Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Waterloo out of the box impressions

Game arrived today and I couldn't resist opening the box right away.

After looking it over most of the afternoon I have to say I am intrigued. It appears to be a pretty original approach to a wargame, reminding me in many ways of games such as Napoleon's Triumph, Friedrich or Hammer of the Scots. The components are fine-looking, in a euro sort of way (I don't mind the meeple troops, but they've gotten a very mixed reception among wargamers, it seems).

Indeed, BGG comments also seem to indicate that eurogamers also don't know quite what to make of it.

First off, despite physical appearances, and Martin Wallace's disclaimer that it's not an attempt at "simulation," let there be no mistake -- this is a wargame. It's probably even more firmly in the wargame camp than Borg's Commands & Colors system. And I think Wallace may be selling his design a little short. While he didn't do an SPI-style system analysis. detailed OB study or terrain walk, Waterloo is not some simplistic or stylistic war-themed game either.

Still, it may be too euro for most hex-and-counter lovers and too wargamey for Wallace's usual fans. I'm looking forward to trying it out.

My only component reservation on first glance is that the dark blue of the French Imperial Guard is hard to pick out from the black color of Prussian regulars under some light conditions. This may not turn out to be a problem in actual play, but it would have been better to have a little more separation in shade, I think.


  1. We played twice at a recent nano con of wargamers and didn't like it that much. It seemed that the Allies have a tough time of holding long enough before the Prussians start showing up, although we did count cavalry casualties in the second game (there weren't any in the first game).

    My impression is that this is going to be one of those games you have to play "correctly" in order to do well. To put it another way, you have to puzzle out how to defend with your troops as the Allies. However, since the Allies have so few actions they can do in the first several turns (five per turn, assuming no assaults), that means mostly reinforcing contested positions (and adjusting defensive posture.

    We also found that what initially seemed to be the coolest part of the game, the fact that you don't know how many activations you have, was pretty anti-climactic. We had exactly one turn (out of seven) where *one* person felt they were under tension because they didn't know if they could do what they wanted to do. Plus, the draws for the French player can really make or break their position on the first couple of turns - lots of 4's and 5's and they'll get a lot done. Lots of 2's and 3's, and they're hobbled. Clever, but it ends up being a little more chaos contributing to the end result than I like.

    However, I recognize that Wallace does complex designs that require a certain amount of understanding the game system, and I'm sure this is no different. I'd love to see a set of play-by-play AARs that show in depth the right sort of strategies for the Allies in particular. Beyond the basic "be in defensive posture" rule, of course.

  2. Looking forward to seeing the Imeepial guard in action!

  3. Should I add this to the list for our next gathering, then?

  4. Seth Owen said...
    Should I add this to the list for our next gathering, then?

    Sure, but could you send me a scan of the rules?

  5. Never mind Seth, I found the games online here: