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 "...an 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. https://bjmh.gold.ac.uk/article/view/634