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Real-time Kriegspiel online

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Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  Richard on Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:16 pm

Does anyone know if this is available? I am thinking of chat facilities rather than email, with several people playing simultaneously via the internet.

I have not find anything like this myself and I am considering setting up my own site. I am not sure what I would need to consider however. I imagine that updating maps could be awkward.

Finally, perhaps this should be the subject of a new forum.


Thanks ...

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  hammurabi70 on Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:13 pm

I rather think that linked computers offer one option for such activity.

You might be able to work it work using skype type video calls but I think the umpires might have problems updating a communal map so it would go best with only one umpire: hard work for him!
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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  Richard on Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:30 pm

hammurabi70 wrote:I rather think that linked computers offer one option for such activity.

You might be able to work it work using skype type video calls but I think the umpires might have problems updating a communal map so it would go best with only one umpire: hard work for him!

Thanks for your comment but there are plenty of 'chat' tools available (ask any teenager) and having thought about it I don't see why umpires should be responsible for updating the players' maps directly - they just have to issue textual updates, perhaps including co-ordinates. Not that precise I know but then the "fog of war" is to a large extent the whole point of Kriegspiel.

Also it should be possible to have a communal map if need be, given the right software. There are 'whiteboard', video conferencing and other tools around that are designed for the sharing of information, so I can't see a real problem with a map.

Custom software could also be designed to permit delayed delivery of messages, as via courier for example. Thus an umpire could write a report from a scouting party for example, specifying that the delivery takes place in (say) two turns/periods time. This would avoid the need for umpires to keep track of timing.

Such software would have to be paid for of course but I expect that a suitable site could attract many paying members; there are several examples of successful commercial game sites around.

Finally, perhaps this thread should be place in the CAK forum. I imagine that there are several opportunities here to provide computer assistance for umpires, particularly in a real-time context. [So if any administrators are reading this, please consider such a move].


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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  hammurabi70 on Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:24 pm

I do not think the umpire is responsible for updating the players map. But the umpires need a master map, which is the communal map that they all will refer to. I have no experience with shared whiteboards in videoconference so cannot comment on their suitability for use by us. It does reinforce the point that some form of linked computers are the most effective way to go and is the method the colleges go (if you have had the opportunity to game at Camberly you will know what I mean).

Chat tools are, I suspect, not significant. Email has been around awhile and better represents the sending and receiving of formal orders. We have tried using these but interestingly face on face meetings are very popular; they retaining the social aspects of a game. Another perspective has been to use camera shots and figures. I wish you good fortune if you try to set up a site.
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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:07 pm

In the 1990s, I ran many of these; I used TACOPS (a computer game of modern tactical combat) to run the game; players gave me orders, I executed them and sent back reports. The testbed game was run at Hemel Hempstead! Smile )

The key tool -- never surpassed, oddly enough -- was an IRC chat program (we used mIRC). It was simple, robust, free, and had several key features:

1) Multiple channels with password locks. We needed a minimum of 5 channels for a game in which all players on a given side were permitted to talk freely:

Admin channel: everybody reports to this channel and stays on it. The umpire can put out group messages here. The players can chatter about non-game-things here.

One UMPIRE channel per team: This is strictly for commo to and from the umpire. The umpire reports and the players issue orders.

One PLANNING channel per team: This is for the team's internal discussion

If you are running a game in which the players cannot communicate with each other, then each player needs a person channel or chat line to the umpire.


Having a system to resolve the turns/bounds quickly is critical. That way the bulk of the time is burned on commo with the players.

Having a system for describing locations is critical. We were doing modern warfare so we used grid coordinates; reports may be rather more vague for a Napoleonic kriegsspiel! Make sure the players understand the precision (or not) you'll be using.

Having a collaborative map tool is a decision, not a requirement. If you *want* collaborative map planning by the players, *then* it's a requirement -- otherwise, you intentionally prevent this and make them use written/text reports. Depends on the info environment you want the players in.

I wrote up two FAQs on how these work. You'll find a lot of this is out of date (last updated in 1998) but the core of "how it works" is still there, especially in the umpiring FAQ.

Player FAQ:
http://www.tacopshq.com/HQ/text/CPX/cpxfaq.txt

Umpire FAQ:
http://www.tacopshq.com/HQ/text/CPX/umpfaq

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  hammurabi70 on Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:19 pm

Having a collaborative map tool is a decision, not a requirement.

I am interested to know how the umpires managed without having a communal map. I can imagine it is possible but I would have thought it made life as an umpire much more difficult.
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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:09 pm

Starting off by making terms clear:

Everybody has to have the same map image, somewhere.

"Collaborative", to me, means a single online map that everybody has access to and can edit.

How do you go without the collaborative map? You drop out of the Internet Age back to radio and written procedures. Smile

Modern militaries use a grid reference system. The key is:

READ RIGHT UP.

The grids are always an even number of digits, with half being "easting" and half being "northing": eeennn

In a typical system, 123456 parses to: 12.3km east of the zero point, 45.6km north of the zero point. 1245 is 12km east and 45km north.

If you map is marked with numbered (or lettered) gridlines, then this is an easy way to explain locations.


If we drop back before the invention of the grid map, you're instead using reports based on reportable locations. "One mile northwest of Aufhausen".


Grids are absolutely better when you don't know the map!

Another take -- longer -- the following is sniopped from the Umpire FAQ listed above:

=============
3.2 Checklist: Reporting to the players each turn

This is a checklist of a way to report to players after you have
run a set of Tacops turns. It assumes that you have saved a Sitrep file for
each side (to send via DCC) and have either saved a spotrep file for each side
or will zip back to Tacops to cut and paste the contents of the Spotrep.
(Spotreps are often quite short, so if your system can cut and paste them into
the IRC channel that is often quite convenient.) The checklist assumes you
have sides A and B; it is more or less what I do.

You run several TacOps turns, save sitreps and spotreps, and go back to
IRC. You....

-Give a timestamp to A (tell them the time TacOps currently reports in the
lower left-hand corner of the screen)

-Give a timestamp to B

-Type in initial reports to A (brief typed report of highlights of "what
happened" - a summary of the action since the last report)
-Begin sending sitreps/spotreps to A via DCC and/or cut-and-paste

-Type in initial reports to B (while A digests its sitreps/spotreps)
-Begin sending sitreps/spotreps to B (while A digests its sitreps/spotreps a
wee bit more)

-Get orders from A (while B digests its sitreps/spotreps)

-Get orders from B

(I flip back and forth between A and B for orders - the one that gets orders
fired off soonest gets attention first.)

After things have proceeded long enough I tell them "orders out" and start
running more turns. This is rather situational. Things to consider:

-How much time should the players have? They don't deserve to have
all day, and if they are confused then they are confused.... time marches on.
-On the other hand, sometimes players want to get a large movement
underway all at once. I tend to do one of two things here:
-If they get the thing set up carefully then I'll put it all in - for
example, if they give orders to move everybody to starting positions over a
number of turns, explaining to me that a big attack is coming up after these
movments, wait for the preparatory movement to finish, and then give the
orders to launch the attack, I'll probably decide that they could have
discussed things enough with their subordinates to get the thing coordinated
and punch all the orders in.
-If, however, they try to give me all the preparatory movement
orders and attack orders all at once I'm likely to chop them off somewhere
and things will get disjointed on the theory that coordination takes time.

In any event players almost always want more time. If they are feeling
rushed and under pressure, but able to respond, then the timing is about
right. This is a fine balance, between risking their becoming bored, and
frustrating them by cutting them off from any direction of events.

An additional reporting technique I sometimes use is to give "Flash
Reports". In these, I tell players something has happened, but don't let them
give orders. This is useful if something big happens, but it's something they
wouldn't be able to react to right away.

3.3 Detailed version of Checklist - sample set of reports.

What you wind up typing might look something like this:

[enter NATO orders channel]

0715

[enter Opfor orders channel]

0715

[The point of doing this is that it 1) lets the players know what time it is and
2) puts them on notice that they are about the get reports.]

[enter NATO orders channel]

Charlie exchanges fire with Coy+ T-80s vic 123456 losses both sides
(Meaning: Charlie Company has been fighting with a company or two
of T-80s - the leading edge of an Opfor Battalion, but NATO doesn't know
that. The T-80s are roughly at map grid 123456. Both sides are taking
losses.)
MLRS lands, numerous secondaries
(Meaning: their MLRS shot landed (presumably they know where it
was to be fired). Some (utterly unidentified) number of enemy vehicles
exploded or were damaged.)
Bravo reports at Paisley
(Meaning: Bravo Company has arrived at a place on the map that the
players have designated by the code-name Paisley. They asked to have its
arrival reported.)
Sitrep/spotrep OTW
(Meaning: I'm about to send you a sitrep (almost always via DCC) and
a spotrep (often cut-and-paste). OTW means On The Way.)
[Send the sitrep and spotrep.]
Orders?
(Meaning: I'm done giving you reports. Start sending orders and
asking me questions.)

[Umpire switches to Opfor orders channel.]

3rd BN engages enemy M-1s ~coy vic 234567 losses both sides
(This is the flip side of the other engagement report. Opfor's 3rd Tank
Battalion is engaging Charlie Company. Not all of 3rd Battalion is actually in
the fight, and they don't know how big the M-1 force is but think it is about a
company in size. Both sides are taking losses.)
MLRS lands on rear of 2nd Battalion col, moderate losses
(The MLRS shot tagged the tail of the 2nd battalion column. The tail
of the column has been worked over and the players can get the gory details
from the sitrep soon to come their way.)
Scouts: M-2 company spotted vic 654321; stopping.
(Bravo Company doesn't know it, but Opfor has scouts up ahead and
Bravo has been spotted. The scouts are not under fire, so they can give out
an immediately accurate report of what they see.)
Sitrep/spotrep OTW
[Send sitrep and spotrep.]
Orders?

[Umpire checks back into the NATO orders channel. NATO is mostly still
chewing over the situation, but has organized itself well on its planning
channel so the players do not overload the umpire's IRC screen.]

NATO CO: Batteries 1 and 2 FFE T-80s vic 123456; ICM, FFE now
(The first and second batteries in NATO's off-map support list are to
fire ICM on the T-80s. The umpire is left to act as FOO (Forward
Observation Officer) and pick the exact target locations. The FFE now
means the player does not want the batteries to wait and build up accuracy
before Firing For Effect.)
Umpire: 1&2 ICM FFE 123456 check
(The umpire repeats back to the player all of the key bits of the
information. This is for several reasons:
1) it double-checks the information
2) typing this in tells the player that the umpire has seen the
order and is entering it into TacOps
3) therefore the NATO side can get new orders typed in)
[the umpire sets up the artillery fires and returns to the NATO orders
channel]

[there is a pause because NATO doesn't know what to do yet. The umpire
switches to look at the Opfor orders channel. Opfor wants to do 30 things all
at once and has not managed to organize who is speaking when. A lot of text
scrolls off the umpire's Opfor orders channel window and is never seen by
the umpire.]

Opfor player #3: ...then after 20 minutes swing 5th Battalion right by
companies and defend the east edge of Kiev.
Umpire: Explain please? Missed most of that. One at a time? Back in a sec.

[The umpire flips back to the NATO channel. NATO has got its act
together.]

NATO player #2: Bravo dismounts in place.
(Bravo company (M-2s) has all its infantry get out. Players and
umpire both assume that troops will seek cover when they stop, so this is left
unsaid.)
Umpire: Bravo dismounts.
(Confirms the order has been seen.)
[The umpire ducks into TacOps and unloads the infantry from Bravo
company, then goes back to the Nato orders channel.]
NATO player #1: Move XRAY along Route Green to BP Flashlight.
(XRAY is some largeish battlegroup designated in the player's orders
before the game. Route Green and BP (Battle Position) Flashlight are part of
the operations graphic (sets of named places, routes, line, etc, drawn onto the
map over which the battle will be fought) that the NATO players drew up
before the game - codenames for a march route and a location. Their use
makes the order easy to give. Since the umpire has printed out the
operations graphic and has it sitting in easy view, it is also a very easy order
to understand. Except that Green doesn't actually *go* to Flashlight....
Purple does. The umpire asks what is going on....)
Umpire: You mean Route Purple?
NATO player #1: (pause) Er, yes, Purple, sorry.
Umpire: XRAY to Flash via Purple check
[the umpire puts in this order and comes back to see....]
NATO CO: Orders out!
(NATO has given all the orders they want to.)
Umpire: Orders out, off to Opfor.
(Confirms orders out and lets them know that Opfor has orders to be
dealt with before starting the next turn.)

[The umpire goes back to Opfor. They have gotten themselves straightened
out.]

Opfor CO: Batteries 1, 2, 3 fire on M-2 coy, ICM.
(Oops, there have been M-2s spotted elsewhere prior to this round...
Which ones?)
Umpire: 1, 2, 3 ICM on which M-2s?
Opfor CO: 654321.
Umpire: ICM 645312 ok
Opfor CO: 654321 check your figures
Umpire: oops 654321 ok
[The umpire sets this up.]
[Opfor player #2: has orders... then #3.... then #1.... the umpire decides
Opfor has given enough orders....]
Umpire: 1st Battalion halts. Orders out.
[The umpire goes and puts 1st Battalion's order in.]
Opfor en masse: Drat! OK, waiting for next time.
Umpire: Onwards.
(This is optional, but can be useful. You're telling the players that you
are done taking orders from both sides and are about to start running new
TacOps turns.)

[the umpire flips to the NATO orders channel]
Umpire: Onwards.

[The umpire switches to TacOps and starts running turns.....]

In theory, all of that takes no more than 15 or 20 minutes.... the
umpire just ran 5 Tacops turns, gets orders for 15-20 minutes, and is able to
keep the game running at about a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of real time:game time. It
takes a fair amount of practice to get that kind of speed when things are busy.
============

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:50 pm

Next key point, I suspect: I did not directly report the positions of every unit, except via the text files the game put out -- and before we had that ability, not at all.

I'd tell them "Alpha company is deployed in the woodline at 123456", but not bother to report the locations of the platoons, squads, MGs, etc.

These games were a micromanager's nightmare. Very Happy

Some writeups that may prove useful:

http://www.tacopshq.com/HQ/text/CPX/cpxaars/uzbekaar.txt

http://www.tacopshq.com/HQ/text/CPX/cpxaars/divaslt.txt
--> Biggest game we ever ran without going to email

(All the writeups: http://www.tacopshq.com/HQ/text/CPX/cpxaars.html )

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  hammurabi70 on Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:43 pm

"Collaborative", to me, means a single online map that everybody has access to and can edit.
Agreed. What I am waiting to learn is how a team of umpires manages without using one. If they each have to plot all the information then you might as well give the task to one individual, such as you have already written up. I would have thought they must share one of these whiteboards of which I have no video experience.
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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:55 pm

The few times I did collaborative umpiring, we divided up the sectors of responsibility. The "biggest game we ever ran" AAR is an example of one of these. Fortunately for us, we structured things so that it would be difficult to shift units between the different maps. Smile

At least the way I wind up running Kriegsspiel in an in-person game, there's one head umpire who resolves everything, and the other umpires deal with commo to the players. The Internet replaces the commo-to-the-players.

Commo to players over the internet is definitely a skill.... we have occasionally tried to get people on the Internet into the in-person games, and getting sufficient info down the line in a timely manner proved a challenge to the person who was trying to perform that role.

If you find a whiteboard app that works well, let me know. All to often, the whiteboards are small and are optimized for presentations -- one person controls everybody's view and only one person can mark the map up at a time. (The systems I know of that work *well* for collborative planning (military battle command systems) are expensive and/or not available to the public; and generally are a pain in the ass to learn to use.)

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:18 pm

A better explanation, perhaps --

We'd divide up the map, and have to tell each other when forces were passing between our areas. If those are areas troops can fire across then we have to coordinate that, too -- who owns the fight, so to speak.

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  MJ1 on Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:09 am

James thanks for the insight to some of the issues trying to run these games. Tacops is a game I am aware of but have not invested the money or time to get into it as it is from the same stable as CM. I think at some stage I need to buy it and give it a go.

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:02 pm

TacOps is published by Battlefront, and CM also uses 1-minute turns, but the similarities start to end there. TacOps is 2D (no spiffy window). A company scenario is small in TacOps but large in CM.

I'm a big fan of TacOps... it is easy to use, and extremely stable, and, most important, it is very good at presenting the essence of the dilemmas of coordinating fire and maneuver. If you are running a modern version of TacOps (newer than in the docos above), then you can set up a globe-spanning game with each player giving orders in through the internet. (There's some tricky bits to keeping that going, unfortunately, relating to not letting connections time out.)

Edit: For what it's worth, I'm a decided fan of TacOps and have been a tester for it in the past, though development of TacOps has stalled.

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  hammurabi70 on Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:57 am

James Sterrett wrote:A better explanation, perhaps --

We'd divide up the map, and have to tell each other when forces were passing between our areas. If those are areas troops can fire across then we have to coordinate that, too -- who owns the fight, so to speak.

OK - that I can follow although the links between the umpire sections might get complex. I am not sure it will give a game solution everyone would enjoy.

The computer solutions do seem a more appropiate way to go. Is TACOPS the best for this? How does it match to, say COMBAT COMMAND? I am afraid CM reference means nothing to me.
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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:27 pm

Yes, the links between sections could get complex -- you'd be best thinking them through carefully in advance.

CM is Combat Mission -- see http://www.battlefront.com/

I've never played Combat Command. A quick search on the web shows me a little -- hex based and company counters. TacOps uses no hexes (1 pixel = ten meters), and when I say it's company scale, I really mean it's scaled to train company command; the units are individual vehicles, squads, and crewed weapons, which can be grouped into platoon icons.

Website for TacOps:

http://www.battlefront.com/products/tacops4/tacops4.html

Demo for TacOps:

http://www.battlefront.com/products/tacops4/demo.html

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:12 pm

Sorry, missed the "is TacOps best" question.

Yes and no. Smile

TacOps is good at what I've described above, not least in that it will provide text files you can shove out with all the basic data.

There are some "Howevers", though.

1) TacOps does modern major combat ops. This may not be what you want!

2) The method of using TacOps, described above, replicates the umpired-Kriegsspiel process we are all familiar with. You should keep in mind the question: What are you really trying to do -- replicate the feel of Kriegsspiel online? Or do you want a distributed game?

Replicating the feel is tricky but gives you the flexibility to craft your own rules around the game -- even if you are using a computer game for the most part, you'll likely want one flexible enough to alter things in midstream.

If what you want is, really, a distributed game, then find a computer game that supports sufficient players in the period of interest. (Tricky part: most computer strategy games do not support more than one player per side. Crying or Very sad )

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  hammurabi70 on Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:48 pm

OK - just keeping up with this.

CC was software running a tactical combat system, not hexed based but a GOOGLE search fails to uncover any reference to it now (which should tell us something!).

I take it that COMBAT MISSION is not the same as TACOPS then? Certainly it covers a more interesting period (WW2) for me.
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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  MJ1 on Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:57 pm

hammurabi70 wrote:OK - just keeping up with this.

CC was software running a tactical combat system, not hexed based but a GOOGLE search fails to uncover any reference to it now (which should tell us something!).

I take it that COMBAT MISSION is not the same as TACOPS then? Certainly it covers a more interesting period (WW2) for me.

If you play computer games and you want to play the best game of it's type covering WW2 then CM is absolutely the best. IMO.

They are currently working on the next version but that will not be ready until next year at earliest and CM is in bargain bucket price and well worth a look. I played it solid for around 5 years and at some stage I will go back to it when I fullfill my current RPG fix... Dragon Age is has me in it's grip and before that Fallout3. But I digress....

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:13 pm

Not part of this series, then?

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/combatcommand2desertrats/index.html

I presumed and failed. Smile

Combat Mission demos:

Third game (North Africa)
http://www.battlefront.com/products/cmak/cmak_demo.html

Second game (Eastern Front)
http://www.battlefront.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=57&Itemid=97

First game (Northwest Europe)
http://www.battlefront.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=66&Itemid=107

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  Martin on Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:35 am

I've often thought about using 'The Operational Art of War'. It's not perfect for this purpose - it does not have the facility to print out combat results, and has an alternating turn sequence with occasional turn flips to refect shifting initiative which don't easilly lend themselves to k/spiel.

I think it could work though as the map/movement/combat/supply engine for the rest of the game. It can also handle limited intelligence, albeit in a somewhat crude fashion.

In my view you could only use it for an email game, as the alternating turn sequence & turn flips could then be managed.

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  Richard on Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:44 pm

Many thanks James for a very useful post. I will definitely download the demo of TacOps and try it out.


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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:46 pm

Let me know if you have questions. Smile

James Sterrett

Posts : 60
Join date : 2009-01-05

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  Martin on Thu Nov 26, 2009 6:14 pm

A few questions James:

1. Have you played 'World War II: General Commander'?

2. Is it any good?

3. Could one use it for an umpired game?

Regards

Martin

PS are you still in same house (re xmas card)?

Martin

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  James Sterrett on Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:40 am

I've never played it, and what I've heard has not been favorable -- admittedly, I have not heard much!

I have no idea if it could be used for a Kriegsspiel.

We haven't moved in the past few years. Smile

James Sterrett

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

Post  Martin on Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:56 am

Ta

Martin

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Re: Real-time Kriegspiel online

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