The Hundred Days campaign and the famed battle of Waterloo marked the end of the First French Empire. Being a much-studied, pivotal moment of military history, it is prime fodder for the historical wargamer. With our expansive Black Powder Epic Battles: The Waterloo Campaign range, and our extensive 28mm range of Napoleonics, it’s now easier than ever to refight the iconic battles of the campaign on the tabletop, and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Napoleonic Wars through the veil of the hobby!

Before we take a look at how to get started with Black Powder, let’s add just a little context.

Napoleon Returned from Exile

The shattering of the Grande Armèe in the snows of Russia in 1812, followed by two years of desperate fighting, forced the Emperor of the French to abdicate in 1814. The Sixth Coalition exiled Napoleon to the tiny island of Elba. He would not be confined there long.

Sailing forth on the flagship of the Elban Navy, Napoleon slipped his leash intent on regaining his throne. His spies informed him of dissatisfaction with the Bourbon regime and many flocked to his renewed cause. Many sent to catch and imprison him were quick to change sides and pledge their support. Prisoners of war in particular; recently returned to France; provided his forces with some battle-hardened veterans.

In March 1815, Napoleon entered Paris at the head of his army, accompanied by several of his trusted Marshals. He hoped that his meteoric rise to power would bring the great powers of Europe to the negotiation table, too war-weary to risk fighting yet another costly campaign against a proven French army. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the newly-formed Seventh Coalition declared Napoleon an outlaw on 13th March, followed swiftly by a declaration of war.

The Seventh Coalition quickly assembled a mass of 700,000 men on the borders of France, intending to repeat the invasion plan of 1814, defeating the French with sheer weight of numbers. Napoleon for his part was quickly able to assemble 500,000 men to fight under his own banner.

Black Powder by Warlord Games, Napoleonic French Infantry (Waterloo)
French Infantry

Wellington’s army was a shadow of the grand force he had led to victory in the earlier Peninsular campaigns, those forces having been broken up to confront the USA on the far side of the Atlantic. He lacked veterans and seventy per cent of his infantry was not comprised of British citizenry; many of its battalions were untested or formed of variable quality Belgian, Dutch and German contingents. The Prussian army too appeared to be fragile. Napoleon devised his plans…

A Swift Strike

With his enemies amassing all around, Napoleon decided to launch a pre-emptive strike against a Prussian and a British army assembling in Belgium. On 15th June, his army rampaged across the Belgian border, sweeping aside the Prussian pickets at Charleroi. Victory depended on swiftness before the Coalition could react and amass a concentration of force. He would need to defeat each opposing army before they could merge into a far more threatening force.

Expecting a characteristic flank attack, the Coalition forces were covering the good roads towards Mons. Having identified the weakness between the British and Prussian armies, Napoleon divided his force into three groups, with the left wing under Marshal Ney advancing towards the crossroads at Quatre Bras, while Napoleon and Marshal Grouchy took the fight to the Prussians at Ligny.

Black Powder by Warlord Games, Napoleonic Prussian Landwehr Cavalry
Prussian Landwehr Cavalry

Blücher’s Prussian corps were arrayed along the road to the east of Quatre Bras, standing ready to repulse the right and centre wings of Napoleon’s advancing army. From the beginning, Blücher was counting on Wellington to cut through the opposition at Quatre Bras and take the attacking French in the flank, ultimately pinning and destroying Napoleon’s army.

“Napoleon has humbugged me, by God; he has gained twenty-four hours’ march on me.”

The Duke of Wellington.

Wellington was caught off-guard by Napoleon’s attack, however, having received the word of Prussian attacks a full six hours after battle had been joined. With the bulk of the Coalition army either engaged at Ligny or on the march, they were left with a single division facing down three French infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade.


British success at Quatre Bras was undermined by the Prussians‘ failure to hold the line at Ligny. Wellington’s army was forced to fall back northward. Marshal Ney, having failed to win the crossroads at Quatre Bras had been slowed, allowing Wellington to pick his ground for the next clash. That ground would be Waterloo two days later.

With time granted to them by the good order of their retreat, Wellington was able to organize one of his characteristic defensive battles, occupying the high ground, commanding a dominating position that withstood numerous frenzied charges on the position  – from the most elite of the French Cavalry and assaults from the French Imperial Guard.

Black Powder by Warlord Games, British 9th Rifles
British 95th Rifles

The Prussian army arrived on Napoleon’s flank during the afternoon, and the tide of the battle was ultimately determined. The combined armies swept the French from the field of Waterloo, with the victory effectively putting an end to both the First French Empire and the Napoleonic Wars.

Collecting Black Powder (28mm)

In this video, dating from 2020, Warlord Games CEO John Stallard gives his advice on getting started with a Hundred Days campaign 28mm army, whilst showing off some of his rather extensive (It’s even bigger these days! –ed.) Napoleonics collection.

Waterloo – The Black Powder Starter Set

The Battle of Waterloo became a true landmark in military history, one that will never fade, and nothing on such a grand scale would be seen again. It is more than a fitting subject for our 28mm Black Powder starter set, which contains two opposing starter forces for you to get to grips with as well as the full Black Powder rules; what feats will your troops achieve on the battlefields of Black Powder?

Black Powder by Warlord Games, Waterloo - Black Powder Second Edition Starter Set

Lion meets Cockerel in Climactic Battle – Albion Triumphant Volume 2

The violent and bloody conclusion of the clash between two of history’s greatest generals, Wellington & Napoleon, occurred on an unassuming rain-soaked Belgian field on 18th June 1815. All this is detailed in the Black Powder supplement, Albion Triumphant Volume 2. Providing a deeper exploration into the specifics of the Napoleonic era and what sets it apart from other periods of horse and musket warfare, this supplement focuses on the climactic clashes of the Hundred Days Campaign, leading up to what many consider to be the most famous battle in all of military history, Waterloo.

Black Powder by Warlord Games Black Powder Supplement, Albion Triumphant Volume 2: The Hundred Days Campaign

Volume Two covers the Hundred Days campaign culminating in the grand clash at Waterloo (June 1815), and includes army lists and profiles for all the major participants. A separate volume focuses on the earlier campaigns of the Peninsular War.

Get Started with the British

During the Peninsular Campaign, the British had excelled, whether attacking or defending, but they were unbeatable when they were formed on the reverse slope of a ridge. this defensive tactic ensured that many French commanders were wary of attacking the English battle line. wellington took great care to shelter his lads out of sight of the enemy and with secure flanks. He would line the crest with his artillery and throw out large numbers of skirmishers onto the forward slope to contest the French, advancing to the ‘pas de charge’ drum beat, or ‘old trousers’ as the British called it. the enemy, unsure as to the location of Wellington’s main force, more often than not had blundered into British lines without being in the correct formation for the tactical situation. They would then be thrown into confusion by close-range volleys whilst trying to deploy, and a loud cheer would signal a controlled bayonet charge that would sweep the disordered French away. the Hundred Days campaign would see these tactics tested to the limit, some French commanders having learned from their mistakes on the Peninsula.

British Starter Army Contains:

  • 72 Plastic and metal British Line infantry in Belgic Shakos
  • 24 Plastic and metal Hanoverian infantry
  • 12 Plastic and metal British Union Brigade heavy cavalry
  • Officer on horse
  • Royal Horse Artillery 9-pdr cannon
  • Full-colour flag sheets
Black Powder by Warlord Games, British Starter Army (Waterloo Campaign)

Get Started with the French

As a result of the campaigns of the Peninsular War and the Russian campaign, the decline in the raw material of the army, the common French infantryman, meant that they were now increasingly less skilled in battlefield drill. The reliance on fast-moving assault columns, driven on by the pas de charge, became more emphasised. Attacking in column would force results quickly on the field, especially if supported by a massive artillery bombardment. in all his campaigns Napoleon had searched for the decisive battle that would win the war at a single stroke. The Waterloo campaign would certainly emphasise this by the manoeuvres to isolate the allied armies. The divisional columns of D’Erlon’s I Corps, attacking on the field of Waterloo, and the Grande batterie’s barrage, were all a product of what had gone before.

French Starter Army contains:

  • 84 French Line infantry
  • 28 French Light infantry
  • 12 French Line Lancers
  • Officer on horse
  • 6-pdr cannon
  • Full-color flag sheets
  • Waterslide decal sheets
Black Powder by Warlord Games, French Starter Army (Waterloo Campaign)

Explore the Range

This is but a tiny fraction of what our 28mm Black Powder range has to offer; Prussians, Allied nations, commanders and units of renown, a wealth of battlefield accessories that greatly enhance the aesthetics of your battlefields, scenery kits and more are at your disposal. You can even explore the wider Napoleonic era via the Peninsular campaign or French Revolutionary War ranges – the possibilities are vast!

Black Powder Epic Battles: The Waterloo Campaign

Our Epic Battles ranges are designed for spectacle. There’s nothing quite like the sight of a tabletop battlefield with massive armies clamouring for victory, and with Epic Battles scale miniatures, it’s easy to do just that! The core of each collection is composed of plastic miniatures, with minimal assembly required, making it a cinch to get a large force on the table. For those beginning their Waterloo journey, look no further than one of our starter sets, offering quite the bang for your bucks, the ‘epic’ here is quite apt!

Each starter set contains a suitably Epic number of miniatures in a splendid variety; infantry, heavy and light cavalry, artillery and brigade commanders are all represented in plastic. Each starter set also contains a bespoke full Black Powder Epic Battles: The Waterloo Campaign rulebook and a unique MDF scenery piece, La Belle Alliance in the British box, Dacoster House in the French, and a suitably grand-looking windmill for the Prussians.

Since its launch, the range has expanded to include not even more plastics for both British (Highlanders) and French (Middle/Old Guard), but the Prussian Army too, not to mention the supplement, The Hundred Days Campaign, famous commanders and French Imperial Guard Cavalry! Explore the full range here »

  1. Sadly not one mention of the Dutch-Belgian, Nassau, Hanoverian, Brunswick and KGL detachments. Without the Nassau and Dutch troops who held Quatre Bras under their own initiative, Napoleon would have kicked Wellington’s rear end.
    I’d love to see the Dutch-Belgian line more fleshed out soon!

    Good to see at least someone pays attention to Waterloo though, love that!

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