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Napoleonic Rules

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TITLE:  Napoleonic Rules for A Large Scale Wargame (With Small Scale Miniatures) NapRulesLargeSmall

AUTHOR: Peter Dennis, Cliff Knight & George Jeffrey

PUBLISHER: Hard Cover Designs

PUBLICATION DATE: Unknown (1980s?)


    These rules use “Variable Length Bounds” and there is an online io group about this mechanic here.

PRICE (with date): Unknown. Now available as a free download here.

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin

PERIOD COVERED: The Napoleonic Wars


Napoleonic Rules (NR) is a slim booklet of a mere 22 pages, with a double sided quick reference sheet. Like most rules of its era, it is more a B&W photocopy of typed pages than anything else. It contains no index, army lists, or scenarios. At that time any kind of printing was very expensive, so space was at an absolute premium (which also explains the small typeface).


NR puts the player in the role of division commander, and glosses over tactical details below that level. Players maneuver brigades, and their officers take care of skirmishers, formations and so on.


The game is specifically designed for large scale games, so armies will necessarily be large.


A base in NR represents a half-battalion. These are organized into brigades which are the basic maneuver element.


  • Ground Scale: 1mm = 8 meters with 2mm figures, 4 meters with 6mm figures
  • Time scale 1 turn = Variable
  • Figure/Base Ratio 1 base = 300 infantry, 120 cavalry or 4 guns.
  • Recommended Figure Size: 2mm or 6mm
  • Table Size: Not given.
  • Game Length: Not given.


NR uses 20mm frontages for most bases, 30mm for two rank infantry.


The Variable Length Bound (VLB) largely does away with the need for a traditional turn sequence.

NR uses a written orders system. To start, players simultaneously move their troops according to their written orders. Necessarily, they will discuss their moves/actions as they make them. This continues until a Change of Situation (COS) occurs. At that point players may attempt to change orders, react, etc. It is when a COS occurs that figures are moved, distances measured and time accounted for.


The Orders System:

The orders system is actually the core of the entire game. Prior to play the attacker writes his orders. They must be specific using terrain or enemy troops as reference points. Units will continue following their orders until a COS allows them to receive new orders. Changing orders requires the use of messengers. The chain of command is also paramount. It is a vertical chain, not horizontal. A COS must move UP the chain of command from brigade to division to corps to army. Orders move DOWN.

So, for example, an enemy unit appears from a wood. The army commander wants to react and orders that a brigade of cavalry be moved to face the threat. This will take time as four levels of command are involved. And distance also affects changing orders. So by the time that brigade gets the orde, the threat might have marched away, or attacked another direction.

Keeping Track of Time:

Unlike most games where “one turn” is a discrete unit of time, with a Variable Length Bound (VLB) play continues until a COS is triggered, and then time is accounted for. For example, two battalions approach each other, in rolling terrain. The players realize that at point X they will come in sight of each other thus triggering a COS. They will then measure the distance moved, and determine how much time - in 10 minute increments - has passed based on that distance.

Combat is also deeply time related. Two brigades that engage each other dice to determine the length of the combat. It can vary from 10 to 40 minutes, or more. But only at the end of it are results determined. While engaged, those units are “stuck in.”


In NR movement is a way of tracking time, rather than the reverse as is usual with most wargames. The rule book includes movement rulers. Terrain is either good or bad, and the rulers incorporate these movement rates. Given the nature of the VLB movement is very fluid - formations, wheels etc. are not part of this game. What matters are your orders.


Combat, like movement, is abstract. Each unit has a Combat Value (CV) from 4 (worst) to 12 (best) with average troops being an 8. When troops are within 100 scale yards, a Tactical Engagement occurs. The brigade is the base unit for combat. Each side adds up the total CV of all the units in their brigade. CV may degrade due to routing etc. In some cases CV may be recovered by resting units, especially cavalry. Units may get CV bonuses for terrain, flank attacks etc.

Comparing the relative CVs on a chart yields a letter from A to E, or an R. If the letter is an R the smaller side routs. Otherwise, percentile dice are thrown and the Tactical Engagement chart consulted. This will result in a rout of one side or a firefight of some duration. At the END of the firefight, results are determined.

Combat Results are another percentile dice throw. The result is one side or the other falls back. Cavalry are checked for required pursuit, and then casualties calculated. Casualties are a simple percentage of the smaller side, with the loser taking an extra 10% loss (the rules do not state how to track casualties - I would assume stand removal at some point?).

Artillery Fire:

Like combat, artillery fire is entirely mathematical - there are no dice involved. The number of guns firing, times the amount of time spent firing yields losses both in terms of casualties as well as CV. Units in cover suffer fewer losses, while flank fire gets a 50% bonus.


Morale is reflected in CV values. Units may lose CV through combat, routing, etc. They may regain CV via rest. There are no morale rules per se.




These are clearly an old school type of rules. They are really more broad guidelines for a game master than rules expected to answer any question. They give an outline of combat, orders and CV and the rest is kind of up to the players and the judge.


Not played.

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