War game (business game)

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The war game is a historical military simulation game for military purposes that was developed in Prussia in the 19th century . It was used to carry out combat exercises on game boards, with different rules and game boards in the course of time.


The game was played on special game boards, on several (three) chess boards or on maps. Until the First World War it was mainly used by senior officers in the German army to train strategic and tactical thinking. The original "war game" was particularly popular with officers of the Prussian troops in the 19th century. The assumption that the war game was behind the successes of the Prussian troops made it popular abroad as well. It came to the USA after the Civil War . The last war, the success of which was also attributed to the war game, was the 1905 Russo-Japanese War , according to Poundstone .


The war game should give the officer practice in commanding the troops and, according to the given battle idea, is only carried out according to tactical principles. After the previously used many restrictive rules of the game were gradually removed, the war game brings the character of real combat to the representation fairly faithfully, so that it became less of a game than a "maneuver on the map".


A distinction is made between the strategic war game on the general staff map and the large tactical and detachment war game on plans on a scale of 1: 9000 or 1: 6250. The fortress war game is an exercise in attacking and defending fortresses (fortress warfare) on plans. The considerably more complicated conditions of this struggle make this war game correspondingly more complicated than that of the field battle, but it is carefully nurtured with the upswing of the tactics of the fortress war in Germany.

In 1876 a naval war game was introduced at the suggestion of the then Minister of the Navy, Albrecht von Stosch . The war game was converted from the 18th century war chess game by the Prussian court war councilor Georg Leopold von Reiswitz in 1824. Verdy and Meckel made a special contribution to its development . Instructions for the war game were given by Reiswitz (Berlin 1824), von Tschischwitz (4th Ausl., Neisse 1874), Meckel (Berlin 1875), von Trotha (3rd edition, the. 1875), Verdy du Vernois (2nd edition, das. 1881) and von Braun ("The Cavalry War Game ", Frankfurt an der Oder 1880).

Further development

Derived from the original "The Tactical War Game" by Baron von Reiswitz, various directions of strategy games developed . On the one hand, the use of tin soldiers led to the tabletop game , which is a very clear implementation. On the other hand, the simulation game on general staff maps was used to simulate conflicts . This is an abstract version, but it has the advantage of being able to implement different scales, while with the tabletop the scale is severely limited by the size of the figures.


  • Instructions for the representation of military maneuvers with the apparatus of the war game , Berlin [among others]: Mittler, 1846, digitized
  • Bernhard von Reisswitz, the war game, or instructions for depicting military maneuvers with the apparatus of the war game , 1824, Berlin, Mittler
  • W. von Tschischwitz, Instructions for the War Game , 2nd edition, 1867, digitized
  • Jakob Meckel, studies on the war game , digitized
  • Thilo von Trotha, instructions for the use of the war game apparatus for displaying battle images , digitized
  • Frans Dominik Champblanc, The War Game; or The large game of chess , digitized
  • Johann Christian Ludwig Hellwig, Das Kriegsspiel: an attempt to illustrate the truth of various rules of the art of war in an entertaining game , Reichard, Braunschweig, 1803, digitized
  • Georg Venturini, description and rules of a new war game for use and enjoyment , 1798, digitized
  • CF Planner, war game for pleasant entertainment for officers
  • Johann Ferdinand Opiz, Das Opiz'sche Kriegsspiel Contribution to the formation of future tacticians and to the entertainment of even the most experienced tacticians , Hendels, 1806, digitized
  • Julius von Verdy du Vernois , contribution to the war game , Berlin 1876, digitized


  • Philipp von Hilgers, War Games. A history of states of emergency and unpredictability , Paderborn, 2008, digitized

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William Poundstone , Prisoner's Dilemma: John von Neumann , Game Theory, and the Puzzle of the Bomb , Anchor / Random House, 1992, p. 37 ff.
  2. Zeno: War Game . zeno.org.

Web links