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

Saturday, 16 April 2011

CCN - My Local Rules - (1) Peninsular War tweaks

I am very pleased with my experience to date of the application of the Commands & Colors:Napoleonics (CCN) rules to miniatures battles. It looks very promising indeed, and for the time being will form the basis of most of my wargaming.

I have made a conscious effort to leave the rules alone - as far as possible. This does not follow my instinct, nor the habit of constant tweaking which I have followed for many years. Leaving them alone has some worthwhile advantages - it keeps me on common ground with the many other users of CCN, it keeps me positioned to take advantage of subsequent extensions to the published game as they appear, and it avoids damaging a game system which works and has been extensively tested by people who know what they are doing and have a good track record of game design. However, there are a few issues to be resolved when applying CCN to my own games, so I've set out some thoughts and some possible modifications. I have numbered them just to impose some structure on this exercise, not to imply any priority ranking or reference to sections of the rules.

(1) CCN seems to work best for battles involving 20-30 units & leaders per side, which is a fair tabletop-full for my size of table. I am aware that the Grande Battle or Epic extension will appear in due course, but it appears that this will introduce a double-width table, probably using teams to handle the bigger commands. I still have a need to be able to fight big battles on a grand tactical level, with (preferably) units which correspond to brigades - this may still be 20-30 units, but the scale issues are different - I'll come back to this in the next instalment of this post.

(2) There is now an accepted web forum and an array of support tools to enable CCN players to develop their own scenarios. I have a slight suspicion of this being pursued, at least in part, to enhance the fame of the contributors, but the concept is good and is useful. However, I need to get beyond the idea of being limited to approved scenarios - even if there is a growing library of them - I need a more general approach where a one-off game, or a battle from a campaign, can be set up and fought using the CCN rules without the blessing of a GMT proprietary scenario. This is not likely to be a problem, but it presents the immediate issue of the need for some rules-of-thumb to determine, for any ad hoc action, the numbers of Command Cards allowed to each commander and the number of victory flags needed for a result. All this can be assessed on the spot, but I would be interested in views on this, authorised or not.

(3) Since I am fighting non-GMT battles using my own Peninsular War armies, I need to be able to cope with some nationalities and a few troop types which are outside the scope of the National Reference Cards as published to date. I've done a bit of work on this, which I'll describe in a moment, and I've produced an expanded version of my CCN crib sheet (player aid - my original version is here) to cover this. To cut down the bulk of the thing, I've also excluded troop types which I do not have (they can always be added back in when necessary). I've also changed the unit sizes a little where I felt strongly that they were inappropriate. Now I do realise that GMT will be releasing game expansions to cover more nations (the Spanish army is expected in August, I believe), so I look forward to seeing what the official versions are like - in the meantime, this is the revised crib sheet for my entirely unofficial version, for my own use.


(a) French - I've dropped various troop types which I'm unlikely to have involved; I've fought against my instinct to make so-called Light Infantry into Line, and left them as was; since the French cavalry was critically short of horses and not very numerous for most of the Peninsular War, I've reduced cavalry unit strengths to 3 blocks/bases (same as the British, in fact)

(b) British - I've dropped the Guard Heavy Cavalry class, since as far as I can see they were the same as the non-Guard; I've reduced all Light & Rifle unit strengths to 3 blocks, and Guard Inf to 4

(c) Portuguese - as published, but I've omitted the non-existent Heavy Cav & Horse Art categories

(d) Italian & Confederation (German) Allies for the French - I've dropped redundant troop classes (for my purposes), otherwise they are like the French except (i) the infantry don't get the +1 dice bonus in melee vs infantry, and (ii) the "half-blocks" calculation is rounded down (like the Portuguese) for ranged combat when moving - this last bit may seem harsh, but I can't believe they were superior to the Portuguese in this theatre

(e) King Joseph's (JN) Spanish - the Guard & the artillery are the same as French Line troops; non-Guard troops get the half rounded down when firing while moving, and infantry & cavalry troops suffer double (x2) retreats. I justified this because I felt they would fight satisfactorily, but might tend to collapse if things went against them

(f) Nationalist Spanish - I am fighting 1811-12 period, so have not adopted a Guard category (they had nominal Guards units, but probably no better than Line troops); they are the same as JN's Spanish otherwise, including double retreat rule; militia are the same as Portuguese militia (incl 3x retreats); new categories are Guerrilleros - (i) Guerrilla Cavalry may not retire & reform, but otherwise fight as Lt Cav (ii) Guerrilla Infantry have max strength of 2 blocks, may not form square, may move freely through Forests & Towns/Mills, may move 2 hexes & still battle, fight like line infantry (sabres count as hits in melee) (iii) important rule for guerrillas of all types is that one (non-disregarded) retreat eliminates them

This is all provisional, "beta test" stuff while I try it out for a while. As and when GMT publish more nations and more game extensions, I'll be pleased to bring my own efforts into line with the authorised version as appropriate - this is all just to get me up and running!


  1. Interesting to see you intend to have guerillas on the battlefield. That isnt something you see a lot, is it? I thought guerillas did more work capturiing messangers and supply wagons.

    Assumptions all seem sensible, though Spanish readers may not be happy!

    I dont have CCN but have read the rules downloaded from GMT website.

  2. Lou - how's things? If you haven't tried CCN you probably should - it kicks sand right in the face of all those posturing realism ginks that you always hated! Seriously, it is a very good game - things move quickly, there is little or no need to settle misunderstandings or logical gaps by means of "who has the biggest ego?" (although I do still forget the odd rule - particularly the ones I didn't read properly!).

    Spanish army is complicated - the militia were included into the regular army in 1810. There certainly were pitched battles (especially in Navarre) between irregular forces commanded by guys who are generally regarded as guerrilla leaders and the French. The more I read, the less clearly I understand who the guerrillas actually were. If a local volunteer force was well thought of, it would get British money and equipment and be better organised and better clothed than the supposed regulars. Sanchez's Lanceros de Castilla are often described as guerrillas, and yet they were pretty much a crack unit. Tricky!

    My add-on CCN rule is to cover the situation where irregulars are definitely not regular army or militia, and could not be confused with them. Use them in your battle line if you will, but be aware of the risks!