Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1806 Playtest Results

General von Schmettau, division commander of the Prussian army, meets with his staff in the village. Buildings and tents by Herb Gundt. Figures are mostly Elite Miniatures, except for von Schmettau and the hussar ADC which are from the Foundry range.

Keith, Bill and I did a moderate sized play testing of the BAR Napoleon rules on Tuesday afternoon and I was pleased that some of the important changes seemed to work under actual game conditions. The outcome of the game did not really matter as we were mostly interested in trying a few things out, being less concerned about winning or losing the battle.

Brigade of Prussian dragoons: DR3 von Winning (Elite Miniatures) in the front line and DR5 Koningen (Imperialist Miniatures) in the second echelon. I haven't had time to base the dragoons yet, so they are still in black primer on metal stands.

Prussian (left) versus French (right) dragoons encounter each other in melee.

Two squadrons of von Winning Dragoons attempt to break through a French battalion in line.

The cavalry versus cavalry melee rules are basically the same as thosed used in our SYW BAR rules, so there were no big changes here except for a few modifiers to reflect the different types of troops. The cavalry melees went off without a hitch.

The biggest change though was cavalry versus infantry melees: we borrowed an idea from In The Grand Manner and employed the "breakthrough" rule, i.e., cavalry does not melee with infantry, it only determines whether or not it can break through the infantry. So Bill obligingly kept one of his French infantry battalions in line, while I charged two squadrons of von Winning dragoons into his line. Bill still had his first fire bonus of +5, which really stung the Prussian dragoons, but they passed their morale check and barreled into the French line of infantry. Now I had to roll three D6 and get a score of 10 or better to break through the line. Alas, I rolled a combination totaling "9" and so I failed to break through the infantry line.

We then assumed that the dragoons had succeeded in breaking through and assessed the damage to the infantry. Initially, each cavalry figure breaking through killed one infantry man (with no saving throws for breakthrough casualties). We decided that this let the infantry off too easily without enough of a penalty. So we bumped up the casualties to "two" infantry for each cavalryman passing throught the line and liked these results better. The French line took a morale check, and failed, therefore routing away. The dragoons rolled pursuit and failed to pursue or else did not want to pursue, I can't recall which one. At any rate, we rather liked this phase of the game and will keep it in the rules.

The infantry skirmish rules seemed to work well. We just roll a D6 and assess the damage on short, medium and long range fire with scores of (4,5,6), (5,6) and (6) required to hit, respectively. This was easy to do as far as we were concerned.

Here are a few random pictures from the game:

French battalion in close column of divisions.

Prussian 6-pounder foot artillery battery.

Bill's brigade of French infantry - these are mostly Dixon figures in bicorn.

Keith's infantry brigade is preceeded by a light cavalry brigade, an example of combined arms attack in the Napoleonic era.

Well, that is all for now. I have a few little things to tweak in the rules, but I think that they will easily handle a larger battle once we get more figures painted. I had six battalions of Prussians, two dragoon regiments, one cuirassier regiment, and two SYW hussar regiments recruited into the 1806 army for this game.

The French had 8 battalions, one dragoon, one cuirassier, one chasseur regiment and some drafted SYW French hussars in mirliton.


  1. Beautiful pictures!.. I love the aspect of the Prussian battery with the limbers in the back. Too many rules do not account for the deep of a deployed battery
    Hapyy New Year!

  2. Beautiful figures - what a collection! I note your idea to use the breakthrough rule rather than melee for cav vs inf. I think this eminently sensible - the biggest bugbear I have with many/most rules is their unrealistic and at time endless melees for cavalry. The WRG enthusiasts who I game with occasionally have a compulsory pursuit for all cav combats. You can have the unedifying result of the broken infantry continuing to run ahead of the cav who get to hack each turn, with results determined by the dice. Roll low and this can continue right off the table for the cav. Your solution of 2 (inf casualties) for each cav makes sense and reflects what would likely happen when infantry were ridden down.

    A friend of mine Dal Gavan (of the former 'Spanner and the Yank' site with US collector Mike MacGilvray) is a horse owner and cavalry expert - he assures me that only trained horses were any use after an initial charge and it depended entirely on how experienced the unit itself was. They were not a 'one-shot' wonder but neither were they capable of continuous combat. Horses go fast for short spurts but get winded easily unless carefully 'managed' by the rider. Simplifying things with a breakthrough rule and a 2 for 1 hack at the broken infantry is definitely the way to go - it likely matches on the tabletop what actually happened on the battlefield.


  3. Thank you for the kind comments Doc. We seem to be on the same page with regard to cavalry etc. Time will tell, after many playtests, if this is the best way to do it, but my intuition tells me that we are on the right track.

    Next play test will be some time in February.

    I loved reading the Spanner & Yank stuff. Sorry that Dal and Mike had to finally close it down.

    Fritz (Jim)

  4. I really enjoyed your article in Battle Games. You hit two of my favorite things: 1806 and big battalions of 28mm figures. I'd like to offer to send you a .pdf version of Wellington Rules. These are Napoleonic rules written for 1:20 that you could easily modify for 1:10. They feature individual figures, explicit representation of stragglers, unique morale, and pretty elegent mechanics (if I do say so myself). They've had some success in the US, but I haven't really gotten any UK exposure. Let me know if you are interested in trying them out.

    Take a look at or for more information. If interested, please contact me at

    Buck Surdu