Decker Games

Miniature War Games Rules
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  Cold Steel & Canister - 2009 GAMA Nominee!

Cold Steel & Canister's Grid System

Cold Steel and Canister uses a grid system based on 4” grids.  The size of grids is based on the scale of miniatures in use, gamers who field 6 or 10mm units can resize to 2” grids taking advantage of the small foot print of these scales to represent larger battles on smaller tables.  Likewise, those gamers who desire the detail and pageantry of 25 or 28mm miniatures should size up to 6” grids to provide the play space needed for the larger figures.

Why a “Grid System”?

At the core of Cold Steel and Canister is the “Grid System”.  By using a system of grids Cold Steel and Canister provides a means to both speed up play and increase historical accuracy.

What most often slows down historical miniature simulations is attempting to recreate the historical constraints of moving 1000 men formed in battalion units, clearly show their facing reflected by the formations of the day, and accurately represent their ability to engage the enemy.  By delineating the terrain with grids players can quickly move, deploy, and engage their forces without the ambiguity that plagues most “free form” rules set.  You no longer are nudging and shifting units hoping to get just inside (or outside) that 15 degree artillery arch.   You clearly know exactly where your units stand and the effect they will have.

Most gamers play many periods and even if you don’t you are burdened with the knowledge of +200 years of insight and tactical evolution when we recreate the Napoleonic battles.  As a result, most of us have viewed the battlefield with the idea to run that battalion around the village, turn 90 degrees, attack and fire, more akin to a modern fire team than 1000 conscripts who can hardly stay in a line and shoot without hitting each other.  Our grid system enforces the linear concepts of warfare during the Napoleonic period.   Coupled with a unique system of “action points” units are provided realistic capabilities.  You will find you need to think 30-60 minutes ahead (1-3 CS&C turns), just as the Brigade Commanders of the day, to be in the right place at the right time.    Your Division or Corps success will be heavily dependant on a good plan, well executed, and supported by timely commitment of the Reserve force.  Just as reflected by the memoirs of the leaders from that time and battle analysis of the engagements you are recreating!

In addition to speeding play and increasing historical accuracy by enforcing the limitations of the day use of the grid systems facilitates using any common basing system.  While we have outlined a “typical” 60:1 basing in the rules there is no reason you can not use just about any standard, as long as it’s consistent and you can clearly show line, column, and march formations.  We would also suggest using movement trays for your battalions.  These tend to keep “casualties” among your highly prized and painted figures to minimum.  Especially around that one gamer friend we all have who’s all thumbs.

How do I put “Grids” on my Game Table!!??  (more grid examples)

Good question.  There are a number of techniques we have used over the years of development on CS&C to create our battlefields.

I Felt a Grid.  We have partnered with Eric Hotz, maker of fine quality gaming mattes at  (Yes!  The same Eric who inspires us with Larry Leadhead!) to offer a felt game mat with screened on 4” grids.  Most gamers already use just such a mat to help set the stage for their terrain.  In this case the mat includes grid lines (on one side) to aid in your play of CS&C.   If you were not already using a matt for your games you will likely be pleased with the visual ascetic value it lends to your terrain.  Felt tends to wrap naturally around styrene and other objects placed under it to reflect hills.

Chalk it Up.  If you already have a plain felt matt you can add temporary grid lines with a chalk line.  Obtainable at your local building supply or hardware store get one long enough to stretch across your mat and “snap” lines in place to create a grid.  Note, you may want to check the chalk you use for “permanent” color fastness to your specific mat.

Magic Carpet.   You can get a carpet remnant the size of your typical game table, flip it over, and outline the grid on the back side.  The back side of a lightweight brown carpet tends to make an excellent playing surface.  With the addition of Woodland Scenics for roads, brush, and what not, like the felt matt it can also be very visually appealing.  Carpets do tend to be stiffer than felt so building up terrain, especially severe angles can be difficult (so you’ll have to paint and put those styrene hills on top vs. under).  However that stiffness can also be a benefit as it tends to cover up table leveling problems and gaps between tables.

The Crème de’la Crème - Terrain Boards.  If, like Jack, you often find you have too much time on your hands or the best just is not good enough, terrain boards are for you!  Generally built on plywood these can be very eye catching and real works of art.  Jack has designed his so the terrain itself outlines the grids versus using a visual line or corner marker like on our carpet.  We’ll add an on line tutorial for making these works of art as soon as I can drag him away from the gaming table...