Kriegsspiel News 64. January 2004

Umpiring Kriegsspiels II


A belated Happy New Year to everyone from Bill and me.
A final reminder for the January game, which has now been moved back to Saturday 31st January at 2.30 pm. If you are coming, but haven’t yet let me know, now’s your chance.
Please note that we have changed some of the other game dates yet again (see below). This means that all are now different from those originally advertised. Apologies for this. It is due to work commitments.
This issue we feature a game replay, together with a follow up piece on umpiring from Binky Rees-Mogg. This looks at some do’s and don’t for the day of the game.
James Machin’s email Napoleonic Peninsular War game has re-started, after a few month gaps due to several of the US players being in Iraq!
Some while back Maurizio Bragaglia suggested an informal weekend get together, which would hopefully attract some of our friends from outside the UK. We have done some more thinking on this, and would value feedback (see 5. below).
I must say I have found the recent switch of KN from bi-monthly to tri-monthly much to my taste, so I think we’ll stay with it for the time-being. That would see KN 65 appearing around the end of March.

1. Forthcoming games
2. Game replay – the Battle of Tiefenzell
3. Binky’s book of tricks – Part B. On the day
4. About cavalry
5. A Kriegsspiel weekend?
6. Silicon Sid
7. Letters
8. Contacts

1. Forthcoming games
Sunday 31st January Hemel 2.30 pm Change of date. Traditional detachments Kriegsspiel
Saturday 27th March Hemel 2.30 pm Change of date. Corps level battle (c40 battalions per side)
Saturday 5th June Hemel 2.30 pm Change of date. Topic to be advised
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. Game replay – the Battle of Tiefenzell 1814
This game was recently played in Norwich, with a local wargames club the ‘Norwich Rearguard‘.

None of the players had played Kriegsspiel before, although we had a strong umpiring team, and other experienced players around to act as sounding boards.
I am pleased to say that our new players adapted very quickly, and we had a most entertaining game. The high umpire-player ratio meant that we were able to move the game along at twice real time – an extremely fast rate in my experience.
Our thanks to the Norwich boys for trying something new, and for their very friendly welcome.
Rustled from the web at images/hussar.gif
General Idea (see Map 1)
It is 3 July 1814. The weather is fine, and has been for some weeks.
The map shows part of Red territory. The canal running east from Der See, and Die Selz river, are only crossable at bridges. All the smaller streams are fordable by anything other than artillery and wagons however.
A battle around Nennweiler yesterday, resulted in defeat for the Blue forces.

Special idea for Red – Generalmajor v Blumenthal
Thousands of prisoners have been taken in yesterday’s battle, and the remaining the Blue forces are scattered. Your own pursuing column has also become, to some extent, scattered.
Your uhlans report that one or two enemy battalions have managed to keep together in an organised retreat towards Tiefenzell, with some artillery. Your orders from the King are clear; you are to destroy the remnant of the Blue army.
You are at Klein Brunau, and at 10.00 am you receive the following report:
“9.45 am. Die Kamphofe. A strong enemy column has been reported by my troopers. It is approaching Kroppen from Hohenau. Estimated strength is several battalions, plus cavalry. Hauptman v Rheinbaben 3rd Uhlan Regiment”

Red forces
Hohenzell 2 squadrons of Uhlans

Die Kamphofe 1 squadron of Uhlans

Waldhof 1 squadron of Uhlans

Selchen-Zobigker 4 squadrons of Hussars

Grossmau 3 battalions

Klein Brunau General v Blumenthal
Oberst v Barbie
3 battalions
2 squadrons of Hussars

Karsdorf 3 battalions
1 battalion of Jaegers
1 foot battery (12 pdr)
2 squadrons of Dragoons

Special idea for Blue – Generalleutnant von Seydlitz
You were to have joined the Blue First Division at Silberberg. You were acquainted with the news of the unfortunate defeat this morning as you came across groups of fleeing troops. Honour requires that you avenge this.
You are at the head of the Main Body of the Second Division, which has just reached Kroppen. Including baggage, your column stretches back about 3 miles down the road from Hohenau.
Your Advance Guard is 1,000 paces ahead, where the road forks to Hohenzell.
A forward patrol has just reported Red uhlans in the Hohenzell-Tiefenzell area, and another patrol has reported uhlans at Die Kamphofe. Presumably the enemy are in pursuit of Blue fugitives.

Blue forces
Advance Guard Oberst von Koblinski
4 squadrons of Hussars
1 battalion of Jaegers
1 horse battery (6 pdr)

Main Body Generalleutnant von Seydlitz
4 squadrons of Dragoons
6 battalions
1 foot battery (12 pdr)
Ammunition train
Baggage train

The opening round

The opening position left Red in a potentially difficult situation, with their forces dispersed over a wide area. Blue were slightly weaker overall, but well concentrated.
The Red C in C, Blumenthal, decided to send Barbie with the infantry at Grossmau forward to Hohenzell. He was to hold that place, and find out what was going on. Cavalry were dispatched from Klein Brunau and Waldhof to reinforce the uhlans at Die Kamphofe.
Meanwhile Blumenthal sent orders to his outlying detachments at Karsdorf, Selchen and Zobigker to concentrate. Unfortunately some of these troops would take an hour or two to join him. He also awaited further reports from his squadron at Die Kamphofe.
Blue’s Advance Guard pushed on to Tiefenzell, where they discovered remnants of their defeated First Division. These amounted to only a battalion of infantry and a few guns however, and those were fit only for defensive purposes.
The Blue C in C sensibly decided to leave his baggage at Kroppen, under guard of one battalion. With the Main Body he then pushed on to Tiefenzell and rejoined his Advance Guard. He threw out one squadron towards Die Kamphofe as a flank guard, and this skirmished indecisively with the Red uhlan squadron there.

The middle game

By mid morning Blue was concentrated to the S of Tiefenzell, and substantially outnumbered Red. The latter were still awaiting most of their outlying detachments. Blue were unaware of this however, and contented themselves with occupying the small wood to the NW of Tiefenzell, and also the hunting lodge of Luftschloss to anchor their S flank.
The Red cavalry sent earlier now arrived at die Kamphofe, routed the detached Blue squadron in that area, and pursued up to the very outskirts of Kroppen. Unable to penetrate the village, they nevertheless cut the main road NW to Tiefenzell to prevent communication by the battalion there with the main Blue army.
As more Red infantry arrived and deployed on a N-S line E of Hohenzell, Blue sent some cavalry and horse artillery to the W of the Tiefenzell wood. A good idea this, as it would threaten the flank of the Red line.
By this time all Red’s forces had arrived, and several squadrons were ordered to charge the newly deployed Blue guns to the W of Tiefenzell Wood. Barbie was deputed to concentrate a further 5 squadrons of cavalry on the right flank, to the S of the Luftschloss wood.
Luck was with Red in their cavalry charge on the Blue guns. They overran the battery, and repulsed a counter-charge by Blue cavalry. Away to the S however, Barbie’s cavalry could make no progress against Blue infantry who had fortified the hunting lodge, and retired somewhat bemused from the woods, after losing a few troopers.

The end game (see Map 2)

Battle of Tiefenzell.PNG
On the northern flank, Red infantry pushed into the Tiefenzell wood at around noon, and tussled with the Blue jaegers there. They were supported on their left by a further advance by the victorious Red cavalry.
In the centre, several Red battalions waited while their 12 pdr artillery opened up on the Blue troops S of Tiefenzell. A Blue foot battery in that area responded.
The game was still undecided at this point, with Red success on the northern flank partially offset by the repulse of their cavalry at the hunting lodge.
At this point Barbie took the battle by the scruff on the neck. The Luftschloss Wood obscured his view of the battlefield, but having got his 5 Red squadrons back in hand, he decided to lead them in a wide sweep to the E around the wood.
Pushing aside a stray Blue squadron, he burst unexpectedly upon the enemy rear, captured their foot battery, and also rode down a battalion of infantry. Although the elated troopers lost their cohesion, this really tore the heart out of the Blue centre. At about the same time, Blue were finally evicted from Tiefenzell Wood.
Now clearly outnumbered – and without artillery – the Blue C in C, decided to pull back towards Kroppen. He thinned out his troops in Tiefenzell, and started them off down the road to Kroppen. Meanwhile he desperately attempted to reconstitute his centre.
The Red C in C sensed victory, and ordered his troops in the wood to force their way into Tiefenzell. He also ordered an assault on Blue’s centre by 6 fresh battalions.
It was now mid afternoon, and Blue’s position had become critical. Tiefenzell was burning, but Red infantry had entered the place, and threatened to envelope Blue’s northern flank. On Blue’s southern flank, the infantry withdrawing towards Kroppen had been forced into square by Red cavalry. In the centre, their remaining infantry were being pounded by Red’s heavy guns, and faced an imminent assault by superior numbers.
In the view of the umpires, Blue’s position had become untenable, and surrender was inevitable.
Red had some lucky die rolls, but the battle was really decided by Barbie’s inspired flank manoeuvre. The unusually decisive result was due to Blumenthal’s correct appreciation of the situation, and determination to push matters to a conclusion.


3. Binky’s book of tricks – Part B. On the day

This is the second part of the article on umpiring from Binky Rees-Mogg, CBE.
As with the pre-game preparation, a few tried and tested ideas will make a great contribution to running a successful game on the day. After all, no one wants a repeat of the Great Dice Scandal of 1957……….
A key theme of much of what follows is the need to keep the game moving. As well as maintaining a sense of involvement by the players, you are more likely to reach a conclusion. For some this is not a big issue – the joy of Kriegsspiel is enough for them – but for most players having to call a halt before a decision is reached can be somewhat unsatisfying.
Once again, there follows an annotated checklist of some techniques you can use.

☺ Do not be tempted to skimp on the number of umpires

Have I said this before? Well it bears repeating my dear old tangerines. Without plenty of umpires the game moves slowly and the players feel short-changed. I would aim for something close to 1 to 1.
For example with 7 attendees, I would suggest 3 umpires and 4 players. On no account would I attempt to umpire a game with less than 1 umpire for 2 players – even with experienced umpires.

☺ Organise your umpires effectively & delegate to them

Having staffed up your umpiring team, make sure you bally well use them.
How you do this, will depend on the scenario, but with a team of say 3 umpires, you could have one in overall charge of the game, handling combat, and moving on the clock, while the other 2 acting as ‘liaison’ umpires who brief the players.
In my experience, it is normally more efficient to allocate an umpire to a sector of the battlefield, rather than have one for each team. This is because, these ‘liaison umpires’ then only need to be on top of what is happening in their sector, rather than keeping tabs on the entire battle.
Do not forget messages too. Liaison umpires can deliver the messages to players at the appropriate time, but someone has to keep a track on when that is.

☺ Put younger players in different rooms

We are always keen to encourage younger players to come along to our games at Chilvers.
We have discovered it works best though if they are not together in one room, without adult supervision.
Boys in their early teens are blessed with an excess of exuberance, and this can manifest itself in horseplay.
Many years ago, young Martin damaged a particularly fine aspidistra plant. Needless to say, he was persona non grata with Reggie Mountjoy for some weeks thereafter!

☺ Get the admin right – order & message forms (see attached sheet)

Using a bit of savvy can speed up the game no end. These days we use standard forms for messages and orders. These make things easier for players, as they include prompts for them on the sort of information they need to include – such as where the blazes they think the recipient is!
They are also easier for umpires, as we use different sized forms for messages and orders. By and large the umpires do not need to read messages – as these are intended for other players. The different sized forms mean that these can quickly be put to one side for delivery, while the umpires focus on any new orders.
It also helps to avoid confusion, if the Blue team are encouraged to write in Blue pen, and the Red team in red.

☺ Get the admin right – use a message box

Keep losing messages do you? Tired of trying to find them once your damn fool of a fellow umpire has seemingly been practicing his Minnesota shuffle on them? Well try using a message box.
This is just a card index box, with the separators marked with time increments. When a message is received, you decide when it is due for delivery and pop it in the box in the appropriate place. Easy.

☺ Get the admin right – keep track of time

Make sure that the players know what the game time is. Announce this every time the clock moves forward. Little is more unsettling for a player than to discover that time has apparently moved on much faster than he/she was aware of.
It is equally important that umpires know this of course.

At Chilvers we use the magnificent antique grandfather clock in the west atrium. The mechanism gave out in Queen Victoria’s day, so were are able to physically move the hands as time passes. Bright young sparks like David Stanforth have purchased children’s plastic play clocks, which are just as effective.

☺ Get the admin right – provide the materials that will be needed

Not only map and troops blocks, but also plenty of pens and paper. Assuming you have some laminated maps for the players (which you should), they should also have washable markers.

☺ Get the admin right – consider providing player displays

One of the things which really slows games down is the need to occasionally bring players to the umpire map to be shown what the troop dispositions are in their immediate vicinity.
This is because the map has to be prepared (ie most of it needs to be covered), and also because much other game activity tends to stop while all this is going on. Incidentally, we find that players tend to linger over such ‘visuals’, and my advice is to be fairly strict on how much time you give them.
As an alternative, we have recently experimented with providing the players with their own display.
This consists of that portion of the full map where they are operating, together with some spare troop blocks or counters to show them more accurately what they can see at any time. The displays can then be updated as necessary by the liaison umpires when they come to brief the players. Of course it is a cardinal principle that any discrepancy between a player’s display and the umpire map, is resolved in favour of the latter!

☺ Be flexible

Always try to react to circumstances. For example if you can advance time more quickly without detriment to the game, do that. The danger is that you deprive players of the chance to make a decision. You may think that there is no decision to be made, but then you don’t know what’s in their head (and probably wouldn’t want to!)
On the other hand, you need not delay advancing the clock simply because the players are taking a while to make a decision, or to write orders. Occasional time pressure adds to the fun – and the historicity. Didn’t Napoleon once say “I may lose a battle, but I will never lose a minute” – or was that Reggie??
It’s more easy to jump ahead if you are playing with 2 minute increments than if you are playing with 30 minute ones of course. Skipping a whole hour is more likely to be a problem for players than skipping 4 minutes or 8 minutes.
In games with more than 2 players, I would be very cautious about advancing the clock in one part of the battlefield, and not in another. This might seem like a good wheeze at the time, as activity levels in different sectors may be quite different. But it can get you into trouble if forces from one part of the battlefield intervene in another area which is an hour behind! Trying to convince players there’s a gap in the time-space continuum is not easy!
Be prepared to switch player roles, if a player is not going to see any action for a long time. There are pros & cons to this. The main advantage is that you do not leave them twiddling their thumbs for a good part of the game. If their new role involves teleportation to another part of the battlefield however, they may well bring with them knowledge which they would not otherwise have. When all’s said and done though, we play the game to have fun, so I would err on the side of keeping players involved.

☺ Do not get drawn into explaining or justifying umpiring decisions during the game
We find that challenges to umpiring decisions are quite rare at Chilvers. Maybe that’s something to do with Reggie’s manner?! More likely it’s that Kriegsspiel does not appear to attract the ultra-competitive type. Nevertheless I thought I should give some guidance on how to deal with it if it does arise.
I think that it’s quite natural for players to try and understand why their plans and manoeuvres were not as successful as they expected. This is only a problem if they begin questioning decisions and results during the game. As well as slowing things down for all players, such questioning can lead to lobbying and, if seen to be successful, other players may be encouraged to exert pressure on the umpires as well.
If it does arise during a game, my suggestion is to be polite but firm. Any such discussions can be left until tea and biscuits after the game.

☺ Resolve combat quickly
This is really a must if you want to keep the game moving.
In my view it’s best if you only roll the dice once. By all means have die-roll modifiers for terrain or whatever, but a highly accurate and involved combat routine will take time. While all this is going on, most players will be sitting on their hands. And remember that, in most combats, most of the players will not even be directly involved.
I also suggest you tailor combat to the scale of the game. Resolving skirmish fire may well be appropriate for a game with a few battalions a side, but is definitely not for an army-sized game where the basic manoeuvre element is a brigade. You will never finish.

☺ Maintain the fog of war

Let me repeat a question I posed in the last issue. Why tell players before the game which of them are on which side?
This may give them information they do not need to know, and may let them draw undue inferences about the scenario.
For example, they may assume that a non-played general will be relatively passive. Now this may or may not be accurate, but we want them thinking about the military situation, not how to play the ‘system’.
Let me repeat another question. Why tell them how many players there are? Again, they may draw inferences from this information. Yes they know how many have turned up – but some of those will be umpires.


 Do not be tempted to skimp on the number of umpires
 Organise your umpires effectively & delegate to them
 Put younger players in different rooms
 Get the admin right – order & message forms (see attached sheet)
 Get the admin right – use a message box
 Get the admin right – keep track of time
 Get the admin right – provide the materials that will be needed
 Get the admin right – consider providing player displays
 Be flexible
 Do not get drawn into explaining or justifying umpiring decisions during the game
 Resolve combat quickly
 Maintain the fog of war
4. About cavalry

Binky let me an excellent little book about the late Roman Army recently, and I found this interesting passage. It relates to Roman cavalry, although I suspect the supporting evidence is mainly modern. It did surprise me, and generated quite a bit of disbelief on a ACW forum recently, so I would be interested if readers have a view on it:
“It is not true, as is often stated or tacitly taken for granted, that cavalry has a greater strategical speed than infantry. Contrary to general opinion, although cavalry does indeed outdistance infantry on short stretches, it does not, however, on longer marches; when a march takes more than four days the infantry can keep up with the cavalry, and when it takes more than seven days the infantry can actually cover a longer distance in less time.”
(Source ‘Twighlight of Empire’ by Martijn Nicasie,1997. He refers also to ‘Die Reiter Roms’ by M Junkelmann 1990)

If the quote is correct, it does appear to require some explanation as to how, for example, ACW cavalry raids occurred.
I think the answer is that you could push the cavalry harder for a period, but it then took a long time to bring the mounts back to serviceable condition.
Even the most skilful and successful raider – who I guess you’d have to say was Forrest – rested and reorganised his command, sometimes for many weeks, between raids.
I’ve had a quick look at his activities during 64. After a successful raid in April, he was not in a position to launch another one before June (which ended up being postponed due to a Union advance). Further raids took place in August and late September/October.
Of course raiding was not all Forrest did. He also had to meet 2 major Union incursions during the summer, although these did not involve raid-level marching.
Interestingly, in most cases he only took between 30 and 50% of his corps on a raid. This was perhaps due to a combination of factors: that not all his brigades were mounted (and in battle at Tupelo, 2 of his dismounted brigades were organised into a small infantry division), that some were required for defensive operations, and that he simply needed to maintain a reserve.
I bounced this off military historian and author Paddy Griffith, who broadly agrees. He referred me to the following analysis he did on Napoleon’s 1814 campaign in France many moons ago. This is based on a statistical analysis of daily marches.

“In 1814 an infantry corps (which was nearer a Division in strength) would average 21 Km. in a day, marching for about 8 hours with an hour or two’s stop at three-quarter time. In this campaign the artillery would normally lag behind.
Out of 70 examples, some Corps’ marches were as little as 8 Km. in the day, while others were as much as 40 Km.. This does include forced marches and night marches, which took up perhaps 10% of the total, but no more. Forced marches would be called only when there was a very urgent crisis. It should also be noticed that none of these marches could be ordered at once, but required notice of between 30 minutes and two hours in normal circumstances. Also, and of particular importance to the wargamer, there were frequently stops for entire days, to rest. Each rest normally lasted for one day, but sometimes could be as many as four days. A rest would be called perhaps once every four days.
In the case of cavalry the marching day appears to have been one or two hours shorter than for infantry, again with one or two hours for lunch. The average distance covered was 26 Km., out of 11 samples, with a variation between 16 and 35 Km.. Thus cavalry did move faster – but not by all that much – than the infantry. Of course most of the scouting was done by cavalry, and this took a lot of extra time and effort which does not show up in these figures. It was not exceptional to spend the whole morning on this task, and marching only in the afternoon.”

Martin again: I think that everyone accepts that cavalry normally did move faster than infantry over short periods, even if they are not galloping into action.
Reisswitz reckoned cavalry walking speed as identical to that of infantry, at 100 paces per minute, but over distance it was common to vary the speed, as this was considered to be less tiring on the horse than walking the whole time. ‘Trot and walk’ (ie alternating periods of trotting & walking) was apparently one approach used. This averaged out at 200 paces per minute, or twice as fast as infantry.
This raises the question of why cavalry did not outdistance infantry by more in a day. The above analysis suggests that it was the shorter marching day for the horses, together with their scouting duties.
Interestingly, the longest march identified in this campaign (40 Km.) was made by infantry – which did surprise me.
Further discussion with Paddy confirmed that the stats just relate to the French, but that if anything his impression is that the enemy cavalry went even slower.
He cautions against drawing general conclusions from one campaign.
In that particular campaign he does not think the quality of horseflesh was the problem (although it had been the previous year, after Russia), rather the bad weather and the ‘Boue de Champagne’ (ie THICK MUD) underfoot.
Other possible factors were the lack of forage in later winter, which may have impacted cavalry performance, and the presence of thousands of young Marie-Louise recruits in the infantry, which may have impacted infantry performance.

5. A Kriegsspiel weekend?
We have come up with 2 possible approaches.
OPTION A: A Kriegsspiel-only event, for however many of us are interested. Venue would probably be a small country-type hotel, fairly close to London, Stanstead Airport. Advantages include the convenience of non-UK attendees (plus those from far-flung reaches of the UK), and the ability to organise things purely to please ourselves
OPTION B: A shared event with Wargame Developments, whose annual conference takes place at Knuston Hall in Northamptonshire in early July. Advantages include a venue of known quality, the availability of extra players (there are typically around 45 there), and other games for those who want a break from Kriegsspiel.
In both cases, the event would begin on Friday evening and end on Sunday afternoon. Cost would be about £150, which would include all meals plus 2 night’s accommodation.
I am assuming that the focus would mainly be on playing games, but we could also have some design workshops/experimental stuff if that is what people want. We could have an all-day game on the Saturday and two shorter games on the Friday and Sunday. If enough turn up of course, we could run more than one game at the same time.
Please let me know whether you’d be interested in attending, and also your preferences as follows:
(a) I would be interested in attending if we go with option A
(b) I would be interested in attending if we go with option B
(c) I would be interested in attending in either event
(d) I would not be interested/able to attend
Please note, we are not looking for commitments at this stage, just an indication of likely demand. All other comments, ideas, suggestions welcome. Realistically, I think we’d be looking at the summer of 2005.

6. Silicon Sid

Frank Hunter of Adanac command Studies has recently signed a deal with Matrix Games.
He continues to work on ACW and WW1 games, and under the Matrix banner is to reissue his Napoleonic operational games on the 1805/9 campaigns against Austria and the 1806 campaign against Prussia. The latter game is to be revamped with an extended map to cover the 1813 campaign as well.
These games are notable for attempting to recreate the logistical and command difficulties of controlling a Napoleonic army on campaign.
Owners of Medieval Total War might want to check out a free download at:
This is a Napoleonic version of the game, which starts in 1750. It features a new map of Europe and a complete range of Napoleonic troop types, with the colourful array of uniforms you would expect.
Although this is an amateur effort, the graphics and sound effects are well up to the standard of the original. Now you can experience rumble of a musketry dual, and see the ground churning as cannon-balls strike.

Austrian infantry and hussars await attack.
The product is described as a beta version, but seems to be pretty well bug free. The designers continue to work on enhancements, and you can contribute to the process via a discussion forum.
We have discussed the ‘Total War’ system before (think ‘Time commanders’ if you haven’t seen it). What it lacks in realism, it certainly makes up for in fun.
You do need the ‘Viking Invasion’ add-on CD in order to use it though.
7. Letters
From Maurizio Bragaglia

This is from Walter Goerlitz’ excellent “History of the German General Staff” (P.59):
“The story is told that on one occasion the Prussian Military Attaché, Prince Kraft von Hohenlohe, was describing these methods (Kriegsspiel) to a group of socially exalted Austrian officers. They listened in incredulous astonishment. Finally, one of them, Prince Thun, asked how they worked out
the points in scoring. The Prussian replied that there were no points since the game, after all was not played for money. Prince Thun: ‘Then what’s the object of playing at all?’
In 1866, the cold, exact, and deadly thinking of the Prussian General Staff soon disposed of people with that kind of mentality.”
Now, how do you simulate that kind of mindset in a set of wargames rules?
Thanks Maurizio. Excellent quote. I’m sure that among our noble band, we have many Prince Thuns.
Perhaps I should ask readers to nominate which of their friends should play the Austrians in a future game!

From new reader Martin Rapier on KN
Thanks very much for this, very interesting. I’ve been interested in Kriegsspiel for many years and the more examples of games etc I’ve got then the more chance I have actually getting a game organised for a club night!
Glad you liked it. About half the KN issues have a
game replay of some kind, which you may find useful.
Do try and organise a game with your local club. As you’ll see from the game replay, Tony Hawkins recently did this in Norwich, and we were able to supply a contingent of umpires to help.
Sheffield may be a bit far for that, although there may be some KN readers who live up your way. If you think we can do anything else to assist please ask. We are very happy to comment on scenarios for example, if you need someone to bounce ideas off.

From new reader Richard Clarke

Many thanks for the newsletter, is there any way of getting back copies?
You can get back copies from our YahooGroup site. They only go back so far however, so if you’ve still not had enough after that, just email me.

Bill Leeson writes on TV’s ‘Time Commanders’ & Martin pontificates on ancient battles

The game is quite entertaining. I still think the control and communications aspect is a bit too easy.
To what extent do you think these ancient battles were planned in advance, and to what extent can the plan be modified or changed during a battle?
The evidence is a bit spotty, but I think that ancient battles were planned in advance. Of course this did not always work.
Some examples of pre-planning would be Epamindondas at Leuctra, where he reversed the normal ‘strong right’ deployment, and put the Theban Sacred Band on the left to crush the Spartans. Hannibal clearly pre-planned Trebbia and Lake Trasamene, as least as far as the ambushes go.
I suspect that Cannae was also planned. One reason is that it was so successful – but that’s a bit thin I suppose! But Hannibal’s deployment at this battle also took account of terrain, in that the Nubian cavalry were on the flank where they had most room to manoeuvre – a key requirement for their tactics. Another reason for thinking his deployment was pre-planned was that his brother Hasdrubal seems to have the same unusual overall deployment at Ibera in Spain the following year. For whatever reason it failed there, and the Romans broke through the weak centre, which they had failed to do at Cannae.
Wasn’t the Roman attempt at break through in the centre at Cannae also planned? They had achieved this at Trebbia after all, even though they lost that battle.
It is always dangerous to generalise from the better-known battles and commanders. On the other hand, wouldn’t even the poorest Roman general have seen the need to plan – even if he lacked the capacity to do it effectively?
To what degree could plans be modified during a battle? My feeling is that in general the opportunities were limited. Compared to say the Napoleonic period, the ancient battlefield was quite small, due to the smaller army size, and the sheer depth of the formations. Also most of the troops functioned best on relatively flat, unimpeded terrain. Thus, most of the time you could see where the enemy where, and in what strength. I would therefore have thought the opportunity for feints and incisive unexpected Napoleonic attacks was correspondingly reduced.
An exception might be at the Metaurus in 207 BC, when the Romans switched several thousand troops in secret from one flank to another. This was an unusual battlefield however, and the movement was screened from the enemy by rough terrain and woods.
The easiest way to change a plan is to commit reserves. But did ancient armies use them? Yes they had 2nd and sometimes 3rd lines, but these were normally earmarked to support their 1st line, and were not freely available to intervene elsewhere.
Descriptions of the battles of Alexander, his successors and Hannibal don’t appear to feature much use of reserves, other than support lines. At Adrianople only one Roman unit is mentioned as being in reserve at the crisis of the battle, although that just could be the limitations of our source.
Again though, I might be generalising too much from a few instances. I’ve just looked up Arrian’s ‘Order of Battle against the Alani’ – a 2nd Century Roman source. He appears to envisage both infantry and cavalry reserves! He is operating against an unusual enemy, the cavalry-based Alan army.
(Well what’s the point of being an editor if you can’t pontificate?)

From new reader Franz Decker

At the moment we finished a Kriegsspiel scenario with two players (Division level) around a bridgehead situation.
We use Irregular blocks, Reißwitz rules and the Meckel map (which I enhanced with some colours).
Did you know that Bill Leeson produces other kriegsspiel maps? These are larger than Meckel’s map, and are based on actual terrain, rather than the hypothetical Meckel terrain. The largest is a series of 100 A3 maps of the Metz area in the Franco-Prussian War.
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