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Origins of the Kriegsspiel

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Origins of the Kriegsspiel - 7/14/2004 10:01:04 PM   

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Reisswitz the Elder
The Kriegsspiel, or war-game was invented in the first years of the 19th century by Baron von Reisswitz, a civil administrator of some kind with an interest in military history. There were a lot of attempts to produce a war-game at this time but they were all based on either chess or cards. In fact chess had a mesmerising effect on war-game design which it is difficult for us to appreciate today, so that there was chess with more squares, chess with more pieces, chess with squares of many colours and chess with more players, pieces, squares and colours. Then Reisswitz came along and decided that what was needed was a return to first principles.

Every aspect of the game was to be looked at anew, starting with the playing area. He decided that this should be an actual model of realistic looking terrain. No flat squares and triangles. Hills should look like hills, rivers should twist and turn like rivers, forests should be allowed to spread out in irregular shapes. Similarly the pieces that represent troops should fit into the landscape somehow, and most importantly, they should only take up the amount of space on the model that they would do in reality. This probably caused Reisswitz a few headaches, but he finally decided on flat blocks that would have the correct frontage, which of course implies a definite scale for troops and terrain. The scale used in the first version was 1:2373, which works out as about 3cm = 100 paces.
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RE: Origins of the Kriegsspiel - 7/21/2004 12:56:08 PM   

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According to The Regulations for the Conduct of the War Game published by the British Army in 1872. The details of the wargame were carefully worked out by Herr von Reiswitz's son who was a Prussian Artillery Officer. The Militar-Wochenblatt published on the 6th March 1824 contains a notice signed by Field Marshal von Muffling (the Prussian Liaison Officer to Wellington at Waterloo) which speaks highly of the instructional value of the game.

It is said that the game was popular amongst Prussian officers but though initially so amongst their Austrian counter-parts it rapidly lost favour when the Austrian Officers realised you couldn't play it for money.

The first wargame regulations published in Britain appeared in 1872 and were compiled by Captain Baring, Royal Artillery. They were based upon a translation of the Anleitung zum Kriegspiel written by Captain von Tschischwitz. General Airey mentions that HRH the Commander in Chief thought highly of the game, and directed that it should be played according to Baring's rules. Sets of wargaming equipment were then issued to military units.

The game required three rooms, one for the umpire, one for the Red General and one for the Blue General. Each contained a map with a scale of 6" to the mile and symbols representing the units. Control Room staff consists of three umpires. The Chief Umpire and an assistant for each army. All movements and combat results were calculated by the control room staff.

I have actually seen a Wargame Room set up in the manner described above. It was located in the upper floor of the ICL Training Centre where I used to work at Beaumont, Old Windsor. Beaumont used to be a Jesuit boys school and as such trained young boys for careers as officers in the British Army. There are large memorials to those who died in The Boer War in what used to be the School Hall and a memorial to those who died in WW1 in the grounds.

When I was there the Wargame Room was being used by the Management Skills Division for Management Training. It still had the original map boards and a full size sand table in the control room.

< Message edited by Didz -- 7/21/2004 10:56:40 AM >


Fortis balore et armis

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RE: Origins of the Kriegsspiel - 7/21/2004 3:03:51 PM   

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Good posts guys!

Of course you're all aware of Avalon Hill's International Kriegspiel Society.


Peux Ce Que Veux
in den vereinigten staaten hergestellt

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RE: Origins of the Kriegsspiel - 7/21/2004 3:49:24 PM   


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In terms of 'commercial' publications of rules for wargaming my understanding is that it was Little Wars by H.G. Wells, published in 1913, that was first.


It's Just a Ride!

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