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1,047 hits since 6 Feb 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Darken9206 Feb 2018 2:51 p.m. PST

Et sans rιsultat!

• Love the strategic feel, using maneuver elements – this is a game about how you maneuver and commit your divisions, not how the battalions interact with each other. Once you commit your divisions you need to watch fatigue and use reserves if your line is faltering.
• Love the idea of skirmish combat built in as a phase. Would have preferred the skirmish ratings be assigned to the battalions directly as it adds a level of granularity that would be helpful rather than an all-encompassing straight value based on the year.
• The divisional commanders directly modifying unit combat values is great way to provide combat bonus to better led troops. For example, the idea that French en-masse cavalry are better by having better commanders in larger units but would be less effective regiment to regiment.
• Does feel a little unpolished as it seems like there should be more examples, building armies and basing etc. It just reads as if not as much care with wording and proof reading was done compared to other rule sets.
• What are people's impressions of actual game play? Has anyone tried using another rule system basing, and if so did it work?

• Cavalry squadrons – It is not clear but do you base squadrons separately? Otherwise a single squadron seems just as effective as 5 or 6 squadrons.
• Is the reserve area an actual defined area or just the space behind the last of your waves?
• Attaching corp artillery to divisions – through commit artillery battery order? And if yes through the corp commander? And does that mean they need to be committed again to be deployed

My two biggest questions
• Basing – under the rules you would need to change your base size every time you played depending on the scenario. Although I notice in the 1809 and 1812 Campaign guide there does not seem to be any reference to unit sizes. Clearly it affects base size and is a clear combat factor in the game, fighting larger bases sizes gives you a -1. A 500 man battalion has a -1 against a 600 man battalion
• Having just purchased GDA, would their idea not make more sense, Units are average, some would be large, such as some Austrian and English at the start of the campaign and in some rare instances, others be small for one reason or other.
• Does Commander tactical ratings being added on top of unit ratings make elite troops super elite? The best commanders tend to have the best units. Friant's division in 1809 has its battalions at CR 7, 8 on the charge, meaning they have a 75% chance of defeating an average Austrian battalion, 66% of defeating a well led Austrian (Divisional commander with +1). This looks to me like a problem with several rule sets, why would you not lead with your elite units. French players should always commit the guard early, lead with the best Cuirassier units etc. Why bother weakening the enemy, wearing them down and punching through at the right moment, just smash everything in the way. It also makes less effective units even less effective. Could the Prussians Landwehr really push the young guard out of Plancenoit in these rules?

• Would have liked to see a fraction more polish, especially for the price I paid.
• Would like to see some real AAR's, not just some pictures, and see how the game works and get a better feel for some of the rules and phases.
• Stands out for it's very strong Command and Control emphasis while maintain the use of battalions.

Puddinhead Johnson06 Feb 2018 2:57 p.m. PST

It's a very novel, interesting set of rules. He focused very well on keeping the player in the general's seat with respect to decisions to be made. A lot of rules say they do that but really don't.

Puddinhead Johnson06 Feb 2018 3:04 p.m. PST

• Does feel a little unpolished as it seems like there should be more examples, building armies and basing etc. It just reads as if not as much care with wording and proof reading was done compared to other rule sets.

There are many examples of play in the rules. But it's mechanisms are so unusual that it probably could have done with more. The information regarding basing is in there. Not sure how you missed it.

If you just bought the basic rules they don't include army organization rules. That comes in the player's handbook (or whatever it's called). I only bought the basic rules and haven't had a problem working out armies.

Also, he publishes a number of campaign volumes. I have the campaign book for the Austrian campaign of 1809. There is extensive information, including extensive uniform information, in that.

I don't think it's any worse in terms of typos than many rules sets I've bought.

The author is very responsive to questions. There is a Yahoo Group that can offer some answers. If you haven't played through a game yet I'd suggest trying that as it will help you figure out the rules.

Puddinhead Johnson06 Feb 2018 3:09 p.m. PST

• Cavalry squadrons – It is not clear but do you base squadrons separately? Otherwise a single squadron seems just as effective as 5 or 6 squadrons.

Each base is a squadron.

• Is the reserve area an actual defined area or just the space behind the last of your waves?

It's behind your waves, but I'm pretty sure it says how far behind in the rules. Remember, distances are given in paces (or yards, can't remember) not inches or centimeters, to accommodate different ground scales.

• Basing – under the rules you would need to change your base size every time you played depending on the scenario. Although I notice in the 1809 and 1812 Campaign guide there does not seem to be any reference to unit sizes. Clearly it affects base size and is a clear combat factor in the game, fighting larger bases sizes gives you a -1. A 500 man battalion has a -1 against a 600 man battalion
• Having just purchased GDA, would their idea not make more sense, Units are average, some would be large, such as some Austrian and English at the start of the campaign and in some rare instances, others be small for one reason or other.

There's nothing preventing you from playing it that way if you just want to make things more simple.

Wargamorium06 Feb 2018 3:21 p.m. PST


I purchased these some time ago but after a few play tests we were exhausted. I posted about 30 queries on the Yahoo page and I must say the author responded very quickly and patiently each time. This however led to a large home made errata and addendum file which had to be updated after each query was answered.

They are easy and exciting to read but not so easy when you get down to playing. We had so many questions and discovered quite a few typos and inexactitudes. In the end we had to rewrite the entire command section and the orders just to be able to get past that phase. Proof reading and a good editor could have picked up a lot of these before printing.

I also found the main rulebook to be very cumbersome and unwieldy and had to dismantle the binding to break it down into more manageable volumes.

We used one base (3 figures) per cavalry squadron and 6 figures per infantry battalion and we did not re-base. The melee factors allow for bigger battalions.

The Reserve area is immediately behind the main part of the Division/Corps. It is a little bit nebulous but moves with the units just like the Reformation Area. Both are good concepts but a major pain in the game.

Your experiences might be different of course and it would be great if you posted again after you have tried the rules.

You can check the Wargamorium blog – click on the Napoleonic Wars in the Category Section on the right hand side – you will see that my initial reaction was very optimistic as well.


DaleWill Supporting Member of TMP06 Feb 2018 3:34 p.m. PST

ESR is my go to Napoleonic rules. Cavalry is represented by squadron groups. Just make sure all the bases represent the same number of men. If you want each base to be 200 men and the regiment of 4 squadrons only had 400 men, the regiment would have 2 bases.

Lieutenant Lockwood06 Feb 2018 6:18 p.m. PST

Agree; I play it solo, steadily modeling some pretty big battles in 2mm. They take some thinking, but I love the scale, and the concepts.


4th Cuirassier07 Feb 2018 5:49 a.m. PST

I have one of the scenario books, Roll Up That Map, which I find very useful for uniform and set up information. It is as promised largely agnostic as to what rules you use since the information is expressed in yards and in units, so you would slot in whatever you've got.

I've not bought or played the rules because the high level isn't my thing. If you abstract out columns, lines and squares, then I question whether what's left would look recognisably Napoleonic. An ACW battle would look like an SYW battle would look like an ECW battle would look like a Napoleonic battle. Of course some want the command of an army and to ignore exactly those things so it makes sense that rules should exist.

The Wargaming Company07 Feb 2018 6:10 a.m. PST

Hi Darken92,

Thank you for both the compliments and the questions as well as the feedback.

Regarding examples:

I personally feel a rule set can never have enough examples. I think we have a lot of examples since they make up just shy of half the page count of The Player's Guide (41 pages of examples out of 92 pages). But, others correctly point out, many of the mechanics are atypical of Napoleonic wargames, and thus, more examples are always better. If there are specific areas that you feel would be improved by additional examples, we'd love to hear about them.

Regarding an army builder:

ESR Second Edition is available in two flavors, The Essential Player's Guide and The Complete Player's Guide. The differences between the two can be seen on our website.

With ESR Second Edition we chose to include historical examples of organization instead of a point based army builder. Raising an Army is an 81 page supplement included in The Complete Player's Guide which offers historical examples of 15 army organizations and 22 corps organizations for Austria, Great Britain, France, Prussia, and Russia spread across the period. Raising an Army is not included with The Essential Player's Guide.

For more extensive examples, as Puddinhead Johnson noted, and it sounds like you are familiar with, we'd refer you to our ESR Campaign Guide Series.

We are investigating creating a point based army builder as an addition and would really welcome feedback on what players would like to see from one.

Regarding Basing:

We strongly encourage players to use 'average' strength Units and the ESR Campaign Guides include a notation as to the average range of infantry battalion strengths on page 4 (Organizational Terminology, 2.1.1) of each volume – I apologize, it was somehow left out of the 5th printing of Master of the World, 1812 in Russia, despite being included in some previous printings.

We do have a draft document that summarizes these for each campaign which you can download as a PDF.

We've run many convention games with figures based for a variety of systems, and in fact, I am personally aware of far more people playing ESR with alternative basing systems than with natively based figures. Last year at Historicon there were two games run (not associated with TWC) and both used figures based for other systems. I believe there is one on the books for Cold Wars as well. In 2016 at least 2/3 of the games we ran at conventions ourselves used a mix of figures based for ESR, Nappy's Battles, and Empire.

A stand of cavalry should represent a group of 1-4 squadrons, approximately 100-250 horsemen (per 10.Recommended Basing, page iv). We generally recommend that players assume each stand is 200 men – as noted by DaleWill.

Regarding the location of a Formation Reserve:

The reserve elements of a Formation are to be located together within 225 yards of their Formation's rear wave (per 4.3.2 Deployed). There is also an illustration of the relative position available (per Example 1.4.1 Game Pieces).

The use of a reserve area and a Reformation Area for Formations – both of which simply move with the Formation – alleviates the need to track the individual position of other individual Units and routers. Where in many systems a player must track the movement of a routed battalion each turn across the tabletop separate from its parent element, in ESR, routed Units are simply placed adjacent to their parent Formation's Reformation Area until they rally when they are placed back with the Formation's battle waves.

Regarding layout and organization:

The Player's Guide is organized according to the game's four phase turn sequence and each section is color coded, blue for Command, green for Movement, purple for Artillery & Skirmishing, and red for Combat. These colors are also used on the Quick Reference Guide (charts) so that players can quickly associate the rule they need to look up with the turn phase they are in. Most players seem to find the Glossary-Index their go-to for looking up things quickly. I'm certain there are more terms that should be included in it, aren't there always? But by giving a brief description of terms, and citing what specific rules address them for reference, it is a great tool that we try to make the most of.

Regarding Commander Tactical Ratings:

I was recently invited to play in an 1809 ESR game loosely based on Teugen-Hausen and ran an Austrian Korps charged with halting Davout's lead elements. In this adaptation of this historical scenario, the French were supported by a corps of Bavarians who engaged with my partner who played the Austrian C-in-C and ran another Korps. Saint Hilaire's division came right at us, and we were lucky to hold them back by dropping all of our artillery against his line of advance. The player running Davout's III Corps chose to approach us on a move directive, halted on defend until he was completely deployed, and then sought to convert to attack. By that time, Saint Hilaire's division had been fatigued some from the mass artillery fire, and an unfortunate French die roll resulted in yet more fatigue, eventual reaching a point where the French division was so disrupted it could not regain the forward momentum, i.e. couldn't pass the Order Activation Test to attack.

Had the French struck my position, I would have been at a deficit, however, the odds are not as bad as you may think. The bulk of Saint Hilaire's infantry were rated as CR 5 [L+S1]. Against them, I positioned my larger division, Saint Julien's. The French Formation Commander was a TR +2, mine only a +1. This meant, best case scenario, if the French attacked me fresh, I would be down '2' on the die roll in the first round. Now, if the French struck with their best infantry first, I'd be down 3 or 4 on the die roll in the first round (only 1-2 on a second round as the French would lose their shock bonus). That means, best case scenario, the Austrians need to make up '2' on the dice, in the worst case '4'. As to always throwing in the Guard or something similar, I would caution that the system of fatigue and coordinated arms acts as a counter to this. Fatigued infantry is very fragile against cavalry, and even other infantry.

The scope of ESR is high level command, therefore, a player's real focus shouldn't be on individual battalion level combat, but rather, have I fatigued that enemy division enough that commitment of fresh troops will break it?

And with that sort of focus, yes, Prussian landwehr can fatigue and sweep away the Young Guard, just as my Austrians managed to bottleneck Davout's best infantry and hold them in a valley.

Regarding AARs by players:

Two I am able to quickly point you at are:

Sound Officer's Call

Band of Butei

Hope these responses help address your questions and as others have noted, you may likely find our Yahoo Discussion Group valuable as well.


Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2018 6:38 a.m. PST

Having wargamed Napoleonics since 1959 or 1960, I have played lots of rules. In the past couple of decades I have been searching for a set where each player can command a corps, with the tactical unit being no larger than a regiment, and finish the game in about six hours of play. The rules must give the look on the table, and the feel of, a Napoleonic battle.

These rules fill the bill the best of any I have tried.

ESR is the only Nap rules set we use at my house now. I have great guys I game with, but it can be very hard to get them to buy rules. Then it can also be hard to get them to read them. More of my group have bought these rules than any other we have played with, regardless of period, in years.

The last two guys to whom I introduced the game played it without ever having having seen the rules. They caught on very quickly.

I can run games in six or seven different periods. This game is the one for which I get the most requests.

Darken, doing the skirmishing the way these rules do eliminates the need to check a roster for each unit in order to calculate the skirmish points. I like it myself the way it is. You could always add that though.

My group really enjoys the rules and so do I. The mechanics are quick. Combat is resolved much faster than any rules I have played that have battalions and squadrons as the tactical unit.

My figures are based for Uncle Duke's Napoleonette and they work fine. To be honest, my base sizes are narrower and deeper than the rules suggest, but that has been non problem. I know they are off scale, but it looks good and it works. ONe of my players is very much into the correct footprint of the unit. He hasn't said a word.

I have run 1809, 1812, 1813, and 1814 games all with the same basing. For 1813-1814, I just use fewer battalions per regiment.

I thought the rules were very well written. I find them to be consistent. The phases and steps within a phase are laid out beautifully on the QRS. We have found that many questions are answered simply by understanding that those phases control what happens when.

Initially I was concerned about the same thing 4th Cuirassier has said. I thought I would miss the columns, lines and squares. But I realize I can't have a player be a corps commander and have that detail. None of my other players find it a minus either. The key is that the table still looks very Napoleonic.

I love them because you definitely get a Napleonic look and feel without being bogged down in minutia.


marshalGreg07 Feb 2018 7:06 a.m. PST

Yes the The Complete Players Handbook is the copy to have to answer or give guidelines to the Army building.

I have played 4 times now and with running my own game at Historicon as a mini campaign which was my "defining Moment" with he rules.. The action was that of April 18&19's opening moves. Amazing the Players followed pretty much the same as the Historical commanders, even though they had much latitude. I found it best to not to vary base size to exact sizes to strengths but follow more the small, medium and large. large being units of the 850+ size ( Austrian) and Medium being >600 that worked with my current basing scheme.
Cavalry fell into two sizes Normal and large. Normal would be the typical large sqdn or " sqdn division" of 2 small sqdns at ~220. SO for example 7th Hussars would be 3 units. At 15mm I would have 3 groups of 4 figures ( 2 stands) present for that regiment. This could also be a 3 figure stand depending on your current mounting scheme.
Just set a standard and set all the other relative to it, per the footprint scale you are playing. IE. I use the 1 " is 75 yards scale so the Austrian 900 man battalion is 3.5" sabot/playing base and set every thing else against that.

Agree with 4th Cuiassier, a grandtactical game, that is playable in a reasonable amount of time, will present the forces more generic against all periods. So the compromise needs to hit some where in between. ESR is very close to that center. IF too much battalion formation activity is present, the game slows down… just to even move the magnitude of stands, since each player should be commanding somewhere > 35 units, let along any typical tactical play we are accustom to in tactical level games! But unlike the other GT games, the battalion is present in and has presence to the tactics in ESR. The multi colored dress of specific regiments is thus still present, still making of a Napoleonic Era field.

I have put in the errata into my play book. A pain yes, but the investment has paid off with easier play. David will address in later revisions/printing runs, I am sure.
Place yourself in his shoes, as the amount of effort to have done what he has done for the period/hobby so far, in just a few short years! Remember we all do this for the hobby and his passion is clear on that front.

No one has got it perfect and satisfies everyone's needs or desire. Is it the GT Napoleonic play holy grail?… not sure… time will tell.
It is the only rules where I have played a miniature game of some 45,000 to 60,000 size Armies per side (and at some >2000+ figures on the table) in about 5 hrs or less and had clear result as to who lost!
I certainly could not do that with Empire V, unfortunately, which I had become very proficient with.
Good luck and be patient with them!


Murvihill07 Feb 2018 9:38 a.m. PST

I've played a few times, and my only real issue had to do with 'onesies': At Quatre Bras there was single battalion garrisoning a town with no artillery support and no where near the rest of its divisions and two French divisions payed 3 fatigue points each bypassing it. The other is when you have one or two cavalry stands attached to a division they are pretty useless as you lose a ton of fatigue points for unleashing them. Austrian light divisions are the worst, in fact I think they are the bane of all grand-tactical games as they are a hybrid animal with both inf and cav and I haven't found a set of rules that shows why they were created. All that said, I'm a 1:20 player at heart.

Darken9207 Feb 2018 9:21 p.m. PST

Thank you everyone for all of the responses, I do appreciate it. They certainly look to be my go to rules for large battles (You may note I purchased 2 of the campaign guides meaning I have already spent >$300 AUD on them, and will purchase the 1813 book when available.). It is just a shame I need to add house rules – at least for unit sizes.

Still not convinced that the game tends to create super units, but all rules tend to do that.

@ Murvhill – By adding cavalry to Austrian Light Divisions you negate the enemy Skirmish values for infantry battalions (Rule 5.1.3). However you remove the ability to react with them, so a trade off in the rules.

@ The Wargaming Company – Thank you for the response, however by AAR what I would really like to see is a detailed battle, going through each step and how it affected game play.

@ Wargamorium – I agree about the binding, different from other rule books, almost as if you are meant to take it apart.

The Wargaming Company08 Feb 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

Murvihill – Regarding Avant Garde divisions, they can be used aggressively to push forward by negating enemy skirmish prowess by being placed on an attack order (as Darken correctly notes). They can also be used to confront the enemy's lead elements and get them to deploy in an encounter battle, thus setting the location where the fight will occur, giving your line divisions time to deploy. Both are to some degree sacrificial roles. But, you are completely right, once an enemy is prepared and formed, they almost become a liability.

Darken92 – Regarding the binding, we've actually gotten a lot of encouragement/pressure from gamers to stick with it because they like that the coil lays flat on their gaming table. We've been looking seriously at hardback binding but are concerned about pushback. Your opinion is as valid as anyones – what do you think?

Regarding the AAR request, fair enough, just sharing what we could quickly locate for you. We'd like to post some play through articles or videos, it is simply a matter of time/resources.


138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2018 6:57 a.m. PST

Austrian light divisions are the worst, in fact I think they are the bane of all grand-tactical games as they are a hybrid animal with both inf and cav and I haven't found a set of rules that shows why they were created. All that said, I'm a 1:20 player at heart.

Interestingly enough War Artisan's "Napoleonic Command II" perfectly reflects the workings of an Austrian light Division where these couple of squadrons of cavalry are an excellent force multiplier.

Pete Fry08 Feb 2018 7:03 p.m. PST

I tried these rules with my group in Portland – overall they liked them and want to try again. My main takeaways:

The rules writer is awesome – post any questions here or on the yahoo group and you will get a detailed, patient answer within a day or so.

This is a steep learning curve – especailly if no one has played them before. We managed about one turn an hour although things were speeding up by the time we had to pack it in for the night.

My army is 25mm and based in a way that lends itself to 8 figure battalions and 3 figure squadrons on 60mm x 40mm bases – so 75 yard scale. At this scale it looks OK (although the nerdy part of me likes my 24 figure battalions with the right ratio of plume colours) – in fact quite grand with 100s of figures on the table… however the consensus was that smaller figures would be better – either for greater figure density at 75 yard scale or to accomodate a larger scale. Even though we had a big table I felt these rules must really come into their own whwn you have both a big table and 150 or 200 yard scale.

To your point I'd love to see a complete example of 2 divisions clashing head on with all the deployment, artillery and terrain considerations demonstrated. I found that the players were easily getting the hang of the tables and how to employ all the modifiers but some of the other mechanics (where do I physically put my deployed artillery? Do they just jump there?) Were more opaque and it was hard to answer questions quickly

We are even considering videos to demonstrate – maybe someone already has… it would be very helpful.

Finally – I'd love to see a 100days campaign book – perhaps with some ahistorical scenarios using 100 da?ys armies as there weren't many battles and some wargamers seem to have quatre bras fatigue.

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