Miniatures Rules for the Hyphenated Wars
There are a growing number of rules sets for conducting miniatures wargames of the Hyphenated Wars period. The majority of these are grand-tactical, with brigades as the basic unit of maneuver, a natural function of the sheer size of many period battles, but this is not true of all of them. Presented here are the rules of which I am aware, and those most often seen at conventions, mentioned on blogs, and so forth. Some are well-known, and others less so. An attempt has been made to characterize the various rules sets - as ever, the choice of wargames rules is a matter of taste, and the only way to form a solid opinion about a particular set is to play them.
The list below does not present a review of any of the rules mentioned - any comments are those resulting from an impression based on what other gamers have said, either online or at conventions or other gaming venues. While the list is not comprehensive, it does try to cover all the rules which are commonly used for wargaming the Hyphenated Wars, even if the set in question is not specific to any of its conflicts. The goal here is to help those who are looking for rules get a better idea of the many options available to them.
They Died for Glory: Written by Bob Burke and Dave Waxtel, these are rules for the Franco-Prussian War. TDFG is a game where maneuver units are battalions - as a result, the games are quite detailed in how they depict combat. The rulebook is full of useful information, and is well illustrated with lots of examples. Eleven scenarios and full OBs for the Imperial phase of the war are provided. The games require a large number of figures, but mechanics are simple and play quickly. They do well in 25mm/28mm, which is not always true of grand-tactical rule sets for the period geared more towards the smaller figure scales. TDFG is a personal favorite.
They are no longer generally available, so I quote here a TMP post from May 13, 2017 where Bob Burke provides his contact information for buying them:
I have been working on supplement for the Mexican-American War, the Crimean War, the Franco-Austrian War, the Austro-Prussian War (including the Second Schlesweg-Holstein War), and I someday hope to do a supplement for the last Samurai (Satsuma) Rebellion of 1877.
If anyone would like to contact me directly, I can be reached at Burker1 (at) aol (dot) com. I have copies of the rules for sale and if anyone would like to send me a scenario for one of the periods mentioned above I'd love to see them. Writing the rules is easy compared to coming up with historical scenarios and then playtesting them.
Grand Tactical Rules: There are several sets of rules from this company, all the creations of Bruce Weigle: 1870 (Franco-Prussian War), 1859 (Franco-Austrian and 2nd Schleswig-Holstein Wars), 1866 (Austro-Prussian War), and 1871 (a fast-play version for the Franco-Prussian War). All books include scenarios, examples of play, and attractive graphics. The rules are (as the name might suggest) designed for gaming the large battles of the period. Units are brigade-level formations, and the smaller figure scales (15mm and down) are targeted. Provision is made for fighting smaller battles with the same system. All of these rules sets are reknowned for being excellent resources for the various conflicts, which, given their author, comes as no surprise.
Bloody Big Battles: Chris Pringle has created a set of rules for doing more than just the Hyphenated Wars, but they are well-suited to that purpose. They are grand tactical in scale, and would seem to be better-suited to smaller figures, but are often played with 25mm/28mm figures as well (they have variable ground- and time-scales, and so are very flexible). Maneuver units are typically brigades. The link above goes to Chris' blog, which provides a wealth of information, scenarios, etc. for the system.
Chasspot & Needlegun: Larry Brom (of The Sword and the Flame fame) also did a set of Franco-Prussian War rules, with mods for some other similar conflicts. The link above will take you to a page on the Sergeants 3 website - you have to click the Next button at the bottom of the page to find where they can be purchased. Despite their age, the set is still popular, although more tactical than many more recent rules. They are most often played with large numbers of 25mm figures.
Polemos Franco-Prussian War: Produced by Baccus, known for their 6mm figures, the Polemos rules have two systems, one for actions involving a corps on a side (Commandant de Battaille), and the other for recreating entire battles (Kommandant der Armee). Both are written by Peter Riley. The two are sold as a set, and use a coordinated basing system - specific information can be found at the link above. As you might expect, they are typically played using 6mm figures.
In the Age of Bismarck and Napoleon III: Although out of print, and dating back to 1992, these rules were quite popular in their day, especially for use with 15mm figures. The link takes you to an Amazon page where you may be able to find a third-party seller who has a copy.
Les Gens Braves: This is an older rules set (1988) written by John Mills for the Franco-Prussian War, available from Partizan Press. It is designed for 15mm and 25mm figures, and simulates the conflict at the battalion level.
Rifled Empires: A set designed to refight the large battles of the mid- to late-19th Century, these rules are intended to be used with figures of any scale, from 2mm to 54mm. Available from Wargame Vault, they are part of Morningstar Production's "Tactical Two-Pagers" series. They are inexpensive and distributed as a PDF which will fit on the two sides of a single sheet of A4-size paper when printed.
Fire and Fury-Based Rules
The original Fire & Fury rules for grand-tactical gaming of the American Civil War were (and remain) very popular (some gamers still prefer the original edition, in fact, to the revised Brigade Fire and Fury). They have been modified in many ways, the most significant of which (perhaps) is Age of Eagles (AOE), a Napoleonic variant, now its own stand-alone rules set. The Napoleonic version in turn gave rise to a series of extensions known as Age of Valor (AOV), which is where the Hyphenated Wars enter the picture. AOE and the AOV supplements are the officially approved extension of the original rules. All of the AOV supplements require a copy of AOE to play, but are made available as inexpensive PDFs which can be printed out as desired by purchasers. As of this writing there are extensions to cover the Franco-Prussian War, the Austro-Prussian War, the Crimean War, the Russo-Turkish War (1877), the Russo-Japanese War, and early WWI, with a separate extension for conflicts in the Balkans during that period (now available as a free download here). The AOE website has a series of extension-specific reference portals on their links page which are amazing aggregations of resources on their various topics - far too much material to read for any but the truly diehard!
Fire and Fury has also given rise to Regimental Fire & Fury, ACW rules which have been used as the basis for a series of 1866 wargames of the entire Bohemian theatre of the Austro-Prussian War. These are documented in glorious detail in a pair of books, Wargaming in History Volume 8: The Austro-Prussian War: The Opening Battles and Wargaming in History Volume 12: Königgrätz, both authored by John Drewienkiewicz and Andrew Brentnall. (The link takes you to Amazon in the UK.) The modifications for Regimental Fire & Fury are given as an appendix in the first of the two volumes. These books are priceless for wargamers interested in this part of the 1866 war - they are written for wargamers by wargamers who have gone above and beyond in their recreation of these conflicts. These books are pricey, but worth the money!
Perhaps the earliest extensions to (original) Fire and Fury for the Hyphenated Wars were those produced by the Wyre Forest Wargames Club, a series called Fire and Furia Francese. The extensions are free on their website, and cover the Franco-Austrian War, the Crimean War, the Austro-Prussian War, the Franco-Prussian War, and European interventions in the ACW. A later development is a set of rules called Mit Blut und Eisen, covering all the conflicts of the mid-19th century. The rules are grand-tactical, and can be purchased very reasonably, along with all the related material from the club, in electronic form.
Non-Period-Specific Rules (eg, 1700-1900)
Black Powder: A set of rules covering various conflicts from 1700-1900, there are extension books for some specific periods, although not (at the time of this writing) for any of the Hyphenated Wars. Wargamers do use them for the Franco-Prussian War, generally in 25mm/28mm (as is the case for many of Warlord Games' games). Opinion seems to be divided as regards these rules for Hyphenated Wars conflicts - many voices both pro and con can be found by googling, especially on TMP.
Piquet Field of Battle 2/This Hallowed Ground 2: More perhaps than any other rules system, Piquet generates strong reactions in miniatures wargamers, both positive and negative. Field of Battle covers the period 1700-1900, with stats for (among others) Crimean, Austro-Prussian, and Franco-Prussian Wars. Piquet can be used with any figure scale, and can be applied very flexibly for different levels of battlefield representation. This Hallowed Ground 2 also covers the 19th Century - it is an extension to the core Piquet rules, while Field of Battle is a stand-alone rules set.
Principles of War (19th Century): These rules have been around for a very long time, but seem always to enjoy a following. They are used for several Hyphenated Wars conflicts, in different scales. The link here takes you to Northstar - they are likely to be available from other sellers as well.
Volley & Bayonet Written by Frank Chadwick and Greg Novak, these rules are a highly abstracted set of fast-play rules for recreating entire battles. They are suitable for any figure scale. Coverage includes the period from 1700-1900, and thus the entirety of the Hyphenated Wars. The blog linked to above has a wealth of information for players - the About and Design Notes pages will give you an excellent idea of the thinking behind the design. The rules themselves can be purchased from Amazon if not elsewhere.
Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames: Generally characterized as rules for beginners, this series covers the 19th century (among many other periods), and is used by gamers especially for the Franco-Prussian War. The link takes you to Amazon, where they can be purchased. Gamers may wish to do a search and read some of the opinions about these rules before deciding on them, as my impression is that they are not everyone's cup of tea.
The Portable Wargame: Late 19th Century: A grid-based rules set by Bob Cordery which can be used for any scale of miniatures (used often for 54mm games). Simple and very flexible, there are versions for using squares or hexes. Based on rules first proposed by the august Joseph Morschauser.
Computer Strategies - The Great Powers: Clinton Reilly's Computer Strategies games cover the conflicts of post-Napoleonic Europe in this module, which provides campaign, grand-tactical, and tactical levels of play at the battalion level. There is also support for naval warfare and solo play. Useable with any scale of miniatures. The system may be purchased from the site linked to above.
Carnage & Glory II - Wars of von Moltke: Nigel Marsh has a module for gaming mid-19th Century conflicts as part of his popular Carnage & Glory series. Useable with figures of any scale, 25mm/28mm is probably the most common. Basic units of maneuver are battalions, as with other periods covered by the C&G system. The system may be purchased from the site linked to above.
La Guerre à Outrance: The result of an experiment applying computer-assisted approaches to fast-play miniatures games, this system is designed for 15mm and smaller miniatures (based as for Age of Valor) to produce "chess problem" wargames which are short and decisive, but do not (like many fast-play systems) rely as heavily on abstraction and randomization. Level of play is grand-tactical. Link will take you to an article which provides free access to both the computerized game interface and rules of play (scroll down).