Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rules Review: Volley and Bayonet - 1994 version


Talk about old school gaming.

In 1998 I purchased Volley and Bayonet when I attended my very first miniature wargame convention in Gettysburg. I did not have a large figure collection and I thought it would be a good idea to research a set of rules that covered multiple periods. I wanted something simple and fun as I am not competitive. I played a game in Gettyburg and loved the rule and game flows, but then life happened. I soon relocated and changed jobs.  I had forgotten about the rules and my future project as I established a new life in a new town.

 I have only played the rules twice; most recently this year at Essington Games Day which rekindled my interest. The games are fun with decisive results and are convention friendly. I had completely forgotten about these rules as our club plays a lot of Black Powder, Lasalle, Fire and Fury. We do not play grand tactical rules sets. The rules were explained to me in a few minutes before each game and I felt confident in playing. I usually play cautiously when using a new set of rules so this was a refreshing change to be more aggressive. I know there is a new version out but the older set is as valid to day as it was in the 90's.

The book has several scenarios from the Seven Years War to the Franco-Prussian War complete with orders of battle. The rules are designed for grand strategy set so commanding Corps and divisions are possible at any scale.The book is 94 pages long but the rules encompass 19 pages. The charts and a Q&A section are on the last pages of the book.

Scale: An inch equals 100 yards and each strength point a unit possesses equals 500 men or 6 guns. One game turn represent an hour on the battlefield.

Figure Basing is straight forward.

Infantry and cavalry brigades are 3" x 3" stands
Infantry regiments is a 3" x 1.5" stand
Artillery battallion is a 1.5" x 3" stand
Cavalry skirmishers use 1.5" x 1.5" stand
Infantry skirmishers and Division commaders use 1.5" x 1.5"
Corps/Army commanders use 2" x 2" stands.

A turn sequence is easy as well
1 - Command
2 - Movement
3 - Rally
4 - Morale
5 - Combat.

The rules are only 19 pages and organized by turn sequence. Large print makes the reading easy on the eyes. Tables accompany the text related to the subject matter. Subject matter is relevent to the heading and is clearly written.

Basic examples are provided in the book but there are very few of them. Perhaps it is because of the low complexity of the rules requiring less explanation.

Support C
There is a Yahoo group established for this set of rules. A comprehensive website with free scenarios is available at and has lots of eye candy. Unfortunately the older version of the rules has been phased out so support is aimed at the new version. You can still find people who play so it is possible to clarify something when rarely needed to do so.  

Content B
There are a lot of scenarios in the rules. Division strengths, maps and deployment are covered for all of the 9 scenarios in the book. The rules have very little detail and don't recognize unique unit characteristics. The authors gladly sacrifice detail for a less complex and playable set of rules.

Complexity: A
These rules are basic and very easy to play. I would recommend them for convention games as players new to this system will be able to play after a few minutes of review before game time. Key points can be written on an index card for each player if needed but are not necessary.

Playability: A
You can jump right into a game. Turn sequences move quickly unless a player spends several minutes deciding what to do. You can finish a large scale battle in 4 hours and can handle 6 or more players easily. The basing of brigades to a single stand helps move the game along. These rules are convention friendly. The game is based on D6 for combat and morale. Basically you hit on a 6 and the opponent does not get a saving roll unless he is in a town or fortification.

Overall: A
I am a casual gamer and I like the social aspect of the game as well as playing. It is more important for me to have fun than recreate a specificevent in a specific period. I would recommend these rules if you have similar reasons for gaming. The older version may be hard to find but I have seen them at flea markets and Ebay.  The new version runs about $39 which is a bit steep for me and a far cry from the $14 I spent back in 1998 at Fall In. If you can find this older set on Ebay, a flea market or bring and buy it is worth the purchase. I have seen prices as little as $10 for this great set. If you are looking for a very detailed set of rules with lots of charts and statististics to recreate a specific battle than these rules are not for you. If you want to drink beer with some friends, have a chat and spend an afternoon pushing figures around the table then this set is your style of rules. Sadly my dream in 1998 to build forces to play these rules never cam to fruition, but perhaps I can change that.


  1. I've recently managed to purchase this rule set but have yet to try them out on the table top. I've read through the rules and they do look easy to play though I'm not to sure about the large movement distances involved in the game. Once real life allows I must get some figures on the table and give V&B a try!
    Thanks for your review.

    1. Thanks, the games I played were on 4x6 tables. The movement is fast but it allows for a faster game. I play Fire and Fury and it can take an hour of movement to make contact. When you have 3 hours to play you can't finish. These rules help fix that.

  2. Never played this one I believe, sounds bloody good though.

  3. Greetings Fran, At $10 it is not a high risk investment. You can always test a game at a convention if you see it being played.