Heralded as a classic, Napoleon at Waterloo, is an introductory war game depicting Napoleon’s final battle of his reign. On June 18th 1815, Napoleon has divided the Anglo-Prussian army hoping to defeat each contingent in detail. Wellington and his forces have chosen the undulating hills outside Mont St. Jean to hold against the French, hoping to hold off until the arrival of the Prussians on Napoleon’s right flank.
Having only recently taken a proper dive into war gaming, I had always heard of this game referenced in articles and videos. Originally published by SPI in the early ‘70s, the latest edition was published by Decision Games in 2013, which is the copy I acquired.
The counter art abandons the commonly used NATO symbols used in previous iterations, a change I don’t, particularly, mind. The map is naturally colored, and the topography lacks many terrain features, notably the gentle hills that Wellington used to shelter his troops from artillery fire. A curious absence considering this game has ranged bombardment.
As in the actual times, units are divided between infantry, artillery, and cavalry, all rated with attack/defense and movement values. There are rigid zones of control and the combat table has only three types of results: retreat, eliminated, or exchange. By using this classic CRT, there is no step reduction, its all or nothing.
Finally, the victory conditions require depleting the enemy’s morale by the elimination of enemy units- in addition, the French need to move units off the northwest corner of the map.
I am struck that the game is like another title I have in my collection, Napoleon’s Last Battles, particularly the geographic scale and combat results table. It’s interesting that a game covering the last battles – Ligny, Quatre Bras, Wavre and Waterloo- would not have a finer degradation of manpower. But despite the absence of this, the game more than compensates with command control, weather, morale and stacking.
I can’t say much more about Napoleon at Waterloo, there is a reason it’s spoken so highly of and has remained a staple of the hobby. But nevertheless, I am glad to have it in my collection.