Polyversal Kickstarter

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.

The Menu and loading screens all use contemporary art, which adds a nice period feel.

The Menu and loading screens all use contemporary art, which adds a nice period feel.

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.

 

Here are the French scenarios, rising in complexity from clearing the woods at the Chateau of Goumont (aka Hougoumont) to the full battle (shown here).

Here are the French scenarios, rising in complexity from clearing the woods at the Chateau of Goumont (aka Hougoumont) to the full battle (shown here).

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.

The following pictures are taken from my attempt as French Général de Brigade Brue to capture Papillote and La Haye Sainte. Here I’m organising my brigade to attack. Artillery support is to my left.

The following pictures are taken from my attempt as French Général de Brigade Brue to capture Papillote and La Haye Sainte. Here I’m organising my brigade to attack. Artillery support is to my left.

 

My supporting artillery opens up on the hapless Dutch troops (Nassau).

My supporting artillery opens up on the hapless Dutch troops (Nassau).

 

Dutch troops from Nassau advance at the double to be ready to confront my brave lads. The artwork in the game is really nice, sometimes too nice as the soldiers don’t quite match the terrain resolution. That said the soldiers do look good, and NorbSoftDev has paid proper attention to uniforms, flags etc.

Dutch troops from Nassau advance at the double to be ready to confront my brave lads. The artwork in the game is really nice, sometimes too nice as the soldiers don’t quite match the terrain resolution. That said the soldiers do look good, and NorbSoftDev has paid proper attention to uniforms, flags etc.

 

As a Dutch unit deploys near Papilotte, I rush a battalion of line infantry to face them. They are ordered to use the slower, but more destructive method of volley fire to defeat the Dutch (see the three musket button on the status bar).

As a Dutch unit deploys near Papilotte, I rush a battalion of line infantry to face them. They are ordered to use the slower, but more destructive method of volley fire to defeat the Dutch (see the three musket button on the status bar).

 

The Dutch are engaged before my objective.

The Dutch are engaged before my objective.

 

Volley fire!

Volley fire!

 

Volley fire soon breaks down to fire at will. Fire at will gives a faster rate of fire, but is less immediately destructive compared to volley fire.

Volley fire soon breaks down to fire at will. Fire at will gives a faster rate of fire, but is less immediately destructive compared to volley fire.

 

For all the shot and shell coming their way, the Nassauers are putting up a good fight. A couple of foot batteries are supporting the French from the crest of the hill. It’s ironic that some of the Nassauers fighting the French had also fought for Napoleon too!

For all the shot and shell coming their way, the Nassauers are putting up a good fight. A couple of foot batteries are supporting the French from the crest of the hill. It’s ironic that some of the Nassauers fighting the French had also fought for Napoleon too!

 

A British foot battery supports the Dutch from a distance.

A British foot battery supports the Dutch from a distance.

 

It can be very easy to get lost on the battlefield. Fortunately the game has a handy tool with the OOB button, which lets you instantly zoom to the commander or any unit in the battle.

It can be very easy to get lost on the battlefield. Fortunately the game has a handy tool with the OOB button, which lets you instantly zoom to the commander or any unit in the battle.

 

The firefight continues. On the far left you can see another French brigade (under the AI) close on the Dutch flank.

The firefight continues. On the far left you can see another French brigade (under the AI) close on the Dutch flank.

 

The Dutch have had enough and are falling back. I still need to keep up the pressure on the farmhouse to force their defenders out. (Troops in buildings are represented by a flag, the puffs of smoke from the walls show that they are still fighting). This picture also shows the effect of pressing the status button, which gives all the relevant information – ammo, strength, morale, fatigue, etc. - regarding the unit in question.

The Dutch have had enough and are falling back. I still need to keep up the pressure on the farmhouse to force their defenders out. (Troops in buildings are represented by a flag, the puffs of smoke from the walls show that they are still fighting). This picture also shows the effect of pressing the status button, which gives all the relevant information – ammo, strength, morale, fatigue, etc. – regarding the unit in question.

 

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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One Response to Scourge of War: Waterloo

  1. volt says:

    first beta patch is out on the norbsoftdev site and addresses the crash issues

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