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:

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:

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.

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.


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)