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Musings of the Welsh Wizzard

What happens when dilution of the hobby becomes homeopathic

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May 8, 2021

The Impossible Search – Battalion Level Napoleonic Rules

Like many wargamers I do enjoy playing Napoleonic games, I think its something that’s burnt into our collective psyche as most people I know have at one time of the other started collecting a Napoleonic army. some people have even finished collecting an army although most people seem to do a couple of units and then go ‘stuff that’ and move onto another project which doesn’t include painting crossbelts.

for me there are 3 scales of game that I enjoy playing in this period and that’s :-

  1. Skirmish level
  2. Battalion Level
  3. Divisional Level


so what do i mean by these terms, well its simple

  1. Skirmish level – where you have around a company of men with some limited support
  2. Battalion level – where each unit represents a battalion (or regiment) and your units are arranged into Divisions
  3. Divisional level – where each unit is a whole Division and these units are arranged into Corps.


For Skirmish games I use Sharp Practice as its just brilliant and allows for the narrative story telling that I love to see in games, for Divisional level games I use Blucher as it allows for big games to be played easily and doesn’t get bogged down with micro management of battalions

but for Battalions level games I’ve always struggled to find one game that satisfies that itch and trust me I’ve brought lots of rules over the years, here’s just a selection of them

I’ve played most of these and 3 of them are good games but none of them really made me think ‘This is the ruleset for me’ and mainly because I have fairly strict criteria when it comes to games at this scale

  1. it has to be easy to play
  2. it has to allow me to use a single basing style (no rebasing for me)
  3. I want to be able to model different formations in play
  4. it has to be playable in 2 to 3 hours with a couple of Divisions per side
  5. I want army lists that enable me to play in the different campaign in the period
  6. no base removal, a battalion should look like a battalion whilst its on the table
  7. it has to have an interesting turn sequence, not just IGOUGO


The only set of rules that came close to matching all of these was Napoleon at War and I actually started putting together a couple of armies for these rules, but support for the game has stagnated a bit and to be honest some of the rules are a bit odd so they got discarded. Although I love the figures and the fact they fit in with Newline range of 20mm figures is a real bonus for me.

Over the last few years I sort of gave up on finding a set of rules that matched all these criteria and my 2 armies sat gathering dust. that is until I came across these rules by Siegeworks Studios

these really did peak my interest, they have an interesting activation sequence, nice rules for combat and lists for pretty much every nation that took part in the period, I’ve even got the 2 army lists they’ve released so far. the only downside is the rules include base removal, but I worked out a way to get around that by using marker to show the strength of a unit

then a few weeks ago we interviewed Adrian McWalter on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast and his rules seemed to tick all the boxes, so I picked them up as well

I’ve decided that I need to stop messing around and revisit Battalion level Napoleonic’s and see if I can finally find a go-to set of rules for the period surely one of these rules will work? now I just need to get some time and a willing opponent to play some games

oh if anyone can suggest another set of rules let me now


11 Responses “The Impossible Search – Battalion Level Napoleonic Rules”

  1. Avatar February 19, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Write your own?

    • MikeH
      February 19, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      life’s far too short to write me own rules, I prefer to buy them 😉

  2. Avatar
    Tim M
    February 19, 2017 at 10:36 am

    It looks as though Dave Brown’s forthcoming Général d’Armée from Reisswitz Press might fit the bill. See : http://generaldebrigade.fr.yuku.com/topic/6445/General-dArmee-Rules-Walkthrough

    Basing is flexible. No casualty removal. Formations are represented, including a variable skirmish line. The players alternate per phase, but to spice up the IGO-UGO sequence there are the ADCs (=Staff Officers in Pickett’s Charge) and the command roll per brigade to test for Hesitant status, so you can rarely do all you want. For army lists, perhaps draw on the scenario books published for Général de Brigade. How easy it is to pick up and how fast it is to play remains to be seen.

    • MikeH
      February 19, 2017 at 4:58 pm

      I have been keeping an eye on this one and it will be getting brought when it comes out

  3. Avatar
    Dick Bryant
    February 20, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    There is always “Column, Line and Square”. Especially if you like to paint. Brit line Btn/Rgt = 33 figures; French = 36 and Austrian = 60 figures as a sample. They have a site on Yahoo
    Dick Bryant

    • MikeH
      February 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks Dick, I’ll take a look

  4. Avatar February 20, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I think I have the same problem then you have. I have collected a 100 Days allied army (well, 3 brigades in 28mm) but am still searching for the rules. I just now ordered General de brigade.
    Now to find an interested opponent, and time to start painting my French…

    • MikeH
      February 20, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      I have heard good things about Général de Brigade and I’m waiting for Dave Browns new rules to come out later this year to see how they have improved on them

  5. Avatar February 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    I don’t have much to add as Napoleonics isn’t really one of my periods but I find the “x-level” terminology interesting.

    I have played a lot of TAC:WW2 (and indeed Cold War Commander) where an element represents 3 to 5 tanks or infantry squads. An element is therefore a platoon and I guess you’d call the game “platoon level”.

    Personally, though, I’d call Chain of Command a “platoon level game” as it puts the player in the role of platoon commander. I’d probably call TAC:WW2 a “brigade level game”.

    Be interesting to know what the general wargamer consensus is on this.

    • MikeH
      February 23, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      I think if you ask 100 wargamers to define the level of a game you’ll get 150 different answers

      and to be honest my definitions change depending on which way the wind blows

      for this article I wanted to give readers some idea of what I was talking about so I decided to specify what I was thinking

  6. Avatar February 26, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I’m in the same boat as you.have been looking for the perfect set of Napoleonic “battalion Level” rules for a long, long time. Best thing I ever played that fit the bill was Napoleonic Wargaming
    by Charles Grant:
    Played with a guy in Tacoma, WA and really enjoyed the games. Sadly I’ve not seen it played since and is regarded as “Old School”. Would meet most of your criteria except for No. 7, as it was definitely IGOUGO. Since then General de Brigade has the best feel, but the charge sequence makes it seem too complicated for me.
    I’ll be watching to see what you come up with.

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