Sunday, 17 July 2016

Commit the Garde Rules Review

Commit the Garde are rules for grand tactical Napoleonic wargaming written by Gavin Tovrea. I found them on Wargame Vault at The are only available by pdf as far as I know and sell for the princely sum of $10.  The rules are 26 pages and you get a scenario builder and army lists that run another 20 pages. There are 2 scenarios included for Valmy and Corunna. There is a growing catalog of scenarios being published by Mr. Tovrea, also available on Wargame Vault at about $3 a piece.

Quatre Bras

Rules summary


The game is scaled for large battles. The scenarios are designed to fit on 6'x4' tables using 4" hexes. Each hex = 500 yards. The units are brigade level with each unit being represented by a number of stands. I use 4 infantry on a 20mmx25mm base and 2 cavalry on a 25mmx25mm base. Units are 3 to 6 bases in size. As the game is played on hexes, it allows any basing system to be used. Generals are Corp or Wing Commanders depending on the size of the scenario. The writer recommends only one general per player in the game. Turn length is random but averages 30 minutes per side. The game is played with 6 sided dice.

The excellent Corunna scenario I have played 4 times


Each unit has a morale rating of 3 to 7. This number is used to test morale and also to determine combat ability in assaults. Units can also have characteristics assigned to them such as Light, Elite or Militia that alter their abilities. The large scale of the game means you must be adjacent to an enemy to fire at them. There are some carefully thought out rules for skirmishing that work very well, even at this scale. 

High Ground scenario

The game is played IGO-UGO with a interrupts for  cavalry interception and forming emergency square. Each unit in the side is activated individually by rolling an activation die. This will yield 1,2 or 3 actions depending on how well you roll. Actions include move, assault, support, fire and rally. These actions can be performed in any order. A unit must complete all it's actions before the next unit is activated. A unit can fire multiple times but fire effectiveness declines due to smoke. This creates lots of choice and flexibility for each unit and makes it a challenge to coordinate an army's action because you will not know how your next unit will perform. Movement and range is determined in hexes so there is no measuring or guessing distances.

Waterloo on 200th Anniversary

These rules treat command in a very unique way. There are two levels of command. The army HQ has no effect on combat or army motivation. It's two purposes are to stay alive and to commit reserve troops to the battle. Many of the scenarios have the majority of troops not placed on the table. The army HQ rolls at the start of the turn to commit reserves based on their command rating. Command ratings are between 2 and 6. If the roll is equal to or less than the Army HQ's command rating a reserve unit placed and the commander can roll again at an accumulative -1. If a roll is missed, a unit still arrives but is disordered and there can be no more rolls until next turn. Reserve rolls are modified by distance from the Army HQ. There is also an option to bring in reserves on a flank. 

Homebrew Scenario

The second level of command are Leaders. These are your front line commanders and they have the ability to motivate troops and to act and fight harder. Leaders have a command rating of 1 to 5. A leader can give an extra action to an adjacent unit for each point of command rating. Thus, a unit benefiting from a leader will get an extra action during their turn. An attached leader can help a unit rally and fight as well. Leaders are vulnerable and these rules have a high level of leader casualties. There are no rules for command radius or unit cohesion so units are free to roam the table as they are able. 

The game ends on a random die roll modified by casualties accumulated, leaders lost and objectives hexes lost.


I have played these rules on at least 15 occasions. One of the great things about Commit the Garde is it is a game that can be played to a true conclusion in a single gaming session (4 or 5 hours). The mechanics are simple enough that new players can get into the action quickly. The game does not demand a lot of space to play historically large battles. It works very well for multiplayer games. It provides fog of war on several levels. Tactically, units get a variable number of actions every turn so that the players must evolve their plans as the turn goes along. Important decisions are made in which units to activate first. Strategically, the reserve system creates fog of war as the general is not sure where the enemy is for sure. The reserve deployment rules allow for placing reinforcements in unexpected places. The use of hexes makes movement and combat quick and simple. The list of modifiers is not overwhelming and they can be adjusted to players tastes if needed.

On the down side, I feel that something is lost playing on a hex map. I like to strive for the "model railroad" look in my games. Forcing terrain to conform to hexagons detracts from this. For a grand tactical game, there does not seem to be enough representation of command structure. Units can go where they like with no reflection of maintaining a chain of command/ communication. The original game had some things in it that did not feel right for the period but there has been a revision to the rules to address some of these concerns. It should be said that I have never tried a ruleset (and I have played many) that did not have elements that did not feel right, to my vision of a Napoleonic battle. The unique reserve system can be a two edged sword. I played a game of Aspern Essling and lost Archduke Charles early in the game with half the Austrian army still off board. The lesson learned was security for the Army HQ is a priority.

My attempt at the Model Railroad look

I should note that the author is active on the Yahoo group that supports these rules and he or other players have been prompt in answering rules questions when they are posted.

Overall, I think Commit the Garde is a top ranking set of rules. I have been able to play many intense and enjoyable games with them. They are full of clever and elegant game mechanics and most of all, I can play a battle to conclusion in an afternoon.



  1. Good report Jeff. you've saved me the trouble of a full report! Now I can just make a few comments and link to yours, thanks¡

    And thanks for the invite I enjoyed both the game and the company.

    1. I will keep an eye out for your pictures. Do you have a game in mind to put on for the group for the Fall?

  2. Do you guys have a scenario pack for Austerlitz and CtG?