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"A Comprehensive Wargames System" Topic

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thistlebarrow203 Apr 2017 7:24 a.m. PST

In 2006 I designed a comprehensive wargames system to provide me with interesting battles to wargame. So far it has provided 252 and is still going strong.

It is a very simple system which can be used for any period from ancient to Star Wars, any scale from 2mm to 54mm and any size of wargames table. It can handle any wargame from skirmish to world war.

This system would be suitable for any wargamer from complete novice to jaded veterans. The whole concept is that it is tailor made to what you want to do and how you want to do it.

I use it to run a Napoleonic campaign, but it could be adopted for any period

For most of the 40 plus years that I have been wargaming I have been searching for the perfect system, the Holy Grail of wargaming. I am not saying that this is it for everyone, or perhaps even for any of you, but it has been for me.

If you already have a collection of figures, a table and a set of wargame rules there is no expense in setting up this system. If you have none, then this is a good way to plan what you want to achieve in time.

The introduction is on my blog now. You can find it here


Over the next few weeks I will cover planning and preparation, the campaign system and wargame rules.

If anyone would like to convert the system to their own use I would be happy to give any assistance that I can.

However even if the whole system does not appeal I hope that some of you may find it thought provoking and that you may be able to use parts of it.

Terrement Inactive Member03 Apr 2017 7:50 a.m. PST


Reactionary Inactive Member03 Apr 2017 8:22 a.m. PST

Fascinating, I look forward to your posts.

thistlebarrow203 Apr 2017 9:03 a.m. PST

Hi Terrement

I don't really want to put my email address on a public forum. I run a Yahoo group for the Napoleonic campaign. If you apply to join that group I will receive your email address and I can reply direct. That group is designed to answer any questions about the campaign, so you could raise them there. If you prefer I am happy to reply via email.

You will find the Yahoo group here


Terrement Inactive Member03 Apr 2017 10:40 a.m. PST


marshalGreg03 Apr 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

I have sent a request for membership to the yahoo group.


thistlebarrow208 Apr 2017 1:21 a.m. PST

The first post considers planning and preparation, and in particular setting an objective of what you want to achieve at the end of the process. I suggest how you might make a start, and use my own planning and objective as an example.

There will be about 10-12 posts and each one will deal with one step in the process. In each one I will try to explain the basic principle, and then use my own experience as an example. I have tried to keep each post short and to the point. The idea is to allow anyone interested in adopting my system plenty of time to absorb each step.

I would be happy to answer any questions about each step either on this forum or on my Yahoo forum.

I have approved all applications to join my Napoleonic 1813 Campaign forum. If you have applied and not received a reply please try again.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2017 11:22 a.m. PST

Just to clarify, will everything end up on the blog or is it yahoo forum only?


thistlebarrow208 Apr 2017 11:24 a.m. PST

Everything will be on the blog. There will be one post each week dealing with a different aspect of the system.

The forum was formed to support the 1813 campaign when it was PBEM. It is now solo, but I post regular updates on the forum, and also any changes to the rules etc.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2017 3:34 p.m. PST

Appreciate it and excited to see what it all looks like

thistlebarrow215 Apr 2017 5:14 a.m. PST

This week make an inventory of what model soldiers and scenery you have available, and what you need to obtain, in order to achieve your objective. I use my own inventory as an illustration of how to tackle this.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 5:43 p.m. PST

Very interesting! I look forward to learning more about your campaign system.

thistlebarrow222 Apr 2017 9:29 a.m. PST

Having decided on your objective and then calculated how many figures and facilities you have, or are prepared to obtain, the next step is to decide how you are going to organise them.

A lot will depend on your objective and the figures available. If you want to play skirmish wargames, even if they are in different areas and even periods, then you will probably be able to provide all the figures you will need. You may need more scenery or terrain, but that is not a great problem.

However if your objective is to fight a major campaign, or worse still a series of campaigns, you will need a lot of figures. If you are unwilling, or unable, to obtain them all then you are going to have to compromise. However you will have to live with your compromise, so it is worth putting a little effort into how best to achieve your objective with what is available.

I wanted to fight the whole of the 1813 campaign in Germany and Spain, but I only had just over 1500 figures. Worse still they were painted and based as 36 figure infantry battalions.

This week I explain how I organised them as 20 allied and 16 French corps without repainting or rebasing a single figure.

thistlebarrow229 Apr 2017 2:03 a.m. PST

This week the blog entry explains how the corps are organised into armies and why the 1813 campaign was chosen. The aim is to use all of the different nations in rotation and also to use the collection of north and south European buildings I have available.

As the wargame is the most important aspect of the campaign, the size of the armies in relation to the tabletop space available is very important, as it the ability to be able to wargame any size battle provided by the campaign.

The blog contains a photograph to illustrate this point, showing an example of the largest battle possible with my campaign, which is four corps per side,

This is the last blog entry about the model soldiers, next week I explain how I designed the wargames table in relation to the size of the armies and the campaign map.

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2017 8:26 p.m. PST

Keep it coming, Paul! Very interesting stuff. Very much appreciate your posting this.

thistlebarrow206 May 2017 3:00 a.m. PST

Thanks Ragbones, glad that you are enjoying it

thistlebarrow206 May 2017 3:11 a.m. PST

As part of the planning for my comprehensive wargames system I realised that the size and type of wargames table would be critical. I was fortunate that I would have a new wargames table when we moved to Spain, and I would be able to decide beforehand what was necessary to complement the campaign.

I start this weeks blog with the statement "size is not in fact everything when it comes to wargaming", and in fact I have long found this to be true. One player can only comfortably manage a relatively small area, and command a relatively small group of figures, with ease. I have found that an area of about 6 foot wide and three feet deep is quite sufficient. As there would be only two of us taking part in the wargames a table 6 foot by 6 foot would be quite sufficient.

By far the largest problem would be transferring the map battles to the wargames table. This prompted me to settle for a table consisting of two by two foot scenic squares. Each map square would be one table square. Providing I had sufficient scenic squares I could reproduce any nine squares on the map with ease.

The original 21 squares have proved me right by allowing me to create every wargame we have fought over the past ten years.

thistlebarrow213 May 2017 3:57 a.m. PST

You can use any commercial rules with my comprehensive wargames system, just as you can use any basing system. However you will have to consider how they will fit with your campaign system.

I have only taken part in a couple of campaigns before I started my own, but in each case the campaign ended abruptly when the first battle had to be fought as a wargame. I suspect that the interface between the campaign map and the wargames table causes a lot of problem for those who run campaigns, whether solo or with other players.

The advantage of writing your own rules is that you can overcome all of these problems at the planning stage of writing the rules.

This week I consider the advantage of writing your own rules, particularly in relation to your proposed campaign system. In the coming weeks I will look at what I consider the most important aspects of wargame systems to compliment the campaign rules..

The first is what I call "men and supermen", in other words how to campaign with the best and worse troops. Getting the balance right between elite, average and poor type troops is essential for the smooth running of the campaign.

Next will be the important relationship between wargame and campaign casualties. What works well on the table may ruin the tempo of the campaign. Most wargame rules result in destroying the enemy. But that would mean the end of your campaign after just one battle.

Finally will be length of battles in the campaign and on the table. This is essential for the smooth transfer from map to table, and to estimate when troops will arrive on the table.

thistlebarrow220 May 2017 1:49 a.m. PST

In response to last week's blog I was asked how I can ensure that I complete each wargame within 12 moves without sacrificing a lot at the tactical level. This made me realise that I had not explained the interface between the campaign and the wargame as well as I need to.

So I have added another blog to explain how the wargame is designed to complement the campaign, and to ensure that most games reach a conclusion within the 12 moves allocated.

Each game always starts with the two armies one scenic square apart, I call this "no mans land". A square is 24"x24", which is more than long range artillery fire.

The rules are designed to allow three phases in each game, and each phase is four moves. The first phase is the deployment, which is done out of artillery range. The second phase is advance into artillery range, and the artillery combat. The third phase is the close quarter battle consisting of skirmish and volley fire.

This sequence usually results in a clear winner and loser. Normally the morale of both sides is pretty brittle by move 10 or 11. At this stage brigades start to rout due to loss of morale after battle casualties. One rout will often have a knock on effect as nearby brigades have to check their morale and often join the rout.

If there is still a stalemate one side can order one or more brigades to attack. This results in hand to hand combat, which always ends in sufficient casualties for one side to break and run. The outcome is heavily influenced by a throw of dice, so it is a very risky option to take.

The wargame sequence and the different types of wargame are explained in this week's blog entry.

thistlebarrow227 May 2017 3:01 a.m. PST

This week is called "men and supermen" and considers how to use different types of troops in the campaign.

For many years some elite, such as French old guard or British riflemen, had stood on the shelf and collected dust. Or at the other extreme poor quality troops such as Spanish had suffered defeat time after time.

I wanted to make it possible for the Prussians to win against a French army including the old guard. I also wanted to make it possible for the Spanish to win against a French peninsular army.

I explain how I allow both extremes to campaign against average line troops to ensure that both sides have an equal chance of winning a campaign.

Link to blog

thistlebarrow203 Jun 2017 3:43 a.m. PST

It takes considerable time to set up each campaign phase, including producing new strategic and tactical maps. So I wanted each phase to produce more than one battle. Each phase is similar in scope to the Waterloo campaign, so it is not unreasonable to expect more than one battle to decide the winner.

In the past I have found that if one side lost the first battle, they were very likely to lose the subsequent ones. The loss of artillery and cavalry in particular left the loser at a severe disadvantage in the remaining battles.

To overcome this my wargame rules rely more on morale than numbers of casualties to determine the winner of the game. It is quite difficult to inflict casualties, but each one then has a significant effect on the performance of the brigade concerned.

This week I explain how I have used this device to reduce the actual number of campaign casualties. This allows the defeated corps to rally and reorganise providing they can avoid battle for a number of days. Not all battle casualties are replaced, and the combat effectiveness of the corps is permanently reduced. But they still have a reasonable chance of winning the subsequent wargames.

You can find the blog here

thistlebarrow210 Jun 2017 3:12 a.m. PST

This week I explain the different types of maps I use in my campaign. I make my own maps, which are all designed for my 1813 campaign. Any commercial map can be used, but I explain the advantages of tailor made maps.

All of the campaign administration is handled on my desktop computer, so I do not have paper maps.

I started by making two large maps, one of Germany and the other Portugal/Spain. Having plotted the major cities and towns I then added rivers and borders. International roads (in red) connect capital cities. National roads (in yellow) connect regional towns. The road system is fictional, as are the terrain features. These maps are so large that even using the computer monitor they are difficult to work on.

So I then made five regional maps, one of each campaign geographical area. These are north, central and southern Germany and north and south Spain. They are the same scale as the first maps, and contain the same details and information. But they are much easier to work on.

For each campaign phase I make a new strategic map. This is the same scale as the two previous maps, but covers a much smaller area and has much more detail.

Finally I make a tactical (or wargame) map which covers the same area, but shows the wargame table terrain. This is the map I use for all campaign movement and for transferring battles from the map to the tabletop.

You will find samples of the maps and a description of each on my blog here


thistlebarrow220 Jul 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

This refers to a post dated 8 July on my Napoleonic Wargaming blog about my campaign system. I was unable to post here because my email appeared to be unverified. I am posting here now for the benefit of anyone who might have been following my series of blogs about my wagame system.

I started my campaign in 2008 and it has run without break despite converting from solo to PBEM and back to solo. The secret of its long life is that it is a series of mini campaigns within an overall framework of a fictional campaign.

Each mini campaign, or "campaign phase", is self-contained. Each is designed to use one of my five wargame armies and located in one of the five campaign areas.

At the start of each campaign phase both armies are at full strength, and have four days supplies. The introduction sets with scene with a brief history of their earlier campaign phases within the overall 1813 campaign. The campaign diary blog is designed so that anyone can access each campaign day and each battle fought.

In this month's post I explain how these phases work. You will find it on my "Napoleonic Wargaming" blog here


thistlebarrow220 Jul 2017 1:39 p.m. PST

This week I explain how I handle battle and attrition casualties in my campaign.

I wanted battle, or wargame, casualties to have an ongoing effect on the brigade and corps concerned for the remainder of the campaign. But I did not want heavier casualties in the first battle to result in what I call the "steam roller" effect. By that I mean the loser will start the next battle with a greatly reduced chance of winning due to battle casualties. This unbalance will increase throughout the campaign.

I overcome this by replacing battle casualties providing that the corps concerned is in supply, not moving and not in contact with the enemy. However 10% of casualties (or one "pip" in wargame rule terms) remain throughout the campaign. This reduces the morale and combat effectiveness of the brigade concerned by minus 1 on each morale or combat dice throw.

I explain it in a little more detail on the blog, which you can find here


Maxshadow20 Jul 2017 7:08 p.m. PST

Hi Paul. It looks, to me, that Jan and you have found the Valhalla of wargaming. Everything's there. A long running campaign ready made opponent for the battles. Love those supply rules! I've just began collecting War of the Spanish succession armies and can see I will be borrowing many of you concepts for a campaign. Thank you very much!

thistlebarrow221 Jul 2017 5:32 a.m. PST

Hi Max. I am certainly very fortunate that not only do I have a regular opponent, but she is my wife! However the system works just as well with multiplayer or even solo. The combination of morale based wargame rules and supply and battle casualty attrition in the campaign rules results in wargames which rely on good luck (or good dice). After a couple of campaign battles brigades start the wargame with casualties and with brittle morale. One bad morale dice throw can result in not only the brigade concerned routing, but also any supporting brigades. So, as in life, even the best laid plans can quickly fall apart.

Good luck with your Spanish Succession project.

thistlebarrow223 Jul 2017 4:04 a.m. PST

I have found that getting campaign supply right is really very difficult. There is a tendency to have very complicated supply rules, however they become too great a burden to administer.

This week I explain how I tackled this problem. I developed these rules when it was a PBEM campaign. I wanted logistics to play a vital role, and to punish any commander who did not plan ahead to ensure his supply lines. However the rules would have to be easy enough for casual players to handle, and realistic enough for most (if not all) players to accept as reasonable.

I explain what I wanted to achieve, and how I did so, in the blog here


thistlebarrow230 Jul 2017 1:10 a.m. PST

It has been my experience that the most difficult part of a campaign is the interface between the map campaign and wargaming the battles on the table. This is particularly so in multi player campaigns, when the wargame decides the outcome of their strategic planning and manoeuvring. I suspect that it will remain so whatever system is used to fight the battles as wargames. However my system has the advantage that the whole campaign has been planned to provide wargames (not just map battles) to decide the outcome.

This week I explain how I handle this problem. It is at this stage that the real advantage of my whole wargame system becomes clear.

As always you can find the blog here


thistlebarrow206 Aug 2017 2:12 a.m. PST

This week I give a brief history of the campaign and explain how the sequence works. This is the last in this series of blogs. I hope that you have enjoyed them or even found them interesting or useful.

If anyone would like any further information, or any assistance in setting up your own system, I would be happy to help.

As always you will find the blog here

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