Friday, May 31, 2019

VON REISSWITZ KRIEGSPIEL: SHOOTING SOME NUMBERS


Adalbert von Rößler, ca. 1875 or 1884: Offiziere beim Kriegsspiel
A busy time of year at work, some family business, plus another bout of back problems, have arrested tangible hobby activity in these parts.   Nevertheless, during such times I continue to meander mindfully, if not physically, in the hobby.   As such, I thought I'd share a brief post on the thinking and reading I've been doing during this lull. I have revisited the Von Reisswitz Kriegspiel.   Specifically, I was dwelling on the way that the rules rated infantry fire.  I started with the 1824 version and then went on to focus on the 1828 revision (the latter being done by the Berlin Kriegspiel group).   There won't be a ringing conclusion or insight in this post (spoiler alert), but hopefully there will be a few tidbits of interest.
George Heinrich Rudolf Johann Von Reisswitz (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

As a rules tinkerer and writer, my interest in the Von Reisswitz kriegspiel system stems from the fact that its author was a veteran of the Napoleonic wars, as were many, if not most, of the officers who also embraced it (and would go on to do the 1828 revision).  When looking for insights into systems for handling various aspects of black powder (and mid century) warfare, what better source could there be than a system that was endorsed by those who actually lived the simulation?  
 Kriegspiel Dice (Command Post Wargames)

The original version relied on specialty dice to resolve combat action.  In the case of infantry fire, there were two dice, one for good effect and one for bad.  In the 1828 version, this would change to one dice for fire vs troops in the open and one for those under cover. 
 Explanation of an infantry fire dice (Kriegspiel Wikipedia)

These dice were very busy, each face having multiple bits of information (as you can see in the above illustration).  Later, authors (Bill Leeson among them) would break out the information on the dice faces into different categories (infantry fire, artillery fire, melee) and put them in easier to read in tables.
1824  Infntry Fire Tables (Found on Grogheads)

The figures for infantry fire were based on the famous Scharnhorst "Wirkung des Feuergewehrs" tests, adjusted and modified by observation and experience, to reflect fire under combat conditions (as opposed to ideal test conditions).  Firepower was expressed in points.  The later 1828 revision would further modify the fire results, lessening the effects compared to the 1824.  There will be a bit more on that later in this post, so I beg your patience for now, dear reader.  

Returning to firepower, the below is what the rules have to say concerning the translation of points to casualties:

Target
Infantry in three ranks:  1 point = 5 casualties
Infantry in two ranks: 3 points = 10 casualties  
Skirmish Infantry:  2 points = 3 casualties
Cavalry (in line or column):  2 points = 3 casualties 
Artillery: 12.5 points = 1 gun 

It is most interesting to note the low casualty ratio for cavalry compared to infantry targets.  This makes sense (to me) given that the horse and rider would be larger individual targets (true), but there would also be fewer of them in the zone of fire because of their size-- and also that cavalry formations tended to be pairs of single ranks spaced widely apart in successive lines, so once again fewer in the zone). 

The kriegspiel then helpfully provides the point-values for the main formations in the game:

A half battalion of infantry in three ranks would take 90 points to eliminate
A skirmish platoon (zug) in skirmish order would take 60 points to eliminate
A skirmish platoon (zug) formed would take 15 points to eliminate
A cavalry squadron would take 60 points to eliminate
An Artillery section (2 guns) would take 25 points to eliminate

Moving on to the 1828 revision (which retains the above point values), below is its revised infantry fire table:
1828 Infantry Fire Table
Infantry Fire
Paces
Target In Open
Target With Cover


1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
6
Half Battalion
300- 400
2
4
8
4
10
8
1
2
3
2
4
3
200- 300
4
8
15
8
20
15
2
3
5
3
7
5
100- 200
8
12
20
15
30
20
3
5
7
5
10
7
Up to 100
15
20
30
20
40
30
5
7
10
7
14
10
Two Skirmish Platoons
300- 400
1
3
6
3
8
6
0
1
2
1
2
2
200- 300
3
6
12
6
15
12
1
2
4
2
5
4
100- 200
6
15
16
12
20
16
2
4
5
4
7
5
Up to 100
12
16
25
16
30
25
4
3
18
5
10
8
Two Jager Skirmish
Platoons
400- 500
1
2
4
2
5
4
0
1
2
1
3
2
300- 400
2
4
8
4
10
8
1
2
4
2
6
4
200- 300
4
8
15
8
20
15
2
4
8
4
10
8
100- 200
8
12
20
15
24
20
4
8
10
8
12
10
Up to 100
15
20
25
20
30
25
8
10
12
10
15
12

As far as the probabilities, Von Reisswitz stated that one side of the dice would be the best effect, one side would be 1/2 effect, two sides of the dice would be 1/3 effect, and two sides would be 2/3 effect.  Given this distribution, there was no reference to the corresponding numbers on a six sided dice.  Thus, I find it very interesting that in all of the tabular conversions I've seen (as above), the columns aren't rationalized along the familiar 1-6 continuum. As such, the progression, as described by Reisswitz, is hard to recognize.  So I decided to see how the table would read using the same figures and distribution, only arranged in the familiar progression along the 1 (worst) to 6 (best) results.
.
1828 Infantry Fire Table Rationalized For 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest) Results

Infantry Fire
Paces
Target In Open
Target With Cover


1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
6
Half Battalion
300- 400
2
4
4
8
8
10
1
2
2
3
3
4
200- 300
4
8
8
15
15
20
2
3
3
5
5
7
100- 200
8
12
12
20
20
30
3
5
5
7
7
10
Up to 100
15
20
20
30
30
40
5
7
7
10
10
14
Two Skirmish Platoons
300- 400
1
3
3
6
6
8
0
1
1
2
2
2
200- 300
3
6
6
12
12
15
1
2
2
4
4
5
100- 200
6
15
15
16
16
20
2
4
4
5
5
7
Up to 100
12
16
16
25
25
30
4
3
3
18
18
10
Two Jager Skirmish
Platoons
400- 500
1
2
2
4
4
5
0
1
1
2
2
3
300- 400
2
4
4
8
8
10
1
2
2
4
4
6
200- 300
4
8
8
15
15
20
2
4
4
8
8
10
100- 200
8
12
12
20
20
24
4
8
8
10
10
12
Up to 100
15
20
20
25
25
30
8
10
10
12
12
15
Putting the figures in the above continuum makes the low and high end result (#1 and #6), as well as the two mid results (#2,#3 and #4,#5), much more visible.  In use, I think it would be easier as well, given the 4 bands of effect. 

Moving on from the above, in order to compare further, I worked out the aggregate point totals (the sum), the average results (rounded up), and the median result (again, rounded up), for each line.
 1828 Infantry Fire Table: 
Aggregate Results, Average Results, and Median Results

Infantry Fire
Paces
Target In Open
Target With Cover


Aggr
Avg
Med-ian



Aggr



Avg



Med-ian
Half Battalion
300-400
36
6
6
15
3
3
200-300
55
9
12
25
4
4
100-200
102
17
16
37
6
6
Up to 100
155
26
23
43
7
9
Two Skirmish Platoons
300-400
27
5
5
8
1
2
200-300
54
9
9
18
3
3
100-200
88
15
16
27
5
5
Up to 100
124
21
21
56
9
11
Two Jager Skirmish
Platoons
400-500
18
3
3
9
5
2
300-400
36
6
3
19
3
3
200-300
70
12
12
36
6
6
100-200
96
16
11
52
9
9
Up to 100
135
23
23
67
11
11

It is instructive to see how close the firepower of two platoons (zugs) in skirmish, particularly jagers, compares to the firepower of a formed half battalion (which would be four platoons/zugs).  Another interesting point that emerged from this study is the effectiveness of skirmish fire vs targets in cover as opposed to the formed half battalion.

This is all grist for the mill as I tinker with rules and such--it keeps my head "in the game" anyway, during times when hands-on hobby activities are arrested.

   Excelsior!



10 comments:

  1. As a rules tinkerer, myself, this is fascinating stuff. Very much appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, agreed. Very interesting.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt the Duchy of Stollen's Academy of Science will make good use of this data :)

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  3. Great post. Got me a googling there. Downloaded the British version of the rules...from and Australian site😳

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the interwebs, everything is possible :)

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  4. Nice discussion of infantry fire. Surprising that no one had ranked the results by 1-6. Seems very natural.
    I’ve always appreciated kriegspiel as a concept but have never done it in practice. I would jump at the chance; I picture a set up with 3 maps in different rooms or even more besides, players sending messages back and forth. I would also love it if set in the ACW. Is there an ACW version? I’ve never been able to bend my brain enough for Naps. I find it too confusing. 😀

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Stew. I know that ACW has been run (and other eras). ACW would be an easy use of the rules given the era. You might check out the Southern California Kriegspiel Society (if that's in your neck of the woods out there): the email is: sowkscamp@gmail.com (I believe the fellow's name is Marhsall).

      If you google "Eric Walters Kriegspiel" it will bring you to a resource page on Consimworld.

      There: now all you need is a 30 hour day and an 8 day week to find the time :)

      Ed


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  5. My brain melted half way through the tables, but I'm confident you'll use this 'ammunition' to distill into something lovely and modern in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Analog tables from 191 years ago, I can handle. Program code to make a simulation run (eBrigadier), I’ll leave to you! 😜

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