Thursday, August 16, 2012

CCN - Battle of Rolica, Afternoon

In Commands & Colors, the second Battle of Rolica scenario is a tough one for the British.  The Brit commander absolutely must be patient and achieve good command control before engaging the well positioned Frogs.
This is a game between myself (Brits) and Herrodadog (Frogs) a couple of weekends ago.  Played with 6mm Baccus minis, and 4" terrain mat by Hotz.
Overview from the Froggie side of the table.  You can see that nice line of hills they have for defense.  The Brits have to squeeze past some unpassable ridges and funnel right into the waiting hands of the Frogs.  This makes it very tough.

I played an out of supply card on the first turn to move the French artillery back to its baseline hoping to get some time to go to work before it got back into action.

I repositioned my infantry to a safer location on the left to wait for a better time to advance.

The Frogs advanced down of their ridge as I moved up some Heavy cavalry and infantry.

The French also secured the woods on my right with some Leger supported by light cavalry.

My Portuguese fired a few volleys intot he woods and pushed the Volitgeurs back out.  They retired back to the ridge.  A good start I thought...

My Cacadores drove the French light cavalry away as well..

But how fast things can change in this game.  The Legere and cavalry came back rapidly while I was doddling around bringing up more infantry.  My Portuguese line formed square and my Cacadores stood and fired.

The battle at the square is inconclusive with both the cavalry and the infantry taking some casualties.  A very brilliant game design feature is that when you go into square, your opponent gets to randonly draw one of your command cards and place it on the track as long as you remain in square.  This represents loss off command control and can be a huge game changer.

Meanwhile back in the center the Frogs are pushing my Brits back with a nice combined arms assault.  They have siezed the woods at the mouth of the ravine which means I will have almost no chance of pushing them out right now.

And now my poor infantry lads are taking some punishment.  I have to do something before that French battery goes into action!

I decide on a wild gamble, and played the British cavalry against the French battery.  Alas, my cavalry was blown away and we didn't accomplish much at all.

Back on my right, my Portuguese are still standing in there against the French attack.

But then my Cacadores get hammered and pushed back.  Now that line unit in square is all alone and unsupported!  I had brought up some artillery to help, but that French cavalry is on the loose now.

I finally get some of my reserve units in motion.  The problem I have had so far is that Jil has dictated the tempo of the game and kept me fighting in little sections.  He is playing well, and I must find a way to get my army coordinated and stop reacting to everything he does.

Here I was thinking "Oh boy" I'm going to let the Frogs have it now with my artillery, but guess what?  My gunners decide to fire high and miss.

That lucky Frog cavalry!

And then my gunners do it again!  Man, it was right at this moment that I realized I was in deep trouble.

My card deck was not cooperating so I had to piddle around a little.  I moved up some Portuguese light cavalry and Brit light infantry to threaten the Frog center.  I was hoping to make him react and relieve some pressure on my right before it collapsed.  Let's see if Jil took the bait.

Back on the right, the Frogs backed up to regroup because my guns finally started getting more effective.

And in the center the Frogs are exploiting their success against my infantry and cavalry.  Now they are in the closer woods with artillery support.  I'm in trouble here.

Well, Jil had been aggressive all day, why stop now right?  Here he comes with a couple of Froggie columns to threaten my threatening force!  Jil has been doing a great job of controlling the tempo and making me react instead of carrying out my  plans.

Now comes the beginning of the end.  The French Legere starts hammering my square.

And I mean hammered!

Here is where my Portuguese major screamed out "Form Corner!"  These guys are in serious trouble.

Remember those Frog columns?  They pushed back my lights in the center and now the French control the entire center.

All I can do on the right at this point is fire my artillery at the woods and hope like hell that I can hurt that cavalry before it comes back again.

The last volley from my army.  The French scored their 5th victory point about this time and the game was over.  Jil played this very well, and the game was never even close.  It is rare for this game to be such a blow out.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Commands & Colors Crazy

Where in the heck has LTL Dad been lately?  He's been playing the Commands & Colors games by GMT.  I don't know if I've ever been this addicted to anything before.  Well, maybe when I was younger, chasing LTL Mom, but other than that...
These games are by Richard Borg, and are the final evolutions of a very fine game system starting out with Battlecry and Battle Lore.  You get to set up, play, and get this, FINISH a game in one to two hours, and maybe three or four hours for large multiplayer games when drinking beer and chatting too much.
The games come with high quality components.  Beautiful, well thought out charts, card decks, special dice,and rules.  The rules are written clearly and are simple and well organized.  Everything is very intuitive and after a few games you will rarely go for the rulebook or charts.  The games come with wooden blocks and you have to apply the stickers, the only down side for some people.

The heart of the game system is battlefield friction.  Each commander maintains a hand of cards, the quantity depending on the commanders skill level.  So historically better commanders will have more cards in their hand giving them more choices of commands and tactics.  The cards allow you to activate units based on sections of the battlefields or special conditions.  The card deck is the representation of command control/communications problems.  So the bottom line is you can do anything that the cards in your hands allow you to do.  This means that from turn to turn the commanders will have to react to a constantly changing condition and find ways to get their army to do what he wants despite the fortunes of war.

If you are the type of gamer who thinks he should have complete control of every unit in his army at all times, and that things should always go as planned, this game is not for you.  However, if you enjoy cursing the cards, the decks, the enemy, the game Gods, and biting your nails until the last turn of every game than this is the absolutely what the doctor ordered.

I had been eyeing this game for a long time but didn't try it till a few months ago.  I really wish I'd found it sooner.  Many of the modules are out of print but the good news is that GMT supports their stuff and they have a reprint system in place for game demand.  CCA and CCN look they will both be around for many reprints in the future so keep an eye on it at GMT and join the P500 list to help keep these games going.
In the meantime there are rules available for download and modules for vassal play.

Of course my group has already started to play this game with miniatures.  Finally found a use to drag all my historical armies out of the closet and get them some workouts.

I will post some of our miniatures battles here on my blog to give an idea what the game looks like converted to miniatures.