Imperial Glory Designer Diary #2 - Re-creating Waterloo

It's one of the greatest and most important battles in all of history, and the Pyro staff explain how you will get a chance to wage it in Imperial Glory.

Imperial Glory promises to be the game that fans of the Total War series have been clamoring for. However, it isn't part of the Total War series. Imperial Glory is instead a new game from Spain's Pyro Studios, and it will let you wage the Napoleonic Wars from the perspective of the great powers that waged them. And like the popular Total War games, Imperial Glory will feature a deep, turn-based strategic campaign, as well as beautiful real-time 3D battles. In addition to getting the chance to rewrite history by having England conquer all of Europe, or perhaps having Prussia wipe out Russia, you will be able to play historical battles. In this edition of our designer diaries for Imperial Glory, the team fills us in on the Battle of Waterloo, one of the most important moments in all of history.

Waterloo was a battle of time. Napoleon had to crush the Anglo-Dutch army before the Prussians could arrive, while the Allies needed to hold out.

Waterloo

By Staff, Pyro Studios

After escaping from exile on the island of Elba, where he was confined following the failure of his Russian campaign, Napoleon took charge of his empire once again. Alarm spread among the former Allies, leading them to join together anew to vanquish the man who had held all of Europe in a state of trepidation for more than 15 years. Napoleon once again seized the initiative, making for Brussels in an attempt to divide the Allied armies to face them separately and give him the best chance of overcoming a numerically superior enemy.

After successfully confronting the Prussian army at Ligny, Napoleon made the mistake of dividing his forces, sending 30,000 men in pursuit. He subsequently headed for Mont Saint-Jean, a hill near the village of Waterloo, to face the army of Wellington and Prince William of Orange, who were there to protect Brussels. On July 18, 1815, Napoleon tried unsuccessfully to break through the lines of the Allied army, which gave General von Blücher, commander of the Prussian army, time to reach the battlefield and thus seal the fate of Napoleon Bonaparte. If the Corsican had defeated Wellington before von Blücher's arrival, the history of Europe would have been very different.

The advanced posts at Hougoumont and La Haye-Sainte offered the Allies protection but also made them immobile.

The objective of the Allied army was to exploit the advantage of its easily defensible position to resist the French offensive for as long as possible and give von Blücher time to come to their aid. To achieve this, Wellington placed the main body of his army on Mont Saint-Jean, hiding it from Bonaparte's eyes and affording it considerable protection from the French artillery. He also established two advanced posts at Hougoumont and La Haye-Sainte, as these positions could be defended easily and would force Napoleon to divide his army.

Napoleon's greatest error was to believe that the Prussians had withdrawn completely. He lost men and time launching distraction attacks on Hougoumont and in vainly bombarding the Allied army on Mont Saint-Jean, which was protected by the hill. With the battle in its latter stages and after fierce clashes between both forces, the Anglo-Dutch army fell back once more to Mont Saint-Jean. Marshal Ney ordered a cavalry charge, believing that the Allies were retreating, and failed to wait for support from his infantry and artillery. Ney suffered a terrible setback, while Napoleon, owing to his now chronic shortage of men, tried in vain to contain the Prussian army approaching from the east. The battle was over at dusk with the last heroic but futile charge of the emperor's Old Guard. One of the most important periods in Europe's history thus came to a close.

In Imperial Glory, if you take command of the French army you must annihilate the Anglo-Dutch army before your time is up (signifying the time when the Prussian army arrives). If you take the role of Wellington you must hold out until the end of the battle, and you will earn victory if your units survive the French offensive. The armies have been reproduced according to the units that took part in the battle on that day, and the map re-creates faithfully the scene of this vital chapter in history. Now you have the opportunity to rewrite this history.

The French army needs to mass its forces and concentrate on shattering the Allies' flank in order to win.

The tactical elements that swung the battle in Wellington's favor are represented on the map and can be decisive if used wisely. The Allied army is deployed over a wide defensive line, along Mont Saint-Jean between Hougoumont and La Haye-Sainte. The hill provides an important defensive advantage owing to the greater range it affords to artillery and gunfire and the protection it offers against such attacks. Hougoumont and La Haye-Sainte are two vital points to rely on, as the Allies' best chance of resisting the French offensive lies in the protection offered by their walls.

For research, the battle of Waterloo has been extensively studied and represented in a large number of works of all kinds, from military and historical treatises to literary and artistic compositions. The chapter Victor Hugo devotes to such an important confrontation in his novel Les Misérables is an essential reference.

If you put yourself in Napoleon's boots, you will start with time and the characteristics of the terrain against you, but you will have a greater military force. The Allies' defensive position fixes them in place. If this advantage is pressed home and your forces are concentrated, you may take the initiative in the battle and be victorious on all fronts. However, this will be at the cost of many casualties. Dividing forces minimizes the time factor, but considerable coordination and skill will be necessary to compensate for the defensive advantages of the enemy. Alternatively, concentrating the offensive to take Mont Saint-Jean from one side could break the Allied lines. The flanks of the enemy could thus be destroyed, and the advantage of higher ground would be lost.

If you play as the Allies you must fully exploit your advantages. Time is on your side, and due to this factor the French offensive can be expected at those points that are most advantageous to you. The vast hill on which you deploy offers a huge advantage to your artillery, which should allow you to reduce the enemy's numerical advantage considerably before a direct confrontation occurs. An effective strategy would be to protect the cannon batteries with the cavalry. In addition, the defensive positions of Hougoumont and La Haye-Sainte represent an important advantage, as even in the face of an enemy with a much larger force, a mere few men may put up fierce resistance and thus weaken the French army. Victory means making things very difficult for Bonaparte in each skirmish and fight; each passing minute is a step toward that victory.

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