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Wayniac03 Sep 2019 10:30 a.m. PST

Like the title says, I'm a bit confused about some of the terms I see in relation to Napoleonics. I'm only looking into the period and hope I can get some of the people that I speak to interested (there's been some minor talk but right now). We haven't given thought to a set of rules yet but Black Powder and General d'Armee have come up, and I like what I've seen from General de Brigade and Lasalle as well.

Anyways, my first confusion is about the general game size. I think it goes: Company > Battalion > Brigade > Division > Corps (sometimes same as Division?) > Army? I'm a bit overwhelmed at the different sizes as I come from a Warhammer background where that doesn't exist. So when I see for example "brigade level" that means that you control a brigade (with multiple battalions) and so on? What is meant by, for example, "grand tactical"? Is that division?

Second, that old topic of basing. I've done my research and am I correct in thinking that there is no "standard" basing that works across different game systems, but each game has its own preferred basing style but most games are designed to allow any sort of base size? I know I've seen with 15mm things like 4 figures per stand for infantry, sometimes two rows deep to make the stand look better but this seems to vary and I've seen a few resources mention a different number of figures (I assume with the same base size) for different nations to represent some sort of figure-to-men ratio.

Which brings us to number 3: What exactly is meant by "stand"? Is that what it sounds like, one group of figures on a base (such as the aforementioned 4 on a stand)? I've seen some references to like "one stand is a battalion" or "one stand is a brigade" and am I to take it this means that one stand of say 4 figures represents an entire battalion or even greater?

I had been thinking it was something like a stand represents a company, so multiple stands (e.g. 6 for French Line with 4 Fusilier, 1 Grenadier and 1 Voltigeur) makes for a battalion, and then multiple battalions make for a brigade, etc. but this seems to differ based on the game (I'd guess having a stand represent a larger unit is how some games handle large scale battles).

Finally and most varied, since I mentioned that when I think of the scale in my head I think of a single stand being a company of men, what sort of rules fit that? Or what sort of rules should I be looking for (e.g. Brigade level?) I'm not sure what that scale is considered as far as rules go, and while I'm by no means set on that ratio, it's what I think of first.

Thanks in advance for any assistance rendered to a *very* confused newbie!

- Wayne

Martin Rapier03 Sep 2019 10:43 a.m. PST

I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses on this one.

A stand is a bunch of figures stuck onto base. Depending on the rules this could represent anything from a platoon (50 or so blokes) to a division (5000 or so). I'm a meglomaniac so I prefer big battles, which means stands representing more blokes.

Game level is subject to varying cultural interpretations. In the British Army a divisional level engagement is one in which the forces engaged are roughly of divisonal size, and I use the same meaning in games ie the player commands a division. Some, but by no means all, of our transatlantic cousins take 'division level' to mean the smallest element is a division, so in a game the player commands a bunch of divisions. The scope for chaos and confusion is immense.

In terms of unit sizes, a Corps (20,000+ men) is made up Divisions (roughly 5,000 ea) which are in turn broken down into multiple brigades, composed of regiments, composed of battalions. Battalions are generally 500-1000 men and made up of companies and platoons. And there are indeed rules where each company is one stand, and several such stands comprise a single battalion.

Terminology for these formations, units and subunits varies from one army to another but I reckon you are looking for brigade or division level rules.

Cerdic03 Sep 2019 10:45 a.m. PST

Unfortunately there is no standard definition of what 'brigade level' or whatever actually means. Your entire force represents a brigade? Or each unit represents a brigade? Different rules authors may mean different things by the same phrase!

There is no standard basing. My advice is to go with what looks good and make whichever rules you are using fit your basing.

A stand is just a base with some figures on it!

21eRegt03 Sep 2019 10:52 a.m. PST

I'll take a stab at your questions.

Brigade Level means different things to different authors. For some it means the basic element you move represents a brigade. For most it means you comfortably control a brigade. Battalion level almost always means you are looking at the battalion with the individual companies modeled. For the French a division would contain 8-12 battalions organized into four regiments and two brigades. Two to four divisions represent a corps and multiple corps represent an army. To further cloud things some nations used "column" to represent what would later be called a corps, like at Austerlitz for the Russians and Austrians.

No standard basing, for any era really. Fairly common are 12 figure battalions on four stands in a single rank, while others look at the company breakdown so a French battalion would have a light, four center and a grenadier company. Each company is usually a single stand with whatever figures the ratio requires. i.e. a 120 man company with a 60:1 figure ratio would have two castings.

More and more rules seem to be going for multiple ranks for the look but since the ground scale already creates a false depth this just compounds it. So you will need to choose between aesthetics and "reality."

Finally, you will need to decide on what you want to play with. I do a game system with 60 figure battalions, all 28mm. I do games with 8-12 figure battalions. Do you want to be a brigadier or an army commander? Perhaps start with a system where you control a brigade or at most two with 1-200 castings. The great joy and curse of today is that you have a lot of choices in gaming style. A golden age in many ways. Best wishes and may luck be ever in your favor.

Steamingdave203 Sep 2019 10:55 a.m. PST

Re your last point, not really possible to represent all armies of the period by " one stand = 1 company" because nations had very different organisations. The 6 stand battalion works fine for the French (and some of their allies) as a stand equals a company, but Russian battalions had four companies and British, if I remember correctly, ten. Battalions were generally of similar sizes, in the range 400 to 600 men in most armies. Most wargamers these days tend to use "battalions" of 24 to 36 figures and don't necessarily represent the individual companies. These can be used for the General d'armee/Black Powder/Lasalle/General de Brigade rules you mention, so are a good staring point. The "Over the Hills" rules, from Stand to Games, use a standard unit as 6 stands, with provision for larger and smaller units and I find they give a good game, with a "Napoleonic flavour". These rules are a good fit for your suggestion. Typically they would represent a couple of brigades of infantry and brigade of cavalry about 20 infantry battalions and 4 to 6 cavalry units.
Nowdays, most of my Napoleonic games are played with the venerable "Napoleon's Battles". Here, the basic unit is a brigade, usually made up of 4 to 8 stands. I use the same infantry stands as I used for Over the Hills 4 figures in two rows on bases which are 20mm wide (25mm for British) and 25mm deep. These rules enable us to play the biggest battles of the Napoleonic wars and are what I would call " grand tactical". Individual battalions and squadrons are not represented.

Cerdic03 Sep 2019 10:56 a.m. PST

The basic Napoleonic tactical unit was the infantry battalion and the cavalry squadron.

Try not to get hung up on how many companies each nation had in their battalions. It varied a lot and companies were often just admin units anyway. Four stands to a battalion works well and is reasonably historical.

Wayniac03 Sep 2019 11:39 a.m. PST

Thanks for the replies, it's still a bit confusing but not as much. The whole "stand equals" part is the one I have the most trouble with since like, a single stand with a few figures representing an entire battalion seems so… small.
Although I guess in that case you do a stand that's 2 ranks deep or something and I guess you would paint some models in there to be the specialist companies (e.g. Grenadiers or Voltigeurs) so it looks like it's a full unit.

A lot to read about, I'll have to do much more research!

Thanks again!

- Wayne

olicana03 Sep 2019 11:58 a.m. PST

Don't be frightened by the complexity.

I've been gaming for donkey's years but I've only recently started collecting and painting for the Napoleonic period, for myself at least.

Consequently I come at the subject with some past knowledge but, only recently have I had to deal with 'Army Organisation'. I'm only really up on Anglo Portuguese and French. With that in mind, let me interject.

I don't do skirmish, so let's move straight on to proper battle sized units.

Most rules deal with battalions. Black Powder, Lasalle and General de Brigade are all battalion based games. Put simply, these are the units that would march together, form a line or a column or a square. Cavalry at this scale are usually modelled as regiments. Battalion unit level rules are by far the most common and most played. We'll come back to this.

The next step up in command level deals with brigades. These were composed of several battalions, usually in the region of 3 6. A British brigade normally had 3 battalions, a Portuguese had 4 to 5 and a French brigade usually had 6 to 9 though the French confused things by normally having regiments of 3 battalions in a brigade, so you might say a British brigade is a French regiment.

Above that, armies combined brigades into a division, and a number of divisions formed a Corps, etc. But I'm overstepping myself. You see it all depends on what 'level' you want to game.

Simply put: In Napoleonic wargames, a unit can be a battalion, or a brigade / regiment. Rarely do units represent bigger formations in games. I don't know anyone who paints 'brigade units' with three or four uniform colours to represent the units therein. Everybody, to my knowledge, collects battalions, and when necessary uses a battalion to represent a brigade. This is generally termed 'bath tubbing'.

That's the nub of it. Regardless of the scale of battle you want to play, collect battalions (regiments of cavalry) and everything will probably work out just fine and fit in with just about everyone else. Think "UNITS" and collect and paint them as battalions.

Personally, I've gone for 24 man battalions with a few skirmish figs each, and cavalry regiments of 12 figures.

When it comes to basing you really do open a can of worms. Some people do 4 figs on a stand, others 6 or even 8. Personally I do 6 figs (28 mm) on 45 x 45 but I'm collecting both sides so I don't care what others do.

You can see my thinking here my Napoleonic Peninsular Project. Now much behind schedule, and having changed in nature except for one thing unit size, which has remained constant.


My French army (of 40 units) is now half done. It looks like this:


So far it comprises 14 units (battalions) of infantry, 4 units (regiments) of cavalry and 2 units (batteries) of artillery.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2019 12:33 p.m. PST

Stand=battalion does look small, but we're stuck. Really small Napoleonic battles frequently involve several thousand men per side. Really big Napoleonic battles--the ones you've actually heard of--can involve hundreds of thousands of men. What size battle, troops and table do you have in mind?

But there are a couple of solutions which help a little. One is to fill that stand with very small soldiers. A 60mm wide stand might contain four 25/28mm infantry--or 24 6mm castings with officer, drummer and standard-bearer. They might play the same, but which looks more like a battalion? The other is to look for two different sets of rules which use the same basing, so that in one your 4-casting base is (effectively) a company and you maneuver by battalions. In the other it represents (pretty much) a battalion and you maneuver by brigades. You can do this with, for instance, Shako and Napoleon's battles, and it lets you cover a wider range of Napoleonic battles than you can play if the stand always equals the same size unit or number of men.

Remember, there are no wrong answers, but some answers to different problems don't work well with each other. Read up and practice a bit with cheap castings and cardboard bases before you make a major investment in one system or another.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2019 12:46 p.m. PST

All the responses above should help you narrow down exactly what level you want to play. But also important is the size of the figure. Most common sizes (note I did not use the term "scale") are: 28mm (slightly more than 1" tall), 20mm, 15mm/18mm, 10mm, and 6mm. I think you'll find many rules are aimed at just one of these sizes of figures, although some can span several different sizes. Your figure size will also drive, to a certain extent, what level of organization you play (i.e., battalions as basic maneuver unit, etc.).

There is a sizeable wargaming community in your locale (Tampa-Orlando). There are two major conventions Recon in the spring and Hurricon in late September. link as well as TMP link
I'd recommend you try to get to Hurricon and see what Napoleonic games strike your fancy.

Good gaming to you!


Garde de Paris03 Sep 2019 1:34 p.m. PST

I just went into the internet to see what I might find about Fred Vietmeyer of Fort Wayne Indiana and his varied battalion organizations for the Napoleonic Wars. I attach what I found on the internet, with request to look at reasonable way to build "armies" (reinforced brigades) slowly.

TMP link


Fried Flintstone03 Sep 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

Try and find a local club. Unless you plan to game solo you will want to structure your army to work with the other members. Just my $0.02 USD

Wayniac04 Sep 2019 4:22 a.m. PST

Won't be able to get to Hurricon sadly :( But I have spoken to a couple of people and gonna keep talking to them to see the interest, I know there's a Nap group a bit down south but it's a bit of a drive, and a few guys closer in this area have seemed interested so I think that's my best bet. The "clubs" are further north or south or just a group who play in each other's homes without advertising so it's harder to find them since I can't really make the cons and they don't seem to post on the HMGS South facebook group I'm a part of (I had someone say that most gaming is in people's homes.. which is great but who are those people so I can get in touch with them? haha).

One guy I talked to didn't want to buy 15mm but has 1/72, but I'd rather do 15mm (it's so cheap I might buy him an army though lol), I know at least one or two other people have expressed interest in Napoleonics. I dislike traveling when I can avoid it, which sucks because it seems like the groups are at the outskirts of the Tampa area (Sarasota/Kissimmee/Lakeland) rather than within the larger city itself, at least the public ones.

I'm still a bit confused over the basing but I can address that as I get to it since there will either be a club I find or one that I start. I guess the main question is this. Let's say a stand represents a battalion. They would just be painted as normal guys (line troops, for instance)? So you wouldn't need to paint some as (I use French as the example) Fusiliers, some as Grenadiers and some as Voltigeurs? The stand would be painted as whatever sort of guy and that's all you need to worry about?

Thanks again for the tips!


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2019 8:52 a.m. PST

Wayniac, no one would stop you if you felt like something elaborate, but I've never seen it done, and I can't imagine a set of rules which called for such.

That said, I still think you've got the problems out of order. Given you don't seem to have a group handy, you need to start with what size battles you want to fight and what size table you plan to fight them on. Once we know those things, we can talk intelligently (mostly. sort of) about rules, and what sort of basing is compatible with which set of rules.

(Yes, it can be done in reverse. You can say "I plan to base my 15mm infantry 2x2 on a 3/4"x1" stand: what are my rule options?" and that might not be a bad idea if you already had an army or so. But starting from scratch, You're usually better off saying "I want to fight Waterloo on a 4x6 table with 15mm castings: what are my rule options?" Anyway, you have to start somewhere.)

Wayniac04 Sep 2019 11:16 a.m. PST

I suppose I'm going about this in the wrong way since I'm used to the Warhammer mindset of picking an army with the idea that you can fight any "could have happened" battle without necessarily wanting to play a historical reenactment game. Like a theoretical "What if Napoleon did Y instead of X and fought against Such-and-such" without it necessarily being historically accurate. I played a lot of simulation strategy video games that had that sort of "Historically X happened, but I want to do Y" or "If you do X which didn't happen historically, you get to do Y" type of scenarios.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2019 12:12 p.m. PST

None of this gets in the way of that. Every historical miniatures player makes decisions the historical general didn't, and most of us fight completely invented battles some of the time. But some Napoleonic battles involved hundreds of thousands of men and some involved one or two thousand. Generally the same rules don't do a good job on both.

I suspect the problem is that Warhammer simultaneously told you "each casting represents a single individual" and "these 200 or so castings are fighting an epic battle for the fate of a planet" which historical miniatures players have a hard time taking seriously. But even WH tends to lock you into basing and organization.

The basic thing here is that there are a bunch of rules intended to let you fight Waterloo on a 4x6 table--but you'll be pushing brigades and a lot of the fine detail is lost. There are rules which will let you fight Chippewa or Lundy's Lane and give you that fine detail--but if you use those rules for Leipzig, you'll need to rent a gym, and you may still never finish. Notice there tends to be argument on the Napoleonic boards between people who say REAL Napoleonic warfare is a matter of battalions formations and those who say REAL Napoleonic warfare is a matter of huge battles with hundreds of thousands of combatants. We're both right, actually.

But if you can tell us "I want to fight Borodino in 15mm on a 4x6 table" "I'd rather fight Barossa" or "I want to be able to fight both" we'll be better able to point you in appropriate directions.

Wayniac04 Sep 2019 6:12 p.m. PST

That makes sense. From what I've been reading and taking a quick look at various battles (and I have a *LOT* more to read, slowly working my way through Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon but it's a little dry), something about the size of Barossa, Marengo, Brienne, or Quatre Bras but not huge battles like Austerlitz or Leipzig.

I'd say between 15,000 and 40,000 men or so (give or take). Of course, I don't know what the other people would prefer as the entire idea of Napoleonics have just been a mention on a Facebook group, so I suppose the real first step is talking to them about it! I would almost certainly say 15mm scale, I don't think there would be interest in 28mm. There might be 6mm or 10mm, I'm not sure but I think 15mm would be the main choice.

Sorry for the rather silly newbie questions :)


Wayniac05 Sep 2019 4:28 a.m. PST

Maybe a bit larger than that, since the size is foreign to me (Warhammer's scale is all over the place) I'm not sure if say a battle with around 30,000 men per side e.g. Quatre Bras is "small". I looked at a few battles on Wikipedia just to see the numbers, and they seemed to either be around 30,000, 50k to less than 100k, or over 100k. I have no idea what those scales might correspond to as I'm still reading the history. Size-wise since I don't have any specific battle in mind I'd say the size of Waterloo and smaller (according to Wikipedia Waterloo was about 73,000 French and about 118,000 British/Prussian. No larger than Waterloo.


Wayniac07 Sep 2019 11:04 a.m. PST

Well I spoke to one of the other main people who wants to start. He mentioned black powder because they apparently have a naval game coming too and have some cross campaign things in the works.

So we've decided on Peninsula with Black Powder at 15mm it seems since he wants to play France and I expressed interest in British. I think that's what it will look like, probably brigade level since we want something with a bit more granularity.

Thanks everyone for the help and advice!


Wayniac07 Sep 2019 1:23 p.m. PST

Also, I should mention we mainly decided on BP because the established club to the south plays BP, so while we won't always be able to get down there to play it seems prudent to stick to the same system since we are basically having a "satellite" club in my area.

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