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Book Review: Verdy's Free Kriegspiel

December 17, 2009 8:13 PM - Posted by Phil - Category: Reviews


Some time ago I reported about my interest in Kriegspiel as a wargaming form. I finally found the time to read the book Verdy’s Free Kriegspiel, published by John Curry in his History of Wargaming series.

The book consists of several parts. Part 1 is the actual book by General v. Verdy Du Vernois, “Beitrag Zum Kriegspiel.” It presents a variant on the classic Von Reissewitz idea, by dropping most rules and employing an umpire to interpret and judge the movements and combat made by the various players. After a short preface, the book basically describes the conduct of a wargame by two players, almost by the minute. Thus, it is an entertaining read, and one gets quickly the idea how such a free kriegspiel can be run. However, I also got the feeling that players back then had much more time and patience. I doubt whether a game nowadays can be run in exactly the same manner.

The 2nd part of this publication describes rules for the Victorian Army’s 1896 Wargame. Again, this is meant to be a tool for ‘serious wargaming’, but instead of leaving everything up to the umpire, rules are presented to adjudicate movements and combat.

The 3rd part of the book is also very useful. It lists marching rates, lengths of columns etc. for various formation in different time eras, even up to the 1940s. A very good source for kriegspielers, since most of us hobbyists lack the insights and professional experience to ‘wing’ these things when trying to conduct a game.

I still have plans of running a Kriegspiel game one time. One of the things that are needed are maps, of course. An excellent publication in that respect is the Atlas Ferraris, a tome of over 600 pages, detailing Belgium in 2nd half of the 18th century, and based on so-called Cabinet Maps commisioned by the Austrian authorities that were in possession of Belgium at the time. The book, which is a magnificent publication, is quite heavy and large, but the above link provides an on-line version of the atlas. Scanned version of the maps are also available on CD-ROM, and that migh be a very good buy for wargamers interested in 18th century wargaming.

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