Thoughts on rules, rosters and units

Hi all

excuse the follwing ramble...

Now the mechanics of the napoleonic rules seem to be ticking along nicely I have been wondering about how generic to make units and how much to individualise them.

I am currently in the "generic camp" so that all Austrian Line infantry bases are Trained quality, can take 2 shaken results before breaking and have SK1 skirmish ability. French ligne are similar but have SK2 and legere are like ligne but veteran.

This works well. I can tell the difference between ligne and legere by looking at the bases, as legere have an all-blue uniform and 8 skirmisher figures compared to the 4-6 of the ligne. Other units can be distinguished fairly easily too, the only tricky ones being some of the cavalry such as Austrian Dragoons looking very much like Austrian Chevauxlegers in white uniforms. These distinctions can be sorted out by how the figures are arranged on the base though. I'll probably arrange the dragoons in 3 lines of 6 and the chevauxlegers in 2 lines of 9, or something similar.

It is possible to mark the bases in some way however to allow more individualised bases, so that french ligne may be trained or veteran or even elite (hello 57th) and the SK ability of the Austrians could be varied. This does however mean that the bases need to be marked and there is a bit more thinking involved and I'm not sure that I want to to worry about things this much. I have a feeling that the overall nature of the game would not change significantly.

Like wise for unit size. In both the French and Austrian armies the strength of regiments is very variable. On closer study however, most regiments will fall between 1800 and 2400 men. Some will be bigger and some smaller but is it relly worth the hassle of knowing the fine detail? Again, I'm thinking not. Two small regiments could be combined into one base and if a division contained a number of large regiments then I could always add an extra base to compensate.

How about skirmishing? I have an issue with disallowing any 1809 infantry from skirmishing as I think all units could do this, but to different levels of competence. I'm happy to say that numpty infantry can skirmish at level 1 whereas more competent stuff can skirmish at level 2. I suppose I could allow jagers/grenzers ets skirmish at level 3 but this is probably unecessary as skirmishing isn't particularly dominant anyway, so SK1 or SK2 it is.

Follwoing all this through, you'll see that I'm keeping a farily generic approach to unit statistics. This does not mean that I won't identify particularly "good" units, mark them in some small way (mounted officer on infantry base etc) as being of a higher standard than the rest (hello again 57th ligne, and maybe IR#4) but I'd want to keep these to a minimum. I did work out a more detailed OOB for Aspern-Essling last night, but "regular" infantry was ranging from Trained to Elite and SK0 to SK2 and it all looked a bit uneccessarily involved. As a napoleonic CinC surely you work out who the specific good units are AFTER the battle, not before, but you have a sneaking suspicion that the grenadiers and guard will do a little better than the rest.

One thing I am toying with is the idea of infantry 1/2 bases (60mm wide by 30mm deep) for small but significant infantry units. These would absorb less damage than standard 60mm squares and would be very rare, but it could be a way to represent smaller Jager units for the Austrians, some of the allied light infantry in the French army, or the 95th rifles for the British without having to fudge them into a brigade base. The British penninsular army is a long way off, but this may be a way to represent the light Division - 4x half bases that could fight combined into 60mm squares depending on the commander's decision. The other idea that I have had regarding the british is to permenanty base their brigades on 60mm x 40mm bases and let them only take 1 shaken result before breaking on the second. These bases would represent 1200-1800 men. A British army could therefore maintain a similar frontage to a French one of around 33-50% more men, but would be a little more brittle. An infantry base with a depth of 40 or 45mm would still allow for plenty of "diorama" modelling, something that is harder on a 30mm deep base.

More thought needed and I need to finish the 1809 stuff first, so I'd better not get ahead of myself!

Any comments?


  1. Great blog, very interesting ideas, has put Naps into my to do list. How are the rules coming on?

  2. I totally agree with you Steven. It is really about having elite,veteran,regular and conscript units. Skirmishing capability is also fairly standard.

    A higher degree of abstraction and generic troop will not change, in my understanding, the game play at macro level. I am going exactly this way in basing my figures.

    contributor to

  3. Thanks, the rules are coming on well, probably 85-90% there. As posted before they are based largely on the command mechanisms of Fast Play Grande Armee and the combat system of Polemos Marechal de Empire, but with adjustments so they are fast emerging as a quite different set in their own right.

  4. I'll be very interested to try them. So far, with Robert, we haven't settled yet on a set of rules (we're just painting figs, they are not even based...)

    I like the command aspect, I agree on the generic value of units, and I like also -something I don't remind reading in your posts - randomness.

    There is always something not expected, an officer dying, troops getting carried away or freezing. I hope to be able to test your rules.


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