The player takes the role of either Wellington or Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The battle may be played with the historical orders or custom orders. It is a turn-based strategy game.
The 100-page manual provides historical and military background to the battle as well as gameplay information. A fold-out map of the battlefield and initial dispositions of units is also provided.
The game was innovative in being played from the point of view of the commander, with the battlefield rendered in simple three-dimensional perspective rather than the overhead view traditionally typical of battlefield strategy games. This means that the player's knowledge of the progress of the battle is limited to what he can see with his own eyes and the reports of subordinates. The player may move around the battlefield to better observe events, but risks death or capture if he approaches too close to the front.
The player is not permitted to micromanage the movements of individual units, as these are not under his direct command; instead he must give orders to subordinate commanders who interpret them according to their own judgement. A subordinate commander will ignore an order he considers unfeasible.
Orders are issued using natural language commands reminiscent of adventure games. For example:
- "D'Erlon, at 1 15 pm order Donzelot defend the hills 1 mile south of you"
- "Lobau, transfer your cavalry to Reille"
- "Drouot, at 6 30 pm give support to Reille, D'Erlon and Milhaud"
Orders take time to arrive at their destinations, as do combat reports sent by subordinates to the player. Messengers may also be killed or captured. This means that units remote from the commander may not receive orders in time, while units engaged in combat may not receive them at all.
The game begins at 11:30 am and ends at 9:30 pm, when the results are assessed. The computer then decides if the player has been defeated, is victorious, or if the result is inconclusive.
Source: Wikipedia, "Waterloo (video game)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.