Every Bullet Has Its Billet

A Guide to Wargaming the Late 17th Century


By Barry Hilton

from Casemate Publications

Barry Hilton has been a wargamer for the past 28 years and has provided the reader of this book a primer to the history of land and sea battles of this era. The author provides in this book a brief insight into the colorful uniforms and the land and sea battles of the late 17th century. While not an exhaustive treatise of this period, the author does wet the readers appetite to want to find out more about the period. From the Restoration of England’s monarchy to the end of the War of the League of Augsburg almost every country in Europe experienced some type of conflict.


This period of history has often been ignored by wargamers as being to monochrome and boring. However, after reading this book you will see that this is far from the truth. Looking at the numerous photos included in this book, you can see that this period of history is far from monochrome and is actually one of the most colorful periods of history when it comes to dress and uniforms.


To get an idea of the thoroughness of this book, one only needs to look at the Table of Contents. Here you will see that this primer is divided into 9 different chapters which is more than enough to whet the appetite for the potential gamer for this period of history. The chapters of this book are:


  1. Historical Primer
  2. Participating Forces
  3. Gaming the Period
  4. Building and Using a Force
  5. Scenarios
  6. Troubleshooting Guide
  7. Painting Miniatures
  8. Gaming Resources
  9. Reference List

Right at the beginning of this book, you are provided with a broad overview of the extensive wargaming scope of the period on the land and the sea. A number of the areas covered in this book are:

1666 – 1671

1st Anglo – Dutch War

1652 – 1654

2nd Anglo – Dutch War

1672 – 1674

3rd Anglo – Dutch War

1666 – 1671

Polish – Cossack – Tatar War

1667 – 1668

War of Devolution


First Kuruc Uprising

1672 – 1678

Franco – Dutch War

1672 – 1673

2nd Genoese – Savoyard War

1675 – 1779

Scanian War

1676 – 1681

Russo – Turkish War


Covenanter Rebellions

1683 – 1699

Grand Turkish War (The War of the Holy League)

1683 – 1698

Polish Campaigns Against the Ottomans

1684 – 1699

Morean War

1687 & 1689

The Crimean Campaigns

1683 – 1698

Polish Campaigns Against the Ottomans

1684 – 1699

Morean War

1687 & 1689

The Crimean Campaigns

1695 & 1686

The Azov Campaigns

1683 – 1684

War of the Reunions


Argyll and Monmouth Rebellions

1686 – 1690

The Anglo-Mughal War


Dutch Invasion of England

1688 – 1697

The Nine Years’ War

1688 – 1697

Spanish Netherlands and the Rhineland

1688 – 1691

Ireland and Scotland

1690 – 1694

Northern Italy

1690 – 1697


1689 – 1697

North America

1688 – 1697

The Caribbean

1688 – 1697

War at Sea


The reader is provided with a short history or background to each of the historical periods presented above. By presenting the history in this way, you gain a unique insight into how you can wargame this period of history that runs from 1666 to 1697 of the 17th century.

While this “Historical Primer” is a fantastic, quick look, at the period, it is in no way all encompassing. It provides the reader a quick look at the time.

Land 1

The next chapter covers the “Participating Forces” of the 17th century armies in Europe. It starts out looking at the clothing styles, colors and flags used by the Infantry and Officers. After this, you read about the Weapons and Equipment of the period as well as the Tactics and Standards. Finally, you are provided with a look at the Battlefield Tactical Units of the 17th Century. You are given a look at the Wings, Brigades and Artillery used in the battles of this time.

Continuing in this chapter you now move onto the main protagonists of this 17th century time period. First you are given the country that the book begins to look at. After this, you are given the units organization and the painting of units from that country. Finally, we look at the Navy from that country. The Main Protagonists of the 17th Century that are covered in this book are:




German States

The Holy Roman Empire

The Jacobites

Ottoman Empire



Serene Republic of Venice



United Provinces of the Netherlands (Dutch Republic)

The next chapter in the book is titled “Gaming the Period” and is the first time we begin to get a glimpse at Wargaming the 17th Century battles. Here you are introduced to the idea that wars of this period were not fought as wars of annihilation, but as wars of limited objectives. For example, wars of this period were mainly focused on territorial gain, commercial objectives or regime change. A few wars were punitive such as the attacks against the North African corsairs but not many fall within this type of war.

Aside from the types of wars that were fought, you also learn that the tactics also reflect the strategies of limited objectives. Seldom were beaten armies thoroughly destroyed while many rearguards actions and pursuits are recorded. While I was taught that wars of this time were fought over religion, we learn that such was not the case as more often they were more about territorial control than religion.

The books author tells the reader that he has been playing a campaign game for over 4 years. A total of 14 players are involved off and on, in the authors’ campaign. You learn that choosing the commanders and forces is all part of the experience. Also, setting game objectives, managing the details of keeping the forces supplied and up to strength does not have to be boring or complicated. Each battle of the campaign becomes significant because players know that they will fight another day.

The next chapter is titled “Building and Using a Force. Here you learn of the different types of games that you can play. You can play:

  • Skirmish Games
  • Army Faction Games
  • Mob Faction Games
  • Tribal Faction Games
  • Outlaw Faction Games
  • Small Battles
    • Anglo-Dutch circa 1692
    • Jacobite Irish
    • French
    • Highland
    • Ottoman
  • Larger Battles

Next in this chapter we discuss the transfer of reality to the tabletop. Here we look at the different basing methods and how causalities are recorded. Depending on the scale of the game, will determine both the basing of your models and how causalities are recorded.

Land 2

Finally we look at War at Sea. With this area you can begin as small as a single ship and slowly build your game up to a fleet of ships. Also, with careful selection of your ships, you can build a force of ships for multiple nations from the ships in your inventory. You can build your force from any scale from 1/2400th scale to 1/1200th scale all the way to 28mm scale. While purchasing random ships can be romantic, it is better to have a plan. Some of the areas you can game are:

sea 1

North American



Middle Eastern


South East Asian
















These types of games can include anything from War Canoes used by local inhabitants, to large hybrid merchantmen up to the man-o-war ships of the major nations of the period. Some of the examples of the period provided are:

English Squadron 1653 1st Anglo-Dutch War
Dutch Squadron 1665 2nd Anglo-Dutch War
French Squadron 1690 Nine Years’ War
Anglo-Dutch Squadron 1690 Nine Years’ War

The next chapter provides a few Scenarios for gaming the period. With these scenarios you get an excellent idea of Naval Warfare during the 17th Century. You read about the background to the naval battle as well as the result of the naval wargame. You are also provided with the ships that took part in the battle. The few battles provided are:

  • The Battle of Kentish Knock, September 28 1652
  • A Skirmish Game for Donnybrook, June 14 1689
  • Rhineland Spring 1689

With each of the battles presented, you are given a “How it Played which provides the reader with an excellent overview of Naval Battles from this period.

The next two chapters are titled “Troubleshooting and Painting Miniatures”. Here we learn why the author chooses the size bases he did for his infantry and cavalry as well as the fact that bayonets were not common during this period. The other item that’s important is flags. We learn that a gaming table can have as many as 14 flags that are used in the game. Speaking of flags, it’s pointed out that most people who naval wargame have their flags positioned in the wrong direction and he shows how they should be positioned. The next to last chapter deals with miniature painting and here you are given a perspective of how the best method for painting your miniatures can be undertaken. It does provide a good insight for those who are inexperienced in painting,

Land 3

The next chapter of the book is dedicated to Gaming Resources. The gaming resources covered here are:

  • Miniatures
  • Accessories
  • Ships
  • Terrain
  • Rules and Scenario Collateral

The final 2 pages of this book is your Reference List. If you do decide to game in this historical time, these pages become invaluable.


Every “Bullet has its Billet” looks at a little covered historical period, the 17th Century Wargaming. There are only a handful of books devoted to this wargaming period and I believe that this book is the best of the bunch. It covers both land and sea battles from this period and entices the reader through well written descriptions that make you want to dive right into the historical period. Whether it’s the Jacobite Rebellion, the Dutch Invasion of England, or the Russo-Turkish War, you want to just dive in and game the period. If you combine the last 6 pages of the book, with the remaining 118 pages and you have probably the best reference book to this historical period for the wargamer, figure painter and historian.