Simple Napoleonic wargame rules

This post is merely to provide a link from facebook for the rules that I wrote for wargames with the young gentlemen of my re-enactment group, who are not yet able to participate in the 1830mm skirmish games that we present for the public. I have presented this game at Napoleonic gatherings in the guise of the man who taught von Reiswitz about Kriegspiel.

Solo wargaming and autism

I like to think that I am a wargamer. In fact I am a man who spends many hours preparing for games which rarely come to the table.

In this way, and in many others, I have come to believe that I am in to some extent autistic.

Since my wife was diagnosed as being “on the autism spectrum” I have been looking at the way that I pursue my life, reading and watching information on the subject.

I like things to be organised. I like to know what is happening, and when. I try to pursue a regular pattern of activities. I enjoy detail, and am frustrated when I cannot achieve it.

I am a pedant. What I learned at school is important to me and I do not like change without reason.

I am not great at socialising. I think that my friends tolerate me and my foibles. At least I hope so.

And how does this relate to my wargaming? Although I have a lot of ideas “on the go” I tend to focus in great detail on one game or campaign, to the detriment of all others, for a while. Then something else grabs my attention and off I go in extreme detail on another project.

Currently I am focussed on a map-based game of the second World War – all of it! I am using as much original data as I can lay my hands on for this project. Meanwhile, the painting table is littered with 3mm metal figures waiting for me to remember what I was previously working on.

Does this ring any bells with fellow “wargamers”?

Even if not, I can recommend the TV drama series: “The A Word” for more understanding of the issue. Although the series focusses on one child, it gradually becomes clear that every major character in the story is, whether they accept it or not, in some way autistic.

Eighty years on. 26th August 1940


Another day of fine weather and Luftwaffe sent three major raids.  At noon, 150 aircraft came across the Straits of Dover from Calais.  Spitfires of 616 Squadron at Kenley were late getting aloft and fell prey to  Messerschmitt Bf109s, as did Defiants of 264 Squadron.  Coastal towns in Kent and airfields at Biggin Hill and Kenley were bombed.  At 3 PM, another 170 aircraft flew up the Thames estuary.  Most were turned back but six Dornier Do17s bombed RAF Debden, doing considerable damage.  A raid 150 aircraft across the English Channel at 4 PM was turned back by RAF fighters and low cloud.  The RAF lost 28 fighters, the Germans lost 22 bombers and 24 fighters.   Portsmouth was heavily bombed.

The Luftwaffe bombed the village of Wexford on the south-east coast of Ireland, killing three women. Ireland protested to Germany over the incident.

No. 1 Fighter Squadron RCAF became the first Royal Canadian Air Force unit to engage enemy planes in battle when it encountered German bombers over southern England.

The Italian submarine Dandolo sank the British steamer Ilvington Court.  Two British steamers were attacked by German torpedo bombers ten miles East of Kinnaird Head, Scotland, having detached from convoy HX-65 and heading for London.  The passenger and frozen food ship Remuera was hit by aerial torpedoes and sank while the Cape York was badly damaged and sinking.

Off Madagascar, the Arado seaplane from the German armed merchant cruiser Pinguin fired on the Norwegian tanker Filefjell, carrying 10,000 tons of petrol and 500 tons of oil from the Persian Gulf to Capetown).   Pinguin pulled alongside and put a prize crew aboard while Filejell’s crew was taken prisoner.

The French colony of Chad joined the Free French side and declared war on Germany and Italy.

Game day 361. Week 52.  Free French Forces and Economy.

Apart from Free French forces in Britain, de Gaulle’s movement has support from several French colonies, including Chad, the latest to declare support.

For game purposes I decided that the “non-Vichy” French fleet was deployed around the colonies that had sided with the Free French when they decided to do so some weeks ago, except Chad, which has no use for ships!  The fleet consisted of 3 battleships, 9 cruisers, 30 destroyers and 30 submarines.   For deployment see below.  (Note:  I decided to deploy Vichy naval forces in a similar way, on their next turn)

 As for the army, research showed that around the Mediterranean colonies there were about 150,000 men, so I extrapolated the numbers I had to the other colonies.  The Free French can call on the following:  Algeria 50,000, Chad 25,000, Indo-China 60,000, Morocco 55,000, French West Africa (Congo) 25,000 Syria & Lebanon 40,000.

As for the merchant fleet, the distribution was calculated with yesterday’s Vichy France allocation, and was as follows:  Algiers (Algeria) 36, Mogador (Morocco) 31, Dakar (West Africa) 58, Hanoi (indo-China) 121, Iskanderum (Syria) 13, Beirut (Lebanon) 4.

I allocated the ships from the Free French fleet according to the numbers of merchant ships in each port, except submarines which are confined to the Mediterranean.

Algiers has 1 carrier, 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, 4 destroyers and 14 submarines.

Mogador has 1 cruiser, 4 destroyers and 10 submarines.

Dakar has 1 battleship, 1 cruiser and 4 destroyers.

Hanoi has 2 battleships, 4 cruisers and 14 destroyers.

Iskanderun has 2 destroyers and 14 submarines.

Beirut has 4 submarines.

As for resources, The Free French are self-sufficient, and in a small surplus, as to food, but have negligible industrial capacity.  To operate the naval units and merchant ships will require imports of coal and oil.  Naturally to import these resources will require the use of some of the merchant ships, but I will return to this later.

The Free French being scattered and not currently involved in conflict I have dispensed with a map.

Eighty years on. 25th August 1940

Preamble. Coincident with my falling behind with the blog and deciding to radically change the way the game element is played, I had PC issues too. Anyway, here we go again…


Mist in the morning gave way to a clear, warm day over southern England but there was little German aerial activity.  In the late afternoon German raids approached the South coast.  The RAF airfield at Warmwell, near Weymouth, was damaged and Dover was also bombed.  The Czech pilot Count Manfred Czernin, flying for RAF in a Hurricane of 17 Squadron, shot down three Bf110s in one minute.

Overnight the Luftwaffe bombed South Wales, Bristol, Birmingham and other cities in the Midlands. German losses for the day were 38 Messerschmitt fighters and 8 bombers shot down by the RAF and 6 aircraft downed by anti-aircraft fire.  The RAF lost 16 fighters and 2 Blenheim bombers.

Overnight, 81 Handley Page Hampden bombers of British Bomber Command attacked Berlin in reprisal for  the previous day’s bombing of London, shocking Göring who has claimed this was impossible.

U-37 sank the British steamer Blairmore in mid-Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland and went on to sink the British steamer Yewcrest just before midnight.  U-100 sank the British banana boat Jamaica Pioneer, West of Ireland.

Convoy HX-65 from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool suffered continuous U-boat attacks.  U-48 sank the steamer Empire Merlin, carrying 6,830 tons of sulphur, and the tanker Athelcrest,  carrying oil from Aruba, north of the Outer Hebrides.  U-57 sank the tanker Pecten, with 9,546 tons of fuel oil, north of Ireland.   U-124 sank the British steamers Harpalyce, with 8,000 tons of steel, and Fircrest, with 7,900 tons of iron ore, and damaging the SS Stakesby, which caught fire.

The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithiuania and Estonia were formally incorporated into the Soviet Union.

Game day 362. Week 52.  France.

France was a tricky set of calculations. The army was limited by the armistice terms to 100,000 men which I placed in three divisions.  There were additional troops in the colonies that were allocated to whichever side the colony had voted for.           

The merchant fleet at the start of the war was almost 3,000,000 tons, and I allowed Vichy France and the French Colonies to retain half, allocated according to population around the world, as well as just over half the naval fleet to Vichy France as the Metropolitan Fleet (after allowing for damage in the recent conflict with the British Royal navy).  The remaining naval units were in Algeria, now in the game fighting with the free French.  Likewise I gave Vichy France one third of the population and food supplies of Metropolitan France, but left the industrial facilities in the hands of the German occupiers in the north.

To allow for the losses in the naval battle against the royal navy I rolled a die for each ship and eliminated it on a roll of one.  This left Vichy France with 1 aircraft carrier, 4 battleships, 9 cruisers, 31 destroyers and 32 submarines. For the time being I lumped all these together as the fleet sailing from Marseilles, although destroyers and submarines may be reallocated at a later date to other locations.     

The air force remained in control of Vichy France, who historically had offered its use to the Germans.

The Merchant ships were for the time being placed in Bordeaux, Marseilles, Cameroon and Libreville.  More detailed dispositions will emerge according to shipment needs.

Eighty years on. 24th August 1940


Fine weather heralded the return of sustained Luftwaffe activity over southern England.  All day raids crossed the coast of Kent, bombing RAF airfields at Hornchurch, North Weald and Manston.  The Luftwaffe lost 22 fighters and 18 bombers while the RAF lost 20 fighters.  In the afternoon 50 German aircraft bombed Portsmouth, killing 100 civilians and injuring 300 more.

The British destroyers HMS Acheron and HMS Bulldog were damaged in Portsmouth Harbour.  

Overnight there was widespread bombing of British cities.  Notably, Germans bombers hit parts of North, East and West London, suggesting a deliberate attack rather than a couple of bombers straying off target. The Luftwaffe also dropped bombs on the financial heart of London and Oxford Street in the West End, probably unintentionally as the German bomber pilots had likely made a navigational error and did not know they were over the city.   Winston Churchill was outraged at what he perceived to be a deliberate attack and ordered the RAF to bomb Berlin in retaliation.

The German battleship Bismarck was commissioned into service.

Just after midnight two miles off the North coast of Ireland, U-57 attacked convoy OB-202, sinking the British SS Saint Dunstan and  SS Cumberland and damaging the SS Havildar.   Later U-48 sank the  British tanker La Brea, with 9,410 tons of fuel oil, 130 miles West of the Outer Hebrides

U-37 sank the British SS Brookwood in mid-Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland, and later sank the sloop HMS Penzance escorting convoy SC-1

In the Indian Ocean 900 miles East of Madagascar, the German armed merchant cruiser Atlantis sank the British SS King City carrying 7,300 tons of coal and coke to Singapore from Cardiff.

A team of pathologists at Oxford University published laboratory results in The Lancet describing methods for the production of penicillin and the effects of its chemotherapeutic action on laboratory mice.

Game day 359.  Week 52.  Chinese economy and action.

China has a population of 572 million, not including the area occupied by Japan.  The main products are wheat, rice, cotton, silk and tobacco.  It is self-sufficient in food. There is no heavy industry.

There are about 250,000 men under arms, equivalent to 72 infantry divisions.  The forces deployed in the previous version of the game amounted to 36 infantry units, so I simply doubled the numbers.

Four infantry divisions were behind Japanese lines in Kiang-Si province.  Outnumbering the Japanese 4:1 they moved west across the Yang-Tse river to attack the Japanese.  The combat was fought using rules taken from Philip Dunn’s book “Sea Battle Games” published by Model and Allied Publications Ltd.   Deal 1 card per 1000 men.  Chinese 140,000, Japanese 35,000.  Casualties = 50 men per point on the card.  the Chinese lost 12,050 men, the Japanese were eliminated.

In the north, in Tsinghai province, eight Chinese divisions attacked one Japanese division.  The Chinese lost 12,550 men and the Japanese were eliminated.

Eighty years on. 23rd August 1940


Following yesterday’s gale, cloudy weather and showers prevented large German raids.  British aircrews rested and recuperated while airfields were repaired.  German reconnaissance missions were flown over the Channel and single aircraft attacked South coast towns in Devon and Hampshire and towns in the Midlands.  Off the East coast of Scotland  Heinkel He115 torpedo bombers sank two merchant ships and damaged another.  There was widespread bombing of British towns overnight.  Three German bombers were shot down but the RAF lost no fighters.  Since the big raid of 15th August, the RAF had increased its strength by 85 fighters (20 Spitfires and 65 Hurricanes).

The British destroyer HMS Hostile hit a mine which broke her back eighteen miles off Cape Bon, Tunisia.  Hostile was sunk by torpedoes from HMS Hero.

The Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney, Australian destroyer HMAS Stuart and British destroyers HMS Diamond, Ilex & Juno shelled the Italian seaplane base at Bomba, Libya.

U-37 torpedoed two steamers in the Atlantic 500 miles West of Ireland;the Norwegian SS Keret and the British SS Severn Leigh.

King George VI commanded that the names of all Germans and Italians be stricken from the lists of British titles and decorations.  The order affected Benito Mussolini, who had been made a member of the Order of the Bath in 1923, as well as King Victor Emmanuel III who had been a member of the Order of the Garter.  No prominent Nazis were affected as few Germans held any British titles.

Game day 358.  Week 52. 

Some changes. Japanese economy

For some months I have been accumulating data about the participant countries in the Second World War to enhance my game.  As we approach the first anniversary of this documentary blog I am converting the game to a more detailed version.

I will start with Japan, as at 23rd August 1940.

Japan is a country of 72 million people, with additional populations amounting to 274 million in Korea, Manchukuo and Occupied China.  The food resources of these areas total 6.23 million tons per week, against a need of 6.06 million tons.  Japan is self-sufficient as regards food.

Japan has coal production capacity of 760,000 tons per week, with steelworks capacity of 90,000 tons of steel per week.  The smelting plants can produce 40,000 tons of iron from 80,000 tons of ore, of which there is no natural resource, using 40,000 tons of coal in the process.

So, to maintain industrial output, Japan must import 80,000 tons of iron ore and 50,000 tons of steel per week.  This requires a flow of 52 cargo ships (at 2,500 tons each – the global average trading ship size).  Japan has 2,400 ships, which if all in steam would burn 420,000 tons of coal per week.  The smelting works need a further 40,000 tons of coal, so Japan could be exporting excess coal to trade for ore and steel.

Japan will also need to import oil for her ships and aircraft.  Japan’s navy consists of (using 1941 data): 10 carriers, 10 battleships, 36 cruisers, 113 destroyers and 83 submarines.  If all in action, they would consume 10 x 100 + 10 x 100 + 36 x 80 + 113 x 40 + 83 x 20 tons of oil per day.  Japan must allow for 80,000 tons of oil per week for the navy, all of which must be imported.

The Air Force consists of (based on 15 aircraft per squadron):  50 fighter squadrons, 86 bomber squadrons, 20 reconnaissance squadrons and 26 training and other squadrons.  Concerning ourselves only with fighters and bombers, the maximum fuel load was about 150 tons per mission for bombers and 10 tons per mission for fighters.  Allowing for one mission per week per squadron, Japan needs around 15,000 tons of aviation fuel per week.  This should be doubled for operational conditions.

A useful compromise would be to import 100,000 tons of oil per week for the Navy and Air Force.

So, where is Japan to obtain 100,000 tons of oil, 80,000 tons of iron ore and 50,000 tons of steel, and do those countries need coal, which is the main Japanese surplus?

The Dutch East Indies produce 120,000 tons of oil per week.  This is the closest option.  Iron ore must come from the U.S.A. or U.S.S.R., with a joint total of 1,160,000 tons.  The U.S.S.R. is the obvious choice.  As for processed steel, the U.S.A. has embargoed the export of war production materials to Japan, so the U.S.S.R. is the only choice.

Thus the Japanese merchant fleet may be set into operation.  Japan needs 80,000 tons of iron ore and 50,000 tons of steel from the U.S.S.R. per week and 120,000 tons of oil from the Dutch East Indies.  This means 100 ships per week docking at Japanese ports.  Ships were deployed accordingly. It was assumed that the shipping process was already in operation.

For iron ore and steel from the U.S.S.R. it took four days to transport, and so 128 ships were deployed on the shipping route from Vladivostok to Kobe.  Oil had to be obtained from the Dutch East Indies.  Batavia could supply 120,000 tons per week, so that became the main supply.  This would require a constant flow of 480 ships.

The Japanese merchant fleet was burning 25,200 tons of coal per day to deliver oil, iron and steel to the Japanese home islands.

As to the army, I used the 1941 dispositions of 10 divisions deployed in China, 2 in Japan, 2 in Korea and 14 in Manchukuo. (There were more 16 more divisions with unknown deployment in 1941, but I treated these as new recruits to appear after the current game time).  Japan had 1,500,000 men in the army in December 1941.  I have decided to deploy the 28 divisions as known, allowing 35,000 men per division.  As far as possible I have placed the divisions where they are in the game so far, except for greater numbers in Manchukuo.  I diced for each unit to decide if it were armoured.  If so, it an armoured division would take the place of two infantry units. 

I deployed the air force units (60 fighter and 86 bomber squadrons) largely where they were in the game.

Next to the navy.  I previously had units deployed at Okinawa, Shanghai and the home islands.  I distributed the new units as task forces in port in these areas with an approximately equal distribution of ship types.

Eighty years on. 22nd August 1940


Early in the morning the first bombs fell on London, specifically Harrow.   Gale force winds and heavy rain precluded large raids.  German artillery at Cape Gris Nez, France, shelled a convoy in the Straits of Dover for 80 minutes, but no ships were hit.   Later Junkers Ju88s and Bf109s attacked the convoy and were engaged by Spitfires of 54 Squadron and Hurricanes of 610 Squadron.  One Ju88 and one Spitfire were shot down, and one Hurricane by “friendly” fire.  In the evening, thirty German aircraft bombed coastal towns in Kent.  There is an artillery duel across the Straits of Dover between the German battery at Cape Gris Nez and a British 14-inch naval gun at Dover.

Overnight, Aberdeen, Bristol, Pontefract, Bradford and Hull were bombed.  In total, six German aircraft and five RAF fighters were lost.

Fairey Swordfish from HMS Peregrine (the Royal Navy Air Station at Ford, Sussex) bombed German invasion barges at Daedereide on the Dutch coast.  One Swordfish was shot down and the crew captured.

Three Swordfish from aircraft carrier HMS Eagle sank Italian submarine Iride and the depot ship Monte Gargano in the Gulf of Bomba, Libya.  The Italian torpedo boat Calypso was also damaged.  This prevented a planned attack on Alexandria by Iride using manned “human torpedoes”.

Britain promised to send air and sea forces to aid Greece if Italy attacked the country.

The RAF bombed targets in Cologne and Frankfurt.

Game day 357 – Great Britain

The British withdrew their infantry from Italian East Africa (Abyssinia) into Sudan.  In Kenya the forces continued northwards towards the Italian threat.

The carrier with fighters for Malta and the troopships with armour and infantry for Egypt docked at Gibraltar.  The two battleships pursuing the French reached Malta, where they received news that the French ship had already passed the island.

Two submarines were on patrol in the North Atlantic.  One returned to port in the Clyde while the other continued south-west in search of German U-boats, reaching point 220,77.  The convoy from Canada to Liverpool reached the mid-Atlantic (195,87)

In the Indian Ocean three freighters  sailed past the Cocos Islands en route for Australia, while a task force of three battleships sailed southwards past the west coast of Africa.

In Australia four new Infantry units were deployed in Canberra, while the armoured unit reached the port of Adelaide ready for shipment to the Middle East.

Five infantry units moved from Jordan across the Suez Canal into Egypt.  Four infantry units were raised in cape Town, South Africa.

One Bomber unit attacked German shipping in port on the north coast of France.  No damage was caused on either side.

Gaming Notes. With the more detailed and correct map I am able to rationalise distances and movement rates. In future the movement will reflect the actual number of days between each country’s turns. Ships will follow historical shipping lanes as far as practical. Gradually I will introduce more detail into the generic “Industrial Resources” and divide some of the game areas into their historical countries.

Eighty years on. 21st August 1940


Clouds, wind and rain prevented large raids over Britain but the Luftwaffe continued the tactics of small raids of one or two aircraft flying at most 20 miles inland.  RAF airfields on the south and south-east of England were bombed with little damage.  Some coastal towns were also bombed and merchant ships were sunk or damaged.  Thirteen German bombers were destroyed and one RAF Hurricane was shot down.

In the mid-Atlantic a thousand miles off the West coast of Africa, the German armed merchant cruiser Widder sank the British collier Anglo Saxon and machine-gunned the lifeboats.

The Italian submarine Dandolo damaged the Dutch tanker Hermes, 200 miles West of Lisbon, Portugal.

The “tree of liberty”, planted in Saverne after Alsace was restored to France at the end of World War I, was chopped down by members of the Hitler Jugend.

Game day 356.  Germany

Two fighter units were transferred from north Germany to Belgium.  One submarine moved towards the Faroe Islands and a second to the Montreal – Glasgow sea lane.  

Eighty years on. 20th August 1940


Clouds and rain again restricted the morning to reconnaissance flights over southern England, although the English Channel was clear and convoys were attacked.  190 German aircraft flew up the Thames Estuary and circled back without dropping any bombs.  They were intercepted and five were shot down. In the afternoon, Marston airfield was again bombed and strafed and one Spitfire was shot down.  The still-burning oil tanks at Llanreath near Pembroke Dock, South Wales, were bombed again.  In total, seven German aircraft and three RAF fighters are lost.  

Winston Churchill made a speech in the House of Commons in praise of the RAF fighter pilots. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”  He also announced leasing of bases in Newfoundland and the West Indies to USA.  He did not mention that this was in exchange for old US Navy destroyers to be loaned to Britain for convoy protection.

400 miles west of Ireland, the German submarine UA sank the Panamanian collier Tuira.  U-46 torpedoed the Greek steamer Leonidas M. Valmas 50 miles north-west of Ireland.  The ship did not sink due to its cargo of wood but 16 crew died in the fire.

The German submarine U-141 was commissioned.

350 miles east of New Plymouth, New Zealand, the German armed merchant cruiser Orion chased the British steamer Turakina, carrying 4,000 tons of lead, 1,500 tons of grain and 7,000 tons of wool, and eventually sank her.

The British submarine HMS Cachalot torpedoed and sank U-51 in the Bay of Biscay 100 miles west of St. Nazaire.

120 RAF bombers attacked targets in Germany and Luftwaffe airfields in occupied Western Europe.

Benito Mussolini announced a blockade of British Mediterranean ports, and Italian bombers attacked Gibraltar.

The “Hundred Regiments Offensive” began in the Second Sino-Japanese War.  This was a major campaign of the Communist Party of China’s National Revolutionary Army divisions commanded by Peng Dehuai against the Imperial Japanese Army in Central China.

Leon Trotsky, living in exile in Mexico City, was fatally stabbed with an ice axe by a Soviet agent.

Game day 355.  Neutral countries.

Following the unprovoked Italian attack, Greece would have mobilised, except that there were now insufficient resources.

The USA deployed 2 battleships, 2 destroyers , 2 cargo ships and 2 bomber units.

(No map today)

Eighty years on. 19th August 1940


Clouds and rain restricted the morning to reconnaissance flights over southern Britain.  As the weather cleared in the afternoon, the Luftwaffe tried radically different tactics.  Single aircraft (mainly Junkers Ju88 twin engine bombers) attacked targets along the South coast of England and Wales.  Oil storage tanks at Llanreath near Pembroke Dock, South Wales, were bombed.  The lone bomber attacks continued overnight, targeting the East coast and Midlands.  One Messerschmitt Bf109 and four Ju88’s were shot down.  One Spitfire was lost and a Blenheim failed to return from a reconnaissance flight over Southern Norway.

The Home Guard began to prepare stockpiles of “Molotov Cocktail” petrol bombs.

U-boats sank three steamers off Ireland.  U-48 sank the Belgian passenger ship Ville de Gand.  U-101 sank the British SS Ampleforth and UA sank the SS Hungarian Kelet.

The German submarine U-104 was commissioned.

Italian troops captured Berbera in Somaliland.

Gallup published the results of a poll asking Americans whether they approved of a proposal to sell 50 old destroyer ships to England.  62% approved of the idea, 38% disapproved.

Game day 354.  Italy

A new Aircraft Carrier was launched at Venice.  Three submarines moved from Venice south through the Adriatic Sea.

In Egypt the Italian forces held the north end of their line while attacking the British in the centre and outflanking in the south.  Map reference 272,116.  Four armoured units from the west and three infantry units from the south attacked two British Infantry units.  The British were wiped out for the loss of one Italian armoured unit.  At Map reference 273,117 Two Australian infantry units were attacked by six Italian Infantry units from the south and one was eliminated.  The Australians withdrew to the east.

Four bomber units attacked neutral Greece, causing three points of damage to the industrial infrastructure.

Game note.  Historically the Italians attacked the Greek navy at anchor.  In the game Greece has no naval units, or as yet any military presence at all,  so I made a strategic bombing raid instead.  I rolled a die to see how many bomber units would attack, and it turned out to be four.  Of these, three scored hits, reducing the Greek economy from 3.3 IRP to 0.3 IRP.  This was far more drastic than the historical attack, but “c’est la guerre”.