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Designer's Notes

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24.0 Designer's Notes

"There are two kinds of plans of campaign: good plans and bad plans. Plans of campaign are modified to infinity, according to circumstances, the genius of the commander, the nature of the troops, and the topography. Sometimes good plans fail as a result of accidental circumstance and sometimes bad plans succeed through some freak of fortune." --Napoleon

That's what Napoleon said. I agree. Generally, if you do something stupid, Snappy Nappy will punish you. If you do something smart, Snappy Nappy will reward you.

Now, we all have hindsight about the art of Napoleonic warfare and we would all never do anything stupid like our historical counterparts did. Right?


In various Snappy Nappy battles across tabletops, I have seen:

**An entire cavalry corp thrown again and again at infantry in square. This was not the French at Waterloo, but the Prussians during an 1813 tabletop battle. Is there any wonder why the decimated cavalry streamed away from the battle in retreat?

**A commander throws his militia and conscript infantry, without artillery or any other support, again and again uphill against veteran infantry supported by cannons. This is not the French in Spain versus the British, but Austrians against French in an 1809 tabletop battle. And the Austrian commander wondered why his attack didn't succeed.

**An emperor orders a corp in one direction, then orders it to retrace its steps back the other way, and then orders it to turn around again to send it back on its original course. This was indeed our tabletop Napoleon directing a corp (of Lobau, not, as in history, D'Erlon) between Quatre Bras and Ligny during the Waterloo campaign. Like history, that tabletop corp never got into battle.

I have also seen:

**A teenager threaten an opposing infantry command with his cavalry, move up his artillery to soften up the now-formed squares, and then move up his infantry to charge the squares and send them packing. (1813 campaign)

**A corp pulled into a reserve position, then moved to a position on the flank of an enemy drive, and with impeccable timing, crash into the opposing flank and roll the enemy into the river. (1809 French vs. Austrians).

**A French wing commander guard the few direct river crossings with a few weak units, swing a strong corp across the river upstream for distraction, swing a weak corps downstream for more distraction, and bottle up the opposing Prussians and Russians for turn after turn after turn -- even though outnumbered almost 3:1. And if that wasn't enough, he sent a small corps back to Napoleon for use elsewhere in the campaign. (1813 Fall).

So, Snappy Nappy gives you the framework to make good decisions and bad. It's up to you to apply the tenets of Napoleonic warfare to bring success.

Proportions, Ratios, and Interconnections

Napoleonic know-it-alls. You know who they are when you see them. They'll argue about grams of powder, skirmisher stances, buttons, and individual millimeters. And who could blame them? Most Napoleonic miniature rules sets are in a small scale and that's what's there to argue about. Lots of charts and modifiers and fiddly stuff.

Not Snappy Nappy. It's a big scale rules set. Think big. I mean really big. Then think bigger. Think scalable. Think running the Fall 1813 campaign in your basement across seven tables with 22 people. Think marshals and generals and emperors, not lieutenants and captains.

The key here is that all the functions and processes are all interconnected. Snappy Nappy embeds the math of the period into easily understood rules mechanics and die rolls. It captures the flavor of warfare. You don't need a staff like real commanders did--it's all subsumed in the rules. The feel of a Snappy Nappy battle matches the literature that you read and the maps you see on an operational level.

Yes, you can point to an individual battalion doing some spectacular feat, or some really odd occurrence that happened once. In Snappy Nappy, these extremes are balanced by what the rest of the army is doing. The wars are fraught with an individual battalion storming some spectacular point, and being forced to fall back from lack of support. An extreme die roll will provide the spectacular feat aspect, but if you want to exploit it, you had better have support and have it as part of a plan.


Purists might remark that artillery seems to have a higher maximum range in Snappy Nappy than they would expect. Well...not exactly, although we "rounded up" considering that an artillery stand is 24 guns (3-4 actual strength batteries), which means that like infantry, a stand of batteries does not mean each one is lined hub to hub in the same spot. Smaller sections might be moved about, and it is not unusual for sections to be temporarily (or even in error) posted forward.

Most armies used canister at 400 yards range: about 3 inches in Snappy Nappy parlance. So that's where the first range band sits.

Looking at a table from a 1793 artillery test (with brass tubes), "1st graze" -- the point at which a solid cannonball landed -- from a 12 pounder cannon was at a maximum of 1200 yards. Rule of thumb was that the cannonball would ricochet and cover half as much ground, with an 80% chance of another ricochet covering half as much again--about 2100 yards in total. That would be a maximum range.

Maximum 3 pounder range was 900 yards. The second Snappy Nappy range band is 2.1-6 inches. Maximum 6 pounder range was 1400 yards. The next Snappy Nappy range band is at 9". So we made the 12 pounder a maximum range of 12" in order to make a chart cleanly dividing ranges in increments. Artillery pieces larger than 12 pounders were usually used only in siege operations, not field combat.

Next was to find the lethality of the various artillery pieces. Tests from the period showed that 6 pounders were roughly 50% more effective than 3 pounders, and 12 pounders were about twice as effective as 3 pounders. Starting at the canister range, that made the dice: 2 (3/4-lber), 3 (6/8-lber), and 4 (12-lber). Since a 3 pounder only went out another range band, that made lethality only 1 die. The rest of the chart filled in nicely, and playtesting shows that the ratio of lethality worked well in proportion to the movement.

A footnote: an artillerist named Muller calculated that one 6 pounder cannon will kill or wound 164 infantry over a 1600-yard attack. As one artillery stand represents 24 guns, that would make the math: 24*164=3936...roughly a unit of two stands in Snappy Nappy terms!

Let's do the Snappy Nappy wargame math. Infantry in Column moves 6" a turn, so at a minimum, one isolated 6 pounder artillery stand would get 1 die (at 6" range) and 3 dice (at 0" range) of fire at the isolated infantry unit. Of the four dice (each with a "+1" modifier to hit a column), assuming a 50% chance of a successful fire, two would hit, requiring two MCs. In the resulting MC roll (also assuming 50% chance of passing), one of the two would fail, thus requiring a second MC. That would give a 50% chance of repulsing the infantry from a melee (essentially stopping them from contacting in the first place). The next turn, should the infantry attack again, another 3 dice would be fired. Frontal attacks against artillery may not be the wisest tactic in a commander's success book.

Now, if the artillery is properly supported, or if the infantry is of poorer or better quality, you can start to see that the permutations of success depend upon what you bring to the field of battle. And if you bring together a Grand Battery of guns, you can start to see what infantry faced if forced to attack head on. The idea is that the ratio of artillery attacks to infantry moves to damage sustained remains consistent.


Tinkering with the rules mechanics is a time-honored method of correcting perceived inaccuracies. You can certainly create "house rules" and "scenario modifiers" to fit the rules to your perceptions. Be careful of the interconnections--tinkering with one thing inevitably destabilizes another--but tinker away. You'll find that the numbers and ratings and such from the dozen years of playtesting that went into Snappy Nappy are accurate and balanced after all.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail us here at OMM's e-mail address: militarymatters@att.net

Imagine and Create

So, with Snappy Nappy in hand and all the elements discussed in the previous pages, it's your turn to bring Napoleonic warfare to its three-dimensional splendor across a tabletop. Enjoy!

"Imagination rules the world." --Napoleon

More Snappy Nappy


Simple, Subtle & Ultrafast Miniatures Rules for the Napoleonic Era

by Russ Lockwood

Item: 190320
Cost: $29
(while supplies last: includes FREE music CD (Emperor Triumphant) and Napoleon magazine issue 17)
(Published June 2009)

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