Tag Archives: Napoleonic Wargame

Terrain

The focus of this article will be terrain that will also provide added benefits/problems to those units who are inside or passing through them.

I will break this down into the different terrain types starting with rough.

ROUGH

Gentle Hill

  • A gentle hill will inhibit the movement of troops up or down it as shown by the usual terrain movement for rough terrain.
  • Hills of any kind allow a unit shooting from a hill to fire over the heads of any friendly units.
  • Units can fire over the heads of units at enemy units on a hill providing there is at least a distance of 2 cm from the unit they are firing over.
  • Artillery units on a hill can extend their range by 4 cm to represent the additional distance artillery would fire.

Villages/Towns

  • A unit that has its entire base within the footprint of a village/town is considered to be ‘Garrisoned’. Cavalry cannot be garrisoned.
  • Garrisoned units have a cover save to any damage received as the result of shooting attacks on a roll of 3+, this is taken once damage has been determined.
  • Garrisoned units receive a morale bonus of 2 in addition to their normal morale.
  • When a Garrisoned unit is defending in melee, the Garrisoned unit will have one additional combat die.

DIFFICULT TERRAIN

Woods/Forest

  • Units that has their base wholly within a wood or forest will receive a cover save of 5+ from shooting attacks.

These are the foundation rules and may be changed or tweaked in the future, but should allow players to play test with the current ruleset.

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Movement Part II

This is a very quick post to explain how I would expect various aspects of unit movement and facings to work inside the game as well as a units Zone of Control (ZC) in more detail.

WHEELING

Red Unit Brigade 4, wishes to use its movement and rotate so that it faces due east.

The Brigade in the above unit is going to use a number of move actions in order for it to wheel towards the east.

Brigade 4, now facing to the east

To do so, the front left hand side of the unit is essentially pinned in place so that when the unit wheels that point on the unit always remains in the same place.

The units movements

The right hand edge of the unit has had to move 6 cm to make this wheel happen, therefore the unit would have used 3 actions to make this wheel.

UNIT FIRING ARCS

Continuing with our example above the Brigade can now fire at any target within range inside its front 45 degree arc:

Firing Arc

ZONE OF CONTROL

All units in the game have a Zone of Control (ZC) which extends from the units front arc for a distance of 10 cm.

Enemy units within this ZC have to react to this unit or the closest enemy unit. i.e. they must either move directly towards or directly away from the unit that is facing them. This is to represent a unit being unwilling to show its flank to the enemy and therefore moving in such a way so as to reduce this risk.

The Zone of Control shown for Red Force B4

In the above example we can see that the Zone of Control of the Red unit extends outwards at a 45 degree angle from its front base edge and includes the Blue unit Brigade 1. Blue Brigade 1 will have to finish all movements facing towards the red unit and it can only move directly towards or directly away from the Red unit.

In this example, the red unit will also be in the blue units zone of control and so will also have to act in the same manner.

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Capturing Enemy Colours

Regimental colours are the focus of pride in any regiment, they often carry the regiment’s battle honours, and in the days when the flag was carried into battle it acted as a rallying point and a statement of where the command post was, something which could be seen above the mess of battle. Losing a flag was a mark of dishonour to a regiment, capturing one was a point of pride and usually an indicator that the losing regiment had been soundly beaten.

Therefore if we’re going to replicate a true Napoleonic battle we need to have a simple mechanic that can replicate this action. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to have bragging rights over your opponent?

THE RULE

I believe the simplest solution to this would be to have a further additional roll once a melee has concluded. This would simply be a single dice roll for the victor where on a 6 the victor has claimed the enemies colours.

This particular rule will be entirely up to the players whether they use it or not, as its only purpose is to add to the flavour of the battle.

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Faction Focus: Spanish

Now I’ve laid the foundations for the core mechanics (which will need further revision in the future) I can start laying down foundations for the different factions involved in the Napoleonic Wars and start looking at how to give them some personality on the table top.

The reason I’m starting with the Spanish is due to the fact that there were more battles between the Spanish and the French than the British and the French, as well as the Guerrilla warfare being a huge reason why Napoleon lost the Peninsular War (in my opinion).

HISTORY

Let’s start by looking at how Spain’s involvement in the wars evolved over the years.

1793-1795 War of the First Coalition

After the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, 20,000 men were mobilized and marched to the French border. The army, however, had been allowed to languish in Charles III’s reign, and it was ill-equipped and ill-trained to cope with a French invasion. Navarre was quickly seized by the French, although the Spanish managed to hold their ground in Catalonia and even invaded French Languedoc. Godoy, unimpressed with Spain’s military effectiveness, decided to come to terms with the new French Republic, and in 1795 signed the Treaty of Basel, guaranteeing peace with France with the cession of Santo Domingo to the Republic.

1796 Alliance with France

The Spanish, after initially opposing the French, signed the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1796, allying Spain to France, in exchange for French support for Charles IV’s relations ruling the Italian duchy of Parma.

1796-1808 The Anglo-Spanish War

In response, the British blockaded Spain in 1797 and separated her colonial empire from the mother country. By the end of 1798, the Spanish fleet had been defeated by the British, and Menorca and Trinidad were occupied. In 1800, the Spanish returned Louisiana to France, which had been given to them in compensation for their losses at the end of the Seven Years’ War.

The Treaty of Amiens in 1802 provided for a temporary truce in hostilities, only to be broken in 1804 when the British captured a Spanish treasure fleet off Cádiz. The French planned an invasion of England in the coming year; the Spanish fleet was to be an integral part in assisting this invasion. At the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the Spanish navy and the French Mediterranean fleet, attempting to join forces with the French fleets in the north for the invasion, were attacked by Admiral Lord Nelson at the head of a British fleet in one of history’s greatest naval engagements. The disastrous defeat that the Spanish and French suffered assured British dominance at sea and seriously shook the resolve of the Spanish who began to doubt the usefulness of their always mutually suspicious alliance with Napoleon’s regime.

1807-1808 French Occupation of Spain and the Uprising of the Spanish People

Map of Spain 1808

After Trafalgar, Godoy withdrew from the Continental System that Napoleon had devised to combat Britain, only to join it again in 1807 after Napoleon had defeated the Prussians. Napoleon, however, had lost his faith in Godoy and King Charles; there was also growing support in Spain for the king’s son, Ferdinand, who opposed the popularly despised Godoy. Ferdinand, however, favored an alliance with Britain, and Napoleon, always suspicious of the Bourbons, doubted the trustworthiness of any Spanish royalty.

In 1808, Spain and France agreed to the partition of Portugal, which had renewed its support of the British after Trafalgar. The French and Spanish quickly occupied the country. Prince Ferdinand traveled to France, and rumors spread that he was asking for Napoleon to oust Godoy from power; the Spanish King sided with his favorite. Riots broke out in various parts of Spain, and in the Tumult of Aranjuez, Godoy was arrested and Charles IV forced by his son and heir Ferdinand to abdicate in Ferdinand’s favor. Napoleon, however, had lost confidence in the Spanish monarchy and when Ferdinand traveled to France to obtain the French emperor’s support, Napoleon pressured Ferdinand to abdicate in favor of his father Charles IV, who had abdicated under pressure. Charles IV himself abdicated in favor of Napoleon, since he did not wish his detested son to return to the throne. Napoleon then placed his older brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne. As a way to legitimize the transfer of power, Napoleon summoned a group of Spanish aristocrats to Bayonne, where they signed and ratified the Bayonne Constitution on 6 July 1808, Spain’s first written constitution. The Spanish chose to resist.

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The Spanish people rallied around the cause of Prince Ferdinand, who, even as a prisoner in France, was made into a national hero in what became a “war of independence” for Spain. Godoy, Charles IV, and his wife retired first to France, then to Italy, and left Spanish politics permanently.

The installation of Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain sparked a revolution in Spain. On the 3 May 1808, a revolt in Madrid was bloodily suppressed by the French army, which now found itself attempting the occupation of both Portugal and Spain. The incident and the perceived brutality of the French response created a rallying point for Spanish revolutionaries; the executions were captured famously by the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The Spanish army, on the whole, pronounced itself in favour of Ferdinand and joined the British and Portuguese in a united front against the French.

1808-1814 The Spanish War of Independence

Spanish Guerrillas

The war began in Spain with the Dos de Mayo Uprising on 2 May 1808 and ended on 17 April 1814 with the restoration of Ferdinand VII to the monarchy. The French occupation destroyed the Spanish administration, which fragmented into quarrelling provincial juntas. The episode remains as the bloodiest event in Spain’s modern history, doubling in relative terms the Spanish Civil War.

A reconstituted national government, the Cortes of Cádiz—in effect a government-in-exile—fortified itself in the secure port of Cádiz in 1810, but could not raise effective armies because it was besieged by 70,000 French troops. British and Portuguese forces eventually secured Portugal, using it as a safe position from which to launch campaigns against the French army and provide whatever supplies they could get to the Spanish, while the Spanish armies and guerrillas tied down vast numbers of Napoleon’s troops. These combined regular and irregular allied forces, by restricting French control of territory, prevented Napoleon’s marshals from subduing the rebellious Spanish provinces, and the war continued through years of stalemate.

The years of fighting in Spain were a heavy burden on France’s Grande Armée. While the French were victorious in battle, they were eventually defeated, as their communications and supplies were severely tested and their units were frequently isolated, harassed or overwhelmed by partisans fighting an intense guerrilla war of raids and ambushes. The Spanish armies were repeatedly beaten and driven to the peripheries, but they would regroup and relentlessly hound and demoralize the French troops. This drain on French resources led Napoleon, who had unwittingly provoked a total war, to call the conflict the “Spanish Ulcer”.

AS A FACTION IN CLAUSEWITZ

There are essentially two periods (maybe three at a push) which we will have to model on the table top. The first being the Spanish Army between 1793 and 1807, followed by another for the Spanish War of Independence between 1808 and 1814.

The main factor that sets these two periods apart are the Guerrilla fighters that were so effective in Spain from 1808 onward.

In 1808 the Spanish Army consisted of the following troops:

Infantry

  • 2 Foot Guard Regiments, each three battalions of 1,000 men
  • 35 Line Infantry Regiments, each three battalions of 700 men
  • 10 Foreign Line Infantry Regiments (1 Neapolitan, 3 Irish, 6 Swiss)
  • 12 Light Infantry Battalions, each six ccompanies of 200 men
  • 43 Militia Battalions, each of 600 men
  • 4 Provincial Grenadier Regiments, each two battalions of 800 men

Cavalry

  • 2 Horse Guards Regiments, each five squadrons of 120 men
  • 12 Heavy Cavalry Regiments, each five squadrons
  • 6 Light Dragoon Regiments, each five squadrons
  • 6 Hussar Regiments, each five squadrons

Artillery

  • 6 Horse Batteries
  • 13 Foot Batteries
  • 21 Fortress Batteries
  • 1,000 Sappers and Engineers

These troops were organised into seven armies and one reserve. In August 1808 the armies were as follows:

  • Army of the Centre – General Castanos (45,000 in 69 Battalions and 60 Squadrons)
  • Army of Galicia – General Blake (37,000 men in 79 Battalions and 4 Squadrons, 38 guns)
  • Army of Aragon – General Palafox (23,500 men in 32 Battalions and 5 Squadrons, 5 guns)
  • Army of Estremadura – General Belvedere (12,500 men in 14 Battalions and 7 Squadrons, 24 guns)
  • Army of Granada – General Reding (11,500 men in 12 Battalions and 4 Squadrons, 6 guns)
  • Army of Somosierra – General San Juan (11,500 men in 20 Battalions and 6 Squadrons, 22 guns)
  • Reserves – 51,000 men

The quality of Spanish troops varied, from very poor to good. The militia was generally of poor quality, but some regulars were fine troops. For example on 29 October “The First Regiment of Catalonia … received the attack with the greatest coolness and kept up a very regular fire by platoons, maintaining their position against an enemy nearly 5 times their number … The most veteran troops could not possibly have displayed more soldeirlike firmness or more sangfroid in action …” (- W.Parker Carroll to Castlereagh, November 1808)

The Spaniards rarely surrendered a city without a siege, and usually fought fiercely even after the city walls were breached.

The siege of Saragossa was very bloody and became known in whole Europe. The number of deaths in the interior of the city during the siege, including those who were killed by the enemy, has been estimated at upwards of 40,000 human beings.

The French mines reduced many buildings to ruins. The Spaniards saturated the timbers of many houses with rosin and pitch, and set fire to those which could no longer be maintained, interposed a burning barrier, which often delayed the French and Poles and prevented them from pushing their successes during the confusion that necessarily followed the bursting of the mines.

The constant bombardment, the explosion of mines, the crash of falling buildings, clamorous shouts, and the continued echo of musketry deafened the ear, while volumes of smoke and dust clouded the air.

THEIR RULES

  • Firstly Spain is going to be the only faction in the game that will have the use of Guerrilla units. Any Spanish army that contains Guerrilla units will mean the enemy have to remove one deployment marker before the scouting phase.
  • As well as Light Infantry and Light Cavalry, Guerrilla units can also count to the number of deployment markers in a Spanish force.
  • Guerrilla units are the only unit in the game that can move across impassable terrain, they do this at the movement rate of infantry units moving through difficult terrain.
  • Spanish Generals had a reputation as poor leaders, to this effect when an order is received by a unit, that unit must make a morale roll. If the roll is more than their morale then their objective must be chosen at random using a D6. (I may make this a rule for all armies yet however, with a modifier for Spanish troops)

POSSIBLE FURTHER RULES

  • Foot Guard Regiments to have a ‘Steady’ roll of 4+ rather than 5+
  • Militia Battalions to start at a morale base of 5 (classed as recruit).

SOURCES

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Work on the Rule Book

I’ve started work on a very early draft of the rule book which I can update as I add, remove or adjust rules.

Rule Book

It’s still in its infancy at the moment, but I’m already very pleased with its look at least. I’m hoping to have this available as a download by the end of September for people to use and give feedback on.

This will be in PDF format and therefore you’ll be unable to edit this in any way (unless you have a PDF editor), but if you spot mistakes when you’re reading it for the first time please let me know.

Thanks

Peter

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Scouting Phase

Yes, I’ve renamed the deployment phase as the scouting phase.

I’ve posted one last test of it on YouTube and I’m more than happy to say that the first part of deployment using markers is finished now.

Scouting Phase
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Recruit, Trained & Elite Troops

Now that many of the core principles and mechanics are down for the game and the first play tests start getting carried out (thanks to those of you who have agreed!), I can start focusing on some more detailed information.

In particular how we can differentiate between our different troop types. There are a number of methods we can use:

  • Increase or decrease the morale/Battle Fatigue starting value of the unit (i.e. a Brigade of Old Guard may start with a base of 10 rather than 7, while a unit of conscripts may start with a value of 5).
  • Increase or decrease the units “Steady” stat. For example, the 95th Rifles may have a “Steady” roll of 4+ rather than 5+ to show how confident they are in firing their weapons.
  • Introduce Nation rules/unit rules on top of the above, such as British troops having plus one firing dice to their amount, or Spanish Guerilla’s being able to move through impassable terrain.
  • Perhaps a particular named General may react quicker to situations on the battlefield, so every ten turns they may get an additional 10 CdO points.

You get the idea.

First point of call though is we shall differentiate between Recruited, Trained and Experienced (rather than Elite) troops.

The simplest and easiest way to differentiate here is via either the Morale/Battle Fatigue roll or the “Steady” roll. I want to avoid altering the “Steady” roll as much as possible at the moment as I’d like to reserve that for troops such as the Rifles or Old Guard etc. So initially let’s go with a modifier to their Morale/Battle Fatigue.

We’ve seen through the play testing that morale 7 + number of battalions appears to be a good starting point for units, but let’s break the morale roll down a little so we understand the statistics behind it.

Dice RollChance of rolling exact number on 2D6Chance or number or less on 2D6
22.78%2.78%
35.56%8.33%
48.33%16.67%
511.11%27.78%
613.89%41.67%
716.67%58.33%
813.89%72.22%
911.11%83.33%
108.33%91.67%
115.56%97.22%
122.78%100.00%
2D6 Die Roll Statistics

Our current morale is set to 7 +battalions (with an average of 3-4 battalions), which gives a total morale of 10 or 11, which when referred to the sheet about means a 91.67% or 97.22% success rate respectively.

This may be a little high for both Recruit and Trained troops, I think a trained Brigade should begin at Base 6 +Battalions, giving an average of 9 or 10 with 83.33% or 91.67% respectively.

Recruit should perhaps begin a spot lower than trained at 5 +Battalions, which when taking into account the 3 or 4 average size would bring us to a success rate of 72.22% or 83.33% respectively.

This feels a little more realistic at present and I’ll pencil these into the rules for now. Also remember that to boost the morale a little further the units can form into Column to give +1 morale/battle fatigue for each unit in Column Formation.

SUMMARY

  • Brigades where the lowest battalion status is ‘Recruit’ begin at 5 Morale/Battle Fatigue plus the number of Battalions.
  • Brigades where the lowest battalion status is ‘Trained’ begin at 6 Morale/Battle Fatigue plus the number of Battalions.
  • Brigades where the lowest battalion status is ‘Experienced’ begin at 7 Morale/Battle Fatigue plus the number of Battalions.

Fatigue

One important element we haven’t covered is fatigue. I’ve initially been tying this to morale in my mind as after an attack has been carried out a unit may have suffered 3 or 4 morale damage and would be pretty useless on following up with another attack on a second position or a renewed attack on a previous position it failed to gain. I imagine in my mind the unit resting for a few turns regathering its strength ready to make another push on a second position or getting ready to defend their current one. This can be shown by a unit choosing to use 5 actions to restore one morale.

I therefore need to think about renaming the Morale as something that combine Morale and Fatigue, this may just mean naming it fatigue.

If like me you look up “fatigue in the napoleonic wars” the first hit you’ll get is to a question posted on Quora titled “How was battle fatigue treated in the Napoleonic Wars?

The answers then go on to talk about a lot of morale issues rather than an actual tiredness issue. So perhaps a better term for these rolls would be as a “Fatigue” roll rather than “Morale” roll?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Do I need a mechanic inside the game separately for tiredness, or should i combine this with the current Morale roll and rename to Fatigue or “Battle Fatigue”?

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Revisions to Coup d’Oeil and Game Principles

COUP D’OEIL / AWARENESS POINTS

After being inundated with comments regarding my Coup d’Oeil post it has become obvious that the system may be flawed in its current format. Therefore I’m going to make a few changes to CdO.

Firstly, I’ll be changing the name from Coup D’Oeil to a more friendly sounding ‘Awareness Points’. This should make it easier for myself to pronounce.

Secondly it’s become apparent that the amount of command points generated from on field activities is far too heavy and could cause one player to run away with the game. Therefore I’m making a number of revisions to this.

OBJECTIVES & AWARENESS POINTS

Firstly awareness points generated from objectives will be changed so that a player may only receive awareness points from holding ‘Primary’ objectives and not secondary objectives. The amount garnered from these objectives will be lessened to 1 per turn instead of the previous 2.

REVEALING UNITS & AWARENESS POINTS

I’m also going to remove Awareness Points being awarded for revealing units.

NUMBER OF TURNS

We currently have 50 turns which is in my opinion too many. They are based on 10 minute periods of historical battle time covering 8 hours of battle.

What I’m proposing to do here to make the game slightly smoother and not as long, is to reduce the number of turns to 30, so instead of 8 hour historical battle lengths we have 5.

That being said, if players want to re-fight historical battles then there is nothing stopping them deciding for themselves to increase the number of turns needed to replicate the battles length.

STRENGTH

It’s becoming apparent that the strength indicators are far too large and require too much in the way of tracking.

This is where my true problems lie.

My original aim with strength was to have a record of the damage inflicted to a Brigade during the course of a battle to show at the end the number of casualties received so that they can be compared to the historical battle (if re-enacting one).

So they’re far too large to keep track of, but any smaller and they’ll have little relevance to the number of men inside a Brigade.

However if we keep the ratio of strength to fire dice as 2:1, as we decrease the strength so the fire dice will decrease. So where previously a unit with 600 men converted to Strength 6 and 3 dice using our ratio of 100 men for every strength point, if we use a ratio of 200 men for every strength point that would convert into 3 strength and 2 firing dice.

With using 200 men for a strength point this would mean that strength can be represented by one die on every units base.

So previously where a 5,000 man brigade was 50 strength it would now be only 25 strength represented by a 5 on each base. Some example bases that I’ve created which have Pendraken 5mm dice holders on are shown below:

A Brigade of British Infantry (6mm Baccus)

UNITS NOT YET ACTIVATED

Any units not yet activated by orders, but approached and attacked by the enemy are still able to make reactions in response to enemy movements.

AWARENESS POINTS GENERATED BY COMMANDERS

Commanders will now generate enough Awareness Points during the course of the game to be able to activate an average to large size force for that game level.

The easiest way would be to assume that a Commander will need to spend Awareness Points equivalent to the number of Battalions in the Brigade to ‘activate’ it.

Divisional Level Game (2-5 Brigades)

If a Brigade consisted of 5 Battalions, it would need 5 AP to activate. Therefore if there are a full 5 brigades in a game at this level, the General will need to raise 25 Awareness Points during the course of the game. He will therefore generate 1 AP per turn.

He will also need to start with enough to activate one Brigade, so a Divisional Commander will begin the game with 5 AP.

GeneralStarting AP*AP Generated per Turn
Divisional (Small Game)51
Commander *Awareness Points (AP) Values

Corp Level Game (up to 25 Brigades)

As a Corp could consist of up to 5 Divisions each with 5 Brigades, this could mean anything up to 25 units on the table. As there are possibly 25 units all with 5 Battalions this means a Corp Commander will need to raise 125 AP during the course of the game, this divided by 30 is 4.167. Lets round this to 5 points per turn. They also need to start with possibly two orders to issue at the start of the game meaning a starting AP of 10.

GeneralStarting APAP Generated per Turn
Divisional (Small Game)51
Corp (Medium Game)105
Commander AP Values

Army Level Game (up to 50 Brigades)

Our final level is the Army level Game of 2 or more Corps on either side, basing this on an army of 2 Corp would mean an AP twice that of the Corp level game would be required. Therefore a general will need to raise 250 AP during the game. Again, divided by 30 this is 8.33 per turn (but let’s make this easier and round it to 10 points).

They will also need to be able to activate units at the start, and we’ll start by giving this as twice that of the Corp level, resulting in a starting AP of 20.

GeneralStarting APAP Generated per Turn
Divisional (Small Game)51
Corp (Medium Game)105
Army (Large Game)2010
Commander AP Values

Even Larger Games

For even larger games with more then 2 Corps, for each Corp beyond 2 simply add an additional 10 starting AP as well as an additional 5 AP generated per turn.

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Adjustment to Musketry

Following a comment that shooting had been based on stats provided outisde of battlefield conditions:

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

I’ve agreed that the current hit rolls need to be changed for effective range. Therefore rather than hitting on 4+, musket equipped units will hit on 5+.

For now I’m going to keep rifles as hitting at 4+ at effective range to differentiate them slightly from muskets and to show their improved accuracy.

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