Getting into Napoleonic Wargames

The pre-order of Waterloo Epic Battles has reignited an urge to play this period.

However it can be daunting to approach this period. I want to put together a few thoughts on how to get into Napoleonic Wargames.

Scale

Your first thought before perhaps even considering the rules, is what scale do you want to play?

Napoleonics can be played at any scale with manufacturers producing miniatures at everything from 2mm to 54mm and beyond.

So to answer this, how do you imagine your battles to look? Do you want small skirmishes between groups of soldiers? Or would you like to recreate the battle of Waterloo in detail? If the former is your option then perhaps look at 28mm miniatures and up. If you’re inclined by the latter then perhaps try 15mm and smaller.

To give you an idea of how these different scales look on the tabletop I’ve included a gallery below to show games at each level.

Rules

Your next question is what type of game are you after? Would you like to play an accurate simulation of the battles at the time or would you like a game you can play in a couple of hours?

There are so many different Rulesets on the market for Napoleonic wargames you’re spoilt for choice. I’ve included a list of the most popular systems below.

Black Powder by Warlord Games (Rick Priestley & Jervis Johnson)

Black Powder (2nd Edition)

Black Powder is a game which can be played in a couple of hours and is designed really for Brigade or Division level games. What does that mean? Well a brigade is a small army of perhaps 3-5 units in total (up to 5,000 men roughly). A Division is perhaps two or three Brigades.

To give you more of an idea of what this means the Battle of Waterloo involved nearly 200,000 men across three armies. The French had five Corp (being 5+ Divisions each) and four reserve Corp.

Introduction to Black Powder

Blucher by Sam Mastafa

Blucher

Blucher is focused on giving you a game at the Corp level. In this each base represents a Brigade rather than a Battalion, meaning the amount of men that can be represented on the battlefield is much greater.

Typical Blucher bases using 6mm miniatures

Blucher, again, is fast play rather than simulation meaning that you should be able to complete a game on an hour or so.

Storm of Steel Blucher Battle Report

Polemos by Baccus (Chris Grice)

Marechal d’Empire

The Polemos series have rules for perhaps every era of historical Wargames. They have two sets of rules in the one book for Napoleonic. Marechal d’Empire focuses on gaming at Corp level or above enabling you to recreate the big battles of the age. General de Division gives you rules for fighting smaller encounters of Division level. The game is focused on using the Baccus 6mm miniatures as a basis.

Polemos has a fantastic army building system where the army you use is generated through dice rolls. Meaning that your armies may not be balanced, after all many battles in the Napoleonic age weren’t balanced themselves.

Polemos based 6mm Baccus Miniatures

Sharp Practice by Too Fat Lardies

Sharp Practice

Aimed at giving you an experience of small skirmishes with heroes full of character much like the beloved TV series Sharpe from which it derives its name.

A game of Sharp Practice will take an hour or two to complete.

Miniatures based for Sharp Practice

The benefit of Sharp Practice is that through using a relatively low model count you’re not going to be painting the same colour scheme and model for 100+ times.

Introduction to Sharp Practice

Miniature Manufacturers

There are again do many great companies out there. Here are a selection of the most popular.

Victrix

54mm British by Victrix

Victrix do both 28mm and 54mm miniatures for Napoleonic wargames. With a pack of 16 54mm miniatures costing £25 and a pack of 56 28mm miniatures will set you back around £25-£30. A Brigade would cost roughly £100-£120 through Victrix.

Perry Miniatures

28mm Perry Miniatures

The Perry Twins do various 28mm box sets for Napoleonics with a pack of 40 plastic minis setting you back £20. A Brigade would cost roughly £100 through the Perry’s.

Old Glory

Old Glory 15mm Miniatures

Old Glory produce excellent 10mm and 15mm miniatures. With 100 10mm miniatures setting you back £15 and 30 15mm miniatures costing £16 (command is separate at £6). Meaning a Brigade at 15mm will cost around £80-£90 or at 10mm around £40-£50.

Baccus

Baccus focus on 6mm miniatures for a variety of wargame eras. They are possibly the very best 6mm miniatures you can get and are relatively cost effective as well.

Baccus 6mm

With four battalions to a pack which itself costs only £7.20 for 96 figures you’ll have small force ready for as little as £30.

I hope you’ve found this useful. I’ll hopefully be doing other articles much like this in the future.

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