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Kriegsspiel Questions

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Kriegsspiel Questions

Post  henridecat on Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:14 pm

Discussion copied from Yahoo group.

As some of you will know we at TooFatLardies are in the process of
republishing the 1824 Reisswitz rules. As part of my attempt to
make the rules as user friendly I am in the process of running a
series of games in order to get a proper working appreciation of
what information an umpire needs to have to hand.

We did have a situation last night where Red cavalry were in the
area and looking menacing so Blue put his infantry into squares. I
ruled that the cavalry would not charge home against the squares but
would take on another target of opportunity which was close to
hand. However I was wondering how people handled that situation, I
do think that Red should have had the option to charge home,
especially as one battalion had lost about 25% casualties. I can't
see anything about squares in the rules and was wondering If I was
missing something there.

My inclination would be to apply a shift in index points, however
what sort of shift should I apply.


Richard Clarke
Cavalry against squares.
The only reference that I can find in the 1824
Kriegspiel rules is a diagram example, stating that
"The Prussian square is virtually a closed up attack
column, with the three outer files on the left and
right facing outwards and gaps filled up by NCO's and

I would interpret this in a game that the cavalry are
attacking the front of a steady battalion of infantry,
from whichever direction they approach.

Paul Wisken

Thanks for your answer. It's a conundrum and I'd be interested to
know how people deal with it.

Ditto actually for infantry firefights. It would seem to me that
battalions can stand and fire at each other for extended periods of
time in Reisswitz with no decisive result such as the one that you'd
get if they were under artillery fire.

Tschischwitz deals with all of that, but of course he was dealing
with the Dreyse Needle Gun, a far more efficient weapon that the
smooth-bore musket.

Anyone got any tips on what they do with infantry firefights? I am
planning another game next week which will be much more of an
exploration of the firepower aspects of the rules and would value
any pointers - whether they are in Reisswitz or not.


Regarding infantry firefights
The general tenor of von Reisswitz suggests that firefights are only
likely to happen as a result of an advance by one side.

Note 82 seems to apply - this discussed the chances of infantry
advancing against fire. This reads like a comment from the translator.
It appear that troops unable to continue an advance are repulsed
(shaken). Sub para "e" mentions shaken being able to hold their fire,
it does not say anything about what happens if they don't.

Perhaps the discussion of the Napoleonic period in Paddy Griffith's
"Forward into Battle" on "the Alleged novelty of the empty battlefield
in WW1" could provide a model. Unsuccessful attacks act to reinforce
the skirmish line, wearing down the defence further befor another
attack is conducted (if I recall correctly).

David Nichols nz

Thanks for your answers. I'm working from the comb bound edition
that Bill published in 1989 - I cannot locate my original hard copy
more's the pity, and sadly we don't have the same notes. I do
recall that the hardback has many references to the von Tschischwitz
and von Trotha editions which may or may not be helpful. My concern
is that there are "gaps" in von Reisswitz where he infers something
without saying it definitely and provides no mechanism to cover it.

For example I'll use the following paragraph.

"In reality hand-to-hand attacks by cavalry and infantry do not take
place all that often, since not all such attacks actually reach a
mêlée. As a rule one or the other side will retreat before they
come into contact, and losses generally result from fire during the
approach or retreat."

Now I realise that if Blue advances against Red's line then the
mechanism for hand-to-hand combat actually would be better described
as "Close combat" as in many cases we are assuming that the attack
is repulsed before contact. Now that is fine, but what about the
morale effect of a firefight? Should such an exchange always be
assumed to continue ad infinitum unless one side or other attempts
to end the matter with the bayonet?

To be honest the problem I face is not one that would worry me were
I just playing the rules as I'm more than happy to make an ad hoc
judgement depending on the circumstances. However as a publisher I
want to try to ensure that any purchaser of the rules gets a system
that is as completely playable as possible. That said I want to
remain as close to 100% von Reisswitz as possible rather than add in
extra bits masquerading as the truth.

My thoughts at present are that where there are grey areas I would
want to put in an additional section, clearly marked as an editorial
comment, that provides possible solutions. For example speaking to
Martin off list he suggested that Bill tends to allow an exchange
beween two lost of skirmishers to last ten to twenty minutes before
rolling a dice to see who has won the exchange based upon the
strenght of the skirmish lines at that point.

You're right about Paddy's book, it must be almost required reading
for anyone setting off down the Kriegsspiel road.



PS Any additional comments and opinions would be valued; to my mind
Ktriegsspiel is the single most important text in the whole hobby
and I want to get this as right as I can.
G'day Richard

In my copy of Bill Leeson's hardback - Note 57 (page 72 & 73) speaks
to Cavalry vs Infantry:

"...the basic odds for cavalry attacks on infantry are 2:1 against a
brigademass or a column, and 3:1 against a line with secure flanks (a
square can be counted as a line with secure flanks)."

The table on page 73 indicates:
3 or 4 sqns. v. 1 bn. - Die III - 2:1 to infantry
2 sqns. v. 1 bn. - Die IV - 3:1 to infantry
1 sqn. v. 1 bn. - Die V - 4:1 to infantry

Defeated infantry - totally defeated
Defeated cavalry - as dice indicates"

On the other hand there seem to be historical examples of the cavalry
advancing threateningly and infantry forming squares resulting in a
period of stand off as the cavalry wait for the infantry to throw away
their fire and the infantry wait for the cavalry to get close enough
for their fire to be effective.

As for tagets of opportunity, it depends on how aggressive (Rash?) the
cavalry commander is and how juicy the target - the chance to catch a
battery without support would encourage the commitment of at least one
squadron if the commander had his regiment to hand.

Beyonf the commitment of a whole squadron the cavalry commander always
has the option to send out some mounted skirmishers to harrass either
the squares or the target of opportunity.

Always bear in mind that the epitome of cavalry combat is to have the
last formed reserve.

David Nichols
"stand and fire at each other for extended periods of
time in Reisswitz with no decisive result "

I forget which battle it was, but there was an
occasion in the 18th century (probably during the 7
years war) when two battalions of Irish troops on
opposite sides stood and fired at each other at about
30 yards for 10 minutes before one unit broke. In the
account I read the winning side found about 45 enemy
casualties when they advanced.

From the limited experience of the re-enactment
battlefield I suspect that the only way they knew the
enemy was still there was from the occasional hail of
lead coming through the smoke.

Paul Wisken
I am pretty sure this was at Malplaquet. There are lots of references eg in ACW to smoke limiting the effectiveness of fire. I believe there was a similar firefight at Albuhera though losses there were high. Like others, I agree with the Griffith thesis that fire alone was not decisive.

Andy Grainger
I wouldn't disagree with Griffiths. However the Reisswitz fire
effect IS potentially decisive. At 100 to 200 paces a battalion's
normal four Skirmish Zugs will, on the best throw of the dice, cause
102 casualties on an opposing skirmish line, 230 casualties on a
battalion in two ranks and 340 on a battalion in three lines. This
is in a two minute period. I would suggest that two turns of fire
at that rate would have a devastating effect on any of those

The 1828 Berlin Wargames Club amendments make several references to
battalions having their skirmishers "thrown back" or "driven in" by
enemy firepower, which suggests that there was some process by which
firepower alone would cause a reaction, or morale result in wargames
paralance, however it is not clear in either Reisswitz or the 1828
supplement just how this happened. Or if it is I am missing it.

As I have said, this would not bother me if I were running a game as
I'd make an arbitrary decision when casualties looked heavy, however
when putting the rules together for publishing I feel I need to get
this right, and I cannot keep saying "When this happens make
something up".


Richard Clarke
Living in a smokeless powder era I suspect we fail to include this in
actions. On windless days only a few discharges must have left the
battlefield a near total maze with limited visibility. How many factor
this into their reports to commanders - and how many player-commanders
would accept such reports? Perhaps I do not need to do a WOTR battle,
just Napoleonic without hills for commaders to stand on!

Chris Russell
One of Prof. Keegan's revelations in "The Face of Battle" was the
number of soldiers at Waterloo who NEVER knew what was going on more
than, say, 20 yards from where they were standing. I forget the
number of the regiment off-hand, but he quotes an account in which a
regimental officer seemed to have basically stood in one place
through the entire affair with a vague sense that something was
going on in the smoke.

More a philosophical question than anything: do reports to
commanders represent only what the subordinates actually know (i.e.
can sense) or -- at the smallest tactical levels particularly -- do
they have to be leavened with at least some of what's really going

Strikes me as a tricky balance. One of the many reasons I very much
want to have at a real KS.


Jim (the gascon)
(and the occasional sight of a flash from a muzzle as the other side fired at them)

Robert A. Mosher
Co B, 28th Mass, The Irish Brigade
The one that I've never seen in any form of wargame or
kriegspiel is the situation reported - I think - by
Capt. Mercer, RHA, at Waterloo, which went something
like this:
Unknown officer: "Stop shooting at us, we're Belgians
on your side"
Mercer; "I'll stop shooting when your chaps stop
shooting at us."
Never seems to happen between red army and blue army,
only when both sides have a few in red or blue against
the trend.
Paul Wisken

Posts : 133
Join date : 2008-12-10

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Re: Kriegsspiel Questions

Post  henridecat on Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:18 pm

This is a very tricky question. When I designed a megagame on Op Crusader 1941 I had to bear in mind that not only did subordinates not know what was going on but they sent back reports about their own men which were completely wrong eg they reported they had 90%of their tanks in action when actually they had 90% out of action. I am sure the same thing has happened in all periods of history. In my experience we may our umpire reports far too accurate - but the alternative is that players would be completely p*****d off.

Perhaps one possibility might be to generate reports which are vague and require a player to assess a variety of pieces of information. This will give him greater choice and involvement but is much more work.

Andy Grainger
In my experience, the players garble incoming data well enough on their own, without any help. Smile

And yes, on the times I've tried systems which garble data for them, it usually pisses players off. :-/

You can get away with known-inaccurate and/or known-incomplete data, though. And I've been able to outright lie to players on occasion - but the system under which this would occur was laid out very explicitly beforehand.

(This was a system for modern warfare, mostly using TacOps to resolve combat. For the electronics battle between counterfire radars and radar-locating gear, I used a fairly simple system: Radars that were on would produce a 6-digit gridref (100 meter accuracy) for any firing enemy artillery -- but over the same span of time (5 minute rounds) the enemy got a die roll, which had a 30% chance of detecting the radar's map quadrant, 30% chance of determining the radar's approximate 4-digit gridref (4 square km reference, in effect), 30% chance of determining the radar's 6-digit gridref.... and a 10% chance of "roll again, and lie, 10% chance of a "no radar was operating" lie. One game wound up hinging on a "no radar" lie -- because it convinced one side to keep its artillery firing instead of displacing, while the other side lined up to slam key batteries.... That said, the hinge nature of that action was driven in large measure by the high quality of both side's artillery officers; both made excellent use of their systems, and the one who did not displace understood both the risk and the need to provide shells on the front line.)

James Sterrett
I wonder if anyone has heard of Megagames? Apparently Brighton Uni had a 'Furry' club for board and character gaming which seems to have been similar to Kriegspiel though played with a greater number of players. I note with curious interest that Andy Grainger has mentioned Megagames in his article lower down this mail.... Bit of a coincidence that.... I am rather hoping to jog some memories on this.

On another note, is anyone running a Kriegspiel game at an exhibition or convention in the forthcoming year? I am sort of volunteering to help or organise if anything is in the pipeline.
Manorcon (boardgames con at Leicester Uni) in second week end of the school holidays in 2008, and have asked if I might like to organise a Kriegspiel game or two at the venue for the delegates. I would be happy to do the same for Gencon next year. If anyone is going to Gencon and wants to discuss this I will be on the front desk much of the time so do stop for a chat.

John Acs
Not sure of your question. Megagames is normally used in repect of:

For which I have been a player twice and umpire twice

similar to Kriegspiel though played with a greater number of players

Traditionally you used all the officers in a unit; we just tend to have a handful as that is what we muster.

Chris Russell

Posts : 133
Join date : 2008-12-10

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