Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic The Ultimate Napoleonic Wargame Rules Review and Comparison

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    Avatar photoshug yosha

    The start of a quite ambitious project of mine, where I compare Napoleonic rule sets rather than reviewing them in on their own.

    The blogpost

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Thanks for that.

    Very ambitious and very interesting.

    Made me realise what a small range of rules I have tried and use with Napoleonics.

    I think I have five of those sets (actually I probably have two, but earlier editions of three of the others, being generally of the opinion that second editions of rules rarely improve matters.) I’ve read or played several of the others but don’t see myself investing in them.

    The one set I still play regularly is Volley & Bayonet (1st ed not Road to Glory – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, eg why mess about increasing fiddly skirmisher rules at this level?). I agree with virtually everything you said about it regarding the complexity without having command friction gimmicks bolted on top.

    I have tried Absolute Emperor and can’t quite make my mind up about it. I’m wondering what it might give me that V&B doesn’t and beyond a couple of simple ‘posture’ rules – eg defensive vs cavalry by showing the division in square (I know, I know!) which V&B just assumes happens within the Brigade (or not) I’m not sure. I didn’t like the Elan points and then I did and wonder about fiddling with V&B.

    Can’t remember why I stopped playing Shako.

    I’m currently looking for a much lower manoeuvre unit level -for the old ‘divisional’ games. I’m not going back to Charles Grant’s Napoleonic rules or Charge! but I’m not sure what. Possibly/probably Shadow of the Eagles by Keith Flint which looks as if it might scratch my Bavarian Division against Austrians in 1809 itch.

    (Or have another go at writing my own).

    Thanks again for posting.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    What a fantastic resource, thanks for all your time and effort that you have / will put into. This and for sharing. I have some of those rule sets that you mention so far and we seem. To have a similar outlook, so I look forward to whatever follows, cheers Norm.

    Avatar photoshug yosha

    Thank you Guy. I came late to Volley & Bayonet and don’t know the difference between the editions. The skirmisher rules can be fiddly when you detach skirmishers, that is true. I find it much more useful and a breeze to play only with attached skirmishers. When the unit receives damage and I want to mark it off, I automatically see that a skirmisher is attached (even if it is not represented on the table) and take a save test. I found this to be a an elegant solution and an interesting take on skirmishers as their defensive potential for the main body in portrayed.

    Thank you as well Norm for your kind words.

    Avatar photoTony S

    Very interesting!  I’ll second Norm’s comments – a great resource that you have obviously put a lot of time and effort into.  Overall I agree with your opinions, with some small discrepancies.

    That said, I know it’s been on my “play someday” list, but Napoleonic BBB is rapidly rising to the top, driven in no small way by your thoughtful review.  (Although Soldiers of Napoleon is still scheduled for my next Napoleonic game).

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    This will be invaluable to me as I know very little of the period (outside of some Sharpe’s novels) and have only played a couple of games of ESR and one of another set I can’t recall that was way over my head in detail.  I’m more into ImagiNations rather than historical situation replay so I’m keen on seeing what you say about rules with the best period flavor.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoMcKinstry

    Really a nice resource. I started with Volley & Bayonet and moved to Grand Armee/Blucher but your review makes me give strong consideration to BBB as a second alternative.

    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    Very interesting. I look forward to more reviews, especially of Sam Mustafa’s rules.

    I can save you the pain of reviewing Foundry’s ‘Napoleon’.

    They’re rubbish. Just put that, anyone who’s tried to play them will agree.

    ‘Absolute Emperor’ aren’t much better, and unlikely to improve given Osprey’s aversion to editing and issuing comprehensive errata.


    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Good work. Ever the analyst, it would drive me insane!

    Don’t forget Shadow of the Eagles [ https://www.shadowoftheeagles.com/ ] which, Disclaimer: I took part in technical information supply and rules testing of sorts.

    cheers dave

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Good work. Ever the analyst, it would drive me insane! Don’t forget Shadow of the Eagles [ https://www.shadowoftheeagles.com/ ] which, Disclaimer: I took part in technical information supply and rules testing of sorts. cheers dave

    Just a note that, as of end January 2024, that web site is no more !   The author KeithF. notes he’s moved to Fcbk:

    So there we are – I want to keep interest in my rules alive, and Facebook seems to be a good place to help that along.


    cheers~ d

    Avatar photoBuck Surdu

    I should be releasing Wars of Eagles and Empire by the Summer.  It will likely be PDF only.  Let me know if you’d like a set to include in your evaluation.

    Avatar photoBuck Surdu

    Some missing titles:  Battles for Empire, Wellington Rules, and Fate of Battle.

    Avatar photoSkip

    Commendable effort, shame if you never got to play Empire in one of its forms. I play EIII and like it’s details.

    Avatar photoSweign

    Emperor of the Battlefield is also missing.

    It is new and was released at SELWG after an inaugural BritCon competition at Nottingham University.

    I have been playing it a lot and  I enjoy commanding a full Corps on the table with every battalion and battery represented. Obviously smaller games work too.


    Avatar photoSteve Burt

    Very nice summary. I’ve played many of the sets you list. Shadow of the Eagles is ok, but it felt very much like a Seven Years War set with a few changes. Battalions can receive cavalry charges in line most of the time. Lasalle v2 is a brilliant set. The initiative and interrupt mechanism reminds me of Crossfire, but other aspects of the game have the clean design of Blucher.

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