They Died For Glory
The Franco-Prussian War, 1870–1871

Wargame Rules Review

They Died For Glory – The Franco-Prussian War, 1870–1871 by Dave Waxtel & Robert Burke.

The Franco-Prussian War, which many in Europa expected the French to win, instead ended with a triumphant Prussia emerging as the new military power on the continent. The French army, first forged to unsurpassed quality by Napoleon Bonaparte, had for 80 years set the military standard in Europe. However, French soldiers, though brave and impetuous in battle, were no longer led by generals equal to their predecessors. In the summer of 1870 the armies of Napoleon III suffered successive defeats at the hands of Helmuth von Moltke’s aggressive Prussian war machine. The destruction of the Imperial French Army at Sedan, followed by the Siege and surrender of Republican forces defending Paris, ended the war with France in humiliating defeat.

The Franco-Prussian War ushered in a new era in warfare. More major battles were fought in the first six weeks than had been fought in the first two years of the American Civil War. Breech-loading Prussian Dreyse Needle-guns and French Chassepots had replaced outdated muzzle-loading rifles. German rapid fire, breech-loading Krupp artillery and a French secret weapon, the Mitrailleuse machine gun, made their lethal appearances on the battelfield. Mass cavalry charges and assaults by dense columns of infantry were launched with the same élan and grandeur as in the days of the First Empire. However, these tactics led to heavy casualties from the new and deadlier weapons. As a result, soldiers adopted new tactics, taking advantage of cover and advancing in quick rushes.

This turning point in the development of modern warfare is dramatically recreated in They Died For Glory, a complete set of miniatures wargame rules for the Franco-Prussian War. Easy to learn and easy to play, They Died For Glory accurately reflects the new weaponry that dominated this conflict. Intended primarily for 15 mm figures, the rules also make provisions for larger and smaller scales. Players can build a division, or corps or entire armies from the detailed historical orders of battle provided with the game.

There are eleven scenarios, covering a variety of different battles fought during the war. Each scenario is a separate game and provides all the information a player will need for setup and play. There are also guidelines for designing one’s own battle scenarios.


  • Title: They Died For Glory
  • Period: The Franco-Prussian War, 1870–1871
  • Type: Grand-Tactical Wargame
  • Time Scale: 1 turn = 15 minutes
  • Ground Scales: 1:1800 (1 inch = 50 yard)
  • Troop Scale: 1 figure = 50 men
  • Basing: 9.5 mm frontage per infantry figure, using 3- to 5-figure stands
  • Casualty rate per minute at 100 meters range: (unmodified)
    • Muzzle-loading Rifle: 0.01 hits
    • Chassepot Rifle: 0.03 hits
    • Dreyse Needlegun: 0.03 hits
    • Mitrailleuse: 0.31 hits
  • Game Designer: Dave Waxtel
  • Developer & Editor: Robert Burke
  • Art Director: Richard Hasenauer
  • Illustrator: David Choat
  • Photographer: Douglas LaFon
  • Historical Adviser: Nigel Smith
  • Playtesting Consultants: Al Revere, Tom Milmore, and Michael Peterson
  • Texas Playtest Team: Clay Smith, Bruce Beyer, Steve Bidwell, Steve Miller, Scott White, Kevin Schwebel
  • Format: 44-page rule book
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Dave Waxtel, Quantum Printing, New York, NY
  • Published: 1992


Historical Background by Nigel Smith, 4 pages
Game Components, 1 page
French Army Organisation 1870, 1 page
German Army Organisation 1870, 1 page
Formations, 1 page
Sequence of Play, 1 page

  1. Movement, 3 pages
  2. Infantry Fire, 1 page
  3. Artillery Fire, 2 pages
  4. Charge, 1 page
  5. Melee, 2 pages
  6. Morale, 2 pages
  7. Optional Rules, 3 pages
    Game Theory, 1 page
    Scenarios, 10 pages
    • Weißenburg im Elsass (Wissembourg)
    • Spichern Heights (Spicherer Höhen)
    • Fröschwiller
    • Colombey
    • Colombey-Mey
    • Mars-La-Tour
    • Gravelotte
    • Sedan
    French Order of Battle, 1 August 1870, 2 pages
    German Order of Battle, 1 August 1870, 3 pages

Quick Reference Charts

  • Infantry and Artillery Fire Tables
  • Melee and Morale Tables
  • Sequence of Play and Movement Table

The rules are professionally designed, layed out, and illustrated, including high-resolution colour photos of Franco-Prussian War miniatures battles, and colour reproductions of period maps. Tactical formations and evolutions are well illustrated with photos and drawings of miniature regiments. Headlines and Subheads are bolded, centered, and well spaced. The body text is type-set in a standard book typeface, and again well spaced. With only twelve pages of basic rules and three pages of optional rules, They Died For Glory easily qualifies as a set of fast-play rules. Important game concepts are defined clearly and concisely like "5.12 Surrender If a unit’s retreat is blocked by enemy units (e.g. the unit cannot retreat backwards without contacting an enemy unit) the unit surrenders and is immediately removed from the battlefield".

Errata & Frequently Asked Questions

The authors of They Died For Glory have released an Errata & FAQ document dated 29 July 2006, which may be downloaded from Military Miniatures Magazine.

The missing Simultaneous Movement Chart may be downloaded from the TDFG Yahoo Group.

Cavalry may not attack in column formation, although they may use road column to advance along roads. One historical incident which is not covered by the rules is when cavalry in road column advances through a village and encounters an enemy unit deployed across the road. Historically, Prussian cavalry regiments charged and broke through the enemy formation, but encountered a road block further down the road, and were compelled to fight their way back out of the village the way they had come.

They Died For Glory is an excellent set of Franco-Prussian War rules. The look and feel of the game is very in-period. Units which incurred over 50 percent casualties will not rally, but they may be converged with other depleted units and attack yet again, as was historically the case.

Wargame Rules