The Battle of Uclés which I played here last weekend, with Stryker and Goya in guest-starring roles, was most enjoyable - we did run out of time, which was a shame, but that can largely be explained by unfamiliarity. Not Stryker's lack of experience, as a debutant with the Commands and Colors game, but my own lack of facility with the extended card set which came with Expansion #5, although I had played it before. Since the battle, I have been thinking over why this was a bit of a problem, and what I might do to improve things.
All this is, consciously, being a bit over-critical, but among the joys of C&CN to date have been the ease and speed of play. The game is not trivial - there is a lot to remember - but the logical, fast-play rules are a great strength. So much so that a decent-sized game has typically been taking me about 2 hours elapsed - often less. It is so focused, in fact, that if your game doesn't go well you might just have time to try it again - or even try a different one - in the same session.
I've relished that aspect of the game system, and come to rely on it for crisp, understandable games. As the cliché goes - struggle against the enemy, not the rules. Last year I bought the Expansion #5 upgrade, the Generals, Marshals and Tacticians box, which promised to add more meaning to the rather minimal role played by Leaders in C&CN. It looks good - the original Command card deck is replaced by a modified one, and there is a new Tactician card deck which adds extra depth to the play. The problem last Saturday was, as I say, unfamiliarity. Reading out the contents of each Tactician card as it is played, and agreeing what it means, turned out to be quite time-consuming. Though I had played with the Expansion #5 cards maybe 3 times before, they still proved to be a bit of a disruption. Apart from the hilarious spectacle (!) of my constantly trying to find my reading glasses among the scenery, it was all very new and a bit uncomfortable. In one step, Expansion #5 takes me from a pack of familiar Command cards which I know well and which I can recognise (and understand) on sight, to a whole new pack of rather more complicated text instructions which I don't know at all well, and which had to be studied as they emerged (and, in game play, it might take several games to see them all). That was the main problem.
The obvious solution is to do a little homework - read the cards over a few times, become comfortable with them. First snag is that, unlike the original game, there appears to be no summary list of the new cards. Not in the rules, and I've looked in a few other places - gamer sites and so on - but failed to find anything useful, so decided to type them out for my own use. That way I can swot up a little and save time and maybe some embarrassment (and a few errors) on battle days. So I've done that - you'll find them on the two sheets below. If there is a numeral in brackets at the end of a card text, that indicates the number of instances of that card in the deck. I have also attempted to edit the text a little where I thought it was potentially ambiguous.
If these sheets are useful to you, please print them off for your homework. If they are not, no matter. If they serve only to remind you that you hate anything to do with hexes with a crusading zeal, then why are you reading this anyway?
It is not my intention to enable anyone to produce their own rip-off card set - heaven forfend - this is merely to give a useful summary of the new Tactician cards, so that anyone (especially me) can do a little homework and get up to speed.
At present, I think that the revised Command cards are less of a problem - they are fairly obviously related to the earlier set, and in any case one sees more of them in a game, so familiarity should come more quickly. (Also - typically - they are less wordy, which is not an insignificant point for those of us with dodgy eyesight and failing memories!). If I get sufficiently worried about them, I may type out the new Command deck as well.
As they used to say in my old workplace, "You must embrace change - because you are bloody well stuck with it".