Command & Colors: Napoleonics Variant Rules

Two things always bugged me about the Command & Colors games I played. The card mechanics and shaping your hand is arguably not a realistic depiction of warfare. But it delivers difficult decisions nearly every turn. It tells the story of ebb and flow, of move and countermove. So sitting there with useless cards drawing more of them is a necessary evil.

The serious problem which led me to take my leave from C&C for a while is the time to kill in the various games. I might play a minor action between some regiments or a major set-piece battle of the era with tens of thousands soldiers per side and either way, a good roll can practically kill a unit or at least send it to the back line with one block left. Together with the immediate loss of fighting power for each block lost, it becomes very hard to mount successful maneuvers. An attack has either fizzled out before all troops can be committed or it succeeds so quickly, that the defender’s reinforcements are still at the baseline.

A few days ago I played the Quatre Bras scenario with a very simple rule variation: Blocks take two hits before destroyed with the exception of leaders. You cannot split the damage as you like however. Hits are always allocated in such a way to kill off damaged blocks first and kill blocks outright instead of soaking up hits with every block first. To indicate a damaged block, simply lay it down from the upright position.

The French line unit and the British guard grenadiers both lost a block and have one block damaged indicated by the blocks laying flat.

The effect on the battle was profound. Maneuvers led to fights lasting for several rounds, with both sides feeding in reserves. Although there were certainly situations where reacting fast would have been the best choice but you could afford to wait a round or two in order to get to the cards necessary. It was without a doubt the most exciting game of Command and Colors I played to date. Sweeping breakthroughs happened less often and even on a good melee attack the enemy usually had enough strength left to get back at the attacker.

The good thing about this variant is, that you ca use it on a scenario by scenario basis. Play small battles as per the rules and scale up to two or three hits per block for large games where units represent vastly more men.

Now I have no excuse to delay work on a scenario generator I guess…

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