Sunday, January 30, 2011

Command & Colours: Napoleonics Travel Edition

First attempt at a travel edition of C&C: Napoleonics 2mm figures from Irregular on a standard game board

A thought struck me this evening while I was fixing aperitifs for the family Von Kinch. I had been musing over the problem of how to make a travelling version of Command & Colours: Napoleonics. While I will in a few months or so have a home with a dedicated wargames room and table where I can set up my 6 x 4 foot hex mat and use my 20mm figures.

Wargaming is a social activity, the much missed Paddy Griffith compares hosting a wargame to hosting a dinner party in the closing paragraph of Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun, one of the finest short works on the hobby ever written. He was absolutely right. I play with my fellows because I enjoy their company and having never taken an interest in football, my conversation would be sadly limited to work or talking about a funny, little war that you've probably never heard of.

One of the chief virtues of the Command & Colours series was that they were simple, boxed games that could be played to a conclusion in the course of having a few drinks and small enough they could fit on most pub tables. It was possible to replace the plastic figures with 6mm chaps and dolly up the set somewhat with the addition of model trees, buildings and hills and still have a game that fit in a satchel or briefcase. Command & Colours: Ancients never really took off in the same way that Battlecry or Memoir '44 did amongst my social circle simply because sorting blocks is a dreadful bore.

The Frence left, 2mm miniatures from Irregular

What you can see above is a set up of the Maida scenario from using 2mm figures from Irregular miniatures Horse & Musket collection. Each base of 24 infantry or 12 cavalry represents a block, artillery blocks are shown as a gun team and limber, while general officers are a small base with some individual riders on them. Lazy swine that I am, I haven't painted the generals yet.

British line infantry are shown in line, French in column, Light Infantry for both sides are arranged in open order with skirmishers painted green as rifles.

I think the smaller figures answer admirably, though there will be some difficulty in distinguishing between similar troop types, like for example Guards and Grenadiers. I had thought that 6mm figures originally, but then realised that they would be unaffordable at present. The 2mm figures give a pleasing impression of mass, however I shall have to set myself to the task of determining how exactly to distinguish between the Portuguese infantry and the French in this scale.

An initial investment of £30 provided all the figures (and more) that you can see here. I think we shall have to have some playtesting to see how well prospective players cope with the smaller figure while struggling with the manifold challenges of the stress of command, poor pub lighting and being slightly toasted.


  1. Good plan. I have a load of the Irreg 2mm blocks which have so far been used for ACW & FPW games. Given my not inconsiderable investment in 15mm Naps, however, I think I'll be sticking with them.

  2. hmm, refraining from making snide comments about the lack of difference between blocks and 2mm figures, let me suggest painting the bases a different colour for each side? Far enough apart fr pub lighting, tan vs green perhaps?

    My only travelling game was a 15mm Intro Armati 16thC game setup that we took on an overnight train en route to a gaming weekend in the last century. A spectator sport apparently when played in the club car.

    A worthwhile exercise in any case.

  3. Conrad Kinch,

    The figures look just right on the terrain, and gives it the look - if not the feel - of a Napoleonic battlefield.

    All the best,


  4. An excellent idea and one I'll seriously consider making myself, though my elderly eyes can't cope with figures smaller than 10mm these days, so I'd use the different coloured pseudo-Napoleonic RISK figures I've obtained by buying secondhand sets on ebay, and possibly not bother painting them.