by Rob Morgan
A few recent remarks, suggestions and queries, especially those from Jim, have led me to this brief note. Some of the ‘patterns of war games’ for want of a better expression, which I feel may be useful to the solo gamer are those to be found in the development of the ‘Kriegsspiel’, ‘War Game’ in the German language, over almost two centuries.
These games, and there were a number of them invented, are what produced trained commanders like Moltke, Clausewitz and Hindenburg. They are particularly useful to the solo player as the original systems, most originated in Germany, were intended to enable a player to achieve a quick and decisive victory on the tabletop or map, with a force which displayed tactical and operational prowess, and not one which developed an all embracing economic and strategic role. Old fashioned wargaming! The games displayed a narrow outlook on the nature of war and that’s exactly what the modern solo player needs for a successful game.
More than once, I’ve referred to the Continental Wars Society’s The Foreign Correspondent in these columns, and over recent years that newsletter has carried a number of fine, often reprinted, investigative contemporary articles on the games.
No. 127, in July 2020, carried a superb article called “The War Game of the Continent“, which goes back to the earliest games of the 1780’s and the 1820’s. The 1780 game, with its chess-like pieces, would be playable now. Chess, of course, was recommended to the military to train the mind in war. More on this to follow.
The October 2020 issue, No.128, has “The American Kriegsspiel”, or a short account of it. That may well be better known to US readers and seems to have something to offer, based as it is on a topographical map with small coloured blocks. Issue No 130, April 2021, carries an 1872 magazine account of the uses of the war game and provides quite a few sound and solo possibilities.
This valuable publication is one which I’d recommend to all solo wargamers of the Horse and Musket, 19th century, and the pre-1914 era. I understand it will continue to investigate the theme of how land warfare and combat developed and its portrayal in small scale, with and without figures! One to watch.
More on Chess possibilities later.