FIRE AND FURIA FRANCESE

 

This is the original version of the club variant rules covering the mid 19th century European wars dating to the mid 1990's . It is a variant and you will need a copy of the Fire and Fury rules to play. Since then a stand alone set has been produced covering these wars, and also the American Civil War, called Mit Blut und Eisen - MBuE rules.

The European conflicts of the Mid - Nineteenth Century provide an interesting series of conflicts. It includes many major conflicts such as the Crimean War and the Franco - Prussian War. The wars of this era established the decline of some powers, such as Austria - Hungary. While two major European Powers emerged during this time, namely Germany and Italy. The period saw an increasing technological impact in warfare and the various combatants' attempts to react to these changes. Similarly the number of troops involved continued to increase, as population growth and industrialisation enabled larger armies to be deployed.

As yet there are few sets of rules that enable large-scale Nineteenth Century historic games to be played. Fire and Fury (F&F) is just such a set of rules for the American Civil War. During a F&F game at my local club, we began wondering if these excellent rules could be used for other conflicts. The following are a set of proposals designed to simulate Mid - Nineteenth Century European wars. They are not meant to be hard and fast, but only suggestions which can be ignored, altered, etc... The F&F system is used as it stands with the following modifications and additions.

Scale and Unit level:

First scale (1:200): - 1 Divisional Commander, 4 infantry regiments of 12 stands, 1 cavalry regiment of 3 stands, 3 gun 'batteries' / stands, + 2 Brigade commanders (if used).

Second scale (regiment): - 1 Divisional Commander, 4 infantry regiments of 8 stands, 1 cavalry regiment of 2 stands (brigaded at Corps level?), 2 gun 'batteries' / stands, + 2 Brigade commanders (if used).

Second scale (brigade): - 1 Divisional commander, 2 infantry brigades of 16 stands, 1 cavalry 'brigade' of 2 stands (brigaded at Corps level?), 2 gun 'batteries' / stands.

I feel that small cavalry units, such as above, are generally better portrayed as a combined 'unit' at Corps level. This is not absolutely necessary though, for small unit sizes will ensure a historical, tactically negligible role for cavalry. For artillery and machine guns the spare pieces should be carried up to the next level of command. Small infantry 'units', typically light infantry battalions or regiments, will be dealt with in the definitions below.

Definitions / Troop Types:

Elite and Levy Troops: - These are new levels of experience for troops and represent European units. These represent the better European troops who also have the advantages of being well trained and disciplined, in the case of Elite troops. While Levy troops are troops with low combat effectiveness, who in addition are not motivated to fight.

How are these new categories of troops to be depicted? In F&F 'Green' units become worn after 20% stand loss and spent after 40%. For 'Veteran' units it is 25% and 50%, while 'Crack' is 30% and 60%. In all cases halves are rounded down and fractions greater than a half are rounded up. So, by extension, I have set 'Elite' at 35% and 70% losses, while 'Levy' troops can lose 15% and 30%.

Giving the following unit status: -

Elite
2 / - / -
3 / 2 / -
4 / 3 / -
5 / 3 / -
6 / 4 / 2
7 / 5 / 2
8 / 5 / 2
9 / 6 / 3
10 / 6 / 3
11 / 7 / 3
12 / 8 / 4
13 / 8 / 4
14 / 9 / 4
15 / 10 / 5
16 / 10 / 5
17 / 11 / 5
18 / 12 / 5

Levy

- / - / 2
- / 3 / 2
4 / - / 3
5 / 4 / 3
6 / 5 / 4
7 / 6 / 5
8 / 7 / 6
9 / 8 / 6
10 / 8 / 7
11 / 9 / 8
12 / 10 / 8
13 / 11 / 9
14 / 12 / 10
15 / 13 / 10
16 / 14 / 11
17 / 14 / 12
18 / 15 / 13

Cavalry: - European cavalry still performed their duties mounted and rarely dismounted unlike their American counterparts. Thus European cavalry must remain mounted, unless they are specifically allowed to. The unit having a 'D' after it's status denotes this. Thus a '4/3/2' cavalry may not dismount, while a '4/3/2 D' unit may. Dismounted units need horse holders as in F&F.; Additionally cavalry melees are more likely in Europe with a greater variety of types of cavalry involved. Therefore in cavalry vs. cavalry melees the better cavalry should get a bonus. This should be judged by the 'weight' or the quality of the cavalry depending on taste and / or your opinion. For example a crack light cavalry unit fights a veteran heavy cavalry unit. The heavy unit would get a +1 die modifier if you were using weight, while the light unit would get it if you were using quality. I prefer the quality definition but you can choose which you feel is important. Indeed it could be argued that European cavalry should get a +1 melee die modifier vs. other cavalry per level difference. So a crack unit would get a +2 die modifier vs. green cavalry. All die modifiers are in addition to the mounted charge bonus and are only applicable when mounted.

Light Infantry / Skirmishing: - Many armies had light infantry battalions or regiments as brigade, division or corps assets. These pose a problem as they are too small to make reasonable sized units, e.g. 4 or more stands. Multiple unit light infantry formations can be represented in the normal way. While the stands representing single units can be added to other 'units' or brigaded at a higher level of command. So in 1870 the French generally had 1 light battalion per infantry division of 2 or 3 stands. These could be added to one of the 'units' in the division making a 6 strong (1:300 regiment) up to an 8 strong unit. Alternatively two or more battalions could be 'brigaded' at corps level as a 4 or 6 strong 'unit'. Yet these were specially detailed troops who were trained to skirmish. So instead they could be deployed as a separate 'unit' of skirmishers. Indeed the Austrians in 1866, for example, had a light battalion per brigade. They sometimes deployed this to screen the rest of the brigade as it advanced in column of attack against the Prussians. If you wish light battalions can deploy in to skirmish formation. While in Skirmish formation the unit receives a -1 when fired at and a -1 in melee. A formation change is needed to enter this formation and takes 1/2 a move. To represent the greater area occupied and the generally better shooting by skirmishers the number of stands in a 'unit' should be increased by 50%. So the effective figure ratios are 1 stand = 130 or 200 men. If using this second option then units allowed to skirmish should be designated 'L' with it's skirmishing rating in brackets. For example a 'crack' Austrian Jaeger battalion would, in 1:300, be a '3/2/- L (4/3/2)'.

Superior and Poor Leaders: - Superior leaders are a 'catch all' category denoted by a 'S' after the leader. They could, for example, ignore the tactical doctrine rules (see below) or be particularly inspirational in a melee or when attached to a unit dicing to move (give an additional +1). The particulars of their superiority should be defined by the scenario and individual represented.

Poor leaders are denoted by a 'P' after the leader. These leader give a -1 to movement die rolls and give no bonus if attached in melees. They can though be used to unlimber artillery. Therefore a Poor brigade commander will give a -1 to manoeuvre. A Poor higher-level commander will give no modifier unless attached when it will give a +1. 'P' leaders represent those incompetent leaders who were incapable of exercising command. In addition they may represent staff officers and may be used to give artillery greater flexibility. For example a Prussian corps of 1870 should have a 'P' leader in addition to the corps commander to represent the greater flexibility of the Prussian artillery at this time.

Weapons: - F&F has a number of weapon categories but for European conflicts new categories are needed. To reflect the different weapons I suggest the following small arms categories: -

  • Smoothbore Musket (SM)
  • Muzzle Loading Rifle (MLR)
  • Needle Gun (NG) - the Dreyse Needle Gun
  • 1st Generation Breech Loading Rifle (1BL) - MLR converted to breechloader and early breechloaders
  • 2nd Generation Breech Loading Rifle (2BL) - the Chassepot Rifle

For artillery the following categories: -

  • Smoothbore Artillery (SA)
  • Rifled Artillery (RA)
  • Breech Loading Artillery (BLA)
  • Machine guns (MG) - Mitrailleuse
  • Rockets (RO)

With the following fire factors.

Weapon
0 to 4"
4 to 6"
6 to 8"
8 to 12"
SM
1
-
-
-
MLR
1
1
1
-
NG
2
1
-
-
1BL
2
1
1
-
2BL
2
2
1
1

 

Gun
0 to 4"
4 to 16"
16 to 24"
24 to 32"
SA
10
3
2
1
RA
10
4
3
2
BLA
10
5
4
2
MG
16
8
-
-

Rockets count as artillery with a range of 32". You decide a rocket's target and then roll two D6. Their fire factor is the difference between these dice.

Prone: - Infantry units may go prone at any time and at no movement penalty. They remain in their original formation with all the advantages and disadvantages this brings. Whilst prone they receive a -1 modifier when fired at. They may not move if prone and it takes 1/2 a move to get out of 'prone' formation. In addition they may only do so if they can achieve a 'change formation' result on the manoeuvre table. The reluctance of units to move when prone is further represented by units getting a -1 on the manoeuvre chart. Units that are involved in a close combat automatically lose 'prone' status if they get a negative or a continuing combat result. While still prone units get a -2 modifier in close combat. Prone units do not affect line of sight and may be fired over. If a prone unit is armed with SM's or MLR's it may not fire, otherwise it can. Prone units should be denoted with an appropriate marker such as a lying down figure.

Square: - Theoretically European units could form square to repulse cavalry attacks. This is a formation change and takes 1/2 a move to enter. It takes another formation change to exit. With 1/2 a move needed to change to column and a full move to change to line. Units in square may not move. They give a +1 modifier when fired at and have no flanks. In close combat they receive a +3 modifier against mounted opponents and a -2 against others. Please note that this is a silly formation to be in, at this time. I have put it in just in case any one wants to use it.

Impetuous Troops: - Some troops were very aggressive and are rated as Impetuous, denoted by an 'I' after the unit. These units receive the same benefits that Confederate units get in close combat, a +1 modifier. An example of such troops would be French Zouave and other 'African' troops. An impetuous 'crack' French Zouave regiment of 1870 would be a 6/4/2 I, at 1:300 scale. As an option such troops should also, if the close combat result allows, be obliged to follow up successful melees.

Assault Tactics: - Some European armies used assault tactics in battle during this period. For example the French used assault tactics in Column of Attack during both the Crimean War and the war of 1859. Assault tactics give units a +1 in close combats, normally when they are in a particular formation usually Column of Attack. A unit capable of assault tactics is denoted by an 'A' after the unit designation. While the formations that this bonus is applicable for should be defined in the scenario notes. Thus the above French Zouave Regiment in the war of 1859 would be a '6/4/2 IA' and would get a +2 in close combat.

Tactical Doctrine: - During many of this periods wars the various armies operated with different tactical doctrines on the battlefield. Partly these doctrines are covered by the other proposed rule modifications. This section is designed to encourage players to use historical formations. I propose that if units are not in their historical formation they will suffer a penalty to their manoeuvre roll. This would be a -1 for some nations that are still reasonably flexible. While a -2 or -3 would be more appropriate for less flexible armies. In addition the attachment of a leader might be needed to enable a unit to change out of what doctrine dictates should be its formation. These modifications are in addition to the normal ones, e.g. the +1 for being in column may be received in addition to potential deductions from tactical doctrine.

So during the Crimea War it would be appropriate to give all the major nations tactical doctrine modifications. During this conflict they were still using the tactics they had used in the Napoleonic Wars. So British units would get a -1 if not in line and French units a -1 if not in column of attack. While the very inflexible Russians should get a -2 or 3 if not in column of attack and may require a leader to be attached to change formation. These modifiers are not appropriate to all units in column of march or to Light infantry units skirmishing. As these formations formed part of all tactical doctrines when needed. Tactical doctrine should be defined as part of the scenario or game.

Victory Points: - Small light infantry units, normally a battalion should not count as a full unit for victory determination. Instead they should give half the normal points, e.g. 1 point if 'Spent'. You may wish to do the same for all cavalry units and other units of less than 5 stands. As they tend to be of lesser combat value than larger units.

Play sheet Modifications

Manoeuvre Table: -

-1 In Prone formation
-1 Poor Leader
-1/2 or 3 Not in tactical doctrine formation


Fire Table: -

-1 Target in Skirmish or Prone formation
+1 Target in Square formation
In addition new Range and Fire points chart may be needed.


Charge Table: -

-1 Attached Poor Leader
-1 If in Skirmish formation
-2 If in Prone formation
+3 If in Square vs. Mounted
-2 If in Square vs. others
+1 Impetuous charging
+1 Assault tactics charging
+1 'Heavier' Cavalry vs. Mounted (per level?)

Summary I hope that you will try these amendments to F&F for this period. As I have indicated above they should not be viewed as 'written in stone' and should be altered if needed. I would like to thank all members of my local club, Wyre Forest Wargames Club, for their help with advice and play testing of these modifications. In particular, Ross Owens, Andrew (Spong) Wharton and Kevin (Mr T) Townsend, who all contributed greatly, in various ways, to this article.

If you have any questions, suggestions or criticisms please contact me at nick@wgamers.org.uk