Musket Fire at Waterloo Design Game Review

The Waterloo Battlefield at La Haye Sainte.

British infantry, cavalry and artillery holding the line near La Haye Sainte. The unit encircled in yellow has Wellington attached to it. Musket Fire at Waterloo is a fun game, best enjoyed by two players using the "Fog of War" option which allows hidden movement and reverse slope deployment.

System Requirement

  • Mac/PowerMac
  • System 7
  • 4 MB RAM
  • 1.5 MB Hard Disk
  • Solo Wargame
  • Two-Player Mode
  • Play by eMail
The Grande Armée deployed for action.

The Grande Armée deployed for action. The unit encircled in yellow is a brigade of guard infantry with Emperor Napoleon attached to it. The remaining infantry of the guard is deployed to the left and rear of this brigade. Reille’s II Corps is on the left flank, Lobau’s VI Corps in the center, and D’Erlon’s I Corps on the right. Kellermann’s III and Milhaud’s IV Cavalry Corps are in reserve immediately behind Reille and D’Erlon respectively.

The British left and center of the line extending from Papelotte to La Haye Sainte.

The British left and center of the line extending from Papelotte to La Haye Sainte. The unit encircled in yellow is a cavalry brigade with Wellington attached to it. British infantry occupies the farm of La Haye Sainte, but they still need to be deployed for all around defense.

The British center and right of the line extending from La Haye Sainte to Hougoumont.

The British center and right of the line extending from La Haye Sainte to Hougoumont. Again, the unit encircled in yellow is the cavalry brigade to which Wellington is attached. British Guards are inside the Chateau Hougoumont.

The Prussians are coming.

The Prussians are coming. The French player must attempt to win the battle quickly, before the Prussians arrive on the scene.


The map is of a similar quality to the one used in the Cannon Fire series from the same publisher, except that the hills are noticeably square in this scenario. Game squares measure 400 × 400 yards. Each strength point equals 250 actual men, or 3-8 guns. One game turn equals 30 minutes of real time.

Infantry and cavalry brigades are uniformed according to the dominant troop type and nationality deployed in the formation. The figures which make up a brigade are larger than those found in the Cannon Fire series, resulting in fewer figures per unit. Waterloo is a relatively small battlefield, and it would have been visually more pleasing if larger unit icons had been used, and larger terrain squares to fit them in.

The game provides players with the look and feel of a Napoleonic miniatures game. Units are rendered with nicely uniformed figures, but there are not enough of them to simulate a brigade of 2000 men.

Infantry units manœuvre in line, column, or square formation. Stationary infantry units may adopt an all-around defensive posture inside villages. Cavalry has a choice of line or column formation. Artillery may be limbered or unlimbered.

Victory points are awarded for routed or destroyed enemy units, leader casualties, and the capture of strategic locations on the map. The game ends immediately if the French have 80 victory points more or 50 VP less than the allies.

Firing range is one square for infantry and up to three squares for artillery. The opportunity fire rule is in place, preventing enemy units from sneeking up on defenders without getting fired at.

Units failing morale will rout immediately to the rear, and force morale checks on friendly units they pass through. This may trigger massed routs. General officers attached to a unit will be named in the unit’s status report card, and they provide a +2 or +3 morale bonus. Generals may be moved from one unit to another at the beginning of a turn. General officers become casualties if the unit the are attached to is destroyed.

The game controls are easy to use. Units may be manœuvred with the cursor keys, and there is a pull-down menu for special actions and formation changes.

There is an interesting what-if scenario called "Waterloo with Grouchy" which has Marshal Grouchy’s corps arrive at the same time the Prussian army enters the field.

The game icon representing limbered artillery looks very similar to unlimbered artillery, making the distinction between the two a little difficult at times.

Charges can be dicey, particularly when unit morale is low or if the unit has suffered losses in fire combat. Cavalry had best charge line formations from flank or rear, and avoid charging squares or columns. Cavalry in line receives a morale bonus, and attached leaders improve morale as well. However, even regular British cavalry brigades with Wellington attached will fail to charge on an almost routine basis, and this can be very frustrating for the player. The reviewers cavalry refused to charge even routed infantry in flank or rear. When they do charge, cavalry often lose the melee against deployed artillery charged in flank or rear.

The strategic map may only be viewed, it does not allow the player to click to any sector of it. This option is available in the Cannon Fire series from the same publisher, but is has not been implemented here.

The combat AI will launch cavalry charges against prepared infantry in line, and fail in the attempt, then blow the infantry away with artillery fire. Clearly, the other way around would be more approriate to Napoleonic tactics. One way to strengthen the computer opponent is to set the advantage higher, giving the enemy units better combat odds and higher morale. Unfortunately, this result in British infantry losing many firefights and cavalry refusing to charge. Clearly, this cheat mode is not a great way to improve the AI. Better to play the game against a live opponent.

The "Follow Enemy" option did not work on the reviewers Performa 630 with System 7.6.1. Play by eMail is not a feature of this game, although it’s included in the Cannon Fire series from the same publisher.

The "Show ID" option will provide players with relatively cryptic information about the units. Villages, roads and other key locations are not named. Players not familiar with the Waterloo battlefield will not be able to identify the villages and farms over which the battle was fought.

This simulation of the Battle of Waterloo provides a quick and enjoyable game for two players. The AI is good enough for a practise game, but only a live opponent will be challenging enough to test the players generalship skills.

Sample from Design, Inc.

Napoleonic Miniatures