If it's not one thing, it's another. No sooner did I make the announcement on "Map and Counters" that I would shortly have a couple of new posts finished and ready to publish than my blog site "host", for reasons about which I am still unclear, took it upon itself to lock me out of the editing function of the "Blogger" dashboard. This meant that, not only could I not edit any of my existing posts, but I also could not access any of the unpublished essays that were currently stored on the dashboard in "draft" form. Needless-to-say, I was a tiny bit nonplussed by this unexpected and unwelcome hitch in my publishing schedule.

Fortunately, someone at the Blogger Help Forum was able to help me fix this irritating little problem and, although I am back online somewhat later than I had originally planned, I am, thankfully, finally able to resume my posting of fresh material again. And while I have other, more original essays in the "on deck circle", I thought that I would start my latest batch of new posts by publishing — in answer to a request from one of my regular readers — this rather handy (in my view, at least) WATERLOO Player Aid.

WATERLOO will mark its fiftieth birthday this year; which, to those of us who were actually around when this and other of the early Avalon Hill classics first appeared, is a sobering thought, indeed. Nonetheless, in spite of it age, its sometimes "quaint" rules (stacking limitations, for example, are based on numbers of factors, not numbers of units), and its uninspired graphics, this Charles Robert's treatment of Napoleon's ill-fated 1815 campaign still enjoys an enthusiastic following within the grognard community (me included) even now. The game's overall scale (mainly divisional level, with two hour game turns) and the problems that it presents to its players (a concentrated French army marching against an initially dispersed and outnumbered Coalition army composed of Prussian and Anglo-Allied forces) are the stuff of truly great wargaming.

Wellington and Blucher meet after the Battle of Waterloo
Unfortunately, like many of the other titles that emerged during the early days of conflict simulation design, WATERLOO is not without its faults. Putting aside, for a moment, the relatively drab (by today's standards) appearance of its unit counters and its occasionally ambiguous map design, the game's main playability problem was that, although the spaced-out turn-by-turn arrival of Prussian/Anglo-Allied (PAA) reinforcements is a key element in the game's dynamic, no easy-to-use PAA Reinforcement Track was included with the published game. This meant that, prior to play, the PAA player — with only the "itty-bitty" print on an "Order of Appearance" card to go by — had to pick his or her way through seventy-eight counters (not to mention a slew of blanks and largely useless leader units) in order to first find and then arrange the specific Coalition units that were scheduled to enter at various points on the map and on different turns, as the game progressed. Needless-to-say, because of the extra set-up time involved and the potential for mistakes, this was a royal pain. Moreover, carefully inscribing the backs of all of the PAA unit counters (an expedient which many of us who played the game regularly quickly resorted to) both with their arrival hex and their turn of entry, although modestly useful when it came to shortening set-up time, was no guarantee against reinforcement problems caused by player error or (the bane of wargamers everywhere) missing counters. In the case of my own college wargaming group, one of my friends finally became so exasperated over this issue that he laboriously created (by organizing the actual game pieces on the platten of the copy machine in the library) two "Order of Appearance" charts: one each for the PAA and for the French players. Interestingly, the charts produced by my creative friend's long-ago efforts turned out so well that — although they are now badly faded from age — I still use them to this day.

Of course, for those fans of WATERLOO who could not rely on the industry or sheer perserverence of someone like my college friend, this set-up problem (and the aforementioned others associated with the game) continued to fester untreated, year after year. That is until 1978: in that year, Avalon Hill — thanks to the yeoman efforts of Bruno Sinigaglio — in answer to player questions and complaints, at last got around to issuing a cleaned-up "Second Edition" version of the game's rules. Amazingly enough, at around the same time — better late than never, I suppose — the "Boys in Baltimore" also finally turned their attention to solving the long-running WATERLOO Order of Appearance problem by publishing a "PAA Reinforcement Track" as an insert in The General. It is a scan of that insert that I now offer in a "downloadable" form here. It is my hope that, for those players (both old and new) who still find WATERLOO as fascinating and challenging as I do, this player aid will add to their enjoyment of this great old game.

Waterloo Reinforcement Chart Play Aid PDF File

Waterloo Reinforcement Chart Play Aid PDF


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