Saturday, December 17, 2022

Fields of Honor...Napoleonics? And some News

 If you've read this blog long enough you know I have an unhealthy interest with Napoleonic rules that probably borders on obsession.  Recently I've been shopping around for a good set of rules for a convention game of the Battle of Eylau as part of a long-running project I've been working on.  With the easy-going style of game that "Fields of Honor" delivers on- would they be able to work well for a mass battle?  Read on.

Can an AWI game work for Napoleonics?  With a little bit of elbow grease, duct tape, brute force, and ignorance, we can make anything fit here at Sound Officers Call!

I've played numerous games of AWI with FoH, both as part of Jon F's remote AWI games, as well as on my own table.  You might recall that FoH was a serious contender for the old Germantown, 1777 game played 2 years ago for our Christmas MEGAGAME.  (it lost out to Commands and Colors:Tricorne and some of you still haven't forgiven me yet for that)  It is a simple set of rules that lends well to numerous players - I can say that from personal experience with Jon's games.

The problem is that FoH is *not* a Napoleonic rules set. but it could be.  While the rules are set squarely in the AWI, a simple analysis of what is missing, along with bolting on some additional but simple rules, might propel them into the early 19th century and specifically the Napoleonic Wars.

I started on a quick list and then I started on some quick rules.  Here are some of the items missing from FoH that I felt needed to be written in to do the period justice.  While I'd like for my units to be "Regiments", they behave like Battalions.  

Most of these ideas below can be existing modifiers to the game as it is - there are only a few new concepts:


The mounted arm in the AWI served its counter-insurgency and scouting role diligently, and it charged when it needed to.  The Napoleonic period sees the combined might of the well-funded armies of Europe fighting to destroy every horse on the continent as fast as they could, so you know Cavalry is definitely going to be "a thing."  Using the mounted arm properly is one step on the road to victory when playing a Napoleonic game.  So you need differentiation in Cavalry size, mission, and abilities.  For that I added:

  • Heavy Cavalry (Cuirassier): Melee is +1 (B in FoH).  I also allowed an additional +1 if charging lesser weight Cavalry, in addition to the other melee modifiers.  The Cuirassier morale is a "B" as well.
  • Battle Cavalry (Dragoons mostly): Melee is "0" or +1 (C or B in FOH).  Same mod applies if charging a lesser weight Cav unit.  Dragoon morale is  "C" in the game I played.
  • Light Cavalry (Hussars, etc): Melee is "0) or +1.  
  • All Cavalry receives another +1 if charging open order infantry.  All Cavalry were 3 bases/strength points in my game.


Squares were a little tough.  I gave close order infantry the potential to form square as the successful result of a morale check when being charged by Cavalry.  If passed, they'd count as in hard cover against cavalry melee with a +2 modifier, (but would suffer a "dense target" modifier against artillery or infantry fire or infantry melee).

  • Squares can be formed prior to a Cavalry unit charging home.  
  • Must pass a morale check to form square.
  • Suffer a "dense target" modifier (+2) when shot at or melee'd by artillery or infantry.

Attack Columns

Another tough choice that required some compromises.  FoH is a tactical game, and so you'll be punished with a -2 modifier if you're caught in column in combat.  But the use of assault columns to rapidly close on the enemy position was a time-honored tradition during the Napoleonic wars and so it must be represented.

  • You form attack column like any other formation in FoH.  Easy.
  • Attack columns garner an extra hex or 4" of movement.  Easy.
  • Attack columns suffer the "dense target" +2 mod when shot at.
  • Attack columns also enjoy a +1 morale modifier for being in attack column.  I'm on the fence about this but it worked well for them in the game, since every gun or musket wants to fire at you when you're in attack column. 
  • Finally Attack columns get a +1 to melee for being in attack column with their rapid ability to form alternate formations.

I'm on the fence with some of these, but in my ongoing game (from Charles Grant's "Wargame Scenarios" stay tuned)

Bigger Units

My Austrian units in the game played were 4 stand units or 4 strength points per unit.  I played the French at 3 stands or 3 SPs.  One observation so far is that their morale should be lower or they have a much bigger firepower advantage.  Another thing I noticed is when properly supported, you're potentially rolling 8 (!!!) D10s in melee.  So I "nerfed" the Austrian morale a bit to compensate, and also only allowed 2D10 in support.  So a typical Austrian line unit of 4 stands/SPs looks like this:


  • Austrian Line Infantry:  C / C / D (or 0 / 0 / -1)
  • Austrian Light Infantry: B / D / C
  • Austrian Artillery: C / E / C medium guns
  • The French look like this - C / C / C (or 0 / 0 / 0)
  • French Light Infantry: B / C / B
  • French Artillery: C / E / C medium guns
  • Austrian Cuirassier: - / B / B and Heavy so +1 against lighter cav and open infantry
  • Austrian Hussar: - / C / C
  • French Dragoons: - / B / C

I am in the middle of a test game now and will post the results tomorrow.  Suffice to say it has been a fun experiment.

Steve this all sounds great - but where the heck have you been?  We've been worried!

Great question and sorry for my absence.  Work has been extremely busy, home has been extremely busy, and life in general has not slowed down for some weeks.  Not much of an excuse, but it's all I've got.  If you were worried about my gaming, though, fear not.  Yesterday I was at my buddy Bryan L's house for some excellent WWII "grand tactical" gaming - we played Kasserine Pass with Bryan's awesome rules.

The Germans move their columns onto the table - note the reinforcements lower right.  Groups of 4 vehicles were battalions or regimental sized units!

Allied Air Cover making an appearance!

Holding the Axis at Wadi Sbeitla!  It was here the US and Free French made a more determined stand, buying time for reinforcements to get into position.  Those Light Tanks would charge into a German artillery battalion and my abysmal rolling would see them lose!

At Bryan's game I commanded the left edge of the battlefield and tried desperately to slow the Germans down while the other US player maneuvered his forces to slow the eventual reinforcements we both knew were coming.  It was a nail biter and most assuredly a German victory (the Germans destroyed something like 14 allied units...) but incredibly fun and satisfying to play an entire battle in an afternoon.
Giving the Germans enough to chew on while the reinforcements got into position.  Bryan's rules were a mix of "Axis and Allies" and the old SPI "Kasserine Pass" game.  I try to never miss an opportunity to play in one of his games.

So What Else is New?
Some other things I'm working on?  For starters, the Christmas MEGA GAME promises to be a good one this year and one that will see the AWI returning to the table.  Also The boardgame bug has bitten again, and I'm working on a slick conversion for a "boardgame to minis" scenario for Panzerblitz and for the old SPI "Napoleon at War" series of folio games and I'm about ready to share a very cool concept in a few days.  Let's just say I'm headed up to the attic to grab Panzerblitz and Arab Israeli Wars and bring them down to play in some epic battles!  So stay tuned, Napoleonic goodness and some hybrid board/miniature gaming coming soon!


  1. Good to see you back!

    The FoH game engine is solid and works for many different periods with only slight modifications. I use it regularly for WAS/SYW, AWI, FRW, ACW, and FAW.

  2. Glad to hear you are alive and kicking mate- best wishes for a wonderful Christmas season

    1. Thank you Paul! Same to you and yours, sir!

    2. BTW I still have my copy of the colonial edition of the rules- really enjoyed them back in the day, especially the scalability options. Didnt realise there were other versions available for different eras

  3. Good to see you back in action! Like the FoH ideas - I wondered if this could be adapted to other horse and musket genres (like One Hour Wargames).

    1. Thanks Jeffers! Yep there's nothing particularly earth-shattering about these thoughts. Pretty standard check blocks on the Napoleonic tour.

    2. One thing about the Austrians (Austrian fanboy here!) is that the big battalions didn’t actually put more men in the firing line (talking the later battalion mass or even division mass). I’m rather unconvinced it made much of a difference with line, either! I would just treat them as 3 base units but give them the extra base as a ‘soak away’ for casualties. Also, they tended not to change formation much in later years either, staying in battalion mass most of the time. No square either - the column would just close up. So make it painfully difficult for them to do anything other than mass but allow them to close quickly against cavalry. My 2p (or 2c for you!).

    3. Thanks for that, Jeffers. Very good to know as the Austrian units were monsters with 4 hits and 4 shooting dice yesterday. I ended up making them less effective with morale since they were so tough otherwise. Re battalion mass vrs assault Column, I think as a concept, assault Column worked well on the table. You'll see the Austrians attacking and using the formation in my next post!

  4. Steve, plenty there. Your FoH conversion sounds really interesting, look forward to what comes out of that. Also looking forward to the Mega Game … has that changed focus (was Eylau). The Kasserine map blown up is a joyous thing.

    The Panzer (now GMT) system started out as a boardgame (Yaquinto) and then became a pure figures game and of course has now returned to it’s roots of a purely hex based boardgame, but the versatility and switch-ability is clearly there.

    1. Cheers Norm, thanks for stopping by! The Eylau game still very much in play - but it's a (very) long term project. I only have 6 Russian units painted with 37 to go :). I'm aiming for the Cold Wars HMGS convention in 2024! I try to do a big game around Christmas each year and this year I'm going AWI again for it (last year's Christmas Offensive was the Bulge). A snowy New Years is the only hint I'll give ;)

      Bryan always puts on a great game with a mix up of the old SPI games on their blown up maps along with minis and usually a light hearted combat system (Kasserine's was Axis and Allies!). The counters from the game determine the unit strength.
      Stay tuned, Norm. I have some posts lined up that you are going to love.

    2. Also Norm I need to check out "Panzer". I've seen posts about it but have not looked into seriously.

  5. Superb Steve. Great to see you back. I love the changes you suggest for FoH for Naps. I must give it a go for AWI also.
    Now the Kasserine Pass game :O WOW I have wanted to do this level of game at Kasserine Pass for so long - and great to see that the old SPI game is being used for it - is Brian likely to put the rules online at any stage :) ?

    ...and of course, you had me at Arab Israeli Wars :>

    1. Cheers Darren as a matter of fact Bryan gave me the rules he uses for Kasserine. I'll photo them and send them your way. Combat rules are from Axis and Allies but w/D10s. Unit strengths are from the SPI counters. Everything works really really well, too.

      As I mentioned above with Norm, stay tuned as I have some posts lined up that you are going to love.

  6. I agree - it is necessary to adapt the AWI rules...there really isn't much to choose from in the area of Napoleonics rules.
    Ken and I decided that Sam Mustafa writes perfect rule sets, so we enjoyed some Lasalle games, and my next game would be Blucher, when I get the Naps itch again. This probably won't prevent me from tinkering with Eagles Cheaper Than Brain Cells, however!

    As for moderns, my speed these days is tweaking Ogre / GEV 6th ed. But as an alternative, I'd pick up Team Yankee and throw it back on the table in a heartbeat - that is my favorite of the Chadwick boardgame designs.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fight!

    1. Oh, and I almost forgot - you should get a puppy like's the only way to get more busy. ;)

    2. Thanks for commenting, Alex, and it's good to hear from you. I played a game of LaSalle and enjoyed that very much. Blucher is a superb rules set and I love it. It's very tightly written and I appreciate that.

      My Napoleonic "problem" runs deep I will admit.

    3. We are working on picking out a dachshund at the moment :)

  7. Very interesting stuff, Steve. My own "Napoleonic problem is well overt 50 years old! :-)