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"Paddy Griffith's Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun" Topic

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839 hits since 5 Apr 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 3:52 p.m. PST

Of possible interest?



Bob the Temple Builder06 Apr 2017 1:45 a.m. PST

I actually own a copy that was signed by Paddy just after it was published. We were meeting with Jim Wallman in a pub near Waterloo Station (rather appropriate!) to sort out the admin details for the then newly formed Wargame Developments.

It is odd to think that all this took place over thirty five years ago!

Mick the Metalsmith06 Apr 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

My favorite rules writer.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

Good memories!


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2017 11:01 a.m. PST

What impresses me, as one who has never thrown a dice in anger, is just how complex any encounter must have been for wargamers. Did you have to learn all this off by heart or instead refer to the tables,every time two units faced each other? It must have taken ages back then.

Has IT now transformed this? It is the "I have a support unit within so many yards, I have taken 25% casualties, I am facing heavy cavalry, they are coming at me downhill, I am in square, but am a Hanoverian militia unit (actually that sounds very familiar)……and then I must chuck a dice anyway" challenge.

I would not care to try that after a couple of pints of London Pride!

Painting them is a doddle

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2017 8:52 p.m. PST

Ahhh deadhead, you will never know the terrible joy of sitting at a table and having to use WRG's 4th Edition Ancients. That was a set of rules to make strong men tremble with fear. Paddy's stuff was in the same vein but more whimsical.

KTravlos Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2017 4:09 a.m. PST

His skirmish rules are great, as a re the generalship and the abstract game.

arthur181507 Apr 2017 6:35 a.m. PST

The Generalship Game is, IMHO, the best way of playing an army commander. If you must have toy soldiers, you can create nice corps or division counters to use on a large version of the map or a separate @battle board'.

It can be used as a two-player game, or with multiple players as corps/army commanders and an umpire.

4th Cuirassier07 Apr 2017 8:50 a.m. PST

IME the difficulty/ hassle of playing with the rules of yesteryear is much exaggerated. I speak as one weaned on Quarrie and WRG.

First, once you were familiar with the rules you becamd pretty adept at anticipating what the result of a morale test would be, so you did not need to spend that long on them.

Second, there were workarounds availableif you needed them. For example, if three French battalions attacked three Prussian battalions you just worked out the outcome of the worst unit versus ths best. If – for argument's sake – the Prussian fusilier battalion got routed by the French line then you could take it as read that the Landwehr battalion would get routed by the French light battalion, without doing all the tortuous table-checking.

I actually find it more testing trying to remember what very abstract or simplified rules are supposed to be depicting.

grahambeyrout07 Apr 2017 2:14 p.m. PST

WRG rules were generally very sound and based on what could be expected to happen in real life in the circumstances. They tried to simulate real warfare rather than make a good fun game. To play all one needed to do was to look up and check off 20 or so factors, throw a dice (or two) and then look a chart. It may seem like a lot of effort compared to the emphasis on playability which seems to be in fashion nowadays, but after a bit of practice the process was speedy. The rules however had two problems, and game mechanics was not one of them – the problems were the complexity of the infamous Barker grammar used which defied all common logic, and the players who sought to take advantage of the complexity to play with non-historic tactics.

arthur181507 Apr 2017 3:25 p.m. PST

Yet in the 1824 Prussian kriegsspiel the umpire – who was responsible for administering the rules, rather than the players – did not have to "check off 20 or so factors" to resolve fire effect or combat.

So if professional soldiers playing a game described by von Muffling as "a training for war" did not need to consider so many details to create a reasonable simulation of Napoleonic battle, why do we?

grahambeyrout07 Apr 2017 4:25 p.m. PST

Possibly because, a) most of us are not professional soldiers, b) most of us play a lot more periods than the Prussians considered ( I doubt if they needed to consider how effective massed Assyrian archery was against unarmoured charging loose order infantry) and c) a lot of us do not have the benefit professional expert umpires. Personally I would be more than happy to use one. :-)

arthur181509 Apr 2017 4:38 a.m. PST

grahambeyrout, your second point is not really relevant to this discussion of a book of Napoleonic wargame rules, and my post also referred specifically to that period (though I wonder whether a close study of Assyrian warfare might not also enable an analytical mind to reduce the number of significant factors in a set of wargame rules for that period to a number well below twenty?).

The 1824 kriegsspiel rules were rigid rules, not unlike modern wargame rules, not the later 'free kriegsspiel' in which the umpire had much considerable discretion to determine outcomes/results based upon his military experience. So the fact they were administered by the umpire rather than the players themselves is more to do with game structure, than what factors are taken into account in the rules on artillery, musketry and close combat. The results in those cases were determined by a single die roll, after selecting the appropriate dice to reflect the type of fire, or the numerical ratio between the opposing troops, modified by very few factors.From the dice the umpire could determine not only the outcome, but the casualties suffered.

And that is my point: the results were largely determined by chance – within parameters set by the choice of dice – not by adding and subtracting various numerical factors which often serve only to cancel each other out. The results so obtained were sufficiently realistic to impress experienced, high-ranking officers of the kriegsspiel's value as a training system. The important thing was to generate a believable outcome simply and quickly so the players would have to react to events.

That the original kriegsspiel players and umpires were professional soldiers meant they were already familiar with Napoleonic weapons, formations and tactics from their own training and experience, rather than having undertaken an historical study of them, as today's wargamers must do. They were in a not dissimilar position to a veteran today playing a wargame set in the same conflict as that in which he served; they were familiar with the reality the rules sought to portray, not with the game rules themselves.

Remember kriegsspiel was written by an officer who had seen active service – no other set of Napoleonic wargame rules can claim that!

4th Cuirassier09 Apr 2017 5:48 a.m. PST

Are those rules available anywhere?

I suspect the main difference would be that some modern rules attempt to depict battalion level outcomes right down to unit casualties. If all you care about is who probably wins, you don't need to do that.

matthewgreen09 Apr 2017 7:38 a.m. PST

You can get an English translation at 2FatLardies – this includes the revised version, with some things like artillery fire recalibrated to give more realistic results.

They are very interesting – though like most rules require a bit of interpretation between the lines – which can be quite hard 2 centuries on. I find them a useful reference source.

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