Thursday, 3 January 2019

Army Level Napoleonic Considerations

Another map of Waterloo showing the topography in a little more detail. Note the areas of higher ground missing from the previous map.

As part of the preparation process in respect of my Corps level horse and musket rules I am currently revisiting some old friends in respect of the books in my Napoleonic library. Needless to say 1815 features quite prominently although there are other titles on the wars against Napoleon present. What I am looking at are orders of battle for the three combatants.

I am planning on three types of game which will use broadly similar gaming mechanics with each tailored to suit the command level of the action being fought. The levels of command can best be shown as follows:

Level of Commander    Main unit of Command    Sub unit of Command

Army                              Corps                                   Division
Corps                              Division                              Brigade
Division                          Brigade                               Battalion

Using the above structure as a guide my plan at this stage is to use a single half block to represent each sub unit. This means that a Army level Main unit is a Corps which is turn made up of Divisions acting at Sub units and consist of a half block for each division and any accompanying cavalry, artillery and other assets. The end result is a formation of around half a dozen or so blocks depending on the organisation being represented.

Moving down a step and the Corps level game then the Division is the Main unit and is made up of a number of Brigades, again with each being represented by a single half block. As Divisions varied in composition in respect of the number of constituent Brigades these could also be anything from two half blocks upwards in size.

Finally at the lowest end of the scale we have the Divisional level game where the Main units are Brigades with the Sub units being individual Battalions.

From the outset you can see that there is a degree of similarity in the composition of the units at each level of action being fought. A Corps in the Army level game may have three divisions of infantry (represented by 3 half blocks), some cavalry and artillery (represented by a half block each) meaning the entire formation may consist of around 5 half blocks. A Division in the Corps level game may have 3 Brigades of infantry (again each of a half block) as well as some supporting cavalry and artillery (represented by a half block each). Finally a Brigade in the Divisional level game could typically feature three or four Battalions each of a single half block with supporting cavalry and artillery again represented by single half blocks if required.

Taking all that into consideration it would be beyond the realm of possibility to have a Main unit from each level of game that is the same size on the tabletop e.g. a Corps of 4 Divisions, a Division of 4 Brigades or a Brigade of 4 Battalions (admittedly this would be rather on the large side!). The use of a unit roster for recording combat losses and also 'what goes where and with whom' is essential given the variable scale of engagement I am considering. With these rules your printer will be your friend!

A print of the battle by William Heath. Coincidentally the pseudonym he used in the 1820s - Paul Pry, after a snooping theatrical character - is the name of a public house in my home town of Rayleigh. I was struck by the similarity of style with the later works by Kurz and Allison depicting the ACW and providing the inspiration for my Spencer Smith project.

Thoughts on Scales

This is very simple in that the only scale I am going to be consistent with is that a single half block will equal one unit/formation. The ground scale is fluid and so will expand and contract as required by the command level of the game being fought as will the associated battlefield topography.

Thoughts on Combat

This will be D6 based and the only constant is that a single D6 will be used for combat by each individual half block regardless of type. There will be no modifiers to consider as such as combat results will be dependent on the effects table being used which will take into consideration such things as terrain, range, attacker/defender situational advantage/disadvantage, troop quality - you know, all the usual stuff.

Plenty to be getting on with then.


Lee Hadley said...

That is a lovely map. And very useful too. Have you seen the Waterloo Map at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham? It was Wellingtons campaign map of the battlefield and still has the Dukes pencil marks on it.

David Crook said...

Hi Lee,

I have not seen map in Chatham but now you mention it I will need to do so at some point. As I recall the museum is quite near HMS Gannet and Cavalier so it would make, in the words of Wallace and Gromit, 'a grand day out!'

All the best,