For the last little while I have actually been playing as many board games as miniature games. For me that’s a little unusual bit still nothing too untoward really. I do like both and don’t get hung up on the different concepts of games. I must admit I have quite a few board games with miniatures as well – Arcadia Quest for example. Games are for socializing, making you think a bit while having fun with friends. As long as they do that then they are great and successful to my mind.
However, one which we played recently is an old favorite of mine and one which some people in the group had not played or seen. So, I thought there may be others out there who were the same and I’d add a quick blog about it. The game in question is Command and Colors by GMT games. There are various alternate versions out now to cover different periods. These vary the details of the rules and cover Ancients, Napoleonic, Samurai, American Civil War, and WW1. There may be others out there as well which I don’t know of but this is a site which contains info on all these : http://www.commandsandcolors.net. The memoir ’44 world war 2 game I’m told is quite similar as well but I have not actually played that one at all.
The one we played this week is the Ancients version. It is basically a hex based light miniatures game which uses blocks of wood with labels on them instead of figures. Some versions use little figures such as the ACW battle cry version. I painted the models from that last year – you can see some of them here. If I had enough of the figures for the right armies in the ancient realm then I’d use those and a dice for the hits vs. the blocks – but I don’t. At some point I do want to the though as it would look great.
The game works via having set of cards for, you guessed it, command and control. You play one card a turn which allows you to activate certain units (often only in specific area’s of the battle) and fight with those. This limited level of control mechanic works really well. It means as a player you are constantly struggling to balance what you want to do with what you can do, making each decision effect the game – usually a good sign for a game mechanic.
Battles use custom die for the outcomes. The die come with the game. The same system works for ranged or close combats. Although there is a bit of ‘fiddling/detail’ with different types of units having different movement and combat factors etc. the game actually is quite simple. It also has nice quick reference sheets which contains all the relevant info for us less regular players. There are quite a few differences for units but you have to remember them but after the first couple of games. Most of those come very easily and it’s no more complex than many other games. The rules do have some nice touches as well for special rules for things like elephants. Troops like cavalry are reflected well IMO – with them being mobile and useful for strikes but if defeated they can disappear quite quickly. Light missile troops have their place softening up units or destroying weakened ones but you can drive them back as well so they die if focused upon by an opponent.
What’s really nice about the game is the number of historical scenario’s which are included as well as the fact that there are loads of others free on the web. You can even create your own or ‘fantasy’ games like most balanced wargames from the resources freely available on the web. There are I believe 6 expansion boxes for the ancient game which add different forces and thus scenario’s which can be played if you like that type of thing.
The worse part off the games can be the set up, but I am thinking I may put all the tokens in different fishing tackle boxes – with each type of fig having their own little slot. That would make it much easier to set up a game, although it may make their storage a little bigger than the standard game boxes. The reality is though that this setup is really no different than setting up a figures game. Although you have to look closely at the blocks to get the right ones at times.
Overall, I really like the Command and Colors game mechanics and they make you think and try to win, but at the same time they are not too taxing on the brain. For a light war-game which make you think and play a little like the commanders of old, but finish the game in an hour or two they take some beating. In many ways to me they provide the same sort of game target as say DBA, but in a very different way. I like both games and play them both. They are very different though so don;t think one would replace the other for me. They do succeed in that with a couple of hours at most, they provide a historical wargame which can be played on a normal kitchen table. So if you have not tried the Command and Color games I recommend giving them a look. They may not be the newest arrivals in the shops, or the trendiest games out there for buz, but are well worth the game time to playing.