Scenario Designer notes for the Campaign Waterloo project.
A huge undertaking, the Campaign Waterloo project has been an adventure. Being one of the best known campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars there was an abundant amount of information available, but as with anything taking place in the past, much of the information didn’t agree on many points. The following document is our attempt to share with you some of the design process and the decisions we made, and why.
Charlie’s General Notes
Working on the
The project was also difficult on a personal level. I live
Rich and I were blessed with an unusual play test team for this game. The members of the team were not just game enthusiasts, but extremely well versed historians of the period. This led to some impassioned debates, but I hope resulted in a better, historically grounded game. Their arguments were always compelling and well documented. I made numerous, significant changes based on their suggestions. I want to give them special thanks for their commitment to the game and for their patience with me when I didn’t understand their issues and for waiting for me to regain focus given the many issues listed above. Any errors in the game are mine.
The Quality rating given units always stirs some debate. Each person is in possession of different sources on the units and the campaign. National pride can enter into the equation. I believe as a team we were able to step away from emotional interests and rate units as objectively as the data allowed.
There were three factors that entered into the equation of what quality rating a unit received. These factors are: unit type, reputation and battle casualties. I began with unit type. For example a Guards unit was assumed to be of higher quality than a line unit, a line unit of higher quality than a militia or landwehr unit. This was the starting point however and quality ratings could shift based on the other two factors. Units cited in sources as performing well or that had higher historical reputations would receive a slightly higher rating. I also referred to the battle casualties suffered by a unit. My assumption was that if units stood its ground long enough to suffer a high percentage of casualties then it should not rout as easily in the game. I did my best to differentiate losses due to wounds as opposed to losses due to men missing.
A similar formula was used to determine leader ratings. Leaders that were higher in the organization began with higher ratings. The assumption is that all things being equal men would be more likely to respond to a corps commander than a brigade commander. Other factors that were taken into account were the leader’s overall reputation and reports of their performance during the campaign. Leader ratings are based on their ability to affect the performance of men on the field and do not reflect on their strategic capability. With so many leaders in the game, reports could only be found on a relatively small percentage. So often, the default organizational rating was used. No offense is intended to anyone’s distant relative who may have participated in the campaign. :o)
This topic stirred some of the strongest debate within the
team. This is where the decisions were most difficult. With the prolific number
of sources existing on
Unit capability was based on the best data available. Doctrinal sources for each nation were reviewed and units were given the capability to perform those tasks they were trained to do. Compelling information was found that extended skirmisher status to some Dutch and Prussian units that hadn’t enjoyed that capability in other games.
Designing a campaign requires a juggling of three issues:
Historical accuracy, playability and reasonable alternatives. I also like to
look for issues unique to a particular campaign. In Napoleon’s Russian Campaign
an issue of interest was morale and the fanaticism rating give most Russian
infantry units. The Russian campaign last almost half a year. Morale was a key
factor in a campaign of that length. To capture that, I built in decisions for
the Russian commander that could raise or lower the fanaticism rating for
Each of these campaigns is fought in three phases. There is an opening round consisting of a light action as advance elements encounter rear guard units. Phase two encompasses the first general action between the two sides. Depending on the particular conditions existing in this phase it is possible for the Allies and sometimes the French to win the campaign at this point. If a victory is not achieved by either side the campaign moves on to phase three. Phase three represents the culminating battle of the campaign. The campaign will conclude after this phase.
Narrow Historical Campaign
This campaign is set up in a limited fashion. It proceeds in
a strictly historical fashion. Choices are limited to the historical terrain
fought on in 1815. There is an opening phase that captures the rearguard action
Narrow Historical Bulow Variant
This campaign is identical to the Narrow Historical Campaign with one exception. The exception is that Bulow and his Prussian IV Korps may arrive during phase two. It allows players to examine the impact of Bulow’s arrival at this pivotal point would have had on the campaign’s outcome. This variant will strengthen the Allied hand considerably.
This campaign is identical to the Narrow Historical Campaign
with the exception that the French will put their main effort in phase two
This campaign offers the player an expanded number of
decisions. It adds different geographical paths the player can choose from. For
example the French commander can shift his initial attack farther west and
To me this is the most intriguing of the campaigns. Rich has
performed a Herculean task in producing the
The Large Campaign allows the players to play out the full campaign on the huge playing board Rich has provided. There is only one phase. In this phase the players make a decision concerning their initial deployments. A unique feature has been added which allows slight variation to occur with these dispositions. From there the player chooses whichever path, road or town to advance through.
In this campaign a critical factor is the weather.
Historically it rained on June 17. This made it almost impossible for Napoleon
With this project it has been made easier than on previous nap one's because of some new features John has added in, specifically the ability to use an “overlay” – to work off existing topo maps, and also the ability to paste smaller maps into one larger one. This was a huge boost, as it can be quite daunting working on a map of almost a quarter of a million hexes. The process goes like this:
I take a topo, currently 1:50,000 scale that has an increment of 10 meters per contour interval. I chop out the section I want to use, then enlarge it to 185% it's original size. Now I have my "overlay" map.
I then go into the mapping program and create a new map file. This is what ever dimensions, say 200 x 200, and completely blank. Just a flat terrain all at level "0". I then go in and load the overlay map into memory. I can then toggle my display to show the game map as it displays in a game, or hexes superimposed over the overlay map. I then toggle the button for "elevations" that are displayed as a white number in the center of the hex. Now the real fun starts…
You must click, hex by hex swapping elevations as needed, to create the terrain. There are some “fill” functions built in, so if you have a large area all of one height you can outline it, then fill it in. This certainly helps.
Once the elevations have been keyed in you can turn off the numbering and then proceed to adding in the terrain features. And, as you probably guessed these are done hex by hex. So, if a stream must be recreated you do it hex-by-hex along it’s entire length. Same for every terrain type. There are “fill” features available here, but the only one I really use it on is Woods, as they sometimes cover larger areas.
Once the terrain features (woods, water ways, roads, village locations, etc.) are added in I can toggle out of the overlay mode for good and work just with the game map. I do that all in normal 2D mode unless I’m placing buildings (all 3 types), which I do in normal 3D mode so that I can see how they display and adjust accordingly. Here I try to work in the details on embankments, hedges, building type placement and so on. I use several points of reference once I am in this phase, namely period maps and descriptions from various authors describing the area in question.
Needless to say it’s a very time consuming process. Given the nature of this campaign and the “relatively” small amount of land covered during the four days, I thought it best to include it all in the package. I hope you enjoy the map, and take use of all the different spots available to fight upon…not just the historical ones.
We went over the PDT files line by line for this game, and several changes were made. Some of those were:
And then the biggest change was the addition of weather to the file, and the variables associated with it. Within the game the weather entries display like this in the pdt interface:
Clear (100% at 00:00 06/15/1815) Visibility: 40 Move Cost: 100%
Attack Mod: 0% Artillery Mod: 100% Flags: None
And within the PDT file they look like this:
1 1815 6 15 0 0 100 40 100 100 0 0 Clear
1 = Weather entry
1815 = The Year
6 = The Month
15 = The Day
0 = The Hour
0 = The Minute
100 = The % of probability this entry will take place on the time set.
40 = Visibility
100 = % cost to move, for example in light mud we used a value of 150, or 1.5 times the normal rate.
100 = % modifier on artillery effectiveness, 100 being no adverse effects.
0 = % modifier on assaults, 0 being no adverse effects.
0 = special flags used. (This effects the ability of cavalry to charge or not)
Clear = Text name assigned to the condition, I created 6 for use in the campaign.
Beyond the normal use of this feature to replicate the effects of weather on the terrain and combat we also used it for two other things.
1) To gradually decrease visibility as the major battles progressed. This is an attempt to simulate the gathering smoke from the various weapons used.
2) To gradually increase and decrease visibility for dawn and dusk, so that it goes from 1 hex, to 2, then to 3 then 4 and vice versa as the time frame changes.
Other engine changes
Some other items that were changed for this game are:
1) Disordered defenders now defend at 2/3 effectiveness instead of full strength. This necessitated the change also for disordered attackers to only attack at 1/3 strength. So you should think long and hard before attacking with disordered units now.
2) Cavalry charge continuation – the ability of cavalry to continue their charge for their full 4 hexes, even if there are empty hexes in that path, assuming they continue to win.
3) Multiple melees on the same unit are now possible, as an optional rule, for both cavalry and infantry.
5) Random scenario selection within the campaign engine. The ability to use the * at the end of the scenario name in the campaign tree, which permits the engine to choose from any number of scenarios for that branch. This feature is used in the “Large” campaign, so that 1 of 3 scenarios will be chosen, depending on your and your opponents selections. A total of 27 scenarios are available for that campaign alone.
We have attempted to create a wide variety of scenarios for you to play. The campaign itself presented only a handful of situations, which we have addressed. With each situation we have created both a Historical version as well as one or up to five variations of any given situation. A few “sub-battles” are also included covering specific sections of the main battles, more of these will be forth coming in an expansion package. And finally, we provided a variety of Hypothetical scenarios. Some plausible, if the armies hand only taken a different turn here or there, and some totally fictional, either designed for multi-player games or just a good one-on-one scrap. All in all they range from 6 turns to 400 turns, and all spaces in between. 60 scenarios are included in the main section with another 109 being created for the campaign specific situations.
Special notes by D.S. Walter
Players of Talonsoft’s Battleground Waterloo and Prelude to Waterloo will find Campaign Waterloo strikingly different with respect to the way the Prussian army and some of the minor contingents of the Anglo-Allied army are portrayed in the game. In BGW and PTW, those lower quality troops were denied the ability to detach skirmishers and form square. After serious consideration we have come to regard this design decision by our predecessors as not in keeping with what we know from the historical sources about the tactics employed by these armies. Hence, to sum up the differences between BGW/PTW and Campaign Waterloo
We are convinced that these design decisions are historically correct. We are also aware that they are probably not in keeping with what some of those who will play this game have read elsewhere, or seen in other games that cover this era. There is a notorious disregard in English-language literature for the quality and tactical skills of the German and Netherland contingents in the Waterloo campaign, and it has become a common misconception to portray especially the Prussian army of 1815 as composed of mostly raw levies that mastered only one tactical formation—the clumsy battalion column of attack. This, though, is far from the truth.
There can be no doubt that the Prussian regulations that resulted from the reforms of 1807-13 made skirmishing a tactical mainstay of the new army organisation. Every infantry regiment of two line battalions received a third battalion of newly raised light troops under the name of Fuesiliere. In addition, the third rank of each line battalion was trained in skirmishing duties as well. These skirmishers had to be agile men and good shots and received better firearms. When a whole brigade (of two regiments of infantry, plus cavalry and artillery) engaged in textbook style, then a screen of skirmishers would be deployed by the Fuesilierbataillone. Under real battlefield conditions, however, this was unlikely to happen, and then the line battalions formed skirmish platoons from their own third rank men.
the regulations under which the Prussian army fought in the
1. Textbook tactics are not always actually used in the field—the Prussian army could have been led by reactionary or untrained officers who did not employ skirmishers even though the regulations provided for their use.
actually a wealth of evidence for the actual use of skirmishers by the Prussian
army in the
2. Even if skirmishers were actually deployed, the Prussian army’s training was so poor that they were most likely completely ineffective.
There is no evidence to suggest that. For one thing, the Prussian army of 1815 was far from being composed of raw levies. Fully one-third of its infantry was “old line”—regiments that had existed continually for centuries and were made up almost exclusively from long-serving veterans, i.e. professional soldiers. Another third was “new line”—fully trained regiments that had been formed from reserve formations beginning in 1812. Only the last third was Landwehr, but even these militia regiments had a strong core of trained soldiers. After the defeat in 1806/07, the Prussian army had been forced to discharge over 200,000 men of mostly long service, and naturally these men were the first to return to the colors in 1813 and form the nucleus of the Landwehr battalions.
Most importantly, though, we believe that skirmishing is not actually rocket science. Telling a man to find cover behind a tree and snipe at the enemy may have been a deviation from 18th century practice, but was certainly not something that needed year-long training. If he would actually hit something, and would stay behind his tree even though a French battalion column was coming at him, was of course an entirely different matter.
Thus, if the skirmishing of low quality troops like the Prussian Landwehr was in fact not very effective, we believe that will be taken care of by the game itself. Those troops are not likely to hit a lot, and they are very likely to run when being attacked. And that is the historical solution.
3. Historical or not, giving the Prussian army so many skirmishers will make it so strong as to negatively affect game balance.
Yes, we gave this point a lot of thought. But consider this—the skirmishers in this game are an entirely different lot from those supermen you see in BGW and PTW. No longer do they knock out guns at extreme rifle range, and they usually cannot disrupt a formed unit with a little sniping. They are easily overrun by cavalry and pushed out of the way by infantry attacks. If a formed unit retreats from a melee and they get in the way, they are automatically eliminated. Skirmishers can no longer form an impenetrable barrier that protects the main line from attack. The one-phase format of this game makes it easy to brush them away first, then engage the enemy’s formed units within the same turn. Skirmishers are but a nuisance to the enemy, and that is a very historical function while it is not, in our view, a serious game balance issue.
the same applies as has been said before about skirmishers. Forming square is
really not rocket science either. Especially not since the continental armies
did not employ the highly artificial “hollow square” the British army used, but
rather the far more simple “full square” that basically was a column of attack
that closed up to resemble a rectangular formation. In the last resort, forming
some sort of irregular cluster with everyone facing outwards—still a halfway
effective way of seeing off not too determined cavalry—was something that could
be expected even of rather raw troops. In any case, there is every evidence
that even Landwehr did form square in the
We believe that a square of low quality troops may not be a very neat formation and it may not be highly effective and break easily, but for us that is not a reason to unhistorically deny these troops the capability altogether. The way the game engine works, it will make sure that there is every chance that the battalion refuses the formation change, or if it succeeds, then that it ends up disrupted after being fired upon, and a disrupted square breaks more easily. In other words, as with the skirmishers, the unit quality and the game engine will take care of the historical results.
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