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"Complete napoleonic noob" Topic

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Henrik lj11 Jan 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

Hi all,
I am just starting out, and have startet by bying General d'armee, which I think is a great set of rules.
I have decided to try AB 18mm figures. They seem pretty detailed. And I am planning to buy som Osprey books on the armies I want in order to get the plates to figure out the paint schemes for my figures. 3 questions remain still unanswered to me.
1. How do I create two well balanced armies. Are there any point system I can use?
2. How do I determined what level a unit is (conscript,veteran etc.)?
3. Where can I get some good OOB's from in order to collect the right units?

I know that the units changed quite a bit over time, and I haven't decided the period yet. I think I will be assembling french and eithe Austrians og Prussians to begin with
Please be gentle. I am quite a novice in this period, but I find it extremely exiciting

14Bore11 Jan 2019 4:18 p.m. PST

I would try to pick a favorite or most interesting to you period such as Peninsula, 1805, Russian campaign or 100 days. Don't know anything of rules you have but keeping the units fairly equil ( battalion for battalion, cavalry regiment to regiment and battery to battery, but one side getting more can lead to interesting games.
One suggestion is while tempted to get the best regiments there is more units out there than just those historically.
Good luck, I have spent 39 years with Napoleonic collecting and not stopping now

evilgong11 Jan 2019 4:21 p.m. PST


While not a direct answer to your question try:

and this


for various info


Tony S11 Jan 2019 4:28 p.m. PST

Ooooh! Congratulations on embarking on a incredibly rich and fruitful area of wargaming! AB figures are outstanding, as are the General D'Armee rules. (Part of the fun for me is constantly buying and trying new rules in an endless quest for the perfect set).

1. GdA has a points system, but it does not have any army lists. There are no artificial limitations, as it is assumed that you will have the requisite knowledge or research to build a plausible or historical force.

2. Depends on the army, the year and the campaign. And your opinion, or the opinion of others.

3. The Nafziger collection is an amazing place to start. link

Now, GdA is a great set, but perhaps a bit advanced. If I may be so bold, check out and consider Sam Mustafa's LaSalle. It's very straightforward, and has force lists and ratings. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is a very clean system, and like all of Mustafa's rules, very clearly written and explained.

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2019 4:34 p.m. PST

Here's some ideas.

1. If you are going for General d'Armee then I would say as a rule of thumb you are going for 1:20 as your figure ratio. With the superb AB figures you can build some great units.
2. Choose your campaign. This is better as a start point than the armies. You talk about French, Austrians and Prussians. This could mean 1805, 1806, 1809 or 1813/14. The armies for these nations were subtly different on each of the campaigns so you need to choose a year. 1809 (French vs Austrians) is my favourite but 1813/14 has more troop varieties and you have the Austrians and the Prussians fighting together against the French.
3. Having chosen a year, get a source for orbats. For this you can go to the history books for the detail or you can go to the various scenario books available (including General d'Armee) and build your basic forces from there.
4. Rule sets will usually tell you what level a unit is o you can look at the actual history and make your own mind up.

For example, I like Black Powder and General de Brigade rules. My French/Allied forces are based upon Davout' 3rd Corps, (Friant's Division) and Wrede's Bavarian Division. The Austrians from formations in von Rosenburg's IV Corps.

Hope that helps.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2019 4:46 p.m. PST

Welcome! I think 14Bore is right. Pick a war or campaign that interests you, build more or less the same stuff for both sides, and start with the line troops you'll need the most of. If nothing else, this means you'll have some practice in before you paint your elites. After you've read up a bit and played a few games, you'll have a better feel for what you need.

Ah! Just to think about. If you look at One Hour Wargames, if you build four infantry units, two skirmish infantry units, two cavalry units and two artillery units per army, you can play every scenario in the book. That might not be a bad starting point.

whill411 Jan 2019 6:22 p.m. PST

For painting guides you may want to look at the campaign books by F.G. Hourtoulle.

ernieR11 Jan 2019 7:58 p.m. PST

have you attempted to find local opponents for your battles ?
you may find that there's an active group in your area , but they may have already decided on which rules to use , and what size models as well .
before you invest too much time and money make sure you're not going down the road by yourself . yes you can build 2 armies , learn the rules , and then get people to have a game with you (in my experience most gamers are happy to have someone else do all the work and teach them the rules , and they'll return the favor with something they like) , but why do it all yourself if you can join in on a group's efforts ?

Porthos12 Jan 2019 3:27 a.m. PST

If you decided for the 100 days (the Waterloo campaign of 1815), use this site:
Here are shown all units of all armies in colour and extensive detail.

nsolomon9912 Jan 2019 3:36 a.m. PST

Lots of good advice above.

You cant go wrong with Gd'A for rules and AB figures best on the market). Welcome to Napoleonic wargaming.

wrgmr112 Jan 2019 3:41 a.m. PST

Shako II is a great set of rules, with a number of scenario books available. The 1809 scenario books written by Michael Hopper are wonderful for the French Austrian campaign.

TMP link

setsuko12 Jan 2019 3:42 a.m. PST

I'm also relatively new to napoleonics. Even though I started out with 28mm skirmish forces, I agree with many comments above.

Choose a campaign you are interested in. This is not to limit you from ever going outside that Campaign, but it helps to have a focus when doing your research. I started with the 1812 Campaign in Russia, and could focus on reading up on it. It also helped me with painting, as I could use the Battle of Borodino as a starting Point.

Now, my forces are far from 100% strictly according to the OOB. For once, I'd bought a fair few infantrymen Before I realized that the 1812 uniform was not worn in, well, 1812! :P But it helped me get started, and in the end my growing force will eventually end up fighting battles all over the continent (and beyond!). Who knows, pretty soon they might participate in Napoleon's Egyptian expedition.

By choosing a specific Campaign I had the advantage that I didn't feel pressure to read up on 20 years of quite complex history at once, but use my chosen Campaign as a starting Point and work my way out from there. :)

Mike Petro12 Jan 2019 9:16 a.m. PST

Pick a small order of battle for a small battle. I am doing Arroyo dos Molinos 1811. British, Spanish, and French of course.

My 2 cents. Btw, you picked THE best rules IMHO.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2019 10:35 a.m. PST

There are a series of General de Brigade deluxe (predecessor to General d'Armee) scenario books that will address your number 1, 2 and 3 requirements.

You can buy them through OMM (U.S.) link

or Caliver Books U.K.

Timmo uk12 Jan 2019 11:51 a.m. PST

I would read through the past posts right here on TMP as there are many relevant and interesting threads that may help you decide exactly what you want to do.

Personally I'd also look at other rules besides those written for 1:20, they may well suit you but ultimately they didn't fit with me in the long run. After about 2 – 3 years solid painting (of ABs) I gave up as the 36 figure battalions just took me too long to paint and I found the whole project totally soul destroying. I parked it for four years before restarting in a different direction.

It's worth doing some hard number crunching to see what you are up against. Buy some ABs and paint them, then look at how many weeks/months that took you and workout just how long it's going to take you to paint a division of say ten battalions. You may be looking at several years of painting before you can play. I'm not trying to put you off, far from it, but a bit of planning might save you in the long run.

Just as another example, you may have come across Sharpe Practice, which could be described as a large scale skirmish game. 80 figures a side could provide you with interesting and challenging games while you continue to build larger forces.

Henrik lj13 Jan 2019 2:51 p.m. PST

Thank you for all your feedback. its been most helpful. Based on your input I am going to find a specific (small) battle around 1809 I think. I am however also fascinated ogåf the british uniforms, but in case I chosse to collect british troops, I have to basemu army after 1813…right?
Speaking of painting. I have been painting quite a few flames of ear figures and ancient. Alle in 15 mm. I have a good system for masspainting. I simply glue alle the figures of a battalion onto nails with carpenter glue.then I stikck them into a block of plostyrene, and then I start with one color and traveres the entire battalion through before I move ontothe next color. Last I use quickshade for shading and Testors dullcote for final cote.
My plan with the napoleonics is to basecote everithing white, and thenpivåck out the other colors, shade using quickshade. And finally highlight the whote before coting. I dont thing it will take more time than with my ancients, in which case Ihave used several different colors within the same unit. An I actually managed to paint more than 100 figures during december 😊

Henrik lj13 Jan 2019 4:16 p.m. PST

Sorry about all the typos. I actually tried to correct them, but I recon there is a time limit for that. Hope youunderstand anyway

Jabba Miles16 Jan 2019 3:17 a.m. PST

If you want British in central Europe you are basically talking the 100 Days campaign in 1815 unless you go for early in the Revolutionary Wars or end of the Peninsular Campaign in Southern France in 1814.
Welcome to the wacky world of naps.

Last Hussar20 Jan 2019 8:49 a.m. PST

If you go 1809 you can have French V Austrians in Central Europe
French V British in Spain

Gerard Leman13 Feb 2019 4:08 p.m. PST

1. How do I create two well balanced armies. Are there any point system I can use?
2. How do I determined what level a unit is (conscript,veteran etc.)?
3. Where can I get some good OOB's from in order to collect the right units?

1. I'm not familiar with G d'A, so not sure about point systems. However, as you play a few games, you'll find roughly the relative strength of one unit vs. another. Also, games can be balanced based on terrain or objectives, not just number of troops. Take, for example, the Battle of Kobryn (see Osprey book on Napoleon's German Allies, Saxony), between a Saxon contingent and the Russians in 1812. The Saxons are heavily outnumbered and can't really "win." However, a game could give them a victory if they acquit themselves better than they did historically.

2. The rules will generally tell you what rating units were, and scenario books will almost always do so. Bear in mind that any unit vary in quality over time (e.g. new C.O. gets appointed who's a dunce); and units that are nominally identical (e.g. French line infantry) may vary from green recruits to hardened veterans. Even the Grenadiers of the Old Guard broke and ran at Waterloo.

3. OOBs are readily available on line, in history books (the French titles published by Histoire & Collections are very good) and on line. Just look up the applicable battle. Generically, the basic building block was a battalion of infantry, or a regiment of cavalry. Infantry battalions were usually part of a regiment, but not all of the battalions of a regiment necessarily fought together. The British, in particular, were noted for assigning battalions of a single regiment to different commands, sometimes thousands of miles apart (e.g. one battalion of a regiment might be posted to India, while another battalion of the same regiment might be fighting in Spain). Continental armies tended to keep battalions of a particular regiment in the same command. Infantry battalions (and cavalry regiments) were organized into brigades, with anywhere between 2 and 5-6 battalions/regiments. Brigades were generally either infantry or cavalry, but the two arms were usually not found together in the same brigade (although a few squadrons or even a regiment of cavalry might be attached to a brigade for scouting). Brigades, in turn, were grouped into divisions. Artillery was normally assigned at the divisional level, though again, a battery might be attached to a brigade for a particular mission.

Finally, don't get too ambitious. Keep your battles on the smaller side, at least until you've played the game a few times. We wargamers are all too easily seduced into re-fighting Leipzig. That way lies madness. :-)

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