Thursday, 24 May 2012

Command & Colours Napoleonic - a Eureka moment!

I'm sure as wargamers you all know how it is - searching for the set of rules that reflects the way YOU want to play. It can take years sometimes to find that near perfect set, certainly I can remember working my way through many ACW sets before I found Johnny Reb II and Fire & Fury. IN the case of JR II I remember opening the box up and reading those rules and knowing straight away that they were just what I had been looking for and I never looked back.

So here I am 20 odd years later and loving painting 6mm Napoleonics while looking a round for a set of rules that will work with my chosen basing system and organisation. Having read through many sets of Napoleonic rules I had decided that Polemos and 'Paintingshed Napoleonics' were likely contenders as both were written specifically for 6mm games.

I DO like Polemos - General de Division but had read mixed reviews on the playability and above all reflection of the period. At battalion level I could not see a distinction between linear and massed formations, although they do offer a good way of handling the formation of squares when threatened by cavalry, and a realistic outcome should a battalion fail to get into square fast enough it seems to me. Actually I now think Polemos do read quite well so I should at least give them a try at some point. I had an issue with how to play the 'Tempo bidding' part solo. Basically a CinC rolls a D6 for tempo points and adds 1 for each subordinate commander. Both players then 'bid' a number of points with the highest bidder taking first move as 'Tempo player'. The judgement is in deciding how many TP's to bid whilst saving sufficient to issue orders. I like this system and I now have a way of using the tempo bidding process solo. The rules are not complex, being just 22 pages long plus 3 full pages of examples which are useful. What I'm not so keen on is the means of deciding the eventual winner.

Paintingshed Napoleonics.
I had been following this blog for a couple of years as the rules had developed. Again specific 6mm rules. They are intended for big games with the basic infantry formation being a brigade. Again very straightforward and I had fully intended to give them a go until I noticed one thing, I cannot see any provision for representing squares, and no mechanism for recreating the rush to get into square when infantry are threatened by cavalry. It may well be that this is assumed to be happening whilst the focus is on the bigger picture, at corps level where such details would probably be of little consequence. But I want to focus on my battalions, and so I need for them to be able to form square and to recreate the panic/ rush of such a moment, with lesser drilled troops being less likely to fully form up in time.

Commands & Colours - Napoleonics.
So, I had not seen these rules until only a few days ago. I had heard of them of course, I knew that 'Foy' used them with success on blog, but must confess to having been slightly put off by the use of hexes. A pdf copy of the rules has now convinced me that this is the way to go however, hexes and all! I have spent a few days reading and re reading them, playing a round with printed hex sizes, reading battle reports and rule reviews and generally filling my head with all things C&CN. They are just prefect for my 6mm bases too. Tony has also been kindly answering my questions and generally  assisting me with practical ideas and solutions.

They look just so damn playable, simple as that really, but they are not at all simple in concept, clearly a lot of development has gone into creating these rules. I absolutely love the card driven style, where a player might only get to move a few units per turn and may only be able to move troops in a certain sector of the field or maybe not at all! Games are approx 2 hours and I think that the rewarding of 'Victory Banners' (with graphics representing British and French colours) as means of deciding the outcome, is great fun. The object of the game is to be the first to capture a set number of these banners, depending on scenario. Banners are gained by eliminating enemy units or leaders, or capturing certain terrain areas. The first player to reach the required number of banners (usually 5 to 9) is awarded the victory.

Infantry squares are well catered for and cleverly thought through. Command cards are issued from a pack at the start of the game and new cards are drawn as cards are played allowing a general to build a good hand of cards which will allow him to command his army to the best tactical advantage. But this also reflects the element of luck, both good and bad. The control and movement of Generals is also a vital part of the game and must be well planned and thought through by the player.

The game board.
At a practical level a move to C&CN would require me to change to a hex board system of course. The game is played on a board 9 x 13 hexes (55mm I think with the board game version), I think with my basing style I could use possibly 80mm hexes, which would create a quite small table of slightly less than 3' x 5'. All terrain would also need to be hex based, which I would be prepared to do. I'd like to find a way of making the actual hexes as discreet as possible while still being able to see them. I think this could work well in 6mm, where hills etc would only need be fairly low.

I invite any comments on the CCN rules. Meantime for those who have not seen the game before I'll add a couple of links and a few examples of the command cards.

The rulebook, free download from the Command & Colours website. pdf.

Commands & Colours - Napoleonic

Quick reference charts.

Painted another base of French line yesterday and I'm now doing more artillery, RHA plus French Howitzers.


  1. C&C(N) is very good, I don't think you'll regret it.

    Cheers, Simon

  2. Check out this blog, lots of C&C napoleonics with miniatures

  3. Hi Lee, well you've now made me cross to the dark side (or hex side) and download the rules. I will be really interested to see your C&C test game.


  4. Yikes, 6mm and hexes - you are so far in to the dark side I worry you won't find your way back! :o))

    Another vote for the web link Prince Henry gives above... an excellent read, and he is very much into Napoleonic C&C....

  5. Thank you chaps. I will add that link as it looks very relevant to this project.

    Ian, it's a slippery slope my friend!

    Steve, I am resisting the power of the dark Hex so far (see latest post), but it may still yet have me in its grip!


  6. Hi Lee, when I wrote my Paintingshed rules I very much avoided worrying about the micromanagement of forming square etc, so it is factored in to other parts of the way the rules work. I appreciate this is not for everyone but as I like to play games based on BIG battles there was a need co concentrate on the general's view of the battle, not the colonel's or the brigadier's :-)

    I do enjoy games with the smaller focus, but for that I have my 28mm AWI collection...


    1. Hi Steve, cheers for the comment. I fully appreciate that your rules are designed for the larger scale battles, and I hope I didnt come across as being critical, they are an excellent set of rules. As I am representing individual battalions I had to zoom in slightly to the point where the need to form squares would be more critical.

      Have to say, this entire project was inspired by your brilliant 6mm bases, so thank you :-)


  7. Have you given any thought to "Snappy Nappy"?

    Go to

    for a description.


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