Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Latest draft of my simple Napoleonic wargame rules

I recently play-tested the latest version of my simple Napoleonic wargame rules. They are still very much a work in progress, but what follows is the latest draft.

  • Both sides throw a D6 at the beginning of each turn. The side with the highest score moves first that turn.
  • During its part of a turn a side activates each of its units in turn, starting on the left and moving to the right.
  • Activated infantry can do one or more of the following: move, change formation, fire, or assault an enemy unit.
  • Activated Rifles can do one or more of the following: move, change formation, fire, or assault an enemy unit.
  • Activated cavalry can do one or more of the following: move, change formation, or assault an enemy unit.
  • Activated artillery can move or fire.
  • Infantry in column can move up to two hexes.
  • Infantry in line can move one hex.
  • Infantry in square cannot move.
  • Rifles can move up to three hexes in any formation.
  • Cavalry in column can move up to four hexes.
  • Cavalry in line can move up to three hexes.
  • Artillery can move one hex but cannot fire during the same turn.
  • Generals can move up to three hexes.
  • With the expectation of Rifles, units expend one hex of movement to change formation (i.e. from line to column, column to line, line or column to square, or square to column or line).
  • Infantry muskets have a maximum range of 3 hexes:
    • If target is in adjacent hex, firing unit throws 6 x D6 if in line, 3 x D6 if in column or square.
    • If target is two hexes away, firing unit throws 4 x D6 if in line, 2 x D6 if in column or square.
    • If target is three hexes away, firing unit throws 2 x D6 if in line, 1 x D6 if in column or square.
  • Rifles have a maximum range of 4 hexes, and each Rifleman throws 1 x D6 regardless of the range or the targets formation.
  • Artillery has a maximum range of 6 hexes:
    • If target is in adjacent hex, firing unit throws 8 x D6.
    • If target is two hexes away, firing unit throws 6 x D6.
    • If target is three or four hexes away, firing unit throws 4 x D6.
    • If target is five or six hexes away, firing unit throws 2 x D6.
  • If target is in column or square: 1 casualty caused by 4, 5, or 6.
  • If target is in line or is artillery: 1 casualty caused by 5 or 6.
  • Targets in cover reduce D6 scores by one.
  • A unit assaulting another must do so by moving into an adjoining hex and still having at least one hex of unexpended movement left.
  • Both sides throw D6s to resolve an Assault.
  • Infantry throw 3 x D6.
  • Rifles throw 1 x D6 per Rifleman.
  • Cavalry throw 4 x D6.
  • Artillery throw 2 x D6.
  • Casualties as per firing.
  • Both sides also total D6 scores; highest total wins the assault and pushed the opposing unit back one hex.
  • When a unit is reduced to 50% of its original strength (i.e. infantry have 3 casualties, cavalry have 2 casualties, and artillery has 1 casualty) it throws a D6.
  • If the score is 3, 4, 5, or 6, the unit is unaffected but must take a further morale test when it suffers another casualty; if the score is 1 or 2, the unit must fall back one hex at once and must continue to retreat for the rest of the battle.
  • A general can attempt to rally a retreating unit by being in the same or an adjoining hex.
  • The general throws a D6, and if the score is lower than the unit's current strength, the unit will rally and stop retreating.
  • Infantry units are destroyed when they have suffered 6 casualties.
  • Rifle units are destroyed when they have suffered 4 casualties.
  • Cavalry units are destroyed when they have suffered 4 casualties.
  • Artillery units are destroyed when they have suffered 2 casualties.
  • When a unit is destroyed it is immediately removed from the battlefield.


  1. Bob,
    Sorry to bang on about this, but using your Firing modifiers and dice to resolve Assaults makes a cavalry charge on a square more likely to inflict casualties than one on an infantry line! Also, totalling the dice scores makes cavalry more likely to defeat a square; does 'push back' result equal breaking the square?

    I also think your ranges for smoothbore muskets are too generous, especially given your unit frontages.
    Should formed bodies of Riflemen move faster than Line troops in line or column? When skirmishing, surely they would move more slowly, as they would be taking advantage of cover, stopping to aim/fire/reload &c.?

    1. Arthur1815,

      Thanks again for your feedback.

      I had actually drafted this version of the rules before I got your last feedback, and I have not as yet made any changes to the assault rules. As presently written, cavalry can break a square by forcing it back and I hope to address that in due course.

      You are right about the musket ranges being too long if I am using a realistic unit frontage to table distance ratio ... but to be truthful I am probably erring towards the 'Hollywood' style of wargaming design where realism is a secondary consideration to having fun.

      This is also my excuse for making my Riflemen a bit too much like super-soldiers! I will definitely be adjusting the rules to reduce their super-abilities.

      Don't forget, this is my first ever attempt to write some Napoleonic-era wargame rules, and I am still learning as I go. What I want to end up with are some simple, fun, quick-to-play rules ... and I'm getting there slowly

      All the best,


    2. Bob,
      I appreciate your desire to have a simple, fast-play set of rules and consistent mechanisms. Here are just a few ideas you might consider:
      1. Although close range artillery fire, especially canister, would inflict heavy casualties on a square, at anything beyond point blank range a square is a very small target and hence difficult to hit, though balls that did hit could kill/disable more men because of the four deep formation. So, reduce the number of artillery dice at longer ranges against squares, but continue to use column/square modifier to determine whether a musketry/artillery hit causes a casualty.
      2. Squares gave units a greater - even if false - sense of security. So you might reduce the likelihood of breaking once the 50% rule comes into effect to a 1 on d6.
      3. Your Assault resolution appears to allow a unit to be 'pushed back' even if it has suffered no casualties, which - bearing in mind our previous discussion and agreement that 'casualties' represent damage to morale, cohesion &c., not merely killed/wounded - seems odd. May I suggest that it is the side that has suffered more 'casualties' that loses, and that troops who have suffered no 'casualties' cannot lose an Assault.
      4. For an unsupported cavalry Assault to break a square, I would suggest the cavalry cannot suffer more than 1 'casualty' that turn, and the square must suffer at least 3, or enough to reduce it to 'destroyed'?
      5. If some, lower grade infantry start at under 6 points, they will be more likely to break, which seems reasonable.
      Best wishes,

    3. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

      Thanks for your very useful and helpful suggestions. They do address some of the problems that currently exist with the rules, and I will give serious thought as to how I can incorporate them into the next draft ... which may not appear until after COW in mid July.

      All the best,


  2. Looks like a good start. Although I was initially struck by the long musket range it is in keeping with the original Kriegspiel, more than that I would consider it to include the effects of the skirmish screens most armies were deploying by the end of the Revolutionary wars whether light companies or the 3rd rank, but which are impractical to show on the table with small units.

    I agree that the cavalry vs square may need revisiting.

    I am confused about formation changes but it might be an editing issue. The rules provide a movement penalty for changing formation but also stipulate that units move or change formation.

    The main thing is that the appeared to give a quick fun game and hopefully will again.

    1. Ross Mac,

      Thanks for the encouraging comments. I certainly need to address the cavalry vs. square problem, and probably would have if such a clash had occurred in either of my play-tests.

      The text of the rules certainly needs a bit of work to remove any confusions that may arise from the current wording that I have used. I also think that including some diagrams or photographs might be useful, but may have to wait until I have got the basic right first.

      Even as written the rules do enable me to fight a fun - if not very accurate - wargame, and whatever the final draft looks like, it will err towards simplicity.

      All the best,


    2. I think it is the "one *or more* of the following [actions]" that we tend to misread, as I also had the impression that it is was ONLY one of the following, which is not the case (except Artillery).

      The Artillery ranges seem short compared with the infantry ranges as has been mentioned above. How about Horse Artillery, especially as far as movement. Finally, any plans for quality distinctions (Elite - Regular -Militia, and Heavy vs Light Cavalry?). Regardless they look like a fun starting point to play around with and refine.

    3. Gonsalvo,

      Thanks for your comment about the 'one or more' wording I have used. I will try to make my intentions clearer in the next draft.

      Artillery ranges might be a bit on the short side, and may need some adjustment. As to introducing Horse Artillery ... well it is on the cards at some point, but I'm not sure whether it will be in the next draft. Likewise differentiation between Elite, Line, and Militia troops and Heavy and Light cavalry may well be included at a later date.

      All the best,


  3. I like your style of Rules BOB- straight forward- no mucking around- brief and most workable. I favour simple rules for my games- if I can fit my rules onto one A4 page I'm a happy man indeed. For my past Colonial games I used a one page Rules Article as a basis - called 'Lunch in the Crimea' by Michael Perry..I added a bit here and there - certainly brief- though it covered all my contingencies and scenarios. If the Rules were not simple - then I'd probably never would have played and enjoyed the Colonials...remembering WRG. Regards. KEV.

    1. Kev,

      Thanks very much for your kind comment.

      I like simple rules where I can get all the basic data I need to know to use them on one side of A4 paper, and that have consistent game mechanisms. I happen to think that writing simple rules can actually be more a difficult a task than writing complex, all-encompassing ones.

      All the best,