1870 Grand Tactical Rules for the Franco-Prussian War by Bruce Weigle1870, published in 2001, was the first of the original Grand Tactical Rules trilogy for the mid-19th century wars of transition, specifically to accommodate the many large-scale engagements of the Franco-Prussian War, from a few divisions to several corps per side.  The intention was to enable gamers to recreate very large battles without getting bogged down in extraneous details more appropriate for regimental-size skirmishes.  Indeed, the normal command per player in most games is a corps or two: two to six infantry divisions.  Morale and fire modifiers, multiple movement and fire opportunities, and national or troop type nuances have therefore been kept to a minimum in the interest of finishing a reasonably faithful approximation of a large historical battle in an afternoon.  A half-scale variant of the basic rules enables smaller engagements to be fought simply by doubling the number of stands per unit.

Although the original rules remain popular for battles of up to 2-3 corps, the new 1871 fast play rules have mostly superseded them for larger battles.  Much of 1870’s historical and bibliographical information (and none of the original scenarios) were not replicated in 1871, however, making 1870 valuable for that reason alone.  All the basing and command and movement rules remain unchanged between the original and updated versions.   As with the other Grand Tactical Rules, there is an updated quick reference sheet (and rules summary) for the revised, quick-play 1871 rules here.  This will enable much faster resolution of 1870 battles using the new 1871 fast play improvements.

  • Designed for fast-paced, accurate resolution of battles: several divisions to multiple corps per side.
  • Options have been kept to a minimum in the interests of completing a reasonably faithful recreation of a large battle in an afternoon.
  • Easy five-phase play sequence; simple, effective command and control system; rapid combat resolution (three tables).
  • Armies compatible with rulebooks for 1859/1864 (Franco-Austrian, & Danish Wars) & 1866 (Austro-Prussian War).
  • Entire game played from one 4-sided “Quick Reference Sheet”.
  • Suitable for 6mm, 10mm, and 15mm basing systems; 1 inch = 100m; 1 turn = 30 minutes.
  • Covers both Imperial and Republican phases of the war.
  • Includes 14 historical battle scenarios, each with alternative “what if” scenarios.
  • Extensive historical notes, military chronology, and complete Orders of Battle for the entire war.
  • Annotated Bibliography of over 70 entries.

As with the other Grand Tactical Rules booklets, for which 1870 was the model, the rules abound with illustrations and contemporary quotes which serve to explain and exemplify the rules.  The pages of the are well-illustrated with examples of play, formation diagrams, and game board photographs.  Plentiful diagrams also helps the gamer understand the nuances of formations, maneuvers, and tactics.

As much a source book as a rule set, the extensive historical notes, military chronology, annotated bibliography and detailed orders of battle provide ample reference material for custom designing additional campaigns or battles.  A four-page cardstock Quick Reference Sheet neatly summarizes everything gamers need to have to run a game without having to refer to the rules booklet.

Fourteen historical scenarios cover both the Imperial and Republican phases of the war (seven each); each feature detailed maps and complete orders of battle.  Each scenario also includes “what if” variants positing historically plausible alternative missions.

A formation guide helps define the typical 19th century formations used in the rules, summarizing their attributes and limitations.  The booklet even includes a brief tutorial on gameboard-making techniques useful for constructing 6mm terrain boards.

Painting by Christian Speyer - Storming of the Great Barricade at the Entrance of Le Bourget by the 3rd Garde-Grenadier Regiment Q

Illustrations from period sources have been chosen to impart the feel of the actual battles.  This painting by Speyer shows the 3rd Guard Grenadier Regiment retaking Le Bourget.

Actual Weigle Game Board featuring German brigade assaults French brigade defending Alsatian town in 15mm

The many photos of actual game boards illustrate how play may progress.  Here, a German brigade assaults a French brigade defending an Alsatian town, in 15mm.