TWZ’s Colour Command and Combat System Introduction … Chance Gadgets in Games
Games have been around for many centuries: the two classic game gadgets being the cube dice and cards. Enter any casino and you will see plenty of these in action. Despite hundreds of years of game development there have been relatively few developments in the “chance” gadgets used in games – bit some.
Back in the 1970s Gary Gygax invented Dungeons & Dragons and with it climbed the popularity the multi-sided dice set – the set of D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 expanded the cube to all sorts of other shapes. This gave gamers some new tools to vary probabilities more than was possible with a d6. Twister has a spinner, as do several basic board games.
A new colour based chance system
I have received many compliments for my first wargames rule set Mortem et Gloriam, and am delighted so many people enjoy the game. Indeed it does seem to have captured the feel of 100s of different ancient armies rather well. Something I am proud of this, as I have never had Romans, Huns, Byzantines, Mongols, Samurai and Aztecs all feel correct in my past gaming (and I have been playing since 4th edition!).
While it is true that we – players have been involved heavily – have crafted a fine set of rules, the real “invention” is actually a different chance mechanism. Something I came up with that seemed to fit the needs of wargames particularly well. I call this the Colour Command and Combat System or CC&CS as above. Colours are easy to use quickly (for most of us – actually I am red green colour blind so they have numbers as well) and it’s attractive as well.
I am finding this to be my real breakthrough and that it is very adaptable to all period of wargaming. It is giving me something I have sought for a long time – the possibility to switch periods easily without having to learn a new rule set to get the right feel for the period. And it is a system that takes a lot of brain strain out of working out the results of combats and shooting. Which is a good thing as we aim for speed so we can resolve games and as our aging population’s mental arithmetic skills tend to wane!
So standing back from Mortem et Gloriam for a minute what is the CC&CS system. In short it is two things:
- A colour based command system to control manouvre.
- A colour based dice system to give you combat results.
- And both are aligned with Black, White, Green, Yellow, Red colours used and black always the worst and red the best.
The CC&CS Command System.
So for every period you have a set of actions you want to take that range from easy to difficult: say, walk directly ahead to turn 180 and change formation. Easy actions need black and difficult ones red. Then across the top of the action table you have different troops grades in terms of manouvre skill. In ancients we have four: Skirmisher, Drilled, Formed, Tribal. This concept works for every period, it is just that the actions and troop grades are different.Then on the right you have what is added to that concept to give the right feel for each period. Ancients is a lot about making block moves of multiple units together and using generals personally in command of troops. This creates the battlelines and large blocks of ancient warfare. But in WW2 that additions are completely different: repeat activations by units and keeping initiative to do repeat moves. This gives the feel of good units doing a lot in a turn and of better-commanded armies being able to coordinate combined arms. The same CC&CS but the additions make on game feel right for ancients and the other feel right for WW2. Picking the correct additions makes Renaissance, Napoleonics, 7yrs War, Colonials, ACW and mass skirmish games all have their won unique feel.
The CC&CS Combat System
There are the same five colours for combat (shooting or melee). The system has a set of 5 coloured dice and as you get into better and better situations you will roll better dice. The dice have 4 sides on them: Skull, Cross (swords/arrows), S and blank. Once you know which dice to roll this system takes a lot of brain strain out of wargaming as you read the result straight off the dice and move on. No need to work out whether you are double someone else’s score, or higher, or whether a specific condition applies.
And the S allows us to have special factors for each period. In ancient shooting it gives slowing effects (which gives the rules a previously missing real effect of being showered in arrows); in ancient combat it gives shatters (nasty charges punching holes) and shove (phalanxes pushing). In WW2 it gives suppression forcing troops to keep their heads down. It’s a simple “read the result” system.
The diagram above gives the symbol mix for the extreme dices. So imagine rolling 2 black dice against 2 red dice and the effects….
Driving the Command System – Tools
Many people have thought that the cards was the big invention in Mortem et Gloriam but that is a mis-understanding of the system. Anything can be used that will give you the mix of colours for command. We have two official versions: Cards in a deck, and Disc in a bag. Even after 3 years of play different players prefer different tools, and players are welcome to create their
My own view is that cards are best for beginners as with cardholders you can readily see all your cards all the time. But once you are and experienced player the discs look nicer and are more easily stacked with a general on the tabletop. But at the end of the day players can choose whichever gadget they prefer to drive the command system.
For the new generation we are creating card packs (smaller in size) and disc sets that have their rears printed to match the colours on TWZ BattleMats – green plains on one side and brown scrub/desert on the other. This allows them to vanish on the tabletop to maximise the viewing spectacle of games. This minimises the game gadgetry that is visible on the table. The mats, being reversible, allow us to switch between desert terrain and grass terrain with a single mat.
I like many periods. But I also like competitions. It has always been difficult to flit between periods while staying on top of rule sets. I am finding CC&CS can give the right feel of every period I have tried so far. My aim therefore is to gradually complete the periods so that gamers have the opportunity to move between Ancients, WW2, Sci-Fi, Renaissance, Napoleonic’s, ACW, 7 Yrs War, Colonial, Mass Skirmish, with relative ease as all the rule sets have CC&CS as their common core. So you will quickly grasp 50% of all rules instantly if you know the system from another rule set. And hopefully with this overview you can more easily see the adjustments that are in place to give each game its own specific feel.
And so Para Bellum …. to war! And much fun to be had by all I hope.