The History of the IKS
A brief history by Marshall Neal
Southern California Kriegsspiel Society
The Southern California Kriegsspiel Society was established in 2013 in Los Angeles and gathered at the Strategicon Gaming Conventions at the LAX Hilton three times per year for in-person games. The events were immediately popular, and attracted dozens of players, but few umpires.
To cope with the challenge, the “So Cal System” of playing Kriegsspiel was developed. Based on Free Kriegsspiel, the system reduced the game to its essentials while using dice to objectify results. Other measures were adopted to streamline the experience, such as allowing players to draw orders on plexiglass overlaid on the maps and taking digital photos of the moves.
The Southern California Kriegsspiel Society was managed via a Facebook page, which grew in popularity over time. A number of persons from around the world asked to join, unsure if they would be allowed due to the geographic focus of the organization. In the interest of supporting the hobby, all persons were allowed to join and resources, such as maps, were made available for free.
In 2021, COVID restrictions shut down the conventions in Los Angeles. Unable to play face-to-face games, new ideas were developed to continue play. The use of new software programs such as Tabletop Simulator, Discord, and YouTube, enabled the digitization of the experience. These technologies had the added benefit of opening games to the global community.
International Kriegsspiel Society
On May 31, 2021, the International Kriegsspiel Society was established. The purpose of the society is to promote and preserve Kriegsspiel as a hobby for learning and fun, and to engage with professional Kriegsspiel and wargaming communities.
The association grew and in August 2021 hosted “Grand Gettysburg,” a fictional re-imagining of the battle, which included around 50 participants. At that time, it was the largest, real-time, online Kriegsspiel ever played outside of the military.
Since then, the society continues to host games on a weekly basis, as well as providing training to people who want to learn how to umpire and manage their own games. Large play-by-post games are also offered, with the largest (WWII – D-Day) now including about 100 persons (as of spring, 2022). The community has no formal membership requirements or roster, but over 2,000* persons have joined the Discord Server, and another 1,630* follow the community on YouTube.
Several members have pioneered improved systems of play, created digital assets and modules, as well as maps for use. The community also offers support and expertise to anyone interested in in the game for any reason.
* Last updated in February 2024
Learn about some of our members, their experience with and approach to Kriegsspiel.
Jan is a staff member and Master Umpire of the International Kriegsspiel Society. Recently, he spoke with Betsy Josyln of Connection Next Generation about the community and Kriegsspiel.
The IKS around the globe
With more than 2,000 members on the Discord server and more than 350 members in the Facebook group, the International Kriegsspiel Society has members all around the world. Some regions are still under-represented, though, and we strive to spread the enthusiasm for Kriegsspiel as much as we can. Come join the IKS and begin your awesome ride into the world of civilian recreational Kriegsspiel.