyone's tastes and needs. I won't go into the system in full here, but will do a follow-up post describing key mechanics and the benefits as I see them (from the perspective of pre-play-testing).

So, having 'discovered' the real Kriegsspiel I realise that, between this and Little Wars (which I have read previously), one has the basis of all of those sets of rules of the 70s and 80s (and their more modern derivatives). For me, reading Kriegspiel is in some ways like reading Bruce Quarrie 's Napoleonic Wargaming rules again. They have generated the same level of excitement as the Quarrie rules did for a far younger self, have a lot of similar detail (though achieved more elegantly by von Reisswitz); the length of turns are even similar, being 2 1/2 minutes in Quarrie two minutes in Kriegsspiel!

Have you ever read them?

If, like me, you are ignorant of this important background in the history and development of formalised rules for wargaming I encourage you to get a copy of Kriegsspiel for yourself. At the very least, read the excellent History of Kriegsspiel under the Articles tab on the Kriegsspiel website (in references below).

Thank you very much to Joe for the suggestion, thanks to Bill Leeson (RIP) for translating the book and, most especially, thanks to Baron von Reisswitz snr and jnr for these great rules.

**I am being somewhat facetious, of course, when writing that it has 'all been done'. More recent rules, beginning with HG Wells' Little Wars, have added other aspects, less formal approaches, adaptations of scale; but the fundamentals were there at this early stage, including some remarkable game mechanics. Readers of this blog will know that a pet hate of mine is sets of 'new' wargaming rules that claim to have come to the author as if by some vision from on high, failing to acknowledge the background or sources of inspiration of rules mechanics that have been adapted (or perhaps even included almost unchanged) in their 'latest and greatest' feast for the ever hungry wargaming market. A failing (at best, outright plagiarism at worst) that I find in the vast majority of sets of rules that I care to pick up.

Don't be misled. I am one who, willingly, checks out new sets of rules to see if they have included anything that I might find interesting, or perhaps comprise an entire mechanice (or even system) that I may like to use at some stage. The development of knowledge in every field of endeavour is about taking the fundamental principles, tried and true aspects, and exploring them in more depth, adding elements from here and there and perhaps even a novel idea or discovery or two to create a 'new' whole. It just drives me mad that there is no doffing, no recognition, no simple acknowledgement of what has gone before.


Kriegsspiel, a website dedicated to Kriegsspiel run by a "group of UK based Kriegsspielers, who meet a number of times a year at Little Gaddesdon, Hertfordshire, UK" Link to home page.

B. von Reisswitz B (1824) Kriegsspiel. Available to purchase as ''Kriegsspiel 1824' as a pdf from TooFatLardies.

Wells, HG (1913) Little wars : a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girls who like boys' games and books. London : Frank Palmer. Available on