Games Gazette Logo

     

GMT: COMMANDS & COLORS: Napoleonic’s Fourth Expansion: The Prussian Army    Game Design: Richard Borg

The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history ?

      

The first thing that you will notice about this expansion is that under regular house lighting the game Blocks for both the French (Le Bleu) and the Prussians (Prussian Blue) look so similar it is difficult to determine which is which; similarly the stickers for the Armies are also hard to distinguish once they are removed from the sheet. Therefore the very first thing you have to do is carefully separate the Blocks by colour, then into size – each Unit type has a different size Block – and then specifically attach each sticker to the correct Block by size and colour. Yes I know that is how you begin with every new expansion for Command & Colors but in this case, as previously mentioned, you have to be extremely careful even though there are extra Blocks and stickers. GMT have noticed the possibility of error and to help eliminate this they have printed a complete page of the Blocks and a detailed manner in how to sticker them to prevent error.

       This game rules can also be interpreted for figure gaming if you have 6mm - 15mm miniatures, possibly  the board is a little too small for 20mm-25mm, though in if you do have the miniatures required the units would remain visible once seen, there would be no memory or surprise aspects.  

None of the stickers carry the specific name of any of the actual Leaders involved in these battles; these include Napoleon, Blücher and Grouchy, though their positions are noted, by name, in the description for the battlefield setup for each scenario where necessary.

Components:

• 2" spine box 
• 24 page Prussian Expansion Rule & Scenario Booklet with 20 historical scenarios
• 2 Prussian National Unit Reference Cards
• 2 Abbreviated Unit Reference Cards
• Over 200 Blocks
• Block Label sheets
• 1 Terrain Tile Sheet - contains 18 double sided Terrain Tiles
• 1 Prussian Square track and Counter sheet

    

Scenarios included are:

Schleiz - 9 October 1806
Saalfeld - 10 October 1806
Jena - 14 October 1806
Auerstädt - 14 October 1806
Halle - 17 October 1806 (Morning)
Halle - 17 October 1806 (Afternoon)
Altenzaun - 26 October 1806
Zehdenick - 26 October 1806
Prenzlau - 28 October 1806
Waren-Nossentin - 1 November 1806 (Waren)
Waren-Nossentin - 1 November 1806 (Nossentin)
Lübeck - 6 November 1806 (North Gate)
Blankenfelde - 23 August 1813
Grossbeeren - 23 August 1813
Dennewitz - 6 September 1813
Laon - 9&10 March 1814 (French Right)
Laon - 9&10 March 1814 (French Left)
Ligny - 16 June 1815
Wavre - 18 June 1815
Waterloo (Plancenoit) - 18 June 1815

    

Each scenario is won by the side that first collects the target number of Victory Point Banners, either Temporary or Permanent Banners, and this is where we have a little hiccup in the components – there aren’t enough Counters; despite there being enough blank space on the counter sheets to have included at least another 20 small square Victory point Banner counters. I mention this because GMT had the forethought to include extra Blocks and stickers, which are only required if you mess up, but haven’t provided extra counters which are needed for virtually every scenario.

Designed by Richard Borg, the top wargame designer of the last decade in my opinion, coupled with the art direction of Rodger B MacGowan (another great stalwart of wargames) plus the playtesting skills of such luminaries as Dave Arneson and Ted Raicer, the GMT Commands And Colors games belong to the most exceptional war game series to hit our tabletops in the past 20 years.

So having mentioned Victory Banners let’s begin with these; they are points that are either permanent or temporary depending on where they are placed on the map according to each scenario. Victory Banners are awarded at the beginning of each player’s turn in as much as they may change ownership at this point. They are gained from capturing predetermined single hex spaces or an area of several hexes. Each scenario has a requirement of Victory Banners – 4 being the lowest and 10 the highest (meaning there is a scenario requiring more Banners than are provided).

    

Every scenario is set out on a single page, from page 9 through to page 28, of the accompanying rules booklet. There is an illustrated map of the starting positions of all Units, including Leaders, for both sides as well as an historic account of the battle, Victory conditions, Special Rules for the specific battle and of course the Battle Notes which indicate the Units and how many Command Cards each side has; Command Cards being the crucial element of the Commands and Colors gameplay. 

Players new to tabletop wargaming will find that it is the Command card system and the way the scenarios are so simply laid out that make Commands and Colors such an easy game to get into and enjoy. Of course the way the Command cards and the Units are used is extremely important for successful battles, but that comes with experience.

GMT have introduced a good old role-play game mechanic into this expansion, that of the Hero Point. In this Prussian Army expansion the Hero Point is renamed as an Iron Will Counter but it has the same function as a Hero Point, it allows the player who uses one to ignore a “Flag” result on a die roll. More than one Iron Will counter can be used at a time, but counters are limited and once used the counters are removed from play and cannot be reused. They are very useful though and should only be used when most necessary.

     

There is not an actual game board or map in this expansion, just a few hexes that can be laid on top of specific spaces on the basic map from the main boxed game to alter the terrain to the specifics of every scenario. There is also an extra sheet of hexes that are to be used to replace the misprinted sheet in the Austrian expansion.

Commands & Colors games use a reasonably basic formula whereby players set up their army units according to the actual battle plan (as near as the unit Blocks allow) and then attempt to change history by the tactical use of Command cards and a little bit of luck from the roll of the special game dice.

This is a classic board-war-games series that can only grow bigger and better.

  

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015