Thursday, March 5, 2020

Commands & Colors: Fantasy Update!

My opponent, lo these 35 or so years. ATTACK! He's a pretty good sport and a hell of a lot of fun to play a game with. He's even more fun to play against. I suppose that's the little brother in me talking.


On New Years Eve, my brother Chris and I had the opportunity to playtest some ideas I had for my long-suffering Commands & Colors: Fantasy project. Yes, I know about BattleLore. Read this for a reminder.

My interest in this project was jump started when I traded for a Warhammer Empire army. Now, adding a pre-painted army to my collection was a huge motivator. While there were a number of unpainted figures in the collection, they can be assembled and painted later. Along with the other Empire figures I have lying about. What can I say, I like the look of these dudes with their armor and plumed hats.


About half of the Empire troops I traded for. They are based on black movement stands. Four figures to a stand, four stands to a unit. These are made of matte board. I'd like to get something a little more substantive and magnetic.

Anyhow, I wanted to get these guys on the table and have them go up against my (partially) painted Skaven. Now, I'm not going to lock myself into the Warhammer setting, but many of the figures I'm using are GW in origin. But not all. Many of the Empire figures I recently traded for are actually Wargames Foundry. Gorgeous figures. I need more of them. Or the Warlord/Pro Patria Landskechts. But I digress.
The battle lines clash! It really looks quite nice with 28mm figures on such a big mat. My eventual plan is for the Ratmen units to be based five figures to a stand with four stands in a unit. Units with 20 rats will look epic indeed.


Not wanting to place a high Medieval/Rennaissance veneer on the existing C&C: Ancients units, I opted to tweak some of the ratings and abilities. For example, Human Halberdiers are essentially CCA Auxilia without the ranged attack. Human Bowmen are pretty much CCA Light Infantry Bows.

I created a wholly new unit in Handgunners and Crossbowmen. These guys are light foot infantry as one would expect. They move 2 hexes and have a ranged attack of 3 hexes, like Bowmen. When they fire their weapons, they roll a respectable 3 dice. In close combat, they roll 2 dice but do not strike with swords.However, due to the relatively cumbersome nature of handguns and crossbows, they may not move and fire in the same turn. I suppose on a "Move, Fire, Move" command, they could hold their movement, fire and then move. But that might be a risky endeavor. Or it could be a highly profitable gambit. Fortune favors the bold.

I really liked the pistoliers in small three-model units. I'd like to get more of these dudes.

Another unit I devised is Swordsmen. On the surface, they look like standard Light Infantry with a move of 2 hexes and close combat with 2 dice. However, I took away their ranged attack and gave them the ability to strike on swords. What use are swordsmen that don't strike with swords?

Other units include flagellating Zealots (basically Warrior infantry, but they can ignore one banner result in a given attack), light mounted pistoliers (light mounted cavalry), and mounted knights (heavy mounted, move 2 hexes, CC with 5 dice if they moved the full 2 hexes, may momentum advance, take an additional hex and battle again with the same 5 dice since they moved another 2 hexes), and even a Dwarf unit (heavy foot).

And what about the Skaven, or as I'm calling them, the Ratmen of Suttar? They have some nifty units of their own. Plague Monks are basically like Warrior Infantry, but they'll get some type of limited magic ability in the future. Ratmen with swords are basically light infantry. Rats with spears are basically auxilia. Rat ogres are heavy cavalry, through and through.

"We ignore everything but green when we evade, right? Damn."

The real neat thing about Ratmen units is that they can always evade. Even into friendly units, so long as they move completely past and through the friendly unit. I just love the idea of units of Rats passing one another as they swarm over, around, past and through each other. To make up for this undeniable advantage, Rat units require three adjacent units to claim support. I like this as a nod to their cowardly and craven ways. And it simply encourages evading through the Rats' own lines!
The Zealots punch a hole in the Rats' line and advance in the breach to attack the spear rats to their left!

Chris and I played a pretty straight forward "Kill the enemy" scenario. We didn't notice any particularly hideous results. There were some exciting moments like when a unit of Zealots crushed a unit of Plague Monks in one go, momentum advance and battled a unit of Spear Rats, only to have the Rats battle back, roll three banners and send the unsupported Zealots back to damn near the edge of the table!
The Spear Rats turn to face the threat and send the crazed humans running! Can't ignore all those banner results, boyo!

A few things we'd like to add:
  • Objective-based scenarios beyond "Collect X banners." BattleLore does this right and I will definitely be taking a page or two from their scenario books for this. 
  • Named characters with special abilities. Maybe an elf ranger hero allows a ranged attack unit to reroll a single die, or a heroic knight makes one sword hit count double.
  • Simple magic. I don't want magic to be a mini-game like it was with versions of Warhammer I've played. We're kicking around an idea where magic using heroes and units have a menu of available spells. In order to cast a spell, you order a unit or leader as you normally would, but you can dump additional orders into the unit or leader to cast more powerful spells. I'll explain this further.
  • Much, much more!

As I've stated in previous blog posts, this is a long-term project for me. While we are using a 6-inch hex mat, it's still the basic 13x9 (6.5 foot by 4.3 foot) hex playing area. Eventually, I'd like to have a full 26x9 (13 foot by 4.3 foot) mat for a full 8-player Epic experience. To get the most painted bang for my buck, I will concentrate on getting my Rats painted up. My goal is to have a 2-player game fully painted for J3 and I'll take it to Recruits this year as well. I also have an undead force that I will be adding to at some point. I'd like to add more dwarves and some elves to the "good side." Stay tuned!

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