I started playing Napoleonics with 20mm plastic Airfix figures in the early 70s, using the rules from Battles with Model Soldiers by Donald Featherstone. I then got the Airfix guide to Napoleonic wargaming by Bruce Quarrie, followed by his Napoleon’s Campaigns in Miniature. Aged about 14 I discovered Heroics and Ros 1/300 scale figures, soon after the range was first released.
I built up French and British peninsular armies, based for Quarrie’s rules without adaptation. That made for some fiddly little units but it was all about the price at the time. After hours painting up the figures, I actually only played a few games before selling them when I was a student in need of funds.
The next rules, and the first that I really played seriously, were System 7, an adaptation by GDW of their ‘Fire and Steel’ rules, released with some very pretty card unit counters. My friend Andy and I played a lot of System 7 and it gave some great games. I still have the rules and the counters. One of these days I might revisit them and see how they stand the test of time.
Then came Avalon Hill’s Napoleon’s Battles, which instantly became our group’s favourite Napoleonics set. We collected 15mm figures, mainly Old Glory, Battle Honours/AB miniatures, Minifigs and Essex. I set out to collect the entire order of battle for both sides at Leipzig and eventually achieved all the troops present on the first day of the battle, but didn’t make Bennigsen’s army or the Swedes. (Of course, the figure scale of one model to 120 men in NB makes this kind of project less crazy). We played endless scenarios based on Leipzig, starting with the official ones in the NB red supplement, then writing our own. I still go back to this battle for scenario inspiration.
In about 1990 I picked up Volley & Bayonet by Frank Chadwick (GDW again) along with the Waterloo supplement, Napoleon Returns. I started a very slow burn Waterloo project using 20mm plastics. It took 20 years to reach completion, changing rules set in the closing stages.
I’ve picked up various tactical Napoleonic rules over the past twenty years, most of which didn’t prompt me to try a game with them. The first set that did so was Lasalle by Sam Mustafa, which I liked so much I started a new collection of 6mm figures, with 40 models per battalion and 16 or 20 to a cavalry regiment.
Having discovered Sam Mustafa, I picked up his earlier Grande Armée and then Blücher, which has finally replaced Napoleon’s Battles in my top grand tactical spot.
In February 2021 I bought the rebooted Lasalle 2 rules. They share some basics with Lasalle 1 but the mechanics are very different. They are my current favourite set.