Writing a Wargame – Command and Control

The aspect of command and control can possibly be one of the most important aspects of wargaming the Napoleonic Period.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks and how this may apply. A suggestion from Chris via the Baccus website has now started to crystallise this idea.

Looking at other Napoleonic War games the most common approach leans towards each player rolling a number of dice and then activating that number of units. To me this does not feel in keeping with the period of time, when orders were given before the battle began and then adjusted mid battle either hand written and delivered by messenger, Aide-de-Camp (ADC) or in some cases like the Duke of Wellington by themselves. Therefore I feel this does not suit our rule set when we are trying to replicate the period.

My initial ideas were for each general to have a number of ADC’s to which orders could be passed. These ADC’s would ride to their destination and effectively act as command markers for that unit. The ADC’s would travel around the table at ‘Trot’ speed to deliver their messages.

When I mentioned this to Chris, he mentioned his unique “Coup d’Oeil” (CdO) idea which could work in tandem with ADC representation.

The idea behind CdO would mean that Generals start out with a number of these as “Decision Points”, depending on the General they may start with more, or less. These can be used to deploy forces at the start of the game once the deployment areas have been decided upon.

A General can also build these points up during the course of the game with a basic value each turn plus extra for certain events. Once a General reaches a certain amount of Coup D’Oeil points they can spend them on either issuing an order via ADC or calling up reserves. Initial thoughts on this are:


  • A General will start with a number of Coup D’Oeil points.
  • Each turn, +1 is added to their Coup D’Oeil value.
  • If the general is positioned on a hill this will give them a further +1 Coup D’Oeil each turn.
  • +1 for each enemy unit that is ‘Revealed’.
  • +1 for each enemy unit that is broken and flees the battlefield.
  • -1 for each friendly unit that is broken or flees.
  • There may be additional Coup D’Oeil points per turn for holding battlefield objectives.

Coup D’Oeil may be spent on:

  • Deploying Units at the start of the game.
  • Issuing activation orders to units.
  • Bringing on reserve units.


Orders will be tied into Battlefield Objectives, my initial thoughts are to have a number of primary objectives (such as Hougoumont or Le Haie Sainte at Waterloo), and a certain number of secondary objectives (perhaps holding a certain village, or pass through a forest etc). These objectives would be given numbers and shown on the battlefield in the form of objective markers. (very Warhammer-esq I realise, but if it isn’t broke…..)

An order would consist of giving a Division or Brigade the order of capturing a certain objective on the field. At the point where a General has enough CdO, he would issue an ADC to travel to his target. The arrival of the ADC at the unit indicates they have been activated. The ADC may have the number of the Objective that the Division or Brigade has been requested to attack (or hold), this may be represented by an ADC miniature with a Dice on the base representing the objective number. From that point onward that unit may only score “Tactical Points” should the unit hold that objective, if it holds any other objective other than the one it has been assigned no “Tactical Points” will be gained, a new ADC will need to be issued to change a units target.

At the end of the game the side with the most “Tactical Points” is considered to have won a “Tactical Victory” while the side that inflicted the most casualties has won a “Strategic Victory”.

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