My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Command and Colors variations

I am sorry that I haven't written something in a while, not because you had nothing to read (after all there are a lot of good blogs out there), but because that meant I wasn't gaming! Now that I am back home from traveling and my proposal writing is almost done (we are usually done with that by the end of September), I can get back to making wooden soldiers, painting, and gaming.

Welcome to new readers Gnotta', Ivor Janci, and madaxeman. Mr. Madaxeman (sir), you have a helluva' site.

As I had little to do last week, other than sit in my hotel room and vegetate in front of the television (a rarity for me, as I don't get television shows at home; I only watch movies on DVD), I decided to take another pass at a new variation of the basic Command and Colors rules. Somewhere between BattleLore and Battle Cry!, I think, with a little bits of the other games thrown in. As indicated in my previous Command and Colors review, there are a number of factors that make each game different, so picking and choosing the bits you like can make for an interesting game.

One of the things implied in the various games is scale – as in ground and unit – with Command and Colors: Napoleonics, for example, having each hex represent more ground than in say BattleLore. This drastically affects things like the range of weapons, thus a musket in the former shoots two hexes while a simple bow in the latter shoots four hexes.

I started mulling over scale and weapons and started with some preliminary figures:

American War of Independence
Infantry with Muskets: 3-2-1
Infantry with Rifles: 2-2-1-1
Cavalry: 3
Mounted Infantry with Muskets: 2-1-1
Field Artillery: 4-3-2-1-1-1
Light Artillery: 2-2-1-1

Napoleonic Wars 
Infantry with Muskets: 3-1
Infantry with Rifles: 2-1-1
Cavalry: 3
Heavy Artillery: 5-3-2-1-1-1
Field Artillery: 4-3-2-1-1
Light Artillery: 2-1-1
Horse Artillery: 3-2-1-1

American Civil War 
Infantry with Smoothbore Muskets: 3-2-1
Infantry with Rifled Muskets: 4-3-2-1
Infantry with Breechloading Rifles: 5-4-2-1
Infantry with Repeating Rifles 6-5-3-1
Cavalry with Pistols and Shotguns: 3
Cavalry Carbines and Sabres: 3-2-1
Cavalry with Repeaters and Sabres: 3-2-1-1
Smoothbore Field Artillery: 6-5-3-1-1
Rifled Field Artillery: 5-4-3-2-1-1

In the data above the numbers represent the number of dice thrown by a standard unit, starting at one hex away, two hexes away, etc. Note that this method is more like Battle Cry! or  Memoir '44 where the number of dice thrown diminishes with range, and less like BattleLore or Command and Colors: Napoleonics where it stays constant. What I want to try from Command and Colors: Napoleonics is the idea of reducing the die as the number of figures are reduced.

Take a simple example: the American Civil War Infantry with Rifled Musket at 4-3-2-1. Assume for a moment that the average infantry unit has four figures. If the unit throws four dice with four figures at one hex, it is easy to extrapolate that each figure generates one die of "firepower" at one hex range. At two hexes each figure would generate 0.75 die, only 0.5 die at three hexes, and just 0.25 die at four hexes. Rather than doing all the math in your head, I produced a simple table showing the number of dice rolled based on the number of figures and the range. (Actually, this is not original and was a variant for BattleLore some time ago.)

The basic die I was going to use was two Infantry faces, one Cavalry face, one Artillery face, on Sabres face, and one Flag face. The Sabres face would only hit in close combat (one hex away).

The other significant factors are Support and Battle Back. I like the idea of Support (having two or more friendly units adjacent to a unit) allowing you to ignore one Flag rolled against you, as it encourages the player to adopt formations and not run units out alone, by themselves. In addition, allowing a unit to Battle Back, if they have support and were not forced to retreat, is another good addition, again because it encourages players to operate in formations.

As with BattleLore, the ability to have troops that can Battle Back without support (if they don't retreat) is a good option; it allows for more variation. However, it should not be as common as Iron Dwarves or simply declaring everyone is Battle Savvy.

The one area that I wanted to change most was to remove the sections (left, right, and center) and make it more free-flowing, like Battles of Westeros. To that end I decided to try a radical change from all previous variants: I used no command cards or any way of restricting who was ordered. Simply put, all units are ordered every turn.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself that limiting the number of units that are ordered is a critical component of a Borg design. I certainly thought so ... at least I did until I tried it. Granted, it is only one playtest, but I am doing "straight" Command and Colors: Napoleonics (the Waterloo scenario) and it has not played out anywhere near what I thought it would. I thought units would be destroyed faster, as multiple units would pound a single attacking unit. That is true, if a single unit attacks, but as you can move all your units, fire tends to be spread a little more evenly than I first imagined.

I am still working out the kinks of this experiment, but I thought I would share it and see what comments it brought forth, if any. At the very least, it is an interesting game.


  1. Have you done anymore work on an American Civil War variant for command and colors? This seemed like a great start

    1. No. Nothing wrong with the above, or vanilla Battle Cry.


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 58 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ working for a software company for the last three years. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").