Sunday, 14 August 2011

New Direction for Napoleonic Rules

Sorry it has been a few weeks since the last update. What with one thing and another time has been filled all too easily. I have just had a week at the seaside and have returned refreshed. I am currently hiding in the bedroom as my daughters are having a sleepover with their friends and house is overrun with children.

The manuscript I have been working on for the last 18 months or so has been completed to 1st proper draft status minus a few last bits to complete and my brain can slowly turn towards some more personal projects. To quote the Fast Show; this weekend I have been mostly thinking about revisiting my 6mm napoleonics and the rules I use with them and I'll outline the ideas I am using below:

I wanted to keep the 1 base= a regiment or small brigade concept as this produces gmaes of around the right size for me and avoids the need to micromanage formations. While I'm not unhappy with my current rules I wanted to try out some different concepts to produce even quicker gaming but not end up with something so abstract that it doesn't feel "napoleonic".

Today was the first chance to put some of this into practice and I set up a 6 x 4 foot board with terrain and troops approximating the 1st day of Eckmuhl (1809). The rules are really only in my head at present as this makes editing easier, but roughly things go like this:

1. Roll 1d3 for every subordinate commander on the table. In this case the French had 4 divisional commanders and the Austrians 3, so seven d3 were rolled at the start of each turn and placed in a line, highest to lowest (two 3s, three 2s and two 1s).

2. Each side then selected one commander to roll off against the opposition to decide who got to use the highest d3. Each commander rolls one die, ranging from a d6 for poor commander to d12 for geniuses. The French were all rated "d10" initiative and the poor Autrians just "d6". Davout and Rosenburg and the CinCs for the day rated d12 and d8 respectively. The first roll-off saw Friant best the Austrians and get use of the first "3" allowing the brigades and batteries of his Division 3 actions. The next roll-off again saw the French win (St Hilaire this time) and grab the second "3". This gives a simple sequence of play with the better commanders tneding to have access to more actions for their troops and getting to move first. [similar to Impetus]

3. Once a commander has grabbed an action die (one of the d3s rolled at the start of the turn) he immediately acts with his brigades and batteries.


4. The battlefield is divided into squares to simplify measurement. Each 2 foot x 2 foot terrin time is divided (mentally at present) into a 3x3 grid, so the entire 6 foot x 4 foot table gives 54 squares. A square can contain up to 6 units, (no more than 4 being either brigades OR batteries).

5. Infantry can move as many squares as they have actions, with their first diagonal move costing 1 but any subsequent diagonals costing 2 [as in PBI from Peter Pig]. Moving into a wooded square costs +1 as does moving into an enemy-occupied square "assaulting"

6. Cavalry move in the same way as infantry but may move as if they had one extra "action".


7. Foot artillery may either bombard or move, but not both in the same turn. If bombarding, they may bombard as many times as they have actions.

8. Horse artillery may combine movement and bombardment actions during their turn.

9. If artillery who bombard share a square with brigades from their own Division then the brigades miss an action for each action of bombardment undertaken by the artillery.

10. Artillery may bomabard a target at a range of 1 or 2 squares, needing 5+ or 6+ respectively to score a hit. Foot artillery roll a d8 for each bombardment action and horse artillery a d6.


11. One or more brigades moving into a square occupied by the enemy is an assault.

12. Defending infantry may try to repel the assault using skirmishers. Each assualting infantry brigade rolls one die (the type depending on thier skirmish ability) as does each defending infantry brigade. If the highest defending die is higher than the highest assulting die then the assaulters lose the skirmish and fall back to the square the assaulted from. Otherwise the assault proceeds to an engagement.

13. Cavalry in a square reduce the skirmish ability of any opposing infantry to a d6. If both defenders and assaulters have cavalry then there is no skirmish roll-off.


14. Combat between opposing units in the same square is called an engagement. This may be brought about by an assault, or be a continuation of an on-going engagement.

15. Each brigade in the square rolls 3 dice of a type defined by their quality (d6 - d12) [a bit like "Force-on-Force]. Rolls of 6+ inflict a hits on opposing units in the same square. Each side takes the hits inflicted on them and shares them between its units.

a. Infantry assaulting an enemy in cover such as woods, fight with only 2 dice per brigade. If the combat continues to a subsequent enagement then they return to 3 dice.

b. Infantry engaged with infantry defending a village or town fight with only 2 dice in each engagement

c. Infantry engaged in a square containing enemy cavalry will fight with only 1 die per brigade

d. Cavalry who are engaged in a square containing only enemy infantry will fight with only 1 die per brigade

16. Artillery in the square may choose to be engaged, in which case they roll a d10 each, again needing 6+ for a hit. If they do this, then they must also be included when sharing out hits, otherwise they can be exempted. Foot artillery who assaulted may not be included in the resutling initial engagement, but may be included in any subsequent engagements

17. The side suffering the most hits then checks morale. Each brigade rolls one die of the type defined by its quality. If the roll is equal to or less than the number of hits currently suffered by the brigade then it withdraws to an adjacent square not occupied by the enemy. I haven't quite decided how to factor artillery into this, but generally assume they follow the rest of the division, or are wiped out.


18. Infatry suffering a 5th hit are destroyed. Likewise Cavalry suffering a 4th hit or artillery a 3rd.

19. Units compelled to withdraw but unable to do so because of enemy units or terrain are also eliminated.


20. Some brigades contain both infantry and cavalry. They fight with only 2 dice in combat but may use skirmishers when facing enemy infantry. Mixed brigades a re destroyed by a 4th hit (as per cavalry)


21 If all surviving enemy units in a square withdraw as a result of combat into an unoccupied square, then any friendly cavalry of mixed brigades in the square may pursue them. Friendly horse artillery may accompany the pursuers

22 Pursuing units fight the subsequent engagement with their full allowance of dice (3 dice for cavalry or 2 dice for mixed; 1 d10 for horse artillery)

23. Defending infantry brigades use 1 die each, mixed brigades 2 dice and cavalry 3 dice. Horse artillery may be included in the defence but not foot artillery.


24. Rallying costs 2 actions. Each brigade or battery rolls 1die with rolls fo 6+ removing a hit. Only one hit may be removed from a unit per turn and a unit may never remove the last hit is posesses. If the divisional/corps commander is in the square then roll 1 die of a type defined by his quality (again needing 6s to remove hits). Commanders do not allow more than one hit to be removed per turn but do increase the chance of success. Commanders only roll 1 die to assist rallying regardless of how many units are in the square.

25. Rallying can only be attempted if there are no enemy units in the square or any adjacent squares.

...that's about all I have so far, but it seems to work pretty well. Many tests and tweaks are still needed but the process is fast and is getting there with the whole combined arms rock/stone/scissors feel of napoleonics.

Rough unit stats I have been using:

Veteran French Infantry: combat 3d10, skirmish 1d10, morale 1d10
Regular French Infantry: combat 3d8, skirmish 1d10, morale 1d8
Regular Austrian Infantry: combat 3d8; skirmish 1d8, morale 1d8
Grenzer Brigade: combat 3d8, skirmish 1d10, morale 1d8

Veteran Light Cavalry: combat 3d10; skirmish - , morale 1d10 (Austrians, Pire's brigade)
Regular Light Cavalry: combat 3d8, skirmish - , morale 1d8 (Bavarians)

Austrian Mixed Brigades: combat 2d8; skirmish 1d10. morale 1d10

Austrian divisional commanders: d6
Austrian corps commander (Rosenberg): d8

French divisional commanders (Friant, St Hilaire, Pire): d10
French corps commander (Davout): d12

This does reflect Davout's III Corps of 1809 being one of the finest formations of the napoleonic wars both in terms of troop quality and command.

I think the logical next step is to try out Aspern-Essling and add in rules for heavy cavalry - perhaps +1 die in combat when they assault?



MurdocK said...

Intriguing, I see elements of SHAKO,a board game called "High Ground" and a Napoleonic Card game set called Eagles.

I can see using these to 'sample' play out on an even smaller board, either skipping the minis (so that those who do not have them can get in some fun) or using 6mm ones on pre-set base stand sizes.

I will have another read through and perhaps give them a go (depending on what my eldest Son has to say he wants to play this coming Wednesday ... summer game time with the boys)


Ray Rousell said...

Very interesting ideas. Funny though, I'm trying to write up a set of semi-skirmish rules for the FIW and I came up with nearly the same idea for the command rolls and structure, but I think yours works better!!!

PMGeuze said...


Could I recommend the rules that Baccus puts out for their 6mm series - Polemos.

They have a one stand one battalion or you can play the one stand to the Brigade game.

It has just about everything else you spoke of as well.

Steve said...

I am well aware of the Polemos rules, but just don't get on with them. I find the tempo concept cumbersome and dislike the handling of skirmishers.

If you look back through my old posts you will see that I have tinkered with Polemos, GA and FPGA.