Writing a Wargame – An Introduction

WRITING A WARGAME – AN INTRODUCTION

For many years I’ve always had a part of me thats wanted to dabble in historical wargaming.

Last month I purchased some brilliant Baccus 6mm Napoleonic Miniatures, and I’ve really enjoyed painting these up.

One issue I have found though, is that there are many rulesets out there for Napoleonics, but none of them have gotten me hooked. I’ve looked at Blucher, Black Powder, Grand Manouevre, Grande Armee and more but none of them appeal to what I’m looking for.

Many of these rule sets look at the battle from a top down perspective, with the smallest unit on the table being a brigade. But after painting up my mini’s I want my 5th Northumberland Regiment of Foot represented on its own and not mashed in with another three regiments on the same stand. Also if you’re being historically accurate, these brigades would change over time with regiments being moved to the control of another general etc, so I would have to model a different Brigade for each historical battle that I wanted to reenact.

I have also found that many of the rules offer compromises on certain aspects of the historical flavour which I wasn’t willing to take on board. Command and Control being a real bone of contention for myself. As gamers often roll a number of dice and they can make that many “orders” per turn. Whereas historically many of the standing orders were written before the battle, such as taking a ridgeline, defending a village/chateau and so on.

Another major issue I have is with the UgoIgo system of turns. I get why this has become popular in certain aspects of tabletop wargaming such as Warhammer where a game is played out over 5 or more turns and is designed as a fast play tournament style game. But there must be other ways to account for this, historically the Generals didn’t wait for the other side to move so far on the battlefield fire all their weapons and then wait for the opposition to do the same. This is a fundamental flaw in many wargames.

With Napoleonic wargaming, you also find that many rules writers state that formations do not matter in so much as the Commander-in-Chief did not go around ordering every single unit into different formations (I get this), however formations did matter in many ways. A French attack column marching at a thin British Firing line was a significant sight to behold and broke many defenders before the French losses mounted up. Conversely the British firing line was also well trained and only two ranks deep compared to three of other nations, meaning the British could bring more Firepower to bear on volley fire. A square formation is great at defending against cavalry but awful for movement and makes a nice juicy target for enemy artillery.

Rules ignore these, as much as they ignore Brigade formations. Brigade formations could have battalions in different formations as it advanced on the enemy, 6 battalions in line at the front of the formation, with 6 battalions on either flank in attack columns to dissuade Cavalry.

These are just some of the issues I have with Napoleonic Wargaming, so I thought well if I can’t find a rule set I like, why not add to the general confusion of the Napoleonic war gaming scene and write my own. After all if every other man and his dog had written a set of rules, why can’t I?

But I want to make this an inclusive process, I want to be able to post my thoughts on this blog and I’m looking for constructive feedback on the rules and processes I’m coming up with.

My first article will follow shortly after I post this one, and I’m going to be covering the very early steps of scale and base sizes etc.

I hope you enjoy, and I’m looking forward to fresh original ideas to make a Napoleonic war game that is fairly accurate, but not so much that it takes hours to complete a game. Also remember, Battalion is the smallest unit.

Happy gaming.

Peter (Woehammer)

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