Paul Comben takes a look at the inaugural design of a new company, Trafalgars Editions. and their simulation of the Battle of Waterloo which combines elements of miniatures with traditional historical board war game mechanics.
by Paul Comben
Designer: Jose Antonio Luengo
Publisher: Trafalgar Editions
By Paul Comben
Publisher Vento Nuovo Games
Designer Emanuele Santandrea
(Some images courtesy of BoardgameGeek.com)
Inevitably, some games on some subjects have us searching around our catalogue of game play experience looking for the most apposite terms of reference. However, from time to time you get a game that really does not put us in mind of anything else. My recent review of W1815 for The Boardgaming Life highlighted such a game; and now, I come to a second Waterloo game which is unique and entirely of itself.
Superficially, this Vento Nuovo title might prompt considerations of similarity with several Columbia designs – especially their Borodino – but beyond a certain resemblance in physical format, Waterloo 200 has very little in common with Columbia’s work. What we have here is an entry-level block game, which, surprise surprise, emphasizes fog of war, but adds to that impulse movement on an area based map, as well as the wearing friction of command, maneuver and combat, the various crises pertaining to battlefield commitment, and all this alongside a dice-less combat system, which, at least initially, will leave many a player scratching their head and wondering what to do. My advice to such players: leave your personal Waterloo baggage elsewhere and give this game time to work its charms on you, because this is really rather special.
By Paul Comben
Designer Hannu Uusitalo
I cannot help but think that this game should be creating a bit more buzz than it actually is. There are certainly some enthusiastic posts on BGG, to go along with a few photos, but given the quality and innovation of the design, and that the favourable comments include one lengthy offering from Professor Philip Sabin (whose work, of course, involves both the design and study of conflict simulations), I think it time the hobby really sat up and took a look at what is going on here.
W1815 is by a Finnish company making its introduction via one of the cleverest, most interestingly different, and utterly engaging works I have set my eyes on in a very long time. Covering the well-trodden ground of Waterloo, you can learn this game in minutes, set it up in seconds, play it in a few more minutes…and then really want to set it up and play it all again. A dream of a game for conventions, for clubs, for holiday outings, for anywhere, I will say here and now that this is a game well worth seeking out and playing to your heart’s content – and yes, it is entirely and enjoyably accessible to solitaire play.
So what makes it so different?
By Paul Comben
This is a simply a light look at all the Waterloo campaign games I have owned and played over the years. I have tried to include just about anything with at least some campaign element to it, but pure recreations of the climatic battle are not present – so no Wellington’s Victory or The Thin Red Line etc.
Furthermore, I am not going into any deep detail as to how the qualifying games are played. What I am looking at (chattily) is how these games reflected (or failed to reflect) the issues in my Waterloo as an Utter Waste of Time article – that is, operational manoeuvre room, the issue of time, the weather, and command and control.
by Paul Comben
According to Helmuth von Moltke, no military plan ever survived first contact with the enemy. According to the Duke of Wellington, his plans were to be best thought of as tatty old bits of harness which could be knotted and pieced back together whenever anything snapped or fell off. For Napoleon, perhaps the single most important factor in a campaign’s success was to be found in one of his favourite maxims: “activité, activité, vitesse, vitesse.” This is best translated by recalling Stonewall’s words about surprising and mystifying your enemy – or in other words, acting quicker than they did and generally getting a move on.
by Harvey Mossman
The Flight of the Eagle is a set of rules that harkens back to early days of war gaming when Kreigspiel was done with generals positioned around large maps, pushing little flags or wooden blocks representing the maneuver elements of their army. Umpires would oversee the progress of the campaign and use complex procedures to adjudicate the results of battles. The commanders’ performances would thus be evaluated and a debriefing would follow to determine what went right and what went wrong in the campaign. Designer Didier Rouy and Pratzen Editions have taken this concept and applied it to the Napoleonic era. Using paper, pen, six sided dice and copies of 19th century maps, they have constructed a rule set whereby teams of players can fight almost any of the Napoleonic campaigns from 1805 to 1815 in an umpired setting.