Friday, 24 June 2016

A Slow Death by Fractions - NCiM

"Whiat is NCiM?" I hear you ask.

It's Napoleons Campaigns in Miniature - The wargaming rules written by Mr. Bruce Quarrie back in the 1970's. First released as Airfix Magazine Guide #4 in 1974.

From the blurb...
Now you can lead a French cavalry charge at Waterloo, defend the 
Grand Redoubt at Borodino or skirmish with British riflemen in Spain!
This fascinating book, which will be invaluable to beginners and
experienced wargamers alike...

These rules were then edited and re-released as Napoleons Campaigns in Miniature in 1977 and despite the reputation they have been, possibly, the most influential set of Napoleonic wargaming rules ever published. I can still see elements and concepts that originated in NCiM in every new set of rules that depict this era. 

Many wargamers from that era will probably remember these rules with a mix of affection and horror. They are quite simple in their concepts but extremely complex and difficult in their execution. In fact, they are so simple in some of their aspects that Mr Quarrie doesn't even tell you what some of the rules mean or how to execute them. It seems that he just assumed that you'd know what he was talking about and get on with it! 

Then there are the FRACTIONS!

Yes, everything you do in NCiM is affected by fractions and if you're like me your head will end up exploding when you have to figure out that having moved 2/5 of your move you will now have to deduct 1/4 of the total move in order to react to you enemy's moves leaving you... (I don't know)... how much time to shoot...?

Oh yes, and how many times can these particular troops shoot per turn, again? 
Well, when the dust has settled, your shooting will be multiplied by the appropriate fraction of a move left after it has been determined on the appropriate chart full of dozens of fractions in lines and columns.

Unsurprisingly, it's harder than it sounds. Especially for the mathematically challenged like me.

Having said all that, the rules do produce a very realistic result. But it's just a matter of working it all out and becoming familiar with the rules all over again. After all, my fellow Retro-Napoleonicist's and I use to play these rules back in our teenage years and we all seem to recall that they worked quite well. So, there must be some merit to NCiM after all this time.

Playing a test game last night we discussed that when we were youngsters these were the only rules we played and since that time our brains might have become dulled by simpler rules that stylize events during the game rather that using the more realistic concepts of yesteryear. (How's that for pompous?)

Anyway, we've had a couple of test games with the aim of getting reacquainted with the very British quirkiness of NCiM so that we can them pull them apart and put them back together again in a format that produces the same results but in a more user friendly format. 

But, I have to say that after a couple of years of not playing Napoleonic's and previous years of playing games with tiny little battalions of 9 to 12 figures, it is nice to deploy large bodies of well painted troops and gun batteries that look dangerous and really mean business.

Here's some poor quality photos of our test games so far:


  1. Great to see some folks still in the Bruce Quarrie mode! Keep up the good work!

  2. I will be watching this project closely. Quarrie's NCiM is a classic and I have read my copy many, many times. Never played, though.

    1. Jonathan,
      These rules were The Rules back when I started in the late 70's. We all used them and they worked great. Over the years things have changes and NCiM seem dated (because they are). But my colleagues and I believe that with a bit of love and attention (and modernisation) they can work just as well and they once did.