TITLE: Napoleon: Napoleonic Rules and Campaigns for Gaming With Painted Miniatures
AUTHOR: Matthew Fletcher
PUBLISHER: Wargames Foundry
PUBLICATION DATE: 2009
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $50.00 (in 2010)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The Napoleonic Wars
Napoleon is a typically lavish and extensive Wargames Foundry publication. Bound in hardcover, the oversized book runs a hefty 232 pages. The rules themselves occupy the first 90 pages of the book. The remainder contain extensive Army Lists, campaign guides, painting tutorials, and several appendices. The book contains no index but the table of contents are quite detailed.
SCOPE: Napoleon is a grand-tactical rule set for Napoleonic warfare.
ARMY SIZE: A “unit” in Napoleon is represented by 24 figures mounted in six groups of four figures. A “division” is made up of 3-5 units, and an army typically consists of at least two divisions, plus some cavalry and artillery. Thus a small army would require approximately 200 foot, 12-20 mounted and a few cannon.
BASE UNIT: Napoleon treats units somewhat abstractly. Instead of a unit representing a specific historical formation, units are a bit abstract. Napoleon recognizes Units and Divisions. A Division is made up of three or four units, possibly with attached cavalry or artillery. A Division may then be thought to represent a historical brigade, division or corps, depending on the size of game or battle you are playing.
- Ground Scale: Not stated
- Time Scale: Not stated
- Figure/Base Ratio 1 figure = 30 to 40 men, one gun model represents
- Recommended Figure Size: 25 mm (This is the scale of figure manufactured by the publisher, Wargames Foundry).
- Table Size: A table 6 to 8 feet long and between 4 and 5 feet deep.
- Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening
Napoleon requires the following base sizes:
- Infantry: 40 mm x 40 mm
- Cavalry: 40 mm x 50 mm
- Artillery: 50 mm x 80 mm
- Officers: None given. Measurements are from the model not the base, so base size is unimportant.
- Determine Initiative. Each player rolls a die, high roll wins. Re-roll all ties.
- Place Command Cards: every unit within engagement distance of the enemy requires a command card.
- Artillery Fire
- Reveal Command Cards: Players alternately reveal command cards and see if the order indicated was successfully received.
- Movement: Players alternate moving divisions one at a time.
- Skirmisher Fire
- Volley Fire
- Close Combat Resolution
- Morale Checks
- Determining the Winner
The Orders System: Orders are issued to units which are within engagement range of the enemy (engagement range is typically within reach of an enemy unit’s charge movement allowance). Each such unit must be given one of the following orders:
- Retreat and Fire
- Stand and Fire
- Advance and Fire
- Form Line
- Form Square
- Form Column
Each leader in the game has a command rating from 1 to 10 (higher is better). For an order to be successfully acted upon, the unit must roll a number of dice whose sum is lower than the commander’s rating. Units typically roll two dice, while those outside command range (8” for infantry, 16” for cavalry) roll three dice. Units that fail do nothing, remaining stationary for the turn. The rules clearly state artillery units must be given command cards as well, but does not explain if their command radius is 8” or 16” or another value entirely.
Artillery Fire: Artillery in Napoleon is divided into Field Artillery, Heavy Artillery, Horse Artillery and Howitzers. In order to fire, the guns must have a clear line of sight to the target. The target must be within range (up to 60” for heavy artillery, 48” for field artillery) and within arc of fire (45o to either side) of each firing gun. It is possible for a target to be within arc of fire of only part of a firing unit.
To resolve fire, a target number is first determined. Depending on the target type and formation, as well as whether fire comes from front or rear, a target number between 4 and 6 results. Roll one doe for each gun. Any die scoring equal to or greater than the target number hits. A hit normally causes one casualty to the target unit. In some cases, heavy artillery will cause two casualties per hit. If the target is artillery, roll a die - on a 6 a gun is destroyed, otherwise hits are caused to the crew.
Movement: The rules section is somewhat cursory. Each unit has a movement allowance. Most units must change formation prior to moving, while guards and elite troops may do so at the beginning or end of movement. Wheeling and movement in column are briefly detailed.
Skirmish Fire: Skirmishers (with a few minor exceptions) are modeled abstractly. The army lists dictate how many dice are rolled for skirmishers. Depending on range, they have a minimum to hit number. Roll the appropriate number of dice and every die exceeding the hit number causes one casualty. Unlike normal infantry skirmishers may move and fire.
Volley Fire: Resolving volley fire is extremely simple. Each unit gets the same number of dice depending on its formation. units in line roll 6 dice, units in column 2, etc. Cross reference the range and weapon type to obtain a hit number. Every die rolled that equals or exceeds the to hit number causes a casualty. Guard units get an extra die per unit, and units firing their first volley or that did not move may re-roll misses. There are no modifiers. There are, however, terrain effects (see below).
Close Combat: In keeping with the general simplicity of these rules close combat is similar to volley fire. Each unit gets a number of dice depending on its formation and whether it faces the enemy’s front, flank or rear. Each side rolls, hoping to equal r exceed the needed to hit number. Whoever scores the most hits wins. The loser retreats 1” for each casualty suffered. The victor may advance and may cause additional casualties.
Squares versus cavalry are treated somewhat differently. They roll dice as normal, but if they score one or more hits they win causing the cavalry to retreat. However, if they fail to score a single hit and the cavalry scores two or more OR the square rolls snake eyes, the square has been broken. A second round of combat is fought immediately, with the advantage decidedly favoring the cavalry!
Morale Tests: Units may have to take morale checks for a number of reasons. They may even have to take more than one in a single turn. Resolution is simple. Roll a number of dice determined by the quality of the unit. If the sum of the dice exceeds the number of casualties suffered, the unit passes. If a unit fails, it must roll on the Lost Command table. Results vary from Run! to Stand and Fire and are heavily influenced by unit type.
If a unit fails twice in a turn it automatically routs. Routed units may make one rally attempt. If they fail they are removed from the game, otherwise they are considered to be “Lost Command” and must be rallied once more to return to full effectiveness.
Terrain: Napoleon includes an extensive chapter of terrain rules. These cover the effects of terrain in good detail. Line of sight, ranged fire and close combat are all considered. In general:
- Terrain can cost extra movement and may result in a fatigue casualty.
- May cause a unit to have a higher “to hit” number in close combat because of terrain
- Units in cover ignore the first one or two hits inflicted each turn.
Napoleon includes extensive army lists and a points system for fighting “pick up” games. It also includes a terrain generation system and other rules for generating “random” games.
For such an expensive and lavish tome, Napoleon is a bit of a disappointment. The rules are poorly edited and full of holes. They also treat various armies very generically. All units roll the same number of dice based for close combat and volley fire (granted guards usually get more dice). There are already substantial FAQs put together by fans on the Yahoo group. At present there is no official support mechanism from Wargames Foundry.
Furthermore there are quite a few strange design decisions and downright errors. One that struck me is close combat. In close combat a unit in line gets three dice. However, if it engages two enemy units to its front it gets 6 dice. How’s that? It suffers no penalty for engaging two units? And the chart determining how many dice to roll looks wrong. Unless I misunderstand it grossly, it looks like infantry in line fighting the enemy’s front roll three dice, but only one of engaging the enemy’s flank, and none if engaging their rear. I think the chart is just explained backwards, but a simple edit should have caught this mess. An example might have helped...
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