Home > Spotlights > Napoleonic Battles > Campaign Waterloo > Waterloo Designers' Notes

1st December 2004

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 Waterloo project was a challenge for several reasons. It has been frequently written about. This can be a mixed blessing. There is a plethora of data, but much of it can be conflicting. Many people are familiar with the campaign, but their knowledge may be tied to just a few of these sources. Anything that goes contrary to the data they are familiar with can seem anathema.
The project was also difficult on a personal level. I live in Florida and was hit directly by three of the four hurricanes that struck the state. It is hard to stay focused on game work when roof shingles litter your yard with no electrical power and temperatures in the upper 90’s. There were also significant health issues that my son, step dad and sister-in-law all encountered and are still dealing with. My prayers and thoughts are always with them. It was only due to the patience, encouragement and prayers of my partner Rich Hamilton that I was able to continually regain focus and bring the project to completion. So I offer my thanks to Rich and all the other people who have provided support during this time.
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.
Unit Quality
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.
Leader Quality
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)
Unit Strength
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 Waterloo there were almost as many opinions and data. Most orders of battle that I found differed in numbers. They often differed in how the numbers were totaled. For example some oob’s would count everyone in the battalion; others would exclude officers and bandsmen. Some would include a current count of the men in the battalion while other unit totals were not updated to include losses suffered in an earlier battle. Some units were provided monetary compensation. The compensation was based on the total troops present for service. So in some cases the total reported may have reflected a desire to receive full compensation more than the actual number present. With that said it is fair to say that a fair amount of “Kentucky windage” went into the numbers used in the game. The strength levels used represent my best estimate on the actual number of troops present for service based on all sources. I doubt that even on the day of the battle a completely accurate accounting was possible.
Unit Capability
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.
Campaign Notes
General Notes
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 Russian troops. Waterloo was an extremely short campaign. The key factor that jumped out at me was the 10,000 + Prussians who became lost or deserted during the withdrawal from the field at Ligny. I have built this issue into the phased games. If the player does not win an outright victory after the second phase some straggling is assumed to occur as the Allied armies withdraw to their phase three positions. The amount of this straggling will be determined by the degree of victory or defeat in phase two. For example a minor defeat will cause the Allied army withdrawing to suffer more loss between phases than a draw.
Phased Campaigns
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 near Charleroi. Phase two represents Napoleon’s attempt crush Blucher at Ligny while Ney attempts to deal with Wellington at Quatres Bras. Phase three places the Prussian at Wavre with Grouchy gradually arriving. Napoleon is opposite Wellington at Waterloo. Losses suffered in earlier phases are carried over into unit strength in later phases. The Prussians are assumed to have suffered straggling losses during the withdrawal from Ligny.
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.
Narrow Historical Wellington Variant
This campaign is identical to the Narrow Historical Campaign with the exception that the French will put their main effort in phase two against Wellington at Quatres Bras. This option will impact the numbers of stragglers and the starting strength for both Allied armies in phase three.
Waterloo Wide Variant
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 attack through Mons. One of the criticisms of Wellington was that he was slow to react to the French advance through Charleroi. It has always been argued in his defense that he was concerned with maintaining his army’s viability. That he was fearful of a French attack that would separate him from his line of supply which ran to the coast. Now the players may test these assumptions. What if Wellington had committed sooner and then found that Napoleon indeed was attacking through Mons? During this campaign the players can shift the axis of their attack and are not limited to maintaining a single path.
Large Campaign
To me this is the most intriguing of the campaigns. Rich has performed a Herculean task in producing the Waterloo map. He has provided us a map that encompasses 2,250 square kilometers of south-central Belgium. To accomplish this he accurately mapped 224,000 one-hundred meter hexes.
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 to catch Wellington who was withdrawing from Quatres Bras. Grouchy’s pursuit of Blucher to Wavre was hampered. The Prussian arrival at Waterloo was impaired by muddy roads. Weather will play a key role in the outcome of your four day campaign.
Rich’s notes:


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.
4)      Battle termination feature added for those playing a campaign against the AI. You can now place a bid and move on to the next battle when the outcome of a scenario has been determined in your view.
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
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.
These were the regulations under which the Prussian army fought in the Waterloo campaign, and they applied to the Landwehr (militia) as well as to the line. There can be no doubt about that. Still, there are at least three arguments that could be used in defence of a decision to deny the Prussian army skirmishing capabilities in the game. Let me now address them one by one.
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.
There is actually a wealth of evidence for the actual use of skirmishers by the Prussian army in the Waterloo campaign. That includes numerous mentions of skirmishers that were deployed by the 1st and 2nd battalions—the line battalions—of the regiments, and even by Landwehr battalions. Here Peter Hofschroeers two volumes on the Waterloo Campaign (see the literature section) are useful as they provide English translation of lengthy quotes from German accounts, especially pp. 174-178 of volume One that cover the fighting on June 15 by Ziethen’s I Corps. Nor were skirmishers always used sparingly—the sources indicate that sometimes up to 50% of a battalion were deployed in the skirmish line. There can be no legitimate doubt that the Prussian army routinely used large amounts of skirmishers in 1815.
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.
For another thing, Prussia had devoted considerably energy on actually training its army in light infantry duties, and with considerable success. Johann David Graf Yorck von Wartenburg had been appointed inspector-general of the light troops and supervised their training to great effect.
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.
Very much 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 Waterloo campaign and in one notably instance even withstood three charges by French heavy cavalry. 
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.
Adkin, Mark;The Waterloo Companion; (Stackpole Books, 2001)
Army Map Service; Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. (Compiled
de Bas, F. and de Wommersom, J. de T'Serclaes;La Campagne de 1815 aux Pays-Bas;
d'apres les rapports officiels neerlandais; (Brussels, 1908)
Blond, G.;La Grande Armee; (R. Laffront Press, 1979)
Bowden, Scott; Armies at Waterloo; (Arlington, TX. 1983)
Brett-James, A.;The Hundred Days; (London 1964)
Chandler, David; Atlas of Military Strategy; (London, 1980)
Chandler, David;The Campaigns of Napoleon; (New York, 1966)
Chandler, David; Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars; (New York, 1979)
Chandler, David; On the Napoleonic Wars; (London, 1999)
Chandler, David; Napoleon’s Marshals; (London, 1987)
Chandler, David; Waterloo the Hundred Days; (London, 1997)

Elting, John R.; Swords Around the Throne; (New York, 1997)

Esposito, Vincent J. and John R. Elting; A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars; (London, 1999)

 Exerzir-Reglement für Infanterie der Königlich Preussischen Armee; (Berlin 1812).
Griess, Thomas E. (series editor); Atlas for the Wars of Napoleon; (New Jersey, 1986)
Hamilton-Williams, David; Waterloo: New Perspectives; (New York, 1994)
Haythornwaite, Phillip; The Napoleonic Source Book; (London, 1990)
Hofschroeer, Peter; Prussian Light Infantry 1792-1815 {Osprey Men-at-Arms, 149}; (Oxford: Osprey,1984).
Hofschroeer, Peter; 1815:The Waterloo Campaign. Wellington, his German Allies and the Battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras; (London: Greenhill, 1998).
Hofschroeer, Peter; 1815:The Waterloo Campaign: The German Victory; (London: Greenhill,1999)
Howarth, D.; A Near Run Thing; (London, 1968)
Muir, Rory; The Tactics and Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon; Yale (London,1998)
Nafziger, George; Imperial Bayonets. Tactics of the Napoleonic Battery, Battalion and Brigade as Found in Contemporary Regulations; (London: Greenhill,1996).
Nofi, Albert A.; Great Campaigns: The Waterloo Campaign; (Pennsylvania, 1998)
Nosworthy, Brent; With Musket, Cannon and Sword;  (Sarpendon, New York, 1996)
Palmer, A.; Napoleon in Russia, the 1812 Campaign; (New York,1967)
Sautermeister, Reinhard; Die taktische Reform der preussischen Armee nach 1806; (Tübingen, 1935)
Siborne, W.; History of the Waterloo Campaign; (London: Greenhill, 1990)
Smith, Digby; Napoleonic Wars Data Book; (London, 1998)
Stoddard, John L.; Napoleon from Corsica to St. Helena - 16 vols.; (Chicago, 1894)
Weller, Jac; Wellington at Waterloo; (London, 1992)
Wooten, Geoffrey; Waterloo 1815: The Birth of Modern Europe; (London, 1993)

Home > Spotlights > Napoleonic Battles > Campaign Waterloo > Waterloo Designers' Notes

 © 1999-2017 Scenario Design Center