Waterloo- The Fate of France

L2 Waterloo

Available from L2 Design group

Napoleon the First, Emperor of France, abdicated on 6 April 1814, after defeats by the latest coalition of the Great Powers drove him back to France. The self-proclaimed Emperor, spread the ideas of Revolutionary France to most of Europe. He gave Nationalist freedom to Saxony, Poland and others, in return for fighting men for his armies. The Great Powers allowed Napoleon to retire to one of three islands along with his entourage, he chose Elba. Louis XVIII took over in France, much to the relief of the war-weary populace. The Great Powers met and began to fight like a pack of dogs over the created nations and the reforms of the Napoleonic Age. As more and more of the revolutionary ideals and reforms were trampled underfoot, the discontent grew. Napoleon had his spy network in operation during this time. When the Great Powers began to renege on their promise of a yearly stipend to keep the Empire of Elba running smoothly, and the unrest in Europe grew, Napoleon acted. In February 1815, Napoleon and his Army sailed on his eight-ship Elban “Navy” back to France and the final acts of his career as Emperor.

This game is an operational simulation of the Napoleonic Waterloo Campaign. While basically a two-player game, the larger scenarios of Mont St. Jean and Waterloo lend themselves to three players, one for each of the three armies. There are two types of map board used in this game; the larger map is an area movement map. The players to bring their forces into contact during the Waterloo campaign use this. The scenarios of Quatre Bras, Ligny and Mont St. Jean are conducted entirely on the named battle map with the hex overlay. In the campaign game (Waterloo) the players, either two or three, maneuver their forces until contact is made. The game play then precedes to the individual battle maps with their hex overlays to facilitate the further resolution of the encounter. Each area has a number and a letter, the number corresponds to the area position on the map and the letter corresponds to the battle map to be used to resolve a confrontation. The available battle maps include specific maps for Quatre Bras, Ligny, Genappe, Wavre, Brussels and Mont St. Jean (Waterloo). The other five maps contain generic terrain areas such as towns, forest, wooded roads, clear or open terrain and wooded/broken terrain.

L2 Waterloo MapThe Sequence of Play has five basic steps. The first of these is the determination of the weather. This phase is only utilized in the Campaign Scenario due to the historical fact that the Battle of Waterloo occurred after a day and night of heavy rain. The French player rolls a single die to determine the weather. Next phase is the Allied reinforcement phase, where the Allied players, or players, place their reinforcements onto the area movement map. If there are French combat units in the area where the reinforcements are to come in, the Allied player has the option of holding his reinforcements for a additional turn or two. If however, he continues the placement of his units they must immediately cease movement and engage the French units in combat on the appropriate map sheet.

Now begins the Area Movement Phase, this is broken into two parts. The first being the French Movement Phase followed by the Allied movement Phase. When movement is completed the resolution of any combats in now in order. The order in which battles are resolved are determined by the number of steps in the smallest force. Battles are resolved from the smallest to the largest. If two or more battles contain the same number of unit steps then the French player determines which battle is resolved first. A battle not resolved in five battle turns is continued during the Combat Resolution Phase of the following turn.

Since I mentioned “steps” a discussion of the units is appropriate. Combat unit counter have a front side with Combat factor, Morale and Movement reflecting the full strength of the unit, the Reverse side showing s reduced Combat Strength reflecting the facts of 18th Century combat. As a general rule, each unit on the area map has a stacking value of 2 points, with a maximum of 48 stacking points allowed in an area. Anglo-Allied Brigades, units with only one or two steps, and any unit reduced to its second counter are only one stacking point. Leader counters have no effect on stacking limits. An “Overrun” may be conducted on the area map if the attacking force has a 6 to 1 superiority in stacking points and at least half of those points are Infantry or Cavalry, or the defending force consists of less than 10 steps. The defending units each become demoralized and lose a combat step. The attacker loses a step for every two lost by the defender and may continue moving into another area.

Combat resolution on the small battle maps is begun with the selection of the appropriate battle map. If the proper map is unavailable due to a previous combat remaining unresolved after five turns a chart is provided for a hierarchy of alternate maps. The entry edge for the attacker is called out in the scenario specifications and the defender is allowed to place his units on the map no closer than two hexes from the entry side of the attacker. The attacker deploys his forces on the edge of the map designated from the center outwards towards the ends of the edge. The stacking limit for each hex on a battle map is 2, therefore limiting how the attacker and defender may place their respective units. Infantry and Cavalry my not occupy the same hex; stacking limits may not be exceeded at any time. Leaders are not deployed on the battle maps unless the optional Leaders Rule is in effect. The leader cards drawn at the beginning of the battle are the substitute for the actual leaders on the map. The attacker will be the first to move during each battle turn. Before moving BOMBARDMENT and CHARGE markers are placed on Artillery and Cavalry units. BOMBARDMENT markers designate which artillery units will fire during this combat round and not move and CHARGE markers designate which Cavalry units will execute a charge during the movement phase. Assaults are conducted on a voluntary basis, being next to an enemy is not an automatic requirement to assault that enemy. Designated, unmoved artillery units on enemy units within range conduct bombardments. If there is an enemy unit adjacent to an artillery unit set to bombard, that bombardment is cancelled. Cavalry charges are assaults conducted at double the combat factor. The charge must begin a hex away from the unit stack being assaulted. The first move is to the hex adjacent, the charge marker is removed and an assault is resolved at twice the combat factor. After the assault is resolved a TIRED marker is placed on the unit. TIRED markers are removed during friendly Rally phases providing the Battle is over or it is a night turn.

L2 Waterloo Tactical MapCombat losses are assessed by placing HIT markers on units denoting the subtraction of each Combat Strength factor eliminated by a combat resolution. Each loss suffered by a unit also reduce its effective morale by one step, when effective morale reaches zero, that unit becomes demoralized. Demoralized units are immediately flipped over to their reduced strength side and removed from the Battle Map. These units are placed off the Battle Map on the owner’s side and take no further part in the battle until they are rallied.

A demoralized unit may attempt to rally in a friendly Rally phase by rolling a single die and making adjustments for presence of a Leader, Night Turn or a Leader Card. The resulting total must be less than or equal to the printed morale number on the unit. If a battle is still in progress, the rallied unit is placed in a friendly entry hex to get back into the fight. A word about Leader Cards, there are three decks of Leader Cards, one specifically for each of the Nationalities involved in the campaign. Leader Cards are drawn at the beginning of a Scenario, the beginning of a battle, when a reinforcing leader comes into play and at the beginning of a battle turn. These cards modify die rolls, create infantry squares, accelerate reinforcements and increase pursuit effectiveness. These cards are an abstract simulation of the effects of having a leader on the battle map.

This game, the individual battles of Quatre Bras, Ligny and Mont St. Jean and the Overall campaign ending with the battle at Waterloo provide the gamer with a rich experience in the world of early 18th Century warfare. While certain abstractions are included to facilitate game play, the feel of being on the field trying to control large multi-national armies and re-assert the control of Europe by France is very palpable. So, if you are fortunate enough to avoid the torrential rains that hampered the development of Napoleon’s plans, or you are fortunate enough to have destroyed the Prussian Army and Blucher at Ligny, or if not, had Grouchy and the Right Wing interposed themselves between Blucher and Waterloo, so that Napoleon could defeat the British in detail at Waterloo, then you may change the course of history. Bon Chance, Mes ami!