A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 7 March 2011

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics - More On-the-Job Training

Russians & Prussians down the right hand side. Terrain is based on the Rolica scenario. I wouldn't drink from that river.

This weekend I finally played my first CCN games with an opponent. Clive - the Old Metal Detector himself - kindly came up to the Land of Mud to help with the action. I even got to see his umbrella, which he brought along.

The CCN game is now sufficiently well established for there to be a good number of players with more experience and better understanding than I have, so there is not a great deal of point in my revealing my findings in great detail, but we did learn a few things.

We fought three battles which were closely based on the first 2 scenarios in the CCN book. I say closely based because:

(1) My hex table has the hexes rotated 60 degrees from the CCN board, and has slightly different proportions. None of this is a big problem, but I am now giving some serious thought to painting CCN-oriented hexes on the reverse side of my war boards, complete with painted-out part-hexes on the edges of the table (don't hold your breath).

(2) Clive brought some lovely vintage Russians and Prussians - mostly Hinton Hunt and Der Kriegspieler - to fight my French army. In the absence of an official GMT national chart for these armies, we defaulted to making their characteristics the same as those for the French.

To finish 3 battles in a day, still able to speak and walk about, is a rare event indeed at my house. We learned a lot, almost all of which is certainly well known to many other players already. The main things were:

(1) The game makes a whole lot more sense with two players. It is an excellent game, though I do not think it is the only game I will ever wish to play.

(2) For players with little experience of CCN, defending is far easier. We decided that attacking needs very good co-ordination of troops (and thus shepherding of suitable cards). In particular, bringing artillery up to support attacks needs a lot of skill.

(3) The limited activation of units, about which I had misgivings, works well. Luck with the fall of the cards helps a lot, but the turns are crisp and logical, and the game seems inherently sensible as you play it through.

(4) It does matter where you place your generals - if you are sloppy about this, a leader may get in the way of one of your fighting units, and he might even be eliminated by enemy attack.

(5) The game works well with miniatures - we had no problems with the rules, though inexperience required us to do a lot of reading of the fine detail of Bonus Combats and so forth. It is vital to make best use of the terrain, and to use troop types to their strengths.

Retrospective edit: Clive now has a couple of very nice slideshows of his photos of these games posted here or here.


  1. Foy,

    I would agree with you on all points. We've been playing for a few weeks and we're still learning about the correct use of artillery - I think the moral of the story is that it is best used in combined arms attacks.

  2. When I stated that my hexes are 60 degrees out from GMT's, I meant, of course, 90 degrees. 60 degrees would leave the hexes as they are.

    I am already thinking ahead to expansion packs. I am not very positive about the possibility of being committed to an open-ended series of expensive upgrades, especially if I am not planning to use the actual board and blocks very much.

    Scenarios can be improvised, I believe, and national characteristics for more nations (which will quickly become common knowledge when they are released by GMT) can be home brewed in the interim.

    What I am really interested in is the Grande Battle extension. Having been through the unfamiliar experience of completing a smallish battle in under 2 hours, despite all the poring over rules, I am thinking what would be possible with more troops on a bigger battlefield in a longer time, given more expansive activation cards. I would very much like to see a preview of how the bigger games will work.

    No doubt it will become clear in the fullness of days.

  3. And the rest of my comment was inexplicably eaten by blogger - that will teach me to type on a smartphone after a night shift. "I would agree..." terrible prose. Bah.

    I am looking forward to the big battle set, though I find it really comes into its own as a team game. You can have a look at the Second World War big battles rules here.


    One of the advantages of the rapidity of the small game is that it means that players become familiar with the basics very quickly, with the result that big games still proceed at a decent clip.

    As for buying expansions? Well, I have bought them in the past, mainly because I wish to support Richard Borg and keep him in the game designing business. Trying to force alcohol and funds on him in person has been tried - but he can prove remarkly resistant.

  4. Interesting - thanks for that.