As the Covid 19 lockdown caused me to lose my regular tabletop war games opponent I haven't had much chance recently to play the wonderful GMT games I have. My wife is a great games player but she has no interest in war games, she preferes building, resource, management style games that last 45-90 minutes, so I have had no opposition. I was hoping this was about to change but it seems lockdown is coming again before we can get together again on a regular basis. Therefore I am revisiting some of the great GMT games reviewed on GGO in the past.
The first part of this page is the text from the GMT Games website, including a link to that site. The second half of this page are the words of the Games Gazette Online Scottish correspondent and one of our GMT game specialists, Bill Ray.
GMT Games $75.00
- 1 Medieval Core Rule Book and 19 medieval battle scenarios
- 1 22 x 29.5 inch Mounted Battlefield game board (11 hexes deep by 13 hexes wide)
- 4 countersheets
- 65 Medieval Command cards (new card deck)
- 8 Laser printed Battle dice
- 2 Unit Reference Cards
- 5 Block Label sheets
- 350 Plus Blocks (including spares)
Commands & Colors: Medieval is based on the highly successful Commands & Colors game system and by design is not overly complex. The Medieval game introduces many new game concepts to the Commands & Colors system, which add historical depth and flavor. Some of the new concepts are:
Superior armor and status when battling
Cavalry units increase to 4 blocks
Heavy infantry battle dice are reduced from 5 dice down to 4
Light Bow Cavalry units can employ the Parthian Shot when they evade
Still, some Commands & Colors game mechanics remain familiar to players of other games in the system, like the deck of Medieval Command cards that drive movement while creating a “fog of war,” and the battle dice that will resolve combat quickly and efficiently. The stylized battlefield scenario maps emphasize the important terrain features and highlight the historical deployment of forces in scale with the game system. The scale of the game is flexible, and varies from battle to battle. For some scenarios, a unit may represent a Chiliarchy of soldiers, while in other scenarios a unit may represent just a few brave warriors. The battlefield tactics, however, that you will need to execute to gain victory conform remarkably well to the strengths and limitations of the various medieval unit types, their weapons, the terrain, and history.
The medieval battles showcased in the scenario book focus on the historical confrontations between the Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Persians (530 to 627 AD) with a slight detour to battle the Moors and their rebel allies (645 - 648 AD). The Byzantine Empire during this period of medieval history was one of constant transition and reorganization. Its army tended to mirror its eastern adversaries by deploying an increasing number of armored cavalry formations (Cataphracts) and more missile troops. Yet, it was how the Byzantines adapted their battlefield tactics in relation to the enemy it faced that is perhaps the chief reason for the longevity of their Empire.
Although the Byzantine army fought on other frontiers, against a multitude of opponents, Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Franks, Alemanni, those conflicts are beyond the scope and space of this one package. Additional expansion modules that address those battles will be forthcoming.
I truly believe the Commands & Colors: Medieval game will provide even the most veteran Commands & Colors players many new challenges and experiences.
Bill's View:[GGO edited]
It has to be said from the outset that as far as Mr Borg and Command & Colours (note British spelling) are concerned I am a fan. I have been more than a casual admirer since picking up “Battle Cry” second-hand at a local war games show. I now have a large collection containing almost all the iterations of this wonderful gaming concept. Right, having got that out of the way, I shall try manfully to stick to the straight and narrow as far as the review is concerned.
This game is boxed and packaged in the usual well produced manner by GMT (my favourite games company, oops slip showing). The game pieces are of coloured wood to which you have to append stickers that are illustrated with the troops the block will represent. This I do not mind as it is, in my view, less stressful than painting miniatures, indeed applying said stickers I find somewhat relaxing.
One small fly in the component ointment is that the blocks for the medieval game are disappointingly smaller than the Ancient game, not too much smaller but it kind of spoils my plans for using the Barbarian expansion as Visigoths, Vandals et al.
The other game components include a mounted board and a set of “command” cards which are printed using a medieval theme for the artwork. The cards themselves point to area where they can command your units left, centre or right and sometimes special actions such as cavalry charge or rally. In addition unlike the Ancient version there are two “Inspired action” quick reference cards which are army specific in this case a Byzantine and a Sassanid card. This obviously points to future expansions with different nationalities each with their own card, please note this is my educated guess. You then have a well written rulebook with a full 19 scenarios representing actions from the early medieval period. Nice thing about the rules is that for us experienced C & C Ancients players the author has highlighted all the rule changes so that where there is a change or new rule we only need to pick up those paragraphs highlighted rather than ploughing through the whole set.
The game itself, for anybody that’s been hiding in a cupboard, uses command cards and specially printed dice which make the game easy to pick up but gives plenty of scope within the fog of war thus created for hefty decision making. Although luck does play its part you can with careful hand management and use of your varied units successfully reduce random effects. In this medieval iteration players will find that their cavalry has become the battle winner and infantry (compared to the ancients game) now playing a supporting role.
Having now got several scenarios under my belt I can safely say that the author has managed to bring medieval warfare to the board with simple but subtle changes to the ancients game the major one which is the “inspired actions” rules. Inspired actions brings the medieval style of command to the board, generals are very subtly different from the ancients. I can as a veteran player of the command and colours system (From Napoleonic’s to Memoir 44 and even Battlelore the fantasy version) highly recommend this new game from GMT and Richard Borg whether you are new to the system or like me, a fan.