Column, Line and Square

Summary of the Game

Tom Kauffman ( writes:

Column, Line, and Square was written by "The 30mm Midwestern Napoleonic Wargamers Confederation." As I understand it, most of the research and rule-writing was by Fred Vietmeyer, with additional input by Dave Mort and Hugh Reynolds.

CLS-II (as we called it - the second edition) was photocopied typed text, about 100 pages. In addition, and almost mandatory at our games, was the addendum, the "3R" (Reviewed Referee Rulings) which documented the 'official' resolution of most rules disputes. There were also 'Optional Rules', 'Potential, Optional Rules', and 'Local Optional Rules'. I've got two three-ring binders given over to the rules and add-ons (and I quit keeping the add-ons long before we broke up).

CLS-III, also called The Battle Book, was a commercially available distillation of the above into about 100 pages. I can't remember who published it - it's out of print and unavailable. Fred still holds the copyright, but I doubt that it will ever see the light of day again.

I played CLS for about 20 years, from the mid '60s to the mid '80s; we broke up as a group in 1987 or 1988.

The rule set is a grand tactical set, using a 20 to 1 ratio (roughly) based on roster and unit strengths in the Spanish battles. The normal game was for 7 turns, using map marking and simultaneous movement. The typical command for a player would be a regiment of cavalry, two regiments of infantry, and a battery - about 220 to 280 castings. The basic map and manuver units were the battalion and the squadron, with light infantry as an exception, run as either a formed battalion or as individual platoons of skirmishers (two, three, or four castings to the platoon, depending upon nationality).

What You Think

Chuck Rittenburg ( writes:

I played Napoleonic Wargames as a member of the Military Affairs Club Wargames Committee as a cadet at West Point in the late 60's - early 70's. We used some rules modified from CLS, which I enjoyed very much. They were very playable, yet maintained the flavor of warfare in that period. I would love to find a copy of Column, Line, and Square, or even a photocopy of it. It was a great system.

Steve Niedergeses ( writes:

I am new to historical games, and recently I was introduced to C.L.S. I find the system to have many advantages. I especially like the simultaneous movement rules, as opposed to the move and counter move most game systems employ.

This is the first game I've been excited about playing in a long time. The rules simulate the unpredictability of battle, while allowing a player to have a dramatic effect based upon the tactics employed. Most game systems force a player to choose from a set of prescribed actions, and prevent the bold or innovative.

Even though C.L.S. is an old game, I believe it has a great deal to offer and a lot of life left in it.

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Online Resources

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Last Updates
1 November 1997Chuck Rittenburg's comments
31 August 1997Steve Niedergese's comments
16 May 1997page first published
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