Mother of all Battles

Keen readers of the current issue of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy will know about MOAB and Professor Tony Pollard's article on page 22 of the latest WS&S. In there, Tony lays out his vision on recreating Waterloo in 28mm.

Tony asked me to come onboard as an advisor for the project. His remit for me was simple - how to make a massive game like Waterloo playable by a large number of players, many of whom would be wargames novices. The rules set I chose was Black Powder - this choice might be controversial to some, but for me, it is quick and easy to learn.

Tony invited a few friends along.

With this in mind, I suggested we arrange a date to playtest. Tony and his friends arranged a venue - the National Army Museum in Chelsea (no less). So in mid-December, I drove to London with some 2000 borrowed Napoleonic miniatures in my car (my sincere thanks to Brent and Mal for the lend!).

The French team advance their forces forward.

Tony had arranged for members of the Waterloo Uncovered team to be there, all but one were complete novices to the wonderful world of wargaming. I was very pleased that they all picked up the basics of Black Powder really quickly.

Mats by Cigar box. Trees and scenery by 4Ground and Paul's Modelling Workshop.

The scenario consisted of a French attacking force of two infantry brigades and a heavy cavalry brigade against a mixed force of a British Brigade and a Prussian brigade. Each had attached artillery and both Allies had a small contingent of cavalry attached.

We played for four hours, with an hour break for lunch. The French won by a whisker, as the Allied force reached break point first. Everyone, however, had a great time and really enjoyed themselves. Now the real work begins, scaling it up to the big battle, Waterloo itself.


5 thoughts on “Mother of all Battles”

  • Mike Palmer

    Being a hardcore hex and counter gamer for over 40 years my interest toward tabletop miniature gaming has been piqued after reading this article. I have played board games on Waterloo and the individual battles surrounding the Mont St Jean engagement and have found them thrilling to play. I don't participate in miniature gaming as I can't afford the money and time to create my own armies also I don't have the space required without entering into divorce proceedings. I'll admit the sheer beauty of tabletop miniatures and the battlegrounds portrayed overshadow the boardgames depiction of the battlefield and I would seriously love to be involved in this type of gaming.

    • James P. Atwood

      The best way for a new gamer to get into miniatures is to find an old club with players who have lots of troops. We/They will lend you troops to participate in games. No investment at all unless you want a tape measure and dice of your own.

    • David Beatty

      I played in a huge Waterloo game in 25mm in Antwerp in 1995 and an even larger event in 1/72 at the Enfilade convention in Olympia, Washington in May 2015 - the latter had over 10,000 figures on the table.

  • neil pearson

    A couple of years back I was involved in a Waterloo refight! the battle was staged by the Leuchars Veterans Wargaming Club, each year there is a Xmas BIGGIE! There where thousands of figures from numerous collections and about 30 players from all over the country! We used Black Powder which is eminently suitable for a big game. The Allies won but it was close, the French didn't fully commit their left flank, worried about the Prussians! A great, nerdy day was had by all! I don't do facebore but the Vets have a page etc. Have fun and good luck!

  • Chris

    Great stuff. I love it when novices get to join in - especially enthusiasts!

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