Napoleonic Irrigation: HistWar Demo Out

I'm tempted to say Napoleon was short again, as it's always funny how it gets a rise.

Commander of the RPS Grande Armee, Tim Stone, posted about the final hours trickling away before the release of the Hist War demo. Well, that waiting is over, and the demo is available to download. Hurrah! Find some very old Beta footage of the game, a less appropriate film-link than the one Tim did and a book question below…

Old footage!

Totally excellent footage!

(I didn’t actually get that Waterlube! was a pun-gag until last time I watched the film. I’d processed it as a totally different sort of gag. I was ashamed.)

And just in passing, if anyone was to recommend a good single text overview of the history of France, what would you recommend? I’m in need of something to have a sort of top-level look at the land of the Franks.


  1. Torgen says:

    What, like the entire history of France?

    • Bhazor says:

      Why those dinky soldiers are adorable.
      I’ve always imagined that Tim Stone plays his games in a smoking jacket with a pipe in a stately home. He can only be reached using a Bakelite rotary telephone and tuts at the sight of a scuffed book.

    • Bhazor says:

      That wasn’t supposed to be a reply.

  2. Tom says:

    Yeah you games journalists don’t ask for much do you. Give me a good single text overview of the history of pixel shaders…

  3. Tom says:

    Yeah you games journalists don’t ask for much do you. Give me a good single text overview of the history of first person shooter crosshairs…

    • Baboonanza says:

      Hey Kieron, can you recommend me a good single text overview of the history of ‘New Gam…


  4. Arsewisely says:

    The kind of history you can’t just get from watching a few episodes of Sharpe?

  5. Scoteh says:

    Praps this is just me, but I am totally missing why there is a buzz around this game? I mean apart from the scale and time-period, it seems rather underwhelming….but if you wanted those things, then just wait for the next Total War…. Confoosed.

    • Weylund says:

      Total War is one of the least realistic tactical depictions of Napoleonic conflict I’ve ever seen. It’s basically Command and Conquer with musket graphics. HistWar does a fair job of it, although it’s a bit crap in other areas. There’s your difference.

      Kieron, “The Spanish Ulcer”, about the Peninsular War, is a great primer on Napoleonic politics, strategy, and tactics, and is a good read to boot. You could also just watch / read the whole Sharpe series, as that includes a fantastic primer on the sexeh ladiehs of colonial Britain as well, and how to steal gobs of gold and murder people and still be an awesome guy beloved by all.

    • Dain says:

      Command and conquer with musket graphics? You sure we played the same game? I’m sure the one I played had a turn based campaign, and real time battles which had stuff like morale and things.. I don’t recall the bit where I built a base and raced up the tech tree so I could rush my opponent with old guard. Odd that.

      As I said in the other thread, this falls down on basic things like interface preventing anyone but the most bloody minded get to the heart of the game.

    • Dain says:

      Also: Obligatory plug for my own little mod based on said Spanish Ulcer

      link to

    • Weylund says:

      “Morale and stuff” do not constitute a proper Napoleonic game, as I think you well know. And yes, HistWar, as I noted, is a bit crap in other areas. It’s not a great game. It is however much better at portraying Napoleonic combat than TW.

      And you’re right – the one where you build a base and rush the enemy with Old Guard was called Cossacks, and was an infinitely superior *tactical* depiction of the style of warfare, if incredibly stylized. I’ve seen the discussions had by dedicated TW players who were thinking of coming over to HistWar. “If I castle on a hill I should win right lol?” is an actual quote. “If not Im not gunna play.”

      TW takes the same admittedly fine RTS tropes that it always has and puts Napoleonic graphics on them. That’s great, that’s fine, but it doesn’t make it realistic.

      Postscript: Oh shits, you made a Peninsular Mount and Blade mod? Holy crap, I’m there. I’ve been agonizing over the awful framerates in Star Wars: Conquest (IIRC?) and wishing there was a decent Nappie mod. I’ll check it out, thanks!

    • Dain says:

      Nevertheless the number of current, mainstream strategy games which actually bother with morale, fatigue and flanking and ditch base building can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The number dealing with the 18th century are even less. It’s far easier for a developer to churn out ultra traditional base building sci-fi or fantasy games (And yes Blizzard I am looking at you) which require nothing more than a fast mouse finger.

      The TW series may not get it right, but they still get it wrong a lot better than anyone else.. I wish they had some competition so they were forced to raise their game, but the only game which tried to rip off the formula (Imperial Glory, a Napoleonic game of such hideous inaccuracy.. well.. when a developer tells you in the manual that every factions units have the same stats, something is wrong) failed miserably.

      Niche wargames are lovely and everything, but they always have a “They’re quite fun IF” about them.

    • Bhazor says:

      Personally I never equate goodness to accuracy. I’ve had a lot of fun with Total War (Empire is perhaps my least favourite) but I think I’d have even more fun if the General’s Bodyguard had laser eyes and each factions capital was a fortress of doom. Essentially I wish Creative Assembly would take the same approach to historic conflict as Games Workshop did with Christianity (Jesus returns and is kept alive by a 1000 human sacrafices a day. Also Priests can kill an Ork with his bare hands).
      But folks and their strokes and all that.

  6. Tom says:

    Sorry for the dual post my internet is being rather rebellious.

  7. yoga says:

    France is now the leader of the free world.

    link to

    • Rich says:

      The reason that guy gave for dropping the UK from his list of potential leaders of the free world was pretty dumb. I can think of plenty of good reasons for going ahead and dropping the UK of the list anyway, but his choice represented a failure to understand the nature of our political system.

    • Rich says:

      Actually, having read more of that site I think you can safely ignore what I said. The guy’s either a comic genius or a total knob-end.

    • yoga says:

      Think of it as a gay-pride parade where you act out the cartoon caricatures your enemies try and portray you as.

  8. The Great Wayne says:

    link to

    Just sayin’

  9. manveruppd says:

    There’s this: link to

    It’s a good book, but I’m not sure it’s what you’re looking for, it depends on what period you most want to learn about. It’s more about the country’s internal, social and economic history, so he kinda leaves out all the fun bits imho: if you want ripping yarns about kings and cardinals conducting high-level political manouevres this isn’t for you. :) Also, he starts in the Middle Ages, so there’s almost nothing about pre-Medieval France, Roman France, or prehistoric France – if you want to read about druids, stone circles and human sacrifices, check elsewhere. The biggest part of the book is about the last 200 years – everything up to the French Revolution is covered in just 90ish pages, so if you want more detail on what came before it you’re better off findingsomething else.

  10. Chaz says:

    “I’m in need of something to have a sort of top-level look at the land of the Franks.”

    Erm, wouldn’t that be Germany though?

    • manveruppd says:

      Good point – as my English teacher at school used to say, “French is just broken Latin spoken by Germans”! :p

  11. Kieron Gillen says:

    For those who are asking, what I’m mainly looking for is something like Natasha’s Dance, but for France rather than Russia.


  12. Psychopomp says:

    Isn’t it an obligation for brits to hate France, and have no interest in them outside of that?

  13. Railick says:

    I learned all the history I needed to know about Europe from Age of Empires 2 loading screens :P

    Shadowcat “It hammers at my retinas like an evil woodpecker of pure energy”

  14. Taillefer says:

    “At the Battle of Hastings Taillefer recited the Chanson de Roland to the Norman troops while juggling with his sword. An English soldier ran out to challenge him and was killed by Taillefer, who then charged the English lines and was engulfed.”

    That’s my little part of history for you.

  15. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I still for the life of me cannot download that demo. I disable noscript which someone suggested was the problem. But I click the download link, hit “ok” without a password like it says to, then I get a 530 error. No password. :|

    /empire total war is a bit dumb

  16. Daniel Klein says:

    What I wanna know is, does it have zombies?

  17. Antlia says:

    Doesn’t look better than Cossacks 2. Why hasn’t anyone still mentioned it? That game grasped the “musketeermen in line shooting volleys” – style better than anything else before or later. I haven’t yet tried this, but I better do, if I want some meat on the bones of my argument of C2:sses dominion. Anyone else played Cossacks?

  18. Richard J says:

    Alistair Horne’s recent history of France (Friend or Foe) , isn’t exactly heavy-weight, but is pleasantly readable and a handy primer to French history, as long as you’re willing to treat the judgments of a man who was schoolboy friends with Bill Buckley at face value.

  19. The Great Wayne says:

    Problem is: I’ve got some pretty good book references about french history. Sadly, I don’t think they’ve been translated in the shakespeare’s language.

    link to

    This one is awesome. If you can read french it’s a must.

  20. Railick says:

    I was forced to play Cossacks before at a lan party and thought it was certainly an interesting Warcraft 2 clone with its own flavor ect. I didn’t get a chance to play it long enough to really get to know it very well as I had come to play Counter Strike not a war game :P The person who forced me to play it was convinced it was the best wargame ever created but he was a bit insane. I’ve never seen or heard of Cossacks 2 which is strange, because I never saw or heard of the first one until someone foisted it upon me.

    I’ll have to check it out though I don’t even want to try Empire total war. The best musket related game I’ve ever played is Sid Meirs Gettysburg, since then I’ve never seen anything get it right.

  21. A-Scale says:

    Why has RPS been peeing themselves over this game? It looks like your run of the mill Napoleonic era RTS from three or four years ago.

  22. Railick says:

    It’s not RPS , it’s Tim Stone :P Does he count as RPS?

  23. scundoo says:

    The graphics are… ok. For a ps1.
    The unit behavior is out of whack.
    Bugs there are a plenty.
    Remarkably few men in a battle (and people used to mention Histwar when complaining about the TW 20 unit limit, the irony…..)
    Camera control is hideous, as is all of the UI actually.

    But hey, that’s what you get when you rush a demo out, only 6 years in production……

    Plus, les Rosbifs are not included in the game.

  24. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Seeing as the rest of them run for the hills when the (sub)genre is mentioned, I’d say so, yes.

  25. mutait says:

    My first impressions of the demo are a little dire, I’m afraid. I’m hoping this is just a shoddy rush job to appease long-suffering fans before xmas, because if it’s in any way representative of the finished product, I’m going to have to pass. The graphics look even worse than I’d expected — sub-Combat Mission circa 2000. The camera and controls are so counterintuitive that I had to resort to stabbing at the mini-map until I got approximately near where I wanted to be. The English text is indifferently translated and often baffling. The game provides six or seven annoying or faulty ways of viewing the battlefield without offering one satisfactory one.

    The tutorial is particularly yucky. Though it was fun trotting my little soldiers along, the battle in the second tutorial was ridiculous. I did the prescribed manuouvers and ended up with my main force parked just out of shooting range and completely unable to move for some reason, while the two crazed cav regiments I’d sent scouting suddenly decided — against orders — to try and take on the entire enemy army alone. And they won — managed to route or capture 80% of the enemy regiments, which was about the same time I turned the demo off. I understand the necessity for easy walkover victories in tutorial battles while the player is learning the game mechanics, but I wasn’t actually learning anything other than that Austrians in the game seem really, really frightened of horses.

    I’d been feeling sorry for Battlefront over the split with Histwar, imagining them jilted at the altar, but I’m just starting to suspect they were the lucky one to get out when they could. I’ll give it another go, just to make sure it wasn’t just me being cranky — but I’m decidedly underwhelmed right now.

  26. Railick says:

    Ask yourself Mutait, have you EVER seen a movie where Arnold fights a horse? No, of course not because he refuses. He may ride one in Conan I’m not sure but I’ve never even seen him near a horse in any other movie.

    HistOrical Fact : Austrians are so afraid of horses they will surrender on sight even if it’s just a scouting unit. Heck they’ll surrender to a 10 year old girl on a pony.

  27. Richard J says:

    He may ride one in Conan I’m not sure but I’ve never even seen him near a horse in any other movie.

    Dude, True Lies!

    So, anyway, I’m fairly disappointed in the feedback to the demo (downloading now). Not that I was expecting anything great, but it’s always nice to have some attempting a grognard take on the Napoleonic period.


    A man who knows his licornes from his howitzers (much to the despair of his wife).

  28. Railick says:

    He rides a horse in true lies? geeze I need to go back and watch that movie I remember loving it when it came out.

  29. mutait says:

    A point well taken, Railick.

    • Railick says:

      Muwahaha, my ability to rewrite history knows no limits!

      Where you aware that the French Revolutionary army used trained ferrets to deliver messages back and forth from generals to the front lines? O.o True! :P

    • Chaz says:

      Yes but thanks to a well trained British squadron of hawks, the French lines of communication were decimated, and was one of the deciding factors at the battle of Waterloo. Fact!

  30. Zardoz says:

    Um… is the demo a bit buggy or is it just not liking me?

  31. Railick says:

    Yes and there is no need to bring up the army of trained cobras from India that the British deployed ;)

  32. Tom says:

    Give him a few drinks he’ll tell you all about it.

  33. P7uen says:

    Arnie punched a reindeer in the face in Jingle All The Way, that must count for something.