Monday, 5 November 2012

More on Vassal, and those hexes again!

As I have been working on painting commissions during the last couple of weeks I have been listening to a series of Napoleonic pod casts, kindly sent to me by Tony. I have found them really informative and intend to work through the entire series. But I started with the two Peninsular episodes and learned much about the background to the campaign. I have also continued to get to grips with Vassal, which allows you to play all of the Commands & Colors Napoleonic scenarios on screen as mentioned here previously. All of this has continued to feed my enthusiasm for both the Peninsular campaign and C&C N in general. When I first played the 'Rolica' scenario on my table it was with the intention of writing up a blow by blow account for the blog, which did somewhat diminish the pleasure of the game, and most certainly destroyed the fast flowing pace of a typical C&C N game. I replayed the game using Vassal, but lack of understanding of the controls of the game also made that a slow and laborious experience. However, I am now pretty much confident with Vassal for C&C N now and so have re run the Rolica scenario once again! This time it is a whole different game - I'm up to speed, turns are rolling over nicely, I'm thinking more tactically, working on building a good hand for both sides, trying to push forward the Allies in the centre to pin the French to the ridge while attacking the French right flank with light infantry and horse artillery, and the left flank with the Portuguese in a more controlled and steady manner. The scenario aim for the British is to outflank the French and capture two designated hills behind the main French position on the flanks. 5 points required for a win in this game, with the 2 hills counting as 1 point each when taken and held. The game continues.

This leads me on to the purpose of this post. I have been Googling a lot of C&C N related sites recently as I wanted to get a picture of how other gamers use the rules for miniatures. I have to say that the boxed game as sold is probably one of the most attractive games I have seen, I am very attracted to the style of the board itself and the terrain tiles etc. For some time I have not been fully satisfied with my 95mm hex table as it stands. I think its because of the fact that unit spacing is too great in the larger hexes. After looking at loads of images ( a few linked below for example), I have decided to take a two tier approach to this issue. The 95mm hex set up will be left 'as is' for now, but in the future I intend to add further landscaping to the board for a more natural effect. But I now plan a reduced one dimensional board, using 70mm hexes (fairly tight for my 60 x 60mm bases, but that what I'm looking for). I'm going to create a single lightweight folding board, painted to reproduce the C&C N style game board, and matt varnished. I think the board will reduce down to around to 90cm long by around 60cm wide. I'm then going to order enough 70mm laser cut hexes from Tony at ERM to reproduce all of the terrain graphics just as they are in the box game. Plan is to keep everything one dimensional so that hills will be just a single flat hex, towns/villages will be graphically represented etc. What I hope to end up with is a larger version of the official C&C game board, presented in a way that is close in appearance to the boxed version but neatly painted and varnished by hand. I intend to use this board as the basis for playing my way through all of the scenarios using my 6mm miniatures. Somewhere in the pipeline is the official Russian expansion box, which may well open up future possibilities. I plan to get started on the new board later this week.

Hopefully it wont be long before I will be crossing swords with Conrad Kinch via Vassal, and I believe that Tony is also interested at looking into Vassal for a game. I am honing my command skills in readiness.

There is no doubting how popular Commands & Colors Napoleonics have become, a trawl of Google threw up many different interpretations of the basic board for use with miniatures, see the example pics below.

The first position Rolica scenario.
The board game is very attractive in itself (Google image).
I quite like this one!
Tonys 20mm version of the game - this is the business!
Wonderful interpretation!
The Vassal version - note movement and combat markers applied which are removed at end of each game turn.
The official Rolica 1 scenario.
Finally my interpretation of the above scenario - I am just not happy with this as it stands, despite the hours of work that went into it! The buildings are too dominant and out out of scale, trees too tall, hills just not right ..... I'm very much my own worse critic, but I'll get there.


  1. You're being too tough on yourself Lee, your set up looks great. I must admit that if I was going down the C&C route then I'd probably go for something like Tony's 20mm set up.. that looks grrrrrreat.......See what I did there?... Tony?..Grrrrreat?

    1. Nicely done Steve! But seriously if you look at the bottom image of my table it's just too green, too snooker table like even. I think the one main thing I regret was not going for a smaller hex size to begin with and more textured terrain. What I have in mind should only take a week or so to put together, I'm going to print the terrain hex graphics, stick them on the MDF hexes, hand colour them then seal with a matt varnish for durability. It will be much more a 'board game with miniatures' than conventional wargame set up. Easy to set up quickly downstairs in the dining room if I wish.

      Cheers Steve,


  2. I think your current set up looks fine, Lee, but if you wish to change it then you must go for it!

    The terrain tiles in the boxed game, if I recall correctly, have double sided hills (rugged on 1 side) and other reversible stuff (maybe rivers? - can't remember - I'll dig the game out to check), so to cover all the combinations would be a lot of hexes - which is not necessarily a disincentive, admittedly. I'd be nervous about making the hexes too small if you are going to do them in 3D. Putting troops on a flat graphic of a village is a lot simpler than putting them on a 3D model, as you know better than I.

    I reckon if you produced a few additional multi-hex pieces of contrasting terrain - different coloured fields etc, they don't have to have any special terrain implication if you are just trying to improve the look of the thing. I think that would break up the billiard table effect - and spray some coloured flock on your hills, maybe.

    If my tabletop looked half as good as yours I would be quite happy!

    Cheers - Tony

    1. Hi Tony - thanks for the comment. I think what I envisage here are two distinct versions of the same thing! The current set up will stay, and be improved in time by landscaping the green hex mat and hills - this will remain my main battle board.

      The planned 'boardgame' version of it will satisfy my desire to produce a one dimensional set up that I can unfold on the dining table and play as and when I want to. I'm basically looking to reproduce the game as it comes out of the box for simple set up. I'll be sticking the terrain graphics directly onto the MDF hexes, possibly utilising both sides, and then varnishing to give a finish close to the supplied card hexes. I find the printed version really nice for some reason. So no house models, no raised hills, no model trees etc. I want the board to be hinged and fold in a way that allows the MDF hexes to be stored within, just like a boxed boardgame! I'll be looking for a crisp and neat finish overall. I think I have been building up to this for some time now!

    2. Ah - oui! - je comprends!

  3. Hi Lee,

    Good luck with your new project, nice to see something inspiring you again and experience so far says you'll make a great job of it.

    I've been motivated to paint up my first 6mm unit since reading your blog (Napoleonic French line), and I've also purchase the MDF required to construct a table similar to yours. However, I want to go down a 'photo realistic' route for my tabletop terrain as much as possible so I'm currently looking at lots of different ways to create that.

    So far, I'm thinking of making a textured terrain, painted and flocked similar to the bases you've featured so well in your basing tutorial. Of course the problem there is a need to keep the profile of the texture as flat as possible so that I can overlay it with building hexes, woods, etc. And therein lies the biggest problem - marrying realism with flexibility.

    Anyway, nice post and I eagerly await your efforts!

  4. Hi Lee - I see where you're coming from trying to recreate the boxed game look. I also quite like the original game board style and it'll be interesting to see how your version turns out. Keep up the good work!



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