Writing a Wargame – Skirmishers

I’ve left this one alone for a little while, whilst I’ve spent some time deciding on other factors.

But I’m keen to have this troop type crossed off my to do list due to their role in the wars and including everyone’s favourites the 95th.


A replica Baker Rifle

So let’s start by taking a look at the Baker Rifle. The weapon of the 60th and 95th Rifle regiments as well as the King’s German Legion during the 100 days.

The Baker Rifle although much more accurate than the smoothbore musket wasn’t widely used due to both it’s slow reload time and it’s expense compared to a musket.

While a trained soldier with a musket could fire four shots a minute, a rifleman could only manage two. However the range of the rifle was much further than that of the musket with its effective range being twice that of the musket. Thomas Plunket of the 1st Battalion 95th Rifles is said to have managed to shoot General Colbert at the Battle of Cacabelos at a range of around 600 yards which is twice the long range of a musket.

Thomas Plunket’s shot

This makes our like easy in some respects so that the effective range of the Baker Rifle in game would be 4 cm while the long range would be 8 cm.


Not all nations employed skirmishers, but they were prominent during the Peninsula Wars.

Often deployed in front of an advancing Brigade, the Skirmishers would firefight with enemy skirmishers and pluck out officers from the enemy formation.

This makes representing them on the tabletop fairly simple. Skirmishers can still fire like any other Brigade, however their hits do not cause any damage on the strength of a unit, instead the unit hit suffers 2 morale damage.

Musket armed Skirmishers will only be able to fire these shots at the usual range. However, Rifle armed Skirmishers would be able to fire at double the range but due to the time it would take to reload can only use half the fire dice that the equivalent musket armed troops would be able to use.


Talavera Order of Battle

Skirmisher Strength/Firing Dice

Above is a screenshot taken from Wikipedia showing the Talavera order of battle for the Anglo-Spanish forces. As you can see the usual tactic was to attach a single company of rifles to a brigade (usually those lacking their own light infantry). This is a pretty tiny unit. In our game terms it would currently be presented as a 1 Strength, 1 Firing Dice unit.

Even battalions with light companies armed with muskets would only throw forward at most 50 men to act as a skirmish screen.

Base Size

Base size would not be an issue and a company would still be modelled on a 40mm wide base due to the men spreading out and taking advantage of cover.

Unit Coherency

These skirmishers would close to within range of the enemy at which point they would hold position sniping enemy officers while the brigade they’re attached to advanced and attempted to drive the enemy away.

For this reason Skirmishers do not have to be in base-to-base contact with other units of their brigade, however, they must remain within 4 cm of their parent unit so that they can quickly find safety should cavalry approach.

Additional Actions

Brigades with attached Rifle companies or battalions with light companies may choose to deploy a skirmish screen for 1 action. This screen is then represented by a skirmish base on the table deployed in base to base contact at the front of the battalion.

Actions for Skirmishers are carried out separately to its parent brigade and Skirmishers do not take morale tests for moving within 10 cm of an enemies radius. It cannot be targeted by shooting unless by opposition Skirmishers.

When the skirmish unit uses a move action, the skirmish unit can move in any direction at ‘quick pace’ (if able to do so) as long as the unit stays within 4 cm of its parent battalion.

The Skirmish stand will also not move closer than 2 cm to an enemy brigade.

Skirmish stands can be charged by enemy cavalry or skirmishers. If cavalry successfully charge Skirmishers the skirmish unit is considered destroyed. Remove it from battle and reduce the parents battalion strength and modifier by 1.


  • Skirmish formation is not available to battalions.
  • Brigades that have light infantry or rifle infantry attached may deploy them at the cost of 1 action.
  • Destroyed Skirmishers count as 1 damage and 1 morale loss for its parent Brigade.
  • Skirmishers act independently of its parent brigade but remain within 4 cm.
  • Skirmish stands cannot use any other formation other than Skirmish until they rejoin their Brigade.
  • Skirmishers armed cause 2 morale damage to enemy units but no strength damage.
  • Rifle armed infantry have an effective range of 4 cm and a long range of 2 cm however they have half the firing dice (if deployed as a battalion).
  • Rifle armed battalions may still only deploy one stand as skirmishers.
  • Actions available to Skirmishers are:
    • Fire!
    • Move 3cm (if able otherwise 2cm)
    • Fall in (rejoin the Brigade)


Donation to Clausewitz

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