Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thoughts on a game.

1st Swiss Battalion in French service (1 coy)
Figures by Newline and HAT Industrie
Painting by Mark Bevis.

There is a something rather odd about my wargaming at present. I'm rather like one of those Johnnies that spent decades on the Central European plain waiting for the Russkies to roll over the border - there's a lot of preparation and damn little action. I haven't played a game in months, but I've made a deal of progress in terms of mustering troops and whatnot.

I suppose a lot of that is down to the fact that the game I am really eager to play isn't available yet, but Command & Colours: Napoleonics should be with us in November. I will be running a little En Avant! at Gaelcon in October, but I'm making heavy weather of trying to stir up any enthusiasm for the project. However, I have ordered two Hotz mats with five inch hexes that should allow me to play Command & Colours: Napoleonics with my 20mm figures. When they get here - I emailed Hotz ArtWorks last week to ask them where my mats were after two months. They replied that the record to Britain was nine weeks, but did not specify (as Donogh pointed out) whether this was a record for speediest or slowest delivery.

I have a particular plan for these mats though, something I've fancied doing for several years.

The Command & Colours system can be played as a two player game on a hex board that is thirteen hexes wide by nine divided into three sectors (left, centre and right). The players draw a hand of cards that allow them to active a number of units each turn (e.g. two units on the left, three in the centre, all infantry units in any section). The other and rather more interesting option is to play with four players each on two boards stuck together divided into six sections; two left, two centre and two right. Three players take control of the sections on the board, while the fourth takes on the role of the Command in Chief. The Commander in Chief draws cards for the group as a whole and distributes them as he sees fit.

In my variant, units will generate a four inch section of "powder smoke" when firing. At the beginning of each turn, each player will be able to remove one section of smoke from his part of the battlefield. The smoke as no mechanical effect but will influence the game in a way that will become clear in a moment.

I plan to set the game up in a hall with the three junior generals playing as normal. The Commander in Chief will be located some ten yards away and will draw cards as normal. One general per turn ("the galloper") may run back to the Commander in Chief to collect the cards and may discuss the situation with him for one minute. At this point he must return, hand the cards out to his fellows.

If the galloper doesn't return in time, he misses his turn. The Commander in Chief can only make his decisions based on what the galloper tells him and what he can see of the battlefield through the powdersmoke. The Commander in Chief may come forward to view the battlefield himself, but may only give cards to that section that turn.

The idea needs work, but essentially the plan is to try to combine the advantages of fast play and chain of command of the Command & Colours system with two other issues of black powder battle; limited visibility and decision making under time constraints.

1 comment:

  1. I have always liked the idea of a player acting as C-i-C (in the way that you described). But no enthusiasm from the Grognards at my club. Your C&C variant sounds good. Good luck with it.
    Scott Pasha