KRIEGSSPIEL NEWS 61
Last month Arthur Harman managed to run a Paddy Griffith type ‘Generalship’ game in spite of yet another mix up by me on dates. For more details see 3. below.
We also recently put on an impromptu traditional Kriegsspiel for Corinne Mahaffey who was over from North America to defend her doctoral theses (which she did successfully!). Corinne and her husband James used to be regulars when they were studying in the UK a few years back, and it was nice seeing her again.
The next game is in September, at a new venue – Ben Hutchings’ house in Greenwich. The game will be based on the Tunisian campaign in WW2. For more details see 2. below. The game will be preceded by a strategic phase to run during the summer. This is intended to allow participation by non-UK players, and will start in late July/early August.
Can those who would like to play please contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org Could anyone interested in the summer phase please do so by first week in July.
1. Forthcoming games
2. September game – Tunisian campaign in WW2 from Ben Hutchings
3. May Kriegsspiel – the Bosrovian invasion by Arthur Harman
4. Red (Ruritanian) briefing
5. The late Bosrovian invasion and how I defeated them by Paul Dowden
6. General Taube, hero of Ruritania writes to the game designer
7. Thoughts on the Generalship Game by Jon Casey
8. A Napoleonic naval Kriegsspiel? from Martin James
9. Silicon Sid
11. In the courts
1. Forthcoming games
Sunday 21st September Greenwich 2.30 pm Tunisia campaign WW2 from Ben Hutchings
Saturday 22nd November Hemel 2.30 pm Late Napoleonic corps level battle
Sunday 25th January 2004 Hemel 2.30 pm Traditional detachments Kriegsspiel
If you fancy running a scenario, let us know, as we are happy to re-jig the list to fit it in. We will also provide assistance with the design and umpiring if you need this.
Games are usually held at Bill’s house. Pick up from Hemel Hempstead railway station (and drop off) can normally be arranged. Games finish around 7 pm. If you are interested in playing, give Bill a ring or email as early as possible before the game so we can plan the numbers. If we know you are coming we can also let you know if there are any last minute changes to arrangements.
For some games we send briefings out prior to the game, so early contact means you are more likely to get a key command.
2. September game – Tunisian campaign in WW2 from Ben Hutchings
The September game will be a divisional WWII game set in Tunisia in late 1942 with daily turns and battalion manoeuvre units. There will be 2 parts to the game:
The first is for those players (including those outside the UK) who cannot physically make the game venue and will be for Divisional and Corps commander roles. They will play out the initial strategic moves by email in the 2-3 weeks leading up to the game date. We need 5 players for this.
On the game date itself, at least 3 of these players will continue to participate via email in real time. Game time will be approx 11:00 GMT to 19:00 GMT.
The 2nd part is for those players who come to Greenwich on the game date in September. Their role will be of Brigade/Regiment commanders. We need at least 6 players for this.
I will need 2 people to volunteer to umpire with me, making a total of 9 people we need to turn up at the venue and 12 in total we need in action on the day.
nicked from ttp://www.ijn.dreamhost.com/Non-Naval%20Models/
I will aim to have all commands allocated by the end of August so please volunteer as soon as you are able to commit.
Neat idea re the non-UK player involvement. We should probably test out the communications before the game. Everyone please note that this game will probably start at 11.00 am, rather than the usual 2.30 pm. If you are interested, please contact Ben.
3. May Kriegsspiel – the Bosrovian invasion by Arthur Harman
Vince Chan and I presented the May game at Bill’s home. It was an Army-Level game, but a radical departure from that presented by Martin, and previously described in KN 59: each turn represented a day, rather than fifteen minutes; Corps and Divisions, rather than Brigades or Battalions were the level of resolution; maps were highly stylised, with little or no topographical detail and point to point movement, and the focus was on how the General chose to spend his time, hour by hour, during the day.
The game had been adapted from ‘The Generalship Game’ in Paddy Griffith’s Napoleonic Wargaming For Fun [Ward Lock, 1980, pp. 78-93]. The game was intended for two players, each commanding an army, but I could see no reason why the structure could not also accommodate players as Corps Commanders, which is what we attempted to do, simply by issuing additional briefings, summaries of times for activities and troop movement rates and daily activity tracks. In this way, we intended to create a chain of command, whereby Army Commanders would write general/mission orders for their Corps Commanders, who would then submit orders for each of the Divisions under their command to the umpires for implementation on the master map. The umpires would report back to Corps Commanders, who would then be responsible for allocating time to report to their Army Commanders.
In Paddy’s original game, players in the roles of opposing Army Commanders plan their activities for the forthcoming day on a rectangular track, representing a period of 24 hours, divided into segments of thirty minutes. The book suggests placing counters, sized to reflect the time necessary to complete various tasks, around the track, but I always felt this was too cumbersome, because it would prevent the umpires removing the players’ tracks to compare their proposed activities with the situation displayed on the master map. Instead, I decided to use Xerox copies of the track, upon which players could write their intentions. This would then form a record of the Army Commanders’ activities for use after the game.
I had been fortunate to obtain a copy of Vae Victis, the French wargame magazine, at the Napoleonic Fair, which featured an SPI-style boardgame of the Polish Campaigns of 1807 and 1813 with point to point movement that would be ideal for the Generalship Game. All that was necessary was to Xerox A3 copies of both halves of the map for players and umpires to use on the day, and email reduced copies to the Army Commanders to plan their initial orders beforehand. Although the original map was in colour, the black and white Xerox copies had sufficient contrast to be perfectly acceptable for use in the game. An A4 reduction of the map accompanies this article.
The original Vae Victis game used counters to represent entire corps, no smaller units being portrayed on the map or in the rules, but, if individual Corps Commanders were to be played, Divisions would have to be represented on both players’ and umpires’ maps. At first I considered using plastic milk bottle tops, but then realised that William’s toybox held the ideal troop counters – LEGO building blocks! After some experimentation, Vince and I decided to settle on the 2×2 square blocks as the basic Division counters, using Red or Blue bases to indicate the sides, topped with white, yellow and black blocks to indicate arm of service [infantry, cavalry and artillery respectively], writing Corps/Division ID numbers on the uppermost blocks with water-soluble OHP pens. This size block fitted in on the space available on the maps, was easy to pick up and stable when placed in position. They could also be joined together in a stack when Divisions belonging to the same Corps closed up to occupy a fortress or prepare for battle, and be easily separated when Divisions were detached to march on parallel roads or forage for supplies.
I made a few changes to the original rules, mainly to the movement rates, to suit the scale of the scenario and the map, and to add the extra detail I wanted to incorporate to keep Corps Commanders busy planning their routes. I also replaced the original Combat Results and Casualty systems with some, based upon the principles of my favourite system, Strategos.
Playing the game proved that attempting to monitor six individual daily activity tracks with only two umpires was impossible if an acceptable rate of play was to be maintained, though most players seemed to find no difficulty completing their various military duties and more idiosyncratic personal activities [Martin was particularly excited by the thought of Generalmajor Taube’s Circassian slave-girls!] within each day.
(see more detail below on Generalmajor Taube. I have still to recover from the game, but my physician has recommended that it would be dangerous for me to cease treatment too suddenly! Martin)
If the game had continued to the point where battle commenced, however, they would probably have had to devote too much time to writing orders or inspiring/rallying their troops to undertake some of their less martial activities, I suspect. Part of the problem was the fact that the general’s daily activity track had to be cross-referenced with his orders for his Divisions, written on a separate sheet. I am attempting to design a new format for the activity track, whereon orders for units can also be recorded alongside the time of day they were written.
The map, though ideal in many respects for the Generalship Game, proved somewhat less than user-friendly because many points along the Turnpikes and Roads have no names by which they can be easily identified, causing problems for both umpires and players. I have temporarily given the Turnpikes alphabetic codes, based upon the initial letter of a fortress and the compass bearing the Turnpike tends to follow, numbering each point consecutively from the fortress. Thus, a the second point along a Turnpike running South East from Thorn would be labelled TSE2, and so on. I have not, however, labelled unnamed points on minor roads, so there is still some room for confusion and/or error which may be quite authentic [after all, the famous battle of the American Revolution popularly known as ‘Bunker Hill’ was actually fought on Breed’s Hill, Boston!]. Note that this coding does not appear on the small copy of the map accompanying this article.
Another problem, though not, in my opinion, unique to the Generalship Game, was our inability to generate sufficient intelligence reports, as if from cavalry patrols and infantry units marching through villages, to occupy all players and provide a flow of incomplete, often contradictory information to keep them guessing throughout the day. In the end, we simply gave all players an intelligence report at the end of each day, unless something so significant had occurred that they would have become aware of it before that time, and thus sacrificed a great deal of the atmosphere I had hoped to create.
One solution would, of course, be to return to the original concept and play only the Army Commanders’ daily activities, reducing the Corps Commanders almost to assistant umpires, responsible for interpreting Corps orders by moving their own Division troop blocks, resolving any contacts or other sources of intelligence and reporting back to their superiors, both in character and by writing reports from non-played characters. Another might be to devise an all-purpose, pre-printed intelligence proforma, upon which Corps Commanders and/or umpires could insert unit ID, tick statements which were applicable or delete those which were not, sign, time and date.
Vince and I have since presented the game at Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group [hereinafter CLWG], using the same scenario (see Section 7. below for Jon Casey’s thoughts. Martin). This time, because there were insufficient players to portray all the Army and Corps commanders, only the Bosrovian [Blue] chain of command was recreated; the Ruritanian [Red] Army was simply controlled by two players, acting as the Army commander and his Chief of Staff, who wrote out both the General’s personal activities and also detailed orders for their Divisions. Players used my redesigned daily order track for their own activities and orders, and Kriegsspiel message sheets for communications with each other.
The Bosrovian Army commander would thus put simply ‘Write Orders for 1st Corps’, for example, in the appropriate box on his daily track for submission to the umpires, and wrote out his orders for the commander of 1st Corps on a message sheet, which was given to that player at the appropriate time, after allowing for the time a rider would take to gallop between Army and 1st Corps Headquarters. It would then be up to 1st Corps commander to translate his instructions into more detailed orders for his Divisions, and allocate time for that on his personal daily track. The players’ daily tracks were then collected by the umpires and the master map updated.
The interface between Army and Corps commanders – the latter having to wait until they had received orders from the former before completing their daily tracks – remained a problem, because it slowed the game down and thus left the Ruritanian Army team waiting too long for feedback between turns. Perhaps we should have been more rigorous in insisting that the Bosrovian players completed their tracks within a short time limit, though the Bosrovian Army commander very sensibly wrote his orders for his Corps commanders first, so we could deliver them, before completing his own daily track.
Again, the umpires did not have enough time to generate adequate amounts of reports and other intelligence for the players. Several interesting ideas were suggested afterwards, such as having numerous pre-prepared cards or sheets containing irrelevant or no information, through which players would have to sift to discover those containing useful intelligence. The effort and amount of preparation required, however, might be out of proportion to the game as a whole.
Another suggestion was to keep players occupied whilst the umpires processed turns by giving them symbolic tasks to complete, within time limits, in order to achieve the desired results of inspections, reconnaissance and other activities which, if successful, would confer combat advantages on their troops. Card games, building models out of spare LEGO for new magazines or headquarters, and even painting toy soldiers for inspections were suggested, but a suitable symbolic representation of Generalmajor Taube’s Circassian slave girls eluded us…
Apart from the delay in processing turns, the game proceeded very smoothly for the Ruritanian team of Army commander and Chief of Staff, who had no difficulty writing orders for Divisions, so this may be the best format for future development of the Generalship Game concept. Wellington’s army, after all, did not employ a corps structure for most of the Peninsular War: he and Sir George Murray wrote orders to divisional commanders. There is no reason why the Red and Blue armies should not follow this eminently successful, and entirely historical, precedent!
If one wants more than four players to be able to participate, then an 1813 War of Liberation type scenario, with several armies in the theatre of operations, seems to be a better bet for a successful game, and this will be my next Generalship Game project: like Wellesley in the Low Countries in 1794, ‘I have learned what not to do, which is always useful.’
I really do hope you run an 1813 scenario. Having everyone at the same level of command (army commander) neatly sidesteps the interface between Army and Corps commanders issue. It’s also my favourite Napoleonic campaign.
4. Red (Ruritanian) briefing (see accompanying map)
Ruritania [Red] invaded Bosrovia [Blue] several years ago, and forced King Boris VI accept the humiliating Peace of Nennweiler. Since then, however, Ruritanian forces recently have suffered significant reverses in campaigns against other nations to the east, so King Boris has decided to seize the opportunity to avenge the insult to Bosrovian honour by declaring war. He has sent the relatively small, but fiercely patriotic Bosrovian Army to attack the north-west frontier of Ruritania, which runs from the Baltique down the River Vistule as far as the fortress of Modlin, and thence eastward along the River Narew.
The Bosrovian Army has undergone considerable reform and modernisation, is now organized remarkably like the armies of Ruritania and employs similar tactics: deployed skirmishers followed by battalion columns in attack; lines supported by battalion columns in defence. Any minor differences in weaponry or tactics will not be significant at the scale to which this game will be played.
It is the evening of 17th May, 1821. The weather is fine and has been so for several weeks.
Special idea for Red
The Grand Army of Ruritania is campaigning far to the east [off map], leaving the defence of the coast and the frontier with Bosrovia [area depicted on map] to the Army of Konigsberg, commanded by Generalleutnant Rumpler. Following the declaration of war by King Boris VI of Bosrovia, a month ago, Bosrovian forces appeared before the fortress of Modlin and began a desultory bombardment, but made no determined effort to prosecute a siege. Generalleutnant Rumpler concluded that there was no necessity to reinforce the garrison of Modlin, a modern fortress designed according to the principles of Vauban, which the commandant assured him was stout-hearted and well supplied with powder and ball to repel any attack, suspecting that this was but a feint. He recalled troops quartered in villages and farms south of Konigsberg, and began to muster the army at that city, where he established depots of supplies and ammunition for the forthcoming campaign.
Intelligence has just reached Army Headquarters at Konigsberg, however, that Bosrovian forces, estimated to number at least three divisions, have crossed the Vistule south-east of Thorn and have invested that fortress. Thorn is a mediaeval town, improved by the addition of artillery fortifications such as bastions and ravelins. The commandant of Thorn has requested assistance, believing that his garrison of a few veteran battalions, reinforced by the town militia, will not be able to hold the fortress for long against a regular siege or a determined assault.
Army of Konigsberg: Generalleutnant Rumpler
Army Headquarters [Konigsberg]
I Corps: Generalmajor Taube
Headquarters [Preussisch Eylau]
Infantry Divisions XI [Kreuzberg], XII [Preussisch Eylau], XIII [Friedland]& XIV [Allenburg]
Cavalry Division XXI [Landsberg/Bartenstein/Schippenbeil]
II Corps: Generalmajor Pfalz
Infantry Divisions XV [Marienbourg], XVI [Elbing], XVII [Braunsberg] & XVIII [Spanden]
Cavalry Division XXII [Preussisch Holland]
Reserve: Colonel Schuckert
Infantry Divisions XIX & XX [Konigsberg]
Artillery Park [Konigsberg]
Intelligence of enemy
Reports have been coming in of Bosrovian cavalry patrols appearing on the opposite bank of the river from farmers in villages near crossing points along the north bank of the Vistule for the past week.
The commandant of Modlin previously reported one, possibly two, Bosrovian army corps on the opposite bank of the River Vistule.
The commandant of Thorn reports that a Bosrovian cavalry division crossed the River Vistule two days ago, which is confirmed by border guards who have abandoned their posts in the face of overwhelming numbers of Bosrovian troops and civilians who have fled their farms to escape the invader. The commandant further reports that the fortress has been invested by at least one infantry division, supported by heavy artillery, and that the enemy has opened the first parallel of lines of contravallation.
Relieve Thorn before it falls and drive Bosrovian forces back over the Vistule.
Hold the line of the Vistule against any future Bosrovian invasion attempts.
5. The late Bosrovian invasion and how I defeated them by Paul Dowden
(Extracts from the diary of P. D. Pfalz, Lieutenant General of Cavalry, Imperial Ruritanian Army. )
Things are looking up!! Renowned for my energy and dynamism, I have been given pole position in resisting the Bosrovian invasion, my II Corps is right up against the Vistule river, from whence those peasants emanate.
A chance to make my name at last, having oddly been dropped from the starting lineup for the glorious campaign raging further east.
Or maybe Rumpler – C in C – is setting me up to blame me for the fiasco which may well ensue from his leadership. The silly old duffer spends most of his time slumped over a table by all accounts. It’s midnight and I am still waiting for his orders – all I have got is his general appreciation of the situation, in which he requires me to watch the whole western border, re-conquer half the southland, AND relieve Thorn. Well, if he thinks I shall play the fall guy, he’s got another think coming. I am going to draft my own orders without his input. Offensive ones of course!!
By lunchtime I still had no orders from the C in C, but had heard a rumour that he was fighting with the commander of 1st Corps over a baggage train harlot. Thus is the fate of nations determined!! Then, blow me if Rumpler doesn’t come galloping up to me halfway down the road to Osterode –red in the face and out of breath, so the reports might be true.
Anyhow, he wants me to forget about forming line with I Corps around Loebau, and keep my troops further west. Most of them heading west anyway, so I assent, and he rides off into the sunset with an inaudible sigh of relief from me. But the 18th infantry division have a nice road down to Deutsch Eylau and bugger me if I am going to order them off onto a track so he can get his Reserve Corps past, so I don’t. Next day of course he changes his mind about the Reserve Corps, says he is sending them to Thorn and then changes again and sends them South anyway.
This day I actually get some useful intelligence from Rumpler, to the effect that the Bosros, in their usual predictable way, are advancing straight down the main turnpikes into our glorious country, from their starting points at Modlin and Thorn.
Even more surprising, the old duffer actually comes up with a sensible strategy, to let them freely advance and then hit them hard on their north west flank.
My boys are sent immediately into attacking positions for the flank attack on the morrow, behind the screen formed by the gallant 12th Cavalry, my old division, to hide their movements.
The lads attack at dawn, forming four spearheads. The 15th attacks the besiegers of Thorn, but are outnumbered and driven off after a fierce struggle. They fortify a village and await reinforcement by the 17th division which is still heading south.
The 16th and the 18th have a much easier time of things, seizing Loebau against no opposition and Starsburg with very little. These are both critical positions on the main road from Thorn, and also control several river crossings over the Drevenz. The Bosros however appear completely to have neglected them, and my boys are able to fortify the towns against counterattacks, which never arrive.
It is said that one Bosro general, O’Higgins by name, ordered to march east down a track, disdained to do so for fear of getting dust on his new boots and his splendid uniform, and instead marched due west to where there was a decent road!!
Well ensconced across the principal highway and on the river bridges, we await Bosro countermeasures, but it seems they have lost heart and gone home to their hovels. Taube’s I Corps has done little in the last days and given away much ground while its Commander allegedly spent much time in a wagon full of dancing girls, which accompanied his baggage train. But I hear both he and Rumpler are already claiming for themselves the victory that is rightfully mine………………….
snaffled from http://www.toy-soldiers.ca/ comingsoon.htm
6. General Taube, hero of Ruritania, raps with the game designer
Ah, General Pfalz. I know that name. Isn’t he the new curator of the Konigsberg Municipal Zoo? Anyway, the personal briefing I received from Arthur read as follows:
“You are a grizzled veteran of many campaigns who had retired from the active list, but have been recalled upon the sudden declaration of war by Bosrovia to take command of I Corps.
In your youth, you were a dashing and energetic officer, but advancement in rank led you to adopt a sybaritic life that did not, perhaps, improve your performance on campaign. Their commander’s long evenings [3 hours a day] at the table with brandy and cigars tended to prevent your troops from moving off smartly the following morning, and it was not unknown for you to doze quietly while the Army commander was issuing orders – relying on his Chief of Staff to explain them to you later!
You are also notorious for keeping nubile, teenage Circassian slave-girls in your personal baggage train, and for spending time [at least 2 hours a day] with them in your carriage, rather than visiting your troops or at your headquarters. Despite your frequent derelictions of duty, however, you did win battles – or were you just very lucky?”
stolen from http://www.hancockinn.com/html/ directions.htm
Wow! When I thought about things later, I realised that my character had only 5.5 hrs of truly discretionary activity per day, although I appreciate he was perhaps somewhere near the extreme [he was required to sleep for 7 hours, carouse 3, teach algebra to his slave girls 2, hunt 2, administer his LOC minimum 1, write routine dispatches 1, eat meals 1.5, work on intelligence minimum 1].
Who was he based on by the way?
Your character was based loosely on Kutusov, whose private store of vodka, pornographic book collection and slave girls were discovered when he died on campaign.
Now I never knew that. There was nothing about in War & Peace?!
Contrary to Tolstoy’s portrayal of K as a Russian ‘man of the people’, he was of aristocratic pedigree, but may have cultivated a ‘simple soul’ image to gain popularity with troops and excuse his laziness and sleeping through Austerlitz briefing. Rather like the perversion of Private Hook’s character in ‘Zulu’, to make a dramatic/philosophical point.
7. Thoughts on the Generalship Game by Jon Casey
As Arthur mentioned, he and Vince ran the same scenario a few weeks later at Chestnut Lodge, and Jon participated, as Blue C in C.
I remember having read Paddy Griffith’s idea for a generalship game many years ago and was intrigued to see how it would work in practice.
Arthur had in effect grafted the generalship game onto a more conventional map kriegsspiel. His scenario had a Bosrovian army (Blue) invading part of Ruritania (Red). I played the Blue Army Commander, with three other players taking the roles of my Corps Commanders. Jim, with Mukul as his chief of staff, played the Red Army with no Corps-level players.
All communication was by written message and daily written orders. There were a number of features of the operational aspect of the game which I thought worked very well – the use of point-to-point movement and measuring daily movement by “marches” made for easy calculation of moves without in my view any significant loss of historical “feel. The use of coloured Lego bricks to mark units on both players’ maps and the umpire map also worked well – I was reassured at the end of the game to see that the positions of the Blue units on the umpire map closely corresponded with my own map – something that isn’t always the case for me!
However, what worked less well for me – and I think from comments at the end of the day other players also had problems with – was the “generalship” aspect of the game. Essentially, this is a sort of resource allocation aspect of the game, the resource in question being each played general’s time throughout each day. Each of us was required to allocate, on a daily basis, our time to various activities. Some of these (e.g. sleeping, eating) were compulsory, and the played character would suffer penalties if the amount of time required (which varied according to the character’s age, constitution etc) was not spent in that activity. Others (e.g. inspecting troops, making speeches, personal reconnaissance) were optional but could attract advantages if the game came to a battle. Others related more to the individual general’s recreational preferences…
In theory, we were supposed to allocate these time slots at the start of each turn (i.e. at sundown for the following day’s activities), and the planned allocation might be disturbed by the need to react to events during the day. This largely broke down because we were not all working to a common game time. For me there was a period of activity (allocating my activities for the next day and writing orders to the Corps), which notionally took place between sunset and midnight, followed by an inactive period waiting for reports. Meanwhile the Corps commanders needed to issue orders to their divisions, get intelligence from the umpires and report this back to me, but there was little sense of the time at which these reports arrived and of any impact this might have on the rest of my day’s activities.
Thinking about this later, I felt that at least part of the problem lay in Paddy’s original idea of this as a resource allocation exercise requiring daily decisions. My feeling is that armies actually operate much more by routine than by ad hoc decision-making, and I would have expected that (especially since the campaign in this scenario had already been going for some time) both Army and Corps level commanders and headquarters would have established a daily routine for things like sleep, meals, staff conferences, intelligence reporting etc (and probably for the more essential recreational activities), and that there would be a relatively limited period in each day which might be used for “optional” activities such as reconnaissance or inspections.
Equally, when armies were advancing or withdrawing I would expect there to be a well-established routine for movement of units and headquarters, although these routines might be disrupted by contact with the enemy or by the weather. Taking time at the start of the game to establish these routines would have reduced the time needed to write out daily activities and could have helped to impose a common game time, and thus made more sense of the “generalship” aspects of the game. It might also have encouraged me to think (and issue orders) further ahead instead of on a daily turn-by-turn basis.
I would be interested to know how different Jim and Mukul’s experience of the game was in view of the fact that they did not have Corps-level players to interact with.
Alex Kleanthous, one of the Blue Corps Commanders, queried in the wash-up whether I had been doing too much micro-management by ordering his Divisions to specific locations or to use specific routes. I think the problem here was not that an Army Commander thinking “two-down” is unhistorical (e.g. Wellington’s Peninsular despatches show him ordering the movement of Brigades, the “two-down” level in his army). Rather, the problem was that since the Division was the level of resolution there were no “two-down” decisions for the Corps-level players to make which for some of the time left them feeling underemployed.
Some Thoughts on the Tactical Problem in the Generalship Game
The scenario for Arthur’s Generalship game has Bosrovia (Blue) invading part of Ruritania (Red) while the main Ruritanian forces are engaged elsewhere. Blue has 4 Corps, numbering 2 Guard, 9 Line and 3 Cavalry Divisions, while Red is believed to have some 10 Divisions available.
The area covered by the game map can be thought of as roughly a triangle with Konigsberg at its apex in the north, and the border fortresses of Thorn and Modlin at the western and eastern ends of the base respectively. Thorn and Modlin both stand on the major river Vistule which forms the border, and are connected by a lateral turnpike road some 10 marches long north of the river. Konigsberg is connected to both Thorn and Modlin by turnpike roads just under 20 marches long, although on the side of the triangle between Konigsberg and Thorn there is a choice of two approaches, through the fortress at Graudenz or via Lobau and Starsburg. These turnpikes converge on Thorn and are linked by a number of minor lateral roads.
Between Thorn and Modlin there are two turnpikes crossing the Vistule by bridges. The western one runs north to join the lateral Thorn – Modlin turnpike at Lipno, 3 marches east of Thorn. The eastern one crosses the river at Plock and runs north-east to meet the Konigsberg-Modlin turnpike forming the eastern side of the triangle near Gora, 3 marches west of Modlin. At this point the Konigsberg-Modlin turnpike crosses a tributary river.
At the opening of the scenario on 17 May, Blue has decided not to attempt to take the modern border fortress at Modlin, but to try to take the older fortress at Thorn. Once Thorn is taken, Blue can establish depots and magazines there to supply an advance on Konigsberg. Blue’s advanced guard, I Corps, is about to open the siege of Thorn, while the rest of the army is still south of the river Vistule. One division is still demonstrating against Modlin. Blue’s lines of communication run westwards from the fortress at Varsovie, almost opposite Modlin.
As the Blue general my preoccupations were to (1) protect the siege lines against any Red relief force – principally I was concerned about any Red relief force advancing from the north down the turnpikes through Gora or Starsburg; (2) take Thorn as soon as possible; (3) protect my own lines of communications from Varsovie – in this context I was concerned about a possible Red advance by the eastern route via Gora to the bridge at Plock.
I accordingly moved II Corps across the river to Lipno, with the intention of using it to block any advance through Varsovie, and III corps across the river at Plock to Gora to block any advance by the eastern route.
In the event, Red advanced down both these roads, leading to a battle at Starsburg where II Corps, hastily reinforced by the Guard Corps, succeeded in throwing back the enemy but at heavy cost. III Corps had arrived in the area of Gora just too late to prevent a Red cavalry division moving down to Modlin, and was preparing to defend the crossings against another strong enemy force. All in all, with a divided force and heavy casualties already sustained, the prospects for the Blue invasion did not look good.
In the debrief it was commented that the result was very similar to the previous time this scenario had been played. In particular, neither side had succeeded in bringing overwhelming force to bear on either axis of advance.
From the Blue point of view, a better solution might have been to concentrate the army (apart from the elements engaged in the siege) on the Thorn-Modlin turnpike north of the river in the area east of Lipno, pushing cavalry screens up the turnpikes to detect any Red move down either, and using the lateral turnpike to move the whole force to meet whichever threat materialised first.
Red appears to have been hampered by orders to relieve both Modlin and Thorn, hence the division of the forces.
However, if the bulk of the Red army had been directed towards Thorn using the turnpikes through Gora and Starsburg, with perhaps a diversion by cavalry or a small infantry force towards Modlin, a much stronger force could have been brought to bear and the two Red Corps would have been able to give each other mutual support.
But then, isn’t hindsight wonderful!
Picture purloined from http://www.hmscharon.com/RN/ships/the_ships.htm, where there are lots of other nice ones.
8. A Napoleonic naval Kriegsspiel? From Martin James
Now here’s an idea for a game. If you’re interested please drop me a line. Depending on who is, and on where you all live, we can either play we could play a few months at one of the regular sessions at Bill’s, or alternatively by email.
I’ve been thinking for some while about running a Napoleonic naval game. My feeling is that this would be better at the strategic level, as it seems to me that fog of war was relatively absent from most tactical actions. Certainly communication difficulties were a feature at both levels, what with smoke, stress, one-eyed admirals and telescopes!
Let me sketch out one possible scenario. Action would commence after Trafalgar, and feature the efforts of the British to garner the fruits of that victory, against the background of events on land, and Napoleon’s attempts to replace his fleet losses by new building and acquiring allied fleets. Dutch, Russian, Portuguese and Ottoman squadrons, together with the fleets of the Baltic powers would make appearances at various times, and need to be taken account of by both teams.
The task of the British team would be to maintain the blockade, track down French and Spanish raiding squadrons, provide convoy escorts, support land operations say in Portugal or the Mediterranean etc, and attack French Spanish and Dutch colonies and coastal shipping.
The French team would need to attempt to send raiding squadrons or individual ships through the blockade to prey on British shipping, attempt to combine squadrons into fleets, which could catch smaller British forces and compensate for the greater efficiency of the British navy at this point. They would also need to send occasional reinforcement or supply convoys to succour French colonies in the Mediterranean, the West Indies or the Indian Ocean, or even capture British ones.
Communication at sea would be by means of regular ‘packet ships’ for the British, or for both teams by detaching ships with dispatches.
We’ll try and build as much flavour into the game as we can, so ships will be rated by the number of guns, and ports will have individual characteristics. For example due to the prevailing winds Brest will be relatively easy to blockade, but very wearing on the British ships, whilst Toulon will be much easier for the French to exit.
We will also need to simplify the numbers of commanders, both to keep the game manageable and make sure each player has plenty to do.
Naval actions would be resolved by dice throw, taking into account the ships involved, and their degree of training etc. This is a game about strategy, not tactics.
Units would be ships-of-the-line, a few 50 gun ships, and frigates. Nothing smaller to reduce the administration. In general the British ships will be more effective, ship for ship, but not so much as they can rest easy! Also, as time goes on, the French commission ever-larger ships, of up to 130 guns.
At the highest level, the teams would represent their respective admiralties, rather than Napoleon and the British government. They would periodically receive direct orders to carry out certain actions in accordance with national policy.
Political events would be driven by the umpires, and not influenced directly by the teams. Their task would be to respond to these events, and to the opportunities and problems they would generate. Major success at sea could however influence the general political situation in Europe. For example a significant naval victory might influence the attitude of Portugal.
The British team might look something like this:
British Admiralty player
Overall C in C, subject to any orders from the Government of course. Directs overall policy such as whether to maintain the blockade, allocation of ships to the various commands. Gives general directions to subordinate fleet commanders, and can change their jobs, or alter their area of command. Can request funds for building additional ships and maintaining increased numbers in commission, but there will be a political cost.
British Commander Channel Fleet
Area of operations covers the North Sea, the Channel and Bay of Biscay. Task would be to keep French squadrons from ports in that area form mischief. Would therefore control a number of squadrons and be responsible for the allocation of ships between them. If the French come out, you can pursue them yourself, or detach squadrons to do so, but you’ll need to guess where they’re heading!
You may also be called on to support British land forces, or our allies. Nothing like a few ships of the line in the Tagus for encouraging our Portuguese chums!
British Commander Mediterranean Fleet
Similar to above, but area of operations covers from Cadiz into the Mediterranean.
The French team would need to be structured quite differently, since for much (most) of the time their major fleets will be in port in France or other parts of continental Europe. Communication in these instances should be more reliable perhaps than for the British team:
The French team may be less structured, given that it is blockaded much of the time:
French Admiralty player
Overall C in C, subject to any orders from Napoleon. Directs overall policy such as allocation of ships to the various commands, and balance between number of ships of the line or frigates in commission. If a fleet is to go to sea, he decides who is to command and what its objectives are. Like the British, he may request funds from l’Empereur for building additional ships etc.
French Fleet commander
Once out from the Admiralty’s clutches you are your own man. You will have general directions, but at sea you have to call the shots depending on changed circumstances. With the greater British control of the sea, you will find communicating with the Admiralty, or with other squadrons from France, is more difficult than for the British team.
Minor commands, such as the smaller blockading forces, detached squadrons, or small fleets sent to such places as the Baltic, would be umpire-controlled in accordance with whatever orders the senior commanders choose to give.
Many other scenarios are possible, but I think this one would be best played with 2 teams of perhaps 3 players each, or with a British team against the umpire-driven French (and their allies). It would certainly be a very different game for each team.
If you like the sound of this, please let me know whether you would like to be on the French team, the British team, or to assist with the umpiring. If you are a naval buff, do feel free to make suggestions on how you think the game could best be structured. Nothing’s set in stone yet. Also let me know whether you would rather try this at Bill’s or by email.
9. Silicon Sid
Matrix Games continues to work on its Empires in Arms Napoleonic era wargame, which is expected to ship sometime this summer. This is based on the old board game of the same name, and covers the wars of 1805-1815.
The map of Europe is divided up into provinces and the game moves in seasonal turns during which diplomacy and new builds are conducted. Within each seasonal turn, there are a variable number of impulses, used by corps and fleets to move about. All movement is simultaneous with battles occurring at the end of the impulse.
As in the original game, battles are resolved by each player picking a strategy, and then fighting a series of rounds in an attempt to break the enemy.
More details and screenshots are available on the game’s official web site. It looks to be pretty true to the boardgame, which was an ambitious effort, but labour-intensive. Hopefully translation to the computer will give us the best of all worlds.
From Maurizio Bragaglia
Is there any chance Arthur could post here his revised rules for the Strategos? BTW nice job as usual martin
Thanks. He is going to trial the system at Chestnut Lodge next weekend, and then use it for the May game at Bill’s. He holds out some hope of producing something after that, incorporating any amendments that the 2 games have generated.
Thanks. I dimly remember trying said system with him at Chestnut Lodge ca. 10 years ago? Chestnut Lodge as wargaming’s Peenemunde or Cape Canaveral?
Definitely Peenemunde. Perhaps we should bomb it before it’s too late, Ginger!
From Jeff McCulloch
As I have scaled back on most of my other gaming activities, except a new passion for 28mm WW2, I will most gladly take over the reins of Bill’s fine work in order to publish and distribute all items Kriegsspiel. I have no goals of fame or fortune in such an enterprise, leaving that pursuit to others. As for any monetary gain from such an adventure, perhaps what may come might be used to compensate Bill for his many years of dedication to this particular aspect of the hobby. Perhaps it can be used to buy rare books for him to read during those times when he might find himself lounging before a warm fire with a fine scotch and good pipe as company.
Nobly said Jeff. This came out of Bill’s wish to start handing over the publishing reins to the younger generation. We are still thinking about this, but see Bill’s further thoughts below. Martin
The main thing in my mind is that it would be good to get the maps on disc – but this idea is full of problems – just one being that the larger detachments size is too big for a normal scanner. Colour would be good but you do not know how the coloured maps will turn out – they could look too feint. Ideally it would be better to prepare some coloured copies specially for scanning, but I would need to do a few trial runs to get the colour right. Also some of the things I did were subject to permission from the British Library which had to be paid for etc. Bill
From Richard Madder
I’ve found a shareware program called ‘poster-printery’ ($16 to register) that seems to offer the ability to print out large images as a series of A4 sheets. This raises the prospect of being able to print out large maps.
From David Fitzgerald
I’ve been itching to run a Kriegsspiel for some of my wargamer friends but I always like to see something before I run it. That and I need to buy the rules has been holding me back.
I was thinking of fudging things a bit and using the BattleCry Rules (since they’re simple) and using what I’ve dug up on the internet for timing and such.
Good idea re Battlecry. I play it with my youngest son, and it would work fine using the Kriegsspiel approach with limited visibility etc. Let me know how you get on.
We frequently use something other than the Reisswitz rules for our games. Those are a mine of information, from serving officers of the day, and are still quite suitable for a smaller game. For me however the essence of Kriegsspiel is fog of war, communication SNAFUs, breakdown of command etc. With an umpired game you can achieve this effect with any sensible combat & movement rules.
From Arthur Harman (commenting on yet another MJ game date mistake)
These comments accompanied my player briefing for the May game!
One can only hope that your forces don’t suffer similar lapses in staffwork on the day…
Of course my forces work on the principle that all dates quoted should be spurious. This is because our generals never read their orders properly anyway, so the only people who will be confused is the enemy when they intercept our dispatches!
From Arthur Harman again
You will see the point of this email for yourselves upon reading it. If we – and other members of the Kriegsspiel group – bombard LEGO with requests [perhaps even creating additional Hotmail addresses under pseudonyms?] for 2×2 and 2×4 blue bricks, we just might achieve something…
“To LEGO: Why is it not possible to purchase Bulk Brick packs of yellow or blue 2×2 bricks? I and a group of history gamers have found combinations of such bricks to be ideal for representing units in map games, but have difficulty finding the colour codes we require by raiding our children’s sets. We would like to purchase large quantities of such bricks, but you don’t seem to sell all colours in packs of 100, which is very frustrating!
”Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning the purchase of bulk bricks direct from the LEGO Company. We offer a wide range of both bulk bricks and accessory packs through our mail order service, LEGO Shop at Home. Please feel free to browse our web-site at http://www.lego.com/shop, in the “Accessories & Bricks” section. Should you prefer to contact us by telephone, please call 00800 5346 1111. Unfortunately we have no control over which particular bricks are offered as bulk brick. I have certainly passed your comments on and if enough people request these, I am sure they would consider introducing them into the assortment. If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me. Kind regards, Tin Kidwai LEGO Direct – Europe”
Thanks. I actually like the idea of using the tiles rather than bricks. They seem to come in various colours and you get a smooth surface without those unsightly nodules on them.
I thought of 2×1 for a half-battalion and 2×2 for a squadron, then you could just about get away with the normal Reisswitz scale. Similar problem as for the bricks though, with the only 2×1 tiles being brown! So we would have Portuguese cacadores but no Frenchies, Brits or Spanish. More choice in the 2x2s though. Martin
Problem with tiles is you can’t stack them, so you can’t colour code for arm of service etc. The 2×1 bricks are a bit fiddly/inclined to fall over, I find. I quite like the idea of 2×4 bricks for half-battalions on an enlarged Meckel Map for small, demonstration games, where audience could see them clearly, and as a substitute for groups of figures in conventional games. Arthur
From Paul Dowden of the Staff Map Assistant programme
You need first to load a suitable BMP or JPG map into it (GIFs don’t work).
I shall be circulating a more user-friendly version– complete with map, help function, and my own guidelines for use – to the Kriegsspiel email group once I’ve had a chance to play with the program more.
I shall probably also run a trial email Kriegsspiel using it, in due course.
Paul alerted us to this in a recent KN, and has been playing with it since. You can download it for free at ftp://grognard.com/pub/comp/win95/smaz.exe
The awards committee have granted Paul a Reisswitz monocle for his efforts.
From new reader Peter Wiren to Bill
I was happy to finally find the first edition of your translation in an antiquarian bookstore, after having been looking for the last five years or so. A thanks is in place for your putting it out! I hope to make a ‘what if’ scenario containing the fortress of Karlsborg, close to where I live, if I can find the time. It’s a beautiful fortress, built between 1819 and 1909, measuring 600*1000 paces!
Have a look at the following link Peter. It’s the full text of some fortress kriegsspiel rules from 1872:
And let us know how you get on with your game.
11. In the courts
Readers may recall that it is the practice of KN to make awards for both meritorious and disreputable behaviour. These include the coveted ‘Reisswitz monocle’ and the feared ‘smacked botty’. Normally the editor sits on the awards panel with Silicon Sid and our venerable chairman, Binky Rees-Mogg.
Well it sure was different this time. I was duly arraigned before the panel myself, on a charge of mixing up the dates for the May game at Bill’s.
This is very difficult for me readers, but I thought that as a matter of journalistic integrity, I should report on my experience.
I was ushered into the grand committee room, under the stairs. Sid was there of course, together with Binky. The gravity of the occasion was enhanced as Binky was wearing his official giant white rabbit costume.
The charge was read out by Standish, the KN usher, and Binky asked me to plead. It was a fair cop so I stuttered ‘guilty’. Arthur Harman cried “here, here” from the witness bench; rather unnecessarily I thought.
Binky pointed out that this was in fact my 2nd offence, which was fair comment. A lot less fair however was young Sid’s behaviour, with many a snicker at my expense throughout the proceedings (just don’t expect to see his column for a while……).
I was duly awarded the dreaded ‘smacked botty’, (we draw a veil over proceedings at this point) and was later frogmarched out by Standish and left to contemplate my folly. As I left I heard Binky remark how difficult it is to find editors these days…..
Filched from http://www.haymarket.org.uk/ ALICE-a-musical.htm
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