Decker Games

Miniature War Games Rules
Buying CS&C   Playing Napoleonics
  Cold Steel & Canister - 2009 GAMA Nominee!

So What is Cold Steel and Canister?

Cold Steel & Canister is a unique set of Napoleonic rules.  It balances ease of play with subtle complexities that reflect the challenges of warfare and stress of command during that period of time.   There are four specific aspects to CS&C that we feel are truly unique; the grid system, brigade morale, action points, and rich set of turn sequence phases.   Let’s look at these and some other aspects of CS&C to give you a feel for if this is the system for you!

Cold Steel & Canister Flyer...

Brigade Level...  This is a Brigade level game.  What that means is the basic maneuver unit is an infantry Battalion, cavalry regiment, or artillery battery.  The basic level of command starts at brigade level.  So in a game of CS&C you will generally never field less than one brigade (2 to 8 battalions) per side.   This does not mean your games could only have a few battalions, although some of our most exciting scenarios are brigade on brigade and playable within an hour or two.  You can field as many brigades, divisions, and Corps in a game as you have players and figures to support!

The system of Play... CS&C is a move - counter move system.  There is a set sequence of play and the side with a initiative going first.  Within the sequence of events all players must commit to initial actions before an initiative is determined.  After initiative, charges, movement (which can include opportunity charges or fire), reaction movement, fire, and melee are executed in that order.   Unit capabilities are governed by action points and whether units are within command radius.  Players use covered order cubes to commit their battalions to an initial action each turn.  This order becomes the first action of the turn for that unit.  The turn sequence enforces development of the battle while the order cubes force players to make commitments within a “fog of war” without slowing down the game with pre-plots or other administrative burdens.  The result is a rapid play while maintaining a rich tactical flavor far beyond traditional, simple move/counter move systems.

Scale (6, 15, 25mm?)... CS&C can be played at any scale.   You will see reference to 4” grids, however if you use 6mm miniatures you could simply scale down to 2” grids.  Similarly, if you like to play with the big iron and use 25s or 54mm miniatures you will want to scale up to 6” grids.  The size of the grid has no impact on game play other than space you need.

Basing...  Can I use my Empire or Napoleons Battles basing with CS&C?  YES!  One of the unique aspects to CS&C is it will work with any basing system we are aware of, as long as you’re consistent.  By consistent we mean it would be difficult for you to use a 60:1 basing while an opponent used a 20:1 basing in the same game.  The charts are currently written for 60:1 and we provide guidelines for adjusting those if you desire to play at other ratios such as 20:1, 100:1 (or any other ratio). 

Just what the heck is this “Grid” thing…  One of the frustrating points for us with previous systems was the angles and measures used in an attempt to enforce the linear realities of Napoleonic warfare.  So we eliminated them.  By using a grid system to enforce facing, movement, and ranges we’ve banished ambiguity, disputes on positions, those tiny corner adjustments player are always fussing around, scooting a line up or back ¼ inch to be just in or out of range, etc..  Within the grid you use all the nuances of period formations; line, column, and square.  To play CS&C you do not need a ruler, tape measure, protractor or any template.  Use of the grid systems frees you from all those encumbrances and results in rapid, easy, and unambiguous play.    Click HERE for more information on setting up your own grid based terrain and games!

Fighting to the last man... There are two type of morale in CS&C.  Unit morale which reflects how disciplined an individual battalion is under the pressure of casualties, closing with the enemy, or in the face of retreating friendly units.  This morale is based on a fairly standard approach considering unit class (green, veteran, etc.) and losses.  Where CS&C is really unique is the second type of morale, the organizational or Brigade Morale.  Not only do individual units begin to crack under the strain of action but so do organizations and their leaders.   At the end of each turn, Brigades with bad order units (from bad unit morale), lost units, and leader casualties roll to maintain cohesion.  When failures occur, the player losses control of the Brigade leader who involuntarily withdraws toward their friendly board edge.   As the leader moves back, so too does his span of control, effectively “pulling” his force back from the fight as the fog of war confuses orders, instigates doubts, and spawns hesitation in subordinates.  The addition of this organizational dimension forces players to understand and leverage the strength of not just individual units but organizations as a whole.  The combination of unit and organizational morale helps provide for historical outcomes based on good tactical play.

Can I play games larger than Brigade size?    Because of the ease of play, experienced players can easily control more than one brigade during a game.  We find it best to start new players with a single brigade and limit experienced players to no more than three (or a division).  The system itself will accommodate the largest battles (we’ve done Quatre-Bra, the two days of Aspern-Essling, and many others both historical and point based campaign) with enough player support.  You will also find CS&C does not require you to dedicate a gamer to the position of judge or game master.   

Close to five years of specific effort has gone into the development of CS&C.   As a system it provides a balance between ease of use and the complexities to reflect the challenges of the era.  If you’re looking for a more playable set of rules that puts the emphasis on playing vs. measuring, on resolving vs. counting, on kicking your buddies butt in an hour vs. taking the whole day, Cold Steel & Canister is for you!