Sunday, February 28, 2010

Head-to-head competition

One of the interesting phenomenon seen in wargaming is the creation of directly competing designs -- games that depict the same topic, at the same scale, with similar complexity levels and pricing. This is something seen much less often in euro games. For example, the publication of Pandemic didn't inspire other companies to come out with their own plaque-fighting games. But there's no shortage of strategic level Eastern Front games, regimental Battle of the Bulge Games, World War II carrier battle games, platoon-level combat games, etc. This dates back to the early rivalry between Avalon Hill and SPI where both companies seemed to enjoy matching each other's titles. Often they would come out close enough that there could be dueling reviews, for example, SPI's Descent on Crete and AH' Air Assault on Crete were both reviewed in the same issue of F&M.

So it's interesting to see that GMT and Worthington Games will each be coming out with similar Napoleonic battle wargames this year. The GMT game will be Commands & Colors: Napoleonics based, naturally, on the Commands & Colors system that gave us Battle Cry, Memoir '44, Battlelore and C&C: Ancients. Worthington's game will be Napoleon's War: The Hundred Days, based on their popular Wars for America series, seen most recently in Hold the Line.

The game systems are similar in scale and style, while differing just enough in important details that one can't be seen as a clone of the other. Up until now the two systems have avoided covering the same topic. Borg's games have run a wide gamut, from ancient warfare, fantasy battles, the Civil War and World War II. Worthington's comparable games have been much more limited in scope, being focuses on the small wars of North America between 1758 and 1815 so far.

So the upcoming games represent the first head-to-head direct competition between the two game systems, which may present fans of both with some interesting choices. Should they buy both? Would owning both be redundant?

The Worthington title may be the first one out the gate, as it's been offered for pre-order with the promise of production with the next 3-4 months. C&C:Napoleonics has also just been offered on the GMT pre-order list but there are several games ahead of it in the pipeline, so I don't expect to see it until summer.

Worthington is going with plastic figures, which has generally been a popular choice, although the figures do not appear to be nationality authentic in uniform details, being merely color-coded for side. The first set has blue French, Red Anglo-allied and Grey Prussians.

C&C:N will likely uses wooden blocks with stickers, similar to C&C:A. This will allow the use of authentic uniform illustrations and the wooden blocks have also been well-received in the past.

It's not clear how the other components will stack up. Both companies have produced some very nice stuff lately, so it's hard top give the edge to one or the other at this point.

I plan to get the first one of each line, but I doubt I can afford to maintain a steady stream of purchases for both. My inclination is towards C&C:N, largely because I expect it to be wildly popular and therefore easy to get on the table. But I'm willing to give the Worthington games title a shot, especially because the initial game covers the Waterloo campaign. After that it will be time to choose.


  1. What do you think about choosing between Richard III from Columbia, Crown of Roses from GMT, and Wars of the Roses from Z-Man?

  2. That's another interesting head-to-head match up. I don't know much about any of the games, though so I don
    t have an opinion as of yet.

  3. There is a third horse in this race: FFG is releasing, sometime this month, Battles of Napoleon, the Eagle and the Lion. It features minis too, but different minis for each country, made by Italeri. I am going to buy it, then wait for CC:N and probably get that, too.