Monday 14 March 2022

Soldiers of Napoleon – Army Building

Just a short article with some details of how army’s are constructed for a 'Soldiers of Napoleon' game, for those interested and those with collections they might be worried about converting. First up, don’t worry. ‘Soldiers of…’ rules are flexible, on basing, numbers of models, ground scale, it is all adaptable to suit the player’s collections, nothing is set in stone. Scale too, it plays with 6mm to 28mm (or 40mm for that madness). For example, we use 28mm, 40mm and 50mm bases, 4 models per base for infantry, 2 for cavalry, 1 per gun, but only because it suits our collections.

The rules are designed for 4 sizes of game, small and large division, corps and army. This determines how may brigades you will command and sets the points total. A small division game is 2 brigades (the smallest) with no extra forces, reserves, etc. In this size game it is literally just your division in action, not as part of a larger Corps or Army action. In large division games, with 3 brigades, Corps with 4 and Army with 5, the tabletop action is assumed to be part of far larger engagement, you are not fighting alone as single division anymore, but with the aid of your Corps and Army. They can provide extra reserves and influence (in small ways) the cause in your ‘divisional area’ of the wider battlefield.

This example of constructing forces is from our latest game, Austria vs France, set in Saxony in 1813, so using the army list for the Austrians and French in the War of the 6th Coalition (there are army lists for different time periods and theatres). I called it the (fictional) ‘Battle of Grunbach’.

I’ll start with my force, the Austrians. The game was set as a Corps-level (4 brigades each) and 900 points. Each commander would be required to have 3 brigades deployed on the tabletop (left, right and centre) and one off-table in reserve.

I started my selection with a strong Austrian line infantry brigade (the sinews of the army). Each brigade has a command stand (for free) and a minimum and maximum number of battalions. My first infantry brigade could have a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 battalions. Battalions are 2-6 bases strong. I went with 5: 4 line fusiliers and 1 landwehr (they hide at the back, as on table reserves, called up only at direst need). Added to this would be  the single allowed foot battery, of 6 pdr guns. Also, each army has a few ‘Unique Units’, and I added the maximum of 4 Jaeger detachments, 1 to each line fusilier battalion, as good skirmishers. This was titled ‘Krawietz’ Brigade’ and would be in the centre of my deployment.

The next brigade would be a second, weaker infantry brigade, of 2 fusilier battalions and 2 weak landwehr battalions, with an attached 12 pdr artillery battery. These would not be conducting the main attack, but supporting on one flank, not to get involved in the heavy combat but just stall and prevent any French flanking moves. It was called Achterburg’s Brigade.

Third, I chose a Grenadier brigade, good infantry. Some brigades are designated as ‘Reserve only’ brigades, i.e. they can only start games off table and come up from the Corps/Army reserve. They aren’t usually front line troops. There is a special rule that allows a single ‘reserve brigade’ to be ‘forward deployed’ by paying a points premium for it to be pushed to the front from the start. I did this with my grenadiers, ‘Schlumberger’s Brigade’, of 2 strong grenadier battalions and a supporting 6 pdr battery. This battery was also upgraded with ‘full caissons’ (this allows a re-roll when rolling to hit for the extra ammo, but needs a caisson model). These would be my flank strike force.

With three brigades chosen, I had to have a reserve brigade as well. With no cavalry yet I’d need some, so the choice is a light, medium (dragoons) or the heavies (cuirassier) brigade. Not enough points left for the big hitters (in large enough regiments to threaten), so in the end I went with a light brigade of Uhlan and Chevau-leger and a 6 pdr horse battery with them. They bring ‘scouts’ and are likely to turn up quicker than other brigades (being fast), but lack the hitting power of the dragoons. This is Lindjer’s cavalry brigade, ready to ride up in support and assigned (as required) to deploy from my centre (but fast enough to ride left or right if needed).

Of the 900 points limit, I had a few left and used them to by a few more upgrades from the ‘Commanders of Note’ section. The divisional commander, ‘von Klopp’, would be a Commander of the Highest Renown for the Morale Value (MV) bonus. One artillery battery gained an Expert Gunner to aid it. The Uhlan would be led by ‘Le Beau Sabre’ making them more aggressive, and the grenadiers would be led by a Ruthless Commander for one and a Drillmaster for the other. Each of these gives them a small benefit in the rules, quicker to reform if in disorder, etc.

That was it… 900 points spent. All that was left to choose was a Tactical Order (how the army commander wants von Klopp to fight today). That would be as a Steady Advance, go forwards, but with caution (the other options are to Defend or an All Out Assault).

Here is the full Austrian army list.

For the French, well they had 4 brigades selected as follows. Two infantry brigades with a lot of reservist infantry, a very strong light cavalry brigade of 3 regiments (2 of hussars, 1 chasseurs and a horse battery, the maximum allowed) with a tough reserve of Imperial Guard infantry (they have to start in reserve unless bought as forward deployed for the extra points). Here is their full list as well. Note, the French also chose to take an artillery battery of the army reserve, with the first brigade, giving it 2 batteries. They chose a tactical Order, to Defend, so the Emperor just wants Renard’s division to hold at Grunbach and see off this Austrian advance. On the defensive the French rolled gained some field works for 1 brigade to hide behind… and any buildings in their deployment zone will count as fortified, as they were dug-in tight.

Here is the full French army list.   

The battle report for the Battle at Grunbach will follow, soon(ish)… will Renard hold or can von Klopp's men in white breakthrough?

Austrian left deploy and, beyond the Grunbach stream, the centre


  1. This is the first time I've felt as much as an inkling of interest in the Napoleonic era. I guess one more project to get distracted by is no big deal. ;)

  2. Are the number of base to a batallion always as high as 6