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Fog of War in Military Board Games

Strange how such a key factor in war is completely left out of most military board games:  Fog-of-War.  It would be like playing Poker with all the cards dealt out face up on the table.  I suppose you could play it that way but it wouldn’t really be Poker anymore.

This is a simple example of how critical the difference can be.  Howe and Cornwallis move onto the board in Brandywine.  Howe’s HQ comes flying around our flank.

With perfect intell, this move is ridiculous.  We can see this is just Howe.  He has no troops.  There is no threat.

Now let’s throw in a Hidden Reserve Card.  The enemy can hide forces attached to this HQ behind the screen.  Right now, we don’t have any eyes on Howe.  What does he have?  For all we know, it could be anything!  It could just be his HQ.  There could be nothing behind it.

We have to actually march somebody over there that can see Howe.  What will they find when they get there?

They see just 1 Dragoon.

Fine, but what is behind them?  We still can’t see.  It could be 2 elite infantry brigades backed up by artillery support!

It could be 2 Dragoons ready to speed all around behind us.

Or, it could be nothing.  Just 1 Dragoon.


Look at all the problems and decisions this forces on us.  At the very least, we MUST send at least 1 unit over there to investigate.  That unit that could have been fighting elsewhere.  

Next, we are going to need to engage and probe to find out what the extent of this force is.  There is another lost turn.  At what point do we decide we need to send more units there?  How many?  What if we send to little?  Too much?  Too late?

Is this a weak distraction?  A moderate attack or the main effort?  There are many uncertainties here.  Many unknowns.  It’s like a mystery.  What other clues do we have to indicate what the enemy is up to?

Now we are struggling with real command issues.  Real poker.





Syria, Prequel to WWIII

Is Syria our generation’s Spanish Civil War?


Is Syria our generation's Spanish Civil War?


So What Happened in Mega Supremacy?

I meant to write up a full report in our Blog for what happened in our Mega Supremacy game.  It was an incredible success.  Jim Owczarski over at Grogheads did a great interview with us a few weeks ago on it.  It was such a great interview and discussion that  I  forgot all about reporting on the game myself!

So if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!  You can find it here.

Excellent questions about Mega-Supremacy and Pub Battles.  It is a very interesting discussion about big multiplayer games and the future of our hobby/industry. 

They run a very good site on gaming also.  Lots of good info here on Kriegsspiel.  You will find lots of other cool things here. 

Chaos to Order

Pub Battles Strategy Guide

The traditional turn format of I-GO-YOU-GO is very neat and orderly. The turn sequence actually helps organize your thinking.  Handy but that is not the way the real world works. 

Pub Battles forces you to think like a real commander. Real battlefields are chaotic.  Imagine a flurry of reports coming in real time, explosions, musket fire, smoke, orders going out.  Half the time you don’t even know where your own troops are, little lone the enemy.  (In Pub Battles, each Command moves in random order as their chit is pulled.  Your HQs can roll to alter this sequence.)

Just like the real world, Pub Battles are a chaotic mess. This realism is good and exciting.  For new players, it can be overwhelming.  Where do you even begin?  Just like in the real world, you can often find yourself running from one emergency to the next.  You are constantly putting out fires with knee jerk management, always 1 step behind.  It is great if the enemy is doing this.  This is exactly the situation you want to create for HIM. 

You need to be much more ….premeditated. Here are some tips to help keep you on the right track.

Before each turn, look at each Command. What would happen if the enemy moves first?  Is that a total disaster or can you deal with it?  Now what if the good guys move first?  How much hurt will this put on the enemy?  Do you want to move first or last?  How important is this right now? 

In many ways, Pub Battles is like Poker. There is hidden intel.  In many ways it is like a random, chaotic street fight.  New players often overlook the fact that it is also a lot like Chess.  You must keep your eyes firmly fixed on 1-2 moves ahead.  Where is this going?  Where do you want it to go? 



Who has already moved? This is really key.  The enemy command in front of you that has NOT moved, is very different from the one that HAS moved.

Now that you know who needs to go first or last, should you roll now for HQs? No.  Big mistake.  Just sit tight.  Bide your time.  Let’s see who comes out of the chute first.  Maybe it’s you!  You got first move naturally.  Great!  If the enemy doesn’t like it and tries to roll, there is a good chance they miss.  That gives you intell.  You know what the enemy wanted and you know he’s not happy.  If the enemy jumps ahead of you, you can still have the last say by jumping ahead of him.

Notice what happens if you jump the gun and roll to go first?  You just wasted your roll. If the enemy jumps ahead of you now, you have no chance to alter.  You wasted it!   

Sit up and pay attention if the enemy starts rolling to change a chit pull suddenly. That means they are in danger.  They don’t like the way it came down.  If the enemy doesn’t like it, that means you do!  Do what you can to counter their changes.  If this threat wasn’t on your radar, you better start asking yourself why?  What would happen if the sequence stays as it is?  What is the enemy so afraid of?  What can you do to maximize their pain? 




Move First When:

  • The enemy is spent. Move to engage them. This will force them to fall back or fight you on unfavorable terms.
  • Critical terrain is currently unoccupied.
  • The enemy can block off routes of escape.
  • You can move up to block a key route of the enemy’s escape or attack.

Move Last When:

  • You plan on falling back but want to delay the enemy. Just make sure you can still get out!
  • When expecting an enemy attack. If he goes first, you can commit support afterwards.
  • When attacking prepared positions, so the enemy cannot react.

If you do move last, try to think ahead to the next turn. What could you do with a double move?  Try to setup the first blow now.

If your artillery is in a separate command, try to get them to move right before your attacking command moves. That way you can contact the enemy defenders before they can Rally. Also the defenders may flat out run, so you can occupy their good terrain without a fight. 

If you must attack first, make sure you guard your flanks! Attack all the defenders in the line.  If you can’t, you will need an extra piece on your flanks. 

If you attack last, you don’t have to worry about this technically. You can make isolated attacks.  Just keep in mind what could happen if the enemy moves first next turn.  🙂




This is a lot to think about for each command isn’t it? Yes, that’s why Pub Battles works even better with a live player for each command.  Then each player can really focus on just their part of the front.  You can also add in written orders, which opens up a plethora of communication problems.  Now you’re really in command.   


Supremacy Pieces

We got some new test pieces in today for Supremacy.  What do you guys think?




We are torn on the colors.  The Bomber and SLBM colors are darker.  We like these because the contrast with the map better. 

The MBT and Sub colors match the existing pieces better. 

Which would you rather have? 

Mega Supremacy Event

Our first ever Mega Event and it is completely FREE!!    We are so excited. 

Supremacy is perfectly suited to be run as a Mega Game. In many ways, I think the system works better as a Mega Game. 

What is a Mega Game?  It is a large, multi-player event.  They often have 30-80 players in 1 game!  The countries are played by teams.  So you break the duties down by role:  President, Diplomat, General, Trader. 

I’ve always wanted to do this with Supremacy. The problem is always, where do you get enough players?  The Mega Game format solves this! 

More Players = More Fun

This is a Large Convention, Supremacy, Kriegsspiel and Roleplaying game all rolled into some big, crazy, wonderful mix.

Make it if you can. I know many of you are not in the area.  We will report on the results here on our site.  We hope to start doing regular events like this here in the Front Range area.  As this expands, we may be coming to your area!

If you would like to see a Mega Supremacy near you, email us your location.

How Does Mega Supremacy Work?

When and Where is this?


Battle at Marengo


Final demise of the Autrians


I played a game a Marengo last night.  It is really much better to jump around and play different battles.  It makes it feel fresh.  More like you are there for the first time.  –because I haven’t seen it for awhile I forget all the nuances of that field. 

This is a really fun and unique fight.  The French actually outnumber the Austrians in points but the Austrians attack because they have more pieces.  The French keep getting flanked and forced back, -Until Desaix shows up! 

That gives them the extra couple of blocks they need to solidify their lines and punch back.  Very cool. 

I used the Murat to screen the flanks.  Later he ran down the Austrian skirmishers.  I didn’t get a chance to actually charge spent infantry.    

I didn’t make a Column attack either but I did think that it would be a good way to attack up hill.  You are going to be suffering a -1 anyways.  If you can survive until the 2nd round that could make up for the hill advantage! 


Final positions of both armies, at least before Murat was unleashed to run down the remaining Austrians.


I’m really liking this system as I see it in more battles.  The chit movement system really shines here.  In a big open field with little terrain, the battle becomes very fluid.  It mostly comes down to maneuver.  The elegance and intricacies of the chit pull movement system really stand out then.  There are many subtle and tricky things we often lose sight of in the other battles. 

I can just imagine how this mirrors real command.  I wanted to attack with Desaix but Lannes came up to move first.  I rolled to jump Desaix first but failed.  I rolled again with Bonaparte but he failed too.  Alright, so I have ordered both Corps to attack but can’t coordinate them like I want.  Lannes jumps the gun, moves first and then blocks the route of advance by Desaix.  Sigh.  That is command. 


Now what does Desaix do?  Sit out a turn and do nothing?  Or attack somewhere else in less than optimal conditions?  That is the type of thing that comes up all the time.  That is war. 

I think the technical military term for it is Charlie Foxtrot.   



Final Score: French Major Victory






Bunker Hill

Over Christmas break, we setup a little battle for Kriegsspiel. Something small and quick.  How about Bunker Hill?

We did a little research, found some maps and set it up:







The wooden blocks are ships at sea bombarding the peninsula.

In Kriegsspiel, we use real maps. This got me thinking about Pub Battles.  Could we make a Pub Battles:  Bunker Hill?  I think so.  We’d need to adjust the scale a bit.  Some were worried that is would be boring after the first play or so.  There isn’t much to do but attack the redoubt. 

True, unless the British can land anywhere and start attacking….   They took terrible losses at the battle.  Could that have been avoided?  Could they have defeated the rebels with light losses?  A big, British victory here might have prevented the entire war.

I think it could be a good game. What about you?

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.