Monday, September 5, 2011


Busaco, the calm before the storm

The chaps came over last week and we got a game of Command & Colours Napoleonics in. It was our first time trying the Overlord rules and rather than using any of the variants used based on Ancients, we used the Overlord for Memoir '44 and adapted them as we went along.

The chaps look over the field of battle,
From left to right Minion for Hire, General Du Gorman, Savage, Mr E & BRO

A brutal and licentious soldiery

The Battle of Busaco in 1810 was in many ways what could be considered a typical Wellingtonian battle. The Duke was retreating from the French after the fall of the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida. The Duke hid his army behind a hill while the French under Marshall Massena pelted it with columns. The columns made some progress until they were driven back by a British counter-attack. Ney hearing gunfire and assuming the attack had been a success, battered his troops to pieces in another attack and eventually the exhausted French withdrew.

You can read a proper account here.

Our game didn't quite work out like that

The French push forward on the right

French push forward on the left

The French attack on the left withers under an Allied counter attack
Mr E looks away in disgust as his counter attack falls apart
The Frogs mull over their assault while General Du Gourmand (Massena) turns to drink for inspiration

Mr E (Pack) turns to BRO (Wellington) for help with his disintegrating right

But to no avail, Savage with a typically Gallic gesture appeals to
General Du Gourmand for cards on the right

Savage pauses to put the boot into the British right

With the British right crushed and the left driven in, the redcoats slink away leaving the field to the Frog eaters

We played the Busaco scenario from the CCNapoleonics website. This is essentially the two scenarios from the basic book stuck together to form a whole. It was a lengthier process then we expected taking about two hours playing time, but it didn't flag at any point and the players were all engaged.

My main concern was a desire to test out a new wrinkle in the command rules. Most of the C&C games have a "taking the initiative" mechanic which involves rolling a die and moving a unit of the type indicated on the die. I have experimented with a rule which allows a player who does not play a card to activate a unit attached to or adjacent to a Leader. This seems to work well and it did mean that the players were thinking very carefully about where to put their Leaders.

I had anticipated adding a rule allowing each Leader to "lend" an activation to an ADC figure, but the players felt that in a six player game this was an additional complication that took more time than the added value warranted. After watching them play, I agree.

The score line of 7-13 was rather harsh on the British as a few lucky cavalry charges allowed them to pick off several weakened units while screening or withdrawing their own one or two strength units. The general feeling was that the scenario was relatively balanced and the game was closer than the score line indicated. However, I am going to have to work on some bespoke hills and sharpish if we're going to play it at Gaelcon.


  1. Hi CK,

    Looks like a very interesting experiment although I don't envy sorting out the blocks afterwards! I liked the various ideas you have incorporated and also trying out the Overlord rules.

    IIRC there is supposed to be a Napoleonic variant out at some point although given the continued delays with the Spanish supplement I am not expecting this anytime soon!

    All the best,


  2. This is riveting stuff. I realise that there must be material on Overlord out there, somewhere, but any chance you could give a few brief nuts & bolts on how this expanded game works, for C&C novices like me? Is that 2 Memoir boards side by side? Which Command cards did you use?

    I am very interested in smartening up my ability to set up/improvise CCN battles without constantly being tied to the official scenarios. Odd-sized battlefields and the ability to cope with different sized actions (which I think I've got the hang of, with my grand-tactical variant) are integral with that. A priority of mine for this Winter is to get a decent sized solo campaign going, and the idea is to use CCN to handle all significant actions.

    If there's an explanation on any of the forums (fora?) for the use of Memoir/Overlord with Napoleonics in this way, a link would be a great boon.

    Excellent post - enjoyable in its own right, but also thought-provoking (which is what the boys want). Thanks.

  3. I'll admit I had an ominous feeling about this battle from the very beginning, when my commander-in-chief joined in with the French generals in singing La Marseillaise. General Savage's bullet-proof horses didn't help matters much either.

  4. David - Overlord is really something and adds colour and interest to an already cracking game. The Overlord variant of Napoleonics has been written, though I suspect it will be some time before it sees print. What I do know is that it will cover Overlord (26 by 9) and Breakthrough (17 by 9) boards.

  5. Foy - phew, what a lot of questions. I think they'll have to wait for another blog post for answers.

  6. General Savage bullet proof horses were terrible indeed. I think you were unlucky in your artillery as well.

  7. Good day Mr Kinch. I've been reading your blog for quite some time now, and I hold you personally responsible for my interest in C&C:Napoleonics. Good job!

    I apologise for this post, it's slightly out of context from the post above - I just couldn't quite see how else I could contact you!

    Given that you're my only source on all things C&C:Napoleonics (writers of lesser style just won't do, I think it's the pipe), I've been wondering what your opinion on the following criticism of C&C:Naps might be. If this is a well known and oft-discussed flaw, please excuse me!


    By the way, please feel free to read about our wargaming escapades on the far side of the world: Any comments would be more than welcome!


  8. It's refreshing to see a wargame leave room on the table for the glasses, although in pic 7 there is a spare bottle under the table, in case anyone ends up there. Probably would be looking for that escape hatch with the secret passageway.

  9. Mickey,

    Thank you very much for your kind comments.

    I was think about what you said today and I'll get back to you with a reasoned response.