"But Sire, you cannot possibly read all those rules before your game tomorrow morning."
Back to Basics: The Rules
Update: The focus of this discussion (like this blog) is on currently available tactical rules using 28mm miniatures. Battles would mainly involve about a Division on each side, although a Corps/Wing level commander could be present on the tabletop in larger games.
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This post is the first in a series that are targeted at someone visiting or directed to this site who is thinking about entering the Napoleonic miniatures wargaming hobby. These posts are then placed on the "Basic Training" page (found above under the site banner) for future reference.
Below is a quick rundown/intro of some of the rules currently available (i.e. In print and available to purchase) Not a complete list, but all the rules mentioned can be used for the tactical Division/Corps level of command that we are planning for our games.
VETERAN GAMERS!! Where you come in is in the comment section below. Please leave a comment about the set of rules you prefer and some reasons why. Please keep your remarks limited to POSITIVE things about your rules of choice. Do not leave negative comments about or run down other rules systems. Thank you.
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I give special mention to the first three on the list: Black Powder, General de Brigade, and Republic to Empire. Mainly because these are the rule sets that are commonly used by the Napoleonic wargamers/bloggers that have been the most influential and inspirational to me. Regardless of whatever set of rules you end up using, there are always useful bits/ideas from other sets that you can incorporate into your games.
This is the set of rules we will be using. It's easy to learn and quick to play (2 to 4 hours). It handles larger multiplayer games very well. While playability is its main strength, the lack of more detailed period rules/flavor can be addressed by using various special rules to tweak the scenario and units involved. There are two Napoleonic specific supplements available, with a third soon on its way. Player support can be found HERE.
One other bonus is that BP establishes a common set of rules for any horse and musket periods we may play in the future: American Civil War, Seven Years War, Franco-Prussian War, American War of Independence.
General de Brigade
Definitely a more detailed set of rules that represents the period very well on the table top. The 1 to 20 figure ratio makes for a lot of miniatures to paint for each battalion (Our 24 fig battalions could always scale up to 36+ by adding more bases) This is a set of rules I'd like to play every once in awhile in the future once we get things going. Player support can be found HERE and HERE.
Republic to Empire
Unfortunately I don't know too much about RtE as I don't own a copy yet. At a glance, it seems like they are another detailed set of rules like GdB, but remain flexible in their basing requirements like BP. Player support can be found HERE.
Some other rule sets to consider:
Age of Eagles
"Age of Eagles is the... only officially sanctioned Napoleonic variant of Richard Hasenauer's popular Fire & Fury American Civil War rules. This is truly the miniatures game you and many others have been waiting for. Huge battles are now possible with a system that balances both realism and playability."
"...a new and exciting set of rules for large scale Napoleonic wargaming."
"The game is small-scale and tactical in nature, focusing on the movement of individual battalions and regiments of cavalry. The player will manage a small force of roughly a dozen units as he tries to complete some specific mission assigned to him... Lasalle is ideal for a small gaming table, and it plays in real-time with most battles lasting 2-3 hours. It is perfect for pick-up games or tournament play."
"March Attack are a set of Napoleonic Wargame rules that were created to allow players to field approximately a Corps a side and to be able to complete a game of that size within a few hours."
Rank & File
"Rank and File are a set of horse and musket rules that cover the period from 1740 through to 1900. The basic game mechanics are designed to be simple and easy to learn with the aim of being able to play large games within a reasonable time frame. While the game itself is easy to pick up there are extensive optional and advanced rules as well as period specific rules that allow the game to cater for all tastes as well as being flexible enough to cope with lots of game sizes, scales, figure availability and numbers of players."
Although this rulebook from the now defunct Warhammer Historical is out of print, I wanted to include this exceptional tome. Like other Games Workshop large format rulebooks, it is very comprehensive. Aside from the rules and army lists themselves, it includes a full Napoleonic timeline and history section, inspirational artwork and photos of battlefields, terrain tables, and painted miniatures (mostly taken from the Perry Brother's personal collection), as well as a introduction to the hobby and "how to" modeling and painting section.
This makes it an excellent book to introduce players to Napoleonics. Well worth the effort to get a copy regardless of your experience level. I am lucky to have mine. You can find author Mark Latham's blog HERE as well as new army lists for the Austrians and Russians.
Note: Special thanks to www.deepfriedhappymice.com for writing all the nice rules overviews.
Up next is the Battle of Katzbach and Dresden and another "basics" post on miniatures manufacturers.