2mm Miniature Gettysburg

This is my first miniature army! I know!! Time for show and tell. I’m using these directly on the map, in place of the standard Pub Battles blocks.

Buford’s Cavalry screens along McPherson’s Ridge. Heth’s Division comes down the pike and deploys along Herr’s Ridge. That is Hill’s HQ and the baggage train behind them.
Here comes Reynolds marching up the Emmitsburg Road. That’s Wadsworth in front, followed by Robinson and the baggage train.
This is how they compare to the regular Pub Battles blocks. Each unit is made up of 4 little, metal stands.
These are the next reinforcements coming in.
Titus ponders the implications of Rowley’s division entering on Heth’s right… Nah, he’s probably thinking about swiping them off the table.
This is Reynold’s Corps in blocks.
Buford in block equivalent. I’m surprised that Titus hasn’t taken out Rowley yet.
How do you know who is who? Each unit is made up of 4 stands. I use the Right most stand for ID. I painted the bottoms of the stands in white. Then I wrote the ID with a fine tipped Sharpie. So the left unit here would be the 3rd Division from III Corps. (In this case, it’s Heth’s left because the Reb Divs. are so big.) Hill is marked there with a III.
So they all look the same when they are standing up. This is good for FoW but is a bit more fussy. How do you track Spent status? I suppose you could flip them over but that doesn’t look good. Mark them with some kind of token / chit? If you track them on a separate OB sheet, you could also count additional step losses. -Kind of like in Kriegsspiel. I’m not sure if all that is worth the trouble.
Heth attacks and drives back Buford. Reynolds marches up to the Seminary.
Wadsworth, supported by Robinson attacks Heth on McPherson’s Ridge. Rowley marches in on his left. That’s Pender and the artillery coming around behind Heth.
Here comes Howard up the Emmitsburg Road. The baggage train moves off the road onto Cemetery Hill for now.
This is a view of the same situation from Titus’ angle.
What’s cool about these minis, is that they are scaled to Kriegsspiel! Each of those little stands equates to a standard KS block.
This is what the Cav and baggage train would look like in KS blocks.
This came out a little blurry but you can see how they all compare: minis, Kriegsspiel blocks, Pub Battles blocks.

You can get these minis at Irregular Miniatures. They are a great company. They have lots of great minis. They also make standard KS blocks in metal! Check them out.

What is Kriegsspiel?

Kriegsspiel is a wargame created by von Reisswitz to train military officers in 1812.  It was used by the Prussian military to great success in the Franco Prussian War.  It is considered the first modern wargame.  Kriegsspiel is German for:  wargame.

How do you make decisions with incomplete information?

Critical decisions with high risk and under ignorance?

It is similar to Chess, in that two forces battle against each other strategically to achieve victory.  The pieces are blocks of wood that represent real types of military units:  infantry, cavalry, artillery, etc.  Instead of a playing board with squares, the pieces move across real terrain on real maps. 

The key, unique feature of Kriegsspiel, is that the opponents are not allowed to see the board!  The board is kept in a separate room controlled by umpires.  The players cannot see or move their pieces directly.  To move their pieces, they must write instructions (orders), for the umpire.  The umpire then moves their pieces. If those pieces made contact with opposing pieces. If opposing forces contact, the umpires resolve combat using dice, with tables to account for terrain and other tactical conditions. The umpire then writes reports back to the players on anything their pieces can see and the results of combat.

All of these orders and reports suffer from a time delay.  The umpire calculates how long it would take for these messages to travel back and forth along roads by couriers on horseback. All of these communications are subject to interception.       

Kriegsspiel teaches officers to make critical command / management decisions in an environment full of unknowns.  The strength and location of the enemy forces are mostly unknown.  Often players aren’t even sure where their own forces are!  Players must learn to operate in these unknown conditions, just as they will have to in the real world:  With incomplete information and often in total ignorance. 

Kriegsspiel is like Chess mixed with Poker.  Players learn to develop several contingency plans to deal with the most likely, possible future events.  They most also remain flexible and adaptable to always changing conditions. 

One of the lessons learned from Kriegsspiel is the power of decentralized authority in decision making.  Rather than reports slowly moving up the chain of command to a high ranking General at the top to review and decide;  it is much faster to let lower level officers make decisions based on what they know and see in the field.  This results in a much faster execution of maneuvers in the field, which can exploit enemy weakness, while it still exists.

Kriegsspiel style planning can accelerate the tempo of conflict, often beyond the pace of what the enemy can respond to.  This was used to great effect in the Franco Prussian War and later culminated in the theory of Blitzkrieg or Lightening War; used by the Germans in WW2, General Patton and later General Schwarzkopf for the invasion of Iraq.


Kriegsspiel Example 3

What do I do now?

I’ve been fighting at Brandywine with the Rebel army. I made a stand further forward. Stirling’s brigade defended forward on the Osborne’s hill to the left. I held the woods with Nash’s reserve brigade and the Pennsylvania militia. Both my brigades were thrown back in Total Defeat. Stirling fought a controlled withdrawal back to Birmingham Hill here on my left.

By the time the British advanced and formed up for a new attack, I was able to reorganize my troops and bolster their strength with a battalion of Sullivan’s Marylanders and some 6 pound artillery.

In the center, the British regulars have been watching and threatening to attack but they must have chickened out. They are just sitting there.

On the left, Stirling was attacked by the British Grenadiers and Guards several times. He was lucky and able to drive them back. The British were brave and fell back in good order but took horrendous casualties in devastating musket fire laid down by Stirling. Reminds me of the slaughter at Bunker Hill! Yes, those are the best troops the British have on our left but they’ve been defanged now.

The Hessians and Abercromby’s Light infantry attacked Sullivan’s battalion holding our right twice. We were very lucky and repulsed them both times.

Fine except that Abercromby’s Light shifted to our right. Our far right was screened by our dragoons but Abercromby struck them with the support of the Hessian Jaeger dragoons. That sent my dragoons reeling back.

Now the trouble is my exposed baggage trains: that dark line of blocks on the road. :/

Any way I can salvage this situation? I’ve been doing just fine till now but this looks really bad.

I could launch my dragoons forward in a suicide attack. Maybe they’ll give the baggage train the time they need to escape.

I could attack Abercromby’s Light with Sullivan’s battalion. (2 right blocks) That might distract them enough to save the dragoons but then my artillery will be exposed! Seeing that, the Hessians will attack and wipe them out. So, I’ll have to pack up the guns and send them to the rear.

Ok but then that still leaves my center line of Nash and the militia with an exposed right flank and no artillery support. Those patient British regulars will probably attack my center with artillery support while the Hessians hit my right flank. Just in time for me to get the terrible luck I am about due for. :/ Even with good luck, I probably won’t win that fight.

If I do all of that, I can most likely get out my baggage and artillery, while the rest of my army takes a beating and then routs from the field.

Is that worth it? What’s the alternative? Any other ideas out there? My main MSR runs down that road to the right by the dragoons. I can’t retreat to the left off map. The enemy is attacking from that direction also.

It looks so peaceful and secure right now but all hell’s about to break loose. I hate it when that happens.

Kriegsspiel Silence

You command this small colonial brigade at Brandywine. You hold the center of the field for your side. Your orders are to defend this ford and prevent the enemy from crossing it. An enemy Hessian brigade attempted to cross and launched an assault up the hill. You won! A Total Defeat for the enemy, with heavy losses.

You considered following up your victory to drive across the river and finish the Hessians off. The enemy baggage train is likely behind them, however a fresh British brigade moved up from reserve and bolstered the Hessian line. Given that, you called off the attack and have held your line.

Since then? Nothing. The enemy has not made another attempt to cross the river. As the hours wore on, you’ve heard sporadic fighting back and forth to your left and to your right (about the 4 o’clock position). There were 2 friendly brigades to your right and rear, but they marched off towards the sound of combat to your right. For you, just turn after turn of sitting here.

The sound of combat to your right is growing in intensity and is moving closer to you…

What should you do? Continue to follow orders and hold this position? The enemy isn’t attacking anyways. If the enemy breaks through to your right rear, you could be surrounded and cut off! Your commanding officer is probably in the middle of heavy fighting to your right. He probably doesn’t have time to write you. Did he forget about you? If he gets shattered and has to make a run for it, will he have time to inform you first? Has that already happened? The enemy could be maneuvering around to encircle you right now! How long do you sit here and wait?

If you wait too long, your troops will have been wasted in the battle. Maybe if you marched to the sound of the guns, you could arrive at a critical moment to turn the tide and help your side win the battle!

On the other hand, that march would be disobeying direct orders in the middle of a critical battle. What if your side is doing fine over there? What if the Hessians cross the ford while you march over there without orders? Losing that key position in the center of the line, in the middle of a battle could cause your side to lose this battle!

Will you be the hero that saved the day? The fool that disobeyed orders and lost the battle? The fool that sat there doing nothing while his side was defeated, and was then captured & taken prisoner? Spend the rest of the war in prison, if you aren’t hung as a traitor by the British.

You might think that getting stuck with this command in a game would be boring. What did you do during the game? Well, the enemy attacked us once. We drove them back. Then I just sat there for the whole game doing nothing.

In Kriegsspiel, just sitting there “doing nothing” can be agonizing. How long do you sit there? What is going on around you? Has it come time to move under your own initiative or should you stay the course? What justifies disobeying orders? Can you defend your actions in a courts martial?

How about now? How about now? The clock is ticking and the situation is changing from turn to turn. More time has past and been lost. More time with no orders or updates. More fighting heard. The fighting is growing in intensity and moving from 4 o’clock to 5 o’clock and approaching 6 o’clock now. Is that enough? How much do you need? How long do you wait? It’s not boring. It is excruciating!!!! Agonizing!!!!!

Terrific fun! The kind of fun you don’t see in wargames but it is the exactly the kinds of things you see in real life.

This is the Umpire’s map during the game that you couldn’t see.

Kriegsspiel Example: 2

Kriegsspeil is a game of Decisions.  This is a great example of the types of things you run into from a real game.  These are the types of things you don’t see in regular wargames but you see them all the time Kriegsspiel, as well as in real life!


You are J Grant.  The officer in charge of the last Brigade in this column.  Your orders this morning from the Army commander were to march north to the objective (marked by the flag to the right) in an attempt to flank the enemy before a pending battle.  The baggage train is following on behind you.

When you reach the junction at Nice Town, you notice that Grant’s Brigade is marching north!  NOT to the objective, not on the route described in your orders.  You notice that the rest of the column does indeed appear to be marching in the way you were ordered. 

What do you do?

I see a few basic options here.  First, you could just follow Grant’s Brigade.  The problem with this is that you don’t have orders to go that direction.

Second, you could just ignore Grant, turn right and continue on to the objective as ordered but why is he doing this?  Has the mission changed? 

What else could you do? 

Kriegsspiel Example: 1

Kriegsspeil is a game of Decisions.  This is a great example of the types of things you run into from a real game.  These are the types of things you don’t see in regular wargames but you see them all the time Kriegsspiel, as well as in real life!

Situation:  The enemy is somewhere on the lower / southern half of the map.  They trace supply off the southern edge of the map along the main road that runs down the center. 

Your side is on the offensive.  The main effort will be to march down this main road, entering from the north to attack the enemy.  Your side’s overall goal is to defeat the enemy army and drive them south and off the map.

Your command is small wing.  It is made up of militia brigade and couple of light detachments.  You’ve been marching south, down this road on the east side of the map since 7:00am.   As you arrived at this crossing, a heavy fog settled into the area.

These are your orders:  General, you will take your Pennsylvanians and two detachments down Rowan Hill Road and continue to where the Wissahickon empties into the Schuylkill river, and cross the Wissahickon there, to the mill, follow back up the East side of the Wissahickon and attack the British from the rear while we occupy their front. Use the detachments to expand your frontage when entering battle.

Decision: You continue to march north east along the Wissahickon as ordered. The fog has gotten very bad now.  Visibility is down to only 10 paces.  You have arrived at this point on the map.  Suddenly, you hear the sounds of combat.  It seems to be coming from the area circled on the map.  There is a large volley of cannon fire in this area that seems to be firing north.  After that a moderate exchange of musket fire.

What do you do now?

You’ve been ordered to attack the enemy’s rear.  Where is that? South of the combat just heard?  Arguably but you’ve also been ordered to “follow back up the east side of the river”.

With the dense fog, can you even successfully navigate further south to find the enemy’s rear before it’s too late?  Sounds like the battle is already starting.  If you continue north east along this road as ordered, you could reunite with your main army and commander.  However, with the dense fog, will your approach be mistaken as the enemy!  Will you cause a friendly fire incident? 

Maybe they won’t fire on you but will divert troops away from the attack at the critical moment to investigate your approach.  That could easily cause the attack to fail. 

Should you sit and wait?  Waste time at a critical moment while you send a messenger ahead to get confirmation from your commander?   What if the enemy army is ahead along this road?  What if your messenger gets captured and then the enemy is tipped off that you are there on their flank?

This is quite the conundrum.  Whatever you do, you better do it quick.  This battle is happening in real time.  You have about 2 minutes to make your decision!

THIS is Kriegsspiel.  

Reading Contour Lines

There is some confusion out there on what the slope lines mean and how to read them.  Here are a few examples to clear things up. 

It may look a little messy at first but I actually like these old style slope lines much better than modern day contour lines.  It is easier for me to visualize up and down. 

In this example, Red is up on top the hill.  They can see down to Blue at the lowest elevation, sitting behind the stream.  Effect:  Red will have cover here if attacked by Blue.   

Red has dropped back here behind the ridge now.  They are on the Reverse Slope.  There is no line of sight between these units.  Effect:  Red will have cover if attacked by Blue.   

In this example, Blue is at the highest elevation.  They are up on top of the hill.  Red is still on the hill but further down the slope.  White is down at the base elevation at the lowest point.  Effect:  Blue will have cover here if attacked by Red.  Red will have cover if attacked by White.

Here, Red and Blue are both on the hill.  The issue is that they are both on the same slope.  There is no cover here for either side.  I would treat combat between these two units, the same as if they were on clear terrain. 

Kriegsspiel Puzzle

This is a fun little puzzle to sort out.  It reminds me of Kriegsspiel.

Both sides play Kriegsspiel blind via an umpire.  It is a lot like poker in some ways.  What does the enemy know?  What do they not know?  What do we know about the enemy?  What does their known action reveal about their motive and intent? 

These are all the types of questions you constantly puzzle over while playing Kriegsspiel.  It is exactly the type of thinking you need to solve this problem:

There is a secret prize hidden under one of these five objects.  The teacher privately tells the girl what the correct shape is.  The teacher privately tells the boy what the correct color is.

Next the teacher brings them both together.  The first one to pick the correct object gets the prize.    

Teacher:  Do either of you know where the prize is?


Teacher:  Do you know now?


Teacher:  Do you know now?

Boy and Girl:  Yes!

Where is the prize?