Command & Colours

Er zijn twee spellen met bijzondere Amsterdamse belangstelling, Command & Colours Ancients en Command & Colours Napoleonics. Voor een recensie van C&C Napoleonics: zie hier.

Command & Colours Ancients won in 2007 een bordspelontwerpprijs omdat het zo'n goed en innovatief spel was. Het kan zowel met de originele blokfiches gespeeld worden als met miniaturen.

Jason C op Play Board Games gaf als mening over het spel:

C&C Ancients has lots of tactical strategy and is fun. You must play to your strengths of your army and to your hand of Command cards. Since there are dice involved you’ll also have to get lucky too.
The Commands and Colors system is used in other games and is easy to learn and teach. This game has a lot of information to either know or keep track of. The player aids help a ton and the rules are well-organized and easy to understand. The components are decent quality and the art fits the theme well.
C&C Ancients includes 15 scenarios. There is a lot to play in this box. There are expansions you can get, but you won’t need them for a bit.

Sigur Skwarl van Battle Brush Studio's plaatste op Warseer een recensie die we met zijn toestemming integraal overnemen:

Battle Brush Little Histories: C&C Ancients

(by Sigur Skwarl)

The past Thursday I played Command&Colors for the first time. We played the Ancients variant (which to my knowledge is the most acclaimed one from the series). I have to admit - this is a very, very well designed game.

It's Romans versus Carthiginians in the Punic Wars. I played the Romans (grey meeples). We played the first scenario from the booklet (there are about 15 included in the box). As you can see the board consists of hexes. Dotted lines signify centre, left and right flanks.

Virago reading rules while I muck about with the camera

The general distinction between units is as such: Light troops (colour coded green), Medium Troops (blue) and heavy troops (red). Each category includes foot as well as cavalry (incl. camels, chariots, etc.). The game comes with two quick reference folders in which you'll find combat tables and unit stats. There can always be only one unit on a hex, you may not move through other units (unless it's light troops under very specific circumstances) or shoot through them. Foot units consist of 4 meeples each (depicting their 'health points'), cavalry of 3 each. 

Depending on the scenario each player has a hand of a certain number of cards. In this scenario I, the Roman player, had 6 cards, the Carthiginian player got 5. Each turn you may play one of these cards.

It was only in editing that I realized I had chosen the same card twice to show examples. D'oh.

These cards show which units to activate. This is pretty much the core of the game. Choosing which units to activate when. The cards in the above example are pretty straightforward: Activate two units in the centre. Activating a unit means that you may move them up to their total allowance of between 4 (light cavalry) and 1 (medium and heavy infantry) hexes. If the units get on a hex bordering a hex on which an enemy unit is sitting they may attack them in close combat. If the unit has ranged weapons they may fire them at the enemy (they may not target enemy units in adjacent hexes. Firing ranges typically are 2 hexes for most light troops, 3 hexes for archers. If they moved this turn they roll fewer dice for their ranged attacks. Once the units got activated and rolled for combat the card played is discarded, a new one is drawn and the opponent's turn commences.

...which leads us directly to combat!

The game uses six-sided dice. Instead of numbers they show symbols for the various troop types (green - light, blue - medium, red - heavy), a helmet symbol on purple for leaders, a swords symbol and a banner symbol.

On this QRS sheet you can see the combat tables for ranged combat and close combat. When ever a unit attacks at an opponent either in ranged or close combat you roll a number of dice (usually 1 to 2 for ranged attacks, up to a whopping 5 for heavy troops attacking in close combat). If you fire at light troops you need to roll a green symbol to hit them, to hit medium troops you need a blue symbol, for hitting heavy troops you need to roll red symbols. For each fitting symbol you rolled your opponent has to remove one meeple from the target unit, if all meeples are removed the unit is killed. Sword symbols do nothing in ranged combat. In close combat they mean an additional hit on the target unit. The white-on-purple helmet Leader symbol also counts for a hit if the unit has a general with them or on an adjacent hex. For each banner symbol rolled the target unit has to retire their full movement allowance. If a unit is alive after a close combat attack and wasn't forced to retire they may strike back at their attackers. 

If your unit gets charged in close combat you have the option to evade, meaning that you possibly take a bit less damage but you don't get to trike back and instead automatically retire. If a unit was wiped out or forced to retire the attacking unit may move on to their hex. Cavalry in many cases is even allowed to immediately attack enemy units they got into contact with due to this move.
If a unit containing a general is hit there is a slight chance he may gotten hit. This you roll for as well.

The scenario we played was the beginners' scenario, so there was no terrain (there are hex markers for that in the box) and the objective was to accumulate 5 victory markers. These you get for killing enemy units and you get an additional one for each enemy general killed.

And that pretty much is it.  There are some minor special rules for things like camel troops (horses NOT liking camels), elephants (rampaging when forced to retire) and so on, but as far as the core rules go, that's it. The main part of the game is playing your cards right. Especially later in the game I ran into a situation in which I had no left flank left at all, so all of these cards were worth naught (usually they allow you to activate a single unit of your choosing if the card in question has no more use for you) and on top of that it often got necessary to activate badly battered units to have them run from the enemy troops and keep them from getting wiped out rather than activating troops to do harm to the enemy.

The bits and pieces look rather nice. I like the look of the meeples even though of course you could play the game with miniatures (preferrably painted by yours truly  ) and I heard of many people using miniatures over the meeples with the stickers on them (which I hear are a load of work to put on  ). The whole thing feels like a proper strategy game. It strikes a very nice spot between simple mechanics and strategy along with a good dose of battlefield friction in the shape of the players not knowing which card they'll get next. But this is migitated by the fact that they hold a whole hand of them.

Good game. Solid quality, very enjoyable. Thanks to virago for introducing me to C&C:A!