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

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Number 6 - An Expansion Too Far?

Sometimes you get a sort of sign – admittedly, some of us are so blooming dense that it takes a good shove to make the point, but I seem to have got there in the end.

I am a big fan of Commands & Colors: Napoleonics, the GMT boardgame, which I play with miniatures – in fact this is the basis of almost all my wargaming now. In the past I have considered each of the expansion sets as they were announced – the only one I’ve invested in was #5, the Generals, Marshals and Tacticians set, which provides a new card pack, some upgraded rules and a rather richer game.

I’ve always been excited by the prospect of playing bigger C&CN games, on a bigger tabletop, so have been waiting for some time for the new Expansion #6, which allows Epic or La Grande Battle [sic] sized games on a bigger board. When it was announced, in March, I put my name down for pre-order in a state of some excitement, which qualified me for a discounted price, and I received an email receipt. Splendid.

And only then did I start to think about it more carefully.

Let me see – the new expansion gives you a couple of new playing boards (wasted on me, since I don’t play it as a boardgame), a book of new scenarios, using the bigger format, with some new scenery tiles and unit blocks (also wasted on me, for the same reason, and since many of the scenarios are for nations and campaigns which I do not play), a revised rule book (good, though I am aware that I need some new tabletops and, preferably, a church hall somewhere to play Epic games with miniatures in my scale) – no new card pack, though. The cost of the expansion is $75 plus postage, less about one-third discount for pre-ordering (plus UK VAT and Royal Mail handling charges).

The expansion was delayed for some reason, but shipping eventually commenced on 13th December. I have received nothing, and I was not convinced that I had actually paid anything, so I began to suspect that GMT had not sent me anything. Hmmm.

I sent an email yesterday, just to check where we are up to. GMT are good, and efficient, and the excellent Deb replied to me today, to say that, since they did not have up-to-date credit card information for me, they had not processed my order. If I wish to update my account information, they can sort things out. They could maybe have told me there was a problem, but they didn't.

Once again, hmmm. Was this the final sign?

Apart from anything else the pound Sterling has gone on a mighty slide since March – this game is getting more expensive, and more marginal, by the moment. I made a decision which surprised me, though I feel somewhat relieved having made it. I cancelled my order. I am confident that Expansion #6 is an excellent product, and that players all over the world will thoroughly enjoy it. But not for me. If I can piece together how the rule revisions work, I can probably make some tweaks to my own miniatures games to allow bigger, multiplayer games, and that’s really all I want. The shiny big box full of redundant bits and pieces would have been a folly – I can see that now.

It took me a while, but I got there. I may be enthusiastic, but I am not easy. Marketing departments, please note.


  1. Well, I cannot disagree with your decision. Since I play CCA with miniatures, the expansions hold little value for me. With a pile of scenarios on line and the latest rules online as well, very little incentive for me to plunk down my money.

    On the other hand, I have friends who buy EVERY expansion for both CCA and CCN. Two of them pre-ordered CCN EPIC and received their packages. I will be giving CCN EPIC a test drive this weekend as we break out Waterloo EPIC.

    As for the slide in the BP vs USD, I think it grand!

    1. Certainly hope the big CCN game goes well - I would like to watch one of these - I've drooled over descriptions of CCA Epic and Memoir "Overlord" games for a good while now, though of course my entire collection of friends, if they were all allowed out of their respective nursing homes at the same time, would hardly make up an 8-player game.

      The exchange rate thing - I have nothing further to say about the UK's recent activities - I surely hope The Tronald leaves us a few husks to push around in the mud. I am confident that a low UKP is good for exports, but i cannot for the life of me think of anything we still make (on an industrial scale, like) which the world out there could possibly want - Scotch Whisky, maybe - and perhaps someone might fancy a cheap holiday here in the Third World.

  2. I have just been thinking about how many of my toy soldier related purchases would have withstood such rigorous analysis. The answer is I am afraid very few, if any. Ho hum. Expansion #5 has been lurking in the recesses of my sub conscious for a good while now but I have held off. If I remember correctly you suggested that it did not offer a great deal in relation to solo play, but still I hanker. A consoling thought is that it is probably unavailable or prohibitively expensive.

    1. Hi Chris - Expansion #5 is not bad at all - I've only really used the replacement card set on two occasions (which is due to lack of opportunity rather than disaffection) and I thought it was fine. Some of the old "tactical" Command Cards make much more sense as specific Tactician cards. If I was a committed player of the C&CN boardgame then I would buy Exp #6 like a shot - no-brainer - but I find the boardgame tedious to set up - especially for a solo game with zero social content. Last time I tried a board version of C&CN it took me nearly an hour to set up the board, by which time I was getting pretty fed up with the whole idea. Somehow, an hour setting up a table with miniatures seems like actual fun in comparison.

      A personal thing, I guess. I stopped playing almost all of my cardboard-counter type games a while ago because the management of the counters infuriates me - it is more like a job than a game. I still hope to make a return to the old (Ariel) English Civil War boardgame, to use as a campaign framework - if i do, I propose to expand the map to include Scotland, and i certainly propose to replace the damn-awful counters with something more worthwhile.

      I know, I know - it's all silly.

  3. I feel your pain.
    Would it be remiss of me to say that I found copies of most of the cards on the GMT site, and have been thinking about simply downloading them and printing them on coardstock, with the rules - to use with hexes and figures, rather than buy the bloody game. Shock, shock, horror, horror!

    1. I have the original boxed game, and I put in the necessary hours to put the stickers on the wooden unit blocks, and all that. As a boardgame it is nicely done, all credit to Mr Borg and GMT for that, and I feel I've kind of paid for the intellectual property rights by owning a "proper" copy - I also keep up the belief that one day when I have limited time and space I might enjoy a quick game of the board version - truth (thus far) is that I find the set-up anything but quick, and the wooden blocks do not really do it for me compared with the toy soldier alternative.

      Again, that's just me. I got the hang, years ago, of the fact that I am probably a little strange.

  4. Thank you for this. With my usual finger on the pulse of things I had no idea that it had been released until I read your post. I shall check it out.

    I also have the base game and expansion 5. The cards and the square markers and track are the only things I use; I've even replaced the dice with some nicer wooden ones I bought online.

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  6. A great cautionary tale, and a warning to us all!


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