We had our first outing with the Warhammer Historicals Waterloo wargames rules last night at the club.  These are currently half price from the WH website, so Derek and I took the plunge and bought some sets.  We played the game with 4 players, as well as various hangers on.

The rules themselves are in a large hardback (286 pages), beautifully produced in glorious ‘technicolour’ throughout.  The actual rules only take up only about 60 pages of the first 80 or so, much of which is diagram examples.  The remainder of the book is filled with army lists for the Hundred Days Campaign, as well as the major elements of the French and British forces in the Peninsular.  There are a host of scenarios, siege rules, general histories, details for running campaigns, as well as the usual GW stuff for collecting and painting armies. Throughout there are fabulous photos of massed ranks of Perry miniatures.

The rules are targeted at 28mm figures using a 1/20 ratio, with basing on 15mm frontages which initially led me to think that we could easily use the various armies based for Grand Manner or General de Brigade.  Unfortunately the game operates on a common ‘company’ size of 6 figures, so the old standard of 8 figure basing for the British/ Prussians/ Austrians/ Russians would cause some confusion – this is a small matter though and easily addressed.  The rules are heavily influenced by the War of the Rings rules with elements which will be familiar to WH40K and WHFB players.  We played our first game using similar sized forces on a 6 foot by 4 foot table.  The forces were 6 battalions of infantry (30 to 36 figures each depending upon side), 1 Dragoon squadron (12 figures), and a battery if 3 guns each, led by a single commander.  These totalled around 1760 points each, which from re-reading the book was probably a bit too much for the table size.  The rules recommend 1,000 points for this sized table, with around 2000 points for a 6 foot by 8 foot board.

The turn sequence foillows the War of the Rings with players dicing for initiative, which then allows the winner to determine who will go first in each of the turns phases.

The first phase is artillery fire where the players guess the range to a target, then using the infasmous GW artillery dice (easily recreated by doubling a d6 with the sixes being missfires).  The first roll establishes where the shot first hits, with the second roll determining the distance the shot travels or ‘bounces’.  Missfires aren’t as catastrophic as WHFB, they normally mean that the cannon misses, though there is a 1in6 chance that the cannon becomes fouled so misses the next turn of firing.  There is also a 1in6 chance of the shot undershooting, so still potentially doing some damage.  Damage is done against comapnies which the shot hits and travels through, with either a 2+ or 4+ required to hit.  Casualties for a medium gun were generally D6 wounds per ‘hit’.  We’re all going to revisit the rules to see whether our understanding was correct following 21 hits being caused by one battery fire on a French March Attack column!  Howitzers use templates for establishing what they hit.

The second phase was the movement round.  Infantry generally move 4″, although can go further in march column.  Cavalry move between 6-8 inches a turn dependant upon type.  All units double their move distance when charging.  Terrain generally applys a double or quadrupal move penalty for crossing it.  The general feeling was that the move distances felt quite short, but to be honest it didn’t take us too long to get into combat.

The main innovation I suppose is the games use of TAC points.  Each unit has a TAC rating which is generally 3 but can be lower for poorer troops.  These are used through a turn and refreshed at the start of the next.  It costs one point to move, one point to change formation, one point to fire if the unit didn’t move, or 2 if the unit whishes to fire after it moved.  TAC points can also be used to influence a units moral dice rolls.  Gievn the limited number of TAC points a unit has a turn it becomes important how they are managed or saved for later. Disordered and routing units have no TAC points during their turns.

Officers also have access to STRAT points which allow the commanders to implement one-off actions.  The STRAT points though are lost for the remainder of the game once used.

Firing is completed by one side then the other with each player identifying the target before any measurement taking place.  Firing is calculated by company with each company rolling either a d6 or d3 to establish how many shots it has.  Then that quantity of dice is rolled to establish the number of wounds inflicted.  The number required is modified by distance, first fire, situation factors, as well as unit special rules.  Other special rules give more shots per company, or allow the unit to target command figures etc.  Once casualties have been determined then affected units take command tests as required.  This is a simple dice roll of 2d6 plus the units command rating with other modifiers applied.  If the modified score is 10 or more then the unit is OK.  Should the modified roll be below 10 then the unit degrades in its status, either to ‘disordered, or if already disordered then it routs.

After firing comes the hand to hand melee phase.

To be completed