Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Commands & Colors: EIC 1840

Over the weekend, Kevin hosted an early colonial game set in 1840's India.  The gridded battle was to be fought over a huge 15 x 9 tile grid using Kevin's large 28mm collection of British colonial figures.  The method in which the tiles were painted provided an Old School look to the battle.  The variety of units provided a very pleasing spectacle.  Many of the units were set to receive their first taste of battle.  With the stone fireplace flanked by a wall of books on one end of the room, smoking jackets and ascots would not have been out of place.  Yep.  Civilized gaming with a very Old School feel, for sure.   
The Natives
The rules of engagement would be governed by Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (CCN) with some modifications.  One necessary modification was the translation of movement and combat from the hexagonal grid of Commands & Colors to the squares of the gaming table.  Changes from hex to square were minimal with how to compute diagonal distances the major consideration.  Otherwise, play was guided by CCN rules as written.

The battle would be decided by the elimination of eight units of your opponent.  With the ragtag composition of the Natives and the superior firepower of the British EIC, I did not expect a close game.  With that bias going in, I was surprised by the outcome.
The East India Company
The battle, as laid out, pitted the British India Company against a wide variety of Natives fielding an assortment of guns and cavalry.  An eclectic bunch, for sure.  Quality on the Native side was suspect but with flanks secured by two fortresses, the British would be forced into frontal assaults. 
The Natives
In Game 1, the Natives got off to a great start and bombarded and shot my poor EIC troops to pieces before I could close.  I scored a few banners but the situation looked grim for the British.  I was ready to through in the towel and admit defeat.  My opponent convinced me to fight on, so I reluctantly did.  Luckily, I pulled two RALLY cards in quick succession from the card deck and put them into play to bolster my troops.  With those reinforcements, the EIC turned the table on the Natives and managed to press on to a very close 8-7 victory.  Did my opponent ease up on me?  We may never know.
EIC
In Game 2, I took command of the Natives and in a similar fashion to Game 1, my troops were being manhandled by Kevin's EIC early on.  By mid-game, the situation looked hopeless.  Sticking with it, I was able to hold my right while concentrating on the British right.  Using combined arms and playing a well-timed Cavalry Charge card, the British right was turned.  Unit after unit fell to the tenacity of the Natives.  In the end, the Natives rolled up the British line to take control of the middle of the table. With the banner count standing at 7-7, the Native flanking maneuver finally ran out of steam and the British won the game 8-7.  

Usually, a game of Commands & Colors can be fought to conclusion in under one hour.  In Game 2, the hard-fought battle lasted more than two hours.  That was a titanic struggle and good fun.

Looking forward to trying this again.

32 comments:

  1. Lovely scope of battle and a good choice of rules for managing the grid, though to my eyes, the multi coloured grid is quite distracting.

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    1. I too found the grid somewhat distracting: it reminded me of 1970's patchwork jackets and tiled coffee tables. Still good to see the rules converted to a grid rather than hexes.

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    2. I like grids a lot, but I also find that a bit off putting. My aim is to have the grid as discrete looking as possible whilst still being clear to the players. That set up is winning on the latter but losing on the former.

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    3. Norm, the multi-colored grid system may look distracting in the photos. In play, the kaleidoscope of color had an effect similar to camouflage. The grid blended in and was not distracting at all. The biggest distraction was finding the flank area demarcations. I found myself counting over from a table edge to find a flank or center section more than once.

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    4. Graham, off-putting for some, perhaps. I wager you would have enjoyed playing in this game, nonetheless. With the grids clearly marked, it made calculating movement and ranges much easier than if the grids were more discrete.

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    5. Steve, gaming on this table brought back memories of playing with toy soldiers on my parents' linoleum kitchen floor with black and white squares. With a raised table, no back pain and no threat of squashing a figure with my feet.

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    6. At a show, I once saw a M44 game being played on Hexon hexes, they used red thread to highlight the flank lines and it worked rather well.

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    7. Good idea regarding thread. Kevin mentioned painting some sort of marking on the boundary lines.

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  2. Lovely troops and an interesting couple of games.

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    1. Thanks, George! It was a different change of pace for us.

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  3. I would be very interested to know more about the hex/square conversion used for the rules. Great looking game!

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. Thanks, David! The conversion was a straight forward application of Manhattan distance to the grid where distance is computed along the axes at right angles. For example, a diagonal move counts as a distance of two.

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  4. Replies
    1. Glad you like it! Kevin will be happy to see this.

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  5. Looks very nice, interesting system!

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    1. Thanks, Phil! The game and layout were an enjoyable change of pace from the ordinary. The situation felt Old School even though the figures were definitely not painted in the Old School fashion.

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  6. Amazing looking game, my compliments to your friend!

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    1. Kevin will enjoy seeing your positive feedback. Thanks!

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  7. An interesting and different game setting Jonathan. Quite surprised the natives almost pulled it off on both occasions.

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    1. Interesting and different, for sure. Fun too! When I commanded the Native army, it started off badly for me. Only in the end was I able to stage a viable comeback. Still fell short of victory but the Natives came very close to taking a win.

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  8. Very nice with a definite old-school feel about it. We play DBMM with marked areas for deployment, and it is amazing how quickly they "disappear" when the game gets underway.

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    1. Certainly felt Old School to me. Now, if those were 54mm figures rather 28mm figures out on the table, there would be no doubt. When in the heat of battle, the grid tended to soften into the background. I should also remember to take more photos but that gets lost in the heat of battle too! Appreciate your comments, Lawrence.

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  9. Jonathan,
    No other changes besides the diagonal movement? How did you all rule regarding diagonal moves? Allowed? Disallowed?

    Square grid CCN open up a world of possibilities for me to play on my table as-is with the introduction of flocked markers on pennies marking the corners of the squares.

    Im very keen to try this.

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    1. Really not many changes of note.
      - Diagonal movement and fire are allowed and count as a distance of two (Manhattan Distance in force).
      - Fire ranges and firepower were altered to reflect troop and weapon differences for the later period.
      - Retreats on the diagonal are allowed and count as one.

      Everything else seemed to be Rules As Written.

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  10. Fun looking grid, very 1970's! Nothing wrong with that! Nice looking troops too.
    Best Iain

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    1. Reminded me of early 70's photos of game too. Maybe I should have published the game photos in black & white? That addition would have provided even more Old School look.

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  11. Definitely something of an old school setting, I think I even have a smoking jacket in my closet somewhere I could loan you for next time. Maybe even a pipe? 😀

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    1. Better yet, grab your smoking jacket and join in!

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  12. Enjoyed the table and troops.
    No smoking in my house, but perhaps regimental ties, cardigans, and a glass of brandy? :-)

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