Scourge of War: Waterloo
Boggit returns from his own exile on the 200th anniversary of (arguably) the most consequential battle in Western History to conquer Scourge of War: Waterloo.
By Boggit, 18 June 2015
Developed by NorbSoftDev and Published by Slitherine
I was intrigued by NorbSoftDev’s Scourge of War: Waterloo. I had played some of the earlier iterations of the game engine (1st Bull Run, and 2nd Manassas), which had been good. With that in mind, and knowing that the development team had worked on several other titles in the meantime, it would be interesting to see how far they had advanced the game, and how well it captured the flavour of Napoleonic combat, as hitherto all their games were from the American Civil War.
Scourge of War: Waterloo is a pausable real-time representation of small to very large actions (including the whole battle) of Waterloo. It comes with 20 historical scenarios ranging from small brigade size actions to the ‘full Monty’ at army level. In addition there is a sandbox campaign, a sandbox mode (in which you can take any units from the order of battle (OB), and fight on eight different battlefields), and modifications, which include the OB for the entire French Grand Armée (i.e. with Marshal Grouchy at Waterloo), and a Grog mode for extra realism.
The game plays from the perspective of an individual commander, and scenarios are built around that concept. You can play at the level of brigade, division, corps, and army commander. Each level brings its own challenges, and the higher level that you play at, the more the order system (carried out by couriers) becomes important. There are a number of modifications available that enhance the game. As a commander you can even restrict your view of the battlefield to what you can see from your horse. When using this option, reports from your subordinates are vital to your battlefield intelligence.
I think NorbSoftDev did a good job of capturing the spirit of Napoleonic warfare. Cavalry are well represented, are capable of screening your forces, and are a real threat to infantry who are not in square, particularly when they are supported with horse artillery. Infantry can split off skirmishers and reabsorb them, as well as deploy into line column, and mixed order. Artillery can damage fortifications, and will also use shell, roundshot and canister depending on the circumstances. I think all the tactical bases are covered.
On the downside, I found the interface can take some getting used to. On the plus side it is very easy to use, and is certainly intuitive, but looking around can sometimes be annoying. The easiest way for panning around the screen is to right click on the status bar, and that’s just fine. The problem is when you miss and catch the segment of screen above it, as it treats the right click as an order. It’s not a big deal, but something to be aware of.
My biggest gripe was with the several – apparently random – crashes to desktop (CTD) that occur. I’ve had them in different scenarios, and they don’t seem to be wholly consistent. I’ve played scenarios to their conclusion where previously (and subsequently) they CTD part way through. It isn’t necessarily a gamebreaker, but it is very frustrating (it even happened just after the last picture for this article!). Fortunately NorbSoftDev do provide an autosave option within the game preferences, so if you’re playing a large battle when a CTD happens all may not be lost, as you can go back to the save point. To be fair to NorbSoftDev this is just their v1.0 release, and really the CTD’s are my main negative issue with the game. They do need to address the game stability issue in a patch very soon. Apart from the CTD issue, I have no difficulty otherwise in recommending the game, which is both immersive and a lot of fun.
The Grumpy Grog says “Scourge of War: Waterloo is a beautifully immersive Napoleonic extravaganza, with cavalry charges, musket volleys, and the crash of cannon.”
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