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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Commands & Colors: Medieval

GMT Games recently began shipping the latest addition in Richard Borg's Commands & Color stable.  That game is Commands & Colors MEDIEVAL.  Kevin, a big aficionado of the CC system, had MEDIEVAL on pre-order so was one of the first to receive his package late in the week.  Anxious to give this new treatment our treatment, he quickly stickered the blocks and deployed forces for a game to set our first impressions.  

Arriving for a Friday afternoon gaming session, Kevin had the game set up and ready to go.  The battle to tackle today was the first scenario featuring the Battle of Utus, 447CE.  Utus pits the Byzantine Empire against Attila the Hun.  Utus is a large battle with victory determined by the first player to take nine banners.  I am not sure if I have ever played a game requiring nine banners for a win.

Having read through the rules beforehand, Kevin provided a rules' introduction, review of the QRSs, and a battle synopsis.  Kevin opted to play the Romans.  First a word about the rules. 

MEDIEVAL seems to be heavily reliant on its ANCIENTS predecessor.  Many of the rules, herein, would be recognizable to those familiar with ANCIENTS.  There are some important distinctions, though.  A few of those important changes follow:
  • Heavy Infantry has been downgraded.  Rather than fighting with five dice, heavy infantry now fight with four.
  • Cavalry has been upgraded.  Rather than three blocks per cavalry unit in ANCIENTS, cavalry in MEDIEVAL has four blocks.
  • A lot of bow-armed cavalry has the ability to fire during an evade move and throw two dice in their withdrawal.  This represents the Parthian Shot.
  • Leader tactical options are expanded.  In addition to the commands on the cards, leaders have the ability to play Inspired Leadership Actions through the play of an Inspired Action token.  These actions vary dependent upon army.  Leaders may also spend an Inspired Action token to affect the outcome of battle.  These include, Move a Leader, Battle Bonus (+1 in Close Combat), and Bravery (ignore one flag).
How does the game play?  Well, we managed three games in a short afternoon session so it still plays quickly.  With heavy infantry receiving a downgrade and cavalry receiving an upgrade, cavalry becomes a powerful weapon in defeating the enemy.  As in ANCIENTS, units to not degrade in capability with the loss of blocks as they do in NAPOLEONICS.  A unit with one block remaining is still as deadly as a block at full strength.

In Game 1, the Huns softened up the Romans with a combination of ranged missile and probing attacks.  Once suitably softened, a series of deadly attacks were launched against the Romans.  Great swaths of Romans fell under the hooves of the Hun cavalry.  Victory to Attila 9 Banners to 2 Banners. 

In Game 2, Kevin opted to stick with commanding the Romans while I reset the Huns for a rematch.  Attila used the same tactic and ended up with the same result.  That  is 9-2 Attila.

Game 3, saw Kevin determined to bring the might of the Byzantine Army to bear in a rematch against the Huns.  While marginally more successful, the Huns still dominated the battlefield with a 9-3 victory.  Three games to the Huns!
Game 3: The end of the Byzantine Army (in blue)
The trio of games was really good fun and the margin of victory decisive.  Good to see much of the rules and tactics learned in ANCIENTS present in MEDIEVAL.  A few twists but the core rules are still recognizable.  We did not employ the Inspired Leadership Actions until Game 3.  I bet we see these played more frequently in following games. 

Thanks to Kevin for hosting and being a good sport in defeat.

41 comments:

  1. Nice! Rule changes make sense knowing a difference between antique and medieval epoch.

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    1. MEDIEVAL is only a modest evolution from ANCIENTS and it plays very well.

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  2. Seems like you're now on a run of something like 8-0 in C&C (counting the last outing in Napoleonics): a man not to be trifled with!

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    1. Yes, I am on a bit of a roll with an 8-0 run but it cannot last long. The important thing to monitor is that I have been getting in some good gaming with friends.

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    2. (While crushing those friends mercilessly)
      😀

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  3. This sounds like a feel of an 'expansion' to Ancients and one that has some cleverness in the subtle transition. Is 'Medieval' the best description for the title? This slice of period is cavalry dominant, but if you move forward into 'true' medieval, heavy foot again plays a role and no doubt at some point C&C will want to exploit that period, I just wonder where this title leaves it scope to go to.

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    1. Yes, this one seems to clearly be an extension of CCA to me albeit with a few new twists and turns. As for the title, the Middle Ages was a broad period encompassing at least three distinct sub-periods. Maybe "Early Medieval" or "The Byzantines" would have been appropriate titles? What would you suggest? Nonetheless, Medieval adds an interesting progression to the system.

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    2. I can see a core set and two expansions that could comfortably justify distinct coverage of Early Middle Ages, Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages as separate periods. I was just surprised to see a game called Medieval just have battles chosen from the first part of that spectrum.

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    3. I was surprised too when I saw the scenario selections.

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  4. I thought you may have been having a good run with this game system Jonathan, but 8-0 is very impressive.

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  5. Your on some lucky streak! Sounds interesting and I'm with Norm, later mediaeval infantry are much more resilient,I guess a thousand years of warfare is quite a long time!
    Best Iain

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    1. A lucky streak, indeed! This will not last long...

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  6. There are some interesting scenarios in CCM, sound like the Huns were unstoppable in your games. The battles with Sassanids and Vandals would be fun to play given the upgrades to cavalry.

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    1. The Huns were on good form in this trio of games. Make a few jabs then go in for the knockout. A number of bonus combats rounds were decisive too. Great day to be a Hun!

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  7. Looking forwards to acquiring this!

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  8. I received my copy this week as well. It is a rather atypical roster of battles for the traditional 'medieval' era, but does give me an excuse to actually use the 6mm Hun and Sassanid Armies in my collection. That, and I still have a pile of Later Romans in the lead pile.

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    1. Jake! I only moments ago pushed send on an email asking if your copy arrived. Coincidence?

      It would be great to see your Huns, Sassanids, and Romans on the gaming table.

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    2. The Huns and Sassanids are ready now. I just dug the 6mm Later Romans out of the pile this morning. Just when I thought I had gotten out, they pull me back in!

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    3. You can checkout any time you like but you can never leave...

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  9. Also, the rule changes look a little influenced by 'Samurai Battles' as well. The battles also look like standard C&C fare with history weighted more heavily than play balance.

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    1. There are a few "extras" that allow additional player opportunities and decisions. The Huns certainly romped over the Romans at Utus but that did not need to be the outcome at all.

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  10. Great looking game, Jonathan. I'm starting to get the gaming bug again! :)

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    1. Dean, attending Enfilade! will get those gaming juices flowing again.

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  11. Got my copy on Thursday, looks good so far with a few minor changes/additions.. Thanks for your CCM editorial - nice!

    Thinking out loud (no google search) Medieval period began 476 AD, fall of Rome? and ended 1440's?

    cheers,

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    1. Let us all know your impressions of CCM. I enjoyed my first three games! I may have to order a copy as well. The guys I regularly game with all pre-ordered a copy so I don't really "need" my own.

      As for defining Medieval times, I agree with your dates but the dates can be slippery. I agree the fall of Western Roman Empire in 476 CE defines the beginning of the period. The end is harder to pinpoint. Perhaps the beginning of the Renaissance or the fall of Constantinople in 1453?

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  12. Just add miniatures! (Jake is already on this, I see..)

    I would think 476 would be the start of the Dark Ages, as opposed to medieval, but I suppose with the Dark Ages going out of fashion among academics, it is the Early Medieval era now.

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    1. Thanks for this review, Jonathan, it is mildly tempting but I have barely enough room for all my C&C Naps parapahelia.
      Mildly surprised to see Huns and Romans in a medieval game, but as Gonsalvo notes, history is different now from what I learned in skule.
      Am curious to see how/if the game prevents heavy chivalry from being too powerful.

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    2. Peter, yes, Jake surprised me and has forces in 6mm all ready to deploy. I bet we see them on the table in the near future.

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    3. Michael, you are most welcome for my First Impressions on the game. The heavy cavalry were wielded with devastating results in my three Utus games. Time will tell if this is a trend or an anomaly. An an extension to Ancients, Medieval is a good tool.

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  13. Looks interesting........not quite my style but never say never 🙂

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    1. I know. Never say never. C&C is really quite fun.

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  14. You’re gonna need to throw a game of C&C. 😀
    Nice overview of the game itself. 9 flags is huge, but it seems that it retains the fast play is retained.
    Fun times. 😀

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    1. Fun times, indeed! Needing 9 flags to win is a big game, for sure. The games played fast but a more balanced game may have lasted longer. Throwing a game? Interesting concept.

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