Look, Sarge, No Charts: Napoleonic Wars grew from the immensely popular, devilishly elegant, and astoundingly clever Look, Sarge, No Charts: WWII system. These rules are designed to replicate large battles in the Napoleonic Wars. Having said that, we think that Look, Sarge, No Charts: Napoleonic Wars will work for other horse-and-musket periods with only small changes.
In Look, Sarge, No Charts: Napoleonic Wars, each player can easily manage up to a division, composed of two or more brigades. In order to facilitate this span of control, we have gone to great lengths to streamline the mechanics and remove charts so that the players can fight the battle, not the rules. Look, Sarge, No Charts: Napoleonic Wars can involve several players on each side. Each player should control a division-sized force. One player, in addition to commanding a division, is also designated the overall (e.g., corps) commander.
In designing a set of war-gaming rules, our approach is to enumerate a list of goals before beginning. We were looking for a set of rules that would allow players to represent the larger battles of the Napoleonic Wars in a reasonably short period of time while presenting division commander challenges to the players. Our goals for these rules were as follows:
- Making large formations do what you want is hard, and
- “Realism” is achieved through simple mechanics and lack of predictability that stress the players’ decision making, not intricate mechanics.
So while we went to great lengths to remove as many charts as possible, we have also spent considerable time “reducing,” abstracting, and tuning the underlying concepts so that this does not become “lots of modifiers, but sixes always hit.” Hopefully all that effort to reduce lots of information to the essence of Napoleonic warfare and reduce the number of charts needed to portray a reasonably realistic battle is apparent in the end result.
In addition to our major objectives, we wanted to ensure that these rules did not feel like skirmish rules or regimental rules. There are many good sets of Napoleonic rules on the market, but we were trying to create a set of rules that felt different from a skirmish or regimental game and provided “tactical,” vice “skirmish,” challenges to the players. We have tried very hard to not let “skirmish” modifiers show up in our “tactical” game. We decided that the basic maneuver unit would be the infantry battalion or cavalry regiment for two reasons. First, division commanders maneuver battalions. Second, this kept the ground and time scales the same as Look, Sarge, No Charts: WWII. Of course, we decreased musket and rifle ranges from what you might expect to account for “effective” ranges rather than theoretical maximum ranges.