Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waterloo - New Rules from Warhammer Historicals

The end is nigh! GW does Napoleonics!

A new set of rules from Warhammer Historicals titled "Waterloo: Tabletop Wargaming in the Age of Napoleon" priced at GBP36.00.

You can view some interactive spreads from this book by clicking here. Quick Reference and Roster Sheets as well as templates are available to download here.

From there announcement:

Battles in the Napoleonic Wars were brutal and bloody. Vast armies fought with musket and bayonet on rain-soaked fields, half-blinded by acrid smoke and deafened by the ceaseless barrage of distant artillery. Men fell in great swathes, marching to death or glory to the rhythmic beat of drums.

Waterloo is a tabletop miniatures game for two or more players, set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. With these rules you are the general, with an army of miniatures at your command, representing the forces of France, Britain, Prussia or their allies. This rulebook is focussed on the campaign and battle of Waterloo, the climax of the Napoleonic Wars, but the rules within allow you to recreate battles from across the entire period (1792-1815) and even beyond.

This 288 page hardback book contains all the information you need to get started, including full rules for fighting tabletop battles in the Napoleonic era, army lists and historical orders of battle, a brief history of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, a complete campaign to get you started, and a hobby section detailing how to collect, assemble and paint your army of miniatures. In addition, you will find an inspirational showcase of beautifully painted models and lavish illustrations.

For more info and to buy click here.

The quality of this glossy hardback book looks excellent, as you would expect, I have liked previous WH books even though I do feel they tend to try and milk you dry of money, these are probably no different as they mention this set is focused squarely on Waterloo, so I assume we can expect a book for each campaign to be released in the future, "sorry can't play 1812 unless you buy the book"!

A lot of the artwork has a familiar look to it, especially if you have bought any of the Perry Plastic's recently, as a fair amount seems to have come directly off their boxes, though given the connection is that a surprise? I do hope though this doesn't mean at some point down the line we will have to start buying the plastics from GW, there's a scary thought!

As you might expect from a GW ruleset army building looks like it is a big part of the game. From reading the material in the ArmyLists it appears that the 'norm' is a 2,000pt army which probably represents about a Division, maybe around 8 Battalions, there is repeated mention of Battalions being made up of a basic 3 companies, though more can be added at a price. Not sure if that means they really expect 3 stand battalions to be the norm or not, I assume not, in fact it would seem to be 6 if you take account of the skirmish rule below.

Skirmishers are abstracted but are only available if you have 6 companies or more and have then 'upgraded' one of them to Light, similar for Grenadiers making your Battalion 'hardened'.

Repeated mention of 'companies' makes it sound like the rules are stand based, however when discussing facing it says "all models in a company must face the same way", so clearly it is figure based and you will probably end up counting heads like you do in other GW games.

Turn sequence is Initiative, Artillery, Movement, Shooting and Melee.

Actions are performed by expending Tactical points or Strategy points, Strategy points are non-replaceable, TAC Points sound like you have a given level every turn, like other GW games sounds like your 'heroes' are important in determining what you can do.

Although with the odd line like 'Units can be arranged in a variety of shapes called formations' doesn't exactly instill you with a feeling this rule set will amount to much I do think they are interesting, I hope I am wrong that they are figure based, at this level (assuming its Tactical), I think only stands work, figures based games are fine for skirmish and large skirmish but divisional is too much.

I have got to say all the above is based on squinting at the screenshots of the pages and some guesswork, to be honest if you release a new ruleset for Napoleonic's I think you should at least demonstrate you understand gaming the era by providing the sort of information potential customers would need to in order to make a purchase judgement especially at these prices.

I don't think the current information is anywhere near enough to get an idea of what these rules are like to play, basic information like what level they are aimed at, figure or stand based, how many figures in the 'average' game, etc. etc. seems not to be readily available, and at GBP36.00 I am not sure I would be really enthused enough to make the effort to go and find out that much more anyway!

Although I am personally not a great fan of Sam Mustafa the man (mainly 'cos of how he can be on TMP), I will say if you need an example of a superbly managed ruleset LaSalle would be it, hardback, pdf, forums, author support, the lot and if he can do it then I see no reason why a company like GW/WH can't do at least the same.

But you can't simply dismiss anything from GW out of hand, they are a major force in the gaming market even if not in the Napoleonic era, though WH support is patchy to none existent when GW figures aren't somehow involved.

We will be hearing more of these rules in the next few months I am sure and I guess there will be more books released to coincide with the upcoming anniversaries.

Though I think it's going to take a lot to convince me to part with GBP36.00.

At least it wasn't BattleFront!


Max Gried said...

I bought this book and I am very pleased. I met most of the rules playing War of the Ring, Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000. The other bits are are taken from other historical wargaming rules.
What I like most is the fact the author tries to mix a more accessible style of gaming (i.e. Warhammer) with more classic wargaming (tactic points, commanders' influence etc.).
I was looking for something like this and now I am painting my French to check the rules out in the game :)
And the truth is there are not many options - Warlord Games is not about to release Napoleonic supplement for Black Powder this year...

Robert said...

"And the truth is there are not many options"
Hmm don't think I can really agree with that statement.

Currently we have so much choice for rules that it's almost ridiculous.

For a start there is Lasalle, probably the most accessible set around, Black Powder (which I don't think needs any Napoleonic supplement, it's fine as it is), R2E, or Die Fighting and then there's TFL's Sharpe or LFS, I could name dozens more. One thing we have never been short of is rules.

I could say it depends do you want to play 40k with Napoleonic figures or do you want to play Napoleonics.

But actually my gripe was not about the rules it was about the lack of published info or support from the author for the game rather than the game itself.

If the rules are good I have no problem with them, but GW should take a leaf from Sam Mustafa or TFL's book on how to publish and manage a set of rules.

Max Gried said...

I haven't heard of the systems you mentioned - poor marketing, I suppose ;)
I do not agree Black Powder is enough - where i.e. all light cavalry is... just light cavalry... but that's my opinion.

What do you mean by "playing Napoleonics"? I don't find Waterloo being a copy of existing GW systems, it just uses some of the rules which IMHO fit quite well to Napoleonic gaming.
I am not a fan of tables and charts kind of game like Mein Panzer is - that's why I like Waterloo as it's quite simple (not silly simple though!), but still you can feel Napoleonic warfare climate.

I am not really surprised GW doesn't promote Historical - it never has. That's the policy - GW rules the world with fantasy miniatures and that's what it focuses on. Historical was even removed from Games Days last year...

Robert said...

Well don't know about poor marketing most, if not all, are one man operations but if you frequent the major historical gaming forums like TMP for instance you would have to try really hard to miss them.

Also you will find them (mostly) listed on http://www.deepfriedhappymice.com/html/rd_napoleonic.html