2 by 2 Napoleonics – Questions following our play test

We enjoyed our play test of 2 by 2 Napoleonics but were left with some questions. Because they are quite long and detailed I thought I’d post them separately to the battle report.


Deploy only 25% of the force on table

By default only 25% of each force starts on table. 10AP out of 40AP.

The defender places 10AP of units within 6″ of his base edge but no closer than 3″ to the side of the board.
The attacker places 10AP of units within 6″ of his base edge but no closer than 3″ to the side of the board.

There is an option to get more troops on table at the start but this is quite rare (1 chance in six on first die deployment roll):

Each player rolls 1 D6. If the dice are tied then each player may place an extra 10AP at the start of the game. Players then re-roll, it is possible in this manner for all the AP’s to be setup at the start of the battle eventually.

We weren’t convinced all corps level actions were like this. We thought more troops should be on table at the start. Perhaps 50% i.e. 20AP out of 40AP.

Terrain placement

We didn’t really know what to make of this …

Location may be determined by die roll (1 to 6 indicating which quadrant it should be located in) or by mutual agreement

Features should be placed in the following order, placing them nearest to the edge rolled for.


Reinforcement movement in turn of arrival

It wasn’t obvious to us what happens after a reinforcement arrives on table. Can it move or can’t it? We decided not.

But on re-reading this section the rules mention:

It costs 1″ worth of movement front base fully lined up with the board’s edge to exit the board.

So I guess they have a restricted movement upon arrival. But the rules could certainly do with improved wording to make this clearer.

What is the value of reinforcement points on the flank

2 by 2 Napoleonics says:

Evolving battlefield.
Napoleonic battles were rarely “set piece” battles. Units would arrive in clumps and make their way towards the front, often arriving from the flanks. This gives a very different feel than a battle where the units are all lined up facing each other at the start.

Seemed fair enough so Jamie put a reinforcement point on the flank. But because of Adam’s deployment this had to be on Jamie’s side of the table. In hindsight this was a bad idea as it meant:

  1. It look longer for Jamie’s troops to arrive
  2. Jamie’s troops, once they arrived, were congested on a table edge
  3. The entire battle was fought along that table edge and most of the rest of the table was not used

A reinforcement point on the enemy side of the table might be of value. But this is unlikely to happen. So we decided we’d all put reinforcement points on the base table edge in future. That begs the question … what are the flank reinforcement points for?



Can troops interpenetrate? We assumed not except when routing. This meant the Anglo-Portuguese suffered congestion due to having two reinforcement points immediately behind their line.


Firing through a gap

There are no rules about firing through a gap. So we had a situation where an British artillery unit fired through a gap about 1/4 of a base width wide. 2 by 2 Napoleonics doesn’t prevent this, but it did seem too generous to me. Many rules have a minimum gap through which a unit can fire. Often this is something like the corners of the firing unit have to see the corners of the target unit, with no blocking terrain or friendly units in that zone.

What is uphill?

2 by 2 Napoleonics gives a bonus for being up hill / higher. For both firing and melee:

  • Firing: Target is downhill of shooter +1
  • Melee: Higher than opponent (IE: uphill) +1

The question is, what is uphill? This is a problem that plagues all wargaming rules.

The rule say:

When the rules ask for a range to be measured or to see if a units is within X inches of a unit then the measuring point is the center of the nearest face to any edge of the target base.

Adapting this to the question of being uphill, we assumed: when comparing two units, the higher one is closer to the crest of the hill measuring from the the center of the nearest face to any edge of the enemy base.

Melee against Flank or Rear

2 by 2 Napoleonics penalises shooting from a flank and reward shooting into a flank, but flanks are irrelevant for melee.

  • Shooting out of flank or rear -2
  • Target is fired on flank +1

I can understand this for cavalry attacking infantry, where the sub-units are assumed to be in square. But for other combinations it seems unreasonable. We had a situation where a French infantry unit hit a British unit in flank and got no benefit from this. It seems odd.

Remember infantry can turn to face when charged so it is impossible to “catch” a unit in the flank except if you charge the unit with two attackers.

Teleporting after defeat

After melee the loser aligns to the front of the winner and then routs away. In the case where the attacker attacks a flank or rear, then loses, it teleports to the front of the defender to rout away. Seems odd. A similar rule applies for the defender losing but with less unusual / teleporting results

After a melee occurs if the attacker was routed/ destroyed then the defender does not change facing, but the attacker is aligned in face to face contact with the defending unit and routs directly away. If the defender was routed then the defender aligned himself in front base to base contact with the attacker first and THEN routs directly away from the enemy.

Routing General

What happens if a HQ is touching a unit that routs? We assumed the HQ stays put without routing. Some rules talk about General stands “attaching” to units, but this set limits itself to “touching”. This did have the odd effect that, when a French unit routed, the French HQ found itself isolated in front of advancing Anglo-Portuguese.

Victory conditions

Incentive for the attacker to attack

Both sides have the same victory conditions:

“Fast” games are lost by the first player who has 5 units destroyed.
“Decisive” games are lost by the first player to lose 5 units or more AND who has lost 2 more units than his opponent.

These kinds of victory conditions can easily lend themselves to a stalemate. Both sides deploy on favourable terrain and hope the other blokes feels lucky enough to advance.

So we thought the attacker needs an incentive to attack. There are possibilities here:

  • Time limit: Normal victory conditions apply but the attacker loses within X turns if there is no result
  • Reinforced attacker: Attacker gets bonus troops. The assumption is that the attacker will have to fight into unfavourable terrain so will take casualties. And if, for example, they got +10AP to their army (50AP total) and these bonus troops started on table (20AP on table versus 10AP of the defender) they would probably have a go.

British under 2 by 2 Napoleonics

British cannot fire then charge

The British tactics were to deploy on a hill, wait for the French to advance within close range, fire a volley at point blank range, then charge downhill. Usually the combination of an enemy who were stoic in the face of their advance, the brutal casualties once they got close, and threat of the bayonet would send the French reeling back.

2 by 2 Napoleonics do not explicitly support this tactic. The British can hold their fire until contact. Check. They get a bonus to their firing roll for fire fire. Check. But they then become pinned so there is not option to charge. Hmmm.

Any Infantry unit that shoots is automatically pinned and is marked as such immediately upon firing.

It is possible that British tactics are simulated at a lower level. For example the devastating fire at close range, from up hill, will rout or destroy the advancing French and we can assume part of this is as a result of a charge not explicitly simulated.

British Light Infantry are not Light Infantry

2 by 2 Napoleonics includes specialist Light Infantry fighting in skirmish mode:

Light Infantry – These are relatively rare full skirmishing units. Not to be confused with small packets of skirmishers which comprise many units of the period. Light Infantry treats any result due to shooting as a PINNED result. In other words a light infantry unit cannot be routed or destroyed due to shooting. In addition Light Infantry may during its movement phase voluntarily ROUT. This is particularly useful if pinned in a vulnerable position. However it should be noted voluntarily routing units are still destroyed on a 1 or a 2 as per the routing rule.

Light infantry are rubbish in melee:

Unit is Artillery/HQ/Light Infantry -3

Remember that “Each unit represents a regiment or in some cases a brigade” with “common sized [units] between 800 and 1999 rank and file”. So Light Infantry units are brigade sized units fighting in skirmish formation.

The British army list provided by 2 by 2 Napoleonics includes a high proportion of Light Infantry:

0-12 Line Infantry 2AP
0-4 Light Infantry 3AP
0-3 Guards/Grenadiers 3AP

I guess these Light Infantry units represent the British Light Division. However, given the definition and characteristics of Light Infantry in 2 by 2 Napoleonics, I don’t think the British Light Infantry should count as light infantry. They were trained to fight in skirmish formation but they actually fought more like shock infantry.

The British army had a high proportion of skirmishers but these were drawn from the light companies of battalions plus specialist companies. Perhaps 2 by 2 Napoleonics is trying to represent these with the Light Infantry units in the army lists. But they are not brigade sized formations, they were integral to brigades.

Something is wrong here.

Peninsular War Army Lists

Need some specific army lists for the Peninsular War:

  • Anglo-Portuguese
  • Anglo-Spanish
  • Spanish

4 thoughts on “2 by 2 Napoleonics – Questions following our play test”

  1. I have really enjoyed reading your analysis of these 2×2 rules along with ideas for possible adjustments.


Leave a Reply