Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 14 September 2021

C&C Accessories - Spurious Precision?

 I chanced upon an advert for some custom component racks for Command & Colors, and I realised that I'd always wanted some, so I ordered up the "Napoleonic Starter Set", which I shall describe in a moment.

 
The "Sleeve", with four counter racks in it, and the scenery-tile holder in the foreground 

It came quickly, from "Sally 4th", of Melmersby, North Yorkshire. I realised that it required rather more assembly than I had planned for; that's OK, of course, but I put it away until the weekend.

The Starter Set comprises laser-cut MDF components to make up four counter racks (2 for small counters, 2 for medium), a "sleeve" thingy which the racks slide into, and also a rack to hold scenery tiles.

Background: Though C&CN is my go-to Napoleonic game with miniatures, I've never played the actual boardgame very much - setting out and tidying away the block counters is a pain in the tonsils, to be honest, and, since I store the boxes upright, on their ends, I have had to improvise all sorts of little containers to keep the counters in, to avoid the sort of chaos on opening the lid which would be guaranteed to make me put the lid back on and put the game away unplayed. It's not been a great success - the game doesn't get used, so perhaps the introduction of some better organisation would make all the difference.

I did the component assembly while listening to the Manchester Utd game on the radio on Saturday. Straightforward enough - the tabs are accurate and everything lines up, and I used my standard "Tacky PVA" to stick everything together. All quite straightforward, though one of the parts is a Perspex lid for the "sleeve" unit, which is not glued, but is anchored by tabs which fit into the sides. First problem was that the tabs on the Perspex bit did not fit the holes - quite a lot of fiddling with needle files to improve the fit - eventually I got it together by forcing it in - crude but OK. A couple of days to let everything dry out, and this morning I set about transferring my counters to the new racks.

That was rather less satisfying than I had hoped. The storage cells on the racks hold 4 layers of 3 x 2 (for the small counters) and 4 layers of 2 x 2 (for the medium sized ones), and there really isn't any space. This is glued MDF, not exactly engineering standard, and the counters are really very tight. It's fiddly to get them in and out, and they really don't fit brilliantly. Why on earth they couldn't have allowed an extra mm each way I have no idea. Never mind, I got them stored away, and they definitely don't rattle, though the Perspex lid holds everything firmly anyway, so rattling is not a problem. If I had made these, I'd have made them just a tad bigger - there is some risk of damaging the counters getting them in and out.

I also realised that the Large counters need a Large rack unit, but I had enough space to fudge them into the racks I have. Everything goes back into the box nicely enough - I was concerned about the raw MDF wearing the surface of the playing board, so put in some kitchen roll to pack it a bit. The game boxes have gone back onto their shelves with no rattle at all.

So:

(1) is it well made? - yes - it's OK - the MDF is what you would expect; the Perspex lid is not well finished, which turned out to be less of a problem than I thought it might (brawn over brains every time). The design is clever, but making it all so tight is unnecessary and something of a nuisance.

(2) is it good value for money? - it's expensive - I think I paid £28 including P&P for the Starter Set. I was surprised, given the price, that it required so much assembly. It's nice to have racks specially proportioned to hold C&C counters, and to fit in the game boxes. The pay-off is whether it encourages me to use the board game more often.

(3) is it going to encourage me to play the board game more often, then? - probably not, I'm afraid - it's not very quick or simple to get the counters in or out. I'll see how I feel in a week or two...

11 comments:

  1. No sign of a laptop from Curry's I presume?

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    1. Hi Rob - it arrived Friday evening. There is a rumour that the dates on the delivery documentation were tweaked, but I won't mention that in case someone reads it and jumps to their own conclusions. No apologies, no explanation, but we made it by 12 hours so well settle for that. Oh yes - it seems to work.

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  2. Glad it arrived, even if only just in time. Frustrations like this always light the fuse. I'm waiting to get the light in my new fridge fixed (second new fridge I should say as the first was delievered with a great big dent in side so was replaced). We've been waiting for about 6 weeks now while they check to find out when they might expect the replacement parts... ho, hum.

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    1. Are we speaking here of the same establishment...?

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    2. No, this is Appliances Direct - there's nothing special about Curry's.

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  3. Re the C&C box, I have all the games and use the hobby boxes (Hobby Craft et al) which are used by sewers etc. Nice little compartments that can be adjusted for the bigger/more of them blocks and then use a spare sticky label from the game to mark the compartment. The terrain bits go in a tackle box and the rules/scenario are in a binder meaning the original boxes are now redundant although i do keep them almost for sentimental reasons.

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    1. Simon - what you describe is sensible and pragmatic, and certainly what I should have been doing for the last few years, but my particular variant of OCD loves to see things in their original boxes, so you can understand the appeal of "invisible support" aids which hide away inside the box. In fact the bits I bought will probably become a little looser with use - the "use" bit may be the problem.

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  4. I must confess I still haven't played a single game with my C&CN set (although I did enjoy putting the stickers on the blocks) so I was excited to see your motivation accessory but less excited by the time I finished reading about it - I guess I'll just keep the box neatly stacked on the shelf!

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    1. I am quite happy to admit that I will spend hours - days, even - lining up, organising and rearranging toy soldiers. A joy forever (and sometimes, as you know, it does take forever).

      I find that game counters, even posh wooden blocks, are a different proposition altogether. Although cleverly designed, they have zero visual appeal, they do not have any intrinsic element of recreation about them (mostly), and they come in vast numbers. The one you are looking for is always at the bottom of the box (hopefully the box you are looking in), or it could be down the back of the sofa. I find the experience of being required to set up a board game ridiculously stressful - likely to bring on a tantrum. I believe I may be descended from a long line of people who would have arranged for their servants to set up the game, and to put it away again - and possibly even to play it on their behalf. Sadly, I have been unable to work out who these people were, or what they did with their fabulous wealth.

      Spoiled, I guess.

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  5. As someone who likes to play C&C:N fairly regularly - or at least did before lockdown - I was initially quite excited to read about these custom component racks, but the expense and the fiddliness of the assembly has rather put me off. I will happily continue with my own rather haphazard organisation I think.

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    1. I think with stuff like this, if you buy a set then that's a decision made (however it works out); if you decide against it, you have at least thought about it, which is positive.

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