Tag Archives: Writing Rules

Game Test 1 – Musket Fire and Reactions

For this test scenario we have two brigades on each side.

For the ‘Red’ side:

  • Brigade 1, made up of four battalion totalling 4,000 men.
  • Brigade 2, made up of three battalions with 2,800 men in total.

for the ‘Blue’ side:

  • Brigade 1, made up of four battalions totalling 3,200 men.
  • Brigade 2, made up of four battalions totalling 3,200 men.

We are in the blue players turn, and neither his or his opponents units have yet fired their weapons. All red units are deployed in line formation and all blue units are currently in column formation.

Disposition of forces

The player choose to activate Brigade 1 (Blue B1) and use 5 actions to take them to just inside 4cm (3.3cm away) of the enemy 1st Brigade (Red 1B):

Result of Blue Players Actions for Brigade 1

During the blue players last 3 actions of his movement, the red player chose not to react each time (their only reactions available at this point being withdraw 2cm or change formation).

On his last move, the red player has one final reaction ,in which he can now add fire. However he chooses to hold his fire, hoping to use the +1 to ‘Steady’ modifier for ‘Keep Your Powder Dry” at close range next turn. To do so he has to take a morale test on 2D6 against his morale of 8:

Red Morale Test to Hold Fire

The red player fails, and the nervous men in the Brigade give fire early, with the rest of the line in the Brigade following suit. He has two battalions at the front of his formation in ‘Line Formation’, the Brigade has 4,000 strength, however only the front battalions can fire which is half of the Brigade. Therefore he uses (4,000/2) = 2,000 / 200 = 10 Firing Dice, ‘Steady’ usually requires a roll of 5+, however as this is the first time this brigade has fired he can add +1 to his rolls meaning rolls of 4 or more are successes:

Result of ‘Steady’ roll

He scores 5 successes, completely average. Next he rolls these successes as his ‘Fire!” dice, the enemy is at long range, and he therefore requires 6+ to hit, no modifiers are available at long range:

Result of ‘Fire!’ roll

He manages to make one hit on the enemy formation at long range. The enemy now suffer 1 Damage (50 men) and -1 to their morale:

Result of Red side fire.

As the blue side has now received fire on Brigade 1, that unit will have to pass a morale test to remain where it is. A failure of 1-2 more than 7 would result in a move equivalent to an action backwards, while suffering D3 damage. A failure of more than 2 would see the unit make a disorderly withdrawal while suffering D6 damage:

Blue Morale Test

The Blue player rolls a 9 which is 2 more than their current morale of 7 for Brigade 1, Brigade 1 now withdraws 2cm, while suffering D3 damage:


The Blue player rolls a 3 which on a D3 is equivalent to 2 damage, the Blue player now withdraws his unit 2cm:

Effects of Blue Orderly Withdrawal

Here we can see that the Blue player has now retired his 1st Brigade 2cm, and has accounted for the two damage by reducing his strength by a further 100 men, and his morale by 2 bringing it to 5.

On his next turn he can choose to use 3 actions before moving to restore his morale to 8, and then advance and fire or advance and advance on the Red Brigade.

Or he may decide its a fool errand and withdraw his Brigade and bring another stronger unit in to take the position.


The Blue attack was repelled in this instance and (for fun) during the time of 11:50am and 12:00pm he has lost 150 men.


This is my first play test of one small part of the game but my conclusions are as follows:

  • The Reactions allow a little more realism into the game, instead of waiting for his turn a player can choose to react to anything within 10cm of his unit.
  • Too many dice rolls? The Red player had to roll 2 dice for leadership to hold their fire, then their steady dice followed by the fire dice. Meaning red player rolled a total of 17 Dice for the Action. While the Blue player rolled, 3 dice for his leader ship and damage.
  • Time taken for this one action was well under 30 seconds for the red player, and less than 10 seconds for the blue player.
  • I believe I need to implement a hold test for the unit being approached (in this case Brigade 1), perhaps a morale test each time blue player moves closer?
  • Maybe also try an option where morale is set slightly higher (10?). Depends on how long you want the unit to hold for.


I’ve tested having the units with morale 8, and testing to make an action once inside 10cm, it resulted in 4 turns of moving forward and backwards with very little gain and no firefight. Will do a follow up test on a morale score of 10.

That’s it for now, but feel free to try this out yourself and let me know the results of what you find and how long it takes you. Please also try the morale tests once a unit has an enemy approach it. Let me know what you think!


The battlefield and units were created using www.battlechronicler.com

The 3D dice rolling was from Teal 3D Dice Roller

Battle Chronicler - The best way to make war game battle reports

Writing a Wargame – Musketry II


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


After my last post I had an extremely well made comment on Reddit from user Altair1731 making two points.

The first was that I could easily cut down the number of dice being used during firing by using a ratio of 1 die for every 200 men instead of 100. Agreed, and I’ve now changed this to match.

The second was to combine the ‘Battlefield Stress’ and ‘Misfires’ into one roll of 5+ called a ‘Ready’ roll. This also seems sensible.

The second part of the shooting would be the ‘Fire’ and would be a roll to see whether hits are made at either long or short range.

Now onto our main points of this post, which is to cover the final aspects of Musketry fire.


The following rules may adjust either the ‘Ready’ or ‘Fire’ rolls of a unit. No matter the modifier rolls of 1 will always miss and 6 will always hit.


Probably not a suitable name, but we’ll go with it for now.

Before a battle all the men in a force would prepare beforehand. They would clean their kit and weapons, before marching to the front. This is fairly simple to represent by having each Battalion roll 4+ instead of 5+ on their ready roll the first time they fire their weapons in the battle.


Another fairly simple one to represent veteran/elite experience and training would be to have veterans with a ‘Ready’ roll one pip better than standard troops i.e. 4+ instead of 5+ (note that keeping your powder dry can still apply and would improve this to 3+ the first time a veteran unit fires). They could possibly also have a higher starting morale value. Alternatively they could have one extra firing die. At present I’m leaning towards an improved ‘ready’ roll.

Elite units could have either a higher than standard starting morale value, an extra firing die, an improved ‘Ready’ stat or some kind of combination of the three.

Newly raised etc units may have either 1 firing die less or a ‘Steady’ roll of 6+. Poor morale could also be a factor, or a combination of two of these.


Hitting Skirmishers would be much more difficult than hitting a large body of men, therefore there would be a -1 to hit penalty against Skirmishers. (Note this would not affect long range as a 6 will always hit).


Shooting a body of men that numbers twice your own volume would be an easier target to hit, this could be shown by having a +1 to hit modifier on the ‘Fire’ roll at effective range. Note that I’ve kept this bonus at effective range rather then long range as you would still have to hit a target that is little more than 6′ high.

Likewise, units which are at least half in number to the players own unit would be harder to hit, as those on the flanks would struggle with a large distance between themselves and the enemy unit. This can therefore be a modifier of -1 to the effective range ‘Fire’ roll. Again, no adjustment to the long range due to having the rule of a 6 will always hit at long range.


Due to the packed mass of men, firing on a column or square would be more devastating than a unit in line formation due to enfilading fire. Therefore firing upon these formations would provide a +1 to hit modifier on their ‘Fire’ roll at effective range. Again, no affect at long range due to still having to hit a 6′ target at 300 yards.


A 2,000 strong Prussian brigade of standard infantry in line formation is firing upon a 4,000 strong Austrian brigade in column formation in effective range. This shot is their first of the game so far.

The Prussian have 10 Firing Dice and the following modifiers on their ‘Ready’ roll:

  • +1 for ‘Keeping Your Powder Dry’

They would therefore need 4+ on their ‘Ready’ Dice, resulting in 5 passes and 5 fails.

For the ‘Fire’ roll, the Prussians are rolling 5 Dice (the result of ‘Ready’) with the following modifiers on their effective range to hit (usually 4+):

  • +1 for firing at a unit twice theirs in strength
  • +1 for firing on units that are in column/square formation

The Prussians would therefore need a 2+ to hit on their ‘Fire’ dice for effective range (no further benefits can be applied either, as the Prussians are already at 2+ to hit). The result of this roll would mean an average of 4-5 successes.


With each success accounting for 50 men, the Austrians would lose between 200-250 men and 1 firing dice. The brigade would also need to take 4-5 morale pips of damage, If they had a standard leadership of 8 (This would be determined by the lowest leadership of a battalion in that brigade), they would then need to pass a morale test on a roll of 3 or 4 on 2D6 depending on damage taken.


A failure of 1-2 more than their required roll would result in the unit making an ‘orderly retreat’ towards their own table edge a distance as yet to be determined while taking D3 damage.

A failure of 3 or more compared to what was required would result in a ‘disorderly retreat’ towards their own table edge a distance as yet to be determined while taking D6 damage.

Again, none of this is set in stone and I would love to hear peoples thoughts on these rules, also, if I’ve forgotten any aspect of musketry please let me know. Thanks.

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.


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).


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.


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).


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
Effective Range Hits
Long Range Hits
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
Effective Range Hits
Long Range Hits
Russian Line2,484248731
Austrian Line (Hungarian)5,23252171472
Example of a four battalion brigade of Russian and Hungarian infantry firing in game


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.


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 – Unit Movement

FACTORS ALREADY DECIDED – From previous posts

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.


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:

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
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.


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


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 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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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 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
Troop Movement Card
*Cannot be used within 20 cm of enemy units **1 Action per turn


  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.

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)