Kreigsspiel Time Scale

Each turn in Kriegsspiel represents 2 min. Often times, Kriegsspiel is run in real time.  You play a full days battle in 1 full day.  You just got a report in from the Umpire.  You need to write new orders to respond.  How long does that take you?  Well, the clock is ticking.  How fast can you write?  This creates a sense of urgency and timing. 

In a big battle, you might need a team of Umpires to crank out the combat results and issue reports. One option an Umpire has, is to group turns together to speed things up.  This is particularly helpful for operational movement.  So let’s say the forces aren’t even in contact yet.  You start playing by 1 hour turns or even 1 day turns.  Once there is contact, then you slow it down to 2 min turns. 

Keep in mind, the turns are for the Umpire. The players don’t usually know about or track turns.  They just know what time it is. 

So how does the time / movement scale compare to Pub Battles?


This is a 2 min step out march rate compared to the Pub Battles Movement Stick. Keep in mind that the map scales are off by 2:1.  So really, that is how far infantry would move in 4 min of time in Kriegsspiel. 

How long are Pub Battles turns? 1.5 hours.  Wow!!  This is way off.  By direct comparison it is.  Keep in mind how Kriegsspiel is played.  That is technically how fast your infantry CAN move in 4 min.  That doesn’t mean every piece you have moves that far every 4 min.  They don’t move at all if they don’t have orders! 

So first, you have to write an order. How long does that take you?  15 min?  Remember, the clock is ticking.  Now you have to get this order to the Umpire.  He has to assign it to a messenger and track the messengers move down the chain of command down to the actual unit.  How long does that take?  How many people are in the chain of command?  Each link adds time.  It could easily take 20-30 min for a messenger to ride that far.  Let’s say there are 3 key command links that needs to give the orders a once over.  Figure a 10 min delay for each of them while they make plans and the troops are ready to actually start moving. 

That all adds up to about an hour, give or take. It depends on the exact situation.  That leaves about 20-30 min left for the troops to actually march.  That works out to be just about right:  1.5 hours.  An Umpire would track all of these details in Kriegsspiel.  Pub Battles streamlines this for speed.  It is a close approximation.  You do lose some of this detail and texture in command systems.  Pub Battles makes up for some of this with the Turn Alter rolls HQs can do.  Some HQs are rated higher to simulate a more efficient and sleeker command system. 

The Mounted speed is comparable.


Note that this shows the ‘gallop’ speed of cavalry. You can do this but only for short bursts.  Infantry has a variable march speed as well. 


What about artillery ranges?


Very comparable. Again, remember the 2:1 map ratio.  Kriegsspiel breaks ranges down into more detail with the various gun weights.  Pub Battles again simplifies and groups these all together.  A close approximation as a trade off for speed. 

Is that a good trade? How much accuracy and detail are we losing here?  Judging from this, it looks to be about a 5% loss in accuracy.  How much speed do we gain?  Well, if you are playing in real time, a full day battle should take about a full day in the real world.  Let’s call it 8 hours.  How long does it take to play a full battle in Pub Battles?  1 hour.  Would that be an 800% improvement? 

I’d call that a bargain.             

Kriegsspiel Battle Scale

I just got my new Kriegsspiel pieces in the mail. My own Christmas present to myself!  Is that what most wargamers do? 

They look great. I’m very excited.  I got the measuring ‘apparatus’ too.  I immediately set them up on the maps.  Next, I had to put them on the Pub Battles maps.  They looked great there too.  I couldn’t help but wonder how they compared to Pub Battles. 



This is two Kriegsspiel Battalions in line formation, all spread out, end to end. Each small Kriegsspiel block is a ‘Half Battalion’ that represents 450 men.  They almost equal the length of a Pub Battles Brigade at Brandywine.

Amazing how close these line up together but the scale is completely off. Two Battalions is what?  One small Regiment?  Nowhere near a Brigade.  True but lets compare the actual numbers.

If each Kriegsspiel piece is 450 men, then these four blocks represent 1,800.  How many men are in a Brigade at Brandywine?  About 2,000.  So actually, they match almost perfectly. 



Here is a Union Cavalry Brigade at Sharpsburg with it’s Kriegsspiel equivalent. 



The map scale is the same at Sharpsburg and Brandywine. The pieces are exactly the same size but they represent bigger formations.  At Brandywine, a piece represents a 2,000 man Brigade.  At Sharpsburg, each piece is a Division.  Divisions are typically made up of 2-3 Brigades.  These Brigades are about the same size:  1,500-2,000 men. 

Here Sykes’ Division prepares to attack DH Hill in the Sunken Road in Pub Battles:






Ok, now how would this look if we set it up in Kriegsspiel blocks?  Like this:



What?!  How can that be the same?  If the map scales are the same, how could a whole Division fit in the same space as a Brigade?  Because in Kriegsspiel, the blocks stack.  Here are the same pieces shown at an angle:




This was a different war.  Greater numbers were involved.  The concentration of troops was higher.  There you go.  The Kriegsspiel pieces can stack up to 4 high.  They are extremely versatile.


I think terminology here is causing the confusion.  Basically, what Kriegsspiel calls a Battalion is really a Regiment in the Civil War of 1,000 men.  Two Regiments lined up end to end is a Brigade.  Stack another 1-2 Regiments on top and you have a Division. 

Another fascinating thing about the Kriegsspiel blocks is how they accommodate road column marches. 


This is Sykes’ Division all strung out along the road.  I have a couple of artillery batteries tagging along also.  These cover about the same ground as a HQ and a few support pieces.  As you can see, it is very close to the Pub Battles block with a trailing road column piece. 

Another interesting thing you can do with the Kriegsspiel blocks is:  Line Extension.  In a pinch, you could spread out to cover more ground.  It is going to be a fragile line though.   



So far, everything appears to be sync-ing up.  You could easily use Kriegsspiel blocks to play a Pub Battles game.  This could give you more detail and precision.  There is one key difference:  map scale. 

The map scale is off by about 2:1.  So the official Kriegsspiel map is ‘zoomed in’ nearly twice as much compared to a Pub Battles map. 


Strange. How could that be?  Everything was matching up perfectly.  I’ve been checking historical maps.  The Pub Battles scale does match actual troop deployments for the real battles.  Does that mean Kriegsspiel is wrong?

No.  I think Kriegsspiel has it right.  They are just looking at a smaller scale.  So our Division at Sharpsburg does fit in this space.  Note how it is all stacked up in a concentrated line.  In Kriegsspiel, it would actually be spread out more with space between the blocks.  This is a ‘Division’ setup in Kriegsspiel scale:


First you would have your skirmish line out front.  The ‘Regiments’ are in attack column 300 paces behind.  They are not all stacked up together.  They are spread out with about 200 paces space between them.  Three other Regiments follow on behind but staggered.

Remember, we are ‘zoomed in’ now about 2:1.  So I’ve put 2 Pub Battles blocks to compare.  Sure enough, this formation is about the width of 2 Pub Battles blocks.

So basically, at Pub Battles scale, we have zoomed out so we can fit the entire battle on a reasonably sized map.  We fit the same troops in half the space by getting rid of all this extra space in formations.  The down side is that you lose the detail of skirmishers and various formation options.

Could you use Pub Battles maps to play Kriegsspiel on?  Absolutely.  They are ideal if you want to fight out an entire battle at once.  You would just need to remember that your distances are 2:1.

Here is another question:  Could you use Kriegsspiel blocks to play Pub Battles with?  Yes!  This can easily add a lot more detail and precision to the game.  Just keep in mind that this will also add time to the game as well.   


Hitler’s War- Game Review



Hitler’s War is an old strategic wargame on WWII.  What is it like?  Is it any good?  Though I am almost embarrassed to admit it, this is actually one of my favorite games.  Serious wargamers (WiF, A3R, AETO) scoff at it.  Axis & Allies players would be disappointed in no minis.  What could I possibly see in this game?

Well, compared to Axis and Allies,  it doesn’t have the cute minis but it does a much better job in recreating the war:  economics, bombing, subs, Africa, Minors, you can start in 39.  The rules used to be  longer but Axis & Allies rules keep growing.  These days, Hitler’s War rules might even be shorter.  Hitler’s War used to take a little longer to play too but again the play time for Axis & Allies has grown.  I’d almost bet Hitler’s War could be played faster now.    

Hitler’s War does have some quirky things in how your armored spearheads work.  It is abstracted but then again, look at Third Reich.  Hitler’s War isn’t THAT whacky and gamey looking.

WiF and ETO are hard to beat for realism.  They are wonderful games.  The question is:  Do you have time to play them?  Do you have space to set them up?  I love those big, monster games but Hitler’s War is a game you can actually fit into your life.      


You can pretty much play through the entire war in a good day.  Try that with WiF or AETO! 

Yes, much of the detail is gone but in many ways I like this better. This allows you to focus on the truly strategic issues.  What is your production compared to the enemy?  What should you produce?  What countries do you attack?  When and why?  These big level issues are what really determine the war’s outcome anyways.  All the rest is just matter of grinding out the results isn’t it?

There is some detail. You can produce infantry, armor, air, bombers, navies, subs and ASW.  You can even invest in technology.  There are partisans and great leaders like Patton and Rommel.  You can direct the flow of the war by controlling how much you spend on these weapon systems.  Hitler’s War gives you the feel of WWII without bogging you down in tons of rules. 

Hitler’s War is a great example of how less it more. Removing all the minutiae allows players to focus on the big trends. Who should we invade first?  Poland, France then Russia?  Or Poland, Russia then France?  How about France, Poland, then Russia?  Guess what?  In Hitler’s War, you could test out all 3 of these plans on a Saturday!

In many ways this reminds me of Pub Battles. One of our play testers commented that Pub Battles is the game he has played the most this year.  Why?  It is exciting and has great re-playability but one of the biggest things going for it is speed.  It plays fast.  He just doesn’t have the time it takes to play a regular wargame these days.  He can always fly through a battle of Brandywine in a spare hour.  How many other games can you do that with?  Time and again, he finds himself pulling out Brandywine because it is fun and convenient.

Maybe Hitler’s War was onto something. Should we do a WWII Pub Battles?  Do you still like and play Hitler’s War?  What do you like about?  Hate about it? 

Tradable Bond Market?

The economy in Supremacy is remarkably realistic. Especially when compared to most other grand strategy games like Risk or Axis & Allies.  I got a very interesting email the other day about a (real life) banker’s reaction to Supremacy.  He was very excited about most of the things he saw.  He did express some concerns about how the Bonds and Loans work. 

This got me thinking….   Is there a way to make the Bonds and Loans tradable on the Market?  Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to take out loans, unless you can first find somebody willing to buy the bonds to back them.  Your payments should go directly to the Bond holding players. 

Another consideration is the rate of interest. With the Loan track, the interest starts out very low.  The deeper in debt you go, the more the interest rises. 

You have to be careful adding rules. Adding tons of complex rules to a game is easy.  How could we incorporate some of these forces into the game in a simple and sleek way that is consistent with the rest of the game design?  Any ideas out there?  Comment below or send me an email.