Thoughts on the perfect Napoleonic rules
I must thank Peter Hunt for all the credit he gives me in the rule making
process. In all modesty, all I
was trying to do was put in my share of sweat and effort to advance mankind,
to enhance world culture, in short to make the world a better place . . . and
clearly all humankind can only benefit by someone finally devising the
perfect Napoleonic rules!
rules are a tremendous improvement in all aspect on my rough ideas.
In particular he did a thorough job with the charts and adding
various historical details. One
key change, his charts create even more dramatic losses than mine, which
actually given twenty minutes per turn is more realistic.
Another significant improvement is the reduction in the number of
command pips. In my rules there
were too many pips and the commander really did not have to make any serious
decisions until his entire command was out of control or routing.
He has also done a good job of adding more detail to enhance the
historicity of the game, as to the quality of troops, size of formation and
so forth. All in all a definite
step up in the charts. I really
think, Peter, it is time to consider commercial publication! For
only 20% of all royalties I will call off my lawyers.
I would not be doing my part for humanity if, from my (wargaming) semi
retirement here in
, I did not put forward certain comments or
alternatives, of course in the spirit of friendship and cooperation and in
the never ending search for rule perfection.
background to my writing the original rules was that at a certain period of
my life with time heavy on my hand I somehow managed to acquire and or paint
enough figures so that somewhere in boxes in storage in my house there are
about 18 - 20 divisions representing every nation involved in the Nappy
wars, with the exception of the Spanish, Swedes and Danes.
From this came the desire to create a set of rules that would allow
in a normal timed game the use of massive number of toys, where each player
could be a corps commander with two to three divisions under his command,
pushing around as many as 15-20 battalions.
to achieve this one has to avoid much of the detail of battle and operate
from a grand tactical position. Too
many overlays to basic fire and movement and too many details will bog down
the grand attack. The discovery
of the near automatic fire and melee charts was a great breakthrough.
In the average situation no dice, or adjustment to the dice, is
needed to resolve combat. Further
avoidance of dice and calculations results from avoiding morale checks;
instead the “hits” number for each unit is the morale equivalent.
result is a game with almost no dice throws, something almost unimaginable
but clearly possible. “Dice
dependent” is no longer a valid excuse!
Instead much of the game is almost self executing, not requiring
computing or adjusting dice results. The
commander now spends most of his time commanding, manoeuvring, moving up
reserves and back shot up units. Once he commits to combat, the “system”
will produce a result on its own and very quickly. He
no longer needs to worry about that extra dice addition or what luck may
bring. In a sense, the rules start to approach those written with a computer
doing all the calculations, except with these near automatic charts there is
no need to input data. There is
the need to keep a record of losses but if units are clearly marked that is
quick and easy.
force historical play I did borrow the idea from Bruce Meyer of brigade
integrity. I also added rules to
force guns to stay away from the enemy, as with the exception of horse
artillery, mobile artillery did not appear until WW II.
has clearly gone beyond my simple patching and borrowing and has thought the
system out. As such, his rules
hang together very well and need no change.
as is indeed my nature, I propose, with Peter’s kind permission, a
“stripped down” version of A Near Run Thing, for all of you who also want to play
in one day on a one to one level. So
here would be the few changes to Pete’s rules to create “A
Near Run Thing, Turbo Version”.
first strip would be the morale rules. The
number of “hit” points for each unit is meant to represent the morale
level of a unit. Taking hits
does not represent losses of men so much as losses of officers and cadres
and so the reversion of the unit from a disciplined group to a mob, and then
the mob off the field, common sense no longer being held in check by those
nasty sergeants and captains, as they are shot or sabered away. Therefore
I would remove ALL morale checks from the game.
I realize that this could theoretically result in strange situations,
namely Cossack cavalry charging a
infantry, something that never happened in reality.
On the other hand the rules are written in such way that the result
of such a charge is certain, namely that the Cossacks will vanish from the
battle and the Guard will probably not be touched in the least.
So a commander can take historically incorrect action but this should
only result in horrific damage to him.
to morale is the ability of a unit to remain on the field or to attack once
it has taken punishment. I would
add back my rule that a command could not attack after certain percentage
losses and even had to retire out of enemy range with more hits.
NOTE, this only applies to commands, not the units. Therefore, a
badly hit unit but in a command with few losses, could still attack with the
rest of the command. Of course,
the commander is taking a chance to have the unit go forward, it probably
should be left behind, as would have happened historically.
has substituted the need to use more command dice for damaged troops, which
also works but now allows actions that were not doctrine or historical, the
ability to attack with badly damaged troops. The
complete inability to move forward or to withdraw would reflect the concerns
of the brigade and division commanders, who did not want to see their
command wiped out, but around to fight another day. Yes, there certainly
were heroic actions were commands did fight to the last, but such was not
typical and was usually on the defensive anyway, not in attack.
next point is the speed with which guns can move.
In my rules I require multiple turns for field artillery to move,
even requiring heavy batteries to take three turns to limber or unlimber the
guns. This does not reflect the
actual time involved historically but the imposition of historical doctrine
to prevent players from turning their guns into self propelled artillery.
Historically guns were highly priced and prized and so, very highly
protected. They were never
allowed to be put into position of capture and only went forward after the
ground was secured by infantry. It
was for this reason that horse artillery was developed.
An alternative would be that foot guns can never advance within
canister range, theirs or the enemies. .Either way, foot guns need to be
nearly immobile or suddenly one is in the mid twentieth century.
but not least, infantry skirmishers should be able to withdraw from any
formed infantry without becoming disordered. Light
infantry needed to be highly trained to skirmish in the first place and if
so was most capable of staying at the right nasty sniping range from formed
units. As for cavalry, such
should be able to withdraw without disorder from any infantry or guns, even
horse guns, from both fire and charge given, their greater mobility.
L’Empereur!! A l’attack!
Feb. 1, 2002
to napoleonic wars