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"Confused about scales - what "level' of game scale is this?" Topic

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Wayniac21 Sep 2022 1:55 p.m. PST

All the vocabulary around scales of the game e.g. division level, brigade level, grand tactical, etc. confuses me. What scale would this be, as in my head this is how I envision Napoleonics being:

* Each "unit" on the battlefield represents 1 infantry regiment, 1 cavalry regiment, or 1 gun battery. So even if for example the unit was made up of 4 stands of figures, it operates as one single regiment, not 4 battalions or whatnot. This would mean that you don't worry about formations and assume the unit leaders know when to call for a square or go form into line, etc.

In effect, you can look at an OOB from Nafziger or similar and each entry equates to one unit on the table.

For example, the french 6th corps at waterloo under Lobau had:

19th Division
1st brigade
- 1/5th Ligne
- 2/5th Ligne
- 1/11th Ligne
- 2/11th ligne
- 3/11th ligne
2nd brigade
- 1/27th ligne
- 2/27th ligne
- 1/84th ligne
- 2/84th ligne
- 1/8th foot artillery

20th division
1st brigade
- 1/5th legere
- 2/5th legere
- 1/10th line
- 2/10th line
2nd brigade
- 1/107th ligne
- 2/107th ligne
- 2/8th foot artillery

21st division
1st brigade
- 1/8th legere
- 2/8th legere
- 1/40th ligne
- 2/40th ligne
2nd brigade
- 1/65th ligne
- 1/75th ligne
- 2/75th ligne
3/8th foot artillery

In this case, you would have the 19th division made up of 4 line infantry units (5th/11th/27th/84th ligne), 1 foot artillery, and a sub commander (Zimmer/Simmer). The 20th division would have 1 light infantry (5th legere), two line infantry (10th and 107th ligne), 1 foot artillery, and sub commander (Jeanin). the 21st would have 1 light (8th legere) and three line (40th, 65th, 75th), and another foot artillery and sub commander (Teste).

If you were playing with this corps as your army in this hypothetical system, your force would have a total of 14 play elements: Nine line infantry units, two light infantry, three foot artillery, and then also three subcommanders and one divisional commander (Lobau) which may or may not have a use.

So what scale would that be, and which rules allow for that style? I hope I explained myself well enough :)

- Wayne

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2022 2:17 p.m. PST

I'm a simple soul. I consider a game in which a player commands a corps to be a corps-level game. "Scale" is a word I would avoid in this context. The Wessencraft "Army Corps in Action" in Wessencraft's Practical Wargaming does this quite nicely. (I usually use 6mm H&R castings on 1" x 2" bases, each base representing 1,000 infantry or 500 cavalry and 1' x 1" bases for 6-8 guns and play on a 3' x 3' table, but there are many other possibilities.)

There's no equivalent set of rules in Paddy Griffith's Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun. You'd have to go down to the "Divisional Game" or--probably a better fit--up to the "Army Level Game." Myself, I'd stick with Wessencraft. Griffith had a peculiar notion of fun.

DBN can be played at this level, and I'm told there is a suitable variant of V&B. If you wait a little while, I'm sure someone will come along to tell you that Black Powder has no set scale. I've never believed them myself, but clearly someone does.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2022 4:07 p.m. PST

I think that thee are many rules sets where the basic unit is the infantry battalion, cavalry regiment (not squadrons) and artillery batteries. What "scale" you use to describe it depends on what command level you are a commander of. The more you field on the table, the higher up the chain of command you are playing. Empire you played all the way down to the battalion level with it's associated formations and tactics. In some respects, it had an identity crisis as you had to play not just the tactical game but the grand tactical levels at the same time. Maybe Napoleon's Battles would be a better choice for what you want from such a game?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2022 4:32 p.m. PST

Dye4minis isn't wrong. I concur with his assessment of Empire. I thought of NB myself, though my own experience with it has not been a happy one. I would recommend looking at some NB scenarios before making a major commitment. It's mostly an army-level game and a corps is not always a viable command. (Depending on unit strengths and national doctrine, a three-division corps might be six units of infantry and a corps commander, the guns being factored into the infantry stats, for instance. A weak two-division corps…)

Wayniac21 Sep 2022 6:48 p.m. PST

Apparently field of glory does this the way I have in my head, it says that regiments are the base unit


GeorgBuchner21 Sep 2022 7:05 p.m. PST

Wayniac – i am a kind of beginner too and your regiment level approach really appeals to me, – the old rules Vive l'Empereur from Ned Zuparko are regimental level and from my reading of them seem flexible things.

there is also Et Sans Resultat that is Division level so each unit you control is pretty much as you described regarding those Waterloo OOB details

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian21 Sep 2022 7:10 p.m. PST

With a Corps as a 'player force' you are looking at playing most if not all of a battle. Units are Regiments/Brigades. Age of Eagles plays at this level.

If Battalions are the unit then the Division is the 'player force'. Empire played at this level, but tried to make the Corps the 'player force'.

I like Age of Eagles based partly on this

BillyNM22 Sep 2022 3:53 a.m. PST

This sort of sized force – cica. 14 units of all types is about what is envisaged ine the new 'Soldiers of Napoleon' rules – but this is a card driven gaming system that might not be your thing.

Decebalus22 Sep 2022 5:16 a.m. PST

The vocabulary is really confusing. So i usually say exactly, what i mean. In your case i would call it a rule system, where a regiment of 2-3 bataillons is the gaming unit.

It is in the middle of grandtactical (gaming unit= brigade) and tactical (gaming unit=bataillon) rules.

Usually the gaming unit defines, how big your whole game is. But that also depends on how many players you have and how big your gaming table is.

Example: Grandtactical systems (NB, V&B, Blucher) usually play whole battles on a "normal" table (6*4 to table tennis). In tactical Systems (GdA, BP) a player usually plays a division. But we played the whole battle of Waterloo with 16 players on a 10 metre table, it worked. In your "regimental" system, a player would play a corps, so with 2-3 players per side, many smaller battles would be playable.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2022 7:22 a.m. PST

I think the use of the word "regiment" in this thread is confusing. A regiment is made up of several battalions. But these battalions do not necessarily fight together. It is usually more of an administrative unit.

On the battlefield units are battalions, grouped into brigades, then divisions, then corps.

If you want to maneuver brigades and assume local commanders handle formations, skirmishers etc. then there are a LOT of rules options.

  • Grande Armee uses 3" square brigade bases
  • Volley & Bayonet also uses 3" square bases
  • Age of Eagles
  • Napoleon's Battles
  • Black Powder (nominally battalion level but works fine with brigade units)
  • Et Sans Resultat uses battalions grouped into divisions

I'm sure there are many others as well.

  • Wayniac22 Sep 2022 7:29 a.m. PST

    I thought it went company > battalion > regiment > brigade > division > corps > army? Maybe I was confused, I was under the impression that your battalions that made up a regiment generally operated together.

    If that's the case, then battalion seems to me like it should be the "normal" unit that gets moved around, if you might have let's say 7 battalions which represent 3 regiments (two with 2 battalions, one with just one) across 3 brigades in a division which would correspond to 7 units (represented by the stands) for that division.


    robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2022 10:24 a.m. PST

    EC, you're talking British and sometimes US practice, not continental Europe. In the Napoleonic Wars, the British are the only major power whose brigades might normally consist of single battalions from three or four different regiments, which is why you'll sometimes see "regiment/brigade" as a maneuver element description--a French regiment of three or four battalions, a British brigade, also of three or four battalions, perhaps a Prussian 1806 Brigade of two regiments of two battalions each or a Prussian 1813 regiment of three battalions. You get something of this song and dance in both NB and V&B.

    Wayne, two regiments with two battalions and one with a single battalion does not give you seven battalions. Please change the batteries in your calculator.

    At such levels--well, as I said, I tend to round off to the nearest thousand infantry in 6mm. Might be a single strong battalion: might be two worn down ones. NB gives you a stand for each 500 infantry. The maneuver unit of multiple stands might be a brigade, but it might be a seriously weak division. In 2x2 Napoleonics, a brigade stand is 2,000 infantry, give or take, which I think is a pretty decent approach for putting a big Napoleonics battle on a smallish table.

    We can make a lot of unnecessary trouble for ourselves over this. Let's not.

    Glenn Pearce22 Sep 2022 10:47 a.m. PST

    Hello Wayne!

    "So what scale would that be, and which rules allow for that style? I hope I explained myself well enough :)"

    It appears to me that you're after a realistic order of battle that is easy to create and utilize in a game. Along with a rule system that allows you to play any size of battle on a reasonably sized table. If so yes, you have explained yourself very well.

    I have the perfect rule set that does that and a lot more to simplify your gaming. It's a rule set called "Ruse de Guerre" that I wrote for Baccus in their 6mm rule system called "Polemos". It covers the Wars in North America from 1754 to 1815. My club the "Napoleonic Miniatures Wargame Society of Toronto" use them for all our horse and musket games. We use them for European Napoleonic's seamlessly as well. Although designed for 6mm and Polemos basing you can modify them for pretty much any figure scale and most basing systems. You can obtain a PDF from the Wargame Vault for about $11 USD US.

    In RdG you use a historical O/B as in your example except you also include the actual number of men in a battalion or cavalry regiment and use the regimental totals. From there you find a suitable number generally 500 to represent the size of your game and number of bases. This will give you a man power balance in your game as most battalion's and regiments are different sizes. Since the French generally also used line skirmishers we convert a third of the line battalions (bases) into light infantry, same as the actual light infantry (all skirmishers). This gives the French a tactical advantage that is often missing in most rule sets.

    The rules also include a sliding scale that lets you size the battle to the size of your collection. As the size of your collection grows so does the size of your battles.

    The command system also encourages you to move and deploy your brigades together. So they operate in an historical manner. Not the every battalion for themselves or "shot gun" approach found in some rule systems.

    The bases are all subjected to a "cohesion" system. There is no tedious and false casualty counting system. Nor any endless and needless formation changes as that is considered to have been handled by junior officers.

    Hopefully this helps you and I'm more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

    Best regards,


    ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2022 11:09 p.m. PST

    Wayne, you might want to look at Shugyosha's "Ultimate Napoleonic Wargame Rules Review and Comparison":

    Good luck with finding the ruleset that suits your needs and taste.

    Glenn Pearce25 Sep 2022 9:59 a.m. PST

    Hello Wayne!

    "I thought it went company > battalion > regiment > brigade > division > corps > army? Maybe I was confused, I was under the impression that your battalions that made up a regiment generally operated together."

    Your right, if your referring to the order of battle in your original post. Some armies don't field all of their battalions in a regiment together. Some leave a battalion at home to do recruiting and some are actually assigned to different armies. Some regiments may only have one battalion and so the names battalion and regiment become intermixed. You will also see that some battalions are separated from their regiment for different tasks like for a garrison or as part of an adhoc group. However, on campaign or on the field of battle the battalions will generally operate and move together under their regimental command. Some rule sets don't apply this and actually let every battalion operate as a separate entity. These are sometimes described as "shot gun" games. As soon as the game starts battalions go off in different directions.

    Hope this helps, if not glad to answer any questions you might have.

    Best regards,


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