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Game Design and Kriegsspiel

08/06/2009

So some of you know that I am taking a free online game design course. [Link]  Though primarily aimed at video game designers, all of the exercises have been board / card or ‘non’ digital games.  We’re at the half way point now and have moved from theory to practice where we’ll design a game and really refine it (as opposed to what we have been doing where its been design something, and move on – nothing really finished.)

The first of my two working ideas for the final product (of which I need to choose one soon,) are a euro-style game where you are the boss of a bicycle messenger company in the big city, picking up, and delivering packages, avoiding parked cars, and hiring more messengers to build your empire larger.

The Second is a tile laying game based in Victorian (or 40’s Pulp???) times where you play an Archaeologist delving into a newly found area in search of riches and glory, avoiding curses and death at every turn.

Regardless though, I’ll need some play-testers when the time comes and I’m looking at you, and you, and especially… YOU!

So what is Kriegsspiel?

Well during the course, one of the readings had a reference to a wargame written in 1824 (Napoleonic age)  by a Prussian Officer called something to the effect of Rules of a War-Game played on a map.  Long story short, the popularity grew and Officers in Germany, England, and America soon had their own versions.  The game was played on a scale map of the region and troops moved at a scale rate.  There would be three, or more, copies of the map each in different rooms.  One for each army with whatever they could see, and then a third for an umpire who would see all of the units.

Each side would submit their orders each ‘turn’ and the umpire would then determine how long it took the messenger to get the orders to a unit, how long it’d take them to figure out the orders, assemble and move, etc.  The umpire would then provide feedback to each general, after-all, they were miles away in a ‘safe’ camp, with reports back from friendly units, locals, and even – “You hear cannon fire off to the east near the town of Metz”.  He would also work out the combats in a variety of different ways, but usually based on force strength, supporting units, fatigue and terrain to name a few.

A Kriegsspiel seems to be the overall name for this type of game and it is something I want to try with some folks.  It’d probably be easiest to do this using the computer to map everything out and then sending detailed reports back via e-mail and such.  I’m sure I’ll probably recruit some folks to play.  It now boils down to what time period and I think we might try for Civ War, or possibly even Rev War.  Eventually though I’d like to do up a Medieval Fantasy version I think to coincide a bit with my favorite LARP or even perhaps with Warhammer Fantasy (where we would actually play the battles out in the usual way.)

For more info check out this link here.

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