War and Peace (game)

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War and Peace Game of the Napoleonic Wars: 1805-1815 is an Avalon Hill board game copyright 1980.


The game War and Peace by Mark McLaughlin – according to BGG listings his first published game – is a multi-player strategic war game from the early 1980s. "Mr Lincoln's War", a similar game of the American Civil War, was also published in the mid-1980s but is now a very rare collector's item. Since the year 2000 Mr McLaughlin has also published several card-driven games for GMT Games set in the Napoleonic period, including "The Napoleonic Wars" (another multi-player strategic game of the whole war), "Wellington" (on the Peninsular War), and "Kutuzov" (on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812).


The functional unit counters, typical of the 1980s, represent strengths of 5,000 infantry, cavalry (representing a smaller number of men but able to move independently), or 6 ships (either warships or transports). The art is colourful and very simple and functional by today's standards.

There are around 50 leader counters, which play a key role in the game, as they are needed to move infantry and are rated for their ability in combat. Apart from a handful of incompetents rated "0" (e.g. Joseph Bonaparte or the Spanish Cuesta), most leaders are rated "1". Most countries have a few leaders of above-average ability, rated "2": Britain has Sir John Moore, France has Davout, Lannes, Soult and Masséna, Prussia has Blucher, Austria has Schwarzenberg and the Archduke Charles, whilst Russia has Bagration, Barclay de Tolly and Kutuzov. Finally Napoleon and Wellington (who were, according to McLaughlin in "The General", "in a league of their own") are rated "3". Most countries have a few "anonymous" leaders rated "0" who are used to move forces when no named general is available. Bernadotte is represented by two counters - he is a French Marshal until 1810, and then Swedish (Russian satellite) thereafter, and as in reality may well find himself fighting the French. There is only one naval leader, the British Admiral Nelson. Some leaders become available during the course of the game, and leaders may be killed in battle.

The map is divided into 4 individual boards: Spain, France, Prussia/Austria and Russia. Turkey and the Balkans are not shown or included in the game (in the campaign game Russia may be required to withdraw troops to fight one or more wars against the Turks; Britain may also be required to withdraw infantry, fleets and transports to fight the War of 1812 against the USA). Many of the scenarios can be played on just two boards (usually Boards 2 and 3). A hexagonal grid is printed on the map and it is common to reference each hex by a series of letters and numbers followed by the board number in parentheses. For example, Paris is CC9(2). There are a number of very well known errors on the board, e.g. Frankfurt am Main is shown in a different hex to the River Main, whilst an erroneous river (allegedly a railway line copied onto the map by mistake) is shown near Kiev. These do not materially affect play. The map shows the boundaries of 1805, with Tyrol and Venetia still included in Austria, and Prussia and Austria controlling Poland (Posen, Thorn and Warsaw are shown as in Prussia) following the Third Partition of that country in 1795.

Aside from the counters and the board, there is a Campaign Game Card, a Player Aid Card, and the rules. There is a leader display on the player aid card (on which stacks of infantry can be kept in their commanding general's box, reducing clutter on the map), while the alliance chart, force pools, and prisoners are on the campaign game card.

Player sides are: France (blue), Spain (yellow), Britain (red), Austria (white), Prussia (gray), and Russia (green). The markers for Fortresses, entrenchments and demoralization are black. Tactical matrix markers (see below) are white.

Strength points are also rated for what the game calls "morale" (a proxy for troop quality). Militia, landwehr, partisans and cossacks rate "0". Regular infantry (yellow lettering for minor countries, or black for Prussian, Austrian or Spanish regulars) rate "1". British, Russian and French infantry (white lettering) rate "2". French and Russian Guards rate "3". The total morale of a force is that of the largest number of strength points within it.

Most minor countries have forces. Some of these (e.g. Denmark, Sweden, Poland or Bavaria) are quite large minor powers, deploying cavalry, leaders (e.g. Bernadotte in his Swedish incarnation or Poniatowski) or fleets. Others are smaller, and some are only token forces (e.g. French forces raised in Spain and Portugal) of a single strength point. Some minor countries (e.g. Poland or Westphalia - northern Germany) do not exist until called into existence by the French player. Minor countries' counters are the colour of their major patron, although with yellow lettering. Some minor countries have two sets of counters, (e.g. Saxony which may be either a Prussian or a French satellite or Holland which may be either pro-British or pro-French, the latter at any rate until she is annexed to France and her forces incorporated into the French force pool in 1810).


There are 10 Scenarios in War & Peace:

  • Austerlitz 1805. Napoleon must overwhelm Mack's forces at Ulm, then march on Vienna and defeat the Russo-Austrian forces.
  • Jena to Friedland 1806-7. Napoleon must overwhelm the Prussian forces in Saxony, but must then conquer the whole of Prussia by the following summer - the Russians can win by holding Warsaw or Konigsberg.
  • Wagram 1809. A resurgent Austria (her army now enlarged with landwehr) invades Bavaria in conjunction with a German rising and a British landing at Walcheren Island. Napoleon, returning from Spain, must defeat all these and march on Vienna again.
  • Napoleon in Russia 1812. Napoleon invades Russia with vast forces (as many French satellite as native French) which may melt away to attrition by the time he reaches Moscow.
  • The War of German Liberation 1813. For the first time Napoleon has to take on Russia, Prussia and Austria at the same time. The game box describes scenarios 4 and 5 as "massive" and "finely-balanced".
  • Napoleon at Bay 1814. With the tiny remnants of his army, Napoleon tries to keep the Allies out of Paris.

Scenarios 4, 5 and 6 may be linked, which gives the French player the option of consolidating his advance at Smolensk instead of trying to defeat Russia in a single year.

  • Waterloo 1815. This scenario is essentially impossible for the French to win - even if Napoleon defeats Wellington and Blucher, he still has large Austrian and Russian forces with which to contend. The rules recommend that the players play the scenario twice, swapping sides to see who does better.
  • The Peninsular War 1808-14. The French Marshals (Napoleon himself is present only briefly in 1808) try to capture every city from Spanish and Portuguese militia and partisans, the latter aided by the small British Army under Wellington. It is commonly held that this is almost impossible for the French to win.
  • The Peninsular War 1811-14. As above, but concentrating on the Allied resurgence.

The tenth scenario is a campaign game, which was added as an afterthought to link the scenarios together. This is very long: there are 120 month-long turns. At the start of the campaign game in 1805 France and Spain are at war with Britain, Austria and Russia, with Prussia neutral. France may win by conquering Russia, Spain or Britain; otherwise victory would be determined by adding up the number of objective cities controlled by each power (Spain doubled for the sake of play balance). The game would end if France is conquered (Paris captured) twice, as after a first conquest Napoleon is deemed to go into exile on Elba, a die being rolled on each turn thereafter until he returns (there is a slim chance that he may be killed by Royalist French troops on his way back).

"The General" Magazine Volume 26 Number 6 introduced a new scenario, Marengo - The Italian Campaign of 1800.

Turn Sequence[edit]

  • French Turn

Attrition Phase Alliance Phase Reinforcement Phase Movement Phase Combat Phase

  • Non-French Turn

Attrition Phase Alliance Phase Reinforcement Phase Movement Phase Combat Phase

  • Advance Turn Marker

Attrition Phase[edit]

Attrition is when forces are reduced in size to represent the effects of disease and desertion. A single die roll is made on the attrition table and then applied to all the hexes where you have forces (as a house rule, some players roll separately for each force to reduce the role of luck). There is a column for every strength value - the larger the force, the more severe attrition will be, but stacks of 5 Strength Points or less are immune, which rewards players for keeping their armies in corps-sized stacks (see below for how such stacks can reinforce one another in combat). There are DRMs that apply (e.g. attrition is more severe in winter, and in Spain and Russia where it was harder for armies to live off the land; all units in their home country get a -1 DRM whereas unsupplied units get a +1 DRM). If more than one strength point is to be lost then one of them must be cavalry if there is one in the hex.

Neutral countries are immune from attrition, enabling a defeated major power to rebuild their forces until they rejoin the war.

Alliance Phase[edit]

Diplomacy takes place in the alliance phase. This system is used to allow nations to ally with one another. Alliances essentially allow you to acquire the use of another nation's forces. Each scenario has its own effects chart. For example, in 1805 Prussia is more likely to enter the war if French forces cross her territory as Bernadotte did in reality. In the 1812 scenario, a roll in the Napoleon in Russia table can allow the French to gain Austrians, cause Prussian and Austrians to desert, force Napoleon to return to Paris to stop a coup d'état, or postpone more rolls on the table until November 1812. In any scenario, a defeat for Napoleon gives a large modifier to the Allies.

If allied to France, a major power may be required to send a small expeditionary force under a randomly chosen commander to aid the French (e.g. La Romana's Spanish force which had to be rescued from Denmark by British ships when Spain changed sides in 1808, the Russian forces which assisted the French invasion of Austria in 1809 or more famously the Prussian and Austrian forces, under Yorck and Schwarzenberg, which assisted Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812).

When there are not enough players to fill out each of the seats in the campaign game, there are rules for automatically determining the outcome of alliances. This is problematic as France receives points for controlling blocs of minor countries (e.g. in Italy and Germany), so it is easy to end up with all the continental powers allied to France. An alternative diplomacy table on www.grognard.com can be used instead for a campaign game with fewer than 6 players.

The War and Peace kit from Dear Valley is also worth studying.

Reinforcement Phase[edit]

Production – There are reinforcements in every scenario, but production rules are only used in the campaign game. Essentially each power receives a number of production points (zero, one or two according to the die roll) for each controlled production city - normally the capital - in the homeland. Each type of strength point has a different cost (e.g. 2 for cavalry, 1 for infantry, or 0.5 for militia or landwehr) in production points. French replacements are increased if Napoleon is in Paris (in between campaigns, obviously), while Britain may grant production points by sea transport, which increases the chances of the recipient allying with Britain.

Some cities, e.g. Prague (part of Austria at the time) may only produce landwehr. Once Spain and Portugal are at war with France, they may produce large numbers of militia and partisans at any city in their homeland.


Leaders have a movement allowance of 10 MP, cavalry have a movement allowance of 4 MP, and infantry 3 MP, although they cannot move without a leader. Infantry units can be dropped off but not picked up during movement. Rivers cost an extra MP to cross (unless there is a friendly city in the hex), making them quite formidable obstacles.

You can attempt to increase movement by 1, 2, or 3 MP using Forced March - the more MPs you try to obtain, the more likely it is that the attempt will fail and you will suffer loss of forces. However French forces have a favourable modifier which makes a forced march of 1 MP almost certain to be obtained, giving French infantry a movement allowance of 4 MP for practical purposes.

Overrun attacks can occur during movement. If you spend 1 extra MP and have 4:1 odds (5:1 odds on a mountain hex), you destroy all enemy units without loss. If you have 6:1 odds you can overrun without spending a movement point.


Essentially, a unit must trace supply to a major city through a chain of friendly strength points (i.e. of the same colour - you can't trace through allies) up to 3 hexes long. A weak French supply chain might be broken by Spanish partisans or Russian cossacks. A supply chain cannot be traced through enemy units, but a unit in a city that is also besieged by enemies is always in supply (albeit subject to more stringent attrition). Unsupplied units' combat strength is halved (round up) when attacking, they may not execute overruns, and there are adjustments to the attrition roll and the forced march roll.

Combats and Sieges[edit]

The active player indicates which hexes he will attack before resolving any combat. If combat takes place in a non-city hex, it is automatically a field battle. A city-hex may have a field battle or a siege depending on the choice of the defending player. Once an attack is indicated at least one combat round must be fought. Between rounds the attacker may attempt to bring up strength points from neighboring hexes to the fight (a 5 or greater including leadership DRM is needed). That unit must be withdrawn from any ongoing combat first (you can withdraw after each round of combat). Thus, forces involved in a particular battle may change from round to round. To illustrate this consider that the French are being attacked by the British in EE7(2) and the Prussians are attacking the French in Lille EE6(2). In round 1, the British fight in EE7(2) and in round 2 the Prussians must fight in EE6(2), but in the next round, the British might withdraw some forces to Prussian-held FF6(2), which will then be available for Prussia in round 2 (assuming the 5 or greater roll succeeds). Round 2 consists of fights in both hexes EE6 and EE7, but now the Prussian siege in Lille is reinforced. This can go on for more rounds until one side is completely eliminated or the battle is broken off. If the attacker stops the fight, the defender (inactive player) can counterattack with the same method (note that in this case, the unsupplied forces of the counterattacking army are not halved). Forces that are adjacent to a battle can participate in the battle without moving to the battle hex - being adjacent is enough.

To resolve combat, you total strength and the largest side divides its force by the smallest side. There are three odds ratios: 2:1 (and up), 3:2, and 1:1. There are rows for each of these in a Combat Results Table. Combat may continue for several rounds, and each round, the player with the strongest force rolls 2D6 applying modifiers for leadership, morale, terrain effects, and (if using the optional rules) tactics. Then you find the result in the table for the relevant odds ratio. Above it will be two columns (like in the header of a table) and the left side applies to the larger force, the right side to the smaller force.

As an example, suppose two armies clash, one led by Napoleon (leader rating 3) and one Bagration (leader rating 2). In the French army there are 20 strength points and Bagration leads an army of 8. Odds then are 2:1 plus and there is a net 1 increase for Napoleon's tactical advantage. Suppose it takes place in a forest hex though, so there is a -1 adjustment as well. Two dice are rolled and the result is an 8. There is no net adjustment so the result for 8 is searched for in the 2:1 row. The result for the larger force is “1” and for the smaller force “D1”. This means that the smaller force is immediately demoralized. The Combat Loss chart is then consulted. Bagration's army of 8 in the D1 Row means 2 SP are lost, whereas Napoleon's 20 lose 2 as well. A "D" result requires that side to lose at least one strength point of cavalry, and the loser must retreat, and must also lose an additional strength point if he is inferior in cavalry to the winner.

Sieges work only slightly differently. 6 Strength Points may take refuge in a major city (4 in a minor city). A city may be assaulted or besieged. If assaulted, the defenders' combat strength is doubled (some players triple them as a house rule, making a strongly defended city even harder to assault), but a garrison of only a single strength point will still be eliminated if it takes any kind of combat loss, making small French garrisons in the Peninsular War vulnerable to Spanish partisans. If besieged, a player puts a siege marker with a value of 1 in the first combat phase and increases it each subsequent combat phase. The besieger may now roll and if the result is less than or equal to the marker the city falls and all units are taken prisoner. The value of siege points taken (which can never be greater than 5) is also added to the attrition roll of the besieged force.

Naval Rules[edit]

They are used only in the campaign game and consist of blockades of ports and skirmishes per sea zone (Baltic, North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean). There is a separate chart to see what happens when fleets come together (an alternative naval combat table was published in "The General"). As in reality, Britain has roughly as many naval units as all other countries combined. Control of the seas is critical for transport in the campaign game. An unwary French player may lose naval bases or even an insufficiently garrisoned Paris to British naval expeditions.

Optional Rules[edit]

The Tactical Matrix allows each player to (secretly) select a battlefield tactic which when cross-checked against the enemy tactic gives a possibility of a positive (or negative) DRM to the combat roll. There are some other optional rules, including a limited intelligence rule (where you don't check stack contents until a battle takes place). There are also a number of variants and FAQs on the net.

A French force commanded by Napoleon may "commit the Imperial Guard" to battle for the coup de grace - the entire morale of the French force is deemed to be "3" for that round of combat, but all losses must come from Imperial Guard strength points. Although this is common, an overstretched French player may decide, like Napoleon at Borodino, that it is better to keep the Guard to fight another day.

Token forces of British, Prussian or Spanish Guards (one strength point each) may be added to the game but these have little effect on play.


R. A. Salvatore comments: "I've played them all and that's the one that had me lying in bed for hours and hours, working up multi-turn strategies for blasting my enemy's supply lines, or creating a back-alley run to Paris. That's the game, with its simple elegance yet multitude of tactics, that offered to me exactly the right amount of information to juggle. Neither overwhelming nor underwhelming, too hot nor too cold, too big nor too small, too soft nor too hard, War and Peace fit this duck's bill."[1]


Many other games have dealt with the same period of time, e.g. Avalon Hill's "Empires in Arms". War and Peace: 1796-1815 is a computer game.

In Glasnost The Game, which was inspired by a Cypriot peace builder, the winner is the player who manages to disarm her territories first. However, to achieve this she first has to conquer them by engaging in wars!


  1. ^ Salvatore, R.A. (2007). "War and Peace". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 356–358. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.

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