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La Belle Ruffian06 Mar 2021 1:17 p.m. PST

I was going to post yesterday but the references to Scott Bowden, Empire*, Bruce Quarrie and rules around the early 70s made me re-visit earlier thoughts on how we represent the doctrine and ability of different armies and commanders. Last week I picked up a job lot of Quarrie and Grant books and was able to read what was actually written and the context.

As I've said before, lots of tactical rulesets (even today) without a campaign element use a range of factors/traits to ensure that historical (dis)advantages are reflected by your troops of choice. It's understandable too, particularly if we want to get a result in an evening, but how do we avoid the trope of French +3?

If 1806 Prussians are often a tactical match for French troops but are defeated at the strategic and operational level before Napoleon woke on the morning of Jena, what can we do to give the French their historical advantage. How do you reflect that self-belief amongst his troops, which is what Wellington later said he intended by the 40,000 troops comment, rather than an actual corps? Or indeed, the hesitancy of his opponents?

For that matter, how many French senior commanders deserve a consistent 'factor' unless they're campaigning with Napoleon (and even he has off campaigns)? Should we look at that more closely for a way to reflect the value of his presence, rather than troop factors, traits or abilities? What about commitment to the cause? certainly French fragility in 1815 was exposed despite

In Quarrie's case he cautions against caricatures, but folds observed and recorded behaviour, mannerisms & attitudes in with training, discipline, initiative and equipment. However, even with the increase in adult literacy and memoirs which mark the Napoleonic wars, we often have relatively few data sets to base these on.

In his Airfix rules (pre-NCiM), Quarrie used 1808 as a dividing line for the point a number of armies and troop types therein. He rarely seems to apply blanket bonuses or penalties and highlights the difference between various Arms and Service types. This background to his thinking is sadly missing from the Campaigns book as he stated that he assumed people would have read it (like a number of Featherstone books).

Interestingly, by the time he gets to writing Campaigns he removes 1808, not because he doesn't believe that the armies evolved during this era, but because he'd noticed wargamers picking the most helpful factor when scenario-building. I'd like to use my 1813-14 Allies for more than historical scenarios, I'm not interested in a simple point-buy system that ignore historical context. So, thoughts to discuss/questions for those interested**:

- at what point did rules start to successfully consider NC/L factors in Napoleonic games rather than the odd scenario-specific modifier?

- Quarrie went with 1808 as the dividing line for any NC changes. Would you agree, further sub-divide and/or should we also consider theatre and commanders too?

- which rulesets for one-off battles attempt to model operational factors into tactical effects beyond 'flank attack on turn D6+3'? How does tactical doctrine fit in?

- most armies had negatives alongside their positives. Many RPGs have a point buy scheme which allows you to tailor your forces. Is this relevant and have you an example in mind?

*disclaimer, I've only read the linked review of 3rd ed. Empire but note that he also uses both national characteristic and leadership factors.

**I'm aware that national characteristics may be contentious for some, but there's already a thread for people to debate that. The default starting point here is that whilst units and formations may buck an observable trend (it's why we have dice), how Napoleonic armies were led, fed, trained and organised was a factor in their relative motivation and performance over time.

Nine pound round06 Mar 2021 1:41 p.m. PST

That's a lot of questions. I'll just deal with eras. Each army has them; Revolutionary French forces, for example, were very different from the army of the early Empire, which morphs in the middle years (1807-1812) into something perhaps less skilled, but certainly more numerous. After 1812, it's a different force altogether- a less able army than those that preceded it, but formed around a nucleus of experienced survivors whose presence keeps it formidable. The army of the Hundred Days is something different from that: the best since 1812, certainly, filled with returned veterans, but lacking the solidity of long service and numerous campaigns as a single entity.

The British Army of that era went through phases as well – starting in the 1790s as a loosely organized force of individual regiments, it changed significantly as a result of the campaigns from 1793-1807, but then evolving even further through the experience of the Peninsular War into an able, well-organized force.

I have always thought the later Empire rules did a good job of recognizing these transitions, dividing forces between "modern" and "ancien regime" organizational cultures, and (in R&E) acknowledging the gradual professionalization of staffs. Add to that a set of tables that show the changes to troop quality at the unit level, and I think you get an interesting representation of the way in which armies changed over time.

JMcCarroll06 Mar 2021 2:41 p.m. PST

Some rule sets do rate French generals less if Napoleon is not there.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2021 2:42 p.m. PST

Our way round multiplicity of 'conditions' was to remove the 'Skynet' element of gamesmanship and use umpires and game designers to set the rules on 'quality' and often 'fatigue'.

The loss of 100% control and knowledge makes one cautious and much more calculating in the 'military' odds of taking any action.

These led to fabulous games, based on Paddy Griffiths excellent turns, with localisation of what we knew. Once Empire-3 and Campaigns came around, we built in some of those aspects too…

For those that only 'game' the game by rules, well… TEHO…
regards d

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2021 3:28 p.m. PST

A lot of this is a matter of taste and command level--but not all. It's sometimes fair to say a given army was poorly trained or well-drilled but from an older manual, had some cultural quirk or had inadequate skirmishers. When these are things a commander could not alter in the time allowed about the forces he commanded, then rules of a certain level of complexity ought to include them.

I'm much more skeptical of commander ratings, which often seem to me to be forcing the wargamer to behave like an idiot. There is an argument to be made that, say, a French army had a larger staff at each level than an 1806 Prussian, and should be able to respond to more things. But that argument gets you a rating for that command level not for individual generals and marshals. I think you can make a case for such in large games without subordinate players, but I don't play those.

Chimpy Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2021 3:57 p.m. PST

But in my opinion National Characteristics in sets of rules often don't make sense. So looking at Napoleonic wargaming by Bruce Quarrie we find that French Line Grenadiers move 140 yards per turn in line whereas French Line Fusiliers move 120 yards per turn. But they used the same drill manuals and were part of the same battalion. Napoleon's battles does the same sort of thing although I used to quite like these rules.

National characteristics also often reflect the National bias of the rules author or were written so long ago that further research has come to light. eg Were Dutch Belgians in 1815 or Spanish in the Peninsula really so bad? Maybe classing some of their units as militia would be fairer and save a lot of space.

And it may be more helpful researching actual unit performance as a means of deciding ratings rather than blanket National Characteristics eg The Cumberland Hussars were terrible but other Hanoverian troops performed reasonably in 1815.

Finally I would rather not assign characteristics to the CinC. Part of the fun of wargaming for me is trying to see whether you can do better than Napoleon at Waterloo. But rules that give you a whole set of advantages because you are supposed to be Napoleon remain unconvincing.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2021 4:48 p.m. PST

Black Powder deals with this by giving French commanders better command ratings and attaching national characteristics to troops, for example French infantry have the Pas de Charge which allows more tactical flexibility while the Russian infantry have Lack Initiative which makes them less tactically flexible but also Tough Fighters which makes them hard to tumble out of a position

14Bore06 Mar 2021 5:16 p.m. PST

Playing Empire it can be maddening to have a Corp sit and not do anything for turns, but guess that is a command dysfunction that happened. Have ideas for making a command radius that Empire doesn't have but have yet to write it out and test it.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2021 6:42 p.m. PST

When you do, 14Bore, please don't repeat the NB mistake of making it retroactive. (March down the road toward some town in NB, and once you're out of command radius, you forget what you were ordered to do.)

Oh. And don't invite me to any game with an activation roll. Nothing like driving two hours in order not to move troops, then turning around and driving home.

La Belle Ruffian06 Mar 2021 7:43 p.m. PST

nine pound round, thanks for that contribution, I'd concur with your divisions in general, although my rationale might not always be the same, e.g. I think lack of faith/trust in its commanders was a bigger issue for Armée du Nord in 1815 than time to come together – Wellington's forces were far less cohesive and experienced, including many commanders. This was a huge gamble for Napoleon and I'd be surprised if the troops didn't realise this, given the fact that they were so experienced.

A couple of related questions if you have the time to answer:

- in Empire are those troop characteristics fixed within the context of the era or scenarios?

- When you talk of R&E reflecting staff work, how does that work in game, what does it represent in differentiating armies?

La Belle Ruffian06 Mar 2021 9:13 p.m. PST

JMcCarroll, thank you which rules might these be? Obviously I assume it might be other significant senior commanders.

robert piepenbrink & Frederick. There was indeed a reason why I wrote 'factor' as blanket leadership ratings seem to mainly impact on (if present) activation, command distances, no. of orders or bonus if you attach your general to rally or support a charge. Too often generals with the same 'rating' have the same potential impact (or lack thereof).

These responses have been helpful in helping me hone in on which questions I might have asked or possibly more precise phrasing in the first place.

At the tactical level I loathe failing multiple activation rolls (which happens far too often) as much as traits or abilities which endure throughout the game and are enjoyed by all troops of that type, regardless of their commander, yet how key is leadership making Davout's III Corps earn their reputation?

Does 'Daddy' Hill earn his reputation because British infantry in line get +1 or is it the concern for their welfare he shows out of combat that which allows him to rally multiple units. C&C has its frustrations (one of which is the randomness) but there are some boardgame mechanics I need to think some more on. I enjoy using cards in games but analysis paralysis sets in and too often they give predictable results. Maybe diminishing returns on leadership cards, or risk of losing them? Certainly you could build in superior staff work, forced marches or better cavalry screens to influence card choice and availability rather than 'Napoleon gets 6 Corps to your 4 and you have to deploy first'.

SHaT1984, I absolutely agree that some fog of war and friction should be represented, but troop quality & fatigue are just one side of the equation and good commanders should have better knowledge of the state/potential of troops than poor ones. Umpires can be just as biased as players and the better ones often want to play. I enjoy an all day double-blind game occasionally, but they involve much more prep and can still bog down when umpires adjudicate, so if I'm getting the toys out then I need something in a short time-frame with no more than 2 players required.

La Belle Ruffian06 Mar 2021 9:24 p.m. PST

Chimpy, thank you for your opinion on characteristics and leadership. Happy to to discuss elsewhere, but I refer you to the final paragraph in my opening post on this thread. Your point about Quarrie's 1974 rules* seems scant evidence for ignoring marked differences in the performance of armies (rather than units).

*Based on the context of his other movement explanations (in particular the keeping formation moving downhill comment), I presume Quarrie had taller, better trained Grenadiers in mind, with a longer stride and fewer pauses to dress the line. If you form a composite battalion then they get the benefit of the extra few paces each turn.

Art07 Mar 2021 3:30 a.m. PST

G'Day Chippy,

I agree with your assessment that French grenadiers detached from their parent battalion would march no faster than French line. If the grenadiers marched faster than the authorized pace, that would make them less trained and less disciplined. As for the French halting to dress a line while executing a war march except under particular circumstances…

But I do see different national characteristics in their general principles, such as early and late execution of fire making a difference.

The l'ordre séparé was a major disadvantage to the Russians, Austrian, and Prussians prior to 1812, whereas both the French and British ceased to use l'ordre séparé around 1803-1805ish.

An army executing l'ordre séparé has a very tough go against an army who uses l'ordre perpendiculaire.

I also believe that commander et diriger (of which there are three types) is also important.

Best Regards

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 6:00 a.m. PST

I suspect quite a lot of the objections to Quarrie reflected impatience with the need to absorb quite a lot (22 pages) of rules rather than some attractively simpler system, and with the fact that they noticeably penalised certain armies.

If you look at the actual differences in his national characteristics, in fighting effectiveness they amount to very little. For example, almost everybody's basic line infantry factors are Fire = 1 or 2, Impact = 1 and Confused = 2 (for a charging total of 3) or sometimes vice versa, eg French. In a charge, all line troops are thus similar, the 2/1 split for the French meaning your French player should want to attack, rather than wait to be attacked. That said, if a column comes to grips with a line, the latter almost certainly breaks through whatever the line's melee factor.

Fire factor approximates to rounds fired per minute. British line get 2 instead of 1, which I suggest correctly reflects the centrality of musketry to British infantry doctrine. Other troops, eg the Old Guard, get higher fire factors still, but these should be insignificantly rare units in a balanced army. These are anyway marginal advantages. If you have a 20-figure French and British battalion exchanging fire in line, the difference in their fire factors amounts to 0.5 figures per move. The die roll is potentially 1.5 figures, and wrong-footing your opponent, so he's unformed or wheeling, much much more.

Elites get higher factors generally, but this again does not seem unreasonable to me. Grenadiers were supposed to be your best men, so if they perform no differently, why bother with them? Clearly they're not going to move at different rates formed within a line battalion, but did they not attack with greater elan when massed? Perhaps not; perhaps Oudinot just didn't understand grenadiers like we do.

The exceptions to the above are the rubbish armies. Quarrie penalises the Spanish, Austrians and to some extent the Prussians in their manoeuvre and formation changing speed. This would be very frustrating if you're trying to win a battle with them against a player with French. If you have read one of the monographs on either of these armies, you can't help coming away with the idea that they were actually really great, usually due to the author's own enthusiasm. Empirical battle results suggest otherwise, however. The Austrians and Prussians did indeed find it exceedingly difficult to win battles against the French, and the Spanish found it all but impossible. To do so called for a large, sometimes a very large, numerical advantage, or for the enemy to be a state of near-collapse before the battle. FWIW it's also hard to win as the British with Quarrie rules, because you have to attack in line, so you're vulnerable to cavalry, and changing face to meet new threats is time-consuming.

The Quarrie approach to command is that your units are given orders at the outset. If the C-in-C wants to change them, the player has to send a physical messenger to the local subordinate commander, whose A / B / C factor determines how long – 1, 2 or 3 moves – he takes to react to this. The French generally have faster-reacting commanders, everyone else's are worse. So he doesn't abstract command away with various rule mechanisms; instead, he reproduces it. A Prussian 1806 commander who finds the French are over here instead of over there will have change the local commanders' orders and wait for them to react, while the French meanwhile crack on. Seems about right to me. If the French player wants to win against one of these armies, he needs to do something that requires a quick reaction, that usually won't be forthcoming.

Quarrie also suggests modifying the base rating per battle down by rolling a die, because generals have off days.

So I dunno really. I've looked at other rulesets of course but most seem to have some specific bee in their bonnet, and they're all about that. I have come full circle on the Quarrie approach to national characteristics. For a while I believed the revisionists, eg Dave Hollins about how great the Austrians were, but then I read Gill and found that the Austrians advanced at 6 miles a day but retreated at 20 miles a day over the same road! And the French marched faster regardless! Likewise I read a few Hofschroers in the 80s and thought how great the Prussians were. But then I read more and realised they lost every battle they fought without superior numbers and a better ally on the field, and often, they lost even with those too. I am sure the Spanish national uprising was a major factor in French defeat in the Peninsula, but how many pitched battles did they win? Not sieges or guerrilla actions, but battles on the field against similar numbers of French in adequate supply. It's nil, right?

National characteristics are an expression of an army's discipline, training, doctrine, experience and leadership. While it is true that all armies are made up of the same raw material, it is a stupid and thoughtless observation when advanced in support of the (1950s-1960s) idea that national characteristics should not be allocated in respect of the trained material. By the same reasoning, we've all got two legs, so we can all run as fast as Usain Bolt, and we can all dance like Darcey Bussell.

Cerdic07 Mar 2021 6:32 a.m. PST

…or dance like Usain Bolt and run like Darcey Bussell!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 8:50 a.m. PST

'If the Cossacks attack during the night, it is to keep you awake, to wear you out…you seldom have to do anything more than look alert.'

'If the Prussian cavalry attacks during the night, that is more serious; you must not only be ready, but maneuver [to meet them].'

'If the Austrian cavalry attacks at night they probably have their infantry with them…'

'If the English cavalry understood war, they might be…the most terrible in Europe…'

'[If you have ridden over them] the Austrian infantry throws down its weapons, each soldier claims to be a Pole, they obey you honestly.'

'The Prussian infantry throws down its arms, but will grab them up promptly if they see help coming.'

'The Russian infantry falls flat, lets you pass, gets up, and startes shooting again.'

-Antoine de Brack, Avant-Postes de Cavalerie Legere, 106-108.


Art07 Mar 2021 9:12 a.m. PST

G'Day Phil

"A Prussian 1806 commander who finds the French are over here instead of over there will have to change the local commanders' orders and wait for them to react, while the French meanwhile crack on…"

That sums up why an army executing l'ordre séparé has a very tough go against an army who uses l'ordre perpendiculaire.

But I have found that when there is a local game at a convention…l'ordre séparé is the best method to use for each player…that way even a player on the losing side can still win over all other players.

Best Regards

von Winterfeldt07 Mar 2021 1:30 p.m. PST

A Prussian 1806 commander who finds the French are over here instead of over there will have to change the local commanders' orders and wait for them to react, while the French meanwhile crack on…"

In case you have some spare time, can you please elaborate on that? I fail to see why a Prussian commander would not crack on regardless if the French are over here or there?

also – what is the ordre séparé and where can I learn more about it?

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 3:18 p.m. PST

>>we find that French Line Grenadiers move 140 yards per turn in line whereas French Line Fusiliers move 120 yards per turn. <<

Because like most gamers, the writer confused internal machination with 'inter'national' ones.
Just because troops could, doesn't mean they would.
If you walk you stay formed; if you run you become disorganised, or disordered. Russians could and did charge just as far, sometimes to their detriment.

Those kinds of disticntions are just sloppy work to begin with. Tactically, who was in charge and how much 'control' they exerted, well thats a whole different kettle of whitebait (fish)…

>>but troop quality & fatigue are just one side of the equation and good commanders should have better knowledge of the state/potential of troops than poor ones. .. so if I'm getting the toys out then I need something in a short time-frame with no more than 2 players required.<<

Yerp, just citing one example… which is why I've reversed my aversion to using (playing) card draws to effect randomness for 'Command decisions' rather than actions- assign possible outcomes, stack the deck, and play away.
Agreed umpires do the work basics, but unless controlling the 'random event' not playing. [I already told the story of the lone horse battery that thundered onto an exposed table edge road, completely unsettling the French opponent and causing him to halt his advance and 'wait' to expect a much larger force appear on his flank; after two periods firing the artillery moved off again and the French were just as confused as before.]

>>I suspect quite a lot of the objections to Quarrie reflected impatience with the need to absorb quite a lot (22 pages) of rules<<

But we did thats the point. And if you didn't like 'characteristics' then players agreed not t use any but the most obvious. Much better games that way.


Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2021 4:40 p.m. PST

@ von W

In the ruleset in question, each wing or element of the army that has its own commander gets orders at the start of the game. If the situation in that sector is not as the C-in-C envisaged, he has to stick to the original orders until he receives new ones. Eg if he's told to attack the village in front of him, because the C-in-C thinks its lightly held, he'll do so even if there's a whole Corps holding it.

Once the orders – or support request, for that matter – arrive, the ABC rating determines how long he takes to react. If he's a grade A commander he'll react next turn. If he's a grade C commander he will do so in the third following turn.

A few outstanding individuals aside, the non-French armies are generally short of A-rated commanders. Blucher's an A but Brunswick (the elder), FWIII, and Hohenlohe are all C, as are Beaulieu, Archduke John, Mack and Schwarzenberg. An army with mostly grade B and C commanders will therefore react slowly to any change in circumstance, and will continue to try to follow the original battle plan, even when it's out of date.

Under this rules framework, if the French player wants to defeat the Prussians of 1806, he needs to present them with a tactical situation they aren't expecting.

Blutarski07 Mar 2021 4:57 p.m. PST

4th Cuirassier,
Your 07 Mar 5:00am PST post is one of the most well-written, entertaining and interesting items I have read on TMP in a long time. And I say that as someone not deeply involved in Napoleonic wargaming.

My compliments, sir.


Whirlwind07 Mar 2021 11:48 p.m. PST

I am sure the Spanish national uprising was a major factor in French defeat in the Peninsula, but how many pitched battles did they win? Not sieges or guerrilla actions, but battles on the field against similar numbers of French in adequate supply. It's nil, right?

It isn't quite nil. Tamames, Alcaniz and San Marcial all meet your criteria.

von Winterfeldt08 Mar 2021 12:16 a.m. PST

I wonder why one of the most important tactical national characteristics are not mentioned, the pas de course.

As for the Spanish, Bailen.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 5:31 a.m. PST

@ Whirlwind

Thanks, I wasn't familiar with those. I suspect using Quarrie rules, the Spanish would indeed win all of those too. Wikipedia suggests that at Tamames they outnumbered the French by 2 to 1, and at the others, their artillery and the favourable terrain did the job.

@ von W

Bailen was more of a strategic encirclement I think. But there are three other Spanish pitched-battle victories as Whirlwind has pointed out.

@ Blutarski

Glad you enjoyed :-)

Personal logo Condotta Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 6:16 a.m. PST

Interesting discussion. Thanks for the posts and contributions.

>>we find that French Line Grenadiers move 140 yards per turn in line whereas French Line Fusiliers move 120 yards per turn. <<

This movement discrepancy came up more than once. My thoughts are it is valid and possible. Why? Because Grenadiers separated from their unit could move without constraint if their leadership/orders so dictated. A man taller than another usually covers more ground with each step.

Have you ever walked with men more long-legged than yourself who were determined to cover ground? I have. The taller man's stride covers more ground, so each step moves a taller man farther than a shorter man. Grenadiers were normally taller than fusilier/musketeer/center company men and even more so than voltiguer/light company men. So physics and physical abilities would normally allow detached/converged Grenadier formations to move faster if not constrained by the need to maintain cohesion with a parent formation. I have marched in formations where the taller men in front walked at their normal stride and the shorter men placed at the rear had to run at times to maintain formation.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 7:04 a.m. PST

It is also perhaps worth noting that the 20 yards' movement distance we've been discussing is 20mm per turn on a suggested table size of 1500mm by 2400mm.

The wider and for me more interesting question is how to represent other troop features about which there was near-total contemporary agreement. One such view shared by professional soldiers of the day was that armies exhibited national characteristics. They still think this – IIRC NATO evaluations of Warsaw Pact members constructively reflected these. To know how effective your enemy may be, you have to consider his discipline, training, doctrine, experience, organisation, weapons and equipment, and leadership. To the extent his differ from yours, they are his national characteristics.

An important further input to such analysis is political enthusiasm. NATO thought the Warsaw Pact would fall apart if it didn't win WW3 quickly because most of its members were forcibly co-opted. Similarly the Dutch-Belgians were rated low in 1815 by all sides including the French not because they lacked martial prowess, but because 14 months earlier they'd been on the other side. The concern – or the hope, if you were French – turned out to be misplaced.

If I were doing an 1815 campaign I'd roll a die for the political reliability of each national component on the Allied side, and each commander on the French. Neither player would know the result until contact.

Likewise the Austrians of 1809 should probably not be the same when pitted against the Russians in 1812. I don't know what you'd change, but they seemed in no special hurry to get to blows. It was almost as if the Austrians and Russians both thought they should both be fighting someone else.

Nine pound round08 Mar 2021 7:11 a.m. PST


The staff quality in R&E works principally through modifiers, e.g, rolls to activate orders.

Troop quality is presented in extensive charts, by period, campaign region, and unit type. Many individual units are presented, and for broad unit types, they are frequently presented as "breaking out" into a rough range of quality levels. Quality can be further modified by fatigue incurred during an action and "campaign fatigue," which represents the longer-term effects of previous actions.

In the mid-80s, the Empire Campaign System (designed for E3) included some mechanics for altering troop quality over time, based on either accumulation of success or the erosion of strength, but the campaign fatigue system differs slightly from the R&E system, so I have not used them together (ECS is pretty rare, but I have a copy, and I am hopeful that E7 will incorporate it. It involves a lot of record-keeping, but given that campaign systems are all about the management of armies between engagements, that seems right to me).

Erzherzog Johann08 Mar 2021 12:39 p.m. PST

I think the limitations of the (particularly earlier) Austrian and Prussian armies is better reflected at the command and control level rather than at the tactical level of individual battalions. There are numerous examples of Austrian units fighting very determinedly and the Prussians post Jena under Yorck would never replicate their rearguard actions under Quarrie. In smaller engagements, the distinction was much less noticeable. Rules that allocate the number of instructions that can be issued (eg by assigning "aides de camp) reflect this better. Battalions are pretty equivalent but a better (often French or British) commander is likely to have more order issuing potential at his disposal so will get a quicker response from the battalion, brigade etc.

I had a lot of fun with both versions of his rules but I think Quarrie's NCs were too coarse grained. My impression was that he still felt that his original separation between pre and post 1808 was right- it's just that he gave up because no one used them.


Cdr Luppo08 Mar 2021 1:01 p.m. PST

Good Day Hans-Karl,

for the ordre séparé, some elements here, page 147 in Gérome
also in Mesnil-Durand page 181

"The separate order is that in which each division forms a separate body and fights independently of the others, from which it remains separate and even distant… Its purpose is to attack only a few parts of the enemy's front."

best regards : )




Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 1:35 p.m. PST

@ John

In small actions with no subordinate commanders, the Prussian and Austrian handicaps do largely disappear. Tactically they are still slower-moving, but I am not persuaded this is wrong, and they shoot and fight as well as the French.

I agreed with the principle behind Quarrie's pre/post 1808 "watershed", but was never convinced there should only be one watershed, or that it be the same date for all armies.

For the French, for example, I would say there was a decided difference in quality between 1805-7 armies versus 1809-1812 armies versus those of 1813-1814. And I'd rate the 100 Days' French army equal to the 1809-1812 era.

Of course, nothing stops you from changing any of this. Personally I found games went faster if you ignored the differential movement speeds.

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 1:40 p.m. PST


Great links!

Tantalising badly-imaged images!

Chimpy Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 3:10 p.m. PST

I didn't ever say that the armies were not different to each other. I actually said that you could do away with a lot of complication by the rating of the troops eg Militia for militia battalions. And 22 pages is not a lot to read ( I used to play WRG Ancients), but Quarrie used up most of 5 pages on these ratings. I also used the 1974 book as an example because I don't have anything later than that by him.

I still have trouble believing that French Line troops moved at different rates. But it seems to have become the be all and end all of my argument. The point is not whether tall men can step out faster but that their officers would be trying to keep them in formation. In other words drill.

However I think that the original question hasn't been defined enough. What level of game are we talking about? As 4th Cuirassier alluded to in small actions the Prussian and Austrian handicaps largely disappear. And if we're playing a divisional level game the advantages of the French corps system are irrelevant unless you adjust the scenario conditions to allow for this in some way.

I agree that there should be multiple watersheds – perhaps as Neil Thomas does it, by when armies dropped the linear system.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2021 3:39 p.m. PST

Piling on isn't the answer- selective use is.

And there's no SINGLE ANSWER that applies- it is all non-linear and time-line based, so playing Russians against Brits or Spanish, well you may as well not use anything but the basics anyway.

von Winterfeldt09 Mar 2021 12:09 a.m. PST

Thanks, but as I see it the ordre séparé was well in use for the French also, only when sort of army corps were introduced such as by Jourdan or Moreau – it started to became an order united.

Frederick the Great did not fight in an ordre séparé – it developed during the French Revolutionary wars by the French and not the Allies.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2021 3:37 a.m. PST

If you gave everyone in Quarrie the same "combat" ratings, i.e. melee and firepower, you wouldn't alter play very much. Altering the morale and control factors would be another matter, i.e. a very significant change. Troop status, i.e. whether militia, "seasoned" (the default) or veteran makes a big difference too.

Among the most important features of playing rules are the space you have available, the number of figures, and how long you need the game to last. That is, does it have to be over in an evening because it can't be left in situ to be resumed? Rules you find unsuitable are often so IME because the author's assumptions for these are different to your own. Implicitly, Quarrie's rules assumed leisurely battles between smallish armies. For example, his personal target was eventually to complete the entire Westphalian army, a total of only 468 figures. This I think explains the level of detail he went to.

Erzherzog Johann09 Mar 2021 10:21 p.m. PST

I'd forgotten that comment about the Westphalians :-)

I think the most significant NCs in Quarrie are not the factors but the maneuver times. To me that was the biggest killer. French and British armies just maneuvered so much more quickly than Prussians (which we used) or Austrians (which I was just starting the process of collecting.

Now some difference might be justified but it was absolutely crippling. Again, I think inefficiencies in transmitting orders down the line, and possibly reports up the line, and staff inefficiencies meaning less orders could be dispatched (eg "pip" dice, Aides de camp or whatever system) are a better way of reflecting that than an assumption that an Austrian will sit down for an Apfelstrudel part way through forming square. (In strategic movement yes, they were clearly slower getting underway, not as organised on the march, and probably stopped earlier too.) Ironically, Austrian staff were considered efficient enough to run the whole shebang at Austerlitz, yet Russians in Quarrie maneuvered more quickly. As far as I'm aware, these rule mechanisms hadn't really arrived on the scene when Quarrie was writing his rules, which, as I have said before, provide many fond memories and were the first "real" wargaming rules I ever used.


von Winterfeldt10 Mar 2021 12:08 a.m. PST

The Westphalians used the identical regulations as the French, so why should a battalion move slower? At least in 1812 when the French Army was already in decline – I cannot see any reason.

Why the Prussians should be slower than the British -I cannot see on battalion level, nor for the French, to speak about 1806, of course the Prussians did not have attacking column, but they used a step which was quicker than the pas acceleré and the Prussian stride was longer than those of the French as well.

At the end of the reign of Frederick the Great a fast pace of 108 paces per minute [A Prussian pace was 2 Prussian feet and 4 Prussian inches, 0. 78 m] came into use, officially sanctioned in the regulations of 1788, it was in general use in 1806

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2021 5:42 a.m. PST

@ John E

Yes, a Prussian Landwehr battalion ordered to move 200 yards in line, cross a high hedge en route, and arrive formed, would take 7 game turns to do so. A French battalion would take 2.5 turns. Effectively these armies can't really change formation. It would take Austrian regulars 1.5 turns to form square, meaning if they encounter cavalry who are 1 move away, they will get destroyed because there's no time to form square.

We sometimes forget that the original Airfix Napoleonic book came out in 1974, when BQ was 26. My hunch is that he'd rarely if ever played these rules with an Austrian or Prussian army. 50 years ago the required figures weren't thick on the ground, and neither was the uniformology. If he had, I think he'd have noticed what you did. It is noteworthy though that the campaign march rates and tabletop speeds align pretty closely. The French march at 2mph and on the table move in column at 1.9mph.

@ von W

Perhaps, but I am sceptical of conclusions drawn based on the drill manual, or on anachronistic 21st century political prejudices, rather than on empirical information, eg

- The number of hits scored on canvas targets by musketry was high (so one battalion could wipe out another in about five minutes' fire).
- The Neapolitan and Spanish armies had drill manuals comparable to other nations (so were tactically equally effective on the battlefield).
- Grenadiers used the same drill manuals and weapons as their parent battalions (so tactically they can have been no more proficient than line).
- The Household Cavalry wore no armour (so were at a disadvantage versus cuirassiers and musketry).
- The Austrians advanced 6 miles a day in 1809 because the roads were poor (so no faster rate was possible by anyone else).
- The underlying facts are all correct (but none of the conclusions are).

You can end up talking yourself into believing that all armies must have been equally tactically adroit based on their manuals and their crack drill squadron. Then you look at their actual battle record and it says, er, not really.

Nine pound round10 Mar 2021 6:29 a.m. PST

The speed of a formation over the ground has less to do with the drill book pace than it does the experience of the troops carrying out the maneuver. It doesn't matter if your marching pace is ten percent faster, if you have to stop three times to dress the formation. And the bigger the formation, the greater the challenge: the accordion effect comes into play with long columns, for example. So yes, while the actual pace may be so many steps per minute, the real pace is almost always slower, where big formations are concerned.

To say nothing of the phenomenon of the huddled knot of officers at the front of the formation, trying to figure out which road to take…

Blutarski10 Mar 2021 9:25 a.m. PST

Hi nine pound round,
I come principally from the ACW gaming environment, although I have played a good deal of Napoleonic (mostly CLS)

I worship du Picq, have a copy of Quarrie's rules and have also been deeply influenced by both Jeffrey's rules and the Jeffrey/Zuparko "Tactics and Grand Tactics of the Napoleonic Wars"

Anyways ….. It strikes me that official/formal/prescribed march rates are to a degree relatively meaningless unless adjusted to account for the nature of terrain being traversed, prevailing weather and the state of the troops themselves. Battles are not confined to perfectly fresh troops maneuvering on perfectly level parade grounds on perfectly dry and sunny days.


BTW – +1 re your comments re the fragile nature of formation order (especially LARGE formations) when moving.


Nine pound round10 Mar 2021 9:56 a.m. PST

The only thing that a set of drill regulations can prescribe with any certainty is the pace at which the big drum gets beaten. I think people tend to ascribe a higher degree of certainty to close order drill regulations in our age because they only see them executed on the parade ground. The modern military phenomenon that's closest to a Napoleonic maneuver is a route march, and the phenomena we're discussing here – columns accordioning, pauses for water and rest- really manifest themselves there. If you drive a column too fast, you wind up with a handful of men and a lot of stragglers.

On the field, I think the speed of maneuver is easy to overestimate, because in that era, the whole purpose of a unit formation wasn't to move at great speed: it was to bring men into action against the enemy in as complete a unison as possible. That was why the pace of maneuver was so slow: disorder a unit, and you lose the moral and physical impact of a line of fixed bayonets flashing down together. You induce the appearance of irresolution, strengthening the enemy's resolve and possibly causing your own unit to hang back at a critical moment. I suspect many commanders subordinated their desire for a rush to come to grips with the enemy to achieve a single, irresistible mass moving as one – the histories of the era are full of exclamations like "damn all that eagerness!"

It's also really easy to tangle up formed units moving in formed masses – to say nothing of recruits who are still trying to sort out "right flank" from "column right."

von Winterfeldt10 Mar 2021 2:39 p.m. PST

On the field, I think the speed of maneuver is easy to overestimate, because in that era, the whole purpose of a unit formation wasn't to move at great speed

And what is with the pas de course? It was not for manoeuvre but to gain ground and move rapidly.

For manoeuvre in the classical sense, the French used the pas acceleré.

I agree that drill regulations give only a guideline, but why then should the French be faster than the Prussians (pas de course aside)?

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2021 3:04 p.m. PST

why then should the French be faster than the Prussians

Does the evidence suggest they weren't?

La Belle Ruffian10 Mar 2021 3:41 p.m. PST

Chimpy, a chunk of this thread demonstrates why I specifically asked to focus on the questions posed at the start. I heartily wish I'd not bothered even adding a possible reason for 26 year-old Bruce Quarrie in 1974 wrote that rule out of 22 pages which he did. Of course people will find illogical examples, particularly in older rulesets or whenever you can't ask questions of the writers.

I deliberately didn't specify a level of game, other than ones without a campaign element, because my questions were more generic:

Who else around that time was looking at NC? (Bowden was an example)

If, at the lower levels, Austrians/Prussians vs the Grand Armee around 1805 are roughly equivalent (particularly when many tables have limited space for manoeuvre), how do we give French troops the advantages they enjoyed then beyond a simple +3 'to even things up'? I think there must be some better options to explore which reflect that operational advantage and less risk-averse approach. I feel like I'm repeating the 3rd paragraph in the OP though.

If we're rating commanders what 'factors' should we consider and how consistent are they across the period? (this may need more thought is commanders are used to represent some of those NC in their troops, rather than a specific individual?) An example was provided in RtoE 4th Cuirassier mentioned the orders process in Quarrie. I feel the delay in transmitting orders and formation change penalties combined are a double-effect decision, unless you're at a very high level, perhaps fighting Austerlitz.

I have yet to play with a set of rules for this period (other than the ones we made up when I was 11), where the role/title/training of troops and the ability of their commanders is not used as an opportunity to differentiate (to varying degrees of granularity) and highlight our perceptions of what happened. We rarely ask why though, other than at a basic level, so my question is, how consistent through the era and how reliable in combat should these be?

I don't believe for one minute that Quarrie or that his 1974 research led to an intuitive grasp of Napoleonic warfare and performance in all its nuances. Nor do I believe he implemented NC perfectly, although it really started me thinking again. Napoleonics wasn't the only era in the 70s and 80s where more detail was seen as more realistic by default, in many rulesets.

However, unless you equate Westphalian Guard troops with the Grumblers or Zastrow's boys with the Provisional Cuirassiers in Spain on clapped-out nags, then as soon as you say 'treat those as line rather than elite you're applying NC in an equally arbitrary way, often based on different but no more correct assumptions.

So the ultimate question is, if you know of a way which seems more intuitive and/or better reflects the reality of that era as you see it, let me know. I'm working on some ideas and will post this weekend most likely, but appreciate further thoughts on how we do that.

If, however, you just want to spend your time picking apart niggling details in a ruleset almost as old as me, which reflects that era, then I'll just refer you back to the final point in the OP.

Chimpy Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2021 5:00 p.m. PST

La Belle Ruffian, I stopped posting when you pointed out that I'd missed a guideline in your original post. However others carried on posting on the point that I'd made about movement rates so I thought that I'd try to clarify my position. Most of my original post was not about Quarries rules just a cautionary point of view of National Characteristics. I didn't even say not to use National Characteristics.

One idea that I had to reflect doctrine was to allocate each unit a card. When the card shows up then the unit acts. But say a French division (eg in 1805) gets an additional card which allows every unit in the division to act at the same time less units that have already acted. So you have to decide whether you want to attack in penny packets or as a concerted whole. Their opponents don't get the option. But the level of game really affects which size of formation gets the additional card. There are probably a lot of holes in this idea so knock yourselves out pointing out the flaws.

La Belle Ruffian10 Mar 2021 6:05 p.m. PST

Thank you for the clarification Chimpy – I'm not going to knock holes at all in that idea as along with SHaT1984 I think that cards can be a useful way to both inject some uncertainty and also tailor towards the personalities of commanders and their troops, because different commanders often got very different results with similar troops, particularly if they had time to develop an understanding. We still see this today with the change of commanders marking very different approaches. I'm with 4th Cuirassier in that life is too short to account for fractional differences in movement when they don't seem to be the key factor.

Morale doesn't come out of thin air though (or a bottle), so how could we attempt to account for those beefy Militia lads in the Foot Guards are well used to drill and have handled their weapons before, rather than mutinous Landwehr or Marie-Louises?

So, I would allow Hill to perhaps have several cards which are about reducing casualties through care in deployment or bonuses in rallying, but these only apply to his division. Ney's reputation was more widely known, so maybe he gets cards applicable to troops he attaches himself to, but with a more narrow focus. And PTSD Ney in 1815 is a magnificent talisman but even less flexible.

Likewise Light cavalry rarely keep themselves back and pre-game scouting usually means 'make them deploy first'. What if superior scouting is akin to removing some cards from the opponents hand or even allowing you to turn an encounter battle into an attack on ground of your choosing (I noted this place in my diary when I rode the ground last year'), or you know when the enemy reinforcements will arrive better than your opponent? Again, if you have a more formed LC at the end of the game you can mask the retreat or a thorough pursuit, with a simple campaign system to develop out of it.

The key thing for me is that most of these are not automatic (so might not apply to certain troop types, may only be used in certain situations or against certain formations/opponents), or require a dice roll. You could add/remove card limitations depending on the supply train, season, weather, etc. Your 1806 Prussian advance guard may be able to move as fast as the French towards the objective, but your choice is to accept artillery support is badly coordinated or this is your main attack this turn, whilst the French can mount two and bring Reserves into play.

On the one hand it is no more accurate than Quarrie or any other system, but cards allow for requirements, exemptions and outcomes to be clearly listed and are pretty transparent in terms of the thinking which comes with them. I also don't like that C&C is far too reliant on card draw and would want players to either have a point buy card system, or at least some selection pre-game, because the dice are random enough at times.

Nine pound round10 Mar 2021 6:22 p.m. PST


If the pas accelere is 100 steps per minute, that is considerably slower that the "quick time" of 120 steps that the modern US Army uses for close order drill, and that does not particularly surprise me: I would expect a battalion of several hundred, formed 300 across in a double-rank formation, would wave badly back and forth if maneuvered at that speed. If the pas de course is 200 or more, I suspect it was used either for road march movements in column or for the last couple of steps before crossing bayonets with the enemy- but very little in between.

von Winterfeldt11 Mar 2021 12:39 a.m. PST

@Nine pound round

Thanks for your reply. According to the manuel d'infanterie the pas acceleré is used for manoeuvering. Nafziger assumed by error that the pas de charge was used, as proposed by Meunieur by creating new drill regulations to replace the 1791, but those were never introduced.

I am stressing again, that of course all this is drill ground performance, and in reality the quality of the units as well as the terrain would play a much more dominant part than drill ground performance.

Still those regulations give us at least some guidelines, in case that it wasn't according to them – that the French manoeuvred so fast but there must have been other reasons.

The pas de course – was about 160 paces per minute and shorter than the usual French pace.

I am surprised that it is completely ignored in any books about French tactics.

I collected quite a few examples from eye witness reports.

Pas de Course
MdI 1813

Que depuis 1792 il a été souvent un usage avantageux
par l'infanterie, et surtout par l'infanterie légère d'un
pas de course, tel que le propose Guibert
( F. n°. 117 note 4 ), et tel que prescrivait le règlement
d'exercice de 1769. .
S. 91

Bataille de Wertingen 1805

Les Autrichiens ont été effrayés de l'impétuosité avec laquelle ils ont été abordés. Ils n'ont jamais vu, disent – ils, l'infanterie manœuvrer ainsi au pas de course avec autant de célérité que la cavalerie.

Journal de Général Fantin des Odoards, Paris 1895 (google books)
p. 46 (google 59)

But not only the French used it – but also the Saxons, as we see here from a report in 1809

In der Schlacht bei Wagram bei Baumersdorf, schreibt Carl August Schneider vom sächsischen leichten Infanterie Bataillon Metzsch :

„Ein Bataillon vom 19. Regiment mit der ersten Kompanie von unserm Bataillon ging zum Angriff auf Baumersdorf ab, das neben uns links stehende 3. Französische Regiment und das rechts von uns in Linie gebliebene andere Bataillon des 19. nahm das Gewehr zur Seit und schlugen Sturmmarsch.

Wir, das Schützenbataillon von Metzsch und das Grenadierbataillon von Radeloff taten ein Gleiches; allein bei solchen Gelegenheiten gewohnt, den Schritt zu vergrößern und geschwinder zu machen und nicht wie die Franzosen, sich einzuziehen und verkleiner, was nachzuahmen hier allerdings weiser gewesen wäre, weil der Zwischenraum, der uns von der Batterie und vom Feind trennt, noch zu groß warm so gerieten wir dadurch früher als die Franzosen an die Russbach, (,,,)

Titze, Jörg (Hersg.) Tagebücher aus dem Feldzuge 1809 (III) – Avantgarde – Brigade von Gutschmidt und Carl August Schneider, books on demand, Norderstedt 2019, S. 47 – 48

He clearly observed that the French shortened their steps while the Saxons took a longer stride and therefore were in front of them.

I did read about the "Sturmschritt" or assault step also for other German nations.

Chimpy Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2021 11:49 a.m. PST

Yes I agree that C & C can be too random. You do get to hold back and decide which card to play but often the cards you need don't show up. I don't think that you should have players walking away from the game saying that they were nerfed just because of the cards.

I like the idea of different cards for each general. It really brings their character into focus without needing a slew of extra rules.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2021 8:46 p.m. PST

Speaking of National Characteristics, often overlooked is what the French and other nations thought National Characteristics consisted of and how that shaped decisions in developing tactics.

Cdr Luppo gave some links to volumes by Menil-Durand and

In the very beginning of those works, the authors descitbe French National characteristics and why certain tactics should be employed by the French Army.

I am stressing again, that of course all this is drill ground performance, and in reality the quality of the units as well as the terrain would play a much more dominant part than drill ground performance.

I think that this is an assumption that should be born out by examples.

Still those regulations give us at least some guidelines, in case that it wasn't according to them – that the French manoeuvred so fast but there must have been other reasons.

Gilbert and Menil-Durand both addressed this. Basically, because of the French soldier's 'characteristics' and other considerations, far more importance was placed on moving rapidly compared to maintaining order. Guilbert stressed speed over order, as did Menil-Durand, which was aided by the column formation. They felt that because of the French character, this was the best tactical approach.

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