Saturday, February 4, 2017

Neil Thomas Napoleonic Wargaming: Hanau 1813

Dave and Alex came over Friday night and we played a game of Neil Thomas' "Napoleonic Wargaming" which featured an array of forces reminiscent of the Battle of Hanau in 1813.  We "sort of" kept to the order of battle recommended by Mr Thomas and kept our forces relatively small.

I also kept the battlefield very narrow as the French will have to bludgeon their way through the Bavarian force that is arrayed to stop them.  We made an objective to either exit French units off the table, forcing 2 x Bavarian units to give chase, or capture one of the hill objectives.

The French have a "Guard" unit of elite infantry, a unit of voltiguers, as well as a unit of light cavalry "hussars." They have 5 units of "regular" infantry and they have 1 battery of artillery that hits on a 3+.

The Bavarians have 6 regular units of infantry, 2 batteries of artillery that hit on a 4+, and 2 light Jaeger units.

Each force has some slight differences in composition to add some challenge to the battle.

Dave (Bavarian player) and Alex (French player) The field in the center of the table is the flank limit of the battlefield
 Dave rearranged his line to defend ahead of the hills and fight a delaying action.  Alex placed the Guard on his extreme right along with his Cavalry.  The French General was behind them but he would get around the field, eventually meeting his demise alongside the Hussars!
Dave kicks out the Jaegers and shakes out the line

Meanwhile Alex's troops beat the "Pas de Charge" and step off onto the attack!
 Another departure from the rules that may have had "unintended" consequences was I made light units shoot online, as opposed to the "2 up 2 back" formation recommended by Neil Thomas.  Dave made use of his lights as veritable "speed bumps" for Alex's French troopers having them swarm all over the table in the way of the advancing French.

The Bavarian right.

 Shooting kicks off against some French Allies as the Bavarian Jaegers trade shots

Italian force attrited to 2 stands
Warrior Miniatures Bavarians eventually would get into a protracted firefight with the deadly Voltiguers

French attack shaping up.  The pennies are hit markers on the units, BTW.  4 hits removes a stand.

The "Guard" is on the left, waiting for their chance to march into glory.

French battery in the lower right.  French attack against the main Bavarian line in the upper right.
 David's Bavarian Jaegers were moving all over the field earning their pay, attempting to slow the French attack in its tracks, force Alex to deploy and kill some stands where they could.

Note the 2 x stand Jaeger unit in the middle screening the main defensive line.

Alex's attack moves in.  The first attack would fail, evaporating before the Bavarian musketry.

But follow on French units are ready to take their place
 It's important to know here that while I "think" units are Battalions, there's no reason to say that they couldn't be Brigades or even Divisions.  I know, I know, the concept of "Bathtubbing" is appalling to some, but looking at the field, there was absolutely no reason why they couldn't serve as a higher echelon unit.  (Brigades probably the most appropriate if they're not Battalions).

Alex commits the guard on the Bavarian left

David starts moving Bavarian units on the right up to attack Alex's flank
 I have to say Dave's conservation of his forces was skillful and he had alot of combat power left on the French left to threaten them.  Meanwhile, Alex did a great job managing the traffic of his forces in the attack, which is always a challenge when attacking with Napoelonic forces.


Bavarian left gives ground


A mass of Bavarian units on the French left massing to counterattack

NO NOT THE AB TROOPS!  Alex's Voltiguers skirmishing with more expensive figures...

The Guardsmen recoil against one of the final Bavarian units on the left

French Breakthrough
 We called the game at this point as the Bavarians, while still extremely strong on their right, would have taken more than a few turns to reach the French who have broken through to the hill.

It was a hard fought and fun battle, albeit with some questions that are left up to the reader of Neil Thomas' rules to interpret.  I thought the battle was a little long to come to grips, but Alex reminded me that there was almost 4' of ground to cover.

I think with the "bathtub" concept, we could have played with two or three times the forces over the entire 6 x 4 battlefield and possibly have added some neat texture to the game (events cards?  command dice or pips a la DBA?)

One thing I will say is that after about turn 3 we barely had to consult the rules and some of the turns were played with me not even hovering around!  So, like Crossfire, we have a very simple, although not simplistic, set of rules that give a good, fun evening of gaming with some good Napoleonic "feel" to them, without any added fluff.

With a nice, roaring fire in the stove, the only thing missing perhaps was some brandy.


  1. Excellent post and I must re-look at these rules. It looks like a hard fought contest, and timing wise seems perfect in terms of timing.
    Your bathtub concept is very appealing with units as brigades or even divisions, I guess, without a jarring issue with scales of battle.
    Actually my 20mm Nap stuff is based for Snappy Nappy, but it's the same size (roughly) as NT suggests for these rules.
    I seem to remember something in his rules about balancing the forces though. Did you need to that here? I'm heading to the bookshelf to grab these again now ...:)

    1. A hard fought little contest to be sure, Darren, and there was something satisfying about having these forces represent a brigade, at least in my mind. Alex and Dave may have been if another opinion but i thought it was appropriate.

      The balancing Mr Thomas recommends is limiting capabilities within the constraints of the Army of the period. I just added extra stuff on each side to give a different challenge to the players. Daves Bavarians had more artillery which could serve as a grand battery and control the field whereas Alex's force had elites and light cavalry, perfect for punching a hole into the line.

      These are great 3 brain cell rules. The only issues are the questions Mr thomas leaves up to the gamer such as measuring center to center how much of a unit must be visible to fire at ,etc. Not a huge impediment but slowed play a little.

      A very enjoyable and agreeable game!

  2. Yes, certainly looks like it. I was looking for a set which I could use for smaller encounters rather than Snappy Nappy, which is 'epic' scale/scope. These might just fit the bill. Must read them tonight.
    Keep up the good work :)

    1. These would work brilliantly well for smaller encounters where a unit is a battalion. They are very straightforward and the interaction between the various arms works very nicely. Also, check your email when youve a chance!

  3. A great looking game and I agree - rules dont need to be overly complex to generate the right feel. That said, I think Thomas's 19th Century rules abstract so much that they feel too bland. But as long as you and your buddies are having fun, thats the important thing.

    The new table is looking great!

  4. I second the need for brandy - FRENCH brandy, that is!
    I agree that these rules could be used for a brigade per "unit", I'd just pull the shooting distances back, and add some C&C and I think it quite doable.

    Good game, I'm sorry about the Italians and allies getting a beating, but the "all-Napoleon" battalion was part of the breakthru!

    1. An elite battalion to be sure, and one that will continue to populate my table of Shakos for many years to come, bicornes bedamnt!
      Yes im thinking about a brigade based variant for grand tactical battles. Possibly card driven activation by brigade was my initial thought, with command distances enforced.

      What do you drink brandy out of? A snifter? A goblet?