Thursday, 6 September 2012

Waddington's Campaign



Waddington's Campaign in the original rather striking box 

Back in 1972, for my twelfth birthday, I received a copy of Waddington’s Campaign. This is an abstract strategic level boardgame based very loosely on the Napoleonic wars. If I remember correctly, there was also a very cheesy TV advert for the game involving the obligatory Napoleon figure referring to the board and looking somewhat bemused at the notion he should retreat from Moscow as the Russian campaign had failed. Bearing in mind this game was of the era that gave us not only the film Waterloo but also the Airfix 20mm 1815 range you could understand the idea behind the advertising. I can safely say that this game (which I still have by the way) is without a doubt the most played game in my collection bar none. I absolutely devoured it and played it at every opportunity with my circle of gaming friends back on the Isle of Sheppey in my early teenage years.


The contents of the box 

The game is an abstract strategic level interpretation of the Napoleonic wars with several ways to win. You could either annihilate your opponent, occupy his cities and capital or take eight other cities. Although quite crude this gave a number of possibilities in respect of how a victory could be secured. Armies were made up of infantry, cavalry and a general and each of these had certain abilities. Moves were driven by the roll of 2d6 – infantry moved one square diagonally, cavalry moved two squares in any combination of straight lines whilst the general moved one square in any direction. Moves were unlimited in that, for example, a roll of eleven meant that one piece could move eleven squares or any number of pieces could move in any combination up to the total rolled. On the face of this it may seem a little odd but was in fact quite subtle. Essentially, large formations moved slowly whilst small formations could hare about quickly. Lightning raids by the general (the only piece that could capture a city) were not uncommon although if isolated and defeated the general and all his army had to return to the player’s capital city.

Combat was very simple – infantry and cavalry are worth a single point each and needed two enemy pieces adjacent to them in line with how they moved (infantry could only attack diagonally and cavalry had to be square on – generals could be in either position) in order to remove the enemy piece. Generals are worth two points and so need three enemy pieces to remove them. Generals were not removed as such – merely returned to their capital city. If any piece had a friendly unit in an adjacent square then they also had to be neutralised by having an enemy piece facing them off. The effect in combat of this support was that in order to remove a target unit you needed to have pieces adjacent in eligible positions with any supporting units requiring to be neutralised. We learned very quickly that a square of four adjacent units would need five attackers to remove a piece (6 if the target was the general) and also that a unit of nine pieces in three rows of three was in fact immune to attack because the centre piece in the middle of the second row could not be neutralised by any enemy. There were no rules for terrain although certain types were on the map (the central European mountain ranges for example) that served to funnel units – typically on the borders.


The six countries featured were France, Spain, Italy, Prussia, Russia and Austria and of these Italy was always neutral. Prussia only appeared in the three player game. Each country has a capital where the army begins the game and four cities. Of the four cities one has a cavalry unit symbol and one has an infantry unit while the other two are merely strategic targets. If you captured one of the unit cities you received a piece of the same type whilst the enemy lost the equivalent. Capture all his cities and you could then occupy his capital and he would be out of the game.

Players could also form (and break) alliances and so much double dealing usually took place – usually against the army that was seen as being in danger of winning.

I spent many, many happy hours playing this game and although it is abstract it is a lot more subtle in its concept than I ever gave it credit for. As I became more involved in ‘sophisticated’ wargames I eventually consigned the game to the cupboard as I felt that it was too simple and the fact that it was so stylised told against it as far as I was concerned. No terrain rules, nor any provision for artillery and with armies that were identical in size and composition were all negatives at the time but now, and with the benefit of years of gaming I am not so sure.

I have acquired a number of copies of this game over the years and did at one point start on drawing a more detailed map of Europe with terrain and such like and loosely based on the hexed map from Avalon Hill’s War and Peace. I got as far as replicating France and Spain and then abandoned the idea. I even used the mapboard as the basis for a refight of the Battle of Waterloo with Italy being the main portion of the battlefield – the French won if I remember correctly.

It is probably no surprise then that this game has shaped my gaming preferences over the years and is undoubtedly the main reason I am so fond of grid based wargames. I may at some point revisit my grand idea about developing a large scale version of this game – perhaps as a strategic game driving the block battles on the tabletop – and incorporating at a simple level all those features missing from the original. In fact, I plan to produce something akin to the Portable Wargame that could be used as a tactical battle generator using Command and Colours or Memoir of Battle. I have a number of ideas around this that could be useful and so I will give them a spin and see what comes out the other side. Assuming I can achieve this then it really will be a case of having come full circle from my first tentative days in this hobby of ours to the place I now find myself in.

11 comments:

Tim Gow said...

Astonishingly I have never played this game! Interestingly I thought I had, until your comprehensive description put paid to that illusion. Have I missed out?

Steve's Wargame Stuff said...

Aaah, the memories. I too was a fan of this game back in the day and was gutted to discover only a few months ago that my old Dad had thrown my original set out. Up until then it had it remained in his loft since I left home in '83! My own fault I suppose, I knew I should have taken it with me but at that time I was going through the wargame withdrawal period that most of us suffer during our lives... you know the one, we discover women, drink, football.. and our little soldiers are packed away until we come to our senses again, usually about 20 years later!
I've noticed that this game comes up regularly on ebay so I may just treat myself to it again just for the nostalgia trip!

Mike Whitaker said...

Oh dear Lord - I used to LOVE that game. My copy is still at my parents somewhere :D

David Crook said...

Hi Tim,

I would say absolutely yes! It strikes me as rather ironic that I felt I had grown out of it as my rules became more complex as the years advanced but now that i am going in the opposite direction it has suddenly come back into prominence for me.

It is simple, it is abstract but, if you think about it at the level it is set then it it a rather clever design.

As a game with four players it is right up there with Risk in my opinion and is enormous fun to play.

You can pick up sets quite cheaply on Ebay (although some sellers seem to think that 'old' equals 'valuable') and I have often seen it kicking around at boot sales.

Great fun and for me, a piece of enjoyable nostalgia.

All the best,

DC

David Crook said...

Hi Steve,

I would use the Nike philosophy here - Just do it!

All the best,

DC

David Crook said...

Hi Mike,

You are a man of impeccable good taste and should recover the game at the earliest opportunity!

I am messing about with a slightly more detailed version that I hope will stay true to the original and will act as a game generator for my Command and Colours block based adventures so watch this space!

All the best,

DC

kyle robinson said...

hi. does anyone know where i can find the full rules for this game. my dad bought the game on ebay and it had no rules in the box. we have checked all over the internet and cannot find them anywhere. please help

David Crook said...

Hi Kyle,

If you email me your address I will send you a copy - I have several!

All the best,

DC

kyle robinson said...

hi again david so sorry for the late reply. and i would love a copy of the rules. i really appreciate your help. however i cannot find your email address to message you on. if you want you can email me on cripsta_kyle@hotmail.co.uk or just leave your email here an i will message you. thankyou again for the help.

kyle robinson said...

sorry about the late reply. i have tried also to message you through the gmail (which i am not used to) and it kept on showing me error messages when trying to contact you. i really appreciate your offer on the rules for the game and would love a copy of them. can you please email me at cripsta_kyle@hotmail.co.uk or leave a message on here of ways to contact you. thanks again for the help :) take care

David Crook said...

Hi Kyle,

Mail me at roguejedi@btinternet.com and we can sort it out from there.

All the best,

DC