Casualty markers are something needed for all the various Napoleonic rulesets I play or have played recently, General d'Armee, Blackpowder, and Lasalle, included. Casualties in these systems are generally taken to represent a combination of casualties, fatigue, and sometimes general disorder. Overall the more casualties a unit has taken the more its morale and effectiveness is degraded. Number of hits needed varies according to rule system. For example in Blackpowder and Lasalle each standard unit can take up to 3 hits, while in General d'Armee each standard unit can take up to 12 hits.
It's a simple system that avoids multiple cumbersome traits for each unit, or fiddly casualty removal, hence it's popularity. It seems that many rules, even the Games Workshop ones, are requiring casualty or damage markers these days. How to represent them is the question.
One of the easiest ways to represent casualties is to just stick dice next to units. The trouble with this is the casualty dice might be knocked over by other dice, or accidentally picked up, and it's a bit fiddly rotating the dice trying to find the right number each time. And of course it detracts somewhat from the visual aesthetic of the game.
Casualty dial bases are another option. For a nice example see fellow New Zealander Brian Smaller's casualty bases here. I have a load of casualty figures and I might get around to doing these some day too. Warbases make wooden casualty dials and Litko make acrylic ones. Local New Zealand company Battlekiwi makes both wooden and acrylic dials and offer a bulk discount.
In previous battle reports I've used fire and suppression blast markers that I use for 6mm sci-fi gaming. They are not really the best thing for Napoleonics though, as barring a few canister rounds from artillery most firepower impacts didn't involve explosions. Also I didn't have enough of these once game size increased, and I would need a lot more for bigger games.
An alternative I eventually decided upon is the following. With most plastic 28mm figure boxes these days you get extra bits. For example in Perry French and Austrian Napoleonic boxes you get extra heads to provide you with options. And in Victrix Austrian boxes you get twice the number of backpacks you need (so you can make Line or Grenadier units).
It struck me that these extra bits could make some characterful, non-obtrusive, and also low modelling/painting effort casualty markers that would be suitable for a variety of Napoleonic rules. I ordered some cheap plastic counteres off e-bay. I then stuck spare shakos and backpacks onto them with plastic glue (cutting the shako off the head first). A quick undercoat, paintjob and some flock, followed by heavy varnish, resulted in the following which I'm pretty happy with.
I made rather a lot. 110 French shakos and 40 backpacks, and 110 Austrian shakos and 40 backpacks. This should be plenty for big games given past experience. Of course, not every Napoleonic unit had shakos and backpacks but the majority did, and shakos and backpacks tended to look similar across armies, and the standardisation should reduce confusion!
In General d'Armee the shakos will represent one hit, and backpacks four hits. This has the added advantage that it will help make degrading points clear. I.e. in General d'Armee at 4 hits and 8 hits a unit suffers cumulative degrading effects on its firepower/melee/morale – so having distinct 4 hit counters is a useful reminder that this has occurred, i.e:
1 Backpack = -1; 2 Backpacks = -2 (to shooting, melee, and morale tests)
The other thing I've been working on is more terrain - many hills and templates. These will follow soon in another post!