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"Brigade Level Game Design" Topic

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Art17 Feb 2017 5:50 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

This topic is only about Brigade level game designs

The questions are these:

What models and systems do you think are most important at this level?

What should be notional or presented in the game design?

Biggest problem most players have at this level?

Please let me thank you in advance…

Best Regards

Martin Rapier17 Feb 2017 6:44 a.m. PST

Firstly, what do you mean by Brigade level?

The players command a brigade. (like General de Brigade)


The basic unit of representation is the brigade (V&B, Horse, Foot and Guns etc). The players will then be commanding Corps etc.

Art17 Feb 2017 7:01 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

Right…sorry for the confusion !

On the military aggregation table (yes correct military term), for a brigade level design, the tactical sub-faction of the division is the brigade.

In layman's terms The basic unit of representation is the brigade ;-)

Best Regards

The Wargaming Company17 Feb 2017 7:16 a.m. PST

The largest, and most pervasive, problem in brigade level design is designers encouraging the players to use brigades like they were battalions, through mechanics which would be appropriate for battalions, but are applied to game units the designer chooses to call a 'brigade'.

We worked very hard in Et sans résultat! to avoid this very hurdle.

Around the shop we called it "truth in scope". We asked ourselves: "Is this mechanic appropriate for representing a division (or sometimes brigade), or are we just treating thousands of men like a single 'big battalion'?" if the latter, we started over.


davbenbak Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 7:17 a.m. PST

One problem with brigade level games is that it is hard to model the "rock, paper, scissors" relationship between infantry, cavalry and artillery you get at the battalion level that many Napoleonic gamers crave.

Not so with eras when more linear tactics are used like SYW/AWI and ACW. When it comes to TYW/ECW it seems easier for a player to simply assume that each battalion will seamlessly re-order to present pike to an attacking cavalry unit. That would have to be modeled for Napoleonic's at a brigade level and it would have to be assumed that the entire brigade would go to square automatically whenever threatened by cavalry.

Likewise, the role of artillery changed during the Napoleonic era from regimental guns to massed batteries. The effects of an artillery battery against a massed battalion either in square or column can be devastating. Apportioning the effects across an entire brigade diminishes the effectiveness of a single battery.

So to sum up my point, even though infantry and to an extent cavalry were moved and deployed by brigade (and even division), when you start to model the effects they have on each other as basic units with regards to fire and melee you lose a lot of the flavor that makes the Napoleonic era unique. P.S. I didn't even touch on the difficulty of modeling skirmish tactics at this level.

marshalGreg17 Feb 2017 7:33 a.m. PST

There are several rules out there already that play to that level.
Why do you think it is time for something different so another rules set is in order?
It would be best you brought it up here.
Essentially the only new system, and at a similar grand tactical level play with a break through in play-ability, with elegant period feel seems to be Es San Restant with all the skuttle occurring about it! And after somje games I would have to agree. Sooooo If you have played these rules and then can say something profound that you propose that brings X more to the wargame, then you have my attention.
As an ex rules tinker I have retired and stand aside to those who are really brilliant to wargame (pls NOTE: not "game") mechanics and have mirrored them eloquently to period's warfare.
Sorry, for my little venting working in here, in your post but these inquiries are getting old and playing such rules at conventions has become painful and wasting my limited time for wargame play, since they were clearly not ready for that, if ever.

There some good rules out there- it would be good to have players just play them so there is people to play with/against, instead of more division on who plays what, and therefore no one plays/play is more limited.

Yes the Empire days were a chore/large time commitment but one must admit ….at the time they were it and so you had no issues in finding people who knew how to and were willing to play.
Something hard to find these days.


Murvihill17 Feb 2017 7:51 a.m. PST

So a French Corps would consist at minimum of two divisions of infantry, a cavalry brigade and an artillery command, Each division with two brigades. Total 6 stands. A typical brigade with 6 battalions in two lines, say 2,100 men per line so your stands would be 700 paces wide, a brigade could open fire with their attached artillery battery at ~900 paces with cohesion effects. Infantry combat range 100 paces with both cohesion effects and minor casualties. Cavalry attacks would be either fail or have massive casualties, success modified by cohesion. Interesting.

Just another thought, how are you going to do Prussians? They didn't have a division structure, their brigades are too big for French brigades and too small for French divisions.

vtsaogames Inactive Member17 Feb 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

Prussian post 1806 brigades are merely divisions under another name. I believe the punitive peace treaty did not allow them to form divisions. So they created units of 6 – 11 battalions and called them brigades. Likewise, the regiments of 3 -4 large battalions each would pass for brigades in most other armies. They made corps of 4 brigades that looked much like a 4 division corps in any other army. Don't let the nomenclature fool you.

So if your basic unit is a 2,000 strong brigade, just use a 2,000 strong Prussian regiment. Problem solved. Their "brigades" in 1815 were anywhere from 4,000 to 9,000. The French had many 4,000 strong divisions then. I don't recall a single one that was as large as 9,000. Jerome's was the largest, at something over 6,000.

Edit: they also started the practice of letting trained troops go and putting them into reserves as a way around treaty limitations on the size of their army. Didn't anyone in 1918 take note of their ways of getting around treaty limits?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 8:28 a.m. PST

vtsaogames, OF COURSE the people at Versailles remembered the krumper system: this is why the Weimar Republic had no reserve structure and had a 12 year minimum enlistment. So instead of having the hastily-trained reserves of 1813, Hitler inherited an army composed of soldiers all trained and ready to command at least one level above their current rank. It's a military thing: we solve the problem of the previous war.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 8:50 a.m. PST

I think davbenbak has the right of it: if you do the brigade as your basic unit honestly, you lose a lot of the things which make the Napoleonic Wars distinctive. I fool around with it from time to time--I've got troops built for it right now--but I get a lot more mileage out of troops and rules which let me be a brigade or division commander.

(Please, here could we now break a TMP tradition and no one tell me how the new rules they've invented (and sell) will solve all my problems? If someone wants to tell me how someone else's rules solve the problem, I'll happily listen. But when I want commercials, I'll buy a television.)

marshalGreg17 Feb 2017 10:29 a.m. PST

@ robert piepenbrink
" (Please, here could we now break a TMP tradition and no one tell me how the new rules they've invented (and sell) will solve all my problems? If someone wants to tell me how someone else's rules solve the problem, I'll happily listen. But when I want commercials, I'll buy a television.)"

I agree but I do not see where this applies in this post and it's replies since I do not see that it has occurred.
An author of a rules system replies w/o presenting as such.
If you are referring to my reply to the post , I was stating a rules as a standard to compare against or to assist/work from in a reply that would present something profound.

could you pls clarify.

I second davenbak's and TWG's points-I have been in too many "brigade" games that were nothing more than battalions called brigades- I grow tired of this time wasting.



MajorB17 Feb 2017 11:49 a.m. PST

In layman's terms The basic unit of representation is the brigade

Sorry, that's not what I call a "brigade level" game. Level applies to the command level.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 12:33 p.m. PST

Another +1 to what davenbank said, with only one caveat: I am convinced it should be possible to model a brigade as the atom of activity, but still differentiate the individual battalions on the table. I am intrigued by the "multi-unit unit" approach taken for the ACW rules Fields of Blue and Grey. These rules don't allow for individual battalion/regiment activities like independent formations (line, square, column, etc.), but I don't think it would take much elaboration to do so. Alas, I'm too lazy, disorganized and unfocused to ever complete Napoleonic rules that demonstrate my point, but I see no special reasons besides wargaming tradition that a "unit" has to be a blob of stands adopting a unified facing, formation, frontage, etc. in stand-to-stand contact.

- Ix

forwardmarchstudios17 Feb 2017 12:58 p.m. PST

Single based brigades present some problems if you're trying to abstract the action of battalions into a brigade footprint. But lets not forge that most battalion level games are also inaccurate as regards what they're trying to represent. If you look at the below, my 3mm figures let you see the problems it presents.


You can check out my thoughts and experiments on this on my blog:

That's a 6 x 4 mat. The French battalions in line are 60mm in frontage on the table, and 100m in frontage on the ground. So, already, just on this table, you can see that the artillery units are too close to each other- they're inside of mutual canister range, which was rare historically- super rare. But how many battalion-level games have this sort of thing as the default? This is a very small ground scale- you can't get any smaller and still show battalion formations. And, even with this, 1km is 2 feet, so in order to back the arty out of canister they'd have to start within 1 foot of each players table edge.

That said, you can see the differences in how regiments inside of brigades deploy. They aren't randomly set up- they're in regimental formations. It makes a lot of sense. You place your regiments in lines, in depth, so that one officer can control the rate at which reinforcements are moved forward.

Also, there are things you can do with brigade bases that give a very different game than what is provided by things like Grande Armee and VnB. I'm working on a game system that explores the potential of operational level war-games, where the scale is zoomed out, and the action involves hundreds of square miles, marches to combat, and a time scale of 24-72 hours.


So, although I understand that there are limits to what I call "static brigade" bases, I think that one shouldn't necessarily write them off entirely. There are lots of different ways that they can be used, and certainly the potential of the concept has not been exhausted.

Art17 Feb 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

"Sorry, that's not what I call a "brigade level" game. Level applies to the command level."


It is correct when applied to a military tactical aggregation table…perhaps not for you….and I did use the term of military aggregation table when I used brigade level.

MajorB17 Feb 2017 2:26 p.m. PST

On the military aggregation table (yes correct military term), for a brigade level design, the tactical sub-faction of the division is the brigade.

It is correct when applied to a military tactical aggregation table

There seems to be some confusion here. Is it "a military aggregation table" (which is apparently the correct military term) or a "military tactical aggregation table"?

I have never heard of either term before. Perhaps you could point me to where these terms are defined and used?

Art17 Feb 2017 2:31 p.m. PST

I have posted the table a few times on this forum…and its even found in the French TTA (of course using modern tactical formations)

Do you have anything that might be helpful in regards to this thread?

MajorB17 Feb 2017 2:34 p.m. PST

I have posted the table a few times on this forum…and its even found in the French TTA (of course using modern tactical formations)


Art17 Feb 2017 2:40 p.m. PST

Join the French Army

Or seek out my posting on it

MajorB17 Feb 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

Join the French Army
Or seek out my posting on it

I did try the latter. Couldn't find anything… perhaps I'll just take your word for it.

OTOH, actually there are four levels of Wargame Design. These are:
Strategic Level
Operational Level
Tactical Level
Skirmish Level
- as defined in the Wargame Developments Handbook:
PDF link

Past Perspectives, a company that specialises in designing professional wargames for the military defines "level" as:
"Level – at what level are the players operating (Div, Bde, BG, Coy etc)"
PDF link

MajorB17 Feb 2017 3:07 p.m. PST

Then again "level" as defined by the RAND Corporation:
"Wargames are analytic games that simulate aspects of warfare at the tactical, operational, or strategic level."


OK, they miss out skirmish level but that is perhaps forgiveable given where they are coming from.

Art17 Feb 2017 3:20 p.m. PST

Thank you for taking my word…

And I shall read your links…

But I shall stick with our Battle Simulation Center (Sim Center) and military terminology used in CSOS when training foreign officers (their TTA). To include our use of the various FMs in our method of wargames…such as Staff Organization and Planning purposes…exercises…COA..and other things.

Again thank your for the reading material…

Best Regards

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 3:35 p.m. PST

So, already, just on this table, you can see that the artillery units are too close to each other- they're inside of mutual canister range, which was rare historically- super rare.


I am not sure what you mean when you say 'artillery units are too close to each other.' Do you mean side-by-side or facing opposing artillery? I am assuming the latter. What range do you see as 'canister range.'

forwardmarchstudios17 Feb 2017 4:22 p.m. PST

I'd take it out to 400 meters or more.. but thats not really the point. In the picture the batteries are only about 300-400 meters apart, meaning that some of them would have had to unlimber and deploy under fire at that range, which would have resulted in them being destroyed. I asked about this a few months ago on here – whether anyone had examples of artillery batteries deploying in cannister range of another battery. None had. Nor have I seen any evidence of it. If you have battalions that are 6" in frontage on a table 6' across it is only 1200 scale meters wide. Subtract deployment zones of 1 foot per side, which is cramped, and ahistorical unless you have off-board reserves, and you get an 800 meter zone over which artillery can fire. In fact, artillery could fire from off-board on one side to offboard on the otherside! But how many games let you do that? And, as the scale goes up the problem becomes greater.

Sho Boki17 Feb 2017 4:32 p.m. PST

Use 1" battalion frontage and problem disappear. imho.

forwardmarchstudios17 Feb 2017 4:49 p.m. PST

I agree!! :)
Your Waterloo game is the way to go.
I'm working on something around that scale myself.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 4:51 p.m. PST

When I first started in Napoleonic gaming, I wanted a game where I could be Wellington, Kutuzov or Napoleon. I ended up settling on "Grande Armee" a rule set that uses a 3" square base to represent a brigade.

At that scale, much of the tactical "process" is kept abstract, or in the dice. For example, your cavalry charges my infantry. You roll well I do not. That might represent you catching a battalion changing to square and wiping it out. Conversely, I roll well you do not, my troops all got into square and our volleys were well timed.

You necessarily some of the "the 57th will deploy skirmishers" action, but unless you do you get Napoleon making battalion level decisions, which I did not want.

For many I know the Column / Line / Square IS Napoleonics, but not to everybody. If I want to do that I want to command a brigade, not an army.

forwardmarchstudios17 Feb 2017 5:01 p.m. PST

An intersting experiment if someone wants to try it…

Put down all of your battalions, keeping them within a command radius of the brigade commander model. Then, move them as though playing Grande Armee. Meaning, keep them within a 300m box centered on the brigade commander model. So, you still see all the battalions moving around the table, interacting with the terrain, etc, but you're resolving the combat of those units in a fast, abstract manner. All "hits" are calculated against the brigade, etc.

Question: Would it really make a difference to the outcome of the game compared to most other rules out there???? Would it look freakish and give strange results?
I really don't think so. I think it would be fast playing but still look good.

Sho Boki17 Feb 2017 5:02 p.m. PST

@Extra Crispy

Well, I understand this. Imho solution is – multiplayer game. Some players act as Corps Commanders and some as Napoleons etc.

jwebster17 Feb 2017 7:02 p.m. PST


I think brigade level is the only sensible solution if you want to complete a whole battle with several corps on each side. I'm still looking for that perfect set of rules, but I can't afford to buy rules just to see what they're like

One solution to the "one big base for brigade isn't attractive enough" is to make the brigade multi-base – all bases have to be in contact with each other (similar to warmaster). Could allow corner contact to get the echelon effect I suppose. Multi-base units (with or without base removal) are part of battalion level games, so why not brigade ?

Things brings up an important point I suppose – although technically a battalion was an independent unit, they usually were in lock step with all the other battalions in the brigade or even division. Cavalry regiments usually didn't act independently, they formed part of a brigade

Things I don't want
- musket fire. If the effective range of a musket is less than the width of a battalion in line, then in a brigade level game it gets ridiculous.
- lots of attributes for each brigade. That's just me, and perhaps unavoidable if you want to have clear quality distinctions between brigades. I like to do more moving and dicing than looking up stuff in tables or having lots of markers and counters on the gaming table

Things I do want
- "Napoleonic flavor" – the basic thing for me is it has to be different from an 18th C battle, which I believe to be all about command and control and not "National characteristics"
- some form of distinction between regular, veteran, elite etc. troops. I believe this had significant impact on tactical success and failure, and can be used to replace "National characteristics"
- some form of points system so at least we can assess whether one side's numerical superiority was significant. Note that although we have accurate records of numbers of troops that took part in a particular battle, we have to make our own assessments of how effective each unit was.
- finish a large battle in (no more than) 6-8 hours of playing time
- skirmisher impact. Skirmishers were often deployed at a brigade (or even divisional level). They can screen attacks and prevent enemy from advancing (to some extent). Not sure whether having skirmish ability as a brigade attribute is good enough. If we have multi base brigade then I would want to see some skirmish bases in there
- special rules for assaulting and defending towns etc.
- realistic proportions of infantry/cavalry/artillery. An understanding that artillery train and guns were separate units might also be nice.
- wargame table in scale for whole battle which might be 3-5 miles in each direction. This means movement, time scale etc. has to fit.

I would anticipate two big stumbling points for many people
- want to see column line square
- want to have musket fire
- can't make each unit obey my commands exactly at all times

Most sets of rules I have played have brigades represented by battalions, whose commanders have complete visibility of the battle field, and an uncanny ability to operate independently. Larger games with multiple players often don't go beyond 4 or 5 bounds. I still enjoy this kind of thing, but ….

My vision of what a game should look like is remarkably similar to forwardmarchstudio's although his cat usually makes an appearance in the photos


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 7:50 p.m. PST

Use 1" battalion frontage and problem disappear. imho.

I agree!! :)
Your Waterloo game is the way to go.

forwardmarchstudios and Sho Boki;

Which game is that?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 8:00 p.m. PST

I'd take it out to 400 meters or more.. but thats not really the point. In the picture the batteries are only about 300-400 meters apart, meaning that some of them would have had to unlimber and deploy under fire at that range, which would have resulted in them being destroyed.


I think that because there was light and heavy cannister [grape shot], the distances could have been greater than 400 meters. I have several book suggesting as much. For instance;

Gérôme – Essai historique sur la tactique de l'infanterie (1903), p.222, footnote #1:

The maximum distances prescribed for the solid shot were: 800 meters for 12 pound pieces; 750 meters for 8 pound pieces; 600 meters for 4 pound artillery pieces.

For canister: 600 meters for 12 pounders: 550 meters for
8 pound pieces, 400 meters for 4 pounders or smaller. The limits possible were 1,800 meters for the 12, 1.500 meters for the 8, 1,200 meters for the 4.

There are a number of instances where artillery did come within 500 to 600 meters of artillery, some successful and some not so successful. Some examples;

Marmont at castiglione with 18 horse guns against Austrian artillery behind ramparts

Senarmont at Freidland successfully, unsuccessfully at Talavera. Other French artillerists also did the same.

I certainly wouldn't say such actions were common, but they did happen and as you say one side or the other was quickly destroyed.

forwardmarchstudios17 Feb 2017 8:21 p.m. PST

So really, arty should really be playing a supporting role x 2 on the board if you're playing with battalions over 6 inches in line. I'd actually thought it would be interesting to allow off board arty to bombard on table units. You could line the figures up along the back table edge with a range marker to let you know how far back the batteries were, then work everything the same.

I've also had the idea that if one is going to use bigger units, then you might as well use a super short turn length, like one or two minutes, and really figure things out blow by blow.

I was referring to a set of rules Sho Bokoi put up pics of awhile back, his own house rules I think.

Sho Boki18 Feb 2017 7:36 a.m. PST


Actually this is ruleset for players as Napoleon and Corps Commanders with flavour of battalion actions without players involved. Lowest commanding element is Brigade. EMPEROR rules.

I started these rules for beautiful AB 15(18)mm figures.
but soon switched to 6mm – 8mm figures with all info on table.

So now I build up Waterloo battlefield
and produce Units with 1:200 (8mm) figures for Waterloo battle

Rules are in process of translation to English, Arthur1815 help me correct my poor translatings.

When all Waterloo 8mm Units will be available, the EMPEROR rules must be translated and available too.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 8:38 a.m. PST


TMP link

Grande Armee fits almost all of your list of requirements:

Combat is by contact only and there is no distinction between melee and musketry.

Uses a roster with strength points. Better troops get more SPs per man, and can recover faster.

For command you have "points" you spend BUT you don't know how long a turn will last. You can also move units by initiative.

Skirmishers are important but abstract. Units are rated 0, 1 or 2 dice for skirmishers and they "fire" at the start of the turn (no figures are placed – the cloud is just assumed and is not under your control).

Reserves are critical: units can recover SPs, so pulling out a unit to rest requires someone to put in its place in the line.

PDF at or printed book at

Bandolier18 Feb 2017 4:16 p.m. PST

My wishlist is very similar to jwebster.

Good thread.

forwardmarchstudios18 Feb 2017 4:46 p.m. PST

The problem I run into with doing brigade level games is coming up with a novel combat resolution system. As far as I can tell, there are two classics that are so straight forward that it is pretty hard not to step on their toes.

1) Force Ratio charts, where you count up the amount of combat strength in a given area, and then find ratio between the forces. You then apply a random die roll to the ratio and that gives you the outcome for the forces involved. This is often used in chit based games, but less commonly in miniature war-games.

2) Sam Mustafa's Combat Value system from Grande Armee and Fast Play Grande Armee. In these you abstract the combat effectiveness of a brigade into a single number. When brigades engage in combat, both roll dice equal to their CV, trying to roll over a certain target number, say 5+. The number of successes reduce the CV of the opponent, and then drive the opponent back a distance in inches equal to the difference between the number of successes rolled by the winner and loser of the combat.

There is a third way I'm messing around with, which I call the "triple threat." It is a bit artificial, but so is Vegas…and it's entertaining, I think.

In the "triple threat" system, the two opposing brigades are either attacker or defender. They will both end up rolling 1d6, 3 separate times to resolve the combat (this is where the system's name comes from).
This is how it works:

1: The two brigades add their combat strength to the first roll (say 0-3 for untrained, trained, veterans and guard, plus a bonus for larger brigades). Tactical factors like being flanked also play in. The brigade with the higher total value of dice roll and combat value wins.

2: If the defender loses he retreats in inches the difference between his score and the attacker's score. If the attacker loses he returns to the point where he began his attack.

3: Then, the players roll a second time, adding the same CV to their scores. If the side that lost the first time loses the second roll, they also take a step loss, and their reduced strength is marked with a casualty marker of some sort. In this game you can only take one step loss.

4: The two sides roll a third and final time. If the side that took a step loss on the second roll loses again, it is destroyed. If it wins then the other side takes a step loss.


jwebster18 Feb 2017 10:56 p.m. PST


I suspect the triple threat is more complex than it need be, although I haven't calculated the probabilities. I do like the DBA mechanism where there are 5 (or 6) outcomes from a single opposed roll. With only two hits allowed, triple threat is also going to be very bloody


forwardmarchstudios19 Feb 2017 12:52 a.m. PST

I'd offset the bloodiness by allowing brigades to reform at the corps HQ… an idea I stole from a Strategy and Tactics game. Alternatively, you could add a second step in there.

The triple threat could be a single or double threat, but I thought the 1-2-3 aspect would be more dramatic than a single roll. I'm going for novelty here.

True Grit19 Feb 2017 3:14 a.m. PST

Hey guys, Keep It Simple, If you want to fight Napoleonic BATTLES! and I mean battles, which were between armies of several Divisions or Corps, NOT! between several Battalions or a couple of Brigades, because these were not Napoleonic battles they were Napoleonic skirmishes.
To achieve this you need the player to be at least a Corps Commander if you want to achieve anything on the wargame table and hes not interested in the movement of individual battalions or if their skirmish screen is in or out. So IMO for an accurate feel of a Napoleonic battle you need the basic manoeuvre unit to be of a Brigade size and I would say again to Keep It Simple, the first command figure on the table should be a Corp Commander (this is using the 2 levels up logic)
The rules I use which do this very well are DBN by KISR Publications. Check out their web site and videos, the Waterloo one is very good.

forwardmarchstudios19 Feb 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

Sho boki- That intro video is a great idea. The battle at the end of the intro video was the Waterloo battle I was thinking of. Looks great!

Sho Boki19 Feb 2017 6:34 a.m. PST

Actually this was fictional Erfurt battle, after players maneuvring on big map..

@True Grit
Keep It Simple is universal principle on its own, not necessary Napoleonics. Don't Oversimplify is it's companion.
I agree, that true Napoleonics wargame must be on Napoleon and Corps Commanders level, with big battles on small tabletops, but true Napoleonics offer even on this level all flavours of battalion size actions (without players involved of course).

jwebster19 Feb 2017 2:28 p.m. PST

I'd offset the bloodiness by allowing brigades to reform at the corps HQ

Not trying to get at you, but did whole brigades (say 5 battalions) really break, retreat and then reform ?


forwardmarchstudios19 Feb 2017 4:10 p.m. PST

The Saxons at Wagram come to mind.
Admittedly, they didn't do much after the attack on Aderklaa… but point taken. The units that return wouldn't be at full strength- they would represent straggler units at the lowest step level. Essentially, tactical speed bumps, unable to attack. But I feel like they should be represented. Also, I came up with a way to add air-space to single base brigade-level games like GA and VnB by assuming a ZOC surrounding smaller bases. Thus, the reconstituted unit (and any unit that takes a step loss) would have the same base-size, but no ZOC, effectively giving it a smaller footprint without having to resort to multiple bases. This also allows me to get a smaller ground scale and to avoid the weird contortions that single-base brigade games often suffer from.

Your question brings up a few good points about rules in general. Like, what is the difference between a "retreat," a "route," and "destruction" anyway? Isn't a "route" just total destruction by any other name? Militarily they are synonymous, I would think. That was one reason I wanted to make the combat a bit more lethal with the triple threat system. You either win and stay or run and die. But then again, it was quite possible to hold a line by feeding in reinforcements from the rear, to hold generally the same terrain. I was sort of thinking about a longer than average turn-length though, say 30-60 minutes or something along those lines, which I think is enough time for a decisive resolution to most brigade combats.

But you do have a good point about brigade-level games in general. The push and shove you see in FPGA is artificial to a big degree. But then again, if you "zoom in" to a more tactical view, it actually is a push and shove, just with more open-air between the units. This issue has puzzled me for awhile.

marshalGreg20 Feb 2017 9:25 a.m. PST


My suggestion, to perhaps help in any time wasting as I did, is to take a break and give a serious good look at ESR and or play in a ESR game.
I really believe this guy has come close to the "holy grail" to grand tactical play( that seems to be the theme/premise for Brigade level play).
One can have the brigade be represented and become the tactical elemental formation from the division and still works very well.
With some slight rule clarifications, if one does not want to have the Brigade operate entirely as the formation (with the cassion/wagon/marker models it recommends in play) it can be represented and affect the tactical action within the formation.
The link to see the rules is here to give the basic of the rules:

To clarify the brigade option I suggest/use…the formation typically in ESR is the division so a large 15 battalion formation per ESR would have the model for the rear formation's element ( can't remember the term for it).
I play with that same division with it's rear element in play per the rules but, have the battalion stands organized into the historical 2 brigades (that existed for that division formation). IE. St. Hilarie's Division 1809= 9 btn in 1st brigade and 12 in the second. Moving them independently of each other only once Division formation becomes engaged.
Each then has its own fatigue etc and react to that as did the the division.
One of the two must become the default to protect the rear element, protection as required in the rules.
This does bring another level of command decision to he division command [and player](IE.such as where the brigades are deployed within the Division formation, which ones attack or held back, when one shall relieve the other, who gets the artillery asset etc.) but I like the results better.

Sorry for my earlier venting


Glenn Pearce22 Feb 2017 7:11 a.m. PST

Hello Art!

I really can't answer your questions as there are way to many variables for my little brain to sort out. I can, however, give you my thoughts on the subject in general.

The major hurdle or problem with all of our games regardless of level is they must contain some degree of abstraction and compromise. As you move your level of gaming up in scale these two features become more prominent.

For example at levels below Brigade you have more moving pieces which in turn means less abstraction and compromise. Once you hit Brigade level your single moving game piece has to account for all of the sub units within the Brigade.

It seems that the vast majority of Napoleonic players think the heart and soul of our games are with the battalions and their abilities to change formation, move, fight etc. So making the jump from battalion to Brigade removes the heart and soul from a lot of players.

My own thoughts are slightly higher or in the middle ground at the regimental level where the formation changes are abstracted for ease of play. However, you retain the battalions as single units to facilitate their formation changes within the Brigade. To me this is where the real heart and soul of Napoleonic warfare is. The Brigade being allowed to change it's shape as the circumstances change.

So for me a single Brigade base is simply a level too high for me to enjoy. On the other hand if your objective is to play major Napoleonic battles in a short period of time on a reasonable sized table then there is no better vehicle to use then the single based Brigade. You achieve the objective, but lose the heart and soul.

Best regards,


Sho Boki22 Feb 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

Glenn +1

Osterreicher22 Feb 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

Glenn +1
To me, games that make brigades the lowest unit fail because they don't represent how a Napoleonic battle looked from above. These types of games can't show the way regiments maneuvered, changed formations, and behaved. You won't see Saint Hilaire in column at the bottom of Pratzen Heights (Austerlitz), maneuvering quickly up the hill, with the 10e Léger deploying at the run, using a heavy screen of skirmishers, then fighting in line to drive off the Russians and Austrians. You can't see the way the Prussians doctrine would deploy a brigade into 3-4 waves, feeding regiments into combat in 1813, with skirmishers columns and lines.

For this reason, the best compromise is to have the regiment as the basic tactical maneuver element, but keep the battalion as the smallest collection of stands for the visual effect. In this method, you can see battalions as part of a regiment, and see the regiment move separately of other regiments, but you can abstract a great deal of the combat resolution to avoid an "Empire" bogged down/argumentative game scenario, with massive numbers of charts, and algebraic requirements to resolve a simple charge.

I understand that the appeal of brigades as a maneuver element is appealing to those desiring a shorter but large game, but I can't see the Napoleonic impulse system on display here, and the game won't any good map showing the flow of the battle.

I want to see the differences from battles during SYW; that is, much more skirmish combat, with units changing formation more often, and to focus on command decisions for the player. I'll accept reasonable abstraction to make skirmishing, fire combat, and close combat relatively simple and quick, but the game needs to flow like one can imagine a real battle flowing.

Finally, at the regimental level, one can also understand and see some of the doctrine differences, like the British favoring a strong skirmish screen, a quick, short range volley, when the enemy comes to around 100-50 m, then a swift counter charge. I want to see the French maneuvering with strong skirmishing in column and deploying. Brigade units can't show this at all.

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2017 1:35 p.m. PST

and the game won't any good map showing the flow of the battle.

I'm sorry, I can't follow this. Could you re-phrase, please?

jwebster22 Feb 2017 2:31 p.m. PST

@Glenn and Ostereicher

Does a multi-base brigade satisfy some of your issues ?

For instance Warmaster (yes, I know it's ancients) uses 3 bases per unit so brigade in line/column/echelon could be represented – a skirmish base could also be added. Warmaster as it stands is probably too generic for Napoleonics, but it provides an example.

On "regimental level". I think this is a mistake. The regiment was not a tactical unit on the battlefield. Battalions could change formation, but in reality the whole brigade, if not division, would operate together.

I think I agree that a brigade as a single base is limiting. Visually, it can be made to look good, with a small figure scale

I previously wrote this

I think brigade level is the only sensible solution if you want to complete a whole battle with several corps on each side

What do you think ?


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