Monday, March 5, 2012

C&C:Nappy again

Eric's choice again, and he wanted to revisit GMT's Commands & Colors: Napoleonics, specifically the new Spanish expansion, which adds the, umm, Spanish to the British, French, and Portuguese from the original game. I'm rather partial to C&C:N, having played it with Eric previously, although it was never blogged, so I was more than happy to give it a whirl.

Not a great deal in the way of new rules, the biggest is the addition of rules for the Spanish guerrillas, which allow the Spanish player to get chits which may be played to cancel the French player's card, effectively making him miss a turn. The Spanish themselves are just slightly weaker than the British or French, and retreating further when required.

Eric picked the Espinosa de los Monteros scenario, and off we went, with me taking the British/Spanish. I started with a slight push on the right, with a combined British/Spanish force, immediately taking effective fire. This must have caused casualties in the leadership of those units, as they were paralyzed into inaction, and were manhandled by the French. (I didn't get any more 'Right' cards until half way the game.) He jumped out to an early lead in flags.

Instead I started on the left flank, achieving some success in wrecking his right. However, my cavalry advance didn't go so well, and I had to retire with a single block remaining from my two units. I also made a good push in the middle, taking some good ground, and killing units. Eric reinforced from his left, and I had to retire to better ground.

By this time we were at 6 flags each, needing 7 for the win. I had a good artillery card, but was waiting for a good opportunity to use it on a weak unit. That opportunity never came, however, as Eric always had his weakened units screened by strong units. In the end, I decided to risk all, as I played a cavalry charge with my single remaining block, and was able to successfully attack an infantry unit, also with a single block, for the final winning flag.

It was still early in the evening, so we switched it around, and had another go.

This time I played it very conservatively as the French, trying to suck the Spanish on my left into my units in good terrain, having a couple of good defensive cards in hand. However, Eric wasn't having any of that, and gave me no opportunities, playing it equally cautiously.

Instead I tried to press in the middle, scoring some good hits to start with, but then my fire failed completely, as I scored no hits in 10 dice (!). At that point I decided to retire to ensure I didn't lose units, even though he was also weak.

Eric had tried a little advance on his left, but his Spanish militia didn't fare well, leaving a couple of units with only a single block. Eventually I found 2 Cavalry Charge cards in my hand, and I maneuvered my cavalry over to my right, where they were unleashed to devastating effect on the weakened units on that flank, managing to eliminate the 4 units required for the win in a combination of attacks and breakthrough combats.

After this session, I don't think my attitude to C&C:N has changed any. I still think this is my favorite of all the C&C flavors I've played. The continual tweaking that the system has seen has brought it to a pinnacle, removing a few of my little annoyances. e.g. units now reduce the dice they roll in combat as they suffer losses - far better. Whilst I've always enjoyed C&C:Ancients, it's always felt very light and short on the simulation front. C&C:N has rectified that, such that it now feels like a war-game; a highly abstracted one, yes, but certainly a game where you are rewarded for applying general military principles. In an abstract way. Yep, several thumbs up here.

The rains in Spain fall mainly on the plains

This post won't be one of my longer ones. Events in real life have delayed this post a bit, and I don't really have a whole lot to say, in any case.

It was my choice, and I wanted to give the new Spanish Army expansion to Command and Colors: Napoleonics a run. We'd played C&C:N a few months ago, and I may have given it a bit of a short shift.

C&C:N might be the most complex of the entire series of games. The minor tweaks in unit capabilities between the armies lead to a very different play style for each army. The French need to charge in, British prefer to stand and shoot, and the Spanish, we've discovered, need to play with finesse.

The way the game changes how many combat dice you roll depending on how many blocks you have left, whether you moved or not, and whether you're in close combat give a number levers and dials that can be tweaked to modify unit performance. And Richard Borg has done a very good job moving around those levers and dials.

The Spanish army is best on its home turf: rough terrain. It can't stand up to the French toe to toe on open ground, so ducking in and around terrain is the way to go. The catch, of course, is surviving that ducking around terrain long enough to get a decent volley off before slinking back again.

The other tweak the Spanish expansion adds is Guerrilla warfare. This allows the Spanish player to disrupt French orders by turning in a chit. The French player gets a die roll: if it's swords, nothing happens, otherwise the French player effectively loses his turn. The card he was trying to play is discarded, and his turn is over. The Spanish player can be awarded Guerrilla chits during setup or when playing a Recon card. Instead of drawing two cards and discarding one, the Spanish player can draw one card and take a chit instead.

Don't forget to use these chits.

Had I remembered, I likely would have won our second battle when I played as the Spanish. Mike won the game with two consecutive cavalry charges at the end to finish things off. Stopping either of those likely would have tipped the game my way. It was that close.

If you liked CC:N, the Spanish expansion gives a nice tweak to the game. If you didn't, I don't know this will change your mind. It doesn't fundamentally change the game, but gives a third army with a very different style of play. I'm hoping the three upcoming expansions (Russian, Austrian, Prussian) will provide the same variances.

I'm going to have to get this to the table more. I'm liking it more every time I play.

Mike's choice after this (and the subject of my next post) is Breakthrough: Cambrai.