Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Battle Of Hookham

Oh, all right, it's not really Hookham - it's just Hook's Farm with a different name. I decided it would be fun to have a go at the classic HG Wells scenario using my ECW forces. I set up two equal armies consisting of six units of pike & shot, three of horse, one of dragoons and one artillery.


I decided on Hookham rather than Hook's Farm because the eponymous farm became a village for the purposes of this battle.


Firefly Church remained a church, counting as an enclosure. Firefly is a odd name for a church (unless you take you classic TV sci-fi very seriously indeed), so perhaps we'll call this feature Hook Hall.


Anyway, controlling Hook Hall and Hookham were the objectives of this particular battle. Purists will note that the cottage and hovel weren't present. I decided that the granularity of the game didn't allow for them.

Parliament pushed forward, occupying Hook Hall. In the centre the Royalists occupied a small field which gave shooting cover to foot and forced horse moving through it to stop.


Parliament also managed to push quickly forward and grab the village, but came under immediate attack from Royalist foot and horse.


On the other flank a brisk cavalry action took place. I love the phrase 'brisk cavalry action'. Parliament had massed all of their horse on this flank, and it proved a good move. Although the action was constricted by the board edge and a wood, they were able to pull damaged units out of the fight and replace them with fresh, leaving the Royalists under constant pressure.


The Royalist horse was soon driven off, and they were forced to swing some of their second line of foot away from the advance on Hook Hall in order to cover their flank.


However on the other flank they managed to capture the village with an heroic push of pike.


The woods on that flank were occupied by Royalist dragoons, who kept up a steady fire on their Parliamentarian opposite numbers. This action was to last all game with no conclusion.


The Royalists had enemy cavalry in their rear, and responded with their surviving unit of horse, supported by the guns.


In the centre, Parliament's foot had broken against the Royalists along the hill and in the field, although they kept up a fierce counterattack on Hookham.


Meanwhile Hook Hall was now under attack.


Parliament's foot was looking distinctly shaky, with many units on their last hit. But the Royalists were close to their exhaustion point as well, and if their attack didn't succeed quickly they would have to break off.


One last push and they took the hall.


The Royalist guns held off an attack by enemy horse.


The Royalists consolidated their position in the grounds of the Hall.


Another Parliamentarian unit broke, leaving the army exhausted. With both objectives in Royalist hands, and unable to engage in offensive action, they withdrew.


The Portable ECW rules worked pretty well here. I made all units average, because I'm beginning to have reservations about how the Portable Wargame as written covers unit quality, but I'll play with that in another game, and probably witter about it in another post. Let this post stand as testament to a smooth-running, closely fought and entertaining game.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Memoir '44 Maleme

Only Gary and I seemed to be available for gaming last night, so we abandoned the University and held the club meeting at my place. Gary brought us food, we ate, and then we played Memoir '44.

When I asked him what he fancied playing, he said that in the past he'd enjoyed a set of scenarios based on the German invasion of Crete in 1941. Funnily enough I'd found them and printed them off just before I went on holiday in November, so I dug them out and we gave them a go.

Actually we gave one of them a go - the first one covering the attack on Maleme airfield. Basically we decided that setting a new game up each time was too time-consuming. We didn't even swap sides; Gary played the German in all three games, whilst I played the plucky New Zealanders.

This is the basic setup, with loads of German infantry (all with the Special Forces ability), but with the New Zealanders dug in across the board.


When Gary made his first few moves I wondered how long the New Zealanders would last; the move two hexes and still fight that all of his units has is very useful indeed. But you're only as good as the cards you draw, and the ANZACs have a good defensive position. They also have the Commonwealth Command Rule, which allows them to battle back in close combat. This contributed to whittling down the German forces almost as much as my own actions.


The first game saw Gary attack strongly on his left and capture the airfield, but in attempting to score points elsewhere he lost it, and the game. 6-2 to New Zealand. In the second game I picked up some useful activation cards early on, whilst Gary held back trying to get a decent hand together. When he attacked I was able to hold the line and pick up another 6-2 win. I think this was the game that I advanced the 2-strength armour unit right onto the German baseline.

The final game was a lot closer. Gary attacked the forward hill, and took it fairly quickly, whittled down a few units elsewhere, and ended up rolling for the game - he just needed to hit an artillery unit. He failed, and I used my next turn to pick up my last victory medal instead for a narrow 6-5 victory.

We think the New Zealanders do have an edge in this scenario, but it was an interesting one to play, and we'll move onto the rest another day.

After he went I set up the Gazala scenario from the Terrain pack so I could try out the desert board I'd bought ages ago but not used yet. This is a great scenario for tank fans, consisting entirely of tanks and artillery on a basically open board. The Western Desert rules allow them a bonus overrun move as well, so the action if fast, fluid and deadly.


Despite a superiority in numbers, the British are up against it in this game; the Germans have loads of artillery that can pick off damaged units from afar, whilst the British tanks are limited to a two-hex move. In addition they only have four command cards to the Germans' six.


The Germans won an easy 6-1 victory in the first game (only needing five medals, but picking up the sixth out of spite). The second game was closer after the British left held the initial German attack and then decimated it by swinging reinforcements across from the other flank. A fun feature of this scenario is that both sides start with virtually nothing in the centre, so you are almost fighting tow small battles on opposite edges of the board. The Germans won the second game, but it was 5-4.

If you look closely at the first Gazala picture you can see that I fielded a mix of tank models, some of them ahistorical, for sure, but the added to the variety of the game.

Note to self; I need some khaki Commonwealth figures. I either need to pick up the 'proper' set, or get hold of some Airfix or Matchbox 8th army and 3D print some suitable tanks and artillery.

Update: We played the Commonwealth Command Rule from memory. Bad idea. We got it wrong. We allowed any NZ unit that survived a close assault to battle back. In fact it's only a unit reduced to one figure that gets the bonus,

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The Battle of Midsomer Wellow

I set up and played another game in my Midsomer ECW campaign last night. The background, setup and basic campaign rules can be found HERE. The previous battles are here:

Midsomer Barrow - In which the two sides met for the first time, and Causton declared for the winner.
Ford Florey - In which both sides battled for control of some strategic river crossings.
Morton Fendlow - In which a Parliamentarian raiding force was ambushed by Royalists.

This game was the first in a new phase of the campaign, which now sees the Royalists preparing to advance and take Causton for the King. Rather than use my modified Neil Thomas rules, I decided to use it as an excuse to test out my Portable Wargame variant. Few changes were required to the campaign system described above; I had to change the way horse were classified to take into account Trotters and Gallopers, and I had to drop the pike/shot ratios for foot because the Portable Wargame is not granular enough to allow for that kind of distinction. I rolled the following forces:

Royalists
3 x Poor Pike & Shot
1 x Average Dragoons
1 x Average Trotters
1 x Elite Trotters

Parliament
1 x Elite Pike & Shot
2 x Average Pike & Shot
1 x Poor Pike & Shot
1 x Poor Dragoons
1 x Poor Trotters

The scenario, from One Hour Wargames, was Flank Attack (1).

Because of the precise nature of the One Hour Wargames scenario objectives, I didn't use the Exhaustion Point rule for this scenario. In addition I randomly added some areas of woods and enclosures to the otherwise open battlefield.

Now fully supplied, Lord Standing was ready to lead his Royalists in an attack on the town of Causton. Expecting a siege, Sir Thomas Barnaby began to pull back all of his troops in the county towards the town. The main part of his force was marching along the road from Midsomer Wellow when it encountered what appeared to be a small force of Royalists ahead of them. It soon became obvious that it was, in fact, part of the main Royalist force, who descended rapidly on the Parliamentarians. Sir Thomas quickly prepared his troops to smash through the Royalists and and reach the safety of Causton.

Here's the setup - Sir Thomas's troops were marching along a road, whilst ahead of them were two units of Royalist foot. The remaining Royalist units were heading towards the right flank of the Parliamentarian column. Parliament had to exit three units off the road in order to win.


The Royalist flanking force consisted mostly of dragoons and horse.


Sir Thomas went for an aggressive assault on the Royalist blocking force, swinging his horse onto their flank whilst assaulting them from the front with his personal regiment.


He covered the flank and rear of his force with the dragoons and some militia, who quickly found themselves under attack by the Royalist horse.


Amazingly the dragoons held off the attacks, and with the help of the militia soon put pressure on the Royalists.


The Royalists supported their foot on the road with dragoons in the nearby enclosures, but it wasn't enough and one unit broke. Sir Thomas kept up the pressure on the other unit of foot, aiming to force it away from the road to clear his escape route.


It was at this point that he fell, seriously wounded, whilst leading his horse in an attack on the Royalist flank.


Despite this, the Parliamentarians maintained their discipline as they moved along the road, holding off the Royalist attacks as they went.


With the Royalists seemingly unable to apply any serious pressure, Sir Thomas's army escaped.


This was a pretty quick game, and was over in five or six turns. Parliament were able to mount an effective attack on the Royalist blocking force, and clear the exit point, well before the Royalist flanking force could exert any serious pressure on them. Royalist shooting was abysmal; on one turn they failed to inflict a single hit on any of Parliament's units.

The Portable Wargame provided a perfectly adequate alternative to the Neil Thomas rules, and I'll probably try the next game, in which the Royalists have one more chance to move on Causton, using them.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Action at Powick Bridge

It's ridiculously hot outside again today, so I thought that staying in where it's cool was a good plan. And if I'm indoors, what better way to pass the time than a game of something?

I had considered some HOTT - there's something I want to try out with one of my army pairs - but I fancied another go at an ECW Portable Wargame, and since that was already out on y gaming table, that's what I did.

I adapted a scenario for Powick Bridge in 1642, which saw Royalist and Parliamentarian cavalry forces bump into each other at the eponymous bridge near Worcester. Adapting the forces involved to the bases I had available I ended up with:

Royalist Advance Guard
1 x Raw Galloper
1 x Average Galloper

Royalist Main Body
1 x Commander (Prince Rupert, no less)
2 x Average Gallopers
1 x Raw Galloper

Parliament Advance Guard
2 x Raw Trotters
1 x Raw Dragoons

Parliament Main Force
1 x Commander
5 x Raw Trotters

Here's some of the terrain and initial setup. On the right the two units of the Royalist advance were set up in the fields. The Parliamentarian advance guard was crossing the bridge. The main Royalist force was on their baseline to the right, whilst the main Parliamentarian force had to roll to enter from turn 2 onwards needing a 5 or more.


All on table units were surprised. This meant that they couldn't move (except to retreat) or shoot, and if attacked in close combat fought at a -1. At the beginning of their side's activation each unit rolled a D6 - on a 5 or more the unit was no longer surprised and could act normally.

On the first turn only one Parliamentary unit recovered, and that was stuck behind the unit on the bridge. I decided that whilst the Portable Wargame allows interpenetration, a bridge would prevent this, so the unit's commander ranted and railed at the group in front of him still milling around in confusion.


A word about terrain. The river was impassable except at the bridge. The woods were impassable to all but the dragoons. The fields were assumed to be lined with hedges on all sides. These provided cover from for the dragoons, but not cavalry. Any close-combat attack across a hedge was made at -1. A unit crossing a hedge either into or out of a field stopped moving after crossing. This meant that they were a serious inconvenience to sweeping cavalry moves.

Parliament soon got its act together and pushed across the bridge, engaging the still disorganised Royalists in the fields.


Prince Rupert got his act together though, and led a counter-attack.


The Parliamentarians pushed forward with their superior numbers, whilst the Royalists tried to get themselves organised.



An overview of the battle. The Royalists were now mostly in action, and both sides were hotly engaged.


The lead Parliamentarian horse units were suffering badly, so were pulled out of the fight onto one of the flanks.


But an equally tired Royalist horse unit attacked them, destroying one, but then being scattered by its support.


In the centre Prince Rupert's horse fought valiantly, with support from the flank.


The supports drove forward and the Parliamentarian commander went down. I decided that whilst the 6SP allocated to a Commander was part of the Exhaustion Point calculation, loss of a Commander didn't count as points towards exhaustion. Otherwise loss of a commander pretty much ends the battle for one side straight away.


Whilst much of the Parliamentarian horse drove forward against the surviving Royalists, Rupert led a bold attack on the bridge itself, scattering all before him.


By now the Royalists had reached their Exhaustion Point, and began a withdrawal.


One unit fought off an attack by three times its number of Parliamentarian horse, inflicting hits on two of them.


Although exhaustion means that a unit cannot take offensive action, I reasoned that cutting your way back to your own baseline was allowed. And that's what Rupert did.


Driving down the table, he routed more Parliamentarian horse, causing them to go exhausted as well.


Since the Parliamentarian's aim was to move across the bridge and reach a Royalist supply train off-table, the fact that they were exhausted meant that they had really failed in their mission. However they held the field, so I classed it as a minor Royalist win.

The rules held up superbly, so I think I now have some workable cavalry factors in place. I house-ruled a few things which I will work into the main text; a unit fighting to its flank, for example, will not pursue if it wins a close combat. This seems obvious, but isn't explicit.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Portable Wargame - The Battle Of Southam

During the week I continued tinkering with my Portable Wargame ECW variant. Some posts from Bob Cordery really helped, in that they clarified how some of the mechanisms were intended to work, and made me realise that the activations were more flexible than I thought. The key thing I found out was that adjacent units do not have to engage in close combat (which has the possibility of both units risking a hit). A unit adjacent to another may initiate close combat, or it may move (as described in the rules) or simply shoot. Units would only engage in close combat if they either had an advantage on the roll, or if they were a type that follows up after a win and it was advantageous to do so. Or, of course, if they have no other option.

The advantage of specifically initiated close combat is that it makes the issue of who is the attacker and who is the defender obvious for any given combat.

Anyway, my tinkering took Bob's comments into account, and today I decided to set up and refight a historical action, to see how it played out. I chose the 1642 Battle of Southam, as there's a convenient scenario online and the forces are modest.

Here's the battlefield, with the Parliamentarians at the top and the Royalists at the bottom. I compressed the battlefield a little. The river along the bottom is impassable aside from at the bridge. I allowed a unit to retreat across the bridge to a bonus square beyond, and then return to the fight from there. But it never became an issue. The hills covered up the grid, but it's not hard to infer where it is. The fields were just for garnish and had no effect on play.

Parliament had: 1 x Commander, 2 x Average Pike & Shot, 1 x Raw Pike & Shot, 1 x Average Trotter, 1 x Raw Trotter, 1 x Raw Artillery. I gave 1 of the Average Pike & Shot an extra hit because it seemed to be bigger than the other units in the battle.

The Royalists had: 1 x Commander, 1 x Average Pike & Shot, 1 x Raw Dragoons, 2 x Raw Gallopers, 1 x Average Gallopers, 1 x Elite Gallopers, 1 x Raw Artillery.


As a summary, the rules are based on the Ancients set in 'Developing the Portable Wargame'. Pike & Shot are Heavy Infantry with a range of 2 and who give a penalty to cavalry attacking them. Trotters are cavalry who receive no bonus in close combat, but who can shoot at an adjacent unit. Gallopers are close-combat only, but get a +1 when attacking and must pursue. Those are the main changes.

Here's a view from behind the Royalist line.


And across the battlefield. I went for a conventional deployment with foot in the centre and horse on the flanks.


Parliament advanced cautiously at the start, whilst the artillery traded shots with each other.


The Royalists countered with a cavalry charge, which quickly drove back and damaged the outclassed Parliamentarian horse.


The Royalist foot also edged forward so that it could fire.


Pistol fire drove back some Royalist horse.


In the centre, Parliamentarian foot advanced against the dragoons on the Royalist right, but couldn't hit them.


The Royalist horse outflanked the Parliamentarian trotters.


They ran, and the horse fell onto the flank of the Parliamentarian foot.


The Royalist horse had turned the other flank as well.


In the centre the Royalist dragoons saw off the foot attacking them.


The Royalist artillery destroyed its Parliamentarian opposite number.


Both armies had an Exhaustion Point of 9, but rather than count accumulated hits, I only counted lost units. Otherwise Parliament would have ceased fighting on turn 2, having accumulated lots of hits all along the line. The loss of their artillery, however, saw them reach their Exhaustion Point.


The main unit of Parliamentarian foot was surrounded and, after a tough fight, destroyed. This took their commander off the field as well.


This left Parliament fighting a desperate battle for survival with a unit of trotters and one of foot, both of which had taken a few hits.


Eventually only the trotters were left, so I ended the battle.


The Royalists seemed to have picked up an easy win, with their cavalry superiority offsetting Parliament's superiority in foot. I set it up again, but this time added the walls that are present on the scenario map. These are impassable to horse (I decided), so closed the battlefield down to a width of six squares. Whilst a flanking move was possible along them, I thought that limiting the battlefield like this would reduce the scope for sweeping moves by the Royalists.


Parliament went for a more aggressive attack, launching the trotters straight at the Royalist horse instead of holding back to shoot. The aim was to lock the Royalist horse in place so that Parliament's foot could come up quickly and get stuck in.


It didn't really work. Once again the Royalist horse quickly overwhelmed their opposite numbers.



They then turned on the flanks of the advancing Parliamentarian foot.


Parliament put up a good fight, but they were in trouble very quickly.


Once again the dragoons held in the centre.


Parliament's foot found itself attacked from all sides by marauding Royalist horse. They quickly reached their Exhaustion point.

This was their finest moment, though. Assailed from all sides, this unit of foot won two consecutive combats fighting to its flank/rear, in both cases destroying Royalist horse that was on its last hit. This actually pushed the Royalists to their Exhaustion Point.


In both games it was obvious Parliament was outclassed. The Royalist horse is good, but I don't think that their close combat +1 was excessive; they only get it if they initiate the combat, unlike pike & shot who get it in all cases. Their greater strength lay in the ability to make flank attacks. The trotters seemed weak by comparison. I may give them a +1 in defence, as well as their shooting capability. In terms of the scenario, looking at the numbers Parliament should have four times the numbers of the Royalists, so maybe instead of giving one of their bases an extra hit, I might give them an extra unit instead. This should pad out their line a little, making them harder to outflank, as well as increasing their Exhaustion Point. But that's for another day.

Update: I tried the scenario again with Trotters getting a close-combat +1 in defence and with Parliament having an extra Pike & Shot unit, and it was a much closer game. Parliament reached its Exhaustion point first again, it's true, but the Royalist horse was shattered with one unit lost and a couple on their last hit. It was a much more satisfying game.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
countercounter