Putting in the boot

Waterloo logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

Wish it like to run Waterloo Station? Can your ticket collectors halt the advance of the fare dodgers or will they be able to regroup under the clock? In an exciting new wargame from Pss... What? Nothing to do with trains? Oh, that Waterloo.

Ahem. Napoleon was famous not only for his brandy, but also for his Waterloo, of which it has been said that all great men will meet theirs (and not only by Abba).
So it was that on the 18th June 1815, Wellington found himself on top of a hill in central Belgium looking across a very narrow valley at the massed guns and troops of Napoleon's army. An awesome sight, for Napoleon had arranged his larger number of men on the opposite face so as to be clearly visible, thus gaining the maximum psychological advantage.

Wellington faced the most uncertain battle of his career. He could not count on the Prussian reinforcements arriving in time, much of his army was made up of semi- What would you have done?How would you have fared in one of the greatest battles of all time, where defeat and victory depended as much on reacting quickly to chance and providence as it did to well laid battle plans?
Pss has produced a package which attempts to mimic faithfully the conditions and atmosphere of that historic of moments.

You may take charge of either the French or the Allied armies to see if you could have changed history.
What sets this apart from other battle simulations is that there is no godlike overview of the entire field of combat - you can only see from a ground perspective. If you want to make things even more realistic you can choose only to see the field from your HQ, meaning you will have to move around a lot, which is dangerous and time-wasting.

Another way in which Waterloo surpasses other wargames is the intelligences of the company commanders. In the early 19th century, due to lack of efficient communications most company commanders felt free to "interpret" orders from a higher authority in cases when they felt the order was out of date or where they had a special local knowledge not possessed by their general.

This means that Wellington and Napoleon did not directly command their troops, more sort of request them to do something. This can get very frustrating when troops refuse to advance, or worse, go charging unsupported into the enemy strength.
It becomes easy to understand how certain generals were more favoured and given command of larger number of troops or more important positions on the field.

Messages, orders and battle reports must all be sent by rider. So by the time information is received, if it is received, it may well be too late or hopelessly out of date. I once received a battle report from a front-line general more than six hours after I asked him for it.
Clearly a lot of important decisions have to be made intuitively with little or no knowledge of the current situation.

The command parser is fairly intelligent. All the orders are grammatically correct, but it can be a little pernickety about the spelling of obscure village names.

Graphics are OK, but can be painfully slow in places. They are more than adequate to play the game, and a nice touch is the roving mouse, which can identify most buildings and troops. A shame the pointer couldn't have been used for giving movement orders.

If you only ever buy one computer battle sim, make it this one. This is the most complete and realistic wargame I have every played.

Waterloo logo Format Gold

Pss £24.99 * Mouse or Keyboard

To wargaming fans, the name Dr Peter Turcan may, as yet, be unfamiliar. But ST and PC fans have experienced Peter's earlier work Borodino, a wargame based on the conflict between Napoleon and the Russian Prince Kutusov. Now Amiga owners have the chance to re-fight one of Napoleon's most famous battles in this one or two player simulation.

Most wargames give the player an unrealistic view of the battlefield: failing in the attempt to recreate history because they invariably allow the player to see things that the historic commander were unable to. Waterloo, however, is the closest a wargame has come to sticking a player in the commander's boots.

You view the game through the eyes of either napoleon or Wellington, and issue orders to your subordinates - who in turn issue orders to their subordinates - based on what you see from your position on the battlefield and messages received from runners. To familiarise yourself with the game system and the battlefield you can view the action through the eyes of other commanders on the field, or from major landmarks.

The orders you are able to issue vary in complexity from vague commands like 'Lobau, give support to Reille' (leaving the computer to decide how Lobau can best give his support to Reille) to things like : 'Lobau, form a defence line from the east flank to Frichermont linking with D'Erlon'.

Once you have decided which orders to issue (eight per turn, each turn representing fifteen minutes of real time, the battle lasting from 11:30 am until 9:30 pm), the further away this is, the longer it is going to take for the orders to get through (if they do at all, because riders are just as prone to getting themselves killed as anyone else) so things can become very confusing: just as the battles were.


Forget sound, it is not important. The 3D display however is great. It takes a short while for the screen to update, but that is survivable. A short animated sequence of the cannons firing, which is optional, is a nice touch, but for the majority of the time you are looking at blocks representing the units.


If you are looking for a wargame that is fast, simple and easy to play then look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a wargame that provides real challenge, will keep you playing for hours on end and which takes time to play well, then this is for you. The game system is easy to get to grips with but it is not for your casual browser.

Waterloo logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Price: £24.99

Not a new Cinemaware train simulation, but probably the best wargame I have yet to see on any micro. This re-enacts the historical turning point in Napoleon's career where the Duke of Wellington guided the English to victory.

In many ways Waterloo will be especially attractive to the more advanced player. All orders are given by you to your subordinate Commanders who then scurry off to the divisional Generals who in turn will execute the orders upon the various battalions of infantry, cavalry, artillery units and so on. It is at this level that the communication barrier breaks down and commanders will override your order under the pretence of better local knowledge, or just out of pure cowardice.

As with the real life job of a commander in field it is not just the troops movement you have to be concerned with. Supplies need to be hauled from one side of the field to another. Seeing as the radio was not going to be invented for another couple of hundred years all communication is forwarded by runners. This means that your orders, if they reach the general, often take quite a while to be carried out from the moment they are issued, so a lot of planning ahead is required.

Unlike similar wargames the commanders' view of the battlefield is limited to the position his camp is. So like the real thing if you want to see more you are going to pack up your kit bag and move, often taking risks through the battlefield. Unit view is also very limited for this reason. Often the indication for how well or bad a unit is doing comes through verbally and can be out of date or inaccurate.

The 3D graphics are every bit as good as U.M.S. with the addition that they are coloured. But owing to the complexity and attention to detail it takes a few seconds to draw up each screen.

Units can be selected by clicking on them with the mouse pointer, or by issuing a verbal order through the keyboard, although a nice yes/no system works round some of the more tedious parts of the game. If you should feel that you are being kept in the dark by the enemy and your spies at the start of the game you can select an option which will print up the opposition's battle messages, too, making life a little bit more revealing.

Although moderately complex, Waterloo is surprisingly easy to get into and guarantees playing stints of several hours a time. Highly recommended.

Waterloo logo

Pss, Amiga £24.99

Waterloo provides an almost unique approach to wargaming on Amiga, with only Rainbird's U.M.S. currently offering a similar style of presentation. The battlefield and ongoing conflict is viewed in solid 3-D with buildings, roads, hills and army units all in accurate perspective. The viewpoint can be changed through the eyes of Corps Commanders if necessary.

Another of Waterloo's innovations lies in the command/ order system. Seven types of order can be input via typed in commands using a relatively unsophisticated parser. Once input, the order follows down the chain of command, you as leader having most influence over your Corps Commanders' decisions and through them their lower ranking officers.

An example of order might take the form of 'Wood [the name of the Commander] at 3.30 PM. Move to Mon Plaisir' or even a more complex 'drouot Shell the Enemy Infantry at Lobau for 1 hour'. Orders take seven basic forms (basic/ battle/ support/ report/ transfer/ strategy/ defense Attack Line). Using these, units can receive or give support, transfer forces, change tactics to any other of five types (from Attack to Retreat) and create formations on the front line prior to battle.

Forces adhere to your commands but use their own initiative when faced with small-scale, localised battles. This limited influence, chain of command is a very neat touch lending a lot of realism to the game. Once the initial problems of communication are overcome the parser becomes relatively easy to use although an incorrect manual didn't help the situation.

Morale, troop quality and artillery provided cover all play a crucial part in combat. Using artillery can be a little tricky as the 3-D effect isn't perfect and units at the half-mile maximum range are unlikely to take serious damage if fired upon. Distant units are difficult to pinpoint and examine with the cursor, but the manual details the officers in charge and trough them the control of small units is possible.

Messenger riders can be sent out with orders to Commanders. If shot the message simply doesn't get through, this can prove disastrous if you're aiming for an all-fronts attack. Requesting that commanders send back battle reports is the best way of keeping up to date with current conflicts and on-screen reconnaissance can often help Messengers avoid danger.

The instructions also point out that certain aspects of the actual battle have been omitted - regiments can't be split into smaller units to handle skirmish-sized battles and demotion/ promotion of officers is not possible. Of course the game functions well enough without these factors but if they had been incorporated smaller battles mingling with higher level armies clashes would have provided a lot more data for budding Force Commanders to cope with.

The play in Waterloo is challenging with the 3-D approach adding realism to the conflict. The actual events of the real-life battle can be re-enacted but of course the real strategy lies in changing the orders and attempting to win the battle yourself. The computer opponent can be very subtle at times but when you seen enemy flanks linking up you know a big push is on its way.

For all its strength in play the presentation could have been considerably better (given memory space). Combat is accompanied by minuscule graphics of cannons and muskets firing which sadly add little to the atmosphere of the game. There's no animation of moving forces but the 3-D view more than makes up for this omission. Indeed, despite the slow screen update the graphic quality is a lot better than in most other wargames, if not all others. Welcome back Pss, you've come up trumps with Waterloo - now what about a modern scenario?