Thursday, January 13, 2011

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (GMT) ~ Rolica (French First Position), 17 Aug 1808

Game: Commands & Colors Napoleonics (GMT)
Scenario: Rolica (French First Position), 17 Aug 1808 (Scenario #1)
Participants: Jim "HeavyD" D and Myself
Spectator/Official Blog Photographer: Joe "YJ" C
Time: Wednesday, Jan 12th ~ 7.15PM 9.30PM

Even though this game was released prior to the Holidays, I had to wait until HeavyD's self imposed "this is my Xmas gift" time limit was up. Thus I had sticker'd my blocks, protected my cards and browsed the rules but had to put this one on the shelf to await the post-Christmas phase when HeavyD would have it. A busy week at work prevented me from re-reading the rules, but HeavyD came prepared and we spent the first half an hour talking about how this one differs from CCA (Ancients).

Initial Set Up
First a word about CCA. CCA (Commands and Colors: Ancients) is one of my favorite games, it is by the same designer (Richard Borg) and published by GMT. CCA was (and is) an amazing success for GMT. The marriage of blocks and GMT artwork coupled with Borg's inspired design took the gaming world by storm. GMT has reprinted many, many copies of CCA (I own three), plus several expansions. I have played all of the scenario's in CCA twice at least and have worked through most of the 1st and 2nd expansions scenarios as well. It is a favorite among all of my gaming friends as well. We'll play it in between other longer, more involved titles.

As this is our first outing with this series, we started with the first scenario and as mentioned spent some time walking through the rules, focusing on the differences between CCA and this title. As we were reviewing the rules I knew we were in for something new as the basis for the game is still there i.e. cards driving your game, however I was quite pleasantly surprised when we actually started to play. The feeling of the game is new and befitting the subject...the first time I had a unit mowed down by ranged fire without the option to "battle back" I knew we were in a new era for Big-Boy-Blocks.
Close up of the British Line

We really liked the Form Square interaction, how it changes the Cavalry dynamic adding another layer of depth to the game. Terrain is now much more important in this game, giving some important advantages and disadvantages. But most importantly is the Ranged fire aspect. Ranged fire was always an afterthought in CCA, now in CCN it is front and center the most important part of the game. In all the game 'feels' deeper yet not more complex. What is deeper or more engaging about it is how the player needs to be more careful in how he plays out his hand. An example of this is not moving your line into musket range when you don't have a card that will carry them into the enemy's line on the next turn. If you get stuck in Range of the other guys line he can decimate your troops while you are waiting for the card you need to cycle into your hand. The game is akin to Combat Commander in this regard.

Oh, the drama!

The dice I do not like. I have the wooden third party dice for CCA and we learned this week that that company is again going to make wooden dice for CCN, I will get them as soon as they are available. Also while the color of the mounted map is fantastic, the seems are a bit thin, I ripped one of my panels while bending it in the opposite direction so that the map would lay flat on the table. Both of these are small concerns however in the big picture.

The scenario looks interesting. I'm sure we'll play it again the next time we play. In tonight's game we were really more interested in learning the mechanics of the system and both of us were doing some stuff I think we wouldn't try again now that we have played the game. I can't wait to play this one again, and I can't wait for the new wooden dice to be made!

One Satisfied Gamer (HeavyD)


  1. Excellent review Steve. Hope to get this game on the table myself some day soon.

  2. Can you recomend a Naps boardgame that captures the Nap wars without being too heavy on rules and playtime. I quite fancy Naps again (I own 2 Corp of Prussians in 1/300). I used to own Battle Cry and have played Mem '44 but not really sold on the card driven style that drives those and this game.

  3. Ian,

    I don't have a tactical Nap suggestion other then CCN. However if you are not quite the fan of BC or M44 I'm not sure what to tell you. I have played BC once years ago and not played M44. BUT I love CCA/CCN.

  4. All I want to know is....

    What's up with the silly hat?