All posts by Peter Holland

Writing a Wargame – Musketry

For Factors and attributes that have already been decided please visit the Napoleonic War Game page.

EDIT: Following a suggestion from user Altair1371 on Reddit the firing dice mentioned further down this page will change to 1 die for every 200 men.

Also, ‘Stress’ & ‘Misfires’ will be combined into one die roll called ‘Steady’ which will still be passable on a 5+.

While we contemplate the base sizes a little more from my previous post, let’s move on to another aspect of Napoleonic warfare. Namely, Musketry fire its accuracy and effect.

It is fairly common knowledge that musket fire was largely inaccurate due to a number of factors. Soldiers were not trained to ‘aim’ their musket but rather just to reload and fire. It wasn’t until after the wars that the command ‘aim’ came into effect.

How accurate was a musket? We know the ranges of the musket from my previous post Writing a Wargame – Part III. Also from that article we found a information from www.napolun.com in regards to hits at long range and effective range.

– at 160 and 320 yards out of 200 rounds fired at a large target, approximating the size of a formed infantry company, the following number of hits was obtained“:

Musket160 YardsAccuracy320 YardsAccuracy
Prussian 1782 Musket6432%4221%
Prussian 1809 Musket11357%4221%
British Musket11658%5528%
French 1777 Musket9950%5528%
Napoleonic Musket Accuracy

So we’ve some data here showing that muskets could hit 50-60% of the time at effective range while hitting 20-30% at long range. But this test was conducted under an environment where the firer could take time, not worry about approaching enemy soldiers, actually killing men in front of him, not worry about being shot by the enemy and also not have the distractions of the general sounds of warfare going on around them – in other words ‘battlefield stress’. I suspect all of these factors has an affect on whether a soldier was a) able to reload effectively and b) actually fire his musket.

Further on in the article I cited above from napolun.com, there is an interesting snippet on the effectiveness of muskets in combat and what factors would play a part in that effectiveness:

  • Misfires could consist of up to 20%. According to Colonel Elting during prolonged firing the soldier had often to clear the vent of his musket with a pin carried on his pouch belt, and clean the barrel which fouled after 50 or 60 shots.
  • Stress. The experience showed that the niceties of regular volleys were impracticable on the battlefield. Quite often the musketry took place outside of the real killing zone. The sight of enemy continuing his advance was enough for some and they began blasting off as soon as they had loaded their muskets. It was contagious. Once individual soldiers fired their muskets (without the order from their officers) the others began firing too. Within moments the entire battalion was covered with smoke. The fast firing relieved anxiety and occupied troopers’ minds and bodies. Some soldiers were so stressed that they loaded their rifles time after time but they never fired. (After one of the battle of Gettysburg the discarded 37,574 rifles were collected and sent to Washington to be inspected and reissued. Approx. 24,000 of them were still loaded, and 75 % of them had 2 to 10 rounds in the barrel. One rifle had been stuffed to the top with 23 rounds !

As we have no hard data to go on from combat in the era. We will have to rely on our first table while adjusting slightly for ‘battlefield stress’. At present I’m willing to go with a general 50% hit at short range and 20% at long range. But we also have to account for the 20% misfires that could occur.

The easiest way to account for all of these factors is to have a number of speed rolls when firing. when I refer to speed rolling I’m talking about the act of rolling the brigade as one group together for those at are firing.

We could then reduce the firing into a number of separate rolls to have a more realistic idea of firing in Napoleonic times. These rolls would be for Stress, Misfires and Hitting.

STRESS

Our second bullet point above shows that our of a number of rifles taken from the Battlefield of Gettysburg for analysis a high percentage hadn’t been reloaded properly. 75% had more than one round inside the barrel. This makes it fairly simple to introduce a mechanic to that effect. Using a D6 or a D10 you can determine the number of men that wouldn’t fire due to ‘Battlefield Stress’. As D6 dice are more readily available i’d rather use these throughout our system. Therefore, to simulate battlefield stress, a soldier would theoretically only fire his weapon on a 5+ (which works out as 33.34% chance, slightly better than reality but usable all the same).

MISFIRES

The first bullet point states that 20% of weapon fires resulted in misfires. Again, this should be fairly simple to show. Of those soldiers that successfully passed the first test they would roll a further D6 with a 2+ (83.35% chance) showing that his weapon was fired without incident.

HITTING

Effective Range

Using our table at the beginning of this article we have the stat showing roughly 50-60% of time soldiers were able to hit the target. So let’s stick with 50%, on a D6 that would be a 4+ (50% chance)

Long Range

Using the same table, it shows that hits were only made roughly 20% of the time. Converting this into a dice roll gives us a 6+ (16.67% chance).

EXAMPLE

So let’s use our largest battalions and smallest battalions in the game, the Russians and Hungarians.

They both decide that they will spend 1 action to form their 4 battalions in to line and 2 actions to move their battalions 2 moves, bringing them within musket range of their enemy. They then would spend 1 action to give fire.

UnitMenShots (6 Shots each)‘Stress’ Successes (33.34%)‘Misfire’ Successes
(83.35%)
Effective Range Hits
(50.00%)
Long Range Hits
(16.67%)
Russian Line2,48414,9044,9694,1422,071690
Austrian Line (Hungarian)5,23231,39210,4668,7234,3621,454

There are two points here, I obviously don’t expect people to be rolling 10,000 dice at a time, so we need to establish the firing dice of each unit. Also, these stats are assuming that the unit is firing on a unit formed in line also. So ignoring the second point for now let’s suggest our smallest unit would use 6 firing dice for its 600 men. That’s 100 men per firing dice.

The number of dice each Unit/Country would receive per battalion:

Unit/CountryMenFiring Dice
British Line1,07611
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9459
French Old guard (Post 1809)8018
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04910
French Line (Post 1809)8258
Prussian Line6617
Russian Line6216
Austrian Grenadier9489
Austrian Line (German)1,18812
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30813
Firing dice per unit

So following on from our last post, we’d still essentially be managing our units at a brigade level, as the Brigade Commander may display the strength of the Brigade. For example a Brigade Commander may have an indicator showing that Brigades strength is 1,400, meaning we would roll 14 dice initially.

Taking our previous example of the Russian and Hungarian infantry and replacing the men with firing dice:

UnitMenShots ‘Stress’ Successes (33.34%)‘Misfire’ Successes
(83.35%)
Effective Range Hits
(50.00%)
Long Range Hits
(16.67%)
Russian Line2,484248731
Austrian Line (Hungarian)5,23252171472
Example of a four battalion brigade of Russian and Hungarian infantry firing in game

EFFECTS OF FIRING

So what about the unit receiving fire? Per 1000 shots fired at a unit in effective range there would be casualties roughly on the scale of 100-150 per short range volley and 0-50 on long range (very rough estimates). When accounting for an action turn of firing (6 volleys) these would equate to 600-900 casualties per short range and 100-300 per long range. These casualties would be spread across the entire enemies brigade rather than one particular unit. At present I imagine distributing any effects of firing evenly amount the forward battalions of the enemy.

So if we go with Option 6 or 7 from our previous post (i.e. commanders have dice that show casualties for the Brigade) so for each successful hit on a unit you would reduce the battalion strength by 50 men. So for every two successful hits on a brigade they would lose 1 firing dice.

However receiving fire also had an effect on the morale of the unit, and I’m toying with the idea of having morale markers on individual units where each successful hit reduces their morale by one pip or they suffer a morale marker. Every time that unit wants to advance on an enemy within range it would have to pass a morale test before doing so. Failure would mean not advancing, these failures would also prompt the other units in base to base contact with them to also take a morale test. If one other unit fails that test within the brigade then the whole Brigade moves back a certain distance while taking a certain amount of damage (D3?), if three or more fail in total then the whole brigade routs and makes a full move back towards its own deployment zone while taking damage (D6?).

Commanders of brigade can use actions to reduce the pips of morale damage on any battalions under their control.

SUMMARY

We have set a number of factors all of which aren’t set in stone yet as I’d love to hear further opinions on this.

We have:

  • 1 Firing Dice for every 200 men in a battalion.
  • ‘Battlefield Stress’ tests for units wanting to fire (5+ on a D6), which could be adjusted depending on the skill of the unit.
  • ‘Misfire’ tests for units (2+ on a D6).
  • ‘To Hit’ Scores of 4+ at Effective Range and 6+ at Long Range.
  • Damage of 50 men per hit inflicted on the Brigade and 1 morale Pip on the Battalion.
  • Morale tests for Battalions wanting to move towards (as well as receiving fire from the enemy).
  • Commanders can use actions to improve morale of their Battalions.

As always I would love to hear any comments or ideas.

Also early days yet, but how does “Vive le France” or “Le Chapeau” sound as a title?

Writing a Wargame – Base Sizes

Factors Decided

FactorValuePost
Scale1:5300Writing a Wargame – Part II
Base RepresentationBattalion/SquadronWriting a Wargame – Part I
Base Width40mmUnder Review
Single Turn Time Length10 MinutesWriting a Wargame – Part III
Actions Per Unit5Writing a Wargame – Part III
Troop Movement SpeedsSee BelowWriting a Wargame – Part IV
Factors Decided
Unit TypeTerrainMarchQuick StepCharge
FootOpen2 cm3 cm*
MountedOpen4 cm8 cm28 cm**
FootRough2 cm
MountedRough4 cm6 cm
FootDifficult1 cm
MountedDifficult
Troop Movement Card
*Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units **1 Action per turn

Comments from John on Part II have caused me to revisit the base sizes for our battalions, for those who haven’t read his comment John made a very good point:

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.

So let’s look at how we reached the 40mm base width. We had the following table that was taken from Rod’s Wargaming website:

Typical infantry Battalion Strengths during the Napoleonic Wars

Looking at the table above if we take the largest unit (Hungarian Line) at 1,308 and the smallest unit (Russian Line) at 621 we have large differences between the battalion strengths and therefore also a large difference in their footprint on the ground.

So our original table showing what footprint each nation would take up width wise is as follows (bear in mind this is based on line formation of 3 ranks apart from the British which is in 2 ranks):

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthLine Formation WidthNo. of 6mm Miniatures Per Rank
British1,0765.67 cm11
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9453.32 cm6
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8012.82 cm5
French Line (Pre 1809)1,0493.69 cm7
French Line (Post 1809)8252.90 cm5
Prussian Line6612.32 cm4
Russian Line6212.18 cm4
Austrian Grenadier9483.33 cm6
Austrian Line (German)1,1884.17 cm8
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,3084.60 cm9
Unit Widths at 1:5300

We have a number of options that I can think of presently to get around this issue.

OPTION 1

Our first and most fiddly for the actual gamer would be to have accurate base widths for each nations units:

Nation/UnitMenWidth
(rounded to nearest 0.5mm)
British1,07655 mm
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)94535 mm
French Old Guard (Post 1809)80130 mm
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04935 mm
French Line (Post 1809)82530 mm
Prussian Line66125 mm
Russian Line62120 mm
Austrian Grenadier94835 mm
Austrian Line (German)1,18840 mm
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30845 mm
Prospective Base Widths

Some of these base sizes are pretty small, with the Russian units measuring only 20mm in width at 1:5300. This scale would mean only 4 6mm miniatures per rank.

OPTION 2

The second option is along the same lines as option 1, but adjusting our scale so that an the smaller infantry units take up 40mm in width, this would mean adjusting our scale to something almost double, but would mean a 6 foot length which is our aim would represent 3 miles instead of 6. Which would not make large scale battles feasible.

OPTION 3

Build in a mechanic to represent unit strengths on 40mm base. At the moment this is completely open, it could be anything from the number of men in a battalion divided by 100 to represent HP:

Nation/UnitMenHP
British1,07611
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)9459
French Old Guard (Post 1809)8018
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04910
French Line (Post 1809)8258
Prussian Line6617
Russian Line6216
Austrian Grenadier9489
Austrian Line (German)1,18812
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30813
Prospective HP of Units

If HP is used how would this be tracked for 100+ battalions per side? In all likelihood, HP would have to come into affect even if Battalion width was adjusted to suit their relative footprint as well.

Also does this need to be divided by 100, if tracked easily can it be divided by 10? Thus when a HP is lost, 10 men from the unit are presumed dead or wounded?

OPTION 4

We use both realistic unit width and Health Points for each nation to more actually represent their strengths of the battalion:

NationEstablished Soldier StrengthBase WidthHealth
British1,07655 mm11 or 108
French Old Guard (Pre 1809)94535 mm9 or 95
French Old Guard (Post 1809)80130 mm8 or 80
French Line (Pre 1809)1,04935 mm11 or 105
French Line (Post 1809)82530 mm8 or 83
Prussian Line66125 mm7 or 66
Russian Line62120 mm6 or 62
Austrian Grenadier94835 mm9 or 95
Austrian Line (German)1,18840 mm12 or 119
Austrian Line (Hungarian)1,30845 mm13 or 131
Unit Strengths and Base Widths

The idea of being able to say for example “the British suffered 11,000 losses and the French 5,000” does appeal to me on a statistical level post game. If you were trying to recreate some of the engagements at the time and wanted to see how you stacked up against your real life counterpart this would be something to consider.

But this would require either two or three D10 markers per base, and if you multiply that by the number of battalions that will be in game this would result in 200-300 dice per side……

Or

A number of counters on each unit to represent HP lost. Again, would result in a lot of counters….

OPTION 5

We revert to a brigade system like many other game systems, but then that would mean going through what size base is best for a brigade.

OPTION 6

Instead of Battalion HP, could we use Brigade HP which is marked with the commander of that Brigade. A brigade may be made up of 4 Prussian units each roughly 660 men in strength, meaning a total combat strength for that Brigade of 2,640. Could this then be divided by a factor of 10 and represented on three D10’s? With each hit on a unit in that brigade reducing the value by 1?

There’s a lot to think about here, and I really would like some further opinions from people on what of the above options they think may be best? Or even if there’s an option I haven’t considered. At present, I’m leaning towards having accurate base widths, but using the Command stands to represent Brigade strength as a whole on 3 D10’s.

OPTION 7

The same as above but with all units base widths represented as 40mm.

EDIT

OPTION 8

Have battalions of all nations standardised at a certain strength according to the campaign they take part in and keep 40mm bases.

OPTION 9

Have battalion strength incorporated into the combat ability of the unit and keep the units on 40mm bases.

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Writing a Wargame – Unit Movement

FACTORS ALREADY DECIDED – From previous posts

FactorValuePost
Scale1:5300Writing a Wargame – Part II
Base RepresentationBattalionWriting a Wargame – Part I
Base Width40mmWriting a Wargame – Part II
Real Time Equivalent for Single Turn10 MinutesWriting a Wargame – Part III
Actions Per Unit5Writing a Wargame – Part III
Factors already decided

So I realise at the end of my last post I said that we’d be looking at formations and their affect on movement, however I’m actually going to bottom out the movement of different units.

INFANTRY BASE MOVEMENT

We established that infantry would march at 5 cm every 5 minutes (apart from the Austrians who move a little further, but I believe we’ll handle this separately later on in our rules when we look at individual factions). This would mean over the course of a turn an infantry unit would march 10 cm in good conditions (i.e. along a road), but we didn’t look at different ground conditions or terrain.

Before we go into that, let’s look at the quick march for the different nations as well and how fast their rates were:

march-rates-table
Taken from https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com/miltary-historical-research/military-historical-research/napoleonic-infantry-march-rates/ with thanks.

So if we scaled down the quick step rates of the nations we arrive at the following distances over 10 minutes:

NationQuick Step (Paces per Minute)10 Mins @ 1:5300 Scale Distance
British10815.53 cm
French10014.38 cm
Prussian10815.53 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs12017.25 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs10515.10 cm
Russian11015.82 cm
Quick Step March Rates by Nation

Most nations are similar at around 110 paces per minute, apart from the Austrian 1807 regs which were at an increased 120 paces per minute. If we then break this down into 5 actions we have the following distance per action (2 minutes):

Nation1 Turn DistancePer Action (Turn divided by 5)
British15.53 cm3.11 cm
French14.38 cm2.88 cm
Prussian15.53 cm3.11 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs17.25 cm3.45 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs15.10 cm3.02 cm
Russian15.82 cm3.16 cm
Turn distance divided by Actions in a turn

This results in a fairly uniform 3 cm per action. Now we’ve calculated the Infantry March and Quick Step paces we have the following movement distances for infantry per action (rounded):

UnitMarchQuick Step
Infantry2cm3cm
Unit movements

We also have double time to consider if we go back to my favourite source of Rod’s Wargaming we’ll see that under the quickest step troops would move at around 120 paces per minute, however this was primarily used for wheeling and allowing companies to catch up to its unit after passing obstacles etc:

Chiefly to the purpose of wheeling. also in this time should division [companies] double, and move up, when passing obstacles in line, or when in a column of march the front of division is increased or diminshed“.

The Dundas regulations (The British Regulations during Napoleonic times) also state:

A company or division may occasionally run, a battalion may sometimes Quick Step, but the hurrying of a large column or of a body of moving in front [presumably the latter is a reference to line] will certainly produce confusion and disorder. It is never to be risked when an enemy is in presence though it may sometimes be necessary when a post or situation is to be seizes“.

This is an interesting point, battalions and division would run, but only under Quick Step, but also, the would NEVER run in proximity to the enemy. This is something we’ll have to take account of in our rules. This may mean that battalions are unable to Quick Step within a certain distance of the enemy.

In summary of foot troop movement, we have the most common Ordinary Step, used in the majority of circumstances. The Quick Step which was used, but never near enemy units and the Double Time, which was only used during formation changes and redressing of units.

Therefore for the purpose of our game we’ll have an Ordinary Step and a Quick Step, however, the Quick Step will not be able to be used within a certain proximity to the enemy. At present we’ll say this distance is roughly 20cm until we have some kind of firmer evidence to the contrary.

CAVALRY BASE MOVEMENT

C P Escalle’s “Des marches dans les armees de Napoleon” is quoted on page 291 of Nafziger’s “Imperial Bayonets”.

French cavalry were able to move at 4,800 to 5,000 meters (3 to 3.125 miles) per hour and infantry at 3,000 to 3,500 metres (1.9 to 2.2 miles) per hour. However the Regulations provides for movements of up to 4,000 metres (2.5 miles) per hour. The real problem was artillery and other cartage which could seldom exceed 3,000 metres (1.9 miles) per hour because of bad roads. A mixed arms force would move about 3 kph (2 mph) on strategic movement.”

If we take the above information on French Cavalry movement we arrive at the following for 1:5300 scale over 10 minutes:

Distance Covered in 10 MinsAt 1:5300 Scale
Cavalry830 Metres15.72 cm
Cavalry Movement

This tells us that the Cavalry would move only slightly faster than the foot troops on the march, which makes sense when moving your forces around the countryside.

But let’s take this a bit further and look at the average speeds of horses while walking, trotting and galloping. Taking our information from Wikipedia we have the following information:

GaitDistance Covered in 10 MinsAt 1:5300 Scale
Walk1.17 kilometres22.01 cm
Trot2.17 Kilometres40.88 cm
Gallop7.33 Kilometres*138.37 cm*
*A horse cannot maintain a gallop for more than roughly 2 km

On the gallop Wikipedia tells us that a horse cannot gallop for more than 1.5 to 3 kilometres at a a time, in game terms at scale this is the equivalent of a distance if 37.73 cm across the table. Therefore we would have to limit any galloping to only 1 action choice per turn and no more (fatigue will also have to come into affect here).

If we split these movements over the five actions we have the following:

GaitFull MovementPer Action
Walk22.01 cm4.40 cm
Trot40.88 cm8.18 cm
Gallop138.37 cm27.67 cm (limited to one action)
Cavalry Movement Speeds

So if we return to our unit movement card and add the Cavalry movement per action:

UnitMarchQuick StepCharge
Infantry2cm3cm**
Cavalry4cm8cm28cm*
Unit Movements per Action
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20cm of enemy units

ARTILLERY BASE MOVEMENT

The following excerpt is taken from www.napolun-series.org

A battery would ideally move at the same speed and covered the same distance as did the troops to which it was attached. This distance could be anywhere from a few miles to 20 or 30 miles a day. When a battery moved independently, it was not limited by the movement of the troops and was thus free to cover as much ground as it could. All in all, there was not a great deal of difference in the distance travelled. Such gains as there were resulted from the absence of thousands of marching infantrymen, supply trains and other units cluttering up the roads. The battery was then able to travel without long delays due to the inevitable traffic jams caused by jostling troops.

So all in all horse artillery would move at the same pace as cavalry and foot artillery the same as infantry, this makes our movement card much simpler.

UnitMarchQuick StepCharge
Infantry/Foot Artillery2cm3cm**
Cavalry/Horse Artillery***4cm8cm28cm*
Unit Movements per Action
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units ***Horse artillery are unable to charge

COMMANDERS/ADJUTANT BASE MOVEMENT

Commanders were generally (pun intended) mounted, so this makes our movement for such troops easier. Commanders will mostly be staying with the units, and at present I imagine commanders will give some kind of morale/combat benefit to nearby battalions.

Adjutants were used to carry messages between generals, these will be used for changing a divisions orders which we’ll get into at a later date.

FINALISED UNIT MOVEMENT CARD (PER ACTION)

UnitMarchQuick StepCharge
Infantry2 cm3 cm**
Foot Artillery2 cm3 cm**
Cavalry4 cm8 cm28 cm*
Horse Artillery4 cm8 cm
Generals4 cm8 cm
Adjutants4 cm8 cm
Unit movement card
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units

Looking at the above I believe that this will eventually be condensed to just two lines; Foot and Mounted, and then broken down across the different terrain types.

TERRAIN

In terms of terrain, I think this can be broken down into a number of classifications:

Open
Rough
Difficult
Terrain types

These could then be broken down further into woods, villages, rivers etc each with their own rules. But for now lets look at the effects that terrain may have on the movement. We will also have impassable terrain features such as ridge lines etc, but for now we’ll stick to the three above which would affect troop movement speeds.

OPEN

As it sounds, gentle rolling hills and open land with no real obstables. Here though we may also have Roads, moving along roads should give a bonus to movement or at least no detriment to the movement value of a unit. As a result, we can’t affect our units ability to move through these areas too much, so maybe we should look at movement along the road as a bonus.

Roads, are fairly narrow in comparison to a battalion or cavalry squadron so to get the benefit of moving along a road, the unit would have to be in column formation, otherwise their would be no benefit as those marching in formation off the road would essentially be moving in open ground and would have to still redress ranks after trees, boulders etc.

Therefore we should give a benefit to moving along a road as perhaps +1 cm of movement for a whole move along the road.

i.e. The 48th Regiment of Foot are in column formation and start the turn on a road. Their usual movement per action would be either 2 cm in their standard March or 3 cm in their quickstep. As they are on the road, their movement would now be 3 cm for a March and 4 cm for their quickstep, as long as they finished that actions movement still in contact with the road.

This would have more of a benefit to foot troops than mounted, however mounted troops I believe would travel at a similar pace as to when in open ground due to not having to redress their ranks as much. Therefore I’m willing at this stage to keep the benefit of +1 cm along a road section for mounted troops as well. Should anyone find information that means we should revisit this, please let me know and provide me any links that you can.

ROUGH

Let’s look at how other rules sets deal with rough terrain.

Marechal d’Empire (Polemos) – In Marechal D’Empire (MdE) rough terrain has the affect of limiting all troop movements to 2 base widths (BW), troop movement in MdE is based on the number of bases in a force rather than the type of unit. So a smaller force of 2 BW’s can move 3 BW, a force of 3 BW’s can move 2 BW anything larger than 3 base widths moves at 1 BW. I believe that MdE is looking at this from the approach that larger forces are harder to keep dressed hence the need to moe slower for larger forces. But unless a unit is a column of 2 base widths the rough terrain has little affect on a unit. Breaking down their rules you would move through the rough terrain in either a 2 BW column (while losing a BW of movement) or form into a 3 BW column. Anything wider would reduce your movement by 50%.

Blucher – This set of rules does not consider anything rough terrain, you either have open or difficult.

Le Grand Armee – In this set, using an action for passing through difficult terrain will add a disruption marker to the unit. This does have its appeal, suggesting that once a unit is outside of the terrain it would have to pause to remove the disruption (redress its ranks) before continuing.

So as you can see there are a number of ways we can treat rough terrain. Currently I’m considering rough terrain to have a % movement discount on units for moving through it (in order for them to keep their formations in shape). Whether this is correct, is up for debate.

Using one of my favourite sources RodWargaming we have the following paragraph:

The Dundas regulations therefore see no need for troops to slow down when crossing rough ground or advancing through woods and battalions do not have to stop to reform after negotiating such obstacles provided they were originally moving in Ordinary Time.

This would suggest that movement through rough terrain did not affect the troops if they were marching at Ordinary Time.

We also have the following to consider:

Close Order was prescribed for firing (so that the second rank muskets could protrude beyond the front ranks) and Open Order would seem to have been used for movement. This reflects the fact that the men in the rear ranks need some clear space in front of them. It also helps to prevent them tripping over casualties in the front rank. As soon as the battalion turns right or left this space is reduced to 22″ per man. It is clearly impractical for soldiers to march any great distance this close to the man in front,

So the formation for marching would also have to be open order, with closed order reserved for firing lines. This will be useful when we come to analyse formations a later date.

So my suggestion is that rough terrain would have no effect on troop movement provided those troops were in open order and marching at ordinary pace. Therefore we would assumer that the quick step would not be able to make its full movement in rough terrain and would be reduced to the same as the March. This gives us the following movement card:

Unit TypeTerrainMarchQuick StepCharge
FootOpen2 cm3 cm**
MountedOpen4 cm8 cm28 cm*
FootRough2 cm2 cm
MountedRough4 cm6 cm
Unit Movement Card
*1 Action per turn **Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units

I do think that mounted troops may have been able to travel a little faster but we’ll consider this further. Should we split the difference and say that mounted troops cannot charge in rough terrain and there movement is reduced by 2 cm on the quick step, bringing it to 6 cm instead? This sounds more reasonable to me, but I would love to know everyone’s thoughts.

DIFFICULT

Difficult terrain would be such things as steep slopes, dense woodland, gulches etc. In all cases the movement of units would be seriously hampered. My first thoughts are that Cavalry would be unable to move into difficult terrain at all, while foot troops would suffer a 50% modifier to their movement rate.

At this point I imagine skirmishers would be able to move through terrain without penalty, but we’ll cover skirmishing formations at a later date.

So let’s look at our completed movement card:

Unit TypeTerrainMarchQuick StepCharge
FootOpen2 cm3 cm*
MountedOpen4 cm8 cm28 cm**
FootRough2 cm
MountedRough4 cm6 cm
FootDifficult1 cm
MountedDifficult
Troop Movement Card
*Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units **1 Action per turn

POINTS TO CONSIDER

  1. Mounted troops moving through rough terrain, should this be the same as their standard march move or should we set this at another value say half way between the march and the quick step rates, meaning a move of 6 cm per action in rough terrain instead of 8 cm?
  2. Fatigue, we still haven’t covered fatigue as yet, but we should consider fatigue on troops marching at the double.
  3. Skirmish troops, we’ve not yet looked at these but I would imagine that while skirmishing troops movements would not be inhibited in either rough or difficult terrain?
  4. Should difficult terrain be a 50% modifier?
  5. We’ll revisit our base sizes following John’s comments on Part II.
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Writing a Wargame – The Turn

FACTORS ALREADY DECIDED – from previous posts

Battle Scale1:5300
Unit RepresentationBattalion
Unit Width40mm
Game Factors Decided

PREVIOUS POSTS

Writing a Wargame – An Introduction

Writing a Wargame – Scale

Writing a Wargame – Scale II

INFANTRY MOVEMENT

So we’ve settled on a scale of 1:5300 giving us base sizes of 40mm wide. I think that we now need to follow on from this by looking at Infantry movement rates as well as the various ranges of the weapons at this scale. This in turn may give us an indication what kind of length of time a turn may represent.

Starting with movement, the march speeds of the various nations would differ slightly as shown by the below graphic:

march-rates-table
Taken from https://rodwargaming.wordpress.com/miltary-historical-research/military-historical-research/napoleonic-infantry-march-rates/ with thanks.

A pace works out to be roughly 76.2 cm, therefore if we look how far each nation would march in 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes and convert this to our 1:5300 scale we would have the following information:

NationPaces Per Minute5 mins at Scale10 mins at Scale15 mins at Scale20 mins at Scale
British755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
French765.46 cm10.93 cm16.39 cm21.85 cm
Prussian755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs906.47 cm12.94 cm19.41 cm25.88 cm
Russian755.39 cm10.78 cm16.17 cm21.57 cm
Regular march rates of infantry over 5,10, 15 and 20 minute intervals at 1:5300 Scale

We can see that apart from the Austrian 1807 Regs every nation pretty much moves at the same rate of 75 paces per minute. This gives us a basis of how far each unit would move in a turn.

The one important piece of information that we can use in the future is that over five minutes a unit will move roughly 5cm at 1:5300 scale. This would suggest that what ever length of time our turn represents, it would be easier to have it as a multiple of 5.

MUSKET RANGE

But we also have to look at the range of small arms fire. The popular weapon of the time was the smooth bore musket, which although devastating on the volley, wasn’t accurate and didn’t have a great range.

Taking the popular weapons of the time and converting their ranges into our scale we have the below information:

MusketEffective RangeEffective Range (1:5300 Scale)Long RangeLong Range (1:5300 Scale)
French “Charleville 1777” Musket100 Yards1.73 cm300 Yards5.18 cm
British “Brown Bess” Musket109 Yards1.88 cm327 Yards5.64 cm
Prussian “Potzdam” Musket75 Yards1.29 cm300 Yards5.18 cm
Ranges of Muskets during the Napoleonic Wars

As we can see there is a strong similarity in the ranges of these weapons, effective range being roughly 100 yards and their long range being around 300 yards. This discounts the British Baker Rifle at present which we will look at, at a later date.

The interesting information to take from both this and the previous table on unit movements suggests that a musket could fire roughly the same range as unit could move in five minutes.

As for accuracy? Well the following information was taken from www.napolun.com:

– at 160 and 320 yards out of 200 rounds fired at a large target, approximating the size of a formed infantry company, the following number of hits was obtained“:

Musket160 YardsAccuracy320 YardsAccuracy
Prussian 1782 Musket6432%4221%
Prussian 1809 Musket11357%4221%
British Musket11658%5528%
French 1777 Musket9950%5528%
Napoleonic Musket Accuracy

This information will be particularly useful at a later date when we come to the shooting phase of our game rules.

So in five minutes a unit could march the distance of a long range musket shot.

OUR SECOND CHALLENGE

So if a unit can move as far as a long range musket shot this could potentially mean that in the shooting phase a unit would fire either 1 volley or none at all. Not much shooting going on there then! However, we know that this wasn’t the case and that historically units would either receive many volleys before charging the enemy or they would stand and fire while plucking up the courage to charge. We have to replicate this.

One solution could be to break each units movement up into a number of actions. i.e. A Battalion has 3 actions it can make over the course of the turn. These can be Fire & Reload, Change Formation, March etc.

By breaking this movement down, a march move would not be the same as the musket range.

This doesn’t solve the issue of the enemy unit being unable to fire however, an addition to this could be that once a unit makes an action, an one enemy unit can make a reaction (i.e. Fire & Reload).

There could also be some kind of morale test for the units to close the gap between themselves. This brings us into additional attributes for each unit. We’re already know each unit will have a movement attribute, but we may also need further attributes in the form of “Leadership/Morale” and “Shooting”.

These attributes are often combined into one in many other war games (such as “Quality” in A Song of Drums and Shakos or “Elan” in Blucher). Do I want to combine these attributes as well?

If we look at the world of Warhammer 40,000 or Age of Sigmar, units may have multiple attributes. You may say that this is due to their being less units on the field, however if we consider an army of 100,000 in the Napoleonic era, this would roughly involve a hundred battalions give or take. In Warhammer 40,000 or AOS, there are often 100 models on each side, sometimes more, so I don’t feel this needs to be a barrier to the speed of play as all units could act in unison if necessary (i.e. all battalions in the 6th Division move towards the enemy, all units fire on the enemy Brigade).

LENGTH OF BATTLE

One aspect of the game that we’ve not taken into account yet is the average length of a battle, they were generally fought over the course of day during daylight (Waterloo was fought between 11am and 7:30pm), so if we take an average battle length of 8 hours for a battle day we can split our prospective turns up over this period of time:

Turn RepresentingNumber of Turns for 8 hours
5 Minutes96 Turns
10 Minutes48 Turns
15 Minutes32 Turns
20 Minutes24 Turns
25 Minutes19 Turns
30 Minutes16 Turns
Turn lengths

Judging by the above table a turn length of 5 minutes is not feasible as this would result in far too many turns, while 30 minutes would result in troops moving 30 cm a turn which is too far. I also think for this reason 25 minute turns and 10 minute turns are also discounted. That leaves us with a choice between 10, 15 and 20 minute turns. At this point I’m leaning towards the 10 minute turn, and between 3 and 5 unit “actions/reactions”.

So going back to our earlier movement table, let’s see what their movement would be broken down into 3, 4,and 5 reactions over 1 turn of 10 minutes:

Nation10 min move at 1:53003 Actions4 Actions5 Actions
British10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
French10.93 cm3.64 cm2.73 cm2.19 cm
Prussian10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
Austrian 1805 Regs10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
Austrian 1807 Regs12.94 cm4.31 cm3.24 cm2.59 cm
Russian10.78 cm3.59 cm2.70 cm2.16 cm
Movement broken down into “actions”

This makes things much simpler for us. All the movements are below the Musket range, and in particular 4 and 5 would require 2 actions to move the same distance as musket fire. So an action would then equate to 2.5 minutes or 2 minutes.

This may seem like it makes troop movement difficult, but I would imagine that unless you’re close to an enemy, you could simply say all the battalions in this unit are using all 5 actions to move towards the enemy, and then proceed to move them as one group.

Once within a certain range of the enemy, the enemy could then perform reactions to your actions (but these may be limited to firing or changing formation).

At present I’m happy with going for a 10 minute turn length and 5 actions per unit.

IN SUMMARY

After all this, I believe that we’re set on the following factors of the war game:

Scale1:5300
Base RepresentationBattalion
Base Width40mm
Real Time Equivalent for Single Turn10 Minutes
Actions Per Unit5
Factors decided

We also have a number of attributes we can continue to work on:

AttributeValue
Infantry March Movement over 5 minutes5cm
Musket Range5cm
Morale/Leadership/FatigueTBA
ShootingTBA
Unit “Actions”5
Unit “Reactions”TBA
Unit Attributes

As always, I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to offer any suggestions or criticisms. I will be going more in depth into individual units at a later date once the bare bones of the system is constructed.

Next time around we’ll look at formations and their effect on movement.

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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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Writing a Wargame – Scale

So scale is where I’m choosing to begin this exercise.

I want a scale that will allow me to fit the large battles (such as Borodino or Waterloo) on a reasonable tabletop but also not be to small a scale so as to have too small a unit size.

So I’ve done some maths behind this. My first point of call was taking all the popular gaming scales and just using that as a basis to see if 1:1 miniature gaming is possible.

If we use Leiozig as an example, the battlefield was nearly 12 miles in length (roughly) so I need a scale that gets this near 6 feet.

But I also need to account for my second factor in the scale, which is Battalion size. A British battalion in line formation of two ranks (500 men in each rank), would take up 279.4 metres. This is based on each man taking up 22″ of room in closed formation.

So looking at the most popular scales of wargaming, we have the following:

MINIATURESSCALE
28mm1:64
15mm1:100
10mm1:182
6mm1:300
Miniature Wargame Scales

Thats some big numbers, but when you do the math on a British Line Formation for 1000 men and the equivalent distance for 12 miles you get the following:

MINIATURES12 MILE DISTANCEBRITISH LINE FORMATION
28MM301.69 Metres4.37 Metres
15MM193.08 Metres2.79 Metres
10MM106.09 Metres1.54 Metres
6MM64.36 Metres0.93 Metres
Miniature Wargame Scales

So, we’ve come to our first hurdle. As you can see, with a 6mm scale which is my preferred miniature scale, we can see that there is no chance of 1 model representing 1 man scenario. So what would fit? Below is a number of scales showing the relative size of a British Napoleonic Battalion and the Leipzig Battlefield length.

SCALE12 MILE DISTANCEBRITISH LINE FORMATION
1:100019.31 Metres28.94 Centimetres
1:20009.65 Metres13.97 Centimetres
1:30006.44 Metres9.31 Centimetres
1:40004.83 Metres6.99 Centimetres
1:50003.86 Metres5.59 Centimetres
1:60003.22 Metres4.66 Centimetres
1:70002.76 Metres3.99 Centimetres
1:80002.41 Metres3.49 Centimetres
1:90002.15 Metres3.10 Centimetres
Miniature Wargame Scales

So we come to our first conundrum. We need to make some compromises. At 1:9000 the battlefield is still a little too wide to fit on a 6 foot table (183cm) but is just about manageable, however the base size for a battalion, will only be 30 mm, which is a little on the small side (if you imagine your average 6mm model takes up 5mm in space, then the battalion would be 6 models wide).

Do we rethink the battalion as the smallest size, and instead start looking at brigades? An average brigade would have 2-5 battalions, which would mean a front of between 1-3 battalions in width (depending on their formation this could also vary). So we’re talking at 1:9000 brigade bases of between 3-9cm. But in that case could we make a compromise of 8cm for a brigade of 4 battalions? If so in an attack formation with two brigades at the front and two supporting that would mean each battalion could take up 40mm in space? Are battalion bases still doable? I think so, but it will require further thought.

Any comments and suggestions are always more than welcome.

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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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