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

Monday, 18 August 2014

Tweakle Tweakle Little Star (4) – Leaders, for Goodness Sake

There's one...
One of the characteristics of Commands & Colors: Napoleonics that we have discussed a bit is that the Leaders (generals) don’t do a great deal. Once again, I am happy to accept that this is the way the game has been designed, and have no problem leaving the rules as they are, but I have also spent some time thinking about what could be done in the way of some options to liven the Leaders up a bit.

As the rules are published, the role of the Leader is to enable combat units to ignore “retreat flag” results on the special combat dice and to keep himself alive (since he counts as a full Victory Banner/Point, same as a combat unit, if he is lost), and Leaders may also be given orders generated by Command Cards; they are specifically mentioned in just two of the tactical cards – Leadership (for which they are the source of activation, and provide a combat bonus) and Force March (for which they can provide a movement bonus for infantry to which they are attached).

I believe that a forthcoming expansion to C&CN – Marshals & Generals(?) - will bring more focus on Leaders, so any tweaks suggested here must keep that in mind. What follows is what I am proposing to try out in some test games within a few weeks; some of the ideas here have been suggested by, and discussed with, Lee and Iain, among others, and I may well have borrowed things from Lee’s own Leader tweaks for his developing AWI variant, and I have certainly tried a couple of these things already in my own ECW variant game. This package of changes is intended to be simple, to fit closely with standard C&CN, and to address a couple of small logical holes in the game (or things which appear so to me).

Here goes – if there’s bits you like better than others, then try those – if you reject the idea of making any changes at all to C&CN then that’s fine as well, and I have a lot of sympathy with your view:

The army will have a command structure. Generals are fielded at C-in-C, Divisional and Brigade levels – I already use colour-coded borders to the figure bases to distinguish rank. Predictably, an army will consist of Divisions, which will consist of brigades. A brigade should have a maximum size – for me, this is likely to be six units, which may include attached divisional artillery.

To aid recognition, unit bases/sabots will carry coloured beads to show which brigade they belong to. It will become a good idea to keep brigades together, and to keep generals with their own areas of command.

A Leader may be physically attached to any combat unit, as in standard C&CN, but will only have an effect for units which form part of his command. A relevant Leader (i.e. one attached to a unit which is in his own chain of command) will allow them to ignore a retreat flag result, as in standard C&CN, but will also gain them an extra combat die in ranged or melee combat.

In addition, if a “Section”-type Command Card is used to order a Leader who is attached to a unit in his own chain of command, then the unit and any other contiguous units of the same brigade are ordered as well. Thus, a Scout Left card (activate one Leader or unit on the left flank) might be applied to order a Leader who is attached to a unit in his own brigade on the left flank, and it would activate the unit, plus any other units from the same brigade which form an unbroken group or chain from the unit with the Leader. Any units which are physically apart from the contiguous group, or which belong to a different brigade, will require to be activated separately.

A brigadier may perform this role with his own brigade, a division commander with any of his brigades (though only one at a time – the one to which he is physically attached), and a C-in-C with any of the brigades in his army (again, one at a time). The Leader only provides combat bonuses and relief from retreat flags for the actual unit he is attached to, as in standard C&CN.

The downside is that any Leader who motivates his unit by putting his neck on the line in this way will have more chance of being killed; the test for a Leader casualty with a unit suffering loss becomes a roll of a single combat die – crossed sabres and he’s lost (the standard test is 2 sabres symbols on 2 combat dice). I have no ideas yet for succession planning – if he’s gone, he’s gone for the day – but Leaders below Division level do not count as a Victory Banner if lost.

When I first discussed this with the Professor, we felt that this facility for bulk activation of up to a single brigade as though it were one unit was a huge advantage, and should be restricted to movement – i.e. combat orders could not be made at brigade level, but eventually we agreed that it is simpler if we do not apply that restriction; if the attacking brigade can all fight on a single card, maybe the answer for the defenders is to organize themselves so they can do the same. I’ll have to run some trials – if I find that unnatural geometric formations or peculiar strategies result, then it’s back to the drawing board, but it is potentially an interesting add-on – it addresses a number of holes in a single step: introduces the concept of army structure, gives the Leaders a more positive role in combat and provides a means of speeding up movement by activating a brigade as a single entity. A couple of footnotes, before I end:

A brigade can only carry out one order at a time, so having the brigadier and division commander both attached wouldn’t produce a double order.

If a unit becomes separated from its brigade, then it doesn’t get to take part in a brigade order, but that unit may be separately activated and manoeuvred to join up again.

You may attach a Leader to a unit with which he has no relationship (for example, if he is forced to take shelter with them), but he will offer no benefit for them, in either combat bonus or retreat relief, and he is still at risk if they take casualties.

I’m sure there’s a need for more subclauses, but I’ve tried to keep it straightforward and tried to keep it like C&CN – suggestions, abuse and muted applause will all be gratefully received…

If there seems a need for it, I might write a post about coloured beads some time.

* * * * *

Late addition: 

As part of my ongoing effort to complete my siege warfare rules, I've been looking for rules for a miniatures game called Festung Krieg, published around 1988 as part of a suite of SYW games by Freikorps. Not only have I had no success, it's very difficult to find out anything at all about it; it's as if the thing never existed, though the very small number of owner votes on Boardgamegeek give it a high score.

Anyone own this game, or have access to a copy, or know anything at all about it? If you do, I'd be delighted if you would email me through the address in my profile.


  1. From my recollections, Festung Krieg was bundled with Koenig Krieg 2nd Edition published by Outland Games in the mid-1980s. I think the first edition was published by Freikorps. I had the 2nd Edition of KK from Outland but no longer and I do not recall any details from the siege rules.

    Third Edition is available in pdf from Siege Works Studios but It does not appear that the siege rules are included.

    Siege Works Studios Koenig Krieg:

    Not much help but perhaps a little direction?

    1. Much obliged for this - thanks very much. Thanks also to Chris, for his email about Koenig Krieg.

  2. Martin queried the levels of generals, and which ones count as Victory Banners if lost. I agree with him that it depends on the scale of the action - the generals who count as VBs will be the field commander and the next level down; thus if the C-in-C is commanding a division, he and the brigadiers will count. If there are 3 levels of general present, don't count the lowest level (brigadiers?) for VBs.

  3. Great stuff Tony, I have taken some time to think about this before I respond, but it's clear that we are thinking along similar lines regarding command structure. I think I'm going to try to set out some of my thoughts on this in a post on my blog, but basically I want to achieve this using a lower command structure for my AWI's. I want to represent companies, and I want to be able to order possibly several companies to move and combat together, something along the lines of the 'Line advance' cards ( or is it 'shield wall' - I will check) in C&C Ancients, of which there are four I think? This was my thinking behind the '8 card hand', the ability to move connected 'units' together. So my command structure would probably be for example a captain in command of 3 to 4 companies, with perhaps a major being the next step up commanding the battalions, something along those lines. Essentially I'd like to 'scale down' the C&C game board so that several conjoined hexes represent a wood or a small village. Hope this makes sense? I'll try to expand upon it a bit later, with some illustrations or pictures.

    Keep it coming, as you say C&C is a great game as it stands, but I see no harm in the odd 'unofficial' tweak!


    1. Thanks Lee - I don't know much about CCA, but what you describe looks interesting. For your AWI it would be possible to adopt the system I have described here and drop everything a level, as you suggest - then the "brigade order" becomes a "battalion order" for all the companies, and a fascinating thing happens - you can put the companies behind each other, alongside each other, whatever, and you suddenly have tactical formations in C&C, which is unheard of, as far as I know. Now you've done it!….

  4. Warfare in the Age of Reason, Miniature Rules for 18th Century Warfare
    2nd edition by Kershner & Wood, published around 1998 has a good section on conducting a siege which might be of use

    looked through my copy of Koenig Krieg 2nd Edition but nothing on sieges there

    Duffy's books Fire & Stone and Siege Warfare could be useful as covers period 1494 to 1860

    cheers Old John

    1. Hi John - I'd almost completed a lengthy, thoughtful response to this comment when my iMac's "magic mouse" decided to slide the page off to the right, and it was lost forever - a thing which happens from time to time. I am, of course, calm, but wish to announce to anyone who believes that Apple products are in some way elegant and sophisticated that they are sadly mistaken - in particular, the "magic mouse" is actually a piece of shit invented by a retarded budgerigar.

      Where was I? Oh yes - thanks - I'll check out Age of Reason, and I'll try to get hold of Vol.1 of Duffy's work. I believe 2nd and later editions of KK lacked some of the supplements, including the siege bit.

      Yes - quite calm now - cheers John - take care.


  5. I shall check in the loft, I'm sure I still have a copy of the rules etc.
    Actually I thought they were quite good.

    1. Graham - apologies - I was sure I'd responded to this. Someone very kindly sent me a set of the rules - they were interesting - a lot of useful ideas in there. I don't think I'd like to play them very much in their original form though.