Thursday 21 April 2011

Revamp of Wargame Rules

Our present rules are our own "house rules", and we have used them now for about three years. Over the years we have used many commercial sets, and even more home rules. Some have lasted longer than others, all have eventually been discarded as they failed to provide the type of games we wanted to play.

The last commercial set we used were Le Feu Sacre. These are an excellent set, and lasted us for about two years. But they are designed to fight corps sized battles, with 12 man infantry battalions. We wanted to fight much larger battles, and we did not have the correct combination of figures to provide even one corps per nationality for these rules. Even our attempts to adapt these rules failed.

So once more I decided to write our own rules. But this time I approached it from a different direction. I have a large collection of 28mm, 18mm and 6mm representing all of the major, and some of the minor, nationalities involved in the Napoleonic Wars. I wanted to be able to use all of the collection over a period of time.

First I created a campaign, which would allow me to use the different nationalities in sequence. It was based on 1813, and would have five area's each with a different allied nationality.

My armies were already organised by nationality, and each would now represent an army of four corps. The number of figures was just right to fit comfortably on our 6x6 foot table, even the 28mm

Each nation consists of 128 infantry, 16 cavalry and 4 guns. These would be divided into four corps, with 8 infantry and 4 cavalry per brigade.

I wanted the rules to provide a fast and fun game. I wanted it to last no more than 4-6 hours and to have reached a conclusion in that time. I also wanted them to reward realistic Napoleonic tactics, but not to depend on a comprehensive knowledge of the rules. Finally I wanted them to contain a strong element of chance.

Then they had to fit in with the campaign. By hit and miss I discovered that the game should last 12 moves. This would be sufficient for the figures to move to the centre of the table and fight one, and possibly two, actions. It was then obvious to match one move on the table to one hour in the campaign.

The rules have worked better than I could have hoped. They have stood the test of time, and have only required minor amendments. Of course it helps that Jan and I wargame the battles, and over many years we know what we wanted to achieve.

I put the rules on the blog 18 months ago as part of the campaign blog. This was done so that anyone following the battle reports on the campaign blog could refer to the wargame rules if they wished. I am amazed that in that short time there has been 5697 hits on the rule blog alone!

The conversion of my solo 1813 campaign to PBEM has no doubt helped to increase the numbers. Jan and I fight the wargames, and I post each move on the campaign diary blog with photographs so that the players can follow the progress of each game. I now add a reference to the rules at the end of each wargame move, to explain what has happened.

We woke to an unusually grey and damp morning, and I was looking for something to do. The campaign has reached a battle/wargame, so there is not much administration to do for a day or two. So I decided to check that the rules on the blog were up to date.

I soon discovered that there were some minor differences between the rules I send out and those published on the blog. Also the summary and photographs made it difficult to find the actual rules. When I posted the Wargame Rules blog I did not expect much interest, and I added a summary to each rule to explain what I wanted to achieve. I also posted a photograph to make it easier to understand, and to add a bit of interest to the blog. But I now decided that it just made it more difficult to read the actual rules.

So I amended the whole blog to make it a little more user friendly. I also reposted all of the entries so that they ran from rule 1 to rule 20, rather than in reverse as they had previously.

If anyone would like to have a look at the result they will find them at


  1. Hello Paul,

    You wrote:

    "By hit and miss I discovered that the game should last 12 moves. This would be sufficient for the figures to move to the centre of the table and fight one, and possibly two, actions."

    Two questions really - why do you prefer this type of game of 7-10 moves marching, 2-5 moves fighting (the battle reports you post seem to be reasonably consistent about this) and how did you discover that is what you liked?



  2. Hi John

    You are right that about half of the game is moving into position, and half fighting

    The introduction of PBEM to the campaign has made this more likely, as we often have to spend more time setting up the attack/defence. We both quite like this element

    We used to use rules which allowed for prolonged and indecisive fighting, mostly melee. We found that we lost interest before the game came to a conclusion.

    We have also fought large wargames both on our own and as multi player. Although great fun to plan and organise, more often than not the actual game was disappointing, with long periods of inactivity or complicated moving and even more complicated firing or melee.

    The PBEM requires a quick result to the battles/wargames, so that the campaign is not put on hold for too long.

    I appreciate that this approach will not suit all, but then again I am not trying to achieve that. It suits Jan and I. It usually means that a game lasts about a week, with 3 or 6 moves per session.

    Whatever the reason we enjoy our wargames more now than we have for years. And the uncertainity of games provided by PBEM has greatly improved the campaign.




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