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Tag Archives: History

Why I Love Diplomacy

The venerable classic timelessly soldiers on.

by Brant Guillory

The original Diplomacy board game has a huge following, even among non-wargamers, despite being sold as a wargamer for its thirty-year lifespan. Why?

Well, it’s a wargame that abstracts battlefield prowess to the point that it’s almost irrelevant. Tactical ability is nothing – I repeat, nothing – in this game. It matters not how well you can anticipate the moment for the cavalry charge, plan the artillery bombardment, or outflank your enemy with your panzer corps. In this game, all armies, and generals, are created equal, and numerical superiority is the only relevant statistic.

In fact, the only ability of note is your ability to successfully negotiate your way through the intrigue of the game as the leader of a country. In this respect, Diplomacy has succeeded, and continues to succeed, in a class all it’s own.

Nineteenth Century Military War Games: Charles Totten’s Strategos-The Advanced Game

Nineteenth Century Military War Games:  Charles Totten’s Strategos-The Advanced Game

Robert Mosher, 24 January 2014

Click images to enlarge

This is the third article in our series examining 19th Century war games designed and published primarily but not exclusively for the use of professional armies. The previous articles (here and here) discussed von Reisswitz’ Prussian Kriegsspiel (1824) and W.R. Livermore’s American Kriegsspiel (1882), respectively. This time, we look at Charles Totten’s Strategos, a contemporary design to Livermore’s game.

"Charles Adelle Lewis Totten, 1873." Photo courtesy of the USMA Special Collections & Archives.

“Charles Adelle Lewis Totten, 1873.” Photo courtesy of the USMA Special Collections & Archives.

In 1880 D. Appleton and Company of New York and then-First Lieutenant Charles A. Totten, (Fourth Artillery, United States Army), published STRATEGOS: A Series of American Games of War Based Upon Military Principles and Designed for the Assistance Both of Beginners and Advanced Students in Prosecuting the Whole Study of Tactics, Grand Tactics, Strategy, Military History, and The Various Operations of War. Strategos presented a layered set of games that addressed tactics, grand tactics, and strategy, supplemented by material for the study of military history, with an appendix that included statistical studies relating to the conduct of war.

Like his rival Walter Livermore (Class of 1865), Charles A. Lewis Totten graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point (Class of 1873). His father was Brigadier General James Totten (Class of 1841) and his uncle was Joseph Gilbert Totten (Class of 1805). Charles Totten ranked among the top ten cadets of his graduating class. His first posting, as a Second Lieutenant, was to the 4th Artillery and the garrison at Alcatraz Island, California, one of the forts protecting America’s Pacific Coast. His subsequent career included similar posts such as Fort Monroe, Virginia and the Artillery School there, and the Presidio in San Francisco. Other assignments were as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts) and later at Yale University, and as an instructor at West Point. Totten is still remembered in Massachusetts for his contributions as a founder of the fencing program while he was at Massachusetts Agricultural College. His field service included the Bannock Campaign (1878) and the Chiricahua Campaign (1880-1881).

During his military career he also published “Compensating Powder for Heavy Artillery” (1877), “Text Books and Tables”, and “Instructions in Guard Duty” (1887). His military lectures at Yale, including “Military Economy and the Policy of America” and “Organization, Dis-organization, Re-organization, and Mobilization” are available in a bound collection held in the Yale University Library.

GrogHeads History: WWI Tankers’ Gear


Lloyd delves into the historical archives to dig out an interesting bit of TANKSgiving history.

Lloyd Sabin, 28 November 2014

I struggled for a while this year to come up with something for TANKSgiving. In years’ passed I have done bits on rare WWI armored vehicles, early tanks…you know, the usual awesome stuff. This year for some reason I could not come up with an appropriate topic. Until I found the below picture during some online research.



Tuesday Screenshot – Tanks in Action


OK, so here’s something more than a screenshot. Tanks on the range at Ft Stewart in 2004.

Tuesday Screenshot – Veterans’ Day

11 November 2014

Veterans, not just US veterans, are remembered today. The Grogs here at GrogHeads wish to thank all of your for your service and wish the best possible future as you drive on through life.


Although the check specifies the US, veterans of all of our allies are in our thoughts and prayers today.  Thank you all for your service.

Although the check specifies the US, veterans of all of our allies are in our thoughts and prayers today. Thank you all for your service.


Your Veterans’ Day thoughts here >>

Wargaming History – A Look Into The Past

University of Maryland Professor (and more importantly, wargamer!) Matt Kirschenbaum is on a European odyssey this summer.  While in Switzerland for an academic conference, he made time to swing by a local museum and found an excellent display of wargaming history.



I was recently in Lausanne, Switzerland for a conference and, well, it rained the entire week. Looking around for something to do I noticed the Swiss Games Musuem, Le Musee Suisse du Jeu, was a short train ride away in the nearby town of La Tour de Pielz. Reading further, I discovered the museum was housed in a castle. A games museum in a castle? Let’s go! Upon arrival, I found two unexpected bonuses: first, the weather briefly cleared, *and* there was a special exhibition of WWI games on!


Nineteenth Century Military War Games: William Livermore’s American Kriegsspiel

Continuing our research series on the history of Kriegspiel and its offshoots

GH-KriegspielLivermoreRobert Mosher, 29 June 2014

This series of articles examines several 19th Century war games designed primarily for the use of professional armies. The first article reviewed von Reisswitz’ Prussian Kriegsspiel of 1824, considered by many to be the first modern wargame. This article looks at William Roscoe Livermore’s American Kriegsspiel: A Game for Practicing the Art of War Upon a Topographical Map, copyrighted in 1879 and published in 1882 and in 1898. Captain Livermore’s game is based upon the Prussian original, modified over the years to reflect technical and tactical changes, but he had limited success selling it to the War Department.  An 1865 graduate of West Point (sixth in his class), Captain Livermore was introduced to the Prussian wargame that year by fellow engineer William Popp, a former Bavarian Army officer. Livermore conducted topographical surveys in the Great Lakes and Texas, surveyed and supervised work on fortifications on both coasts, was Army Attaché in Denmark (observing Prussian military exercises), and served as a senior engineering officer with the VII Corps of Major General Fitzhugh Lee during the Spanish-American War. That Corps trained in Jacksonville, Florida and its low levels of illness compared to the rest of that army might reflect Livermore’s care in setting up its camps.



GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory #47

This week’s GARPA might be short on titles (only 3), but it’s long on success – they’ve all made the cut and will be adorning tabletops near you this year.

Scotland Rising  (Worthington Publishing)
$5000 of $2500, ends 20 July 2014

C’mon, now – you’ve seen Braveheart, right?  Scottish Wars of Independence ringing a bell?  And as a wargamer and history buff, you must know that we’re coming up on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, right?   Well, not only that, but there’s a Scottish independence vote coming up in a few months, too.  So what better time than to take a trip back through history and check out Worthington’s upcoming game on the Battle of Bannockburn.  And if they hit their stretch goals, you’ll get the battles of Stirling Bridge and Falkirk, too, which should satisfy anyone’s desire for 14th-century hack-and-slash combat in the Scottish border country.  But they only hit all those stretch goals if you go plunk down your coins on the Kickstarter page, right?