Author Topic: “Napoleon at Waterloo” The Events Analyzed via Historical Simulation  (Read 1647 times)


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As mentioned in the Tuesday Newsday, The Journal of Advanced Military Studies has an issue all about wargaming (, including Charles J. Esdaile, PhD's, Napoleon at Waterloo, where he says,

Most members of the wider public are  likely  to  encounter  Waterloo  primarily  through  phenomena  of  this  sort,  but there is another field that could be considered as being ripe for discussion, namely the historical conflict-based board game. There are at least 25 products portraying either the full campaign of the Hundred Days or the climactic battle of 18 June 1815 that have appeared since the foundational moment represented  by  the  establishment  of  the  renowned  Avalon  Hill  company  in  1952.

At least 25?! That's totally ridiculous. No one can be expected to play even half that number of games about a single campaign! The next thing someone is going to say is that there are 10 games about the Battle of the Bulge. We must put a stop to this farce!

Actually, I have no idea where I was going with this rant. I just wanted to post about the article. Anyone with more Napoleonic knowledge have any thoughts on it?

In this article, however, we shall be concerned with just one game, namely an introductory product entitled Napoleon at Waterloo developed in 1970 by Simulations Publications Incorpo-rated, or SPI.

However, in both respects, as it was actually fought, the Battle of Waterloo is difficult to conciliate with  these  expectations [of an equal chance to win],  the  fact  being  that,  so  incompetent  was  French  staff  work, so numerous the mistakes of Napoleon and, finally, so unfortunate the campaign  in  respect  of  the  weather,  that  there  was  little  or  no  chance  of  the  emperor prevailing when he finally confronted Wellington at Mont-Saint-Jean.

In  sum,  it  can  be  seen  that  using  an  appropriate  board  wargame  to  simulate  the events of 18 June 1815 is a worthwhile exercise, not least because, properly configured, it immediately confronts anyone who tries it with the very difficult task that Napoleon faced on the morning of Waterloo; namely, having to break an enemy commanded by the best general his many opponents had ever fielded ensconced in excellent defensive positions at the head of an army that had al-ready lost much of its hitting power, and that, unbeknownst to him, of course, in the face of significant time pressures.

"Man...knowing how to use the cards properly certainly changes how I play the game" -- judgedredd