Review – Command & Colors Napoleonics from GMT Games
Designer – Richard Borg
Art – Pierre Benigni, Pascal Da Silva, Donal Hegarty, Rodger B. MacGowan, Mark Simonitch
note – Thanks to GMT Games for providing a review copy of this game
2 players ages 12+
Richard Borg has designed a series of games based on a similar system – Battle Cry, Memoir 44, Battlelore, Command & Colors Ancients and more latest incarnation of the system is Command & Colors Napoleonics. I’ve played them all and have a pretty good sense of how the core system works. Now just a couple pf points…
First of all, for some reason, I suspect snobbery, some war gamers refuse to classify them as war games. In my view, they are games about battles so yes, they are war games. Box ticked…
Next, there seems to be a group who go out of their way to trash talk this series because of its simplicity and lack of realism and detail. You know what, these games are very accessible and are an introduction to the fun of war gaming. THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING. If you want deep detail and accuracy and simulation, look elsewhere. That’s not what these games are about. Box ticked…
Heavy game box!
First of all, you get a lot for your hard earned cash. The standard of production is pretty much top drawer. You get a whole bunch of wooden blocks that you will need to affix stickers representing different types of Napoleonic era infantry, cavalry and artillery to. The battles covered in the game are limited to the conflict between Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington so the armies are limited to the English and their Portuguese Allies and the French. I would have liked to see more scenarios to be honest or at least to have seen new scenarios available from GMT Games. There is a Spanish Army expansion planned which is good but why not other armies?
The artwork is very nice and with the blocks out on the game board, it all looks very nice indeed when the game is set up. You get the command cards and rules and scenario booklet which also are all very nice. My one physical gripe is about the cardboard terrain pieces. Although the artwork is fairly basic but nice, the terrain pieces are simply too thin and are easily knocked about during play. They should have been thicker and heavier.
So Command & Colors Napoleonics, takes the system and changes things up a bit. The game process itself is pretty much the same as in previous games and should be easily understood by those new to war gaming. Orders are issued by the players to the left, center and right of their lines via the use of command cards. Yes, that does take a degree of comtrol away from the players but this replicates the nature of warfare that once the battle is started, it is very difficult to control your forces and you will be faced with some uncertainty and unintended events/options and have to make the best of things. This means that it will be difficult to have a perfect plan and for me, keeps you on your toes and means there is lots of replayability in the system.
Unlike, C&C Ancients, there is a lot of reliance on the impact of longer distance combat from rifle and musket fire as well as artillery. This can be pretty devastating and make it difficult to close with the enemy line. There are simple effects applied for different types of units and special rules for combined arms (artillery combined with infantry or cavalry attacks) as well as rules for infantry to form defensive squares when faced with enemy cavalry attacks and although simplifications, add a good feel for Napoleonic warfare. Add this to the various command card options available and terrain considerations and you have enough to keep you thinking.
The process all comes together very well and is really fun to play. You will move through the game reasonably quickly. This system is not meant to be a hard core simulation but rather a playable game which gives you a flavour of Napoleonic warfare without bogging down in the minute details. Will you learn a lot about Napoleon and Wellington and how they conducted warfare? Not really. Some hard war core gamers may not find this to be their cup of tea, preferring the deeper, more complex games that are out there and that’s fine. This system is at the simpler, more accessible end of the spectrum and I applaud Ricard Borg’s efforts as this level of complexity can only bring in more new gamers which is great for the hobby.
Did it work for me?
I like the Command & Colors system. I can play and have fun and have a lighter, less brain taxing and faster moving game experience. I don’t have to work at it as in more complex war games which I do like on occasion but have less time and tolerance for nowadays. I would absolutely recommend C&C Napoleonics as a great game to introduce new gamers into the world of war gaming. It looks great with very nice artwork, plays simply with understandable and very playable rules and is just plain fun. This game will get a lot of table time in my house. The weaknesses for me are down to personal preferences – The terrain tiles are simply not thick and heavy enough and too easily knocked around. I would have preferred more scenarios, if not in the basic package, then freely available from GMT’s website. Also, I like the use of tiles but for me miniatures would have been even nicer. Having said this, C&C Napoleonics is easily one of my current favorite games to play.
EDIT – More scenarios can be found here – http://www.ccnapoleonics.net/
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 9 out of 10
A great game for introducing youngsters ages 12+ to war gaming and military history
For more information go to – http://www.gmtgames.com/default.aspx