Home › Forums › Horse and Musket › Napoleonic › Choosing a scale and rules for Napoleonics
- This topic has 24 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Chris Pringle.
27/01/2023 at 13:49 #182713
I am hoping that 2023 is the year that some Napoleonic gaming will grace the figures table, with two ‘Pocket Armies’ being built.
However, in the lead / plastic mountain, I have acquired enough figures to do the project in 13.5mm, 20mm and 28mm – of course, only one can progress.
I have posted some thoughts about this over on the blog.
http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2023/01/choosing-napoleonic-pocket-armies-and.html27/01/2023 at 15:44 #182714Sane MaxParticipant
Nice. What aspect of the NT rules turned you off If I may ask? (Almost) all the Neil Thomas sets I have used give a good game, I would happily play his Napoleonics by choice if I had any Napoleonics…. the only real gaping hole in the stuff I play.
Do you solo? the Key question for me when choosing scales and rules is always ‘Will I find an opponent if I buy xxxx on scale yyyy?’ I have too many armies that rarely get a run-out because I failed to ask myself that question first.27/01/2023 at 17:21 #182718
Thanks. For the NT rules, my problems mostly fall from his One Hour Wargame set, which I feel are too pared back. I would like to have seen an extra page to each set in that volume that dealt with morale and had some sort of nod towards command & control.
There are other aspects, such as units either fire OR move and so the burden is on the attacking side (as is right – but the army strengths are the same!) and so it is generally taking two units to wear down one unit, but they don’t have a numbers superiority, plus it is very difficult to dislodge veteran units from a defensive position such as woods – if an opponents randomised army has veterans, then you can be in trouble. Total randomising of firepower does not help, neither does fighting at full strength to the last man so to speak …. Especially when dealing with veterans – a morale rule forcing weak units to break off would have helped.
I would totally accept that his other ‘dedicated’ books (if you can get them) give a better a game and are more nuanced and are largely absent of the above features that I dislike – I would even humbly suggest that his introductory volume has better Napoleonic rules.
He does though still largely avoids a ‘leadership’ aspect to his rules and the morale rules while present, are quite a blunt instrument. Also the ‘tournament’ feel of victory due to the loser being left with 2 units on the table and the rule of exiting 1 line infantry to destroy 2 enemy units as part of enabling that, is not my cup of tea.
However, that said, his rule are eminently more accessible than many others and there are no obstacles to getting a game to the table. They are also very stable, so a house rule or two are easily bolted on without upsetting anything.
I solo play 75% of the time and most of my face to face is done with boardgames. So with figures, I am sentenced to having to build both sides and would only occasionally get a game with them from my boardgame opponent – though I should say that I enjoy my solo play.27/01/2023 at 19:11 #182719Konstantinos TravlosParticipant
Good stuff. For me it helps to first figure out the level of strategy I want to represent. Operational or Tactical. For example I love the self-contained character of Lassale 2 as a divisional game. Clear role, you are division commander.
That is how I would go at it.27/01/2023 at 20:06 #182721willzParticipant
Go for the epic scale Norm, because they look smart en masse.27/01/2023 at 20:15 #182723Buck SurduParticipant
I agree that you should decide on the level of abstraction you want to play. Do you want to fight a division-level engagement in an afternoon? Or do you want to fight Liepzig on a pub table in an hour. That decision should drive your figure scale as well as your choice of rules.27/01/2023 at 21:54 #182726
I agree that you should decide on the level of abstraction you want to play. Do you want to fight a division-level engagement in an afternoon? Or do you want to fight Liepzig on a pub table in an hour. That decision should drive your figure scale as well as your choice of rules.
I don’t know that I can agree with this Buck. I’ve taken as read, forgive me Norm, as I missed the obvious, that you were an active gamer, but appear to be a modeller rather than this.
[Edit] Ok I read your post. Agonising over rule sets is one thing; it’s another entirely to (rather) over-analyse them by their ‘scenario’ depictions. Those aren’t ‘real games’ with the countless variables that a standing, walking/ talking opponent will use!
You mention SoE, go with it. I added historical support to the author in development stage; I still don’t agree with ALL his determinations, but they make a damn fine set of rules to play. Different approach- you MUST have reserves! and despite different basing from friends, we manage. You and I have conversed over there…
So “Dude picking the correct scale / size of miniatures is like picking a spouse; if not MORE important”
– you NEED to make a decision, stop buying willy-nilly (and TBH I hate those ‘Epic’ things and marketing ‘made for suckers’ commercial stuff personally…) [End Edit]
Strange IMO to hold such concerns about a rule-set if you dont play regularly. I see solo play as an abstract form of course; have friends here who delight in playing NT rules (the name hurts a little as I worked with a wonderful bloke for 4 odd years- an ex-pat POM who’s wife tragically died from an undetected brain tumor and left him a shattered man…) .
We’ve all been thru this ‘curve’ of various rules; from Charge!; Airfix/ Faetherston onward… kept all my copies and sometimes drag them out… Empire III (3) changed me forever in the 90’s; didn’t play them more than 2-3 years as here the nuances were just as striking as lower level earlier sets. The separate Empire Campaign System however in 8? pages is superb and adpatable for anything/ period.
Pick a scale you WANT to play; the rules are irrelevant IMO (nothing humble about it…); I chose to stick wth 25/28mm and sold all my 15mm figure armies (3x) and terrain (which I sometimes regret now as ‘smaller footprint’ buildings are useful.
Scale [employed by/ in rules] of distance/ time/ heights/ cadence etc. is all arithmetic and not relevant at all. You have units, you create formations, they contact or combat at face value and nothing of the above makes the slightest bit of difference!
I chose ‘The Righteous Way’ a long time ago- play historical as you feel; adapt or discard obstructive rules and have the games you want. If solo, it affects no-one else. If compatibale players, there will form a concensus.
I’ve met gamers I never want to meet again; played a few, gave up playing in conventions in the early 90’s and stopped being a art of organising them too… but then I have friends who I’ve played social games with (and some serious) over 40 years and still do to this year…
Trust I’ve made some sense..? regards dave28/01/2023 at 00:49 #182731Tony SParticipant
An interesting decision Norm, one that I’ve always shied away from. For scales, I confess I’ve got Napoleonic forces in 6mm, 15mm and 28mm. For rules, usually my 6mm are played using Blucher, my 28mm are for skirmishes usually with Sharpe Practice and my 15mm are for, uh, pretty much any ruleset I can lay my hands on.
As others have mentioned, deciding on the level of strategy is what determines what scale army or force I will use. Which is why I have, and plan keeping, the different scales as I’m interested in a variety of actions, from multiple corps battles, to a few Dragoons anxious to escort a messenger across the dusty plains of Spain.
As the vast majority of rules sit in rough middle scale of a division or so, my middle scale of 15mm tend to be guinea pigs for many, many rules. We’ve liked a lot of rules, but haven’t really found the One. Too picky I suppose. Tried Shadows, but it was a trifle bland for our tastes. Tried NT, but it was just too stripped down. Tried Black Powder, but seemed too generic and missing that elusive and totally subjective Napoleonic feel. Tried LaSalle and LaSalle 2, but the former was missing command and control, and the latter was ok, but seemed a bit cluttered and the unit hit point system was logistically irritating.
(As an aside, I’ve been really, really enjoying Soldiers of Napoleon – absolutely brilliant set of rules. Honestly it is what I was hoping LaSalle 2 would have been and more).
I totally understand your thoughts on scale, and painting. While I do enjoy the finished visual splendour of massed 6mm ranks, I find the actual painting process very tedious. Painting 28mm is so much more satisfying, but storage and cost preclude large armies for me in that scale.
So, ultimately I admire your resolve in attempting to settle on just one figure scale. For me, I’d be missing certain aspects of each. If I had to choose just one – probably I’d go with Warlord Epic (which amazingly I haven’t succumbed you yet, despite a strong temptation to). But the limitation to just the Waterloo campaign range thus far would also really bother me.28/01/2023 at 11:11 #182737
Thanks all for taking the time for thoughtful comment, it is all going into the churning of ideas and thoughts. Tony, I quite fancy what Soldiers of Napoleon is all about – but I am a reluctant buyer of systems that need to be backed up by theatre specific supplements and army list books (Codex style).
Of the rules that I have on my front list, they all benefit from being self contained productions.28/01/2023 at 16:32 #182754Tony SParticipant
I totally empathize with the attraction of a rulebook that contains everything. I was just discussing Blitzkrieg Commander versus Flames of War with a friend and that was one of the reasons I greatly prefer the former over the latter (and a lot of other reasons besides to be honest).
That said, the “army lists” for SoN are fairly basic. We were playing 1809 before the official supplement appeared, based solely on the campaigns included with the rulebook (1813, 1814 and 1815). If you have a vague grasp of Napoleonic history, you can probably draw up armies for earlier campaigns rather easily, although there are some colourful adjustments for certain periods, like not allowing 1806/7 Prussians to issue consecutive orders for example.
I think there will only be one other book, for the Peninsular War, as the only existing supplement currently covers everything else. And a campaign system, somewhat reminiscent of the Longstreet campaign by Mustafa, is also in that first supplement. So at most I think two other books would be needed to cover the 1805-1815 in it’s totality.
I did hear that they are currently playtesting battles for a possible scenario book, but those type of things are entirely optional I feel.
I think the biggest drawback to your needs Norm would be that the system is not very suitable for solo gaming because of the cards. Still, despite a few minor quibbles, and after playing a lot of Napoleonic rules, I have to say that SoN is the best set of divisional rules for the period. That is – they happen to align with my personal tastes and biases!29/01/2023 at 23:44 #182775
Thanks Tony, sounds like I could live with just the core and the new supplement (for 1809), which is good, I had thought it would become something like Battlegroup!
Considering Napoleonic rules especially, seem to come under close scrutiny and seldom seem to fully satisfy, I don’t think I have heard a bad word said about these rules and I’m sure I watched a video, where the vlogger was doing a demo game solo – I think most solo gamers find work-arounds to whatever degree of success.30/01/2023 at 09:12 #182780MartinRParticipant
As you know Norm, I’m going through a similar process to you at the moment. At least I’ve settled on sticking with my 6mm Napoleonics!
My main constraint is that my regular gaming group have settled into remote gaming via Zoom with just one f2f meeting a month, so designing a set of Army level Napoleonic rules we can sensibly play via Zoom is proving to be a bit of a headache! I’m not interested in playing anything smaller than entire battles, which Tbh rules out 90% of Napoleonic rules to start with, and the remainder have various issues.
"Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke30/01/2023 at 11:32 #182794MikeKeymaster
If you have the ability to pick from all the options, decide if you are primarily a gamer or modeller?
If a gamer, go for the size that means you can play in a way that brings you most enjoyment.
If a modeller, go for a size that brings you most joy when you paint and collect.
If both, 10mm!! 😀
(Also go with your gut if you can.)30/01/2023 at 15:39 #182799Darkest Star GamesParticipant
I have only played 3 Napoleonic rules sets so any advice I throw your way is woefully under-researched, but it took me a long time to figure out what I did and didn’t want in a Nappy game (or even ACW) and one of the biggest issues for me was that every game I played was a “designed scenario” and in most cases was just a line of soldiers stretching from one edge of the table to the other. No maneuver, no tactics or strategy of any kind. Just “this general and his units were here across from this other general and his men and these guys show up on turn 3”. I found that I really really dislike historical scenarios, and even more disliked not having any room to make decisions.
Like you I have not found “my rules” just yet, but like Tony I want 2 different sets to do 2 different things: 1 for battles and 1 for the story skirmishes. I have a bunch of 3mm troops from Oddzial Osmy and they look fantastic (you can just about go 1 to 1 representation!) and are incredibly affordable, and we use a friends 28mm guys for skirmish.
I bought ESR from The Wargaming Company on a whim and it surprisingly scratched the maneuver and battle itch. I’ve only played 4 games of it with a friend (2 using historical forces and 2 using Imagination forces) and I liked the approach of getting to the battle then having to deploy and get into the fight, and especially that the ground you want to fight on may not be the one you end up on. In one game I got caught out while deploying and suffered accordingly. That battle swung wildly and was a real hoot even though I eventually had to concede the valley. In another I forced my opponent to deploy on very unfavorable ground and pushed him into a stream that started on out on his flank and ended up at his back. Now, ESR doesn’t have the granularity to the fights that I think I want, but command does feature highly and the results are very believable and have given me satisfying results in 3 hours or so.
Anyhow, may be worth a look for you, may not be your cuppa.
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."30/01/2023 at 17:34 #182803
Thanks all for the thoughtful answers.
I am onto my second game now. I have created three brigades per side. One has line inf with art support, the other has grenadiers and the third is the cavalry brigade. The test game is ten units per side and I quite like that size of game ….. However;
While all of that feels proper from a historical simulation point of view, I wonder whether I would just rather go back to the days of story telling, mission based games, where those ten units would be a looser representation of ‘the army’.
I note in his example scenario Liebnitz, in his Napoleonic Wargaming book, he simply always has 8 units per side and his example army is 3 line inf, 1 light inf, 1 artillery, 1 light cav, 1 heavy cav and of course a single unit of the Old Guard.
Now you would never find such units in such proportions on the tactical battlefield, which is what 8 units is representing, but I just like the sheer old school charm of it all.
Perhaps, just this, would suit me – of course I say that against being superbly served with my history by a solid boardgame collection. Though you have put ESR in my ear now!31/01/2023 at 07:07 #182826
one of the biggest issues for me was that every game I played was a “designed scenario” and in most cases was just a line of soldiers stretching from one edge of the table to the other. No maneuver, no tactics or strategy of any kind. Just “this general and his units were here across from this other general and his men and these guys show up on turn 3”. I found that I really really dislike historical scenarios, and even more disliked not having any room to make decisions.
DSG, I certainly recognise the phenomenon you describe, and I am right with you in finding that simple line-out punch-ups are of very limited interest. But dare I suggest what you actually really, really dislike is poorly designed scenarios? A good historical scenario should present you with room to manoeuvre and options to choose from, giving you the opportunity to shape the battle rather than just sticking you in a position where all the interesting decisions have already been made for you and it is just a dice-fest. If you’ve enjoyed your ESR games, why don’t you try an ESR historical scenario and see how that works?
I’ve written a series of essays, “Reflections on wargaming“, one of which is “Reasons NOT to refight historical battles“, which might amuse you.
Anyway, my point is: please don’t let your bad experiences with badly designed scenarios put you off historical refights entirely. My own view is that historical scenarios can provide plenty of interesting and unique decisions to make, and the result is a much richer experience than any non-historical match-up could offer.31/01/2023 at 18:07 #182862
Norm, apologies for messing with your thread. I’d tried to fit some background to the subject and context of your analysis, but not necessarily for you or anyone experienced..
–content removed—01/02/2023 at 08:25 #182880
Chris/ guys Some runover of various aspects… There are fundamental issues to be addressed- starting with what you know or believe you know about the period. Have you read 30-50 books on the period; hopefully but not always from different perspectives? […] I would recommend, and I’d be more helpful personally, but I don’t live where you are, that you broaden your focus for a while- get library books and read more facets about the period.
Dave, I know I’m being overly sensitive and shouldn’t care, but I found your message very rude. You have no idea how many books anybody on this thread has read, do you? What deficiences in what any of us have said or done are you implying when you tell us we need to read more?01/02/2023 at 10:03 #182883
–content removed—01/02/2023 at 10:32 #182896
sorry i was trying to point out, if NEW people haven’t read a lot of the history, and broadly, how can they judge whether rules are ‘fit’ or not? My reply got Names merely to indicate that part of my reply was directed- not all of it… nothing to do with experienced gamers, so you shouln’t be offended… If you don’t agree that a wide and deep intake of information is better and more efficient to understand a subject, especially where subject to considerable variations AND bias, then I have nothing else I can offer. d
The fact that more information is better is so banal as to not need saying. Not unless you are making a specific point about a specific case where some specific information was lacking. If you want to do that, great, name names and we can discuss it, but please don’t scattergun us all with sweeping patronising disparagement of unspecified others’ efforts.
The conversation wasn’t even about history per se. Norm is trying to choose a ruleset. DSG helpfully offered ESR, and incidentally said why he dislikes historical scenarios. I suggested his complaint was really about gameplay rather than history. I don’t see how we got from there to being lectured about inadequate reading.
(Norm, is this helping you?)01/02/2023 at 12:49 #182903Not Connard SageParticipant
Dave, I know I’m being overly sensitive
You’re really not. Some people are tone deaf.
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.01/02/2023 at 15:26 #182906
Dave, I know I’m being overly sensitive
You’re really not. Some people are tone deaf.
Cheers, NCS – I appreciate the reassurance.01/02/2023 at 15:28 #182907HeroyParticipant
“disliked not having any room to make decisions”
The board wargame designer Kevin Zucker authored a series of operational level games, the Campaigns of Napoleon Series.
Here’s one : https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/687864/zucker-returns-leipzig
I think you can use these games to play through the possibilities of a campaign, then move to a miniatures table to resolve battles.
No endorsement. Never tried it myself. Just an idea.02/02/2023 at 18:24 #182947Darkest Star GamesParticipant
DSG, I certainly recognise the phenomenon you describe, and I am right with you in finding that simple line-out punch-ups are of very limited interest. But dare I suggest what you actually really, really dislike is poorly designed scenarios?
Yes, this exactly. However, I was talking with my “nappy invested” friend about it and he stated that he deliberately chose scenarios in which he could put out his entire collection, and so thinks he has done me quite the disservice.
As I am more interested in Imaginations rather than historical, I think my preferences for rules are more of what I think feels right for what I imagine and less so on what it was really like. One of those “miles may vary” cases for sure!
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."03/02/2023 at 11:23 #182965
Yes, this exactly. However, I was talking with my “nappy invested” friend about it and he stated that he deliberately chose scenarios in which he could put out his entire collection, and so thinks he has done me quite the disservice. As I am more interested in Imaginations rather than historical, I think my preferences for rules are more of what I think feels right for what I imagine and less so on what it was really like. One of those “miles may vary” cases for sure!
Historical or imaginations, first and foremost we want a good game that gives us plenty of interesting decisions to make, don’t we? Regardless of rules, if you do take a historical battle as the basis of a scenario – whether with historical armies or imagi-nations – there is an obvious advantage to fighting the whole battle as opposed to just some sector or episode within it. The latter is likely to be more constrained, will probably suffer from the wall-to-wall-troops syndrome, and has its more interesting choices pre-set. The former – the whole battle – can be framed wider in terms of time and space and just allows a lot more scope to explore interesting options and alternative plans. That’s my experience, anyway.
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