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

Sunday, 17 April 2011

CCN - My Local Rules - (2) Grand Tactical variant

I am aware as I write this that previous posts I have put up here about CCN have not raised a lot of interest, which supports my guess that CCN has relatively few fans among miniatures gamers - thus far, anyway. If anyone does wish to have a look at the original CCN rules, you can download them from GMT's website.

This follows on from an earlier post, in which I mooted the possibility of producing a variant (or a "Scenario Rules" add-on, if that sounds more comfortable) for Commands & Colors:Napoleonics (CCN) which will handle a grand tactical wargame, which, to me, means a normal-sized wargame in which the lumps represent something bigger (i.e. brigade-sized units) rather than a vast game with many more of the usual sized lumps (which I would regard as a very large tactical game). The reason is that, quite simply, I need rules which will run games of different sizes, and a small add-on to a single rule set seems a good way to go about it.

Much of this note will repeat ideas from my original post, but I've firmed up on some items, changed my mind on others, and filled in some missing bits. I have also (predictably?) developed an alternative version of the crib sheet to fit grand tactical games using my own armies.

Bear in mind that this is not even a beta-test version yet - it's just an early prototype to get my hands dirty.

(1) The starting point is the standard CCN rule book. I intend to play the game, for the most part, with miniature soldiers, though the changes here are intended also to work with blocks and the original boardgame.

(2) There is an implied reduction in the ground scale. Movement is as in the standard game (which, in turn, implies a longer turn length), but artillery ranges are reduced to 3 hexes for horse artillery and 4 for foot artillery. Ranged combat (fire) for Rifles is allowed at 2 hex range, but infantry other than Rifles are not allowed to carry out ranged combat. [Musketry is assumed to be included in melee combat. There is an issue I need to watch for here - I may have reduced the overall effectiveness of infantry vs other arms.]

(3) The Command Cards pack survives with very little change. The 2 Tactical Cards titled FIRE AND HOLD are the only ones I could find which refer specifically to ranged fire from infantry, so these should be removed from the pack. [There may be others I haven't found yet.]

(4) The scaling and grouping of units is changed from standard CCN. In general, a unit is a brigade, and the number of "blocks" (bases in a miniatures game) in a unit will indicate its numerical strength - approx 750 men for an infantry block, 500 for cavalry. The identity of the blocks should represent the historical units and troop types present - typically, a block will be a battalion or cavalry regiment. This introduces the idea of mixed units - infantry and cavalry should not be brigaded together, but divisional artillery (normally a single block) may be included in a cavalry or infantry brigade, and a brigade may include an assortment of troop types, appropriate to the historical original. [Some examples here: (a) in the Peninsula, a French brigade of mixed Light and Line units will count as Line; (b) the Anglo/Portuguese Light Division will have brigades which are entirely Light Infantry, with some Rifles blocks present; (c) in addition to divisional batteries of a single block, artillery may also be formed into massed or reserve batteries of up to 3 blocks in strength; (d) a 4-block unit which has 3 Guard blocks and 1 Line will normally be taken as Guard (etc).]

(5) Allocations of Combat Dice, bonuses and deductions remain unchanged, but the number of troop blocks/bases counting for dice should be limited to 4. [This is to stop a large, poor quality brigade becoming unstoppable.]

(6) Individual artillery or rifles blocks in a unit may carry out ranged combat, but the whole unit must be Ordered to achieve this. [Not sure about this - at the very least, this may require rather more generous allotments of Command Cards...]

(7) The numbers of dice used by artillery at various ranges have been recalculated, as given in the crib-sheet table below. The CCN rule whereby a single-block horse artillery unit cannot move and fire is suspended - typically, batteries will have a single-block strength. In the table, artillery is identified as "single" (1-block) or is otherwise a massed battery of 2 or 3 blocks.

(8) If hits on a mixed brigade include an artillery symbol and there is a battery present, the battery must be a casualty. Otherwise the blocks removed must be of the predominant type, but the actual choice of block is made by the owner of the unit. [Thus, if an infantry hit is scored on a 4-block brigade comprising 3 Line and 1 Rifles, the owning player may choose which of the Line blocks he loses. If he has 1 Line and 3 Rifles, he must choose one of the Rifles blocks. If he has 2 of each, he can choose to lose any of the blocks.]

(9) Leaders/Generals will normally be deployed at Divisional level and higher, though a particular scenario might justify a detached brigade having its own Leader. This will give a higher proportion of Leaders to combat units – to compensate, there is a change to the rules: you may attach a Leader to any unit you like, but he only allows them to ignore a Retreat result if he is in their chain of command. [The Victory Flag requirements for a result must be raised to allow for the greater number of potential Leader casualties.]

Here's the modified crib-sheet for this game:

I am also working on some ideas for including formal, masonry-built forts into the Terrain rules, but that hasn't got very far. I am giving serious thought to the possibility of handling siege games with an extension of this grand tactical variant of CCN, but that is a further degree of sketchiness beyond this current idea, which is sketchy enough to be going on with.

If I am pleased about any particular aspect of this, thus far, it is that the basic CCN game is altered relatively little. Even if I decide (or am otherwise convinced) that this idea doesn't work, I shall have learned something, and had a bit of exercise for the grey matter.

I intend to call a halt to CCN posts for a while and get back to Realism and a few more mainstream topics. If anyone particularly wishes to pursue the CCN thread (and I'm not a contributor to the forum), you can email through my blog profile.


  1. I've been away for a bit and haven't had time to catch up on my blogs, hence the lateness of the reply.

    I always read your CCN posts with interest, mainly I think because you're rather more critical of the set than I am. I can see the point of tinkering with the system to make the scaling easier, though when I try it I always find myself having to make a compromise somewhere. In the long run, I think it boils down to what you can live with in terms of compromise.

  2. Conrad

    Having gradually built up some experience of the CCN game, I am pretty much convinced of its merits, and am now thinking more seriously than I expected about using it as the backbone of most of my gaming. I am consciously leaving the rules well alone as far as I can - the only mods I have attempted so far are (minimal ones) to cope with the fact that my armies don't look or line up like CCN's boxed set, and - since I need to able to handle a big battle in a campaign - to get round some scaling issues which bothered me.

    I am beginning to understand that the Epic or "Grande Battle" extension, when it comes, will be a massive tactical game rather than my definition of grand tactical, so I am trying to produce a close derivative of the original game with units which are explicitly brigades (rather than merely sort of big, representative regiments, which does odd things to the distribution of artillery etc). My aim is to do this without spoiling the bits of CCN which are known to work.

    I have also worked out that a CCN board, with properly oriented hexes 7" across-the-flats, will fit beautifully, with a small border, on the back of my existing 8' x 5' board set, so - since Hotz seem to be focussing on 4" and 5" hex mats - some DIY may well be taking place in the near future. 7" is a handy size for me, and it avoids the nightmare task of cutting out new hills.