What is Kriegsspiel?

Old men playing war?

Kriegsspiel is a training exercise developed by the Prussian Army in the 1800s to train army officers, instead of having to rely on field rides or even training maneuvers. Since then, Kriegsspiel was also used to wargame various scenarios and plan strategies for battles and campaigns.

What makes Kriegsspiel unique is how it’s played. The game is played double-blind, meaning the players on each side do not see what their opponents are doing, unless they are in direct contact. An umpire (game master) reports what a player can observe, enforces the rules, and resolves movement, combat, and other events. At the end of the battle, the umpire table is revealed to the players and a critique is offered.

Kriegsspiel literally translates into wargame, however most modern wargames lack central aspects of Kriegsspiel, mostly the fog of war. All modern wargames are descended from Kriegsspiel. The popular Dungeons & Dragons game is directly modeled from Kriegsspiel. The world’s militaries still play Kriegsspiel today.

There are many rulesets available for Kriegsspiel, from the rules first codified in 1824, to Free Kriegsspiel which has minimal rules, to those developed by the world’s militaries, and the professional enthusiasts of the International Kriegsspiel Society. These rules are often kept secret, so players do not “game” the system to win, and instead focus on the tactics and dilemmas they confront.

Because it is professionally umpired, the game is accessible to anyone who understands basic military tactics, and provides a unique experience unmatched by any modern wargame.

At the IKS we play digitally via the internet. But those physical Kriegsspiel blocks look simply amazing. These are on a historical, hand colored map, painted and photographed by Ernest Stewart.
Several players and umpires standing around a table with a large map.

The International Kriegsspiel Society welcomes all persons from around the world. The game is enjoyed by all persons, history and military experts to casual gamers, to men and women, to persons of every age, race, gender, and identity. There are no barriers to entry. No dues, fees, or costs, no examinations, no tests, no requirements. 

Simply join our welcoming community and we will quickly teach you anything you need to know. The nature of the experience is such that even newcomers win against old veterans, all the time. Here, professional gamers rub elbows with the novices. Simply show up with a gentlepersonly demeanor, and enjoy this robust and growing community!

Kriegsspiel has a variety of forms and different approaches, a rich history, various iterations and plentiful purposes it can be used for. Some might say that it is more a way of reflecting and learning about people and oneself than an actual game about war, although it can obvisouly be played as such. This fact and its name might be confusing and misleading to people encountering it for the first time. Whatever you expect from Kriegsspiel and no matter how little you know about it, you are welcome to join the International Kriegsspiel Society.

Where should I start?

How to play

Learn how to play (with us). Kriegsspiel is easy to play, hard to master, a unique challenge and not like any other game.

After Action Reports

Read entertaining narrative player reports and umpire recaps of games and campaigns played by our members.


Maps, rules, videos, books, After Action Reports, modules for Tabletop Simulator. Everything you need to play Kriegsspiel.

Join our Discord server and become part of a growing community of over 2,000 members from all around the globe.

Get in touch either on Discord or via e-mail, leave us some feedback or suggestions or ask us anything about Kriegsspiel.

The IKS is commited to ensure inclusiveness and diversity within the community and stands against discrimination and harassment.

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