Tag Archives: Tabletop Wargaming

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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