When I first started playing Napoleonics, I was lost. There were so many characters and places and battles and politics and subterfuges. I enjoyed moving the lead around, but it was years before I felt I understood the greater background. If you want to break in a newbie, point him to this site.
From Matt Fritz comes this set of rules for using wargame miniatures to replay the fight for Hougoumont from the Battle of Waterloo.
For Napoleonics gamers looking for “something different,” there’s the Russo-Swedish war. Here’s some background and gaming possibilities: Russo Swedish War of 1808-1809
Black Powder is a set of free wargames rules by Wes Rogers for skirmish warfare in the period 1600 – 1870.
King George Commands and We Obey is a set of free wargames rules for American War of Independence, Napoleonic Peninsular and the American War of 1812. The author writes:
My key requirements are:
I spend a large amount of time and money collecting units. I decided I wanted them to stay on the table long enough for people to see, therefore no casualty removal.
I hate the “my turn/your turn” approach. With that in mind I use a card based turn system. I first used this in my Dad’s army game. Depending upon the level of game you are playing, a playing card is allocated to each unit or in larger games brigade commanders and above. This also means turns are not all the same as an end of turn card can come up at any time.
They have to be easy to learn. The common approach should assist with this and it is then just about the era specifics.
As little paperwork as possible. Most units have a small tab on a base. This contains all the information you need so no other paperwork, in most cases. This could of course be kept separately rather than attached but I think in a demo game it also allows visitors to see which units are representing which.
Enjoyable. I am not too serious and enjoy a light hearted approach at times to rules. Have a look at my rocket rules. While they may be a little slow to enact, imagine the gasps as rockets snake across the field. You never really know where they will end up!