Grande Armée is a set of rules by which players can use miniature figures of any size or basing system to recreate the famous, large-scale battles of the Napoleonic wars. In wargame parlance, it is grand-tactical in scope, in that players command entire armies, moving whole corps and divisions on the table. The basic unit on the table-top is the brigade, representing a few thousand soldiers. At this scale, of course, many things are abstracted. We do not concern ourselves with the actions of small groups of soldiers. Rather, we place ourselves in the roles of generals, ordering thousands of men to move, attack, or defend. And, like those generals of history, we don’t know whether or not our officers and men are going to behave exactly as we hope or expect.
For maximum clarity, these rules are written in the order of the game’s sequence of play. Whenever a new game term or concept is introduced, it will be written for the first time in bold type. In some cases, when the "why" of a rule would aid in comprehension, the author has included a separate discussion in an offset box. Each chapter is identified by a letter, and each rule within that chapter by a number, so that you can quickly reference specific rules, such as: "D2.1"
After you have read the book all the way through, the author has included a very brief, condensed version of the game in a section called Éclaireur. (This was the French word for "scout", and in this four-page section you can quickly find the information you need, without having to re-read entire chapters.) And finally, the author has included an even more condensed set of information – only the most frequently-used charts and tables – on cardstock, which you can affix to the edges of the gaming table for quick reference.
Grande Armée does not follow a perfectly linear sequence of play. One sub-system in the rules relates to another, which affects another, and so on. So it might be useful to make a copy of the sequence of play (found in Éclaireur or on page 8), and have it beside you as you read through this book for the first time.
- Title: Grande Armée The Great Battles of the Napoleonic Wars in Miniature
- Period: Napoleonic
- Type: Grand-Tactical Miniature Wargame
- Time Scale: basic length of 2 to 10 turns, plus additional turns = 1 day’s battle
- Ground Scale: 1:3600 (1 inch = 100 yards)
- Troop Scale: no figure scale, 1 brigade stand = 1 brigade
- Basing: 3″ × 3″ brigade stands, 1.5″ × 3″ artillery stands
- Author: Sam A. Mustafa
- Format: 112-page rule book, spiral-bound
- Language: English
- Publisher: Quantum Printing, Inc., New York
- Published: 2002
- Setting up for Play, 6 pages
- Playing the Game, 2 pages
- Weather, 2 pages
- The Command Phase, 2 pages
- Skirmishing, 3 pages
- Artillery Fire, 3 pages
- The Control Segment, 8 pages
- Movement, 9 pages
- Combat, 7 pages
- Things Fall Apart, 3 pages
- The Rally Segment, 2 pages
- Victory, 5 pages
- Special Cases, 4 pages
- Optional Rules, 3 pages
- Fuentes de Oñoro, 5 pages
- Aspern-Essling, 8 pages
- Friedland, 7 pages
- Waterloo, 9 pages
- Scale and Concepts
- Officer Listings
- Unit Type Listings
- Éclaireur quick reference chart
In Grande Armée, the players assume the role of army commanders and their subordinate corps commanders. The smallest tactical formation is the infantry or cavalry brigade, and the heavy or horse artillery battery. Light and medium batteries attached to infantry division are factored into the strength point values of component brigades. Players need not micro-manage the battalions and regiments within a brigade, because the battalion commanders and brigadiers would take care of that. Grande Armée assumes that battalion commanders will recall their skirmishers, and order their units to form square when the brigade is threatened by enemy cavalry, for example. The army commander may use command points (CP) to micro-manage critical events, issue commands to his subordinates, gain the initiative, influence army morale checks, and so forth. In large battles, there are never enough CPs to micro-manage every detail of the battle, and the army commander must rely on the ability of his subordinates to act on their own initiative.
When infantry brigades with average skirmish ability face enemy infantry or artillery at a range up to 400, the skirmishers will automatically deploy forward and begin harrassing the enemy. Brigades with good skirmish ability may skirmish with enemy brigades up to 600 yards to their front. Cavalry deployed within 200 yards of a potential skirmish target will prevent enemy skirmishers from attacking that formation. At the chosen scale of the game, skirmishers are invisible, but their effect will be felt. This is a clever way of handling skirmish combat, without requiring the army commander to calculate hit probabilities and roll dice for every single Voltigeur or Jäger platoon in his army. Commanders will be compelled to use their corps cavalry assets to protect artillery batteries and infantry brigades. Brigades with skirmish ability are marked "SK1" or "SK2" on the brigade label attached to the 3″ × 3″ brigade base of the formation. Alternatively, the skirmish ability of a brigade may be shown by one or two skirmisher figures deployed in front of an infantry line or column.
Variable Game Length
There is no fixed time scale in Grande Armée. The number of turns per day, and the number of pulses in each turn will vary, based on the weather conditions and the players’ initiative rolls. The weather rules play an important part in Grand Armée, yet they are easy to implement. Infantry brigades may not skirmish in rain or snow, and the musket fire of entire brigades will be reduced.
Variable Movement Rates
Foot artillery and fast infantry march 600 yards plus (1 die × 100 yards) in clear terrain per pulse. Austrian, Prussian (pre 1811), Russian, and Spanish infantry are slow-moving troops, which march only 400 to 1000 yards per pulse. Movement rates are halved when the ground is muddy. The variable movement rate will make coordinated attacks of several brigades more difficult.
Empire is the right choice for students of military history interested in a realistic simulation of Napoleonic warfare at the grand-tactical and tactical level. 176 pages do require a serious investment of time and thought, to read and understand the rules, let alone master them. However, anyone with a good understanding of Horse & Musket warfare should be able to command a manœuvre element without prior study of the rules, if the other players are prepared to teach as the engagement unfolds. Empire models the real world situation so closely, that an Empire novice may formulate his tactical moves in English while an experienced commander pulls the relevant chart and computes the results.