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

Friday, 17 June 2016

A 30YW Variant of Commands & Colors? - some background development

My own adaptation of Commands & Colors (substantially based on the Napoleonics version of GMT’s game) to facilitate wargames based in the English Civil War is still downloadable from the top right of this screen. In addition to the downloadable materials, I have a growing collection of tweaks, mods and scenario workarounds, and I have also developed a simplified, fast-play version of the same game. I do not want to try to sell anyone anything at all – if it is useful or interesting, you are free to download and use whatever you wish, though I would prefer if I were to get a little credit for my efforts!

Whatever, it is becoming obvious that I need to revise the current draft, and work is in hand to update the documentation shortly (to version 2.65, if memory serves me adequately). I have recently received some requests – in one case, a complaint! – that I should publish (and maintain?) a set of scenarios to accompany the rules, since without these they are of little use.

While I respect that this is part of the established C&C culture, it is not a part that I am particularly interested in. I developed the rules for my own use, and most of my wargaming is of a type which would make a very poor “balanced” scenario. Many of my battles are campaign based, or reflect a situation in which one commander’s ambitions are limited to making the most of a pretty hopeless position – they are, in short, rather like what happened in history. This, in turn, probably reflects the fact that I do much of my gaming solo – Max No-Mates Foy strikes again.

I read the history books, do the planning, design and set up the actions – lots of scribbling in notebooks - for me, that is an important part of the fun, and the rules are there to support this approach. Without thinking about it too carefully, I tend to expect other gamers to do the same sorts of things. If someone is looking for a set-up-&-go ECW based on a competent scenario book then I am clearly the wrong guy to look to. For one thing, I am not especially interested in the sort of scenarios which are published with the GMT games – their historical basis is often distorted in the interests of a playable game, and by the size of the board. I emphasise that I have no problem with any of this, since they are accepted as being excellent games, but it is not what I wish to do. For another thing, if I (not an expert by any means) can take issue with the accuracy of the published Napoleonic scenarios, then I hate to think what enthusiasts would make of my own ECW scenarios! – I have no intention of defending, discussing or apologising for home-grown scenarios which fall short of the expected standards, so I shall simply not publish any.

I’ve also had some comments from people wondering if the rules could be adapted further to give a more general coverage of the Thirty Years War. I’d love to do that – it hasn’t been a priority for me, because I don’t fight 30YW at present, and my knowledge of the history is, well, skimpy. It has always been a background item on the wishlist, however.

Well, over the last couple of weeks I’ve had some very full-on communication with a Canadian gentleman who is very much an expert in the 30YW, and he has sent me some drafts of an interesting C&C style game, the starting point for which is my own C&C_ECW variant. This has been quite challenging at times – arranging to broaden the scope of the game to cope with more varied troop types and weaponry, and alternative tactical approaches, without losing the essential tick-tock simplicity of the C&C game systems, is proving as complex as I feared it might. However, my correspondent is armed with just the sort of expertise I lack in this period, and he is also proving to be logically minded and an excellent writer, so this really is most promising.

I cannot say too much yet, since the initiative is not mine, and also because I have no idea how far the author wishes to pursue it, but there is a proper scenario portfolio being developed alongside the rules drafts, and I would hope some serious playtesting will be starting shortly. The game can be played with blocks or with bases of miniatures – one of the big challenges has been in producing unit classifications which are capable of being applied to the entire 30YW/ECW period, while keeping the game manageable.

You don’t get too many giant Spanish Tercios in the ECW, but the expanded game will have to cope with them, without making them unrealistically unstoppable. It’s coming along nicely at present. It is likely that I will not replace my own rules with the new game immediately, but the ideas we have discussed in the last couple of weeks will certainly be reflected in some of the changes in my own next version.

I find that I have, once again, done something which is likely to cause some mild shaking of heads – I have given a complicated story which has no immediate end product and for which I am forced to be a little secretive – in other words, yet another No News item – but I certainly hope that I should be able to say a little more before too long.


  1. Hi Tony, This is very cool so I for one will be interested to see what develops. Not that I feel a need for even more projects! Cheers


  2. Sounds interesting. Do keep us informed.