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"Hybrid 2mm/Kriegspiel project" Topic

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394 hits since 6 Sep 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 7:02 p.m. PST

Here's an update on the project. It's coming along pretty well. I'm mixing in more of my 2mm stuff on top of the glass, and using markers to pick out roads, to draw wooded areas and wetland, and to lay out elevation lines.


The corps are actually pretty quick to paint up. My goal into get the entire Wagram OOB finished up and put on a gigantic Wagram Black Powder team game. It'll be interesting to see if the rules can handle that many battalions, batteries and cav regiments. It's something like 400 units or so. Right now I have French 2 Corps, I Korps and the French Cavalry reserve finished up. I'm going to have to order some more artillery and officers, and maybe some more cavalry, but other than that I have pretty much everything that I'll need already.

I'll be putting together another how-to on this project as soon as I get a chance. I've been taking pictures as I've gone along. For anyone who wants a cheap, portable Black Powder set-up that satisfies the need for instant gratification, this is definitely a good way to do it.

Rdfraf Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 9:31 a.m. PST

Looks amazing!

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 10:27 a.m. PST


I'm going to do a how-to on this over the weekend, maybe an AAR as well. Its a cheap, very portable way to play the biggest battles of the H&M period. All you need are some of my 2mm 3d printed models and some Plastruct or Evergreen strips. I love the neat, clean look you get from using the battalion blocks. Its a great way to add lots of information and color onto the battlefield. The blocks are color coded with the facing color by regiment for the Austrians and by troop type for the French. The block color is the main coat color (you can spot the archduke Charles Legion, Hradisher lanwehr and the Tir. Du Po on the map.

I picked up three 48" x 24" poster frames last night, which, combined with what I currently have, will let me put all of Wagram at the battalion level onto the table. In other words, enough space for almost any battle. This weekend I'm going to take a crack at creating a map of the battlefield at a resolution that will make the actions of individual battalions meaningful. As shown above, the map will be hand drawn in marker on the plexiglass, which will radically cut down on prep time. The time saved can then be spent setting up the two armies…

After Wagram I'm going to try Leipzig. I also have a set of rules I'm working on, but these are on the back burner for now as I've got a lot of non-gaming stuff going on.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2017 4:58 p.m. PST


It's coming along pretty well. This shows a new technique I call "farm fields under glass." I take craft paper and paint it different shades of sap green and tan, then cut up squares and rectangles to overlap underneath the plexiglass. Then I draw marker roads, water features and elevation lines over top of it. The villages and fields are all represented with models. This map is 36" x 48". I have one more poster frame I could add to make it 36" x 72". I'm going to pick up a fourth poster frame and then I can rock out with a proper 6' x 4' map. The ground scale for this project works out to 9" = 1 mile, or 15mm = 100m. So, Right now I have a 4 mile deep, 5.3 mile wide map. If I go up to 6' x 4' I'll have an 8 mile x 5.3 mile area to set up in. For the most gigantic battles I could easily expand this (and I will be!). These poster frames aren't expensive, and are designed in such a way that they can be clipped together very easily. As I said, after Wagram I'm going to do a battalion level Leipzig. Other than the infantry the models are not connected to their unit ID blocks, so it will be easy to swap out calvary and artillery from battle to battle.

My favorite part however, by far, is the croupier stick I made for scooting the figures around on the table. Makes you feel like a real general!

That said, drawing elevation lines on these maps is a bit tricky. Need to start copying from real maps. It's weird, after a lifetime (well, since I was twelve, so twenty-odd years) of setting up clunky hills on war-game tables, its hard not to draw elevation lines to reflect that. I'm slowly getting the hang of it, however….

Sparta09 Sep 2017 4:10 a.m. PST

What happened to your own rules? Seems a long way from the interesting stuff you were doing to…..Blackpowder, which to med is the furthest from a simulation that you can come.

Lion in the Stars09 Sep 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

So, did you give up on the 3mm Picoarmor Napoleonics? That's something of a shame, those looked really good!

2mm is what, 1/900 scale? I might scrunch that to 1/1000 ground scale and run some pretty crazy large tables.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2017 9:29 a.m. PST

There are two versions of my rules, which really only share one thing in common: I came up with them. The older ones involved my on-board analog computer. I've given up on those. The computer was interesting but it was too hard to run. It was an attempt at a simulation, but it didn't work well at it. After a lot of reflection I've decided that a two-player simulation of the essential parts of horse musket warfare (ok, all warfare) are impossible. And, if it wasn't, someone would have come up with the solution to many of what we on this board consider intractable problems. Fortunately, a very good, recognized, classic and elegant solution to all the problems of player-on-player war-games exists: the kriegspiel. I'm now convinced that kriegspiel is the only solution.

Now, that said, I do have another set of war-game rules that I'm working on. These are based on John Boyd's Destruction and Creation and Homer. My view of the war gamer (try not to laugh) is that they resemble the Greek gods in the Odyssey. You look down at the table from high up, and although you can aid and manipulate the battlefield to some degree, you can't actually fight the war for the opposing sides. You have much more information than the soldiers and officers, but you have a muted ability to communicate that information to them. So, these new rules are two-player, and the focus of this game is on the ability of commanders to process information and make decisions based on it. My goal with these is not to overcome helicopter view, but to create a resistance to unrealistic actions on the part of commanders at all levels, in a way that makes sense. The ability of officers to move their units is a function of knowledge and their training, or the relationship between interior and exterior factors. This antagonistic relationship of the inner and the outer is at the heart of Boyd's essay, which is the basis for the philosophy of command planning that the US military uses today. BP actually does this already to some degree in their command system.

As far as BP is concerned, I'm using it as a crutch to help write my own rules. I'm not interested in super-complicated combat resolution rules because I think they add little to the gaming experience. BP has nice, simple combat mechanics that have the advantage that I don't have to recreate the wheel with them. At the same time, its loose enough where I can insert elements of what i'm working on piece by piece into it to test out concepts. Also, with minor tweaking BP becomes much better. You just need to find the hook point at which you can dive in and begin making adjustments. For me, that's the move rates and the combat system. A unit in BP can be wiped out in one turn of combat, under a best case (or worst case) scenario. This means that turn can probably be equated to one turn in the kriegspiel, which is about 2.5 minutes. After we have that settled, we can figure out how far a unit can move under best circumstances in 2.5 minutes. Then, we take some knowns about movement rates of historic units, and find that during attacks units could not always did but could cover about 1 mile of open terrain during an attack in 15 minutes (such as at Gettysburg or Austerlitz). Doing some math there we come up with a movement rate across open terrain in formation of about 260m per 2.5 minute turn. This helps us with figuring out things like movement, command, time under fire, etc. Once we have the 260m movement rate, we simply throw out the movement rates in the book and just go with what we know.

Are these numbers perfectly accurate? No, they are obviously general estimates. But, by using them and then expanding upon these observations one can hammer BP into a very fast playing, satisfyingly accurate depiction of combat in the era.

Lion in the Stars- I've still got them around, I just have less space to mess around with them. Going forward, my 1809 system will become a SBU project without battalion formations. Simply put, the larger project was never going to get completed. Also, it would have been almost impossible for me to transport it back East for the big conventions. The other problem was that all of my time was taken up painting, and I've decided I want to get some more games in now. 2mm has a bunch of advantages, as detailed in my post on the Wagram for Apt dwellers. It's portable, requires limited terrain, and if done right has a nice clean aesthetic.

Also, with the 3mm project, organization was always an issue. As you can see below maybe, I can potentially use all of these 2mm pieces as rotating hit counters and ID chits for the 3mm stuff. Best of both worlds!



Sparta11 Sep 2017 11:51 p.m. PST

Hi Forwardmarch. Interesting jounrey you are on. Sad that your analogue computer did not work out, it seemed interesting. As for you current designs I think Reisswitz kriegspiel is a nice basic groundwork for interforce reactions that allows a reasonable interunit combat results. However the opposite is true of BP, where results are completely unrelated to historic tactical outcomes – ex multiphase inafntry melee in open.
The kriegspiel approach does unfortunately not have a very good system for introducimg friction in movement and command, and I guess that it was meant to be up to the exeperienced officer acting as umpire.
The problem in rule design is not the march rate for covering 1500 meters in 20 minutes (Soult at Austerlitz) but how to represent how much of the times the trrops did not move due to waiting for orders. In wargames players move theri troops all the time, but usually to slowly instead of moving as historically – seldom but fast.

I am revamping my own system which to some degree is based on the old Empire concept also used in other systems where you have a grand tactical phase for units beyond musket range. Here yo go by very rigid order and move very fast. And a tactical phase where time is broken into smaller subunits where indivdual units close to the enemy has more time to react and activate on individual initiative. Generally I have the following ideas:

1) Units far from the enemy would look to higher commanders for order – they would not start off against the enemy by themslves.
2) close to the enemy individual officers would commmand their battalions more independently to react to the enemy
3) hen the combat was evolved and everything was choking in smoke option 2 became very hard to perform in a sensible way and most troops would just stand fast firing at the enemy.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2017 11:57 p.m. PST

The analog computer's Pickett Charge was that picture just before my cat jumped on the table and destroyed it.

"I always thought Dubs had something to do with it." – FMS, upon being asked what happened to the analog computer idea.

My new direction for my rules uses John Boyd's OODA loop as a model for understanding and acting on the battlefield. I'm very excited about how it's panning out, and his work gives my own work a very firm theoretical foundation.

I've also recently been investigating written orders. I think that written orders have the potential to make a comeback. I've only just started tinkering around with them, and they've already begun to solve problem after problem in my own rules. The problem with written orders that I see, is that they were dropped by the wayside literally a generation ago and so have never been "modernized" as a rule concept. I'm going to take a crack at knocking the dust off them and see where that leads me. So far the results are extremely fun and promising.

I agree with all of your observations about C2 at the bottom. I also agree about BP- it has a lot of problems. What I like about it though is that the basic combat mechanic is so simplistic that major problems can be fixed or ignored, and I can use it as a backdrop for experiments on the more vexing C2 issues. What I do is key it to kriegspiel. So, I say, "each two turns of BP shooting is one 2.5 minute kriegspiel exchange." Then I adjust the lamer aspects of BP into accordance with that. I disagree about the melee thing though; I assume it represents more of a close range firefight and almost never actual physical fighting with fists and bayonets (I don't really care what the designers actual intent was); so in my reading two turns of such exchanges would be about 5 minutes. That could work, since in two turns of "melee" one unit or the other will probably break and flee. Five minutes is quite awhile to blast each other, but it isn't without precedent. but like I said, BP is just a crutch for the more interesting, maddening design questions.

Sparta13 Sep 2017 3:04 a.m. PST

Interesting – I have complete allergy to the written orders from early years of frustration, on the other hand I cannot stand a system with non-persitent orders – a dilemma :-)

Will be watching your progress for inspiration.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2017 3:39 p.m. PST

Sparta- I'll try not to disappoint : )

I've made some incredible progress on them. I have almost 20 pages of ready-to-use outline (meaning that I could give it to a stranger and they could use it to play). The sections I have so far cover the intro, scale, collecting armies, how the maps work and the key concepts. The latter section includes about 1/3 the rules. The written orders part is really coming along well. I don't want to get too into the details yet; when I get them done to a point where people can actually play them I'll start looking for play testers on here. But so far I'm pretty optimistic.

Some more map goodness:


The sold black lines are the ridge lines, and the green lines show the distance of the slope before it flattens out. I didn't care for this earlier, but on second glance it is appealing to me more. You can also see the fording points in the stream in this one. There's such a thing as too much marker, however. Like I said though, this is growing on me a bit.

Still, I think I prefer this:


Now in this picture, the overall minimalist look is better, I think. Although this looks like an elevation contour, in my rules it is not treated as such- these are actually ridge lines and stream lines, an idea that I first came upon long long ago in a land far far away (Camp Lejeune in 2000), during orienteering training. This is a much easier way to quickly decide who can see what from where. Simply put, a ridge line blocks the view from the lower value side.

Of course, if players are real gluttons for punishment, or are just super serious about their LOS stuff, they can figure out exactly what can and cannot be seen on a map like this by using graph paper. This is harder than it looks. This is how you can use a a top map of a battlefield to really determine exactly what could be seen from, say, Seminary Ridge… (this is not Seminary ridge, I'm just saying that you could do this on any top map if you had some graph paper and a minute)


After you do this, you do this:


The how-to on top lines is found here:


The information on the webpage is taken verbatim (literally copied as a PDF iI think) from the US Army orienteering manual.

I'm not going to require people to do this in my rules, but I may mention it as an option for those who want to play on top maps. Once of course could do both- by placing a top map in under the glass, and then figuring out where the ridge lines are and marking them on top of the map. Plenty of ways to skin a cat.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2017 8:24 p.m. PST

"This is harder than it looks."

I meant easier, haha… ugh….

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