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The image is a print from a French magazine dated 1874. However, it is reminiscent of a description of wargames played at the Naval and Military Club in Melbourne during the late 19th Century. Among the players was the (then) Lieutenant John Monash.

Le Jeu de la Guerre 1874
Le Jeu de la Guerre 1874

A description of these games was published in the records of the Victorian Royal United Services Institute.

This war game [kriegsspiel], which as its name indicates, was of German origin. It was a popular activity of members of the Naval and Military Club and the United Services Institution when both of these organisations were located at No. 178 Collins Street.

The set up for the game consisted of a table approximating in size that of a full-sized billiard table upon which was modelled an area of country containing all normal conventional features correctly built to scale.

Running along each of the long sides of the table were rails upon which a framework fitted with slotted wheels, was placed and attached to which was a screen about three feet high which came down to approximately 9/12 inches of the table. This screen could be moved backward or forward as required in the course of the exercise. This happened in the days prior to the use of aircraft and the idea was to prevent competitors viewing more than a limited area of their opponent’s territory.

All types of tactical exercises could be carried out. In the case of an advance or retirement necessitating a movement over considerable distances where the troops were occupying an area near the centre of the table and consequently out of reach of the Commander it was possible to remove a section of the table which was constructed in three sections and hooked together.

Tokens representing formations of the various arms were used to conduct these exercises. Rival commanders of the opposing forces (Red and Blue) with subordinates were appointed for each game whilst a Senior Officer was selected to act as umpire. Tactical orders covering the exercise were issued and frequently the more comprehensive schemes occupied several consecutive evenings before they were completed.

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