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©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

David H. Schneider ( of SWE Publications writes:

I've been having some difficulty in fitting in the rewrite and the playtesting regarding the new version of En Avant! Although delayed, the project continues, although I will not predict a completion date.

I would like some volunteers to playtest certain portions of the rules. I am seeking experienced Napoleonic-era wargamers with 15 or 25mm figures, who wouldn't mind remounting them for the purposes of the testing.

En Avant! is a battalion/regiment-level system using primarily 20:1 and 10:1 figure ratios. The best games are brigade up to divisional size. It is a tactical system, but not as small-scaled as say, Chef d'battalion. However individual companies and squadrons can play important roles and the key to the game is proper handling of troops at the battalion/regiment level. Movement is in simultaneous turns based upon delayed written orders - so you commit your men to an action based on your best guess of the opponent's intent.

Ground scale is 1" = 20 yards but is only concerned with troop frontages and ranges. Turns represent 2 1/2 minutes. Movement is made according to unit type, formation and terrain. Cavalry for example can walk, trot, gallop or charge, with exhaustion accruing depending on movement type. Artillery can be manhandled, moved by prolongue, bricole or by limber. There are a wide assortment of gun types available with varied ranges and effects. Non-skirmish infantry fire is based upon approximately company sized-volley (one ten-sided die for every 100 - calculated at 1:1 - figures firing).

Leaders and morale are critical, units are greatly effected by events as well as casualties. Officer figures matter, their loss results in reduction in a unit's ability to fight (as reflected by morale) and the presence of charismatic leaders can act as a positive factor. And while morale is not generally effected by random die rolls, that factor is also present. Morale levels include Good, Waiver, Retreat and Rout.

There are all sorts of specialized rules which can, for example, make your pioneer figure important (they expedite knocking in doors of buildings, for example). You can build a pontoon bridge under fire (or, at least, try). You can attack fortifications (or defend them), if you can. Buildings can be loopholed and house-to-house street-fighting is covered (a la Aspern-Essling or Ligny). There are also rules tuned to specific nationalities, such as "battalionmasse" for the Austrians. A British "loss of control" rule for their fox-hunting cavalry. "Unenthusiastic Ally" for those minor states who find themselves unwillingly fighting on one side or the other.

National differences are modified by the date. The French of 1795 are vastly different than the French of 1809. The Prussians of 1805 are certainly different than the Prussians of 1815. Likewise the leaders for each nationality change with time too. Wellington in 1805 isn't as good a general as in 1815. Napoleon himself goes through a rise and fall in abilities. Generals are rated in three areas: Proximity morale bonus, Proximity morale deduction (if they are injured, captured or killed), and overall generalship.

Among the significant changes are new rules covering echeloned cavalry charges, and new infantry formations such as checkerboard (actually a line moving forward or back by companies). Likewise, fire rules have been given new results tables based upon some of the newer published information from authors like Nafzinger and Noseworthy.

Games played with the previous rules sets have been remarkably realistic in their results. A brigade-sized game takes about two hours, but more troops increase game time quickly.

En Avant! was orginally published in 1976 and so was a pioneering system, the first dedicated Napoleonic rules using this level of tactical detail. It was a run of 1000 copies, nearly all (99%) of which were sold. The second edition, published on a limited basis, was issued in 1982. The third edition, even more limited in distribution, came out ten years later. This new version, which may wind up being version 4.0 due to its many changes, is intended to see wider distribution on the order of the first version.