The Nine Years War - A Variant for Volley & Bayonet

A Volley & Bayonet variant for the Nine Year's War, 1688-1697, also known as the War of the League of Augsburg or the War of the Grand Alliance. Developed by Ed Mueller.


The Nine Year's War is the Rodney Dangerfield of wars: it don't get no respect. There are few direct references to it, and when it is mentioned, it is often followed or preceded by a slash, as in "League of Augsburg/War of the Spanish Succession," or even "Thirty Year's War/League of Augsburg"(!). I would suggest that, for gaming, the armies of the Nine Years War are more "backwards compatable" (the War of Devolution and the Dutch War, maybe a bit before that time) than they are forward. After the reforms of the 1670s, change was evolutionary, not revolutionary. On the other hand, the shift in warfare between 1690 and 1701 is revolutionary. In case you hadn't guessed, I'm of the belief that the Nine Year's War merits it's own rules (or variant, at least).

The Nine Year's War (or War of the League of Augsburg, hereafter referred to as LOA for short) was the last of the general European "pike and shot" wars. Having said this, it is also important to point out that this was also a time of great transition. The LOA armies were on the cusp of two eras, still having some of the spirit and resembling in many ways the armies of the 17th century, but also increasingly mixed with the emerging technologies and military practices of the early modern era. References actually abound to the LOA era, but these references, oddly enough, rarely actually mention the war itself.

So here, to introduce the rules, is my brief (and incomplete) amateur's introduction to the era. Hopefully, it will put some things into context and be helpful. Interested parties are encouraged to look into the sources listed at the end of the rules for more detailed information.

The lead up to the war is complicated and happened at a very interesting time. In 1685, Louis XIV rescinded the Edict of Nantes, which had ensured toleration for French Protestants (Huguenots) since 1598. Thousands left France, and this provocative move alarmed the neighbors of France, particularly the German states and the United Provinces, and also antagonized the Holy Roman Emperor. They formed the "League of Augsburg" in 1686 as a protective measure: original participants were the Austrian Hapsburgs, Spain, Sweden, The United Provences, and the German Duchies and Principalities in Northern Europe. Shortly after, Bavaria and Savoy would join.

When Charles of Lorraine finally turned back the Ottoman threat at Buda in 1686 and Belgrade in 1688, the French had reason to be concerned. With the eastern frontier secured, the Austrian Hapsburg power could be concentrated against France. The French moved into the low countries and the Palatinate as a pre-emptive measure. This prompted the escalation of things into a war.

While this was going on, the Glorious Revolution in England led to the rise of the avowed Protestant, anti-French William III. Catholic, Pro-French, James II (now deposed), fled to France, bringing with him an army of 20,000 mainly Irish ex-patriates, the original "Wild Geese". On the other side of the expatriate coin, French Huguenots served in large numbers, both individually and as stand alone units, in the Armies of the Grand Alliance against France--most interestingly, perhaps, if not numerically, being the "Grand Musketeer" Squadron in the Elector of Brandenburg's Household cavalry: expatriate French "gentlemen" richly uniformed in red (sort of the "anti" Musketeers, in small, to those of the Maison du Roi).

France would declare war on Spain in 1689, causing the "Grand Alliance" to be formed in response shortly thereafter, which included the members of the League of Augsburg along with a few more, like Brandenburg-Prussia, Brunswick-Hanover, and England. At this point, most if not all of Western Europe was arrayed against France: England, the United Provinces (Dutch Netherlands), Spain, the Holy Roman Empire (including the northern German states), Sweden, Brandenburg-Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, and Savoy. The war would go on for 9 Years, and was active on three major fronts: Northern Italy, Flanders, and Spain. Unlike the War of the Spanish Succession, however, the French would win every major battle after the first (which was Walcourt, 1689). Like the War of the Spanish Succession, battlefield victories would not translate into decisive results (nations fought on).

This era has a fascinating mix of units and forces, in the coalition armies in particular. This mix and the breadth of the conflict presents a rewarding, yet overlooked, concentration for gaming. The armies were fairly evenly matched, relatively small, and almost entirely professional. The subsidy system allowed smaller states to maintain sizeable forces, and they specialized in providing military service to client nations (the largest "consumer" nation being the United Netherlands). Consequently, many of the units of the "minor" powers were as proficient as those of the larger powers (as a matter of fact, they composed a significant portion of the armies). Aside from these subsidy troops, armies would have "national" contingents from multiple coaltion partners as well, leading to a varied and colorful force.

The units were "modern" but still evolving. The Imperial and Bavarian Cuirassiers were still in their lobster pot helms and back and breast armor. Other horse were in various stages of armor. In the swings between cuirass and no cuirass, this was more of a "no cuirass" era, but there were exceptions and interesting variatons, like the Wurtemburg Hochstadt horse with their leather cuirasses worn outside, and the Prussian horse--known as "cuirassiers"--with leather cuirasses worn under their coats.

Plug bayonets, pikes, matchlocks, and flintlocks were all in use throughout the period in various degrees. Some Armies, like the Danes, had abandoned the pike and switched entirely to the matchlock/flintlock, while many others still had standard pike and shot infantry formations with a few units of "fusiliers" serving separately.

Experiements and revolutions in military theory and practice that began in the 1670s had matured into common practice during the 1690s, but still had a unique "early" flavor to them. Grenadier companies were standard, but still carried their grenades and retained their specialised roll in sieges and fighting in works. Dragoons increasingly fought in the saddle alongside the horse, but also were commonly dismounted and massed for siege and assault operations, and to hold outlying positions.

Cannon were still commonly referred in terms familiar to the late renaissance and Thirty Year's War : "sakers," "falcons," "culverins," "demi-cannons," etc. Standardization was being introduced, with the familiar shot-weight measure being adopted during this period (4 pounder, etc). A professional artillery corps was in its infancy in all armies of note. Civilian gunners were a thing of the past, but transport was still handled by civilian drivers.

Guns, nevertheless, were idiosyncratic, and many of them were still in service from earlier decades (not at all unusual for a cannon to be in use for a long time like this), so that assumptions regarding the similiarity of two pieces, which might both be categorized as "4 pounder" (for instance), cannot be drawn (one might be "light" and the other "field" in effect). An interesting note on the guns of the period is that each had to be a functional fortification piece as well, necessitating that they have extended barrels that could clear the works. This gives the "late reniassance" look to the artillery of this era, and also added to their weight. The term "light" does not necessarily equate to "mobile".

National uniforms were either being adopted or already had been, many of them in recognizable form: The French and Austrians were in the grays that would morph into the whites of the 18th Century; the Brandenburg Prussians had adopted their dark blue, the Bavarians their cornflower blue, and the English their red (very recently). Some armies, however, like the Saxons, would switch colors after 1700 (so you have to be on your toes if you use WSS references for uniforms). The round hat was in use (another 17th century "flavored" aspect), but was morphing into the tricorn.

The campaigns were very dynamic in Italy (Catinat vs Savoy) and Spain, with small field armies engaging in the full range of operations, including open battles. Major Armies clashed in four major battles in Flanders (Walcourt, Fleurus, Steenkerke, and Landen), and there were many potential "what if?" clashes between major forces that can be explored as well, especially given the multiple oppposing field armies maneuvering for postion within close proximity. There were several occasions, for instance, when armies lined up without engaging. Additionally, there were many siege operations, usually involving a beseiging force and a covering army (army of observation); hypothetical clashes between these armies are not hard to conceive of.

The warrior-king (and prince) was still very much the ethos of the day: the Duke of Bavaria, the Elector of Brandenburg, the Duke of Savoy, and the Duke of Wurttemburg commanded armies in the field. Louis XIV still took the field in the early part of the War, and William III personally led the armies of the Grand Alliance in Flanders. Famous 17th century leaders were still kicking around for the early stages of the war, like Charles of Lorraine. This period had living links to the captain-generals of the late Thirty years war and the wars of the mid century, like Turrenne and the Great Conde. Villars would recall the thrill of witnessing the bootless (due to gout) Great Conde leading cavalry charges at the Battle of Seneffe in 1674. Up and coming were familiar figures among the Grand Alliance, like General Churchill, and Prince Eugene of Savoy. Vauban himself led the Sun King's sieges, and he faced off against the other great military engineer of the period, Coehoorn, at the siege of Namur

This time saw the birth of the English Army. Its oldest regiments' lineage are rooted in the Glorius Revolution, and the first battle honors of the English Army come from the LOA (Steenkerke). The Scot's Grays are held to have acquired their distinctive mounts from a Dutch horse regiment that was redeploying to the continent after the campaign in England. With the rise of William of Orange to the English Throne as William III, the LOA also marked the start of the major engagement of the English Army on the continent, an involvement that would run for the next 125 years (through the end of the Napoleonic wars). During William's campaign in England and Ireland, English infantry had an indifferent reputation (references cite that were it not for William's Dutch and other foreign troops, he would not have carried the fighting), but the signature stubborn fighting qualities the English Army (the foot in particualr) were established in the continental fighting of the LOA (premiering in the bitter fighting in the battle of Steenkerke).

Like the English Army, Frederick the Great's army also had its genesis in the LOA. The recenlty deceased (1688) Great Elector (Frederick William) of Brandenburg had reformed and greatly increased Brandenburg's army into a resepcted force during his reign. Although the Great Elector's successor, Frederick, was not himself a military-minded ruler in the same way as his predecessor, Brandenburg's forces were by then considerable, sought after, and were very respectable contributors to Grand Alliance during the LOA. As a result, Brandenburg would have the leverage to be recognized as a kingdom in 1701, the Elector Frederick then becoming Frederick I, King of Prussia. In 1713, another military-minded Prussian ruler would take over, Frederick William I, who would further advance the Prussian Army into the military machine that his son, Frederick II (the Great) would make history with.

The forces of the "Blue King" campaigned hard in the LOA and were actively involved in coalition armies in Flanders, not just in the south. The charge of the Bavarian cuirassiers, during the battle of Landen checked the French advance (in an overall failing cause).

The French LOA army represents end of the era of the French Army as the dominant fighting force on the continent, a prime that was ushered in by Conde at Rocroi 50 years earlier and cemented in the 1670's when men like Col Martinent (of the Regt Du Roi) instituted reforms and standing procedures that would create the first "modern" standing army. In general, the French LOA-era army was more akin to the force wielded by the Great Conde and Turrenne in the War of Devolution (1667-68) and the Dutch War (1672-78) than the one that was crushed at Blenheim in 1704 by Marlborough. Additionally, French battlefield leadership at this time was on the cutting edge, at least competent and often excellent (Luxembourg never lost a battle). According to some sources, the French Army was a victim of its successes during the LOA, leading it to fail to reform, thus causing the fundamental "mismatch" at all levels that would disadvantage it during the next major war (the War of the Spanish Succession).

To be more specific about the differences between the two eras, and to add a bit more illumination on the armies of the LOA, here are some comparisons to a more familiar era (WSS):

·With a few notable exceptions, the LOA infantry units of the major combatants had a significant pike component (defined as enough to matter on the battlefield, although it was mainly to protect against cavalry); there was no significant pike component anywhere during in the WSS that I know of.

·Bayonets were still being introduced during the LOA, and were of the plug variety; bayonets were just about universal in the WSS, and they were of the socket variety (a huge difference given the impact on the role of the musketeer).

·Although it was being replaced, the matchlock was still present in large numbers throughout the LOA, so you still had, in many cases, the matchlock and pike combinaton of earlier eras; the flintlock was pretty much universal in the WSS.

·Firing drills were still in evolution during the LOA, and there was no distinction, practially speaking, between the opponents, both sides employing fire by ranks, files, or divisions, with musketeers arrayed in five ranks; the different firing systems separating the major combatants of the WSS are well documented.

·Most notably (and perhaps most misrepresented when applying rules from later eras to this one), the French cavalry arm was decisive, and was at least the equal of any other cavalry arm (if not superior). For instance, the main reason William III conducted the difficult march and attack through the broken ground separating the allies and the French at Steenkerke was because it allowed him to avoid the French cavalry. French thinking, from Turrenne onwards, was that the costly infantry fighting was best used to set up the conditions for a battle winning cavalry charge, which is a very different model from the trotting and retreating French "firearm cavalry" model of many WSS rule sets.


League of Augsburg Rules Variant

Unit Types: 

There are Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery units. Dragoons are a special case, but fall into either the Infantry or the Cavalry category, depending on whether they are mounted or not. There are no skirmishers of any kind. 

Infantry: All infantry are mounted on standard linear (regimental, or more accurately, half brigade) stands (3" X 1.5") and are either Pike or Fusilier. The average stand represents a 3 battalion half-brigade. There are no battalion guns (as far as the rules are concerned). 

Pike Stand using 6mm scale  figures

Fusilier Stand using 6mm scale figures

Any infantry unit armed with pike (in whatever mixture) is considered "Pike." Any non-pike infantry unit is considered “Fusilier.” 

Cavalry: “Cavalry” covers all mounted units, including mounted dragoons. “Horse” is a sub category of cavalry that includes all mounted non-dragoon units. All Horse is mounted on massed (brigade) stands (mine are mounted 3”x 2” as opposed to the standard 3”x 3”) and represent brigades of about 10 squadrons. All Horse get shock effect. Cavalry as a whole has three weights. From lightest to heaviest they are: (M) medium; (H) Horse; and (HH) Heavy Horse: 

Medium (M) is for Mounted Dragoons. All cavalry, aside from mounted dragoons and a few HH units, are (H)-weight: H is heavier than M. Heavy Horse (HH) has weight advantage over all, and applies only to a few special horse brigades.

Dragoons: Dragoons can be either mounted or dismounted. Their status at the begining of the battle (mounted or dismounted) defines their status throughout.

Dismounted dragoons are considered fusiliers (note: they are not skirmishers). They are mounted on the same sized bases as other infantry. Dismounted dragoons can be multi SP units (just as other infantry). Dismounted dragoons, however, have a maximum morale of 3. Dismounted dragoons receive a +1 morale modifier when attacking units in works or buildings.

Mounted dragoons are not mounted on mass brigade stands like other cavalry, but are mounted on linear infantry-sized stands (3" X 1.5") as per the single regiment rules in VnB. However, they are not cavalry skirmishers, but they are 1SP cavalry units. Mounted dragoons can have a maximum morale of 4. They are considered (M) medium-weight cavalry. They get no shock or breakthrough, but otherwise function as any other cavalry unit.

Artillery: There are four classes of artillery: Heavy, Field, Light, and Very Light. Guns are represented by different models (or bases only, if you don't want to fool with separate limber models) when limbered and unlimbered and represent groupings of 10 guns, roughly (2SPs). 

My Light and Very Light limbers are .75" X 2.5". My Field and Heavy limbers are slighty more bulky, 1.25" X 2.5". 
Heavy and Field guns are mounted on 1.5” X 1.5” bases.  Light and Very Light guns are mounted on 1.5" wide by 1" deep bases.

Command Stands: Sizes are as defined in the original rules. I use round stands. Substitute the term "wing" for "corps" commander for this era.

Wing and Division Commanders behind the lines. Linear infantry stands are based on 3" wide by 1.5" deep bases. Figures from the collection of Ed Mueller.

Figure Scale: I happen to use 6mm figures, but my variant is not a "reduced scale" variant in terms of stands size and movement. As per the original VnB concept, the number, scale, and type of figures on each stand are a matter of preference and don't influence game play.

Sequence of Play:

As per original rules.

Command Determination:

Is as per original rules except for modified effects for being out of command. Use the following rule in place of the original (note that it is more permissive than the original):

Units not in command:
Units not in command have their movement reduced by 1/2, cannot recover from disorder, cannot go stationary (although don't lose it if they are and don't move), and artillery may not unlimber. 


In this variant, the time scale is approximately halved (roughly 30 minutes per turn as opposed to 60), and there are fewer "free" movments, rendering a more incremented and deliberate movement scheme: it's not a "fluid" battle. All armies are professional, but fall under the "poorly drilled" rule. Similarly, the artillery falls under the restrictions suggested for early (pre Seven Year's War) guns. In short, there are no free facing changes at the beginning of the turn. Infantry and cavalry may freely move 45 degrees obliquely, as per the original rules, but any second oblique (changing direction) costs 1/2 move. Limbered artillery, however, and prolonging guns do not pay to change facing. All guns are Pre-professional artillery. This means that once unlimbered, they cannot be limbered again. The only movement allowed for unlimbered guns is for light and very light guns to prolong 1". Heavy guns should, except for unusual circumstances, begin the game unlimbered (in other words, other than facing changes, heavy guns should be static). 

Movement Rates:
Infantry 8" Heavy Artillery 6"
Cavalry 12" Division Commander  12"
Very Light Artillery 10" Wing Commander  6"
Field, Light Artillery  8" Army Commander 4"
Prolong Very Light 3" Prolong Light Artillery 1"


Summary of Movement Costs and Cases Cost 
Facing Change  1/2 
Small Wheel (2" corner travel or less; start of move only)  3"
Oblique move, 45 degrees, single direction  Free
Second oblique movement (direction change)  1/2 
"Shuffle" 1 stand width laterally maintaining facing  Full Move
Retire facing up to 3/4 move distance straight back (no oblique)  Full Move
Go stationary (infantry and artillery only)  Full Move 
Recover from disorder (begin or end of move only)  1/2 
Unlimber Very Light or Light Artillery  1/2
Unlimber Heavy or Field Artillery  Full Move
Prolong Very Light or Light Artillery (3', 1" respectively)  Lose stationary status
Pivot unlimbered guns  Lose stationary status
Limber artillery  Not Allowed
Leaders do not pay for direction or facing changes.
Limbered artillery and prolonging artillery change facing free.

All other movement rules are in effect as per the original game. Note that since there are no free facing changes, that stationary units lose their status by facing in place (a major departure from the original rules).

Movment Into Contact: As per original rules. Additionally, the prohibition against moving into contact with a unit that the moving unit could not see at the beginning of the turn is modified (as per subsequent suggestions) to read that a unit is only prohibited from moving into contact with a stationary unit that it could not see at the beginning of the turn.

Road and Cross Country Column: Modified a bit, including suggestions for adding the non road column. Units can assume column formation to enhance movement at the expense of security. Columns are formed by placing an infantry or cavalry stand long-wise in the direction of movement and adding stands to extend the length of the unit. 

Cavalry and infantry can assume column for either road or field movement. Artillery can only form road column (limbered artillery only), and then only for road movement. Field columns may enter woods, but may not be formed in woods. Units may not move through woods in field column if such terrain would be prohibited to them or would disorganize them. Field columns have double movement allowance, and pay for terrain encountered (like hill contours and to cross obstacles: see terrain effects for cases). Units that begin the turn on roads have triple movement allowance for the duration of their road movement. Units on roads pay no terrain penalties and suffer no disorganizing effects of the terrain the road traverses. Unless otherwise marked, all towns are assumed to have a road entering and exiting from their cardinal points. Columns can change direction freely without penalty. Units that spend any part of a turn in column cannot engage in offensive combat (fire or melee) that turn. Limbered artillery and artillery in road column that is contacted by enemy is eliminated automatically. Columns have no fire dice, and all incoming fire and contact is treated as if it were flanking for morale purposes. Columns in contact with enemy fight with 1 combat dice per stand in contact.

Artillery Road Column Infantry Column Horse Bde Column
front front front
X * X
(X) (X) (X)

X= Unit stand turned on edge (longwise) in the direction of movement
X*=Normal horse and limber stand (if you have them; otherwise us inf stand)
(X)= Spacer stands

The First stand of a column is the unit stand turned on edge, except in the case of artillery, where it is the normal horse and limber stand. The second and subsequent stands are empty “spacer” stands (equivalent to the size of the leading stands) .Units pay 1/2 move to enter and to exit column.


Most of the morale rules from the original remain in force. The monarch rule is extended to include all Army Commanders (whether or not monarchs). And the other major differences are in the modifiers. Use the following modifiers for this variant:

Stationary Infantry on higher ground  +1
Infantry in building or works +1
Infantry with secure flanks vs cavalry* +1
Infantry meleed from flank/rear** -2
Fusilier meleed by cavalry -2
Pike meleed by cavalry -1
Stationary infantry meleed by cavalry +1
Artillery meleed by cavalry -1
Flank or rear short range fire or contact** -1

* a secured flank is one that is in flush contact with & completely covered by a friendly non-routed unit or blocking terrain (for the attacking unit type, defined as terrain that the unit is prohibited from fighting in or attacking).
** only one flank modifier is applied (infantry suffers -2 for flank or rear attack, others -1; effects are not cumulative for multiple flank or rear contacts).

Meleeing a flank +1
Meleeing unlimber guns -1
Dismtd Dran meleeing bldg or works +1
Commander (wing) attached +1
Disordered -1
Unsupported** -1
Weight disadvantaged cavalry vs other cavalry -1

* for each combat round so used, check for leader casualty after combat is concluded, regardless of the combat outcome; on a roll of 6, the commander is a casualty: remove immediately.
** no unrouted friendly unit within 3"; artillery cannot "support" other artillery. 


All comat mechanics are as per the original rules, except as noted below:

Modified final casualty rule: A one strength point (1SP) unit cannot be eliminated by a single fire combat hit alone. A melee combat hit, however, does count (and will eliminate it). A 1SP unit converts non-melee hits to disorder results as per addendum, and can be eliminated by routing (so a fire hit on a previously disordered 1SP unit will, in effect, will eliminate it, as would two fire hits in a single combat round). 

There are major departures in combat values, modifiers, and tie breakers for this era. Use the following combat tables and not the ones from the original rules:

Combat Tables:

Unit Type Close Range Long Range  Number of Dice
Dist. To Hit Dist. To Hit Normal Stationary
Pike NA NA 2" 6 2 2
Fusilier NA NA 2" 6 2 3
Very Light NA NA 6" 6 1* 2
Light 2" 5 or 6 8" 6 1 2
Field 4" 5 or 6 10" 6 1 2
Heavy 6" 5 or 6 12" 6 NA 2
Battery As per weight As per weight 1* (Hvy NA) 1*
Unit Type Number of Dice
Normal Stationary To Hit
Pike 2 4 6 (5 or 6 shock unit attacking)
Fusilier * 2 4 6 (5 or 6 shock unit attacking)
Horse Brigade 4 NA 6 (5 or 6 versus disordered)
Dragoon 2 NA 6
Artillery: **
Light, Very Light 1 2 5 or 6 (elim if loses)
Field 1 2 4, 5 or 6 (elim if loses)
Heavy 1 2 5 or 6 (elim if loses)
Battery 1 1 per weight (elim if loses)

*Fusilier includes dismounted dragoons **no dice vs flank or rear melee

Melee Tie Breakers:

(highest modified morale + modifiers below + 1d6: high roll wins)

Inf with elites vs inf without +1
Undisorganized Fusilier vs Cav +1
Artillery vs Cav -2
Numerical advantage* +1
Fusilier vs Pike +1
Undisorganized Pike vs Cav  +2
Supported Artillery** vs Inf +1

*two or more strength points greater than opposing side (NA for combat in buildings & works).
** flush rear contact with undisorganized friendly Infantry.

Saving Throws: As per original rules with the exception that cavalry withdrawal is limited to one 6" withdrawal attempt (to remove one hit, even if more were sustained).

Division Exhaustion: As per original rules.


As per original except for the addtion of a new terrain class (hamlet) and the incorporation of clarifications on towns and villages:

Hamlet: Too small to be occupied in the sense of villages and towns, but provides a piece of blocking terrain against cavalry and negates negative flank effects from both fire and melee from that quarter for an infantry unit that has its flank in flush contact with the hamlet (counts as occupying the hamlet). Only one side can benefit from the same hamlet (whoever is first). By themselves, they do not block line of sight or the movement of artillery or formed troops. Cavalry, artillery, and infantry may move through unoccupied hamlets without being disordered (in fact they open ranks slightly and move around them) and may end their move with part of the base on the village. The hamlet is considered to be an extension of the unit for purposes of close combat (to contact the hamlet is to contact the unit). For fire purposes, however, the infantry stand itself must be targeted. For fire purposes, hamlets do not block line of fire. Hamlet terrain pieces should be small, no larger than 2" X 2", to prevent anomalies from cropping up 

Infantry unit occupying a hamlet

Fire is calculated based on the actual unit stand.

Hamlet does not block fire, but does negate flanking effects (fire and melee). Contacting the hamlet = contacting the unit 

No cavalry attack possible from this flank

Town and Village: Units are disordered upon entering if not in column. (already disordered units not further disordered). Cavalry and Artillery in town have no combat dice (automatically lose if meleed). Counts as "blocking terrain" for securing flanks of infantry vs cavalry. Only infantry may occupy. Infantry defending town receives saving throw against all but heavy artillery and a morale benefit (+1). May fire one dice out of each side, up to maximum fire dice. Town capacity is two infantry units. Village capacity is one infantry unit. When multiple stands occupy the same town block, each stand checks morale separately but are all considered to be a single unit for melee. That is, all units in the town may fire at any units attacking any unit in the town and all losses on both sides are compared to determine the winner. If the attacker wins, all surviving defening stands are ejected from the town. If the defender wins all attacking stands are driven back in disorder. Towns and villages negate numerical advantage.

Works: As per original rules. Additionally, works negate numerical advantage.

General Notes on Armies and Forces for Nine Year's War:

Infantry: The average infantry unit should be morale 4. Crack and good infantry units should be morale 5. Guards of minor powers should be morale 6. Guards of major powers and a few others (like the Brandenburg-Prussian Fusilier Leibgarde) should be morale 6 shock units. I rate all English infantry as morale 5. For the French, I rated half brigades with Vieux regiments as 5, Irish and Swiss in French service as 5, and a few selected units, like the Regt Du Roi, as 5; the rest are 4. Most infantry units should be 2SP (roughly representing 3 bns at field strength). Units with big battalions (typically guards units were both big and kept at full strength), and half brigades including or composed of multi battalion regiments (like "royal" regiments of any but English), or just plain big units (4 or 5 battalion stands as opposed to 3) could also be represented by 3SP units. English foot should always be 2SPs. As far as fusilier vs pike, the Danes, Bavarians, Imperial (Austrian) and Huguenots in English service were without the pike. The English Army had at least 2 regiments (battalions) of Fusiliers (the Royal and Scotts), and the French had 5. The Brandenburg-Prussian Army had the "Fusilier Leibgarde" regiment (multi-battalion) without the pike. You will run across a few more if you study the era. This roll up, however, covers the major cases. Unless otherwise specified, all other infantry can safely be considered pike. A final note on morale grades.

Remember that most regiments in this era were single battalion units, so rating half brigade stands composed of 3 battalions should take into account the whole as opposed to just a single unit (although an argument can be made for saying that the highest morale unit would influence the peformance of the whole). The same holds true for cavalry, where there are even more squadrons in a stand. Finally, there was a substantial Swedish force in Dutch service; for those who wish to model Swedish differently than others to reflect their Ga Pa tactics--the aggressive advance with only a single volley before closing--I would suggest that they be rated morale 5, have 1 fire dice (both staionary and normal), and roll 1 extra melee dice when attacking.

Cavalry (Horse): The standard horse unit should be morale 5 and "H" weight. Dutch cavalry of the period had a bad reputation and should be morale 4 "H" weight (alternately, one might rate it morale 5 but downgrade it to "M" weight). Most guard or elite cavalry brigades, defined as being composed predominantly of elite horse squadrons, should be morale 6 (the composition of such a unit would have to be based on your judgement as to whether sufficient squadrons existed and if they would likely be brigaded together: my best example is that I did put together a morale 6 Brandenburg-Prussian cavalry brigade composed of the Leib Cuirassiers, Trabant Guard, and Grand Musketeer squadron). Another elite cavalry brigade that existed after 1692 was the French Carabinier brigade: morale 6. Special elite or guard cavalry should be rated morale 6 and weighted "HH": the only ones I have created like this are the French Gendarmes and Maison du Roi, and the English Lifeguard brigade (which includes the Dutch Guard de Paard). The standard cavalry brigade should be 3SPs. Smaller brigades might be 2SPs.

Basically, all horse units of the period are heavy. Cavalry brigades represent massed brigades of roughly 10 squadrons, which comes up to a ballpark figure close enough to 1,500 to warrant the size (add a few squadrons if the number comes up a bit shy). The number of actual regiments being represented varies wildy; most regiments were composed of 2 or 3 squadrons, so a horse brigade stand might represent up to 5 different regiments--the actual operational unit, however, was the squadron, so other than for aesthetic purposes (you have to paint them to look like something and call them by some name), the actual regimental organization is irrelelvant. The squadrons are the thing. Thus, the character of a brigade will often be a judgement call based on the composition of its components. My stands have two regiments represented and are named for those.

Artillery: The standard morale for gunners should be 4 and each gun brigade should be 2SPs (representing a concentration of roughly 10-12 guns; they were called "brigades" by some armies; during this time, the term "brigade" was as much verb as it was noun: guns, battalions, and squadrons were "brigaded" for battle). As far as the mix goes, a good rule of thumb would be one actual gun for each 1,000 men in the army. For a 50,000 man army that works out nicely to 50 cannon, or five gun brigades. According to Lynn, "an ideal train for a French army of 50,000...included four 24-pounders, six 12-pounders, twenty 8-pounders, twenty 4-pounders." This works out nicely in this variant to five gun brigdes: one heavy (the 24 and 12 pounders together), two field (the 8 pounders), and two light category (twenty 4 pounders). For variation, you might drop one of the field brigades to light, and drop one of the light brigades to very light. If that example doesn't work for you, you might follow a more general ratio based on Chandler: 10 % heavy, 30 % field, and 40 % light and very light (I would split Chandler's "light" among light and very light). For gaming purposes, the rule of thumb would be 1 actual gun for each two SPs, which works out to be 1 gun brigade for each 20SPs. To ensure a good mix of "very light" guns, which are in lieu of battalion guns for this time, I would say that there always would have to be at least as many "very light" brigades as "light"--odd numbers would favor the "very light" over the "light" (so 3 light category gun brigades would wind up being 2 "very light" and 1 "light").

Army Composition: First and foremost, it is important to recognize that these were small armies (compared to later eras), but that they were also professional (even the so called "minor" powers' forces were, by and large, the equal of their counterparts in larger armies). Additionally, the system of subsidizing troops and hiring out, along with coalitions and dynastic associations, meant that fascinating mixes of forces were to be found everywhere: for instance, nearly the entire Brandenburg Prussian Army, to include Guard units, was in Dutch service at one time. 
Cavalry made up about 1/3 of the actual field army as a rule, but could go higher. Regarding the actual number of formations, the ratio was about three squadrons to each battalion in an army (remember that a squadron would be roughly 130 to 150 men vs a battalion which might be as large as 1,000, so even at three squadrons to one infantry battalion, the infantry would still outnumber the horsemen, head for head). Large armies of the day ranged in the 50,000s. The battle of Landen was especially large, seeing 80,000 French against 50,000 (plus) Allies. 

Here are some examples of representative armies: Luxembourg's Army in Flanders in 1691 was 49 battalions and 160 squadrons. William III, in that same year, commanded 63 battalions and 180 squadrons (56,000 men). Louis XIV commanded an Army in the 1692 campaign composed of 40 battalions and 90 squadrons while Luxembourg's assembled army for the same campaign consisted of 66 battalions and 205 squadrons (!). In game terms, keep in mind that the cavalry stands represent massed brigades, so on the surface, there might not seem to be as many stands of cavalry as these proportions would indicate, but there are three times (or more) the number of actual units (10 or more squadrons) represented in those massed cavalry brigades than there are in the infantry half brigade stands (3 battalions). 

My advice is to count squadrons and battalions rather then "heads" when putting your units together--the law of averages will take care of the oversized or undersized units that might get rolled up in the totals. This method also sidesteps the difficulty in finding hard unit information on this era; it's one thing to count battalions, it's another to get a reliable reference on unit strengths (especially given the polygot nature of a force). As noted for the various types above, you can always make an infantry half brigade a 3SP unit if you know it is "oversized" in some way. In short, the "default" infantry half brigade represents 3 battalions and should be 2SPs, morale 4, and the "default" cavalry brigade represents 10 squadrons and should be 3SPs, morale 5, H-weight.

This was, more than any other era I can think of, the heydey of the guards. The proportion of guard to line units in this period is unlike any other I can think of. The unique combination of the old (the 17th century and prior royal and aristocratic perogative) and the new (the modern standing army and the standardized formations and organizations), led to this, I think. The sovereign, be he a king, a duke, a prince, or an elector, would, as a matter of prestige, raise the best, often biggest, regiment--or regiments--in the army, and he would employ the state's resources to ensure that these units were kept at full strength. Instead of raising a bodyguard of horse or of foot which may fight, as in previous wars of the century, now they were raising battalions and cavalry regiments that held position in the lines of battle. Combine this with the relatively small size of the armies of the era, and you have a time period where the guard corps were very much in the thick of things. It's not that there were fewer guards during the WSS and later periods, for instance, but that the ratio of line units to guard units in the larger armies of later periods would make the proportions quite different. 

Here's a good example: at the battle of Fleurus, Luxembourg had 34 infantry battalions, among them was the brigade Seguiran, which had 4 battalions of French Guards and 2 battalions of Swiss Guards--if you just count formations, 20 percent of the infantry battalions, roughly, were guard. The French weren't unique in this. Add to the number of formations the fact that guard formations were often larger than their counterpart line formations and that they were usually kept at full strength besides, and you have an idea of the central role these formations could play in the battles of the era. They weren't so much the last reserve of the army as much as they were the heart of it. 

The horse of the era in general seemed to have a unique prestige, and many of the units, whether actually "guard" or not, seemed to have been considered elite or "above average" based on the trappings and trimmings of their uniforms (gold hat lace and whantnot, usually a sign of special status). In short, the most obvious case of mounted guards comes from the French, who had a large body of elite horse to draw on. The Maison du Roi represents a body of nearly 2,600 elite cavalrymen by itself; they were brigaded with the Gendarmie, who could easily increase the total to 4,000 elite horse who were committed en masse. This could represent as much as 25 percent of the total cavalry force for an army of 50,000. After 1692, the French converged all their carabinier troops from the line cavalry regiments into massed carabinier brigades, creating yet another class of elite horse. The Williamite army had its elite horse brigade with its Lifeguards (including the Dutch Guard de Paard), and even so called "minor" powers had viable household or elite cavalry contingents. 

It doesn't get any better for gaming, I think, when you can, with a straight face, field colorful formations like the Wurttemburg Leib Guard Cavalry in their yellow jackets and silver cuirasses, regardless of whether or not you rate their overall brigade elite or not. That is another beauty of the scale and the period.

Designer's notes regarding the rules and why the way they are:

I'm not a fan of what I call the "civil war chess set" approach of some multi-period wargame rules, rules that suggest little or no distinction between eras other than changing the figures out (about as satisfying as plunking down Civil War figures on a chess board and calling it Gettysburg, as far as I'm concenred). This is not to say that I'm averse to a core rules system that addresses different eras, so long as the distinctions between the eras "feel" right and are significant enough to warrant playing one era vs another. VnB, I believe, is an example of the right way to manage multi-period effects. As far as the possible range of use for these rules, this variant could probably work, with minor adjustments, for the war of Devolution, the Dutch War, and the War of Reunions.

I prefer to rely on unit ratings (morale as a measure of effectiveness) to forecast individual unit performance over absolutes built into the rules, but am also averse to the extreme form of this kind of design which produces "uber" units that have game breaking performance built into them, regardless of how they are handled. Even the best units have strengths and weaknesses, and I think that context, how the unit is employed, should influence performance. So there are a few exceptional units, but more importantly, it is the average unit, in concert with other untis, that wins battles. Non guard units, should be able to be formidable, too, provided they are employed effectively (probably the dominant thought for everything in the rules).

At the army and wing (corps) level, I prefer the idea of presenting a series of benefits and drawbacks (hopefully that reflect the period) that a player is free to either ignore or take advantage of in order to manage the battle as opposed to an elaborate set of constraints that dictate deployments and arrangement of units. In this way, a player can still choose a novel approach, but will have to find ways to overcome period limitations (or accept and account for them) as part of such a plan. 

In short, I'm of the belief that the mechanics should reinforce the era, making for a transparent period effect built into the system. Unfortunately, this can frustrate some players who might approach the game as if it were an extension of another era: this variant will play something like the WSS or SYW, maybe a bit like ECW or TYW, but not completely like them. The player who is new to VnB might actually be better off than the one who has "bad habits" to break when approaching this variant. My advice is to look over the charts and variant carefully and accept the fact that this is a much more deliberate, or gradual, kind of battle. Additionally, I will admit that there are some changes in this variant that go beyond the effects of the era. That seems to me to just be the nature of the beast: old wargamers are always tinkering with rules, and these are no different. Take what you like and leave the rest.

I've seen other VnB variants suggested for pike and shot that propose having multiple stands (of separate pike and shot) to represent pike and shot units. This seems to me to be a move away from the "one stand, one unit" approach that is at the heart of VnB. I think that one of the great strenghts of the VnB scale lies in its ability to represent complex units (like mixed pike and shot) precisely because of it's one unit = one stand approach. My variant, rather than adding stands, adjusts the unit effects to reflect the different era (the number of fire and melee dice, morale modifiers, tie breakers, etc). 

I think, as a matter of fact, that VnB has fantastic potential as a set of rules for the entire pike and shot era. You would not have to worry, for instance, about how to represent a tercio, or a Swedish brigade, or any other mixed unit aside from the shape and size of the stand and the unit effects it would have. 

For those interested in the Renaissance, Thirty Year's War, English Civil War, the Cossack Rebellion, the Ottoman-Hapsburg Wars, I hope to work on variants for those when I get some time (alternately, I am open to suggestions from interested parties with expertise on how to modify this variant to reflect earlier eras). 

Finally, I wish to add the standard disclaimer, albeit a heartfelt one. There are many other variants and approaches to these issues out there, many of them that are excellent and which provided inspiration for the things I have done here. This variant simply reflects my preferences on these issues, and is not intended to suggest that other approaches are "wrong" or of less validity than mine. 

I invite your feedback. Send to:

Ed Mueller (2003)

Ed's Partial Bibliography for gaming in the War of the League of Augsburg:

You will notice many references which do not appear to be "on topic." This is symptomatic of the era, but there is a great deal of information available "at the edges" of references that explicitly deal with other eras, most notably the War of the Spanish Succession--usually in the "background" material. 

1) Barthorp, Michael. Marlborough's Army 1702-11. Osprey: London, 1988
2) Brolin, Gunnar. Swedish Mercenary Forces: War of the League of Augsburg from 18th Century Military Notes & Queries No3 found on Magweb ( Partizan Press, 2001.
3) Chadwick, Frank and Novak, Greg. Volley and Bayonet. GDW, Inc: Bloomington, 1994.
4) Chandler, David G. Atlas of Military Strategy. Free Press (Macmillian): New York, 1980.
5) Chandler, David G. The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough. Sarpedon: New York, 1994. 
6) Chartrand, Rene. Louis XIV's Army. Osprey: London, 1988.
7) Childs, John (General Editor, John Keegan). Warfare in the Seventeenth Century. Cassell & Co: London, 2001.
8) Embleton, Gerry and Tincey, John. The British Army 1660-1704. Osprey: London, 1994.
9) Gardiner, Samuel Rawson. Gardiner's Atlas of English History. Longmans, Green and Co: London, 1902.
10) Grabsic, Z and Vuksic V. The History of Cavalry (translation of Die Geschichte der Kavallerie). Facts On File, Inc: New York, 1989.
11) Grant, Charles Stewart. From Pike to Shot 1685-1720. Wargames Research Group: Lancing, 1986.
12) King, Ben. Fusil and Fortress: Being an Account of Warfare During the Time of His Grace The Duke of Marlborough. Benjamin D. King (Systems Analysis): Newport News, 1977.
13) Knotel, Richard. Uniforms of the World (1700-1937). Scribner's: New York, 1980. 
14) Koch, H.W. The Rise of Modern Warfare: From the Age of Mercenaries through Napoleon. Prentice Hall: N.J., 1981.
15) Lynn, John A. The Wars of Louis XIV. Longman (Pearson Education, Ltd): London, 1999.
16) Moore, Anthony. The Army of Brandenburg Prussia 1685-1715. Gosling Press: Pontefract, undated.
17) Nafziger, George, The Nafziger Collection (17th and 18th Century Catalogs). See
18) Sapherson, C.A. The British Army of William III. Partizan Press: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, 1997.
19) Sapherson, C.A. The Danish Army1699-1715. Raider Books: Leeds, 1990.
20) Sapherson, C.A. The Dutch Army of William III. Partizan Press: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, 1997.
21) Sapherson, C.A. The French Cavalry 1688-1715. Raider Books: Leeds, 1990.
22) Sapherson, C.A. The Imperial Cavlary 1691-1714. Partizan Press: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, 1997.
23) Sapherson, C.A. The Imperial Infantry 1691-1714. No publication data, but probably Raider Books (as above).
24) Spindler, Martin Andrew. The Army of Hessen Kassel 1650-1700 from 18th Century Military Notes & Queries No2 found on Magweb ( Partizan Press, 2001. 
25) Schorr, Dan and Tyson, Mike. Dutch Colors and Standards of the War of the Austrian Succession from The Courier no 63 found on Magweb ( Courier Publishing, Co, 1993.
26) Wise, Terrance and Rosignoli, Guido. Military Flags of the World 1618-1900. Arco: New York, 1978.
27) (anon.) The Blue King's Little Army: Bavaria 1680s from The Courier Vol IV No 5 found on Magweb ( Courier Publishing Co, 1983.

Useful Websites:
1) Nec Plurbis Impar (indispensible source for OOBs and information on the French Army):

2) Daniel Schorr's Northern Wars site (much information on Danish Army and lots of other useful material that can be gleaned for LOA):

3) Keith McNelly's Volley and Bayonet Page (go here for many official and non official revisions and updates to the VnB rules, many that I have incorporated into my variant).

4) Warflag (the source for flags--many WSS can be applied to LOA):

5) The Spanish Tercios 1525-1704 (much information beyond the Tercio, to include a wealth of information on other armies, tactics, organizations, and battles, including the LOA era):

6) Many, Many, Military History Links here:

7) Scans of French Army Uniforms of 18th Century: especially good for flags (which tended to not change very much--double check if you can):

8) Eric Veitl's Tricorne page:

9) Roly Herman's 18th Century French Army Page:

10) Land Forces of Britian (individual regimental histories--much good information to be gleaned here):

11) Army of the Duke of Savoy at Marsaglia (good site with lots of good uniform information for both the Savoy units and foreign contingents):

Yahoo Newsgroups:

An indispensible source of not only consultation and advice but also many, many useful files and downloads to be had:

LaceWars - The LaceWars list is devoted to Horse & Musket Wargaming, and warfare in the 18th century up until the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

REMPAS - A list to discuss, (Renaissance, Early Modern, Pike and Shot)

vnblist - Group supporting the Volley and Bayonet miniatures rules set by Chadwick and Novak 

warflag - Being a discussion arena for military vexilology, primarily for wargamers and military historians. Exchange forum for prints and other information useful for designing paper flags on computer for use with military miniatures.