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Commands & Colors: Ancients» Forums » Variants

Subject: 3- and 4-player variant rss

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James C
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CCA is one of my favorite games, but I sometimes have trouble getting it to the table because there are three or four who wish to play. Sure, we could pull out Expansion 5, Epic Ancients, but that's sometimes a bit more than we're up for.

To help bridge the gap between the basic version of CCA and the Epic version of CCA, I've devised this simple set of house rules for 3- and 4-player games.

As you'll see, the rules basically marry the Field General initiative concept to the base game.

I've done my best to honor the game's design choices as much as possible by, for example, prioritizing the effect of the Command Cards over the die roll. I don't want the die roll to throw the entire game out of balance.

Of course, an even simpler way to play four players is simply to alternate who's giving a team's commands on any given turn. But I think the game is more enjoyable when, on every turn, each team mate has something to do (even if it's ordering one of your own units to retreat - which actually could be a very good thing to do!).

Feedback is warmly welcomed.

Enjoy!


Commands and Colors
ANCIENTS

3- and 4-player variants



4-Player Variant

The same rules for Commands and Colors Ancients apply, with the following adjustments:

1. The four players divide into two teams of two players each.
2. Each player draws a hand of Command Cards equal to its side’s hand as per the War Council notes. For example, if the War Council notes specify that the Roman side of a battle plays with six Command Cards, each player on the Roman team draws his own set of six Command Cards.
3. Play alternates between teams/sides, as per the regular rules. However, on a team’s turn, one player will be designated the Overall Commander (OC) and one player will be designated a Subordinate General (SG). This too will alternate throughout the game. For example, if on the Roman side’s first turn, Roman Player A is designated the OC, and Roman Player B the SG, on the Roman side’s second turn, Roman Player A will serve as the SG, and Roman Player B the OC.
4. On his side’s turn, the OC draws and displays a Command Card from his hand for all to see, indicating the Command Card he is about to play. Before ordering any units permitted by the Command Card, however, the SG will roll one die. The effect of this die roll is as follows:

• Green Circle: one light unit (light infantry, light sling infantry, light bow infantry, auxilia infantry, light cavalry, light bow cavalry, or light barbarian chariot unit) of the Subordinate General’s choice is ordered.
• Blue Triangle: one medium unit (medium infantry, warrior, medium cavalry, cataphract camel or camel unit) of the Subordinate general’s choice is ordered.
• Red square: one heavy unit (heavy infantry, heavy cavalry, heavy cataphract cavalry, heavy chariot, elephant or heavy war machine unit) of the Subordinate General’s choice is ordered.
• Leader Helmet: Any unit of the Subordinate General’s choice is ordered. In lieu of a unit, an attached leader may be detached and ordered, or an unattached leader may be ordered.
• Banner: One unit of the Subordinate General’s choice must perform its standard retreat movement. The unit may not battle. If the unit cannot retreat its full movement, standard block loss for each unused retreat movement applies.
• Crossed Swords: One unit of the Subordinate General’s choice in his section must lose 1 block. The unit may not battle.

5. After the SG’s die roll, first, the OC, and thereafter the SC, indicates the units he is ordering (or otherwise affecting) with his Command Card / die roll. No unit ordered by the OC may be selected by the SG as the subject of the SG’s die roll.
6. After all such units have been identified, the orders / effects assigned to each unit is resolved.
7. In the event that the orders assigned by the Command Card selected by the OC make it impossible to resolve the effect of the SG’s die roll, the SG’s die roll has no effect. For example, if only light units remain on the board, and the OC plays a Command Card enabling him to order all light units, the SG’s die roll, regardless of its outcome, would have no effect. Another example: the OC’s Command Card enables him to order one unit in each section. The SG’s die roll result is a red square. Out of several units to choose from in each field, the OC decides to order his side’s only heavy unit. The SG’s die roll would have no effect.
8. The reaction Command Card “First Strike” may be played by any player whose side is under attack, regardless of whether that player was just or will next be his side’s OC.
9. Teammates may freely discuss strategy between themselves, but such conversations must be public.

3-Player Variant

The same rules for Commands and Colors Ancients 4-player variant apply, with the following adjustments:

1. The three players divide into two teams, one of two players, one consisting of only one player.
2. Each team (not each player) draws a hand of Command Cards equal to its side’s hand as per the War Council notes. Thus, the two-player team will be sharing one common set of command cards.
3. Play alternates between teams/sides, as per the regular rules. However, on the two-player team’s turn, one player will be designated the Overall Commander (OC) and one player will be designated a Subordinate General (SG). This too will alternate throughout the game. For example, if on the Roman side’s first turn, Roman Player A is designated the OC, and Roman Player B the SG, on the Roman side’s second turn, Roman Player A will serve as the SG, and Roman Player B the OC.
4. On the two-player team’s turn, the OC draws and displays a Command Card from his hand for all to see, indicating the Command Card he is about to play. Before ordering any units permitted by the Command Card, however, the SG will roll one die. Play will the proceed as outlined in paragraphs 4-8 above.
5. On the one-player side’s turn, the single player will both display a Command Card from his hand for all to see, indicating the Command Card he is about to play, and immediately thereafter roll one die. The effects of his die roll are as set forth previous (paragraph 4, in the 4-player variant). Play will the proceed as outlined in paragraphs 5-8 above, with the exception that a single player will be performing the functions of both OC and SG.
6. The reaction Command Card “First Strike” may be played by any player whose side is under attack, regardless of whether that player was just or will next be his side’s OC.
10. Teammates may freely and privately discuss strategy between themselves.
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Steve Duke
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I see you originally posted this some time ago.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/14598814#14598814




And there is this one as well:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/141451/multi-player-cc

The latter one was from Dec 2006, so you can see this concept is not unique or new but perhaps you were just refreshing it for the folks who have come aboard CCA more recently.

From what I gather you have added some dice rolling which is not used in the other two variants.

CCA remains one of my all time favorites as well.

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James C
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Yes - the dice rolling, as modest as an adjustment as it may seem, really helps keep everyone more engaged.
I think this is a superior approach to my prior iterations!
 
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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I'd rather see a standard C&C:A board played RAW as much as possible...

The card holder is the General and controls the center (if 2 or 3 players per side, 4 players per side they're just the card holder).
Other players would be Field Commanders and given a section or two.
The General decides the card to be played, the Field Commanders decide how to implement the card and make any dice rolls.
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Steve Duke
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RAW?
 
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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Rules as Written
 
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Kevin Duke
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Um, Steven, this version is extremely close to RAW.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/141451/multi-player-cc


It accounts for the fact that there are two hands of cards on each side, but is pretty much exactly the game as it happens, with the difference being that the partners are alternating which one is commanding everything.
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Steve Duke
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Smooth Sailing, if you have four players per side you are not playing what this variant is trying to solve, 3-4 players total.

No need for 'field commander', just each player gets their own hand of cards and can command all forces on their side, in alternating turns. Pretty simple and very close to the RAW whereas what you suggest is a variant of Epic.

If you do have 3-4 per side, you should be playing Epic...

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James C
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sduke wrote:
Smooth Sailing, if you have four players per side you are not playing what this variant is trying to solve, 3-4 players total.

No need for 'field commander', just each player gets their own hand of cards and can command all forces on their side, in alternating turns. Pretty simple and very close to the RAW whereas what you suggest is a variant of Epic.

If you do have 3-4 per side, you should be playing Epic...


Well put.

The critical difference between the simpler, just-play-with-two-separate-decks approach, and the approach that I'm proffering here, is that the simple addition of that one die roll really helps some players enjoy the game more. Downtime is, perhaps, the biggest turn off for most potential gamers. The approach your suggesting here adds downtime; the approach I'm suggesting keeps it to a minimum (one of the key benefits of CCA).

Of course, folks should play however they want - it's still a free country. All I'm saying is that at least with regard to my group, having already played the "RAW" 4-player way, this simple tweak to that variant was a very welcomed revision. So much so that some who balked at playing 4-player CCA the previous way are now happy to play this new way. Your mileage may vary, but for my and my group, this tweaked variant has meant getting CCA to the table more frequently - and having a better time when doing so with a complement of 3 or 4 players. To me, that's a positive development, hence I shared it with the wider community.
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Daniel Rodriguez
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hey thanks for posting, i will have to check this out for sure
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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Agreed.... just cmmenting if the party grows
 
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Giulio
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Doesn't the increased number of cards on each side, make any difference in the number of cards less relevant? Plus the "initiative roll" has been promoted from optional to mandatory. I've always seen this roll as an option for extreme situations. Having to make it in all rounds is more likely bringing about unexpected (read undesired) results. If the purpose is to have more people around the table, I think that simply playing in team is a solution. This might be useful for novice players as they can discuss the different options between them. Admittedly, I never tried it with Ancients but I did it plenty of time with Memoir 44 with excellent results. Just my 2 cents.
 
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James C
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g1ul10 wrote:
Doesn't the increased number of cards on each side, make any difference in the number of cards less relevant? Plus the "initiative roll" has been promoted from optional to mandatory. I've always seen this roll as an option for extreme situations. Having to make it in all rounds is more likely bringing about unexpected (read undesired) results. If the purpose is to have more people around the table, I think that simply playing in team is a solution. This might be useful for novice players as they can discuss the different options between them. Admittedly, I never tried it with Ancients but I did it plenty of time with Memoir 44 with excellent results. Just my 2 cents.

Those are good points.
I've considered them.
Here was my thinking:
Having ownership of one's very own hand of cards is more engaging than sharing a common hand with one's team mate. That makes the game more fun, and as such is a benefit.
Yes, there is the drawback that you identify. However, bear in mind that in many scenarios the card hands are identical. For those battles this issue doesn't present itself. Thus, if you're really concerned about this, just stick to those battles.
However, even in battles with uneven hands, I think that the impact of the tweak is mitigated by the fact that teammates do indeed need to alternate playing cards from their respective hands. So, although there is 2x the chance that a team will have a particular card it desperately needs, bear in mind that such card won't necessarily be at their immediate disposal - the card would only be played when it becomes its holders turn to serve as OC. Finally, I'm not fully convinced that this really does affect the impact of card disparity, as the proportional difference remains the same. We're not simply adding five cards to each team, which would indeed muck up the scenario balance. We're doubling the cards that each team has. Thus, a 20% difference in hand size will remain a 20% difference in hand size.

As for the die roll, again, the positive achievement of this tweak is that it makes the game more fun/engaging for the extra players - less pure downtime overall. That's balanced against how it disturbs game play.

To mitigate this disturbance, I've required that the OC select his card first, before the die roll. As such, there will likely be many instances where the die roll becomes moot, because the OC's card will be used to order the only unit(s) that the die roll would affect. This doesn't happen in Epic because of the strict division of responsibilities by field.

I've opted to make the die roll mandatory to prevent the alpha partner from telling the SG not to roll the die (for whatever reason). It will be rolled, adding tension and choice.

I fully recognize that reasonable people can disagree over the merits of my very modest tweak to a fabulous game system. I set forth this explanation not to be defensive, but merely to peel back the curtain on some of the thinking that went into this modest supplementary ruleset.

Finally, I too am a big fan of playing games "RAW." I almost NEVER implement house rules, as I have tremendous respect for game designers and assume that they know best. However, here, I'm not really changing the rules of CCA, for CCA is a TWO PLAYER GAME. Rather, I'm coming up with rules for a three and four player version of CCA, for use with the base set / one board. Such a game does not officially exist! In other words, I'm taking a great two-player game and attempting to create a multiplayer game out of it. I don't think it's mere semantics to suggest that this isn't exactly the same thing as simply implementing a house rule to change a preexisting game.

I thoroughly appreciate the feedback, and would love to hear if others have had as much fun playing with these rules as we have.

PS: edits made to fix auto-(in)correct typos !
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