Writing a Wargame – Scale II

So continuing on the them of scale from my previous post lets continue with our 1:9000 scale for now and look at the major powers and their battalion structure during the Napoleonic Wars.

For this I will be focusing on the Austrian, British, French, Prussian and Russian forces.

Image taken from https://rodwargaming.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/table-1.jpg?w=636

So as you can see each country had differing battalion sizes during the wars. So using our scale of 1:9000, and assuming that all nations had a line formation of three ranks (apart from the British who often fought in two), we get the following base widths.

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthLine Formation WidthNo. of 6mm Miniatures Per Rank
British1,0763.34 cm6
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9451.96 cm4
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8011.66 cm3
French Line (Pre 1809)1,0492.17 cm4
French Line (Post 1809)8251.71 cm3
Prussian Line6611.37 cm2
Russian Line6211.29 cm2
Austrian Grenadier9481.96 cm4
Austrian Line (German)1,1882.46 cm5
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,3082.71 cm5
All widths are based on a man taking up 22″ elbow to elbow.

The number of models aren’t going to add to the grand scale feel of the setting. So as mentioned in my last post we’re going to have to make some sort of compromise.

If the width of a base was increased to 40mm that would enable 8 miniatures per rank. That feels better but in some cases is an increase of over 100%.

Maybe the scale is a little too large? So let’s narrow down our scales a little more from the previous post. Let’s look at some of the famous battles of the time, starting with the Battle of Leipzig in 1813.

The Battle Of Leipzig is particularly important as during the Napoleonic Wars it was the largest battle to take place with 225,000 troops on the French side and 380,000 troops on the Coalition side.

Avon Napoleonic Fellowship: Guest blogger (6): Leipzig Day One ...

So in this case the battlefield was a little over 12 miles long.

Following this theme let’s look at the top ten battles ranked in order of the number of combatants:

BattleWidth of BattleTable Size Required at 1:9000 Scale
Leipzig12 Miles214 cm (7ft)
Dresden7 Miles125 cm (4ft)
Smolensk5 Miles89 cm (3ft)
Bautzen8 Miles143 cm (5ft)
Wagram15 Miles268 cm (9ft)
Borodino4 Miles71 cm (3ft)
Lutzen8 Miles143 cm (5ft)
Jena6 Miles107 cm (4ft)
Katzbach8 Miles143 cm (5ft)
Waterloo5 Miles89 cm (3ft)
Battlefield lengths at 1:9000 Scale

This would suggest that apart from the really huge battle of Leipzig and the Battle of Wagram, all could be played in a space of 5 feet or less. Suggesting our scale may a little small.

Ideal table size that I’m looking at would be a 6ft x 4ft table. Therefore if we took the average battle size and discounted the larger battles of Leipzig and Wagram it would be roughly 6 miles. Here’s our target, 6 miles in a 6ft space. So taking the length of 6ft (182.88cm) and dividing it 6 miles by this, gives up 5278. So our scale actually needs to be 1:5300.

So going back to our earlier table with the battalion sizes by nation, these at 1:5300 scale would be the following base sizes:

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthLine Formation WidthNo. of 6mm Miniatures Per Rank
British1,0765.67cm11
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9453.32 cm6
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8012.81 cm5
French Line (Pre 1809)1,0493.68 cm7
French Line (Post 1809)8252.90 cm5
Prussian Line6612.32 cm4
Russian Line6212.18 cm4
Austrian Grenadier9483.33 cm6
Austrian Line (German)1,1884.27 cm8
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,3084.59 cm9
All widths are based on a man taking up 22″ elbow to elbow.

This makes scaling slightly easier with a foot equalling 1 mile. The larger battles can be played out either on a large table, or on multiple tables with multiple players.

Basing is slightly more of an issue, with the line formations being between 2.18 cm at the smallest and 5.67 cm at the largest, the average between these figures being 3.92 cm.

At this stage I’m going to keep to a 40mm wide base for all battalions to make it easier. With maybe half that width for Artillery and Generals.

40mm isn’t too small that the base is unmanageable while being small enough for Battalions to still be feasible.

I’m happy with the scale, but I’m open to thoughts and suggestions around this.

Hope you enjoyed. Next we’ll be either refining the scale based on comments or looking at unit orders.

Writing a Wargame

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8 thoughts on “Writing a Wargame – Scale II

    1. Hi John, thanks for your comment. At present I’m working on the assumption that all battalions are full strength for basing. Further down the line we will consider under or overstrength battalions (most likely by taking another attribute of the unit into account such as morale etc). However if you feel the base size should be proportionate to the battalion strength I’m open to your reasoning.

      Part of my reasoning for having a basic 40mm base is also to reduce the number of different base sizes that a player has to model/source. As well as 40mm being usable in other rule sets.

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      1. Hi, I was thinking that a standard base size should imply a standard battalion size? Otherwise your large unit/small unit mechanics have to do quite difficult things to be fair to both Russian and Hungarian battalions.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi – Having gone through a similar process on picking a base size for my 6mms, my conclusion was to standardize on a 20-25 mm square base to represent one battalion of 5-600 men. That size is slightly larger than a 6mm strip of four men and allows for flocking around the bases.) Larger battalions get two stands. They are primarily based for using the Et Sans Resultat rules which my gaming partner likes.

    My gaming partner and I recently tried out the Blucher rules and found them wanting. They were a bit fiddly in terms of ease of combat calculation with little payback for their fiddliness in terms of realism. They were also a little dull in terms of battle action. The battle was basically more of a grind of units along the entire front.

    Now, that may be somewhat realistic(at least according to Clausewitz’s descriptions of Napoleonic combats in the translations of his campaign histories; check those out as they have good tactical info in them) but it wasn’t really fun. Indeed the game was reminiscent of playing Avalon Hill’s ‘1914’, going up and down a long line of line of opposing units, minutely calculating combats only to have very little movement of the front when done. We are going to have another go with Blucher, but this time we’ll get rid of the volleying rules. Instead we’ll just have a choice of either skirmishing or (melee) infantry combat, as melee combat results in the kind of advances and retreats and see-saw combats one reads about at Plancenoit, Ligny Waterloo and Leipzig, for that matter.

    As a personal preference, I’m finding I like simple combat resolution mechanisms. That allows more emphasis to be placed on making higher level command decisions. Surprisingly, I’m leaning towards adapting Columbia’s Napoleon / “Eagles” card game rules for the tabletop since they capture unit strength (#s of men = # of dice thrown), Training/experience/weapons effectiveness (a ‘To hit’ # of 1/2/3) and morale (roll less than or equal to the Morale number to not retreat, modified by cover, leaders etc.)

    Keep up the reports! Good stuff!
    – Doug B.

    PS You might also want to look at Rory Muir’s book ‘Tactics in the Age of Napoleon” or something like that. The book’s not at hand. Very interesting and useful.

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