A Detailed Description

This game is, to a degree, two games in one. First, old timers will recognize Napoleonique as a set of rules first published in 1971. Revolutionary in its time, the rules seem refreshingly simple by modern standards. The rules as printed in this edition are virtually identical to the original edition.

Then there is Encore, the rules at the back of this edition. This section includes clarifications and updates for the original game, as well as new optional rules. It is this section which provides the rules for playing Napoleonique in four new scales.

The goal which Jim Getz set for himself with the design of these rules was "to provide a realistic, easily played game" that simulated Napoleonic combat "in a manner economical as to time, space, and monetary expense." This is definitely a game which has been freed from those details which would bog down play. Turns are expected to play in twenty minutes or less.

Or, as Encore author Glenn Davis explains, "If I want authenticity, realism or historical accuracy, I play boardgames. Miniature players like to collect and paint armies, play in a multi-player social event, and read historical accounts of battles."

Each turn consists of six phases:

Marking of OrdersOrders may be written, or may be drawn on a map.
MovementDeclare charges and perform formation changes. Both players move their units simultaneously.
Artillery FireAttacks are carried out in order, heavier units firing before light ones.
Infantry FireResolve infantry fire simultaneously.
Melee CombatResolve charges, including all artillery and infantry fire against charging units. Resolve other melee combat.
Breakthrough MovementBonus movement is now allowed to units which caused enemy units to rout. Units conducting "tactical" movement may move again. Units remove fatigue chips.
(While the basic sequence of play is explained in Napoleonique,, a more complete explanation is given in the Encore section -- be sure to read this before play. The above explanation is based on Encore.)

Formation and Movement

One curiosity is that movement rates and weapon ranges are given in terms of hexes. It was the intent of Napoleonique that the tabletop be marked off in 3-inch hexes. However, Encore updates this rule. Hexes are now imaginary, and come in various sizes depending on the scale being used for the game.

Most units must remain in formed condition (all bases touching). Certain units are eligible to form skirmish line (all bases 1" apart). Skirmishers receive a range bonus in fire combat, but suffer penalties in melee combat. During the course of the game, units may also become dispersed or disordered. Infantry units can "form square" (useful when defending against cavalry). Such changes in formation are automatic, unless the unit tries to change formation as it is being charged -- there is then a chance that the attempt will fail. Units being charged may attempt to form square even though they weren't ordered to do so in the Order Phase, but at a lower chance of success.

One of the curiosities of the game is that movement rates for infantry units are given in terms of formations -- that is, the rate is different for column or line. However, the designer assumes that the player has some familiarity with these formations, and does not provide rules for organizing stands within a unit.

Artillery Combat

This is one of the most colorful elements in the game. Artillery may conduct harassing fire, direct fire, point-blank fire, and defense-of-battery fire, depending on range and type of artillery.

For point-blank and defense-of-battery fire, the number of dice rolled depends on the type and nationality of the artillery. This total is compared against target status (formed in open, in building, etc.) and a casualty result is determined. The result indicates how many casualties have been scored, and provides a percentage chance to score an additional casualty. The difference between the two types of fire is that units roll more dice when performing defense-of-battery fire.

At longer range (i.e. direct and harassing fire), the procedure is simpler. One die is rolled per rank of the target unit, resulting in casualties, fatigue, or forcing a morale check. Harassing fire uses a less deadly casualty chart than direct fire, and certain targets (artillery, skirmishers) are prohibited.

Additional rules cover howitzers, which are inaccurate at long ranges but do not lose effectiveness due to range.

(Note that revised artillery charts are given in the Encore portion of the book, which take into consideration the fact that some nationalities had a larger number of guns per battery than others.)

Infantry Combat

When an attack is made, the Fire Potential of each attacking stand is totaled. This total may be modified, depending on the terrain and status of the target. The Fire Potential may increase if the enemy is enfiladed.

The modified FP total is compared with the target range on the Casualty Computer. This chart reveals the number of automatic casualties, plus the chance of scoring an additional casualty.

Only the first rank of formed units may fire. Fire against charging units is postponed until the charge is actually resolved.

Melee Combat

Close combat is seen as the ultimate test of Napoleonic battle, and so this system deals with it in some detail.

First, both players make Performance Rolls to discover if their units behave in a range from Heroic to Despicable. Unit type is a modifier to this roll -- guard units tend to be heroic, while levies tend to be despicable.

The defender now makes a morale check, modified by relative Performance ratings. If successful, melee continues; otherwise, the defender retreats. Casualties and fatigue count as a penalty to the roll.

If the defender is still in the fight, he can fire a volley. A die roll, based on the effectiveness of the defender, determines the quality of the fire -- that is, whether the defenders stood stoicly in the face of certain danger, or if they faltered and so fired an ineffective volley.

The attacker now makes a morale check, modified by the results of the volley. Melee continues only if the check is successful.

If the attacker stands, then the defender tries another morale check. If he fails, he flees and melee does not occur.

If both units are still present, melee combat is now resolved. Each stand involved in the combat is worth its full Melee Potential; "supportive" (neighboring) stands count at half value. The total is modified according to terrain and circumstance (for example, galloping heavy cavalry receive a 50% bonus). The total, cross-indexed with the type of unit being fought, is used on the casualty chart to determine automatic losses and the chance of an additional loss.

Once casualties have been determined, both units try morale rolls (modified by the melee casualties) until one or both units fail. The unit which fails must fall back; if both units fail, both fall back.

The victorious unit (if there is one) rolls to determine his degree of victory (from minor to major). The result determines how far the defeated unit retreats, whether and how far the victor may advance, the facing of both units, whether the defender is dispersed, the amount of fatigue received by both units, and whether the units can move or attack in the coming turn. Pursuit movement is optional except for cavalry (due to their tendency to override their target).

Casualties, Fatigue, and Morale

As units become tired or lose men, they receive chips (so called since the original designer used poker chips to mark these points -- alternatively, score can be kept on paper for each unit).

Casualties result in permanent chips, and a casualty cap is placed on one figure for each casualty received. These chips cannot be removed. When a stand is down to a single figure, it can no longer fire.

Chips can also be received when a unit becomes exhausted -- for instance, cavalry receive chips whenever they move at greater than a walk. Melee often results in fatigue chips as well as casualties. These are removable chips. When a unit does not move or fight in a turn, it can try to get rid of removable chips through a die roll (with a bonus, if a staff officer is present).

If a unit ever receives 20 or more removable chips, it is knocked out of the game.

Morale checks must be attempted during melee (as explained above) and as a result of fire combat. Each unit type has a Danger Point, which is then modified according to circumstance (i.e. attacked from flank, presence of leader, number of chips compared to enemy, infantry not-in-square attacked by cavalry, and so forth). The Danger Point determines what number must be rolled for the unit to maintain morale.

If the morale check fails, a second roll is made to determine how bad the failure was. This roll is modified by chips, casualties, and if the victim was enfiladed. The result determines how many chips the victim receives, how far he retreats, and what his facing will be. Units which retreat cannot move in the coming turn.

Panic is contagious. If a unit fails a morale check (or is knocked out of the game due to too many chips), a morale check must be made by each adjacent regiment. This is known as the Fear of Disaster check, and it can lead to a chain reaction of retreats as one morale failure prompts others to break morale.

The Combat Units

Each unit in Napoleonique is differentiated by three major scores.

First, each unit has an Eliteness Rating (Levy, Line, Elite, and Guard). Eliteness is used in melee combat, as a modifier to the Performance Roll.

Second, each unit has a Danger Point (morale rating). There are six scores (3 through 8), based on the unit's type. To give an idea of the range: Cossacks are rated 8, Line Infantry are rated at 7, Light Infantry and most cavalry at 6, Grenadiers and Cuirassiers at 5, Guards at 4, and the Old Guard at 3.

Third, each unit has a Fire Power Rating (Levy, Line, Elite, or Sharpshooter). This determines the Fire Potential score of each stand of the unit.

Neither Fire Power Rating nor Eliteness count directly towards Melee Potential in melee combat. Instead, each infantry stand is worth the same (exception: dispersed stands count as half); the MP per cavalry stand depends on its type (light, medium, heavy or lancer). As the designer explains, "an infantryman is an infantryman" -- besides, Eliteness already counts toward the Performance Roll, which in turn modifies MP.

Infantry units, depending on type, may be capable of forming skirmish line or of moving at "light" rates.

The rulebook does not provide scenarios or unit organizations.


As mentioned previously, Encore consists of the material added to Napoleonique for the current edition, and is found at the end of the book. Because it contains important rules clarifications and corrections, this part of the book should be considered required reading even for those intending to play pure Napoleonique.

Combos.When Napoleonique was designed, percentile dice were less common than they are today. Therefore, the original game uses a unique system to generate a wide variety of results from two six-sided dice. Chances of bonus casualties are given in terms of Combos, a score which can be checked against a chart to find what die roll is required. For example, a Combo of 22 requires a roll of 5, 6, 7, 8, or 11 on two dice.

While this system was useful in its day, most modern players will have percentile dice. Thankfully, Encore provides a conversion chart which uses straight percentages.

Scales. As originally designed, Napoleonique was a game for 25mm figures and units of battalions. Encore provides a simple means of modifying the game scale. Two scales are provided for 25mm figures, depending on whether units represent battalions or regiments; two more scales are given if 15mm figures are to be used.

There is also a so-called "fifth scale," which is identical to the regimental-unit, 25mm-figure scale except for basing. This is the "toy soldier" mode, in which all figures are individually based. The basing change requires uses of a new casualty chart; otherwise, this mode is the same as the other scales.

Optional Rules. Due to its simplicity, Napoleonique/Encore is especially suited for battles involving very large numbers of figures. To aid in such warfare, a set of Quick Rules are provided -- essentially, these are shortcuts to make the game play even quicker than normally.

A new morale system is provided for regimental-scale games. There are now two varieties of morale checks -- crisis rolls, and elan rolls. Most morale checks now require elan rolls; crisis rolls (identical to the original morale checks) are made only during melee, when enfiladed, or when receiving fire at close range. A unit which fails an elan roll does not retreat, but instead receives a morale penalty (a "Morale Minus").

Another optional rule makes crisis rolls more colorful. When a unit breaks morale, individual stands may now run, be taken prisoner, or simply dissolve away.

The Encore section also provides new guidelines for whom can or should fire at whom, woods combat, and guidelines for retreat movement. To add uncertainty to the game, a new movement system is provided in which a unit's movement rate is determined by die roll per turn.

Last Updates
19 June 1996reformatted
9 April 1996reorganized
Comments or corrections?