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1,594 hits since 19 Jun 2012
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RMIKE5D Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 7:33 a.m. PST

I would like to game Napoleonics,but need to know the best rules – free if possible and what the best scale is and the armies that need to be built and what size.

ghost02 Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 8:06 a.m. PST

My friend, you may have just started a firestorm.

For *me* and the group I play with, we use Napoleons Battles with 15mm figures. The best suggestion anyone can give you is talk to the people you willbe playing against and see what they do.

MajorB19 Jun 2012 8:06 a.m. PST

Black Powder is very popular.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2012 8:59 a.m. PST

If you want free Napoleonic rules, then yuo can find a bunch here: link


RMIKE5D Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 9:12 a.m. PST

Jim can u suggest a decent set.

Artilleryman19 Jun 2012 9:35 a.m. PST

it all depends on what you want to do. Do you want to skirmish with a few dozen figures? Or recreate a whole battle at corps level with hundreds or even thousands of figures. That decision witll decide the scale of your figures and the size of your armies anything from 54mm to 6mm. Personally I am in the 'middle ground' fighting divisional level battles with 28mm figures on a six foot by eight foot table (when I can) using Black Powder, General de Brigade or Waterloo. There are usually a couple of hundred figures on each side. Choosing the army to represent is also a matter of choice. French are popular as they are the main participant. However you can also go for their enemies such as the Russians, Prussians Austrians and British. Or you can go for one of the smaller armies such as the Bavarians who fought on both sides at one time or another.
The best way to start is to chose a specific campaign and the armies from that.
Basically, the world is your oyster.

RMIKE5D Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 10:10 a.m. PST

Would like the larger forces and a scale where mini's are easy to get and a good sellection.French are a must and say atleast british and maybe prussians like at Waterloo,would need both sides – very few gamers in my country.This would just be a sideline from my WW2 Flames of War.

Fredloan19 Jun 2012 10:25 a.m. PST

ghost is right; you will get recommendations for 6mm all the way up to 28mm. You will also get about 10 recommendations for rule sets.

I personally have 15/18mm and also looking at 6mm. SOem like the 10mm which is in the middle, others like the big detailed 28mm figures. It all depends on your personal preference and what is used by the people you will play with.

corporalpat Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 10:55 a.m. PST

Sounds like you want to go with 15mm figures or smaller especially if storage is an issue. We use Age of Eagles for handling large engagements. They are simple, and play quickly. As far as free rules go I don't know any good ones off hand, but the link ColCampbell gave is a good bet for finding some. Everyone has favorite rules like they have favorite foods. Your best bet is to sample a few of the free ones while you research the ones that cost.

pbishop1219 Jun 2012 11:08 a.m. PST


If you're a young man, then you have a life of contstant flux here. Napoleonics has so much variation with figure sizes, scales and rules, its maddening. If its a passing enthusiasm, it won't be too bad. If you get entrenched, you'll never have enough.

I don't think I'm unusual with this. I've tried just about every size figure from 6MM to 28MM, with a few skirmishers at 54MM. Scales from 1:1 to 60:1. Skirmishes to big battles. Kitchen table to my current 12x6 table, to the huge tables offered at the Wargames Holiday Center. My book case used to be crammed with rule sets, history books and uniform guides.

I settled with 28MM Napoleonic Peninsula, General de Brigade rules the primary. Not everyone's cup of tea. Get 4 gamers together, you'll get 8 opinions. Try it all. And if you stick it out, you'll find what works best for you.

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 1:26 p.m. PST

Look at as many blogs as you can and see what other people are doing, and what it looks like-you are sure to have a better picture of the myriad of choices available.

rabbit Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 1:46 p.m. PST


You have not had the firestorm I expected when I first read your post; it seems we are getting older if not necessarily wiser.

Wherever you are in the world you suggest you are too far from a wargames club, otherwise I would suggest you go along, and give a set of rules a go. Try not to listen to the folk who will tell you that their rules are the best, if the club is big enough, I suspect that more than one set will be in use, so try them all and make your own choice. We are usually a welcoming bunch, (except on chat sites) especially if you are a prospective opponent. If you are that alone in the world, you may need solo play rules, unless you can find someone to play against on the understanding you field both sides.

Scale and nation are as important as the set of rules, a quick scan of TMP will show you that no set of rules is perfect and there will always be someone who does not like your favourite. Plan what army you want, for which period and in which scale. This will depend on who you are going to fight, e.g. what armies your prospective opponents have if any. In the event that there is nobody close, you will need both sides.

French can fight everybody, but there are lots of them around, there was not a Napoleonic civil war in France.

British can fight several nations, depending upon period

Austria and Prussia can fight on both sides

Russia can fight almost everybody (except the British in any numbers)

There are a myriad of nations and even more uniforms.

You mention waterloo, it is a good place to start, there are hundreds or thousands of books and articles on the subject so you will not be short of research material.

When you buy an army please do not get the Guard first; don't buy the 95th Rifles or the cuirassiers first either. The late lamented Bruce Quarrie suggested painting an infantry battalion, then a squadron of cavalry, then another battalion then a model gun and crew then another battalion etc.

You will need medium cavalry (dragoons) or light cavalry Hussars, Chasseurs etc. and bags and bags of line infantry. Try to work to an order of battle there are hundreds to choose from … NO! NOT THE GUARD FIRST. Prussia in 1815 had the Landwehr, so it should make an appearance, there was certainly more of it than there were 95th rifles…

Some rules "penalise" some nations in comparison with others. Some rules are almost independent of nation state, so any nation will perform equally as well, which was clearly not the case. The balance to be struck is "How bad are Naples and Spain compared to the French" if they appear too poor, nobody will use them, if they are the same, we might as well go back to chess.

Also, how do you want to fight, many gamers, regardless of the army they have use French tactics, because it is more fun to have your battalions nipping here and there rather than sitting on the front of a hill having seven bells knocked out of them, even if that is what would happen in reality. If you are happy to sit your figures behind a hill, while all around you the enemy dances, Britain may be for you, sitting on the front of a hill while the enemy bounce off, Russia.

It's a GAME; so long as you enjoy it, it does not matter

If you are going to invest several tens, hundreds or thousands of pounds /dollars /euros in collecting and painting one or more armies (Oh yes you will) why does the ruleset need to be free? However I do agree with corporal pat, if you can find a free set you like all the better

Try some rules; talk to your club members, go to a wargames show or two, then look on ebay for the rules, you will be unlucky if you don't find a few sets of what you're after. A quick glance at ebay has two sets of 2nd edition General de Brigade rules for less than 13 pounds including postage to the UK. The new deluxe set will set you back 35 pounds

My choice is 25/28 millimetre, main army Russia, rules currently General de Brigade, this might not work for you, but at the end of the day it is my army not yours. There are reasons for my choices which may not be relevant to you so there is little point in explaining. This is a very personal thing you are getting into, welcome to the fold and good luck


Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 4:43 p.m. PST

May I offer a suggestion:

Start painting the figures you like, preferably with an emphasis on "Plain Jane" troops like regular line infantry, light cavalry, some artillery. Buy them in numbers divisible by four.

Don't base them yet. Keep them on the popsicle sticks or whatever you use to paint. Just paint them to your liking, but hold off on basing.

While you're doing that – and it will take a while – you'll have plenty of time to explore different rules. Find groups in your area and play a few games, or read peoples' blogs on the Interwebs, etc.

Very few groups will play free rules, unless they're the local "Home Brew" that those guys have concocted to suit their own tastes. Most likely, though, any group you find, will be playing some rules that are commercially published.

Fast-forward a few months. By now you've got a favorite rules set, or at least one that's good enough, and you can start basing the figures. Since you collected them in multiples of fours, you can fit 90% of the basing styles and schemes, and also base them in accord with what other people in your group are doing.

14Bore19 Jun 2012 5:02 p.m. PST

15's I think will give you a nice figure to paint, show detail, and have a great range of poses. Paint 2 opponent armies, go big and do French and Russia/Prussia or small French and British /contingent.

Imperial Guard Miniatures Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 8:58 p.m. PST

Napoleon's Battles or polemos are great rules for begginers. Those rules won't bog you down with too much information to a point where you feel totally lost. If you want to build large armee's quickly, 6mm or 10mm is the way to go. Plus you will have that "mass effect" that all wargamers look for. For me, its 6mm all the way. If you spend good quality time on painting your mini's, they look as good if not better than larger scales. Not only, you can do the huge battles (Borodino, Leipzig, Waterloo, Austerlitz, etc, etc..) on smaller size tables. I use a 6'x5' and it works just fine. If you want to waste your time on larger figs, you won't get the true Napoleonic Wars feel, NO big battles.

Lion in the Stars19 Jun 2012 9:24 p.m. PST

Would like the larger forces and a scale where mini's are easy to get and a good sellection.French are a must and say atleast british and maybe prussians like at Waterloo,would need both sides very few gamers in my country.This would just be a sideline from my WW2 Flames of War.
Let's start from the end of that comment.

I'd suggest 15mm or 18mm (both roughly the same size as Flames of War), which will let you share scenery between your collections. 18mm means AB figures (mail order from Eureka Minis), which are some of the most-detailed minis available.

Then you need to decide on other interesting things, like what scale of game you'd like to play. 'Larger forces' could mean 'lots of models per unit' or it could mean 'I want to be Napoleon or Wellington'

ochoin deach Inactive Member19 Jun 2012 10:56 p.m. PST


Elan: free but I'd pay good money for them if I had to.

Still the rule set of choice.

SECURITY MINISTER CRITTER Inactive Member20 Jun 2012 6:15 a.m. PST

Don't believe me when I tell you Empire III.

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Jun 2012 8:24 a.m. PST

I personally feel that, if you are comfortable with a computer, the most sophisticated rules with the shortest learning curve are Carnage & Glory computer assisted. You will have a relativly easy time with the actual mechanics, and you only have to study the tactics of the time to use them well, a study you will have to undertake anyway :)

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2012 8:25 a.m. PST

You might want to check out 20mm plastic figures. It sounds like you will be builidng both sides, and plastic is generally way cheaper than metal. Try HaT Industries, for one.

thecrazycaptain Inactive Member20 Jun 2012 11:37 a.m. PST

In Austin Napoleon at War has taken everyone by storm. We have played more Napoleonics in 6 months than we have in the past 10 years.

It manages to really portray the combined arms warfare aspect without getting bogged down in complications. Each player typically uses a division. This allows formation changes to take effect which most people like :)

It has a point system for pickup games, but is easily adapted to scenarios. We game scenarios all the time!

I got my copy at Great Hall Games, and they sell it online as well.

Clay the Elitist Inactive Member21 Jun 2012 3:34 p.m. PST

The best rules are mine, of course, and they are FREE.

The best scale is 25mm, of course, and they are NOT FREE. But there are a ton of fantastic manufacturers out there. Just choose a campaign and starting painting a unit from each side…in 30 years you'll be frustrated like me!

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2012 3:48 p.m. PST

Here is a yahoo link to our house rules "Brigades and Batteries." Unit scale is battalion. Figure scale is 25/28mm.


Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2012 5:19 p.m. PST

@Ghost, lol.

The Phosis Inactive Member23 Jun 2012 8:59 p.m. PST


I'd like to chime in as another supporter of the 1:72 or 20mm plastics format. Of course everything in wargaming depends on the local community, but if you are the extent of the local wargaming community than do what works best for you!. has a wealth of information on the manufacturers and the individual pieces, and and/or Amazon has a great selection of these kits (some are harder to come by than others, of course).

HaT Industrie, Italeri and Zvezda have been my go to companies thus far, especially Italeri for Cavalry and HaT for infantry (but all companies have hits and misses). I'm using Warhammer Fantasy bases (the 25mm ones) for my guys, because thats what I can get my hands on locally (if it ain't warhammer, no one plays it here *grumble grumble*). One thing I've learned is that most of these rulesets don't really care WHAT your base system is, as long as both sides are consistent.

As far as rulesets are concerned, I've heard that Black Powder, Field of Glory Napoleonics, and LaSalle are popular systems (based on the forums here at TMP). I'd also like to give a shout out to Neil Thomas's "Wargaming an Introduction" and "Napoleonic Wargaming". Both books include a decent ruleset to get you started. Almost all of these books can be found on, but I'm sure there are other outlets too.

From someone else just getting started, cheers man and good luck!

Attila the Pun Inactive Member15 Jul 2012 3:26 p.m. PST

Since you said that you live in an area with few potential opponents, I would just like to add that it would definitely be a good idea for you to buy and paint up balanced forces for both sides of a small Napoleonic battle (regardless of what scale or rules you settle on). That will make it easier for you to attract others to try their hands at Napoleonic gaming. If they like it well enough to start their own armies, great! (if so, try to persuade them also to field balanced forces appropriate to different sides of a battle). But otherwise, some gamers may still be willing to occasionally game the era, if they do not have to use up their own time and money on Napoleonics. By way of reciprocity, you should be willing to try other scales, rules, or eras, if the other party can and will provide all the necessary troops and rules.

Steve64 Inactive Member15 Jul 2012 6:20 p.m. PST

Republique – really good free rules for newbies.

Allows you to quickly get a few brigades / divisions on the table without too many figures, and covers a lot of the intricacies of period without getting bogged down in calculations.

A great way to learn the period, and paint up an interesting variety of units.

Basing is compatible with most other systems, so you can expand out later if you wish.

'Best' rulesets … ummmm … not touching that with a barge pole ! hahaha. You will quickly work out for yourself what it is that drives your own interest. If you like detail, if you like calculations, if you like fast play sweeping drama, pick up games, or competition play with points … all things are possible.

Actually, there is new stuff coming out all the time, so the BEST rules are the ones that are still in deep development at the moment :)

Maxshadow15 Jul 2012 9:16 p.m. PST

You already use 15mm so if your happy with painting that scale then go again. Theres alot to be said for 6mm especially regarding cost and stowage. Many Napoleonic gamers wouldn't use anything but 25/28mm because these can really bring out the glory of the uniforms.
If you want free rules then can second the recommendations for Republic and Elan. Both good sets that produce enjoyable games.
I suggest you check out the Battle reports page here. It may give you an idea on what you might like out of the commercial sets.
Good luck, have fun.

Chortle Fezian Inactive Member15 Jul 2012 11:18 p.m. PST

Warning! This topic will soon reach Napoleonic gamer critical mass. You have five postings to reach minimum safety distance.

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