Wednesday, 11 February 2015

My introduction to Command & Colours

The first scenario from Command & Colours Napoleonics
Despite my enthusiasm for wargaming with hexes and blocks, I played my first couple of games of Command & Colours Ancients only last year, although I had previously played a couple of games of BattleCry, the ACW variant of the system.

As the game system has been out for some time and most readers are probably more familiar with it than I am, I won't attempt a comprehensive review, but I would like to share a few points in its favour for the benefit of anyone who hasn't played it. One's first impressions of a game are always improved by winning. I did win both games, though my opponent inevitably attributed this to lucky dice throws rather than tactical genius!

As a well-developed, hex-based, boardgame there are no arguments about movement and little ambiguity in the rules. The troop types represented convey the full range that you would expect in any ancient wargame including exotica like elephants, camels and scythed chariots. The pre-printed playing area/board is big enough but fits comfortably on a table between two seated players. The game is almost playable out of the box - you just have to attach the labels to the wooden blocks. Obviously, it takes a few hours, but that hardly compares with the burden of having to paint miniatures.

In comparison with rules for miniatures, the treatment of flanks and rear is somewhat abstracted, but the game plays well, is enjoyable and is completable in a very reasonable time. As a result we managed two games in a club evening even though I was a novice player. Although we had to check on a few rules, their meaning was clear and apparent and did not result in mental contortions.

All in all, the game was more playable, more enjoyable and more satisfying than many miniatures rules, so what is there not to like? Well, some people won't be attracted to printed hexes and blocks, and that is why many players have substituted miniatures and Hexon or other hex terrain. If I was to follow suit I'd be thinking very strongly about using the new Magister Militum 3mm ancients.

Anyway, while awaiting a reprint of C&C Ancients, I bought C&C Napoleonics, which is the same but different. I've now played a game of that too, and I found the experience hugely enjoyable. I won again, but, of course, it was thanks only to lucky die rolls, or so I am told! When will my strategic genius receive the recognition it deserves?

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