Sunday 6 December 2020

A classic encounter wargame: Verona 1799

No doubt like many readers of this blog, as a young teenage wargamer I didn't refight historical battles. My standard fare was formulaic Napoleonic games in which the two sides would each line up a dozen units and head toward each other to fight over a couple of isolated terrain objectives on an otherwise fairly empty table.

The Verona battlefield
(Map probably circa 1860, hence the anachronistic railway)

The Italian campaign of 1799 provides us with an action that could virtually be the template for this stereotypical symmetrical encounter wargame: VeronaAs Clausewitz says, “It is hard to find another action in such equilibrium in terms of its situation, its course of events, and its outcome. Both sides were divided into two divisions, under the orders of a general who was not the commander-in-chief; both were equally strong; both advanced to the attack; neither could drive the other off the position. We can say that here one force completely neutralized the other, while neither of them contributed to general success. The result was virtually zero.” (Murray & Pringle, Napoleon Absent, Coalition Ascendant: The 1799 Campaign in Italy and Switzerland, Volume1.)

I enjoyed this description so much that I was moved to write a scenario for it. I've deliberately kept it simple to try to recapture that teenage novice gamer feel, but at the same time I think it's reasonably historical. The scenario is in the BBB group files on Gaming opportunities are limited at present, so it has not been playtested, but its simplicity means it should be pretty sound and robust. I hope some readers will get some amusement from it.


  1. An interesting scenario Chris and probably a good one to introduce players to the rules and Napoleonics in general.

  2. Cheers, Steve. Yes, while I generally like detailed historical scenarios with a fair amount of subtlety and complexity to them, simple and straightforward has its virtues too. The games you and Dave F do always look as though you hit a sweet spot in balancing those factors.

  3. Would Verona be at the low end of what BBB can handle? Perhaps even too small a battle?

    1. Thanks for the question. Although it was designed to make the biggest battles feasible as games, BBB works just fine for small battles too, just by changing the troop and ground scales.


Comments welcome!