Wellington’s Victory – iOS/Mac Game Review
Wellington’s Victory. iOS and OS X game review (played on both for review). Publishers HexWarGames Ltd, Decision Games, Inc, and Lordz Games Studio s.a.r.l. Developers: Keith Martin-Smith and Eric Skea. Digital Download from Apple Store. $12.99 for iPad/iPhone/iPod. $19.99 for Mac OS X.
Passed Inspection: Clear tutorial and game aides. Map zoom-in and -out feature works well (and is necessary for the Waterloo scenarios). Can save the game at any time (with choices to iCloud or local). The French player has complete control of when to deploy the Imperial Guard.
Failed Basic: Cannot select level of AI difficulty. No multiplayer option. Includes the battle of Quatre Bras but not Ligny.
Requires iOS 8.0 or later 518MB. Runs best on iPhone 5S+ and iPad 3+.
Wellington’s Victory is a regimental/battalion level turn-based game of the battle of Waterloo using a hexgrid to regulate movement. Units are represented by the appropriate uniformed figures, giving it a miniatures-like appearance. An advantage of using the miniatures look is the ease of showing a unit’s formation: column, line, square, and disordered for most infantry; light infantry can also use open order. Cavalry can only be in line formation. Artillery can either be limbered and move, or unlimbered and fire. Each unit also has a flag (unless turned off in the settings) and a number indicating its strength.
The tutorial provides an interactive demonstration of how to move, fire, charge, change formations, flanking attacks, and artillery ammunition limitations. The examples are easy to follow and cover most of what a player can do. The provided charts detailing terrain effects, melee combat and modifiers, ranged weapons and modifiers, and morale help fill out the information in the tutorials.
Players control every unit independently, feeling like an old-school wargame. For tactical scale battles, such as Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte, and the French player in the Placenoit scenarios, this is not a problem, as the unit count is small. But the larger the unit count and the more spread-out the battle, the longer each turn takes. While there are leaders, they are only for improving melee chances and for infantry forming squares when attacked by cavalry during the opponent’s phase.
To start playing, the player selects a scenario and which side, French or Allied (Prussian in Placenoit, British for the rest of the scenarios). The Prussians play first for Placenoit, the French are the first player in the rest of the scenarios. After selecting the scenario and side, the victory conditions screen appears. Victory conditions usually specify how much of each side’s armies must be demoralized to win (or not to lose), the number of turns, and other conditions such as occupying control points (represented by flags) or losing/not losing particular leader(s). There is a typo in the scenario descriptions for the three Waterloo scenarios, using “Quatre Bras” (which is not on the scenario map) instead of “La Haye Sainte.”
Clicking past the victory conditions screen brings you to the battlefield. If you are the first player, the game waits for you to play. If you are the second player, the AI immediately starts playing. For this reason I recommend playing each scenario as the first player so you have time to familiarize yourself with the battlefield. You can only see enemy units where your units have a line of sight. Any terrain outside the line of sight is tinged grey and no enemy units are shown. Line of sight is dynamic, so as your forces move, areas become revealed or concealed. One of the useful features not in the tutorial or documentation is being able to zoom the map. On iOS and Macs with touchpads, zoom out with the two-finger pinch and zoom back in with the two-fingers spread. On the forums, some players have asked for a mini-map. If Hexwar does implement a mini-map I hope they make it so it can be toggled on and off like the combat analysis.
One word of warning, you can still select and move units in the zoomed-out mode, so be careful when scrolling around a large battlefield, since there is no undo if you accidently send a unit marching somewhere other than where you intended. The lack of undo is not a problem since you can unselect a unit by selecting outside its movement area. Do not make the mistake of selecting another unit while having one unit already selected as this game introduces the ability for units to merge (more on this latter).
After surveying the battlefield, you are ready to move and fight. Available units have their hexes highlighted in blue. Click/tap on a unit to select it. Units may be selected in any order. Once selected, the hexes where a unit may move are outlined in white. A light green outline with a green “X” in the center indicates strategic movement when a unit is not close to an enemy unit at the start of its movement phase. An orange outline shows the limit of the unit’s ranged weapons and/or distance it can charge. Complete a move by clicking on the destination hex and the unit will march slowly to the destination following the least costly route. You can speed up the movement animation to double-speed by clicking on the map while the unit is moving. Clicking on the map again returns it to regular speed. Note that the speed increase/decrease is by unit when you are moving; it applies for all the AI’s moves during its phase.
Units may either move, change formation, fire, charge, or merge with another similar unit. Certain terrain automatically changes the unit’s formation to disordered, such as entering buildings, woods, crossing rivers or hedges, etc. Only at the end of a move can a moving unit choose to fire (at reduced efficiency) or change formation. Even if you move all your units, you must still select “Next Turn/Phase” button for the AI to move. The AI automatically returns control to you when it finishes its phase.
When you select a unit, menu buttons appear at the top of the screen allowing you to select fire, melee, or merge units for infantry; limber/unlimber for artillery; and merge units for cavalry and leaders. Unlike Hexwar’s American Civil War games, cavalry may not dismount.
Combat uses a similar approach as movement. Enemy units you can fire on or melee, depending on the mode button selected, have a red shading to their hexes. Selecting the enemy unit brings up a combat analysis providing a list of advantages/disadvantages, number of attacks, and probability of success per attack. The combat analysis can be togged on and off during play at any time. If a unit loses strength points, the number attached to the unit will decrease. If a unit loses all its strength points, the unit symbol changes to dead bodies for infantry or cavalry. Destroyed artillery displays a cannon off its limber and wheels. The destroyed units’ symbols are removed at the beginning of the next player’s phase, so the battlefield remains uncluttered.
In addition to losing strength, a unit may automatically retreat, ending up marked as disrupted and disordered. Disrupted units count as half the unit for victory purposes, until undisrupted. A unit becomes undisrupted by changing formation during its player’s next phase. Disrupted units may not attack and are more likely to retreat or be destroyed when attacked.
Leaders can merge with any unit under its side. Infantry units can merge with other infantry units, up to 20 strength points. Cavalry can merge with other cavalry, up to 12 strength points. While it seems like a good idea to merge weak units so you don’t lose them (and the victory points), keep in mind two limitations. First, a merged unit counts as the number of units merged for victory purposes. For example, if two units are merged and the merged unit is later destroyed, it counts as two units for the opponent’s victory conditions. Also, units are rated as levy (two white chevrons), raw (one white chevron), average (no chevrons), veteran (two gold chevrons), or elite (three gold chevrons). A merged unit will take the lowest rating of the units being merged. This is not explained in the documentation, so I was caught off-guard when merging a veteran and a raw unit, ending up with a larger raw unit. I recommend that you merge like-quality units if you decide to merge units.
There are no levels to the AI and no multiplayer. I found the AI to be a beginning level player. It uses a lot of melee attacks, even at bad odds. That works best when it is the aggressor, such as the Prussians in the Plancenoit scenario or the French in the Waterloo scenarios. It doesn’t seem to be as good of a defensive player, particularly as the British. This is a game where Hexwar really should have considered multiplayer (my personal preference would be hot-seat) if they didn’t have the time to make different levels of AI.
The scenarios are an interesting mix, although I was surprised that they included Placenoit instead of Ligny. Maybe Hexwar can do a follow-up game of Ligny and Quatre Bras with a linking scenario for the “what if d’Erlon had arrived in time” for one of the battles. I liked the two what-if scenarios:” French Early Assault” and “Grouchy does it!”, as they really show how close Napoleon came to winning. I was disappointed to not see the muddy ground have any affect in the “French Early Assault” scenario.
I think the best scenarios are the Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte, followed by Quatre Bras. They aren’t too big and the first two can be played in an hour or less, depending on how long you take to decide on your moves. Placenoit was a disappointment because the overwhelming force of Prussians against the French I didn’t find enjoyable playing as either side. The large Waterloo scenarios take a long time (thank goodness you can save at any time during the game) and could have been shorter if leaders could have given orders for whole divisions. That would mean a major change to the game engine, so I don’t expect Hexwar to do that in the near future, but I hope they consider it for future large battles.
Wellington’s Victory has a lot of hits and a few misses. Overall it is a good solid game, more geared to the casual gamer with an interest in the battle of Waterloo. The shorter scenarios are very good and well worth the time. The larger Waterloo scenarios are best when you set aside a long stretch of time, although the easy to use save game feature makes it playable in smaller doses.
Armchair General Rating: 85%
About the Author
Steven M. Smith has been an Armchair General contributor since 2010. He has a life-long interest in history especially the Napoleonic and Victorian periods. He was the owner of The Simulation Corner gaming retail outlet in Morgantown, West Virginia, until 1983. He is currently a member of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society and works for Lockheed Martin in Baltimore, Maryland.