Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kriegspieling


I have been off the active wargaming scene for a little while as life has become rather hectic here at the moment ranging from ill health to funerals and not all mine, however that has not meant I have been far away from scheming and pondering about all aspects of  wargaming and indeed life in general.
My conclusions about life were easier to resolve than my ponderings over wargaming, odd that.
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For many years I have been interested in all aspects of Kriegspiel gaming, even dabbling in several small campaigns both solo as well as with teams of players.

My first real experience of large scale Kriegspiel campaigning was about 40 years ago using Lands and Survey maps of the North Island of New Zealand. It was a campaign that ran admirably well for many years until a new aspect was introduced, many of the players discovered women at a late age (mid 20's) and they drifted off onto whole new aspects planning and strategic moves.
However that campaign ran for over 5 years in real time and was most enjoyable.

Over the years the Kriegspiel interest in of wargaming has remained with me, I have always enjoyed the planning and moving of units in the Fog of War aspect of wargames. I have introduced some aspects of Kriegspiel into my blog campaigns that I have undertaken over the last few years, in these campaigns the strategic and grand tactical moves would be done on a map using the PC and the battles fought on the wargame table.

Now I have developed a set of Kriegspiel rules for fighting the battles on screen or map as well, for me this opens up a whole new level of gaming.

Kriegspiel offers the wargamers many options for their campaigns. Often we wargamers are time challenged, busy balancing real life issues with our hobby interests, so large campaigns may be started with a whole gusto of enthusiasm however often the time and interest lapses when it comes to fighting battles as all too frequently players find it difficult to make the time commitment to fight the battles on tables. Equally it can be a simple matter of the size of armies in the campaign exceeds the model figures available to players involved.
The kriegspiel campaign can also be a very attractive way of wargaming for the solo wargamer, who for many reasons locality, health or preference are unable to partake in the table top battles. The solo wargamer can undertake the campaign and battles on his own or in conjunction with other solo players via PBEM.

I particularly enjoy campaigning amidst the fog of war, the not knowing where the enemy are and in what strength adds a nervous and exciting aspect to campaigns. There are elements that can be added into a kriegspiel campaign that do not work as well with a campaign where players know what is happening over the entire campaign area (the Gods view aspect). Equally Kriegspiel battles can have other new levels of interest, especially in so much as fog of war is involved. It is easier to have hidden units on a Kriegspiel battle screen or map than it is on a wargame table.
The downside of course is the missing "eye candy" of seeing a beautifully laid out table and large armies marching to battle on them.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to Kriegspiel gaming is that players don’t like trying new aspects of gaming, or that they assume it requires large teams of players to be collected in one area or place.
While map kriegspiel games can require a number of players to be drawn together it is not necessarily a requirement that they do so, as long as they have access to a PC then all players can have the same map in front of them no matter where they are. Nor do they need to be in a large team, Kriegspiel is particularly attractive to solo wargamers as it is to just a few wargamers or large teams.
Naturally Kriegspiel gaming is better with an umpire, that is why on my PC campaigns I usually draw that task, so the players just have to worry about moving and guessing while I balance out what they will learn in reconnaissance and reports from local inhabitants for example. I also try to hinder "errr help" with obstructions along the way, for example a bridge collapses and causes a time delay to a vital march etc.

In the past fighting the Kriegspiel battle was always a hit or miss method, however over the last few months I have been working on a set of Kriegspiel battle rules. While they are a long way from finalised (after all are wargame rules ever finalised) they are at a workable stage and I have battle tested them already and I will continue to do so, however I am pleased with the results so far.

It is why at this stage I have decided to start a blog on my development of the Kriegspiel battles and campaigns, it is my erstwhile hope that many of you who share my interest in Kriegspiel wargaming will share with me your own ideas, experiences and suggestions. The main proviso would naturally new ideas need to fit into my aspect of the Kriegspiel campaign and battles.
I will start a new Kriegspiel blog in the next few days once I have the time to sit down and do so.

The battle rules I have at the moment are based on the number of casualties caused by the number of enemy firing or in the melee, the result of fighting (fire or melee) is based on a percentage of the attackers strength (thus a force of 500 men firing on a enemy may inflict 10% casualties = 50 men), the percentage is naturally affected by modifiers which may be terrain or quality of the troops.

A very brief description of the Kriegspiel battle.

Under my battle rules almost always one side will break or back off from contact before they suffer horrendous losses, the break may be a step back (most common) or a complete rout. As you will see in reading my combat tables the greatest number of casualties caused in one round of melee or firing is 20% of the attackers strength, and that number would be very hard to achieve but it is possible, the most common casualty rate is based around 10%.
All units have a morale quality rate based on a numeric value for example a militia or newly raised conscript unit will have a morale rating of 2 while Elite are on 5. As the unit suffers casualties in a phase ( 3 combat phases = 1 turn) it accumulates morale negatives, for example take the exchange of fire that causes 10 percent casualties on a regular line unit they may lose from 2 to 3 points off their morale (modifiers not included) thus if they suffered minus 3 on their morale they would be forced back one move. If they go into a negative state (assume our regular unit was a conscript (morale value is 2) then the deduction of 3 would give them a minus 1 and see them break for a number of phases (6d roll) then recover, if their losses are greater than -2 they break and will not recover for this battle.
A units morale is increased by terrain and officers and yes a player may unknowingly have a idiot commander in his sub units which can effect that unit.

My kriegspiel battles do require a little record keeping and for this reason kriegspiel battles are best fought with an umpire if using teams, but not so much of an issue for a solo gamer. If the battle is to be fought on the table then it may be fought with any rule set the players wish, the results of the battle are then applied to the kriegspiel campaign. In my PBEM campaigns I would envisage I will record the details as umpire and usually fight the battles under the players direction, for this reason I have developed a combat into 3 phases. Like many aspects of the battle the time element is adjusted to the size of the battle, for a multi battalion battle a phase could be 5 minutes, for a multi brigade battle a phase would be 15 min.

There is one element that does not change with the scale of the battle that is the casualty percentages. It does not matter whether the players are fighting battles with a battalion, a brigade or even a corps, the casualty ratios remain the same as do the modifiers, but where a battalion may be under cover of a chateau, in a larger battle the brigade may be in a village, the terrain modifier will be the same and the casualty ratio count will also be the same. Where 10% casualties are inflicted on a battalion in a larger battle it will be 10% on the brigade.
I allow for preferences of players as well in the scale of record keeping, for example if we are fighting a larger Corps battle, then a brigade may consist of battalions of differing qualities thus I average out the number of units in a parent unit by the morale qualities (ie Conscript to Veteran etc) and that then becomes the base morale for that Brigade.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty and the greatest weakness I have discovered to date is the weapon ranges on a PC screen. As the battles may differ in scale from small Battalion actions up to larger actions using Brigade/Division etc.

To date I allow for a variable depending on the scale of the battle, thus if a Battalion action the weapon range is visually longer than if a Brigade action, simply because the ground scales differ, but the actual measurements simply come down to a rule of thumb common to all units in that particular battle, thus if musketry occurs at a 2 inch range, then that is the constant for the entire game..
Generally I determine the scale of the map being used (and the scales differ as I try to use actual maps or google overlays) thus the battlefields can differ in actual measurements. Once I have determined the scale of the map then I can work out the weapon ranges. As all my trial tests have been from ancients to the horse and musket era, the ranges tend to be simpler and much easier. Once I have determined a better ranging system I will extend the periods into WWII.
My system works ok for me for now and that is my main criteria for the moment but is far from satisfactory for a final solution.

Anyway I will have the new blog up soon with a better description of my Kriegspiel system and some examples of Kriegspiel battles. I hope to see some of you there.




2 comments:

  1. Loking forward to seeing more on this Barry
    Cheers,
    Ion

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Ion, I am eager to see it as well :),

    ReplyDelete