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"Shako II" Topic

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Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2008 5:40 p.m. PST

So from what I have read Shako II is suppose to be out this month per the below link.


Also the NJCon is planing on having a 20,000+ figure Liepzig battle using Shako II.

So is it on plan and where can I get them.

I have heard good things about Shako and would like to add them to my Napoleonic Rulesets.

Maxshadow18 Apr 2008 6:14 p.m. PST

"Also the NJCon is planing on having a 20,000+ figure Liepzig battle using Shako II."

*Droool* I want to see that.

Bob Runnicles18 Apr 2008 6:36 p.m. PST

Actually, doesn't it say June 2008 on that link? Not *quite* there yet….

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Apr 2008 7:42 p.m. PST

I'll be carrying the new edition as will, I'm sure, loads of other places like Wargames, On Military Matters et. al.

Mark "Extra Crispy" Severin
Owner, Scale Creep Miniatures

Check out the new rules directory at

elcid109919 Apr 2008 1:58 p.m. PST

Isn't it always a couple of months away? I thought it was due at Historicon last year?

bruntonboy20 Apr 2008 2:51 a.m. PST

You should try waiting for Volley and Bayonet II…..

Although it might actually might be about to show up, about a decade late.


archstanton73 Inactive Member20 Apr 2008 3:23 a.m. PST

Seems a bit of a waste-20,000 figures for a Sako game?? Is Shako 2 any better than the original??

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member21 Apr 2008 6:57 a.m. PST

Might take a look at it.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member22 May 2008 12:59 p.m. PST

I've seen the draft of Shako II and it is extremely professional. Arty Conliffe, Dave Waxtel and Chris Leach have done a tremendous job putting this product together. Some people will continue to comment about the long wait, but there is a lot of history regarding the changes that took place to the rules, with input from regular Shako contributors on the Yahoo site. Also, as I understand it, a couple checkpoints occurred where the re-design vision/philosophy realigned which rules modifications and enhancements took place. The realignment of the scope of the project necessitated re-examining all of the proposed rules enhancements.

I have pre-ordered my copy of Shako II. It is the best set of Napoleonic rules I've ever seen.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member22 May 2008 1:04 p.m. PST

The maps for the imminent Leipzig game with upwards of 20,000 figures gave me a better appreciation and respect for the coordination efforts undertaken by Dave Waxtel and compatriots. I wish I lived within driving distance to see the Leipzig game. I take my hat off to Dave's group for even attempting to run Leipzig with battalion level rules. I'm sure it'll be a fantastic game.

onmilitarymatters Sponsoring Member of TMP22 May 2008 1:59 p.m. PST

Shako II is not yet at the OMM shop.

Dennis from OMM

Mithmee Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2008 5:28 p.m. PST

Well from another forum I found this.

On May 22, 2008, at 7:02 AM, David Waxtel wrote: Both covers are bring printed this week, the guts to Rise of eagles should be finished next week and stated to be bound. As for Shako 2 the guts next week and then bound…. June 5th is a go.

This set of rules will blow away everything. Dave Waxtel

So if would look like only a couple more weeks or so before we start seeing it.

Oh here is the link to that forum. Which also has what I believe is the front cover which looks quite nice.


Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member23 May 2008 6:32 a.m. PST

I would hope that Shako II will be available at OnMilitaryMatters and other places in early June. I support Onmilitarymatters' statement and did not wish to imply I had an official copy. I do not. I have seen and play tested the draft version of the official rules and it is a work of art – truly a great system – the best Napoleonic rules I have ever played, so much so I wouldn't bother trying any other system ever again.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2008 8:22 a.m. PST

Machine: could you elaborate on what it is about the rules that make them the best that you have ever seen? Tell us why you like.

For those of us that are not that familiar with Shako rules, could you summarize the game sequence, how it is played, basing of figures and what mechanisms are used for the various aspects (firing, movement, melee etc).

Shootmenow Inactive Member23 May 2008 2:21 p.m. PST

I tried the first edition of Shako and didn't enjoy it at all BUT the two guys who introduced me to it weren't my type (!) so I'm not sure whether it was the rules or the players that put me off in a big way.

donlowry23 May 2008 2:26 p.m. PST

From another thread I got the impression that in Shako the basic infantry unit is a battalion of 12 figures on three bases; is that correct?

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member23 May 2008 4:53 p.m. PST

Usually four bases of three figures. Although you can use an optional deeper basing, if you have the Nap's Battles stands.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member23 May 2008 5:28 p.m. PST

No problem although it'll take more than one post to do so. I've only got a few minutes so I'll see how far I get with the first post.

1. Shako (and Shako II) are battalion level rules that allow players to play battles with as few units as a single division or large brigade, or epic struggles that involve multiple corps. Few Napoleonic rules can do this with the same flexibility in combat mechanics and representation on the table. I personally identify with the units I paint, and prefer battalion level unit games. Don't get me wrong, Fire and Fury, Napoleon's Battles etc. provide some Napoleonic flavor in their own way but the base unit is mostly at a larger unit organization and since my figures (15mm and 25mm) are painted based on individual battalions, I don't identify my gaming with the personalities of the units I've painted when playing with organizational units that represent brigades or larger formations.

2. To answer your question, combat mechanics are somewhat simplified, with options for pseudo-simultaneous movement. In a nut shell, sub-phases include:
- artillery bombardment (not any different than many others)
- movement (including charges)
- skirmish fire
- volley fire
- melee
- orders (or new orders) – which don't always take effect immediately
- morale checks (unit and divisional)

3. Artillery, skirmish fire, volley fire and melee are conducted simultaneously with effects happening holistically for each phase. I prefer this as opposed to the move, counter move, fire, counter fire type concept more akin to traditional board games. Each concep works but I am stating preferences.

4. Combat mechanics are somewhat simple. Each unit has a combat rating which is modified by position in relation to other units (friend and foe) combined with terrain modifiers and a die roll. There is no calculation of percentages such as Empire which I find cumbersome. Some gamers may argue that Shako combat is too abstract for their liking since it treats unit ability to fire the same for different nationalities and morale levels. Arty Conliffe's concept is that most troops, once basic training has been sustained, fire at an average rate per minute and achieve average results from the fire respecting that battalions of 400, 600, or even 1,000 men are ordered to "ready, level, fire" and achieve minimal results from most musketry compared to damage done by artillery. Although I've never met Arty, I have to praise him and give him credit for designing his combat systems around the core tactical doctrine and combat averages without miring his rules with too much chrome. At iterative times in the 60s, 70s and even 80s I've dabbled with a number of systems (CLS, Empire – various, Bruce Quarrie rules, and each had deficiencies in terms of balancing the "chrome" with playability.

5. Unit attrition is straight forward and clean. Although units take hits, and it is easy enough to track casualties, stands and figures are not removed as per several of older concepts of rules. A unit occupies its ground (with adverse effects) until it is destroyed. Further, units that lose a melee, even if they survive sustained casualties, may still break as part of the "fall-back" or temporary route.

6. Divisional attrition is also based on percentages whereby a formation may be forced to break (Shako II) or retreat (Shako I) based on a percentage of lost units within the formation. This puts more emphasis on command control (which is simple but imbedded throughout the rules) combined with the different nationalities ability to change orders and react to situations. It is difficult to remove the helicopter view of the game table that most systems face, but Arty has invested considerable time in his orders and command control concept so that even the helicopter view will not save a general from bad play and bad decisions.

7. Elegance – I alluded to the fact the many concepts are easy to learn because of the nice balance between "chrome" and playability. The system has a single sheet of charts (two sided) that cover all phases, sub-phases and after playing through the mechanics a couple times, the Reference Sheet will cover all the common occurrences. Reference to the rules depends on whether you play against power gamers. I find that I don't need the rules except when power gamers put in an appearance and challenge the concepts. Shako may not be the only rules that are well written, but power gamers will try to push the envelope on realism and for this, reference to the rules is occasionally necessary. The fact that Shako is not chart heavy appeals to me.

I could go on, but my recommendation is to try the system if you are interested in Napoleonic gaming. My perception is that there are a number of "older" gamers whose first love of miniature painting and gaming was Napoleonics – whether because of combined arms tactics, the uniforms, the available literature describing the various campaigns – it varies. Many of these gamers walked away from Napoleonic gaming at various times because rules changed often, required thousands of figures for a single game, could take forever to play a single battle, need a masters degree in law to interpret and play without choking your friends for rules interpretations etc. I've played hundreds of battles with more than a Corps per side and played 12 turns in a single evening or weekend afternoon. Speaking candidly, I don't have the same free time anymore to set up during the evening, play most rules and a battle to completion and be able to get home at a decent hour. With Shako, I can set up or go to a friend's place and have the game up and running by 8-8:30 in the evening, play anywhere from 10-12 turns and go home around midnight knowing the outcome of the battle (win or lose). In the 80's, using Empire as an example, I often had a game set up ahead of time or spent an entire Saturday morning setting up a Corps level action, played 2 (maybe 3) turns by dinner time and many troops were barely engaged. Demographically, younger gamers are often attracted to the instant satisfaction of video games. I'm not a generation Y or generation X person, so I respect that my kids take precedence in the early part of the evening and then I congregate with like minded gamers. Small and medium level games are easily played with 10-25 units per side in 3-4 hours. If I'm playing a larger game, we either start a bit earlier in the evening (including set up) or play a bit later. Either way, I see the battle fought to fruition with clear bragging rights. I go home satisfied either way and really look forward to the next game.

I hope this helps,


donlowry23 May 2008 8:59 p.m. PST

The Machine: A truly excellent review! Really gives me an idea of what the game is like.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member25 May 2008 8:41 a.m. PST

Don Lowry – thanks. Other systems work well too – but it depends on focus. I should have summarized my "likes".

- rules support small, medium and large games
- rules support pseudo-simultaneous phases
- rules support using basing from other systems (more later)
- rules support battalion level identity – so uniforms painted are related to units on the table
- base rule mechanics are easy to learn
- rules allow for both pre-designed scenarios or army lists for "pick up games"
- rules in their own way have created a points system, which the army lists have somewhat geared towards a core group of units, plus options to vary an army's appearance

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member25 May 2008 8:56 a.m. PST

Spargel's comment on basing is true but does not accurately describe basing. Don Lowry's comment on "3 stands" is quite accurate too.

What the rules advocate is that any existing basing scheme can be used with the Shako rules – hence thrills from the locals that we were not having to rebase for yet another Napoleonic system. At the time Shako was adopted, basing was primarily a residual left over from attempts to play Empire which has many flaws for the amount of Napoleonic realism it tried to capture. I.e. the chrome was interesting, but the effort to track what was happening detracted greatly from having fun (and getting anything finished). I digress…

The key point Arty made regarding basing is that both sides (French vs. whomever as an example) use the same basing frontages. If, using Empire as an example, my 15mm infantry occupied a frontage of 3/8" per figure, Shako says fine – each stand is the same frontage regardless of nationality – yes this wouldn't work for Empire's British with 1/2" per figure so some basing clean up had to occur for this anomaly. The depth of the base is irrelevant.

What Don Lowry refers to is a 3 stands per infantry battalion. Shako uses this as one of its standard basing schemes that each unit (infantry) is 3 stands. Having said that, I am aware that a number of gamers in the NY and NJ area have adopted a 4 stand battalion so they can pack more figures on the table. Bigger is better. :) Seriously the system works either way as long as opposing armies and units are based identically. In an e-mail conversation with Dave Waxtel some time back, he's experimented with some battles using 4, 6 or whatever number of stands per unit – especially when playing smaller historical actions. The unit is removed from play when it takes a number of kills relative to its morale rating – its combat effectiveness. I.e. I previously eluded to units of varying armies firing the same (with most having the capability to do an extra kill on a roll of a "6" firing at targets in the open that aren't protected by skirmishers etc. Unit sustainability is where Arty has concluded that units of various levels of training and national doctrine will vary in morale strength between 2 and 6 kills before the unit is gone. The number of figures on the stand and the number of stands per battalion are irrelevant. Guidelines have been established that support 3 stands per battalion or 4 as in Spargel's case. Both work. My compatriots and I have gamed with groups from Illinois, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Minnesota all the way to the west coast – Washington State and all the groups we've been fortunate enough to game with are using a 3 stand per battalion system – one of original recommended basing schemes in use today. What Spargel refers to is, I gather, popular too, but I haven't been witness to it (yet).

The decision to go with 3, 4 or even more stands per battalion comes back to a couple factors which each group has to decide for themselves:
- affordability (time and money) to acquire/paint all the figures
- table space
- frequency of play – respecting that there are many other periods of history/science fiction etc. to game each group has to decide how much white lead is enough (a topic that will go on forever) vs. what can be put on the table

They all work – personal preference decides.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member25 May 2008 4:27 p.m. PST

OK – last comments…

Although I've gone on record as saying I prefer Shako rules and that I would never consider trying anything else any more, I should clarify – Shako isn't for everyone. Take the post in this thread talking about Leipzig. Much as I salute Dave Waxtel and friends for running Leipzig at some convention in NJ in June, 2008 – I would never do this. I'm not saying that the locals do/don't have the figures – we probably have more than this but that's not the point. I enjoy a game with anywhere from 1 to 5 other players, besides myself. I get a social interaction and small or even larger games.

What Dave's crew have done with some of their games (Waterloo being an example from Cold Wars in 08) is host some mega games that combine entrepenurial organizational skills with the ability to demonstrate that the rules work for even the largest battles. If I wanted to play Leipzig, I would either find an old board game or choose a different set of rules that simulate the brigade or division as the base unit.

Take In the Grand Manner as an example. It shares some of Shako's concepts but arguably (depending on who is arguing) doesn't have the same level of command control as many others – more relaxed and free with what units can do. Some gamers like this – especially as the lack of restrictions allows more creativity. I am not a fan of this, as it somewhat subtracts from my narrow view (narrow mind?) regarding command control. Also, ITGM works on the figure per manpower ratio (1:20 if I recall correctly). This is fantastic for gamers who want 36 figure battalions for a battalion of 720 men. Empire used a 60:1 ratio when I last played it so the same unit would equate to 12 figures in the battalion. Both work – and provide a great look for players who want this level of detail for their battalions. Shako's command control is important to me, as is the abstracts.

By abstracts – Shako does not distinguish between a 400 man battalion and a 800 man battalion. Both have the same number of stands. The number of figures per stand is irrelevant. This will drive some players nuts and they'll walk away from Shako stating "crap, they don't perform the same". I respect this opinion. What Arty Conliffe has done though, is by assigning a morale rating for each troop type, he ties the survivability of the unit to the morale level and how many kills/hits it can take before losing battlefield integrity for the day. The point Arty stresses is that units don't have to break after taking a specific number of kills equating to manpower. The unit breaks based on abstract losses for the day – not real men dead but more akin to how much punishment/abstracted the unit is subjected to, before it pulls the plug for the battle. If gamers aren't comfortable with the abstract that Arty uses as an underlying design mechanic to his rules set, then Shako is not for these gamers. What he has achieved is playability with less book keeping, through abstracting a couple concepts.

The other way of looking at Shako's position in the pantheon of Napoleonic rules is to look at extremes. Chipco's rules are really not much different than playing DBA. There are too few figures for most players. ITGM probably doesn't use many more figures than Shako, but ITGM with larger units (guessing for most) runs with less units, whereas Shako focuses on slightly less figures but permitting more units in the same table space.

I don't know if the thoughts help. I've tried to stress that the view reflects how it satisfies my demographics and geographic situation. If I had less opponents or figures available, I might consider a larger scale system such as Napoleon's Battles (chart heavy). If figures and table space were less restrictive, I would consider more detailed level rules but these generally don't have the same efficient command control rules, nor do they play at the same speed because of my perception and recollection of the extra book keeping or administrative headaches calculating hits etc.



roundboy Inactive Member25 May 2008 10:48 p.m. PST

Hi Machine
I have played shako I for years and really enjoyed it. Could you please tell me do the command and control rules for Shako II differ much from shako I? I have pre-ordered a copy of shako II but was worried they were going to take a good set of rules and over complicate it. But from what you had said (written)it seems this is not the case. Would you say the new set of rules is more of a clean up of the old set or are there some sweeping changes in there?

CATenWolde Inactive Member25 May 2008 11:55 p.m. PST

We used Shako for a large Napoleonic campaign last year, and had no real complaints. It was easy to use and produced reasonable results, with few surprises. After all the dust was settled, however, there were a couple of points that we came back to a somewhat bothersome.

The first was the perhaps exaggerated effectiveness of skirmishers versus artillery. Given the math of the rules, the side with skirmisher superiority (even localized) could easily counteract the other side's artillery, and count on the skirmishers eliminating the artillery. If I'm remembering the math, both types of units have 3 hits, but skirmishers kill on a 5-6 vs a 6 for the artillery. An easy fix here would be to allow artillery to be "staggered" (-1 to hit?) instead of having each hit produce kill, and/or increasing the effectiveness of cannister versus skirmishers.

The other point was more general, and that was the general fragility of all types of units. The game is fairly bloody, and with most units having only 4 hits, units can count on being ground up quickly. Again, an easy solution for this might be adding 2 hits to each unit, or even doubling hits, or using a d10 scale instead of a d6 scale.

Long story short … Does Shako II revamp the use of skirmishers in any way? Does the core remain simple enough that adding Hits or converting to a d10 scale would be easy?



Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 6:49 a.m. PST


I will try to answer your questions over the next couple of days. Work and family somewhat restrict how much time I spend on TMP and other sites. :(


SK did not work exactly the way you thought in Shako I. This is not your fault as I made the same mistake until I spent time on the Yahoo forum reading the posts, combined with correspondence with Chris Leach and Terry Griner – both extremely knowledgeable persons regarding the rules.

SK in Shako I took 3 kills = true. However, artillery fires at SK with canister only (ballshot goes right through them without effect, nor does any target behind SK get SK cover at ballshot range). At canister range, depending on the type of battery firing, SK get slaughtered by artillery. Yes, the SK take a while to kill because they had 3 hits each but even with artillery firing at -1, they are doing damage to the SK at a regular rate. Also, supporting infantry and cavalry tend to drive the SK off (or trample them as toe jam if hit by cavalry).

In Shako II, SK take 1 kill each = YES 1 KILL. They are far more brittle. I think the combination of only taking 1 kill combined with a different understanding of how artillery work against SK will suffice to address your concern on SK. (e.g. if a FtG fires normally with 3-6 being a kill in canister range, it would need a 4-6 against the SK to put the kill on the SK.

As for the D10 – it is still a variant discussed on the Yahoo forum from time to time but not advocated in the Shako II rules. Arty Conliffe, as I interpret his text, is an advocate of keeping rules mechanics simple for ease and speed of play. You are right that using a D10 MR scale does add lots of flexibility in terms of unit sustainability. I have not tried the D10 variant.

I agree that perception is that with most units starting as REG (MR=4), that the system can appear quite bloody = especially if attacks are not prepared properly with staggers and at least one kill placed on enemy units before charging. If the preparatory steps are not taken, then the fight is sometimes more akin to an ancients battle with units charging against full strength units, often resulting in one side being blown away in melee because of defensive modifiers (terrain) or sweeping differences in die rolls.

In answer to your question – the core mechanics of combat and shooting are the same over all. One change, which I've been playing for the last couple years, is the fallback. When a unit loses a melee and falls back, it now gets one die roll to rally or becomes broken. The difference is that the unit that falls back use to have to roll less than its MR, rolling 2 consecutive turns until it rallies or breaks after the second failure. In Shako II, it gets one roll equal to or less than its MR. This simplifies tracking the status of a unit since the unit is either okay or gone at the end of the same turn. The increased percentage chance of breaking is only approximately 8% higher using the one turn/one die roll concept. It does simplify play.

I hope this addresses your questions. I've got to get to work but I'll respond later with answers to Roundie's inquiry.


50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member26 May 2008 6:49 a.m. PST

I don't mind the fragility of units in Shako. It's simple and clear. I never liked the command system, though. Very few people ever bothered to go to the effort to really sketch out the battlefield and write their orders… And even if they did, I never saw anybody ever held to it once the battle had begun. So it was essentially no system at all. Each turn, each player and each unit does whatever it pleases.

There's an argument to be made for that, of course; if you're playing relatively small-scale, you can simply say (as V&B does) that *you* the player are the command system, and table is your "command radius," or whatever. But if that's going to be your approach, then just save the pages and do away with the pretense altogether.

In some ways, it's a trip back to OLD-school, before we started trying to come up with more and more intricate and clever ways to do command in wargames.

That said, I have generally had a good time in the Shako games I've played, including two of the earlier playtest games of Shako-2.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 6:59 a.m. PST


I should add – with Shako II, there is no SK melee with other SK. Also, SK only kill enemy SK with a roll of "6", regardless of whether the SK are in the open or cover. They provide a screen for formed infantry, but aren't as durable or as annoying as they used to be.

Also – if you have friendly cavalry behind your SK and your cavalry is in mandatory charge range, they will ride over their own SK, killing them in the process.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 7:03 a.m. PST


I agree – I actually like and prefer the existing "fragility" of units.

Your other comments on command control do have merit. We adhere to the command control radius 100% of time. We also use maps and command arrows. There have been incidents where one or more of the players "forget" and veer off course so all I can say is there are three options.

1. ignore command control – which is integral to Shako's true design
2. assign a veteran player as c-in-c in multi-player games whose reliability will ensure players on his side adhere to the command arrows and CZ.
3. play as is, with the honor system and forgive the inconsistent application of the orders.

The locals focus on a combination of #2 and #3. I confess I played in an excellent game at Enfilade 2007 and forgot my CZ restrictions and adherence, discussed it with the opposing C-in-C after the game (over breakfast the following morning) and conceded that it would have made a difference in the various outcomes on one flank.

Nobody is perfect.

Personal logo Colonel Bill Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2008 8:19 a.m. PST

Asparagus always needs mustard???

Sam – it has to be Sam – sometimes you frighten me :).

Regards, Bill Gray

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick Inactive Member26 May 2008 9:13 a.m. PST

I'm way overdue for another name-change. Brace yourself.

CATenWolde Inactive Member26 May 2008 9:21 a.m. PST


You're right on both counts – we were playing incorrectly (glad to hear it wasn't just us!), and there is a general lack of attack planning in most games. When the rare event of taking 4-6 turns to prepare the enemy position takes place, it usually has a "player morale" effect all of its own!

The changes to skirmishing sound interesting – skirmishers will still balance each other out, but will be very fragile in other circumstances. No tracking of hits for skirmishers will also clean up the table a bit, which is nice.

As for the d10 option, it's something we never played with, but have tossed around as an idea in after-campaign BS sessions. We'll doubtless play "by the book" before attempting anything else.

You're an excellent advocate for the rules, by the way, and sound like an excellent gamer – feel free to look us up for a game of Shako next time you're in Helsinki. ;)



Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 10:45 a.m. PST

I've been to Helsinki – back in 1987 FinnAir sponsored a tour for Canadian chess players in the Soviet Union. I loved Helsinki and wished I'd been there more than one night going to the USSR and one day/night going home. Someday I hope to return buy marriage, kids and changes of employment have somewhat derailed interests from a previous lifetime.

As for being an excellent gamer – no, but I've had my lucky days. If you hear/read rumours that I shaved the corners of my dice, the rumours are false.

Regarding SK, Shako II also allows some battalions to break down into SK formation. The battalion is removed and replaced by 2 SK. I have not really accepted this concept, not because battalions don't do it. They do and we all know that some nationalities were far more adept than others. What bothers me is that Shako II's SK are brittle enough that I have had trouble justifying removing a battalion from a formation to be replaced with a couple weak SK stands. It's very rare that my compatriots do this in any game.

Oh – I should mention that in Shako II, a formation ("division") breaks based on divisional die rolls for a percentage loss of units in the division. In Shako 1, you would add the MR points of all formed units, and as units break you would compare the number of "MR" points lost to the total original MR points for the division. This has been simplified in Shako II. In Shako II, you could start with 2 EL and 4 SR units. Once 2 SR units break, the division (or brigade which tests separately in some scenarios/games) would be at 33% and test for 1/3. There is less mathematics and book keeping involved as it's easier to track 4 of 6 units on the table than calculating how many MR points are left/destroyed. I add this insight because, in the situation described above, a battalion from a scenario or pickup game which is voluntarily replaced by 2 SK still counts as part of the formed units that affect division tests. In my example, 1 EL is replaced by 2 SK (ignore justifying why someone would do this). Once both SK are destroyed, the EL unit counts as a broken unit towards the divisional morale test. So, if you'd lost 2 SR and passed your morale test for the division and then lost both SK from the EL, you'd now be at 50% losses because 3 units were destroyed.

There is more in the way of narrative regarding nuances of taking a formed unit with a kill and breaking down into SK and what you can/can't do but I don't want to re-write Shako II (I couldn't). I am merely offering insights as a courtesy to others who've been waiting for years (like myself) to get the new rules.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 10:53 a.m. PST

Shako II charts are very, very nice. One of Dave Waxtel's compatriots contributed to the new rules by adding lots of 3-dimensional diagrams. In the discussion we had about playing artillery wrong when firing at enemy SK or artillery, I played for a while where all counter-battery fire needs a "6" regardless of range. This isn't/wasn't true. Once artillery is in canister range of enemy artillery, you roll as if the enemy artillery is a formed target. So if you roll "6" against enemy artillery in canister range or volley fire range, you put 2 kills on the enemy artillery in most cases. There are rules that reduce this to 1 kill if the volley fire wasn't from a stationary unit, artillery is in cover behind a redoubt etc. – so there are exceptions.

My point though, is that Shako II, for all its increased size and cost has some absolutely fabulous 3-dimensional diagrams which help explain a lot of things which can and were easily misconstrued by myself years ago with Shako I.

archstanton73 Inactive Member26 May 2008 1:23 p.m. PST

The one thing about Shako which lets it down for me (and most of my club mates) are the national characteristics rather than any of the other rules…The fact the French are these super troops who can do a lot more than the Prussians, British or Russians ended up with an awful lot of ahistorical results--I.e. the French beating the Brits on a regular basis….That is my main gripe with the system…

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 1:27 p.m. PST


The rules are over all the same in concept. The orders and command control has been modified but from my perception it is cleaner and easier to understand, not more complicated. There are small subtleties that I feel are an improvement on command control too.

As an example – retrograde movement use to allow a 3" retrograde movement for infantry. Now cavalry can retrograde too. From what I read in the Shako II draft, the cavalry also is permitted to retrograde 3" with conditions such as not leaving the 18" Command Zone. Also, retrograde is not normally permitted when within the frontal flank lines of an enemy formed unit – inside volley fire range or obligatory charge range. In these situations retrograde movement isn't allowed at all.

Conceptually, and in practice, cavalry performed tactical battlefield withdrawals by squadron or troop – each squadron pulled back a distance, about faced, and covered the next squadron(s) that withdrew. Since Shako advocates 20-30 minute turns, cavalry can easily do so, although they need to respect their orders (attack, defend etc.). What i didn't like was that cavalry retrograde was restricted to 3". I felt that they could have retrograded 6" respecting the other restrictions, just because of the distances they move in a forward motion when compared to infantry moving forward.

I don't know if this brief summary and example address your concerns but the core rules are the same, just cleaner and positioned to facilitate quicker play and ease of play.


Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 1:53 p.m. PST

Archstanton73 – I'm not sure what causes this in your games but I understand the concept because I've seen it in several Napoleonic rules – the age old issue of why it never rains on the French side of the battlefield. I use to swear Scott Bowden was so pro-French that just painting French units guaranteed a victory playing various iterations of Empire.

I summarize the super French in Shako as 3 issues:
1. flank march rules
2. ability to move and change formation in all but 1813-14.
3. ability to change orders quicker than other nations.

All other rules seem to apply to all sides equally.

1. flank march rules – yeah this one I disagree with too. There are so many instances of allies flank marching to the battlefield with the same or better results than the French that I don't put a lot of stock in this pickup-game rule concept. What my experiences state though is that since gaming is still helicopter view, pickup-games tend to have armies of relatively equal size. When you (as the allies) don't see an adequate number of French – refuse the flank and deal with their flank marching sneakiness. I'll wait till point 3, but one of the significant changes (my opinion) in Shako II is "new" equality in changing orders that will permit allies to better react to the flank march in the pickup game. For scenario based play, the French flank march isn't an issue.
2. Move and Change formation – yes, you are right that this is a distinct advantage, present with several sets of rules. I don't have a perfect answer to this and agree that the allies need to plan well with use of defensive terrain, deployments etc. The Shako II rules have slightly improved allies abilities to win with the PBV (point blank volley). As well, the French are still restricted to advancing along the lines of the Attack Orders (assuming they are attacking) and can't be deviating too much from the CZ – this is critical to understand fully to limit the super French syndrome. Arty put a lot of thought into the orders, Command Zone and how they tie together with movement thereby limiting the CZ. The Brits, more than the other allies, have the counter-charge and other mechanics to deal with the French so I haven't found the move and change formation to be too much of an advantage (still annoys me though). Besides this, moving and changing formation inside the frontal flank lines and volley fire distance is prohibited so the French can't do this. Also, nobody can change formation and charge in the same turn so you can see the French coming.
3. The new Shako II rules on changing orders are far more ageeable to me. For starters, most nationalities change orders with the same time delays or lackthereof – I can't remember if the Spanish or Ottomans have a further restriction on this. The concept is that each side has a number of ADCs. Each turn an ADC moves, even if the ADC reaches the Divisional commander in the same turn, the ADC rolls on a chart (even the French). On some die rolls the ADC only moves half (delayed in arrival) or is killed. THe only difference is the super French may have more ADCs (4) vs. some allies who only have 2-3 (or 1 if you might be Spanish). I'm okay with this because the French don't react to orders quicker any more. What they have, is the opportunity to send multiple ADCs to the same divisional commander to hopefully ensure that at least one ADC arrives with the order on time. The beauty of this is that you can't recall the ADC while in transit so the super French can send an ADC, who moves 1/2. On a subsequent turn if the French is a reactive c-in-c they send another ADC (or more) with different orders – which may arrive and change orders. After this the delayed ADC with an original order may arrive and mess things up. :) This can happen to any nationality but my point is that having more ADCs to reflect the staff work in changing orders is a concept that I like more than having orders take effect quicker than their opponents.

Scenario based play somewhat limits the French superiority in point 1 and point 3. Point 2 – perhaps the French were getting away with flexibilities, perhaps they represent more experienced players, perhaps you are right. If you find the French players are consistently getting away with a lot, have them play the allies for a number of games – preferably the same scenario or pick-up game and see if this changes the results or not. I mean no offense towards anyone playing the allies but it might provide insight on why the French are winning consistently.



Cacadores Inactive Member26 May 2008 5:03 p.m. PST

Do they allow other counries apart from the French to come in on the flank now?!! Lordy.

And has Arty cleared up his ban on a British C in C giving orders direct to brigades?!!!!!!!!

I hope Arty's actually got round to reading a few Peninsular battles now to find out how they were actually fought. On the Yahoo site they quoted me examples from the ACW to show how troops move (yes, this is true) – and discussion of house rules is far too often supressed and debate killed with the line – 'oh, this has been delt with already……'. Unlike, on, say, the General de Brigade web site where house rules are actively encouraged by the auther: it's a hell of a different attitude there.

But…….despite all that, Shako are still my favorite rule set because you can remember the basics so easily. Just a shame the Yahoo group supresses discussion of house rules.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member26 May 2008 6:57 p.m. PST


Arty acknowledges that other countries did flank march but the new rules continue to suggest that only the French were consistent and proficient at it. I know that this is not what you want to hear but there are two ways to deal with this (3 if you respect his wishes).

1. house rules allow non-French to do this too! We do.
2. scenario based play eliminates this French advantage and reflects what happened historically. For this point, the Russians (hard to believe for some but it is true), flanked the French more than anyone in 1807 – regularly showing up when the French weren't expecting it. Other nationalities did it too, so the perception that the French did it more or better can be debated. The 1805-1806 campaigns – sure, the French did it and the allies didn't. 1807 – the Russians did it more than the French, by far, although both sides made the attempt. I can't speak to the 1809 campaign as it is a campaign I'm not overly knowledgeable about. My perception in the Peninsula is that the French "tried" to do it, but mostly were unsuccessful because of intelligence reports submitted to the allied high command – the Spanish being the exception for ignoring the evidence and getting flanked on occasion. Oddly the Spanish tried to flank the French with their own flank march in likely one of the first engagements in 1808, but were unsuccessful because they lacked cavalry to go with the volunteer militia (foot and mounted) that attempted to flank the French position at Alcolea Bridge. The allies had some small success in flanking the French in the Peninsula but my perception is that this was still infrequent and mostly in the latter years when the allies had the numbers, morale and locals reporting on all French movements. Perhaps the classic was the allied attack on Tolosa when Spanish forces arrived from a couple directions to help the Anglo-allied attack.

The pick-up game really depends on who is attacking I suppose and my personal view is that the attacker should have the option up to a percentage, the defender should also have the option to reinforce his position with a flank march, but likely a smaller percentage of forces being off table and arriving from the side.

3. Listen to Shako II suggestions on pick-up games.

I'm not sure I understand the British C-in-C issue with pickup games. It really depends on how you organize British formations as, in most cases in the early years, the British were organized by brigade. Certainly by 1810 onwards a divisional structure was in place for Wellington's troops. I would advocate that if you wanted to have brigades receiving orders, then organize the formations by brigades instead of divisions. Respect though that if you issue orders to brigades, the troops test by brigade and not division.

I don't know what Arty reads or doesn't read since I've never met him or gamed with him – living a couple thousand miles away is my reason – no offense is intended towards Arty or anyone else for that matter.

As for the Shako yahoo site – well I am a member and participate, albeit infrequently compared to many. I had the impression that most gamers have experimented with house rules. I know that Chris Leach and Terry Griner are likely two of the most frequent contributors. My impression is that they are both sincere gentlemen. I know Terry has his own house rules, as do my group. Chris is very closely aligned with Arty on what works/doesn't work from a design point of view but I don't think he has ever intentionally stifled creative thought. I've never asked him if he has his own house rules. Given that he has been helping Arty for years, I suspect he's obliged to play test the way Arty intends the rules to work – just to continue his support of the project they've undertaken.

I've read quite a few posts and know that there are many great minds with interesting ideas (Lloyd's ideas have given me food for thought and have driven me nuts wishing I'd thought of some of the things he has). I suggest that you look at the posts specific to ideas you've had and see if you can approach some of the other like minded individuals and discuss it offline from the forum, rather than subject yourself to any negative impacts.

I don't know if Arty ever participates on the Yahoo site, but I haven't seen anything from him. I wouldn't take anything personally from the contributors. I suspect that because a few of them have been debating rules (new and clarifications) for 8 or more years (Advanced Shako and Shako II), that they sometimes forget the focus of new questions. I also think that since the rules debates have been muddied with time, aging memories and confusion with discussions on other rules forums, some players "think" they have dealt with something only to realize long after the post that

a) you haven't read all the history
b) they may be wrong and discussed the concept with other rules. On this last note, the locals have done this regularly whereby we think we know our own house rule only to remember (often after the fact) that the house rule in question applied to either a different set of rules, or a different set of brain cells). Senility is our friend and becoming more frequent the longer we discuss new rules concepts. We live with it. :)

CATenWolde Inactive Member26 May 2008 11:56 p.m. PST


Well, there's more to being a good gamer than winning … Thank God! ;)

It sounds like there are a number of changes large and small that should add up well – but I'm most happy to hear about the emphasis on clarity. It's remarkably easy to have fundamental disagreements on seemingly simple concepts, like what constitutes the proper alignment for supporting units, etc. For instance, I always took "facing the same way" as "not facing the other way" i.e. within 45 degrees of the same facing of the supported unit. On the other hand, the group here had always taken it as "facing the *exact* same way". This one change (we clarified that the looser meaning was the intention on the Yahoo group) affected gameplay considerably!

Regarding the point system for Divisional morale checks, this is one place where we always used house rules anyway – for instance landwehr counting as 2 for base morale (mass) but only 1 when routing (the regulars know they will run away), or high reputation troops counting as more than their MR when routed, etc. We'll probably continue to play this way – the important thing is that the base system is transparent and flexible.

We never had a problem with the flank march rules because our games are always scenario-based. The ADC system, however, is one that actually works very well as an abstraction of command ability, and can be used creatively to represent different command limitations. For instance, during the campaign we had a situation where a senior divisional general was forced to command several divisions until the actual corps commander showed up, and I simply adjusted the number of available ADC's during gameplay to represent this.

As for the "maneuver and move" advantage of the French, I've eventually come to take this not as a tactical measurement (i.e. of actual reaction time by the units), but as one based on training by formation and the ability of the GdB's and even colonels, etc. It is essentially another command and control mechanic, representing the "invisible" levels of command not represented on the table in Shako. As such, I have also played with several variations, such as allowing certain well-trained and well-led non-French formations the same ability, taking the ability away from other French formations (i.e. 4th battalion brigades in 1809), or – most annoying for the French – not allowing conscript *units* in their formations to do so, thus forcing them to plan carefully. We also play that all cavalry formations, regardless of nationality, can maneuver and move, which adds some much-needed flexibility.

I empathize with the design tasks of creating a system that represents the overall characteristics of such a diverse period, and while I think Shako generally does a good job, perhaps it's greatest strength is the ease of house-ruling for specific situations.



Jeremy Sutcliffe Inactive Member27 May 2008 2:35 a.m. PST

It's been more trailed than DBMM or FOG. I'll believe it when I see it.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member27 May 2008 5:07 a.m. PST

Oh, you'll believe it. It has gone to print and will be available in very early June. Dave Waxtel (publisher) has indicated he will have copies at a Con in New Jersey the first weekend of June as well as Historicon etc. later this summer. It is no longer a matter of "soon, it will be released".

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member27 May 2008 5:10 a.m. PST


I never considered restricting the French SR from the move and change formation – I like this idea, as well as the idea that all cavalry might have this ability. I will vet these ideas through the locals to see if we can try either or both.


campaigner Inactive Member27 May 2008 3:03 p.m. PST

Yes indeed it is coming and I have an advert I had to get in quickly to it. I am awaiting the copies of the rules and scenarios I ordered for the shop and for me as I enjoyed Shako I. I also base my figures on 4 bases for Shako and for other rules I play.
Anyone in my area who wants the rules and the Napoleonic 15mm figures to go with it just visit the web.

I like the idea of house rules too as everyone has their little foibles or beliefs on how a Napoleonic army or batalion operated. I also agree about the ideas of Christopher on cavalry and on SR as the French were not always so well trained. Adapting this to your year and scenario adds a bit of realism and identity with the units you play with. This thread has been a great read all round and whetted my appetite for more. Thanks.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member04 Jun 2008 6:31 p.m. PST

Shako II is out!!!!

Brownbear Inactive Member04 Jun 2008 10:56 p.m. PST


Jezz Todd Inactive Member05 Jun 2008 9:25 a.m. PST

Can anyone comment if there are special rules for Cossacks in Shako II ?

Brownbear Inactive Member06 Jun 2008 5:36 a.m. PST

Where to buy; haven't seen any advertisement

Irish Eyes Are Smiling Inactive Member06 Jun 2008 7:06 a.m. PST

Go to link

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