Waterloo Playing Tips

Artillery tips

Manually target routing troops

Even though your artillery will not target routing enemy units automatically, you can still target them manually.  This is especially useful when enemy cavalry get trapped near your batteries behind your lines after a charge.  Manually target the enemy cavalry with your artillery and they will fire 2 or 3 volleys into the routing troops, then lose the target.  Repeat targeting the routing cavalry as necessary.  Of course, you only want to do this if you don't have more important targets to shoot at. 

You have more artillery ammunition than you think

You may notice that your artillery will continue to fire after the indicated ammunition has been expended.  This seems to be because the ammunition for the howitzers, of which there are usually a couple with each battery, do not have their ammuntion tracked and will continue to fire when the other rounds have been depleted.  Take advantage of this when you can. 

Tactics Tips for the Second Patch

Sheltering artillery crews in nearby infantry squares

One of the most useful changes in the second patch allows us to shelter an artillery crew in a nearby infantry square, protecting it from being overrun by cavalry.  This allows you to move your artillery up close to the battle, but always remember to keep some infantry nearby to support the guns.  If they are threatened by cavalry, have your infantry form square and move the gun crews to the square at the last minute.  I've even seen enemy infantry try to charge my cannons.  In this case, having two friendly infantry battalions close by will save the day.  Keep one infantry battalion in line to fire upon the approaching infantry, and put the other battalion in attack column (or four rank line for British) and countercharge the enemy infantry just before they get to the guns.

An artillery crew has to be within about 70 yards of a square to be able to shelter there, and the square must already be formed, so think ahead.  Also, keep in mind that the closer the guns are to the square, the faster the artillery crew can get to shelter. 

Getting your artillery into the battle

Artillery moves slowly in the game, especially foot artillery.  You can counteract this somewhat by moving your artillery in double quick time, and don't forget they move faster if they can use roads.  They will take stress from moving in double quick, but if they aren't being fired upon at their destination, they will recover the stress quickly enough.  As I mentioned above, try to keep some infantry near your artillery, even on the move, in case of a cavalry attack. 

You'd be surprised at how many enemy casualties your artillery can rack up if they're right up in the fighting with your infantry.  Just remember to keep them far enough behind the line so that your infantry takes the fire from the enemy.

Let your cavalry rest in a staging area before sending them into battle

Move your cavalry in maneuver column or road column to a staging area just out of the range of enemy fire and let them rest a bit before you commit them to battle.  Since cavalry moves slower in the second patch, you might consider moving them in double quick time.  They'll take some stress along the way, but they also take a lot more cohesion loss when moving now.  You'll need to let them rest to get their cohesion back anyway, so why not let them recover stress at the same time?  Don't leave them in column formation while they're resting;  they will rout quickly if fired upon.  Put them into double line. 

RichardTheFirst's Tactics Tips

The following tips were sent to me by RichardTheFirst.  Some of these are very good, so check them out.  You can email Richard at ricardogomes@netcabo.pt
(netcabo.pt is in Portugal, in case you were curious.  I was.)

RichardTheFirst's comments are in normal type.  I've added some comments of my own in italics in the following text.  Enjoy.

I am now playing La Grand Armée scenario with the French against the computer at the Marshal level.  And I must say it is a great challenge (I'm using a lot the pause button of course, otherwise it would be impossible).  After an hour of battle time (a lot more in "my" time) I'm in a draw position.

Here are some tips:


1 - It is, by far, the most important weapon in the battlefield and their proper management is absolutelly decisive in this game.

2 - Use it in a man-to-man tactic against enemy cavalry.  This means you have to keep a very close eye on all enemy cavalry movements and try to follow them wherever they go.  When they charge your infantry, counter-charge yourself.

3 - Don't use cavalry against infantry when there are enemy cavalry present, unless you need to quickly win a position.  Lancers are particulary good against infantry.

4 - Use a lot the following tactic - charge enemy infantry from the maximum distance you can and then stop when they reach your infantry line.  By that time your infantry and horse artillery have allready done a lot of damage to the enemy squares.

Bluffing a charge like this will force the enemy infantry to form square so that you can hit him with your artillery and infantry, and it works well.  Sometimes just moving close to him with your cavalry will cause him to form square as well, but you may take damage from his infantry in this case.

If you actually intend to charge him, get in as close as possible before you do, so that he doesn't have time to form square.

5 - If enemy cavalry numbers are superior and/or better than yours, you have other options than to loose a lot of your cavalrymen in a charge:

a) If they head for your weaker cavalry, retreat at maneuver column formation at double speed at the beginning and normal speed later. Especially the Anglo-Allies will follow you and you can conduct them to an ambush by stronger cavalry.  In the mean time they will loose cohesion and that will make your victory easier.

Sounds like what they did to Custer, doesn't it? :)

b) If you absolutely need to win against them and you do not have better cavalry available, form squares and wait till they loose a lot of cohesion going around them.  When their flag is going down you can charge them with weaker cavalry.  I made a successfull charge with 360 veteran cuirassiers against the 550 veteran heavy 1st Dragoon Guards, of course that I lost a lot of infantrymen in the process for they were bombarded at close range.

c) Try that they charge your squares - this is difficult to achieve, but I once did it against the numerous 1st Hussars by moving attack columns little by little closer to them and form squares, they charged and lost about 220 men in the process against 70 of my infantrymen. Needless to say that no enemy infantry or artillery was around.

6 - Generally speaking, in cavalry-only combats, the size with greater numbers wins.  This means:

a) Reserve your major formations to fight the enemy major formations. Don't loose men fighting with a lot weaker forces because you will need them later.  If you want to win with overwelming forces all cavalry combats at the beggining you will find yourself at the end with a lot of little units against few "big" units.  And they will win, I promise you that.

b) I haven't reached a conclusion yet about combats between heavies and lights and elite and weaker quality troops to find the ratio needed to win battles and I would thank any information on this.  Apparently the number is the decisive factor unless there are problems with morale or cohesion.


1 - Foot and especially heavy artillery is too slow to go to the front lines with your troops.  Use it mostly on top of hills in front of enemy lines for long range fire.  Also move some of them (not the heavy) to VP hills that you conquer (start moving before you conquer it, they are really slooooow).

2 - Use Horse Artillery together with your Infantry.  The best place for them is in the gaps between the batallions formed in line.

3 - Try to concentrate all your long range fire in enemy cavalry.  One at a time.  They will be vulnerable specially if in column formations.


I haven't reach any conclusion yet about the firepower of light infantry musket versus line infantry musket.  Apparently light is better because they can move in skirmishing formation without losing morale, being the firepower the same.

The manual talks about the effectiveness of the rifles against muskets. It's on page 23.  At a range of 150 meters, a rifle is firing at 100% effectiveness while a musket only fires at 20%.  At 100 meters it's 105% versus 80%, and at 50 meters they're both 110%. 

If you're fighting muskets against enemy rifles, move in close.  If you have rifles, keep your distance.

In skirmish order, rifles fire at 90% effectiveness, while muskets fire at 75%.

Rifle infantry have apparently more range of fire than the ones with muskets but I also haven't reach any conclusions about the firepower.


Square - use it only if charged by cavalry.  Very vulnerable to enemy fire.

Skirmish - use it only to delay enemy advances or if you are being bombarded by artillery (face the bombarder) and with no enemies around.  I haven't seen any other advantage in this formation because you loose a lot of cohesion.

One good thing about skirmish order is that formed troops behind it can fire through it.  One good use for skirmishers is to put a brigade of 4 battalions in double line, change the front two battalions to skirmish order, and move the rear two battalions up close.  The skirmishers protect the line, while the line adds considerable firepower and supports the skirmishers by keeping the enemy enfantry from charging.

Skirmishers in defensive terrain can take a lot of fire without much damage.

Maneuver column - when you move or even when you retreat.  I found that it is a lot faster and with a lot less damage to retreat in a maneuver column formation at double speed than in line formation.  Be careful not to get caught by infantry or close canister when you advance in this formation.  Long range fire will not damage you very much if you slightly change direction once in a while.

Attack column - when you go for a melée combat, inside buildings or when you anticipated a need to form square, the same applies to 4 rank battle line.

Line - In almost every combat situations or when deactivated without bombardments by artillery.

Mixed Order and Mass Column - I never use it.  Particularly the mass column formation seems very dangerous.


Cavalry combined arms tactics

The following is one of the best descriptions of how combined arms tactics work in the Waterloo game.  Thanks to jagger1111 for allowing me to post this here. 

Cavalry tactics is a tough one.

Offensively, cavalry, used in combined arms, is overwhelmingly decisive without some of the drawbacks of reality.  Use them with infantry and artillery.  Do lots of fake charges to force the enemy into square.  Let your infantry and artillery decimate the squares.  Your horse artillery is fast enough to move with your infantry.  Bring them up to canister range.  Although infantry alone in line or skirmish formation will take out squares quickly at 100 meters.  I rarely have cavalry press home a charge anymore.  I would rather keep them fresh and available.  You will always win when attacking with cavalry in combined arms unless the AI has more or higher quality cavalry available. 

Defensively, I use them in penny packets now.  One regiment directly behind or amongst each infantry brigade if possible for the quickest possible reaction.  I place them in attack column for speed.  And I never use them against infantry if the enemy has even one regiment of cavalry left or that can be reformed quickly.  If I am lucky enough to spot a charging enemy cavalry regiment early enough, I order a countercharge hopefully soon enough to intercept the charging cavalry before it reaches my infantry.  If my cavalry survives the clash with enemy cavalry in good order, I immediately pull them back to their former position.  IF I am using pauses, I will also concentrate all artillery fire against one cavalry regiment at a time by using the target command.  On defense, you can't afford to have your infantry in squares because both artillery and infantry will destroy squares in moments.  So destroying enemy cavalry is my top priority throughout a game in which they are present.  It is really, really tough defending against cavalry used in a combined arms assualt. 

Thanks again, jagger1111.

Losing generals or misplacing units in the heat of battle

Being able to navigate the chain of command makes all the difference in the world.  The arrow keys are used to move around the chain of command.  If you have a unit selected, and you want to find the general in charge, hit the up-arrow key.  This selects and highlights the general.  At this point you can do things like reattach all the battalions and put them into a reasonable formation.  With the general selected, you can hit the down-arrow key to go to the first battalion under him, then the left or right-arrow keys to select each battalion in turn. 

I had my corps commander doing rally, and when the battalions would rally they'd just move a short distance off and sit there.  I'd select a unit, but even though I was told the name of the brigade commander, I could never find him on the battlefield (I was trying out the entire Waterloo battle at the time).  If I'd known I could just hit the up-arrow key to locate him, I could have put all those battalions back into useful service. 

If you have a corps commander selected, and he has several division commanders, you can hit the down-arrow key to select the first division commander, then the left and right-arrow keys to select each division commander in turn. 

Moving troops quickly

Whenever you move troops on the field, you can get them where they're going quicker by moving them in maneuver column.  For example, if you want your troops to move across a field and then form line, drag the movement arrow to the destination, select maneuver column, then immediately select line formation.  This works with both single battalions, brigades and whole divisions (although infantry divisions can't form line from the division commander). 

Getting caught by cavalry in maneuver column

If you should ever get your infantry caught in the open while in maneuver column by enemy cavalry, you need form square quickly.  The fastest way to do this is to select the brigade commander, order a halt (twice, first time only halts the commander, second time halts the troops), then order the brigade to form square.  If you order square, then order halt, it takes about twice as long to get your guys into square.  Trying to halt and order each battalion in turn will lose you a lot of men. 

The fastest way to give the orders is by the keyboard.  Use the following key sequence: spacebar, spacebar, 1.  Use the 1 key from the upper row of keys, not the keypad. 

Forming tightly packed lines

For those who like to make very tight lines of troops, form them into assault column, then order each battalion in turn into line.  This packs them in very close together, and is quicker than trying to do the same thing with doubleline formation, then moving the rear troops forward. 

If you have plenty of time, you can select each battalion and then click the line formation.  A better way is to use the keyboard.  Try the following with a brigade with 4 battalions.  Get your men to brigade assault column where you want them to form a packed line, then select the brigade commander and hit the following keys in turn.  Note: "down", "left" and "up" refer to the arrow keys. 

Down, 6, left, 6, left, 6, left, 6, up, Shift-X. 

The final command attaches your battalions to your brigade commander.  They were detached when you gave the line formation order with the 6 key. 

Sometimes it is quicker to form a tightly packed line by ordering troops in maneuver column to form line, then immediately issuing a halt command.  Use this if time is more important than the symmetry of the formation. 

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