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Who asked this joker24 Apr 2009 7:13 a.m. PST


Does anyone have a detailed review about the new Rank and File Rules? How do they play? Game mechanics? Any other details?



Dave Gamer24 Apr 2009 9:28 a.m. PST

I have them but haven't played them. I consider them pretty much "old school" rules using a D6 system. This is a set for large club or convention games with "game" being emphasized over "simulation". Points of interest:

1) Designed for 25-28mm figures but can be scaled down for other sizes.

2) Stand-based. # of figures on a stand doesn't matter (the author uses 4 figures on a 40mm square base for infantry, 2 cav on a 50mm square base, and arty on 60-80mm bases).

3) Stands can represent anything from 50 men per stand to 200 men per stand. Infantry and cavalry units should be made up of 4-10 bases each. Artillery units are usually 1-2 bases. No ground scale is given and ranges and movement rates do not change no matter which scale you choose.

4) No command-control rules. All the leader stands do is run around attaching to units for morale and melee benefits.

5) Unit movement rate is sort of high compared to similar rulesets (reflecting that we're looking to get the game resolved quickly). For example, infantry units in line move 8" per turn.

6) A surprisingly wide variety (for this type of simple game) of unit formations are covered, including reinforced lines and refused flank. Units do not release skirmisher screens but you can have whole units in skirmish formation, which is given a fairly detailed treatment in the rules.

7) Fire and Melee combat are done by stand i.e. 5 stands firing equals 5D6. Not a huge list of modifiers but not real short either. It takes 3 hits to remove a stand (cumulative). Morale checks are taken when units lose stands (simple D6 check).

8) Rules for camels and elephants, early machine guns and breech loading weapons.

9) Specific period rules and restrictions broken into 3 sections basically pre-Napoleonic, Napoleonic, and post-Napoleonic. For example. I believe pre-Napoleonic units can't interpenetrate each other while post-Napoleonic (like ACW) may freely do so. Pre-Napoleonic infantry have their wheeling restricted, etc..

10) No army lists or organizations are included. No point system. An appendix has an example of how to convert a particular division at Gettysburg into game units at the 1 stand =50 men, 100 men, and 200 men levels.

11) The book is a really slick production. Glossy paper and lots of color photos of miniatures throughout.

My verdict not sure if I'd play them straight up. For, say, my ACW gaming I might combine them with the command-control rules from Larry Brom's ACW rules (A Glint of Bayonets which is like a simpler version of Rank and File [but does have C&C rules]). At least one person on the Crusader Yahoo! Group said he'd use them for his Napoleonic gaming but with some house rules grafted on. Because the rules are simple and straight forward, it should be pretty easy to add on your own tweaks.


Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Apr 2009 9:54 a.m. PST

Thanks for the detailed review Dave. This is very helpful. It sounds like the type of rules that anyone could play without too much of a learning curve. That would be a huge plus in my book.

How is the "Rock, Paper & Scissors" aspect of the rules; i.e. is any one combat arm more powerful than the others, or do infantry, artillery and cavalry each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

With regard to command-control rules, I've always disliked them, believing that the individual gamer usually has his plate full with whatever game command/game elements that he has assigned to him. For an example, check the pictures of the In The Grand Manner Napoleonic game that I posted on my blog last week. I was so busy taking care of my troops at one end (left flank) of the table that I hardly had time to be concerned about what was going on one player command to my right, let alone worrying about the events on the far right flank.

Dave Gamer24 Apr 2009 10:36 a.m. PST

re: Rock, Paper & Scissors:

Hard to say, Der Alte Fritz, without actually playing the rules. There's nothing that really sticks out (other than using units in skirmish formation to screen your advancing troops). You can look at the charts here: PDF link

One thing I left out of my "review" is that there are a lot of optional or "advanced" rules sprinkled throughout the rulebook. For instance, normally there are only 3 grades of morale (Green, Regular, and Veteran) but you can optionally add Elite (which, as I recall, act as Veteran but get a re-roll).

I agree with you to a certain extent on command control rules. In Volley & Bayonet, Frank Chadwick argued that if you played a multiplayer game you didn't need them, since players tend to do what they want and not follow the overall plan. I also agree with you that, at least in a large game, you have enough to do just moving your units around and rallying routed troops. I've played in convention Volley & Bayonet games where my lines were collapsing. It would have been enough work for me to just get my units repositioned but I also had to play games micro-moving my command stand around trying to get units back within command radius. Of course, some games (like Warmaster\Blitzkrieg Commander and Piquet) are built from the ground up as Command Control (or "friction") games, and their movement and combat systems are abstracted in order to give you more time to beat your head against the wall because your troops won't do what you want them to…

Hopefully this weekend I can pull out my ACW stuff (mounted on 30mm square bases) and give R&F a try. Don't know how much "Rock, Paper Scissors" I'll notice since at most I'll have only 1 unit of cavalry….

freewargamesrules24 Apr 2009 10:41 a.m. PST

I have written a battle report on my blog


Who asked this joker24 Apr 2009 12:19 p.m. PST

Hi all!

Thanks for all the input! Very helpful.

It looks like a fun game. I'll probably purchase these in the future. It sounds like it is the same sort of fun game that the Ancients rules are.


blucher24 Apr 2009 1:31 p.m. PST

I wish people were a little more critical of rules. We seem to be swamped with mediocre rules in for horse and musket atm.

These are glossy but Ive read through them and there is NOTHING NEW.

Sorry if that is rude to the author but I just think a lot of new rule sets are just rehashes of old concepts with new glossy pages.

Still just my opinion.

lebooge24 Apr 2009 3:42 p.m. PST

I have the Rank & File rules (closed circuit to Dave Gamer: I'm the guy on the Yahoo Group that was talking about Napoleonic mods).

Blucher is right… there is nothing really new in the rules. That said, there's nothing mediocre about them IMO. There have been so many horse & musket rules sets pushed out over the last 4 or more decades that there is rarely much 'new' in any set these days. Want friction? Play Piquet. Want detailed Napoleonic combat? Empire, Legacy of Glory or GdB among others are right up your alley. Want big battles? Volley & Bayonet or Grande Armee fit the bill.

Rank & File appears to me to be a solid set of wargames rules. They cover a lot of territory and are meant to be scaled up or down in terms if figure ratios, so each stand can represent 50 men or 200 depending on what you want to do. Any time you try to put out a set of rules that broad in scope, sacrifices are made with the details, and someone won't be happy.

These rules are meant as a fast-play or 'club' set of rules, and they fill that bill well. They're designed to move fast, provide a good time, and not have a plethora of complex routines that you must run through.

I'm a Napoleonic geek, so these rules wouldn't be my first choice when trying to work through the detailed processes of tactical combat. They would be a great set for trotting out larger scale figures and playing a game with people who don't primarily play horse & musket, or for just enjoying a quick game on a weeknight. There are plenty of times I'll be in one of those situations, so these rules look promising to me.

@DAF, I have yet to actually play a game, but from the looks of it the arms are fairly well balanced. Stand-based firing with each stand being able to cause up to 1 hit. Stands can take 3 hits, and when you lose a stand it's a morale check, which most units have a good chance of failing and losing a morale level (obviously not a good thing when in combat!)

Each era in the game (1740-1792, 1792-1848, 1848-1900) has specific rules covering allowable formations, mobility of artillery, etc. You can take these and tweak them as you see fit without altering the basic flow of the game. The nice thing about the 'simple' or 'old school' sets is that the mechanisms are straightforward and therefore easier to modify.

This may be of interest to you, or it may not be. That said, I find nothing 'mediocre' about them. There's something refreshing about a solid and simple set that can be picked up fast. YMMV of course…

dualer25 Apr 2009 12:33 a.m. PST

Our club will be trying these rules shortly. They look like the blurb describes them, a fast play set, ideal for a club night. Nothing wrong with keeping it simple. How many times have you settled down on a club night and only got two or three turns in as the game grinds to a halt as players have to constantly cross reference sub-sections and make protracted mathematical calculations and bicker over what colour socks the unit was wearing at the point of changing from column to square. More power to anyone putting fun and playability back into wargaming.

blucher25 Apr 2009 3:44 a.m. PST

For a fast play club set id recommend shako.

They are faster than rank of file, have just the same detail and few interesting mechanics.

They are also well established.

vtsaogames25 Apr 2009 10:20 a.m. PST

If you are playing large games with teams you don't need Command & Control rules, though the problems are usually the opposite of real ones. In real combat people need to be kicked to go forward most of the time. In games, players have to be retsrianed from attacking stronger forces (out of boredom) most of the time.

If you have one or two guys per side on a 4 X 6 table then C&C rules really are needed. I like Volley & Bayonet fine but find the C&C a trifle simplistic.

mashroomca27 Sep 2009 11:01 a.m. PST

It's been many months since the rules came out.

Has anyone been using them, and could share the likes and dislikes about the rules?

Cheers and thank you.

Keef4424 Oct 2009 10:59 a.m. PST


I have been using the rules for a few months now and I like them a lot. They play smoothly and quickly. They are simpler than Minden Rose and a good deal simpler than Die Kriegskunst. The move sequence is logical and works well, and the basic mechanisms for fire, melee and morale are very straightforward with limited numbers of factors (which soon become familiar). The period specific rules are simple and effective, in my opinion.

You need to know your period: organisation and classification of units are up to you. You will also find no help as regards setting up a battle: you need to devise your own scenarios, including victory conditions. There is an Army Points mechanism designed to bring battles to an end at a reasonable point, but I have found that the result becomes obvious before these come into play: I think they need tweaking.

The rules are well supported by a Yahoo Group:


The author is very quick to reply to queries and is open to suggestions and comments. I have written my own brief review on my blog:

These rules are well worth a look if you are in the market for a simple, quick-playing set. If you prefer something a bit more complex and perhaps more determined to bring out all the nuances of the various horse and musket eras, you might prefer another set.

Best wishes, Keith Flint.

mashroomca28 Oct 2009 3:28 p.m. PST


thanks for the reply, having said that I have picked up the rules already, have read them and so far looks good, they are nice and simple and yes will need few tweeks to make them fit my armies (like brigade skirmish sceans, my use of 1:20 figure ratio. I think I will be happy with the rules.


YankeePedlar0113 Nov 2009 4:54 a.m. PST

We have played many games with them now, including SYW, AWI, War of 1812, ACW, Crimean War, Zulu War and Sudan War. We have enjoyed them all and found they do what they set out to do,providing a clean and quick game in about 2 -3 hours, with some nice period specific add-ons. Of all the eras we've gamed, only the Colonial has been less than wonderful, the rules seem to lack a certain something in handling the natives we thought. At present they remain our 'rules of choice' from SYW to Crimean War. I've looked at 'Blackpowder' recently and, although I liked aspects of the rules, I think we shall stick with Rank and File.

akudjinn22 Jan 2010 1:34 p.m. PST

I have my 15mm ACW based on 1x1" bases. If I use Rank and File rules can I use those? Or I need to do new 40mm squares? If I use 15mm do I need to scale the ranges at all?


Mal Wright Fezian22 Jan 2010 10:54 p.m. PST

Sorry if that is rude to the author but I just think a lot of new rule sets are just rehashes of old concepts with new glossy pages.

I have to agree with you on that. Far too many rules coming out are just rehashing how to do what other rules have already shown what to do.

I've been thinking about that very issue. In fact I kind of drifted off to sleep last night, while thinking over different ….and better….. ways to achieve results, rather than just another version of everything that came before.

50 Dylan CDs and an Icepick23 Jan 2010 6:30 a.m. PST

Obviously nobody sets out to produce a new game, thinking: "Okay, I want to invest years of effort and thousands of dollars/euros/pounds in order to recycle a bunch of old ideas with some pretty pictures."

If the game seems too weird or unfamiliar, most gamers will trash it or just ignore it, or talk about how "unrealistic" it is, because it isn't like what they're used to.

If it seems too familiar, they'll trash it for being "rehashing old rules with new pretty pictures."

The trick is always to give people something new and interesting, but not so unfamiliar that they don't recognize what it is, and what it's supposed to do.

lebooge23 Jan 2010 7:34 a.m. PST

I think Rank & File works as a very clean and straightforward set of horse & musket rules. They look to be good for a quick club night game or as an easy set of rules for people who are interested in the era but aren't period geeks.

I don't know that I'd make R&F my standard Napoleonic set since that's my favorite period and I'd probably prefer a bit more detail in a rules set. I'd have no issues playing it ever-so-often with others, though. On the flip side I like the ancient period but am not as in to it as others. Rules like Field of Glory, even though they are no more complex than some of my favorite Napoleonic rules, make my eyes glaze over. I want something simpler for that period.

R&F won't be for everyone, and for the older grognards of the hobby there probably isn't much new in them. That said, historical miniatures is such a cottage industry that many of the older rules sets similar to R&F are probably hard if not impossible to find. I can see these rules being a good intro to the period for newer gamers, and they could provide a fast moving game that completes in a reasonable amount of time. Nothing wrong with having another set like that.

Mooseworks821 Mar 2010 2:56 a.m. PST

Thanks for the reviews, I've decided to purchase.

Marc the plastics fan04 Sep 2011 5:50 a.m. PST

Any boby come up with "house rules" or tweaks. Could not get to the yahoo site – has it folded or changed address?

We are tinkeringf with these to make them slightly more (to my eyes) historical, and to make units a bit less fragile, but still a way to go yet :-)

Duc de Limbourg08 Sep 2011 12:59 p.m. PST

there is a forum at

kevanG11 Oct 2011 1:09 p.m. PST

I have playd quite a few R & F games. The main change we have done is simply use a d8 for morale rather than a d6 for units that start with 5+ stands.

I like them very much. They are simpler than black powder and dont create the eclectic shapes and positions for battle lines

korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2011 8:06 p.m. PST

Played R & F ACW a few times with around 5-600 figures involved. Usually get a good result in 3 hours.

I'd endorse the bigger die for morale throws as large units don't seem to get much bang for their size unless they get to the second round of combat; thats about the only change I think is needed. Very flexible set for adapting as required though. Moevement is quick but constrained as appropriate, shooting is bloody when it should be, combat is not recommended unless properly supported as it should be. I really like them as a simple set. I'm thining of getting the ACW supplement to get some further tweaks in it.

Not a set for those who like to have complex C&C but enough there to give a good game.

Kazimierz11 Feb 2020 7:08 a.m. PST

Since Yahoo died and Crusader Publishing's forum is not to be found, is there any site with compiled house rule add ons or suggested changes for R&F? Looking at some tack on C&C rules, too. I see others have mentioned Glint of Bayonets and Volley and Bayonet. I'll be cycling through some Napoleonic rules over the next decade or two (realistic timeframe…), as I've just recently, in the last month or two, purchased the following rulesets:
Rank & File
Bataille Empire
Over the Hills 2nd
Might & Reason
Field of Glory 2nd


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