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"WW1 rules for the Retreat from Mons" Topic

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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2022 2:08 p.m. PST

I am looking for rules suggestions for the early months of the Great War, pre-trench. I have "1914" and Great War Spearhead and they are good for the large scale, division and corps sized games. But I miss the narrative details you get when you play a lower level game, something like the British cavalry action at Néry. I guess I'm looking for brigade level rules, or lower, but not skirmish rules. Is this the impossible dream?

Bismarck23 Sep 2022 2:18 p.m. PST

If you can find a copy of Over The Top, it should fit what
you are looking for. It is an old set of rules still in
print I think. There should be several posts about those
rules here on TMP.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2022 2:54 p.m. PST

Can't help with your specific WW1 request, but I've come to think that everything in wargaming is an impossible dream. But we keep trying.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2022 3:11 p.m. PST

Bismark, do you mean Over the Top by Greg Novak? I own it but I have never played it. I am put off by the 15(!) types of order and morale chits. It seems very old school complex. I'd prefer something more current and fast play.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Sep 2022 5:51 p.m. PST

Not everyone's cup of tea but there's a Flames of War variant for WW1….

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2022 6:37 p.m. PST

The Sword and the Flame? There actually is a variant floating around for WWI Palestine.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2022 10:20 p.m. PST

Nick, I've played TSATF Palestine variant a couple of times. It works well, but is at more of a skirmish level than I am hoping to play.

Stosstruppen24 Sep 2022 5:26 a.m. PST

Through the Mud and the Blood by Too Fat Lardies,large skirmish like up to 100 figs I think. May be closer anyway, there is a bolt action variant as well.

khanscom24 Sep 2022 6:09 p.m. PST

Maybe "Raging Empires" published by Kallistra?

monk2002uk24 Sep 2022 11:13 p.m. PST

The Action at Néry is definitely not a skirmish-level wargame. It is often described as a 'skirmish' in the literature but this is to differentiate the scale of the battle itself from the large set-piece battles of the time, such as Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne, etc.

The story of L Battery features prominently and is often the only detail known about Néry. This focus on a brave last-stand can reinforce the notion that the action was a skirmish in wargame terms.

The action started with a German cavalry division discovering and then attempting to attack a British cavalry brigade. The British were bivouacked in a village, which was put into a state of defence once the Germans were discovered. The Germans decided to attack but then found themselves threatened by envelopment as the rest of the British cavalry division and elements of infantry brigades arrived on scene as reinforcements.

It is a difficult action to reproduce as a wargame. The fog of war was very literal. Anyone who has visited this region of France at the same time of year will know of the thick morning fogs that are common. Anyone with a God's Eye view of the game would not attack as the German commander.

The other factor is the huge steep-sided ravine, so typical of the area, that lay between the German cavalry division and the British brigade. With the wargamer's Eye of God, you would never attempt the charge towards the village. In practice, the charge halted at the edge of the ravine, well short of the village and exposing the riders to accurate musketry from the dismounted British troopers and the machine guns. The ravine features in this map, running either side of the stream as a long tongue to the east of the village.:

Finally there are the British reinforcements and the way that they reacted. Using the British brigade in the village as a base of fire and the ravine as a blocking obstacle to the German attempts, the reinforcements manoeuvred to the German cavalry division flanks. The Germans lost most of their field guns and the division was so battered that it had to reassigned to a quiet area, away from the main advance. This German map gives a better perspective on the scale of the counter-attack:

Compare the German map with the typical map of the action that focuses only on the British brigade and the village:

Néry is a fascinating action. It is bigger than many of the small-scale rearguard actions that took place during the retreat (and were replicated by the German cavalry and Jäger during their retreat to the Aisne after the Marne). The full scale of the action is well-suited to Great War Spearhead, not least because the command arrow process can force the German commander to start with the historically correct pre-emptive attack on Néry.

Whatever the rule set, however, it is the historical challenges of the very thick fog that lifted as the morning went on and the ravine, coupled with the impetuous German command decision that is difficult to replicate. It is an Eye of God problem, not a rules-specific problem – something that we are all familiar with.


Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2022 9:32 a.m. PST

Thanks for your detailed discussion of Néry. I am becoming more convinced that Great War Spearhead is closest to what I visualize than the other options I have found. I also appreciate the amount of support available for the rules.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian26 Sep 2022 5:46 a.m. PST

Age of Valor (Age of Eagles 2 supplement) covers 1914 and has a sceanrio for Mons. Additional supplements cover from 1848 to 1914.

Units are Regiments/brigades or batteries.

monk2002uk26 Sep 2022 5:57 a.m. PST

Thank you, Nick Stern. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any other questions relating to this battle. It is a very good example of the sophisticated tactical responses, rather than the perception of Napoleonic or FPW style massed formations in early WW1. It is also a good example of the complex roles that cavalry played, particularly during the early weeks of the war. There were a lot of cavalry versus cavalry battles, which make for interesting scenarios. I am reminded of this currently, working on the Battle of the Somme supplement including the early months in that region.


rsutton29 Sep 2022 12:00 a.m. PST

Here is another 'smaller' scenario that is interesting to play



Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2022 9:35 a.m. PST


Thank you! This looks like a perfect starter scenario for my collection. I just have to paint up some HMGs and artillery stands.

monk2002uk29 Sep 2022 12:53 p.m. PST

Nick, what models are you using for the collection (manufacturer(s); scale)?


Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2022 2:35 p.m. PST


20mm metals and 1/72 plastics. HaT early war British, Tumbling Dice for Scottish and dismounted cavalry. Zvezda early war Germans (bought before the invasion), HaT Uhlans and Jagers, including on bicycles. Tumbling Dice dismounted German Cavalry, MMGs and artillery. I am basing them right now for GWSH on 1.25 square bases, which seem kind of tight, but I like the fact that they only require 8 figures for an infantry battalion, very economical!

monk2002uk29 Sep 2022 10:46 p.m. PST

Nice. It will seem tight but, from experience with Robin's figures based the same way, the stands look fine when on the table in division- and corps-strength. I only use 4 figures in 6mm per infantry company. Economical and enables forces to get to the table quickly.


rsutton30 Sep 2022 12:04 a.m. PST

As I'd started my 6mm armies with figures from Irregular, I decided to continue with them for aesthetic coherence. My latest post shows my new 'aesthetic' with 6 x figures (2 Irregular strips) per company base.

Ngā mihi

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