Commands and Colors: Medieval vs Ancients Comparison - Part 1 - Major Changes


The Game

Commands & Colors Medieval (CCM) is already on the market for couple of months. It is natural continuation of its older brother – Commands & Colors Ancients (CCA) – the most successful and accurate game of C&C system. Would it live up to the expectations? How would it differ from CCA to justify this being a new series of games?


When CCM was announced, it was clear that a lot of mechanics will be similar to its predecessor – however, as Medieval period was definitely different then Antiquity, some updates were of course essential. In this series of articles, I would like to describe and analyze the differences between both titles, also hinting on their impact on the game play. In the first part we will focus on major changes to the system.

Cavalry superiority over Infantry

I think that everybody automatically correlates the medieval period with Knights – soldiers clad in mail, riding on huge horses, wielding a lance in their hand and charging the enemy. Of course, this is very true, especially when talking about the latter part of that period. However, the unavoidable truth is that superiority of Cavalry over Infantry is a major differentiation between both eras in a human history and it starts already from the beginning of medieval period.


So how the CCM game depicts this? As you will see, this is not a one change/ rule enhancement but a series of small tweaks which sum contributes to a significant effect.

  • First and foremost, the cavalry is now much more durable. It has now four blocks instead of three in Ancients, so a 33% increase in number of troops.
Roman Ancient cavalry to the left, Medieval to the Right
  • Next significant change is implementation of a superior stature which results in any cavalry unit ignoring one sword rolled against it, when attacked in Close Combat by any foot unit. So even Light Bow Cavalry when attacked by Heavy Infantry can ignore 1 hit.
  • Then, we have also superior armor class, meaning that all units hitting on swords in Close Combat against a unit with superior armor will not score a hit on the first sword hit rolled. So heavy will ignore one sword from medium or green, medium will ignore one sword from green, etc. However, and here again superiority of cavalry, Super Heavy Cavalry (red square with white border) will always ignore the first sword hit, being the highest class even in s comparison to normal heavy foot / cavalry units.
A true medieval tanks – Cataphracts
  • On top, there is an implementation of important limitation of dices rolled by infantry. Full analysis in the below table:
  No of dice – CCA No of dice – CCM Comments
Warrior 4d 4d Ignore 1 flag
Heavy Infantry 5d 4d Minus 1d
Medium Infantry 4d 3d Minus 1d
Auxilia 3d 2d Minus 1d
Light Bow 2d 2d No changes

So let us now put all this theory into practice and analyze below examples – comparing same attacks in CC Ancient and CC medieval.

Example 1

In this case Heavy Infantry with a leader – so a formidable force – is being attacked by Cataphracts unit using Mounted Charge:

Medieval charge to the left, Ancients Charge to the right

So let us see what we can expect:

  Medieval Ancients
Cataphracts Mounted Charge (CAV) dice 6 5
Heavy Infantry (HI) dice 4 5
Expected number of hits inflicted by CAV 3 2.5
Expected number of hits inflicted by HI 1.45 1.82
Probability of cavalry being killed by infantry in one roll ~1% ~25%
Probability of HI inflicting at least 1 hit ~83% ~97%

The above table clearly shows two facts: first, the cavalry had some better chance of inflicting damage in Medieval – but only Capahracts, as other types do not get special bonus in Charge (+2 dice), only +1 dice).  Second and very significant game changer is the durability of Cavalry. The difference so huge that infantry stands minimal chances of inflicting serious damage on charging mounted warriors.

Example 2

We have even worse situation, now it is poor Auxilia’s defense against Mounted Charge:

Medieval charge to the left, Ancients Charge to the right

And analysis (I hope I got all those numbers right!):

  Medieval Ancients
Cataphracts Mounted Charge (CAV) dice 6 5
Auxilia (AUX) dice 2 3
Expected number of hits inflicted by CAV 3 2.5
Expected number of hits inflicted by AUX 0.65 0.98
Probability of cavalry being killed by infantry in one roll 0% ~5%
Probability of AUX inflicting at least 1 hit ~55% ~73%

As we can see, the probabilities and expected values of blocks killed are significantly different. This is of course not surprising and fully intentional. Who would dream – in CC Ancients – about charging headlong into a supported Auxilia and surviving – and now it is not such a bad idea!

Inspired Actions

This is a complete novelty and great innovation to the whole Commands and Colors system. We had already games with one deck (CC Ancients) as well as with two decks (CC Napoleonic, The Great War), we also had some token usage (Samurai Battles). But for the first time we have special Inspired Action Tokens, allowing player – when playing Leadership Cards – to use one of many Inspired Actions:


  • Mounted Charge
  • Foot Onslaught
  • Rally (Byzantine) or Redeploy (Sassanids)
  • Fire and Close
  • Darken the Sky
  • Move Fire Move

Among the above actions there are some, which simply duplicate appropriate cards (Mounted Charge, Foot Onslought) but also strengthened versions of some of the cards (Darken the Sky giving +1 dice to roll).

What is very important, those actions vary to some extent from army to army – that gives the author very nice possibility of shaping new armies, which inevitably will be present in Expansions. I hope to see Vandals, Vikings, Saxons, French, etc. with their special national identity formed not only by army composition or units, but also by the specific Inspired Actions.

Battlefield Actions

Tokens can be used by those huge and monumental Inspired Actions maneuvers. Additionally, they can be utilized in much easier way, but on smaller scale,  by the three battlefield actions:

  • Move a Leader (played at the end of a player’s turn before drawing another Command card)
  • Battle Bonus (unit may battle with one additional dice when attacking in a Close Combat or when battling back). A player must announce that this Battlefield Action is being used when determining the number of dice that will be rolled.
  • Bravery (unit may ignore one flag rolled against it during a combat). After a unit is attacked and one or more flags are rolled on a unit, a player may announce that this Battlefield Action is being used.

To be quite honest, I have observed the above three used more frequently than Inspired Actions. They are easier to play, with more direct impact and often, can save your skin:


We need to remember that only one token can be spent during player’s turn and only one available inspired action token may be spent during the opponent’s turn. Thus, appropriate timing of them being played can be crucial.

Pace of the game

The changes I described above are obvious immediately when you read the rulebook. The one which I would like to describe now is much more subtle but nevertheless, quite important.


Almost all the scenarios – with exception of the first three, taking part still in Roman / Ancient time – are featuring very large amount of cavalry. With so many cards and Inspired Actions allowing even the heavy mounted units to move 3 hexes, it quickly gets to the Close Combat and full engagement of both sides.

What is more, there is many more possibilities to attack with additional dices – Ambush, Mounted Charge with +2 for Super Heavy Cavalry, Inspired Actions adding +1 dice to Darken the Sky, Battle Bonus Action, etc. All this contributes to the situation where both sides close on each other much quicker, the battles are much bloodier and the final result of the engagement – decided faster.


As we can see looking only into Major Changes, the Commands Colors Medieval has a lot of flavors and subtleties which makes it significantly different game than Ancients. It is a pretty open system, which will eventually allow for addition of other armies. It has special game mechanics – for example Inspired Actions – which allow for much more powerful and deadly attacks. In the end, that makes the game also faster. If this is bad or good, is not for me to decide but definitely, Commands Colors Medieval is a fast-paced, exciting and brutal encounter in almost every scenario!

Thank you Michal for sharing these great articles!

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