My Introduction to Kriegsspiel as a Player

After my many years as a wargamer (25+ years) I’ve played quite a number of different games during that time, but one that I’ve never played (despite hearing about) is Kreigsspiel the original wargame written in the 1800’s by George Leopold von Reisswitz.

Kreigsspiel is a game of warfare that attempts to realistically replicate what would happen on a battlefield during the 1800’s. It requires a map, some blocks to represent the different units involved and three players.

The Battle of Waterloo played in Kreigsspiel

Why three players?

When I say three players, what it actually involves is two players and an umpire. But it’s best to think of the umpire as a Games/Dungeon Master.

Each player is only aware of what their own units are doing on the table top and exactly where they’re positioned, and the enemy movements and units only become apparent once they move into visual range of your own. This is where the umpire comes in.

Each player communicates with the umpire how they wish to deploy their units and what movements and actions they would like those units to take. This gives the players a true fog of war setting.

It sounds complex right?

Yes it does! But actually it’s really not. Why? Because the only person who needs to know the rules is the umpire. The players just have to communicate with the umpire what orders they would like their units to follow. This can be communicated either in an RPG format or a simple “I would like these units to entrench themselves on top of the hill overlooking the town

The umpire then moves both players units according to their wishes and communicates back to the players if any contact has been made with the enemy.

When contact has been made the players then decide how they want their units to act, i.e. “The units will form line and wait for the enemy to attack before firing.”

The umpire then rolls the dice and decides the outcomes for that turn (which replicate a few minutes of real world battle at a time).

That Sounds like it takes Ages!

Actually no, a small game of Kriegsspiel can played out in a few hours. Or you can even play it on a play by post basis with a number of friends negating the need for vast spaces to be used like a conventional table top wargame.

Why have I not played this before?

When I read about the rules and the requirement for three players I immediately thought it would be too difficult to get a game together. Bot was I wrong!

The International Kreigsspiel Society which I have recently had the honour of discovering, have a Discord channel where you can join introduce yourself and just jump straight in with your first game!

I’ve recently started two play by post games, one being a small battle during the Haitian Revolution and another being the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. In the first I’m in command of a small Brigade of infantry (7 battalions) with the game having 5 players a side, while in the second I have an entire Division under my command and roughly 17 players per side.

A simple game of Kreigsspiel

Is it just for Wars in the 1800’s?

Absolutely not, the Society is currently developing additional rules for World War 2 and Ancients to name but two.


If this sounds like your cup of tea, then why not slide into the Discord server and take a look around, perhaps try a small game with the friendly guys who run the many games each week that takes place.


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