On Wednesday I hosted a C&C miniatures game - the Battle of Orthez. The plan was to play this as a 4-handed game, but sadly Stryker was unable to join us, because of illness in his family, so Goya commanded all the Allies, and The Archduke and I had the French.
A crowded field - lots of troops, and rather busy terrain - the scenario was basically the "Epic" game taken from the C&C user site, scaled down a bit for troop numbers and physical size to fit my 17 x 9 hex table.
As ever, the game was enjoyable, though the action developed rather slower than usual, no doubt because of the complexity of the terrain, and we did not finish. The official Victory Point requirement for the win was 12 points (which included some points for possession of built-up areas and hills), and we were at 10-9 to the Allies at the point where we had to adjourn to get some dinner and allow Goya to get his train! In fairness (as ever), I think that if this had been the historical end to the action then Soult would have been obliged to retreat (again).
My thanks to Goya and the Archduke for their excellent company and the chat, for very kindly buying dinner (which was definitely not in the script!) and for making the trip for what was a terrific day.
Some years ago (Oct 2018) I was disappointed in my attempt to produce a decent scenario for Eggmühl, since the C&C rules made it almost impossible for French troops to attack the big Austrian battalions in wooded country - the Austrians just shot them when they came in range. Subsequently I decided that the "Ranged Combat" effect of muskets needed some adjustment, and I added this to some experimental changes to introduce a dice-based activation system, replacing the Command Cards, to produce my own house-variant C&C game, Ramekin, which has served me well for a while now.
This week's game was excellent fun, but I fear that, in a fiddly terrain, one of the reasons we got a bit bogged down was exactly because ranged musketry was not effective enough, the game was dominated by artillery fire and melee combat (which is probably quite authentic for this battle) and the individual game turns were quite long.
I was left with a feeling that I would like to try the original C&C again - cards and all - and restore the Ranged Combat rules to their former strength. One feature of the original game is that the individual turns are short, but there are lots of them - I'd like to try that again. There is also a possibility that my rules have unwittingly pushed the game away from what the Real Guys would describe as "the true period flavour" [God help us].
I received an email from Dan S, who was interested in which manufacturers of castings were represented on the field of this battle. Since I occasionally get such requests, here goes!ReplyDelete
There are figures from Les Higgins, Minifigs (S-Range, "Intermediate", 20mm and Alberken), NapoleoN, SHQ/Kennington, Falcata, Qualiticast, Lamming [20mm], Garrison 20mm, Ros, Hinton Hunt, Der Kriegsspielers [sic], Art Miniaturen, Hagen and various conversions involving any or all of the above!
The artillery pieces include a lot of Hinchliffe 20mm models, as well.
Looks an epic set-up Tony. Lots of space for the French to retreat into, if necessary. Much better than having the edge of the world immediately behind the last line.ReplyDelete
That's quite a statement at the end there. You think your version of C&C has lost some of the period flavour? And who are these Real Guys anyway?
Hi Chris - it is very probable that the main contributor to the game being a bit stodgy at times was the fact that I was maybe over-ambitious to persevere with the big 4-hander scenario with 3 players, but also fear of the artillery dominated the tactics a lot, which suggests something squiffy in the balance of the arms.Delete
I've had concerns about some aspects of Ramekin for a while now, particularly the idea that allowing free use of a restricted supply of activation counters can result in dead spots, as the orders are concentrated in key areas, and also that my changes to the combat rules have changed the game balance in ways which I hadn't expected. One good thing about boardgames is that the rules are tight and not a constant source of debate (or should be); one downside is that the game is a balanced whole, and changing the rules can result in unexpected distortions. If these effects discourage the players from behaving like (e.g.) Napoleonic generals then that is a potential problem.
As a digression, some of my adventures in developing my own WSS rules involved revisiting the age-old discovery that how I intended the game to be played was not necessarily a guide to how visiting players would play out the game - this is a real education, in a number of ways.
The Real Guys are those who still play rules with the 4 M's (Movement, Missiles, Melee, Morale) walked through in the same sequence that Featherstone used in the 1960s, and (amongs other things) regard gridded battlefields as a creation of the devil. These guys are the heart and soul of the hobby, and have been trying to put me straight for 40 years now!
Good to see a game back out your table. High density can slow a game but so can an inconclusive combats. “The true period flavor” is one of perspective and of degrees. Hope you get it sorted and tackle it again.ReplyDelete
Hi Jon - it was a good day - enjoyed it - but the workload for the players was challenging. I'm keen to have a bash at native C&C again just to revisit the feel of the thing; since so many happy users (including myself) cannot all be wrong, I am reminded that keeping it as a game which works is probably a higher priority than tweaking the rules to give a better fit with my (subjective) understanding of how the real warfare of the day worked!Delete
Yes - it was a fine day - the tone of this write-up shouldn't be unduly dominated by my concerns about the rules, but it is worth a mention, if only to remind myself what I want to do about it!
Great looking game, the whole aesthetics really work for me, the table, the terrain and the figures just look spot on. Really enjoyed poring over the photos.ReplyDelete
Thanks Donnie - it's so long since I did a Napoleonic game here that I'd forgotten that the square infantry sabots dictate a rectangular template for the villages! Some real old friends on display in the pictures.Delete
Great looking game Tony. The problem for the French appears to be little opportunity to throw away lots of cavalry!ReplyDelete
Hi Ian - I think that is the problem, definitely. I had the French right flank (Reille's Corps), which included no cavalry at all, so you can detect some cunning strategy here. At the end of the real battle, the Allied cavalry did some awful damage to the retreating French, but we didn't get to that stage. Yes, the 15ème Chasseurs à Cheval were present!Delete
The distances your compatriots will travel to get a game, not to mention buying you dinner, is a very sincere compliment to your gaming (and hosting).ReplyDelete
Thank you Rob - that's a nice thought. One of my compatriots comes up from Ingerland, so this is indeed a pilgrimage. The dinner was a very kind surprise!Delete
Splendid looking game, I especially like the town buildings. Interesting rules dilemmas - was it perhaps a case of the size of the armies being a little too much for the number of orders chits? Anyway, hopefully it should be 'all part of the fun' to make some amendments and try another game. Are you thinking of actually re-playing as a straight C&C game?ReplyDelete
That's a good suggestion David, but I think we had plenty of orders - I'm sure the terrain was the problem; there was more difficulty finding something constructive to do with the orders available! I think "native" C&C should provide a good refresher, and I can reassess what is needed in the way of house tweaks.Delete
The house Ramekin rules have taken on a life of their own in recent years, since they lend themselves to Zoom games (or, at least, they have some advantages over cards for remote gaming), and - though it has taken me a while to notice - the context has now changed...
The distance your generals are willing to run up and down that enormous table of yours says something too, I think. The games you set up are claerly the very best games of all Tony.ReplyDelete
Hi WM - hope you are continuing to recover from your various indispositions. It's a tough physical workout, wargaming at Chateau Foy! In his role as two separate commanders on the Allied side, Goya must have walked many miles! That's why a substantial dinner is a good ending to the day.Delete
It is interesting that you are revising your house rules. Will and I have suffered from similar issues and constantly adjust one way or the other. In our last game the artillery was too powerful effectively pinning down everything. We also had to adjust our retreat rules because a flag could be an advantage to a defender. It does seem that slight changes produce unintended consequences. We too plan to play a game using the cards as per the game rules to revisit how they work. I look forward to seeing how things pan out for you.Delete
Hi Bob - my plan to use the cards again is for exactly the reasons you state - just a check to see how much the game has drifted from the original. I don't play boardgames very much (well, not on a board, anyway!) - my concern would be that distortions in the rules might result in the players using unhistorical (is there such a word?) tactics to advantage. I'm a little impatient with the orthodoxy slogan of "true period flavour" (especially when offered by guys who would not recognise such a thing if they stepped in it), but I do accept that it is possible to get unreasonable results if the balance between arms gets out of whack.Delete