W1815 – The Battle of Waterloo in 15 Minutes

W1815
The Battle of Waterloo
Game Designer: Hannu Uusitalo
Art: Kim Paqvalin
Publisher: Up Games
Company Website
Year Published: 2015

PREMISE:
“W1815 is a simple strategy game that simulates the key events of this famous battle in 15 minutes. The French side can try a number of different strategies in an attempt to crush the Anglo-Allied army before the Prussians arrive. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Allied player must focus on keeping his army in the battle by using reserves in right situations until the Prussians get into the action.” (company website)

W1815

At game start. I’m playing the British

PRODUCTION QUALITY:
This small folio style game is expertly produced. Everything, including the necessary blocks for the game are self-contained within the folio. The print quality is exceptional and the layout of the rules and cards are well done and very easy to read.

GAME CONCEPT:
The abstractly models the entire battle in about 15 minutes. That is not an exaggeration! Players alternate taking turns by playing one of their cards. Each represents a small number of static blocks on the map. Each set of blocks represents a particular unit or formation that played a part in the battle. For example, the Grand Battery (French), Hill (British), and Blucher (Prussian).

As players alternate playing cards and rolling a die w/ possible modifiers to determine how this little microcosm of the battle plays out. Each card that represents a military formation, has a specific unit that it attacks. The blocks on the map are static and therefore do not move as they might in more traditional wargames. Instead, the combat results are meted out in two particularly meaningful ways. The first, either the attacker, defender or both could suffer casualties and have to remove a prescribed number of blocks from the map from specific formations. Casualties are then placed on their respective casualty tracks. The second, players could face a reduction in their specific army’s morale; also adjusted on the morale track.

W1815

Back of folio

Some formations, through the play of cards, can counterattack as the player’s next action. Or play other non-combat cards such at the British’s “Reserve” card which allows reserves to be sent up to previous battle and taking a single loss. Thereby returning the originally lost units to the map and returning all lost army morale as well. This card does have a finite number of uses and must be managed carefully.

Winning and losing is very straight forward. Once either army suffers a certain number of casualties losses they must roll to determine if their army flees in retreat. Each loss makes the retreat more and more likely. The second  way in which to lose is to lose all of your army morale. If either condition is reached the opposing player wins.

It should be noted that some cards have a one-time use and others can be played over and over. Some cards (infantry) are flipped over and placed into square as a result of being charged by cavalry units.

PROS:
d10-1 Small format (travels well!)
d10-2 Very few moving parts on the playing surfacing
d10-3 Simple, light rules
d10-4 Beginner friendly
d10-5 Unique mechanics that are exciting
d10-6 Challenging to play , much like a chess game
d10-7 Replayability is moderate due to card play
d10-8 Well written rules without all the fluff
d10-9 Abstract presentation of the battle

CONS:
d10-1 Abstract presentation of the battle
d10-2 Maybe too simple for some gamers
d10-3 Serious Nappy gamers will likely find this game to be lacking
d10-4 Not solitaire friendly

PARTING SHOTS:
I found W1815 to a fun and engaging game that was easy to learn and just as easy to play. Don’t let the easy entry to the game to be a turnoff, there is strategy under the hood! Simply put, easy to learn, but difficult to master. This is a great game to play as a filler game at game club meetings and conventions. Your first game will take about 20 minutes or so as you learn the simple rules, but subsequent games will take, on average 15 minutes. The game travels well due to its small folio style packaging.

The game is currently out of print on the publisher’s website but is easily found on the second-hand market. I have seen reasonably priced copies appear on Consim World and the Wargame Marketplace on Facebook.

~ Modoc
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