Napoleonic Wargame Club

Waterloo Revisited
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Author:  Bill Peters [ Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Waterloo Revisited

I was going over Warren Bajan's revised OB for the Waterloo campaign years ago, we both agreed that the French morale values were too high in the HPS/JTS game, and here is some thought on what I think must be included into any Waterloo game:

1. First you have to go under the assumption that if the Anglo-Allied army is beaten at Waterloo that the Prussians would have drawn off. This is because the good Duke would have fallen back on Antwerp and embarked for England/other parts.

2. The current morale values in the game were added in with the incorrect premise that this was the best army that Napoleon ever fielded. Actually it was not. The 1805-1807 army was. Ernie Sands and others griped when I raised the morale values of the French in Jena and vowed never to play it sticking to the earlier updates. Yes, it was an error on my part to do that but the same people are playing Waterloo with no gripe whatsoever. The French have too high a morale value and it contributes to unhistorical victories for the French as a result. The argument is that "well in order for the French to have any chance they need help." That is like saying in 1813 the Allies need a higher morale for Lutzen just because they have less troops. In short, you have to go with what the army was all about. The French army of 1815 were not supermen. The NCO class was not as good as that of 1805-07. Why do I say that. Simply put after Napoleon changed the battalion structure from 9 cos. to 6 cos. there was a need for more NCOs. Through the years this need became a serious problem. As there were always more battalions under this system the units performance dropped. Funny in that the Austrians tried a similar thing back in 1805 going from 4 to 6 battalions per regiment and the result was similar. Bottom line except for one or two regiments all French ligne needs to be changed to morale 4 and Legere to 5.

3. Increasing Allied morale values in some cases is not unjustified just as much as it would be fine to decrease some of the British line morale values. The premise being that this was not Wellington's finest army. He even said so himself prior to the battle. There were some German/Belgian units that deserved a better rating too.

Napoleon had not beaten the Anglo-Allied army by the time that the Prussians arrived. His best move then would have been to call for a retreat. Regroup with Grouchy and again try and divide the two armies. By 6-7pm the battle was not won and a retreat would have been the best move. Of course hindsight shows us this but even so the attacks by D'Erlon and Reille were poorly planned. Ney's lack of combined arms use also contributing to defeat.

My feeling is that there needs to be a sudden death type scenario where if the French have not won by 7pm then the battle is over. If the Anglo-Allies are not driven from the field by then then its an Allied victory. That being with the current morale values in force.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Well what would the conditions for a French victory at 7pm?

What about a scenario that balances the victory hexes with exit hexes to allow the players a retreat and save the army?
A fighting withdrawal sounds more interesting than a sudden death victory and it would allow the French player to do play the best move and retreat to save the army for another day.

Is the work continuing on reworking the Waterloo scenarios?
AFAIk John Egan wanted to rework them to relief us of their poor state. ... ?tid=68172

Author:  Andy Moss [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

I think most folks would agree the French in Waterloo are overrated. And too many leaders. I'm not sure tinkering with morale is the answer, or with the leaders though. Probably part of the answer. And in my experience games of Waterloo rarely get anywhere near 7pm before one side (usually the allies) screams surrender.

One possible answer is a map modification. It's standard French practice to send the army marching quickly around the exposed allied left flank, then march off the map via the VP hexes. From what I understand, the area was scouted and was deemed too soggy for troop movements; that being the case, turning the area in to rough terrain would act as a major deterrent and French strategy would then likely be fitted into the frontal attack.

And remove the exit hexes. They are a major nuisance both in the battle and the campaign. I don't see how the French would cheerfully march off north,leaving an army in their rear who could then equally cheerfully march on Paris.

Author:  Bill Peters [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Yes, remove the exit hexes. The entire victory would be decided by losses and victory objectives. Balancing that is not impossible.

The morale levels must be lowered. The modification works in agreement with me lowering my morale levels in Jena. No army should be able to fight til death. That is what happens with the French in Waterloo. Their units stand until obliterated for the most part. No historical repulses are allowed.

I am interested to hear how the H&R group views the Waterloo battle. The OBs in the games I worked on were all modified. What was done to Waterloo? Certainly Waterloo OBs are far too high when compared to the others in the series.

Remember BGW, Andy? It had standard morale levels and we had French victories. So why the spike in morale levels for the HPS game? That was on of Warren's comments as well if I remember correctly (in our many phone conversations on the subject).

Author:  Mark Hornsby [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 7:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Bill, I totally agree, the French army of 1815 was a mixture of raw recruits, veterans and battle experienced troops from 1814, and this needs to be reflected. Also for the Allies, Milita are what they are and should have low morale as standard. Brunswickers except the Guard, Light and cavalry were raw recruits and very unsteady. I would also say a quarter of the British line troops were also raw recruits and had not experienced combat. Hanovarian landwehr should have a good morale rating ad well as all KGL troops. I also think ex Peninsula British regiments, rifles and British, KGL, Brunswick, and Hanovarian light cavalry should have a high morale.

Can I also point out that raw troops with a low morale rating could have that raised by the leadership of an experienced officer such as Saxe Weimer Nassau troops and Chasse Dutch troops.

These are my thoughts and I could go into a lot more detail on this.

Author:  Bill Peters [ Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Good points, Mark. Lots of thinking to do on the revision.

Warren passed away in 2014 and it fell to John Egan and I to finish it off. We did some work on it last year but we need to put out a full battle scenario and also a new full campaign scenario. Eventually others too.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Is it a hardcoded game setting or a simple setting inside the PDT that sets the turn length?
As the majority of the games are in 10min turns, I(and I bet others too) would like to see the reworked scenarios with 10min turns instead of 15min.
OK for the full campaign it's maybe too long(althought nothing beats the CW Overland campaign) but for the historical battle scenarios it would be no problem.
15min vs 10min
18 vs 27 turns > "Rearguard Action at Soleilmont" 028.Soleilmont_h.scn
38 vs 57 turns > "The Battle of Ligny_h, June 1815" 008.Ligny_h.scn
36 vs 54 turns > "The Battle of Quatre Bras - Historical, June 16, 1815" 022.Quatre_Bras_h.scn
52 vs 78 turns > "Waterloo - Historical" 037.Waterloo_h.scn
54 vs 81 turns > "The Battle of Wavre, June 18 & 19 1815" 047.Wavre_h.scn
So even the longest battle would just raise from 54 to 81 turns, I think that is fine compared to the benefits.

The good thing about switching to 10min turns would be to take over the values used by late games like 1814, no need to reinvent the wheel.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 5:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Regarding the moral values, the Waterloo companion mentions that the Allies had 3,300 that went "missing" and of those almost half were Dutch or Belgian troops, additionally about 500 from the Hanoverian Duke of Cumberland’s Hussars.
Here a pdf about the Hussars: ... ote.14.pdf

This is from a nice little page about the Waterloo campaign with a lot notes that are worth a look:

Author:  Mark Hornsby [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

I would also like the map reworked as well, as the colours are so bland maybe various greens for the different elevations and the crops more of a golden brown or a mixture of light brown for barley, golden brown for wheat and grey green for rye.. Jerome seems to start a long way back, why? The Grand battery needs to be in position from the start of the battle as it was not sitting peacemeal behind the infantry as it could take 5 or 6 turns just to get it into place when in effect it was bombarding the Allied positions from the start of battle till d'Erlons Corps started the advance.

I also agree with Andy, Wellington chose a fantastic position and the rain over the last few days certainly helped. Both his left and right flanks were virtually impassable due to the nature of the ground. It was reported that the Lasne valley had in places flooded and that would assume that the river Hain had done the same due to the nature of the ground. This does need to be incorporated into the battle.

Another thought as well is the loss of Napoleon or Wellington or even Blucher would lower the morale of all units considerably to the point of a full rout rendering the game lost. I am not a fan of points as they restrict the proper use of cavalry and even though you have won by taking the objectives or even defeating your opponent totally the points can swing it in their favour.

Author:  Andy Moss [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Some good points here. Great to have these discussions!

The 10 minute turns aren't hard coded. They can be modified. Obviously shorter movement and reduced firing/casualties have to be taken into account.

Increasing certain leader qualities may indeed help. The allies start with brigades mixed up so divisional commanders are out of command for much of the time. Some commanders are absent and need a Phantom. Uxbridge only gets a Divisional command radius. But varying leader qualities could open all sorts of arguments over who is better than whom.

Bill is correct. In Battleground we had standard values and French victories. Mostly against me. The opposite extreme was Nirproject where the French spike was massive. There is need for some variation though with unreliable units....the problem is we can only ascertain reliability in hindsight and even that is subjective: the Belgians withstood a lot of canon fire before they broke; many British histories would have us believe Johnny Foreigner simply ran off and had to be rescued by good old Thomas Lobster.....exactly what one reads about at the battle of Balaclava for instance 40 years later.

Mark is quite right as well, initial French dispositions are rather odd. That may have been deliberate to stop a French onslaught from turn 1, I don't know.

I'd love a 10 minute version. The company level scenarios come closer to what I'd like to see.

I don't suppose it's possible to redesign the scenarios using the REN engine? I like the fact that different unit types are worth different points there. This may at least give the French pause for thought before the Guard is thrown at the hapless allies from the outset.

I'd like to hear what H&R think. I don't know that they touched Waterloo - Anton and I started a game but it didn't progress very far.

The map itself needs modifying.

Author:  Mark Hornsby [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

I agree a 10 minute version would be good.

I could be wrong but there is plenty of information out there on all brigade, division and senior commanders and that alone could help decide morale ratings.

For example Lord Uxbridge, I would give him a morale rating of 2 because he couldn't control the cavalry and was appointed second in command due to connections.

I have a great deal of respect for the Dutch Belgians of Bijlandts brigade, they fought hard at Quatre Bras and then took nearly 2 hours of fierce bombardment from the grand battery, any unit would have broken under that and also they fired of a volley at the advancing French before running.

Author:  Colin Knox [ Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

I would say Bill is probably right about morales historically speaking.

For a better game balance though I tend to agree with Andy. I started playing around with the scenario editor on the big campaign scenario.
Essentially you remove the exit hexes and replace them with 500vp victory hexes. But you add a line of French victory hexes that the Prussians can take to reflect the French communications so they can't just ignore the Prussians.

I would say the same with the historical battle. Muddy and I had a long struggle of Waterloo historical. We agreed as a house rule that I would ignore the exit hexes. That in its own right made for a great game that ended with the Prussians assaulting the French facing east. I managed to win it but it was a near run thing and it gives the allied player a much better chance.

Also it worth noting even B units once fatigued will rout fairly easily. Just do the math. Disorder, high fatigue and that makes them E grade. So battle fatigue does effect morale. For sure. The French army at Waterloo builds up a lot of fatigue by the time it faces the Prussians (with no exit hexes)
This pretty much addresses the game balance issue.

If you weaken the French morale the boot will just move to the other foot. :D :D
Just my 5 cents :frenchsalute: :frenchsalute: :frenchvive: :frenchcharge: :sly: :eagle: :eagle: :eagle: :eagle: :eagle:

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Regarding the map:
Maybe it's just a feeling but looking the map it seems that it's set in the future. All the settlements seem bigger and all the woods smaller, as if the map we have isn't 1815 but more like 1835 or later.
Just look a Gilly, from the battle maps didn't get the impression of a huge village and I miss some wood on the other side of the river.
A description(as PDF) of the Action at Gilly: ... /gilly.pdf
Another description on a webpage, with some maps: ... june-1815/

Here some more maps, the viewers suck(at least on the firefox I use) but maps are good.
Waterloo map: ... &x=90&y=99
Maps of Belgium: ... te_nl.html

Overall adjusting color is the smallest problem we have, that is maybe easily done by a moder. But the areas of the battles may need some adjustment, if the British flanks at Waterloo were really so secure it should be mirrored on the map.

Regarding the leaders:
If Napoleon or Wellington or Blucher are lost the impact will come right away when the tests start to fail, some players even make the loss of the overall CO a sudden death house rule.

Regarding starting position of Waterloo:
I guess that ones of of the things that tipped the rework off. John pointed that out at the Blitz and indeed the starting positions have to be reworked or else the battle can't be replayed according to history.

Regarding 10 min turns:
When I remember correct the series started with 15min turns, now if the manual of Waterloo is correct the high & low combat values are 40 & 160 to calculate attacker casualties and 20 & 100 to calculate defender casualties.
Unlike values for weapons it doesn't seem that the high & low combat values are in the PDT, at Least I can't see them there.
So were these values ever adjusted down to fit for the 10min games?
If not, one can argue that the melee casualties are too high, at least too high compared to the 15min games because you do the same damage in 10min that you originally did in 15min.

Author:  Bill Peters [ Mon Mar 07, 2016 3:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Some comments from what has been said:

By Colin:
"Essentially you remove the exit hexes and replace them with 500vp victory hexes. But you add a line of French victory hexes that the Prussians can take to reflect the French communications so they can't just ignore the Prussians."

Good points for the battle scenario for Waterloo.

On the map - well I could put out a revised map but it isn't my place to do that.

The terrain colors - that can be done in a mod. The artwork stuff is hard for me to work on - mental fatigue too great.

I was primarily focusing on the morale values being too high and just noting for ANY game (boardgame, miniatures scenario or a computer game) that Waterloo should be all about the French beating the Anglo-Allies ...

All good thoughts.

Author:  Christian Hecht [ Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Waterloo Revisited

Andy mentioned the leaders, if the numbers from he Waterloo Companion are correct, the French were top heavy for a reason.
Number of generals:
French 114 > A ratio of 1 general per 861 men
Anglo-Allied 41 > A ratio of 1 general per 2607 men
Prussians 26 > A ratio of 1 general per 2579 men

So the French were indeed top heavy with more than one general per battalion as the French had only 103 battalions.

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