Scenarios for Kriegsspiel

by Bill Leeson

Types of Scenario

Scenarios come in many different sorts and sizes, but from the organisers point of view they can be divided into two main categories. There are games which require no more than a quick introduction, and there are those which will usually take fifteen minutes or so of preparation by the player before the game can begin.

The first kind, which for want of a better idea I will call the ‘Instant’ variety, certainly require a good deal of preparation on the part of the organiser, but they are ideal for introducing people to the game, and they are particularly useful for public demonstration/participation games where you are going to ask for volunteers from the public to take part. They get the beginner into the game with the minimum of fuss once a few basic ideas about how a map game works have been explained.

The Instant Scenario

The ‘Instant’ scenario has to take the player right into the game at a point where action is likely to break out at any moment, and decisions will have to be made.

Your first draft might be: “You are leading a detachment which is bringing essential supplies to Habonville via Amanweiler. At this moment you are at the head of your advance guard which is 500 paces (about ¼ of a mile) south of Amanweiler, and the Main Body of the detachment and the supply column are still climbing up through the Montveau valley (see sketch map). As you look towards Amanweiler you can see one of your outriders galloping towards you.”

Not bad so far, but at this point you will realise that there are a lot of unanswered questions to be dealt with, and you will probably need to start again.For instance;

  • Are we in friendly country or enemy territory?
  • Are there friendly troops at Amanweiler on whom we may be able to call for assistance?
  • Do we want the player calling on troops from Habonville in any case?
  • How large is the detachment? How long is the supply train to be?
  • Would the player have any idea of the likely direction from which an enemy attack might come?
  • Is it reasonable to suppose that flank guards or outriders would have been assigned? What are the leader’s actual orders, and what should his priorities be?

Finally, notice how much easier it is to assimilate the situation if you have a primitive sketch map to refer to which shows the approximate position of every place-name mentioned in the scenario. Your second draft might look something like:

Reports for Red

General Idea

The map shows part of Red territory, which is under attack from Blue forces from the west. The main Blue army is still several days’ march away from Metz.

Seperate Report for Red

You have been entrusted with the safe conduct of a supply column from Metz to Habonville. As of yesterday no enemy troops had been seen in the immediate area, but there were reports of enemy cavalry patrols being sighted north of St Privat. The column will depart from the St Martin Barracks, just outside the western exit of the Metz fortress at 6.30am Sunday 18th May, 1814. Note that both Habonville and Verneville can be considered as fairly safe havens in case of need, with good defensive features, also the farms in the area mostly have 4ft high stone wall surrounds. The rivers are fordable but could cause delay to wheeled vehicles if bridges are not used

Red Detachment

  • O. Lt. Smirnoff.
  • 1 sqn. Dragoons (4 troops)
  • 1 sqn. Hussars (4 troops)
  • 1 comp. Jagers
  • 10thInfantry Regt. (3 bns.)
  • 1 6pdr foot battery
  • 1 supply column (2 miles length)

Order of March

  • Advance Guard 2 troops Dragoons
  • Interval 1000 paces
  • Main Body 2 troops Hussars *
  • 6pdr battery
  • Jager company
  • 2 ½ bns. infantry
  • Supply column
  • ½ bn. infantry
  • Left Flank Guard 2 troops Dragoons
  • 2 troops Hussars**

* Lt Smirnoff will be with the Hussars at the head of the main body.

**The flank guards are to travel in the open country to the west of the Montveau woods as the column makes its way up the valley.

Situation at 9.30 am

You have just ridden up to join the advance guard, which is now about 500 paces ( ¼ mile) south of Amanweiler. The rest of the column is still making their way up the Montveau valley. As you look towards Amanweiler you see one of the outriders who were sent on ahead is galloping back towards you.

This leaves Red ready to get straight into the game and begin issuing orders as soon as he receives the message from the outriders. This can be written out in readiness, and as soon as the umpire is satisfied that the players understand how the game works the umpire will hand Red the message, saying, “It is now 9.32 am and the outrider has just handed you this message”.

Outriders Report for Red at 9.32 am

Civilians report that enemy cavalry have been seen in St. Privat this morning, but Amanweiler is clear.

Up until this moment the players have been in a kind of “limbo” in which time stands still, at least as far as the game is concerned, so that for both players it has been 9.32 am for maybe some ten minutes or so. But as soon as the umpire hands over the reports times at 9.32 am the clock starts ticking. If Red has no orders to give, the convoy will continue on its course. If he stops the convoy for ten minutes while he considers the situation, and then gives some orders, the orders will start to take effect as if issued at 9.42. This will be covered more thoroughly in the notes on umpiring the Kriegsspiel.

Reports for Blue

When we start to think about the scenario for Blue it is often necessary to make yet more changes to Red’s scenario. Both sides need to have a reasonable chance of success. Both sides must know what their objective is, but sometimes we can have a hidden objective. In the present case we can say that Blue has been told a supply column is expected to be in this area which he must try to capture or destroy. On the other hand we can have him carrying out a routine reconnaissance when the chance to win a bit of glory for himself is presented. Either will do, but in the latter case we have to drop some very broad hints that there might be something more to it than reconnaissance.

The General Idea

The map shows part of Red territory, which is under attack from Blue forces from the west. The main Blue army is still several days’ march away from Metz.

Seperate Report for Blue

You have been ordered to carry out a reconnaissance of the area between Verneville and the Montveau valley, and seize any opportunity to capture or destroy any enemy supply columns you might encounter. Earlier this morning cavalry patrols penetrated as far south as Verneville. Verneville and Habonville were found to have quite good defensive possibilities. The farms nearby were found to have stone walls round them, about 4ft high. The rivers were found to be fairly easily forded; though likely to cause delays for wheeled vehicles. One of the scouting parties also noticed a dust cloud hanging over the lower Montveau valley, which indicated the presence of a moving column. Another patrol was sent to investigate further. Meanwhile the main force of your detachment is making for St Privet from the north.

Blue Detachment

  • O. Lt. Dannhauer.
  • 2 sqns. Dragoons
  • 1 sqn Hussars
  • 1 comp Jagers
  • 2 bns 17thInfantry regt.
  • ½ 6pdr horse art. Battery

Order of March

  • Hussar sqn*
  • 2 sqns Dragoons
  • ½ battery
  • Jager company
  • 2 infantry bns.

*Hussars have been sent on ahead to reconnoitre

Situation at 9.30 am

The head of the main body is just arriving on the high ground just east of St. Privat, where you and the Hussar squadron have already assembled. The two scouts who were sent to reconnoitre the enemy column can be seen galloping towards you from the direction of Amanweiler.

Scouts’s Report at 9.32 am

“We managed to go down the eastern side of the Montveau Woods without being seen, and found that the column is a supply train with escort, including a battery of 6 pdrs. We did not see any cavalry with the column except for a few Hussars.”

General and Special Ideas

I have used the conventional Kriegsspiel terms here. The general idea contains any information known to both sides, and it is therefore the same for both sides. The special idea, or separate report, gives information which is confidential to one side.

It contains:

  • Any orders received by the leader.
  • Any information he might have about the enemy.
  • The units under his command.
  • The present position of his troops.
  • Any relevant details about terrain, objective, weather etc.
  • Umpire’s requirements such as written orders, order of march and route to be taken.
  • Whatever else might be needed for a particular game.

Note. In the above example nothing has been required of the player in the scenario except that he read it and give some attention to the situation, which is why it is so quickly got going. The umpire has already worked out the route and order of march, which would normally be left to the player to decide. Sometimes a player will object that he would never have chosen a particular route or disposition for himself. The umpire can usually make minor adjustments without upsetting his game idea, or he can say that the real detachment leader, who issued these ridiculous orders, fell of his horse and broke his neck not five minutes ago and that he, the player, has had to step in at the last minute. He will be free to make any changes he likes once the game has begun – allowing for whatever time it will take to move troops to new positions.

Normal Scenarios

In more normal scenarios we can allow for a little preparation by the players before the game. This also calls for some careful thought on behalf of the organiser, but of a slightly different kind. If we take the “instant” scenario above, for instance, Red would plan his own route from Metz to Habonville, and decide on his own order of march and make his own flank guard arrangements etc. Of course it would need a larger map of the area because he would need to see the ground between Metz and Habonville. In Blue’s case he starts off the map anyway so we would have to say that his starting-off camp is about three hours march from St Privat, or any other entry point along the northern edge of the map. We might have to say he is 2 ½ to 3 hrs from St Privat in case Red finds a much quicker way of getting there. Blue will have to stay with the main body until he gets onto the map, but he can give orders for any cavalry scouts he sends on ahead as they will get there in half the time of the main column.

It is worth remembering that a game which needs some player preparation will also need more umpire preparation on the day before the game can actually begin. If both sides spend ten minutes planning and writing out the order of march etc. the umpire will have to read both sets of orders and work out the intended troop movements on the map before he can report back to the players, which could take another ten minutes – this is assuming that the players are already familiar with how the game works and do not need to spend time on that aspect. This can seem like a very slow start sometimes, especially if you are new to the game. Ideally, of course, the preparation can all be done in advance . The players received their briefings the week before and returned their initial orders to the umpire in good time by post, and the umpire has been able to get everything ready on the day so that the game can begin at once.

Reports

The General Idea would be the same as before. The Separate Report would be slightly different:

You have been entrusted with the safe conduct of a supply column from the St Martin Barracks just outside Metz to Habonville. As of yesterday no enemy troops had been seen in the immediate area, i.e. as far as Habonville, Verneville, or St Privat, but some enemy cavalry patrols had been seen several hours ride north of St Privat. The column will depart from the St Martin Barracks at 6.30am tomorrow.

Being familiar with the area you will know that both Habonville and Verneville offer quite good defences in case of need, also that the farms in that area mostly have stout stone 4ft high walls. The rivers are easily forded in most places at this time of year, but could cause delay to wheeled vehicles if bridges are not used. The escort is being assembled at the St Martin Barracks and will consist of: (same list as before)

You must provide the umpire with:

  • The route you will be following.
  • The order of march for your column.
  • Details of any advance guards, flank guards etc.
  • Your own position in the column.
  • Any special orders for units.

Ringing the Changes

They used to say of the cowboy films that there were only six basic plots. There are probably not many more basic plots for Kriegsspiel scenarios, but you can ring the changes on them, and they quite often look very different on a different part of the map.

Some basic ideas include:

  • An encounter battle.
  • An advance guard action.
  • A rear guard action –delaying tactic.
  • An attack on a flank guard.
  • The reconnaissance party.
  • Forming a bridgehead.
  • Recovering from a defeat.
  • Attack on a foraging party.
  • Attack and defence of a village.
  • The convoy escort.

These can be further varied by having more than one player on one or both sides, and these are varied again according to whether the players of one side have separate briefings and independent commands, or whether they share the same scenario. In the latter case one of the players will usually be assigned to a subordinate role. Remember that for more players you need extra umpires or the game becomes too unwieldy.

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