How to Play
Where do I even start?
Kriegsspiel has a rich history, various iterations have been designed for different purposes over time, and different schools of how Kriegsspiel should be run have developed. There is not one answer to what Kriegsspiel is, and there is not the one ruleset. Kriegsspiel might be more of an approach of how to run a military themed tactical or operational wargame anyway. No matter whether you are looking for the original Kriegsspiel or a modern version designed for playability, you will find that Kriegsspiel incorporates these core elements:
- Kriegsspiel is played double-blind, each player (or team) has their own map and pieces, formulates orders and sends written dispatches to other players.
- All of this is processed by an umpire (a game master so to say) or a team of umpires in order to provide complete fog of war and create contingency and friction which cannot be properly simulated in any other boardgame or computer game.
- Although many systems use different types of dice, there might not even be any dice used to resolve combat among other things, this would be called “free” Kriegsspiel.
- Kriegsspiel simulates the operational campaign movements and/or battle tactics and combat of a given period. And players are commanders of some sort of military formations.
- Kriegsspiel is a learning experience, it is about making plans, executing them, making mistakes, discussing the battle with all participants during a debriefing after an outcome becomes clear. It is not a casual game that is played to be “gamed” and won.
We encourage anyone interested in Kriegsspiel to join our community and play right away. And this is why:
- As a player you do not need to know any rules.
- Even though it might help to have a basic understanding of the respective historical period and its warfare, such historical or military knowledge is by no means necessary to play.
- The umpires and more experienced players, everybody will gladly help you out and answer your questions.
- You do not need to fear to have any huge disadvantage by being less experienced. The core characteristics of Kriegsspiel sort of prevent a severe advantage of seasoned players.
Following the links below you will find more helpful background information and neat player guides that make it even more easier to make yourself ready for your first game.
Painted metal Kriegsspiel blocks of the “Game of War” produced in London by Vincent & James Figgins, Type Founders, for the UK government, ca. 1890. Photograph by Ernest Stewart.
How we play online
The International Kriegsspiel Society exploits software and the internet to play Kriegsspiel frequently. This has made it possible to bring enthusiasts and practitioners from all over the globe together.
Our Discord server is not only a highly frequented discussion forum on Kriegsspiel, history, game and scenario design, maps, books and other resources, but also the place where we play. Discord can be accessed via the browser or downloaded as an app on your smartphone or computer, and combines features of instant chat, forum, voice and video chat. Even though several additional servers have been founded to serve as processing hubs for specific large play-by-post games, the IKS server remains the core, and at least every Saturday an open live game is run. Every player will be assigned to a team and a restricted personal text channel to receive screenshots and dispatches from the umpires.
To visualise the virtual Kriegsspiel table we are using a commercial software called Tabletop Simulator available on Steam for which the umpires provide free workshop modules containing maps and game pieces. TTS allows the umpires to host an umpire table on which they run the game together, additionally every player sets up their own table and moves pieces based on assumed events and umpire reports. If you do not own TTS, the umpires will provide you a map graphic file to be used with any editing software you like. TTS helps to provide a better overview but is by no means mandatory and no requirement to participate in our games!
Some of our members have written player guides to make the entry especially for new players even more easy. They describe how the game is run, how a player should approach the provided challenges and think like a commander, some do also explain possible basic formations and guidelines on how to write dispatches and give orders.
The Kriegsspiel Handbook written by Amelia, Jan, Jon and Justin provides a basic overview on what to expect from Kriegsspiel, as well as how to play via Discord and TTS and how to umpire.
The Tips For Players are sent by Otto to every player in one of his games. They provide a quick overview of what is expected from a player and what sort of orders can be given.
The Handy Manual For Dashing Commanders was written by Jan to prepare the Union players for Grand Gettysburg 2021. Although explaining some basics of the then used Brigade System, it comes with helpful tips for players powered by Napoleon and gives a basic idea of what is expected from a player.
The Handy Manual For Dashing Napoleonic Commanders was written by Jan to serve as an intro to Napoleonic warfare and tactics.
What is Kriegsspiel
Learn how to play (with us). Kriegsspiel is easy to play, hard to master, a unique challenge and not like any other game.
As you might expect, players who are new to Kriegsspiel often have the same intial questions. Here are some answers.
After Action Reports
Read entertaining narrative player reports and umpire recaps of games and campaigns played by our members.