Sunday, September 10, 2017

Commands & Colors: Tricorne - The American Revolution - Eutaw Springs

Brian and I both received our copies of the latest Commands & Colors module aptly titled "Tricorne" covering battles of the American Revolution.  I was unexpectedly cut loose from working this weekend so we linked up and fought the Battle of Eutaw Springs at Brian's house and all I can say is WOW!  What a game!  We played using Brian's magnificently painted metal troops.

This set is very different to some of the other games of the series and puts morale into the forefront of the battle, delivering a tremendous period feel to a tabletop game that plays out exactly like a battle narrative from the 18th century reads.  I'll explain.

View from the British Side facing towards the American lines.
 Musketry and overall Firepower is not overwhelming in this game, much like in accounts of linear warfare of the day, the true skill lies in keeping your units on the field, properly supported and with solid leadership at the points of decision.  Tricorne does an outstanding job of modeling this aspect, and you see how Stirling's defense at Long Island, Howe's advance at Breed's Hill, or Arnold's attack at Bemis Heights were possible based in part on the presence of those fine officers.

Anyways, my plan this day is to demonstrate on my left with my Cavalry, advance my regulars in the center, and attempt to turn Brian's (the British) left flank.  That was the plan anyways...

The battle opens with a cannonade where both sides fire their artillery at the other's lines.  I'm lucky in that the British have Provincials in close proximity to my guns and naturally they're targeted first!  Brian has a target-rich environment and shoots at my militia who are extremely brittle.

View from the American side.  Milita are in the front backed by steady Continentals.

Militia retreat 3 hexes per flag and desperately need officers to stem their further withdrawal from the battlefield.  Love the casualty markers!

In the thick of the fighting!  A militia unit trades volleys with the redcoats.
 On my left I decide to assault with my light cavalry, who are probably best used to screen a flank or try and harass the enemy.  That's what I wanted to use them for as Brian has an elite grouping of troops creeping up on my left flank.  My thoughts are to try and scatter the lights as best I can.  I was underwhelmed with my Cavalry's performance!

 On thing worth noting is the amount of "juicy" cards as Brian called them.  Lots of nice, linear cards that give you the commander more flexibility in using your line, provided they are in continuous contact.  Finally!  A game that gives you real incentive to keep your troops in line formation!  And the battle looks good, too!

Light Cavalry doesn't hit on sabers!  Drat!
 Brian and I use the next few turns to shake out our lines and form a solid battle line.  My artillery in the center around where my milita was standing is blocking more infantry from coming in but that's OK as I'm feeding them over to my right flank.  Brian has formed a solid line and I'm nervous about going "toe to toe" with them.

My underwhelming Cavalry charge is sent packing!  Note the dead horse casualty marker.  Lots of them by battle's end.
The guns in the center are where the militia used to be!  Note some semblance of a line is shaping up on the Continental side.  Meanwhile Brian's Brits have formed a perfect line in the center and on his left.  I'd expect nothing less from Regulars!
 My echeloned attack on my right starts to shape up as I feed more units into the fight over there.  It's a 2 pronged plan to make room in the center for my Continental regulars and also to keep pressure on Brian's left.

Brian's line shook out and waiting for the Continentals.
 There are some awesome cards in the deck that allow a ton of options, and a tactical deck that allows you to do even more and not just confined to a section or even a line.  We both made good use of the "at the quick step" order allowing our entire line to advance 2 hexes.  It was in this manner that I tried to build my line.

NOW the lads are ready to advance!

The fight on the left continues and Brian's lights just won't break!  Meanwhile the Cav's mounts are getting tired!

Lots of back and forth actions with units trading volleys up and down the line.  I attempt an advance as I need to make something happen.  I get lucky with a card that allows me to advance the line again!  (I got alot of them)  My boys move up and engage the British at close range.  They charge the British guns and drive them off the hill.  Meanwhile the British provincials give ground and head for the fenceline.  It would be here where I'd start my drive to try and capture the camp.  Not exactly my original plan but they were having the most success.

advance the guns!  take the camp, men!
 I advanced my line and both sides started to take more and more casualties and our breakpoint or victory was approaching (7 units).

casualties around the British gun battery!

The orderly lines of before are breaking apart as my Continentals make a desperate attack up and down the line!

Brian sends in his Cavalry into my line and causes trouble!

The right flank was a scene of constant back and forth fighting.

Brian's lights still don't break!  I would eventually withdraw my cavalry on the left to screen the flank.

Hot lead flying in the center as some Provincials are pushed back by Continental shooting.  Brian makes an impressive rally at the fenceline near the camp but the British back is against the wall!  By the way, the fences offer the unit a "support" much like an adjacent unit would.  An elegant way to handle this important linear terrain feature.

trouble as the British Grenadiers turn towards my line...
 More close combats in the center.  It all comes down to a final combat as our breakpoints are nearing and both of us are at 5 or 6 units!  Brian and I both launch assaults in a hope to finish off the other side.  Brian ends up killing one of my units and their commander (Sumner if you must know) and wins the field.  The battle is over!  British victory!

I for one could not be happier with these rules.  I dont think ive played a set of rules that evoked a period feel such as this.  Ill recap what i liked the most about CC: Tricorne and what makes these different and a truly "18th Century" ruleset.

  • There is real incentive to keep troops in line, not just aesthetic
  • Presence of leaders at the right place and time makes a crucial difference in the battle.
  • The cards are thought provoking and you're constantly making decisions about where to move troops, where to attack, where not to attack, and where to throw your main effort in.  Just like a General on a Horse and Musket battlefield.
  • Musketry is not too devastating and it takes many volleys to wear down an opponent.  
  • Morale is the star of the show.  Good troops will break in the same manner as worse troops, just not as easily.
  • Separate tactical decks and lots of good cards with lots of options that keeps the battle moving
So there you have it.  These are just some of the reasons why I loved CC: Tricorne and I hope that Mr Borg produces a Seven Years War version as well.  I will be one of the first to purchase it.  I hope to play all of these battles and am already thinking about my basing schemes for my own AWI troops!  Huzzah!

And for a final encore, 2 pictures in the spirit of Charles Grant - sorry no cravat!


Irish cardigan generously donated by Brian.  Picture inspired by Charles Grant


  1. This looks fantastic! I look forward to giving Tricorne a try.

    1. You must, Jonathon! I was very impressed with it.

    2. I have it on the schedule in two weeks. Unfortunately, we will be using the blocks and not your beautiful set up.

    3. Jonathan you will not be disappointed!

  2. That looks great! I'm sad I'll only be playing with blocks.

    1. Barks the figures really add a nice dimension to the game but it will play just as well with blocks!

  3. Replies
    1. Always a treat to play on my friend Brian's table. His minis look awesome, too.

  4. Excellent post, the table looks absolutely brilliant. I'm a big fan of Commands and Colors but I don't think I can afford this version.

    1. Paul, i have heard you can get the rules PDF for free. But you'd have to make the cards on your own. Totally worth it! And theyd work for SYW you would just have to come up with rules for heavy cavalry.

    2. I'll have to look into that Steven.


  5. Fantastic stuff! My own kickstarter version of this game arrived too. You have reminded me to do it with miniatures. Great commentary - I love it. I get a real sense of the tactical differences in the decks here. Great stuff

    Wait...which one of those pics is Charles Grant...I'm's eerie that similarity.
    (did you get to keep the cardigan?)

    1. Darren,
      The more handsome gentleman is obviously me...
      No the cardigan was a loaner, a prop if you will, for the picture.
      As far as the rules all i can say is this game delivered some serious period considerations. The rules are outstanding.

    2. Yes - looking through scenarios now with great interest. Love the tactics cards for flavour - good to see that these are probably different for the other tricorne games - very good.
      (You should of course make this your gaming cardigan. Can we expect to see it in some form in every post...the blog mascot, if you will ;) )

    3. Darren,
      The best part is the line cards. Thr force that can keep its battle line together and supported by officers has a much better chance if victory.

      I must pick up a cardigan if only for gaming!

      Ill have to look at the mascot. A "world class blog" deserves a "worls class" mascot!

      I suggested we design a patch and sew it onto sport jackets. My wife rolls her eyes everytime i bring it up.

    4. HAHA I love that!
      There is a blank velcro patch on my baseball cap, just waiting for this :)

  6. That's a stunning looking table and troops, and a helluva fight! Stop it, I've got too many projects to think about the American Revolution!


    1. Jack,
      Keeping the line together was enough of a job but man if i didnt feel like a commander in the 18th century though!

      Awesome set of rules. I would say that the CC series can be played without a huge investment of figures and thus game was completed in under 3 hours.

  7. Actually, you do look quite a bit like Charles Grant. It may be the hair but a bit of the face as well. Perhaps you're related?