Friday 13 October 2023

German Wargame Rules from 1917

 Strategie und Taktik des Spiels mit Bleisoldaten (Strategy and Tactics for games with lead soldiers) 

Pentagon Publishing, Stuttgart, 1917 78 pages monochrome.

I had been hunting this little tome for many years but it constantly evaded me until last year when I bit the bullet and treated myself for my birthday!

There is a pencil note inside the front cover; 20 Pfg Berlin Katz 31.13.35.  It must have passed through many people's hands, or perhaps just a few.

After a Forward and Introduction the Chapters are: 
1. The Ground 
2. Tactical exercises in Company column 
3 Small off road exercises 
4. Exercises in larger groups 
5. Exercises with Army Corps 
6. The Battle Game 
7. Fantasy Wars 
8. The Strategic deployment 
9. Creating the preconditions for the Battle 
10. The course of the Battle 
11. Closing remarks

Quite a lot packed into such a small book and it appears to be much like a military manual for linear formations.

My schoolboy conversational German has long since escaped me, along with his French counterpart, so I'm struggling with this antiquated gothic text.  If you are more comfortable with it please give us all a precis of the Forward and Introduction shown here.

It contains two maps, the larger fold out one above showing the Battle of Leuthen and a smaller "Sketch of the battle of Pirot" (Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885 - no I hadn't heard of it either)

Chapter 7 Fantasy Wars, gives listings of  the disposition of Army Corps for Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Rumania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal.  

Bearing in mind this was printed in 1917 here's what it has to say about England:

 "Similar data can hardly be given for England, since universal conscription was only introduced during the present war, the standing army was formerly only small in number in peacetime, and was largely fragmented in foreign possessions, and the division into army corps and other tactical units took place entirely according to the needs and circumstances.  During the Boer Wars, England brought out a total of about 228,000 men, i.e. about 6 army corps according to our estimates"


  1. Very interesting , I hadn't heard of this title before .

    1. Yes, with tin and lead toy soldiers being popular in Germany long before we started producing them in England you'd think it would be better known.

  2. I agree with Tony, a very interesting little book Brian! The toy soldier illustrations are well done. Do you think this book was intended for children? Did it list an author? The French and German soldiers on the cover seem to make it a product of a very turbulent time in world history! The snarky comment about England also seems to make it very current to the time period!

    1. Hi Brad, there is no author listed that I could find, I looks a bit too formal and stuffy to be a children's book, many illustrations of the time show adults around a table of toy soldiers.

  3. Fascinating, I await more information with great interest…
    Alan Tradgardland

    1. You might have a wait Alan, I struggle with rules in English if they're more than one sheet of A4!

  4. I'm working on it between other things so it's very slow going!

  5. Hello! I stumbled upon your other toy soldier website. Was trying to contact you, but the contact button there is broken. Is there any way I can speak to you regarding toy soldiers? Email would be best. Please let me know!

    - Luciano of Toy Soldier Central

    1. Hi Luciano, I have replied to you via your website.

  6. Google lens seems to be quite good at translating screen shots of the images you've posted.

    1. Many thanks for the heads up on this Nigel, I haven't used Google lens but I'll take a look into it. (Brian)