Neil Thomas is the author of several excellent books on wargaming. He favours a simple, fun approach to rules, avoiding unnecessary detail but including just enough to give the flavour of each period he covers. His two latest books, Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe 1815-1878 and One Hour Wargames, both cover the time of my imagi-nations.
Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe is the more detailed of the two, showing the changes brought about over the period by developments in troop deployment and weapons technology. Artillery goes from Napoleonic bronze smoothbore cannons through rifled bronze guns to steel artillery. Infantry firearms develop from smoothbore muskets to advanced breechloaders via rifled muskets and early breechloaders. The infantry also moves from close order formations to a more open order deployment.
Army lists are provided, with special rules to make each one unique. All this is handled elegantly so as not to increase the complexity of the game.
In addition to several historical scenarios (which are unfortunately of little use to my imagi-nations) it has four scenarios for generating fictitious battles. These use tables which create random forces for both sides, either five or ten units strong.
One Hour Wargames devotes a couple of very short chapters to this period, and goes into much less detail. Opposing armies are identical to each other, the rules appear more interested in showing differences between various historical periods than the differences within a period. I see the rules in this book as a very basic introduction to the hobby or as a solid base from which the player who wants to write their own rules can start.
The true value of this book, which makes it well worth getting, are the scenarios. Thirty scenarios are provided, again using tables to generate random forces, in this case either six, four or three units strong. These use the same categories as Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe does, Infantry, Artillery, Cavalry and Skirmishers.
I will therefore combine the best from both books. The rules used will be from Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe and the battles will be created using the scenarios from One Hour Wargames, but with the tables deciding army composition being rolled on twice for each side, giving opposing armies of twelve, eight or six units depending on the scenario,
With this decided the next step is to work out how many units I need to cover all the possible forces generated by the tables and to model, cast and paint the necessary figures...