Writing a Wargame – Deployment

I realise I’ve been getting a bit ahead of myself and getting stuck into the infantry firing mechanics.

So I want to take a step back and go over some more of the pre game stuff that would be needed before an actual game takes place.

This is a fairly short post, so apologies for those that like a meaty read. More of those are coming, I promise!


To determine how far apart our forces should deploy we need to analyse Napoleonic War battle maps to show the original disposition of the forces and the distance between them. This can usually be determined by using any scales that may be available on the map itself.

Deployment at the Battle of Waterloo

Above is the initial deployment for the battle of Waterloo. Here using the scale to the side we can determine that the right side of the battlefield the forces were roughly 900 metres apart (ignoring troops garrisoned in the villages and the farms in this instance). On the left, the forces are roughly 1200 metres apart, while at the centre they’re roughly 1500 metres apart.

That’s pretty close. But was Waterloo an exception?

Disposition of forces at the Battle of Austerlitz

At Austerlitz, using the scale provides the forces along the front vary between 1-2 miles apart.

Looking at other battles, we have the following distances:

  • Battle of Busaco – 1 to 2 miles apart
  • Battle of Jena – 1 mile apart
  • Battle of Friedland – 1 mile

So we’ve got a fairly consistent image here of battle lines being drawn up at roughly 1 mile apart.

To translate this into gaming terms is fairly simple. 1 mile on out scale of 1:5300 equates to 30cm plus change.

Therefore our armies should be deploying up to 15cm away from the centre line of the table.


Initially I’m going to use an alternate deployment method, in that the players roll off, the winner chooses which half of that table he would like to play on and then places his first unit.

In this case brigades are placed as one unit with all their battalions on the table at once. Players alternate placing brigades until all their forces are on the table.

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