My Waterloo

I have been wargaming for as long as I can remember, but in all that time I have never developed a great enthusiasm for wargaming the Napoleonic era. That is not to say that I have not owned Napoleonic wargame figures … but I have never made much of a commitment to fighting battles with them.

Some years ago I bought the entire RELIVE WATERLOO series of 25/28mm figures and magazines from Del Prado, and more recently I have bought more of these figures via eBay. These are currently sitting in storage boxes in my toy/wargames room, and as a result of a conversation that I had on Tuesday morning with a old wargaming friend who – like me – has not fought many Napoleonic wargames, I have decided that I want to get these figures based by the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June this year.

This is going to be a slow-burn, non-priority project over the next few months, and will no doubt progress in fits and starts … but progress it will!


20 Comments on “My Waterloo”

  1. Please list me as another who has never felt any attraction to the Napoleonic period.

    Intellectually I understand why the period is popular but it still leaves me cold.

    There are far too many other periods which draw my attention . . . so I will leave Napoleon to others.

    — Jeff

  2. Bluebear Jeff,

    I think that what put me off when I was a teenager was the then-fashionable pressure to fight huge battles with thousands of figures. Nowadays a lot of people seem far less bothered about staging that sort of wargame, although they still seem to feature quite widely at wargames shows.

    What I intend to do is to use the figures I own … but to leave Napoleon out of it! I think that my collection will enable me to fight a variety of interesting imagi-nation campaigns set in the early nineteenth century using my own simple rules.

    All the best,


  3. arthur1815 says:

    You might find the game rules and map published on this website:

    inspiration for developing a sort of Portable Waterloo or Napoleonic ImagiNations battles using the figures you have to portray large formations.

    Thousands of figures look good at displays, but are totally impracticable for most people, and this is reflected in many modern rules which portray low-level actions between 'factions' rather than military formations.

    Best wishes,

  4. Arthur1815,

    Thanks very much for the link. The rules look exactly the sort of thing that will suit my requirements … and I can set it up on my tabletop using my Hexon II terrain. It will spur me on to get some of my figures based up and in use.

    All the best,


  5. Hi Bob,

    I discovered your Portable Wargames today and enjoyed playing with them using a hexmap. I know this is off-topic from your post but didn't know how else to contact you.

    If I may, the one question I have is about close combat. If it occurs and both units miss each other, what happens with the adjacent units after that? Must they both roll for attack on subsequent turns, or is that just when they first come into contact?

    I tried it both ways and found it much simpler to only have both sides roll on their first turn of close combat. On subsequent turns I preferred to ignore the close combat rules for units within 1 space.

    Thanks very much,


  6. It was Napoleonics which got me into wargaming, with the plastic Airfix figures, in the seventies but I have since realsised that it is folly to try to paint Napoleonic armies, so most of my figures are going on eBay!

  7. Chris says:

    I've given some thought to adapting Waterloo a la Carte for miniatures (if I do I will add an artillery unit and a cavalry unit to the Prussians), but I will probably use One Hour Wargames rules instead. I ran across an AAR for that, and it gave me some food for thought. (Then again I may use a version of Portable Wargame–am I focused or what?!)

    Best regards,


  8. Scott Salsman,

    I am very pleased that you have enjoyed using my PORTABLE WARGAME rules … and I certainly don't mind you contacting me via my blog.

    In answer to your question, the second method that you outline is probably the way I would have played out the situation.

    All the best,


  9. Legatus Hedlius,

    I certainly could not have been bothered to paint all the Napoleonic figures that I have bought from Del Prado … but now that I own them I feel that I ought to use them whilst I can.

    All the best,


  10. Chris,

    I must admit that I liked the look of WATERLOO A LA CARTE, and the rules would certainly work for the sort of battles the I have in mind. I have looked at the ONE HOUR WARGAME rules as well, but as the former is hex based it might be a better starting point for me.

    I have drafted a Napoleonic version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, but have no plans to develop them any further in the immediate future.

    All the best,


  11. arthur1815 says:

    I'm very glad you found Waterloo a la Carte interesting. I haven't had time to play a game yet, but have maps and counters printed out ready for half term – if I actually get a break from tutoring!
    I'd be very interested to see your Portable Napoleonic Rules when you are ready to publish them, and would be happy to help playtest them.
    I have just read on TMP that TwoHourWargames are developing a Napoleonic game called Morale Napoleon, in which the players are at least corps commanders. You might care to read the AAR of a trial game on the THW website.
    Best wishes,

  12. Arthur1815,

    Half term? At my advanced age and state of decrepitude, I can just remember looking forward to them myself.

    Seriously though, I like the simple design approach used in WATERLOO A LA CARTE, and it will fit in with my own ideas very well indeed.

    My own PORTABLE WARGAME: NAPOLEONIC WARS rules are in a very shambolic state at the moment, but if I ever manage to get them into a properly organised state I will send you a copy.

    I must have missed the item on TMP that you mention, but if time allows I will look at the battle report and the rules later today.

    All the best,


  13. alastair says:

    I also struggle with this period…maybe we need a support group…Napoleonics Anonymous…where we can confess our sins. 🙂

    The one rule set that did tempt me into this arena is Sharpe Practice. I think the relatively low number of figures and the scenario focus of the game make it more entertaining tha a massed army slog.

  14. Alastair,

    'Napoleonics Anonymous' sounds like a great idea. ('My name is Bob … and I am a wargamer who doesn't like Naploeonics.')

    I would probably join if NA actually existed,

    All the best,


  15. Chris says:

    I have the same feeling about 1 Hour Wargame Rules–I wish they were played on a grid. But I would think they would work fine on a squared grid–maybe hexed as well. I will try them out that way and let you know.

    Best regards,


  16. I have piles of Airfix Napoleonics painted, part-painted and raw from when I started wargaming as a teenager. They almost fought there way back into use when I presented an experimental 'Not Quite Marengo' at COW a few years back (and Chris Kemp keeps reminding me to finish it) …

    So I definitely decided to do a Waterloo wargame this year despite it being a banal year to pick.

    Now the Museum have asked me to do a talk on Waterloo in June (which is nice of them) and I think my Waterloo energy will all go into that.

    I hope I will do the Napoleonic revival thing but I fear it came and went again like before …


  17. Chris,

    I followed the link from arthur1815's comment, and found a very suitable set of hex-based rules there. Well worth a look at in my opinion.

    All the best,


  18. SoA Shows North (Phil),

    It may be banal to choose to do a re-fight of Waterloo during its bicentenary year … but it also makes a lot of sense to me to do so.

    I suspect that as the year progresses there will be an upswing in all things Napoleonic in the tiny world of wargaming. Just think of it as doing your bit … and it could certainly enhance you library session!

    All the best,


    PS. I think that the game that arthur1815's link goes to might be something worth looking at. It could easily be the basis of one of your beautiful converted wallpaper pasting table terrain games.

  19. Good idea … I'm going to give it a run through I think, Bob …

  20. SoA Shows North,

    I do have the occasionally good idea … but not as often as I would like to!

    All the best,


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