Tuesday 24 July 2012

Maps for Campaigns of Napoleon

Strategic map of Italy

It’s been a very frustrating week as I struggle to produce suitable maps for my proposed new series of wargames based on the campaigns of Napoleon.

I have decided that I will start with his first campaign in Italy.   It was fought in 1796 in Piedmont.   The first campaign will be based on the period in April when he defeated the Sardinian army of general Colli, supported by the Austrian army of general Beaulieu.

I have read a bit about the campaign, but I would not say I know it well.   So I turned to Esposito’s  “History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars”.  I have had a hard back volume for more than 30 years, and it is one of the most used books in my collection. 

The maps for my 1813 campaign are all based on the maps in the AA Road Atlas of Europe.   I have drawn a grid with 20 miles per square, which represents one day s march and one wargames table.  I then created maps of northern Europe and Spain using ProFantasy.    This was fine for my PBEM campaign, where I am not trying to recreate actual campaign areas

I did not have one for Italy, so most of last week was devoted to making one on ProFantasy.   The result can be seen above.    It’s not difficult to do, but it does take some time.   I know how many squares are required as they are drawn in the AA Atlas.  So I just have to take the name of the largest town in each square and type it on the ProFantasy map.  This gave me a map of Italy and part of Spain, with each square representing one days march or one wargame table.

Tactical map of Piedmont

I then outline the proposed campaign area.   I then have to make a new map, which will be the campaign tactical map.  This has nine squares for each one on the larger map, and each square is a 2x2 foot square on my wargames table.  And this is where it gets difficult.

Because my wargames table consists of scenic squares, all the roads and rivers have to exit the square in the centre of one side, so that they will join the next square.  All hills have to be restricted to one 2x2 foot square.   Finally there are a limited number of available squares, 21 at present.   Any scenery I include on the tactical map has to meet this restriction.

And this is the end result.   It works for the wargame, but does not look very pretty.   Nor does it bear much resemblance to Esposito’s map of the campaign.   This is because the towns of Montenotte and Dego were the scene of historical battles, they are too small to feature on a present day AA Atlas of Europe!

So it’s back to the drawing board.   I have no idea how I will solve the problem, but I am considering whether it might be possible to use Malcolm McCallum’s excellent campaign maps murat.ca/maps.htm

I have considered them before, but could not match the distances with my AA maps, nor the road and river system with my scenic boards.   On the other hand it includes national borders and terrain features, both of which are very difficult to research.   I am not sure how accurate they are, but that does not matter too much.   Anything I design will be based on guess work anyway.


  1. Hi
    I love the Murat maps. maybe you can use them as a node system somewhat like this:
    instead of drawing a map for each node, you can dice for them similar to different tabletop map generation systems similar to this:

    defender then chooses first and attacker chooses from which side to attack.

    Hope this gives you some ideas :)

  2. Hi Stepan

    I used your link but could not find anything about converting Murat maps?

    I tried to use them in the past, but my problem is that I cannot replicate his scenery on my wargames table.

    I tried to convert his maps, but the distances appeared to be wrong. He used the distance between each town as one days march, but that did not seem to tie in with my AA roadmap master.

    I will try again and do it the hard way. I will print his maps, put my own grid on and then make my maps - same as I did with the AA roadmap.



  3. Hi Paul,

    depending on the amount of realism you are going.
    Personally i think it will be dificult to correctly reinterpret the exact way the country look in the 18th century.
    In that sense i was comparing the maps you have here for the ACW, to the Murat maps. In the ACW case you have a square box representing the same as a dot does in the Murat maps - a movement "node".
    the square in the ACW map is translated into a tactical map, where you then decide the tactical disposition of your battle. such as this one for charleston:
    I guess this would then be your tactical map.
    this way you could use the murat maps for node based movement , and just research the area that you need the map for on a need to know basis, saving you the time of having to do it all...

    I love making maps myself, but lately i found that i spend more time on other things related to wargamong than actually wargaming :) but it's a personal choice of the balance you want to keep.

    In the end, for me at least the battle played was not more or less enjoyable in regards to the map that created it.


  4. Hi Stepan

    I am not really too worried about the accuracy, particularly in the strategic maps (such as Spain or Germany). But I do like the major cities, rivers and major terrain features to be correct.

    Each square on my Strategic map is about 20 mile square, and represents a wargame table.

    For the campaign I make a tactical map which covers an area of about 100 miles square, or a grid 5x5 of the strategic squares.

    This map has nine squares to each square on the strategic map, and each square represents one 2x2 foot scenic square on the wargames table.

    This allows players in the campaign to see exactly what table terrain they will have to fight on. It also allows rolling terrain should the wargame move forward or back.

    It allows me to set up battles with ease and without any grounds for complaint from the players.




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