Tuesday, 16 February 2016 19:36

Napoleonic Chess

After decades of creating games of sometimes almost unplayable complexity the following game of Napoleonic Chess just sort of fell into place as part of a dice-free battle resolution system within a much larger strategic geo-political and economic game scenario. (I still work on that, particularly the naval aspects.)

 However the game of Napoleonic Chess ™ has such an elegant simplicity and playability to it that I declare it Copyright Peter J Carroll 16/2/2016 ©.

Napoleonic  Chess.

A tactical game system for Napoleonic era battle simulation which players can use on an ordinary chess board using chess pieces, or extend to larger boards, add terrain features, or add additional units. This system differs radically from chess in that players may move all of their pieces in their turn.

The basic rules for the Standard Scenario appear below, followed by suggestions for more sophisticated scenarios.

Standard Scenario.

Players set up as shown with units on the 2nd and 3rd and the 6th and 7th rows. If using a standard chess set, discard the queens; use the pawns as infantry, knights and bishops as cavalry, rooks as artillery, and the king as guards. Alternatively for a better appearance and ease of use, take 2 chess sets and use all the knights for cavalry and both queens for artillery on each side. Alternatively acquire or make some period pieces.

Each side moves alternately and settles all resulting attacks, and each player may move all their units during a single turn.

Movement and Combat. Units basically move (or not) and then attack in a single turn.

Infantry may move a single square in any direction.

Infantry attacks or supports orthogonally only, with a value of 1, into an adjacent square. Infantry has a defensive value of 1.


Cavalry may move one or two squares in any direction.

Cavalry attacks or supports diagonally only, with a value of 1, into an adjacent square. Cavalry has a defensive value of 1.


Artillery may move a single square orthogonally only.

Artillery attacks orthogonally only with a value of 2, into an adjacent square.

Artillery supports into an adjacent orthogonal square with a value of 1.

Artillery has a defensive value of 1.


The Guards may move a single square in any direction.

Guards attack or support in any direction with a value of 1, into an adjacent square.

Guards have a defensive value of 2.


Any unit may make only a single attack or defensive support in a players turn, or a single defensive support against attack in an opponents turn.


Eliminating pieces.


Any unit coming under attack by attack values which exceed its defence value plus the value of any support it receives becomes eliminated and removed from the board.


One of the attacking units may then move straight on to the square it occupied if the attacker so wishes.


A unit under attack cannot offer support to an adjacent unit.


Victory Conditions. Elimination of the enemy Guard unit; or the enemy surrenders.

Example of a complex attack.


Here Red attacks the Black Artillery unit with Artillery. The 3 orthogonal Black infantry units support the Black Artillery but the support of the ones on either side becomes removed by attacks from Red Infantry and Red Cavalry, so it only has support from the Black Infantry behind so it has a total defence value of 2, whereas Red attacks it with an attack value of 3, one from the Red Cavalry and two from the Red Artillery, so it becomes eliminated. Red then has the option of immediately moving either the attacking Red Cavalry unit or the Red Artillery into the vacated space. (Although this would prove very risky).

Advanced Scenarios. 

1) Alternative Standard Scenario Initial Dispositions.

a) Attack at Dawn. Both sides write down their desired positions of their units on the 2nd and 3rd and the 6th and 7th rows in secret and then reveal them and lay out their units.

b) Marching Orders. Players take it in turn to place one unit (or more if agreed) on the board at a time in the appropriate rows till all units have become deployed.

2) Additional/Variant Units.

Horse Artillery moves 2 squares in any direction.

Horse Artillery attacks and supports in any direction into adjacent squares with a value of 1.

Horse Artillery has a defensive value of 1.


Dragoons move two squares in any direction.

Dragoons attack and support into orthogonal squares only with a value of 1.

Dragoons have a defensive value of 1.


Foot Guards, as for Infantry but with a defensive value of 2.


Cuirassiers/Horse Guards, as for cavalry but with an attack value of 2.


3) Optional Terrain Features. (Made by placing an appropriate card tile on a square)


Hills – add one to the defensive value of a unit on a Hill square unless attacked from an adjacent hill square. Units cannot move on and off a Hill in a single turn.


Redoubts - (earthworks etc.) - these take an agreed number of turns of uninterrupted occupation of a square to construct, and then function as for Hills. Artillery attacking into a redoubt attacks at only 1, and cannot enter an enemy redoubt on the same turn if it falls.


Square Border Obstacles – watercourses, banks, ditches hedges etc. – These can mark one or more of the edges of a square. They give +1 defensive value if they protect a unit from all units attacking it. Artillery has only an attack value of 1 across such obstacles.


4) Larger Boards, Bigger Battles with More Units, Multiple Armies, Multiplayer, Divided Command and Strategic Scenarios.


This system will support all of the above. Allied units from different armies or command structures may support each other by attacks without moving, or by supporting in defence.


In Strategic Scenarios stretching over continents and using markers for entire armies, this system provides a means of resolving battles at a tactical level.

In larger battles it often helps to number the pieces to keep track of which have moved and which haven’t in a turn. 1st, 2nd and 3rd infantry etc.

 Other Epochs. This battle system can support a variety of pre-gunpowder conflict scenarios by simply substituting Heavy Infantry for Artillery.

Read 16346 times