I was delighted this morning to receive an email from Jean-Marc, a friend of mine in France - always good value.
He sent me this photo, taken in a farmhouse in France, as part of a running thread we have on Le Kriegspiel, a very early grid-based miniatures game which still has a following over there.
"After some years of research I have finally found one of the French group still playing the venerable Le Kriegspiel French rules with 20mm flats, (first version of the rules written out in 1935, which pioneered the use of hexes, last version 1964, translated by Pat Condray in 1965).
Attached is a pic of a Kriegspiel terrain used in Northern France. Terrain is 6m x 4.5m. No problem reaching the centre of the board, as every wooden tile is removable on all the edges of the terrain. It’s a very heavy terrain btw. As the owner says, «I’m not very good with terrain, this one I have used for 4 decades is very practical». (I have been told that there is a superb terrain in Corsica)."
My thanks to Jean-Marc. Interesting stuff.
***** Late Edit *****
Jean-Marc came back with some more information, which is certainly worth a look.
Jean-Marc explains that the system was originally used for TYW, WSS and Napoleonics, and, later, there were variants for ACW, Franco-Prussian and probably SYW.
He also sent some photos of the 20mm flats.
Once again, thanks very much, Jean-Marc!
***** Late Late Edit *****
Jean-Marc very kindly sent some more details about French flats.
"Reading quickly the comments, my own on flats:
flats were the most common (for kids, first, collectors next), and still
are. (Of course, there are larger figures than 30mm, but not for games).
20mm flats figures were used first for dioramas and next for games, and were invented in the 40's/50's in limited numbers. French wargamers took the opportunity to produce them in the mid 60's, they had the customers, the drawers/designers, the engravers etc. And of course a very precise knowledge of uniforms, being linked to the La Sabretache group.
The French production of 20mm specialised in 1805-1809 for Napoleonics, and expanded from there. They did not find [it] useful to copy what already existed in Germany, for example Napoleonics 1812-1815. In fact, they added the figures that could not be found elsewhere.
P.S. If you are wondering why Brigadier Peter Young had the Arquebusiers de Grassins well painted in his rule book, it is because he was a member of La Sabretache before WWII. He visited his friends of La Sabretache in Paris in 1944, on one of his first trips there."