Beginners' Guide: Rules
In order to play a proper wargame (as opposed to just shooting paper bullets at toy soldiers), a set of rules is required. Rules set a scale - i.e. one figure = "x" number of real men, how many cm = 100 yards. They also regulate how a turn is structured, how far a unit may move, how combat is resolved, and how units react when they take casualties, when receiving enemy charges and so on. It all sounds a little complicated but basically it's very simple.
Most conventional rules use the following turn sequence: Charge, Fire, Move.
One figure usually represents 20-50 men. Figures are grouped into battalions or regiments (exact number depending on unit nationality).
1 mm on the table usually represents 1 metre in real life.
Units are assigned factors for firing, close combat and morale.
Dice are used to determine the effect of firing and close combat (Dice are NOT used for moving!!)
Casualties are removed accordingly and the units taking a certain level of casualties roll for morale in order to determine if they break and run off the field.
Because there are so many sets of rules out on the market, it is difficult for me to recommend any of them. To choose a set that suits you, read reviews and ask people who have used them how they work (you can ask at the various Napoleonic discussion forums out there on the net. One of them is linked from this site. Click here!)
There are also free sets of Napoleonic Wargames rules out there on the world wide web. You can download the rules we use if you go back to our main page. Our rules are suitable for Division or Corps sized actions where 20-30 figures = 1 infantry battalion. We like this scale because it gives a nice tactical "feel". But they are not really practical if you want to recreate huge battles like Waterloo or Austerlitz. For large battles, try the following rules where 4-5 figures = 1 infantry battalion:
Republique (War Times Journal)
Steve Burt's Napoleonic Rules (2 sets of rules here - one of them DBA style!)