Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Neil Thomas Napoleonic Rules

My recent descent into rules madness all started when I received some Neil Thomas books for Christmas and decided that the rules in them looked pretty neat.  (read that as simple).  Since I played a game or 2 of them in some spare minutes here and there, I played some games with the same scenario but other rules to see how they played out and which rules I liked best.

The rules are simplicity themselves and would be great to teach someone how to play wargames.  A very old school feel to them, but still satisfying.  My thoughts were that if I had the miniatures and time, they would be awesome to try and stage some large battles.

By the way, played these games on my new Cigar Box Heroes game mat.  I think it looks pretty nice!

French Battalions march off to the attack!

Brigade Commander

The British wait.

Small Battlefield.  This measured about 3 feet by 4 feet roughly.
 The great thing about the Neil Thomas rules are you don't need tons and tons of miniatures to play.
The new gaming mat.  What do you like better?  The previous flocked table or this mat?  (the flocked board is still underneath)

So I played a game of Neil Thomas' Napoleonic rules.  British (defender) victory.  And a second game.  British (defender) victory.  Then I played a game of Mark Sims' Rank & File.  That was fun.  and also a British (defender) victory!  Starting to see a pattern?  In all these cases, the defender was winning the engagements.  Even with different rules sets.  Starting to think it's better to stand and shoot it out with the defender?

French Battery firing on the British.  The objective is the old, dilapidated church

French battalions approaching!

Bicornes!  Heresy!  Sorry but they're so nicely painted I just couldn't exclude them.  So I am using all Bicorne troops in a reserve role!

This was a comfortable British victory.

Neil Thomas Napoleonics.  Once you close to musket range, things start to move quickly and units disappear fast!

Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Rules.  Simple but not simplistic.  Great rules and an excellent book as well.  The British soundly defeated my French lines and columns and my experience so far with these rules is that the defender, behind cover needs almost 3 battalions shooting at him each turn to dislodge him...    Excellent "Beer & Pretzels" horse and musket rules.  If I had scores more units to put on the table, this would make a truly "epic" game.  Maybe one day?

Guess I'll get to painting...


  1. Replies
    1. The infantry with the Shakos are all Old Glory. The Cavalry unit is (I believe) Minifigs and I don't remember the manufacturer of the troops with bicornes. I bought them on Ebay in 2008.

  2. I like the CB mat because it's brighter.

    1. Really brings out the detail in the miniatures better and makes for better photographs. Anyways I had no idea they even existed if it wasn't for your blog. I was getting tired of adding flock and the quarterly "maintenance" of picking up the plywood and knocking it on the floor to get the excess "detritus" off the board.

  3. Thanks for the heads up on these rules, I may have to investigate them further..

    1. Yorkie,
      I highly recommend them for anyone's collection. I'm not sure if they're a "staple" but they're simple and great in a pinch. Plus he even gives recommended units to build an Army for his rules. I think what I like best is the fact that they're so malleable and I can add / subtract elements without impacting the mechanics much. I cant say that for too many games out there.

  4. I think the advantage for the defense is position and holding the ground - you get to shoot as they come in. The disadvantage with holding good ground is that you may have to leave it if you are getting flanked, and if also being pressured from the front you can be in serious trouble.

    So my thought is that perhaps the attacker needs more mobility or better timing or more space to threaten the flanks of a strong defensive position? My experience playing the ACW rules was that a 1-1 attack ended in an attacker's victory, mostly due to being able to shape the attack and time it, plus, hey let's be honest - A Little Luck!

    AAR going up soon, but the Union won with about 3-4 Units on the objective hill to only 1 Confederate.

    1. Alex,
      There's another game I did, this past year, as part of a series where I fought the same battle using a few different rules sets (Shako, BP, and NT's Napoleonics). Some interesting analysis there but in his rules, it's virtually impossible to carry through an assault successfully against defending British. I'm sure there are exceptions but the 3-6 hit per stand is nasty and the French have the burden of attacking it's really tough to carry the attack home without getting your lead battalions shot to ribbons.

  5. The British Peninsula list is pretty tough, with 6 elite shooting infantry. The French have an extra light cavalry and an extra gun over it, and the HC and one infantry are Elite. Seems like the armies should be even if the scenario doesn't permit the British to just stand in good terrain and shoot at oncoming French - maybe some of the OHW would add some shape to the attack, like #4 and #8, both of which have a hill.

    I have to admit that I forgot about the ACW Army lists for my playtest! I just threw some stuff on the board and gave the Union 4 infantry and two guns, and the confederates 5 infantry and one gun. I'll have to try again with the lists.

    The key question for me is "do the rules play adequately as written?" This may in fact involve switching sides like suggested with the Spanish Napoleonics list, then seeing who "lost less badly", so to speak.

    Happy New Year!