Showing posts with label ecw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ecw. Show all posts

Friday, 3 August 2018

King And Parliament

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm a fan of gridded games, especially The Portable Wargame, and I've devoted time recently to adapting it for the English Civil War. So I was keen to play King and Parliament when it was on offer as a game yesterday. King and Parliament is the ECW adaptation of the ancients rules To The Strongest; grid-based and with relatively simple mechanisms, designed to give a quick, smooth game.

Gary set up the Montgomery 1644 scenario from the book for us and adjudicated whilst Caesar took the Parliamentarian forces and I took the Royalists.

The grid is very subtle, but easy to use. You can just see an intersection to the front-right of this unit of dashing Royalist horse.

Activation of units in King and Parliament is by playing cards. You play a card to do something with a unit; generally you need anything better than a one (Ace) at the start, but there are some modifiers. You can keep activating a unit within a turn, but each attempt needs a result higher than the score for the previous activation. Thus if you make your first activation with a 9, you're unlikely to get a second action. If a unit in a brigade fails an activation, then all activations for the brigade cease, so you have to pick the order you do things carefully.

Anyway, we started off by both getting stuck in with our cavalry. Combat also uses playing cards; the better position you are in the more cards you draw, and you need cards above a certain value to hit. The target unit then gets to save the hits, also by drawing cards.

The card draws are fast and furious.

Units generally take two or three hits. They can evaporate quickly.

Caesar got lucky early on and had foraging cavalry return on my right flank. Flank attacks are nasty - you get double the number of cards, and the enemy unit doesn't fight back.

Cavalry also pursue and have to be rallied. Our cavalry action saw about two-thirds of our horse eliminated, whilst the survivors chased around pursuing stragglers. That seemed to be a cue for the foot to get stuck in.

The game uses tokens to track ammunition (for foot and horse) and dash (which allows horse to do proper charges). These were less fiddly to use than they initially looked. For foot the ammunition is a neat mechanism; units are generally better off shooting the enemy whilst they have the ammunition to do it, hoping to disorder them. A unit with no ammunition can still shoot, but it's less effective than simply charging. So basically foot the foot engage in a firefight for a couple of turns, then switch to cold-steel and clubbed muskets.

My foot neither shot nor charged, since I failed to activate any of the units three turns in a row.

Caesar did a little better, and took out one of my foot units with a salvee charge - combined fire and attack. Very nasty. This allowed him to turn my left whilst his cavalry, returned from pursuit, turned my right.

So that was it for the Royalists. Their horse did OK, and the supporting troops put on a good show, but the main foot brigade suffered from inertia and paid the price.

We loved this game. The mechanisms were very simple to pick up and, whilst I can see from a cursory glance at the rules, we missed a few modifiers here and there, we were basically playing the game smoothly and confidently after a turn or two. The chrome isn't overwhelming, but there's enough period flavour to satisfy our group who are, it has to be said, ECW newbies for the most part. I initially had a concern that it was designed for very big battles, and I can see that it would cope with them admirably. But it looks like it will scale down quite happily to cover most popular actions.

This is a game we'll be trying again.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Newark In A Bathtub

Enthused by my refights of Whalley last week I decided to play another Portable Wargame this afternoon. After a few minutes with Google I came across this scenario for the 1644 Relief of Newark, and set about adapting it. Since I only have an 8x8 grid I decided to ruthlessly bathtub it, running each brigade as a single unit.

Here's the Parliamentarian besiegers: two bases of Trained Gallopers flanking two units of Pike & Shot, one Poor (in the cover of the Spittal) and one Trained (in the open, although the scenario did have parts of it in earthworks). In the distance you can see the siege artillery.

The Royalists started with two units on table, both Galloper units, one Elite (and led by Prince Rupert) and the other Trained.

The siege artillery face the Newark garrison, a unit of Poor Pike and Shot. They could sally forth on or after the turn on which the Royalist reinforcements arrived. I made their defences impregnable for game purposes.

The Royalists could also had two units of Pike and Shot at the start, who arrived on the first turn, one Elite and the other Poor.

The battle stated with horse engaging on the Royalist right, Loughborough's Royalists against Lassiter's Parliamentarians. They would shove each other back and forth for most of the rest of the battle.

The Royalist foot advanced in the centre, and whilst the Norfolk Brigade stayed in the cover of The Spittal, King's brigade moved forward to engage them.

Undocumented by the woodcut artist, Rupert's horse had driven forward against Thornhaugh's brigade of horse, and pushed them back almost to the walls of Newark.

Parliament rushed reinforcements to the battle, crossing the Trent via a bridge that was made of boats in the actual battle, but which wasn't in this refight.

Both sides had two units of reinforcements. parliament had some Trained Trotters and Poor Pike and Shot, whist the Royalists had some Poor Gallopers and Poor Pike and Shot. At the start of each turn I rolled two D6 for each side and took the highest score. If it was equal to or less than the current turn, then that side's reinforcements would arrive.

The Royalists, now outnumbered but on the offensive, regrouped.

An overview of the battle. In the distance Rupert was still making heavy weather of the Parliamentarian horse.

Rupert fell back and led his troops in an attack on the Parliamentarian siege battery, destroying some of the guns.

He was drive off by the reinforcing horse, however, and quickly found himself outnumbered and surrounded when the other brigade of Parliamentarian horse joined in.

The newly arrived Parliamentarian foot also swung things in their side's favour, turning the Royalist left, undefended whilst Rupert was off elsewhere.

Rupert's horse were scattered, but the sight of Royalist reinforcements arriving emboldened the Newark garrison, who sallied forth and engaged Thornhaugh's brigade.

The arrival of the Royalist reinforcements allowed them to stabilise their position and push forward against the Parliamentarian centre.

The Newark garrison found itself beset by more horse, and seemed unequal to the task of inflicting any actual damage on either of its opponents.

The reinforcing Royalist horse, Porter's Brigade, came to the rescue but Parliament held. Another charge scattered the Newark garrison, the survivors fleeing back into the town.

Parliaments horse gained the upper hand on the other flank as well, routing Loughborough's horse. This halted the Royalist attack

I final Royalist volley saw off Parnham's brigade, but the Royalists had failed to raise the siege and, with the garrison badly mauled, it would not be long before parliament took Newark.

This was a more interesting game than I initially thought it would be, although on the open battlefield the rather free and easy flanking rules that the Portable Wargame has, combined with the low unit density, made flank attacks easier than perhaps they should be. Once again I used the quality system where poor units took one fewer hit and elite one more, whilst all units could convert a hit to a retreat if they rolled a 4+ and had an escape. The game really swung on the arrival of reinforcements; Parliaments' turned up two turns before those of the Royalists, allowing them to halt the Royalist attack before it had properly developed. By the time the Royalist reinforcements turned up, parliament's position was relatively stable, ad their low losses (a unit of horse and one of foot) reflected this.

Once again, though, the Portable Wargame delivered a fun game with minimal effort.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Whalley Again

This evening I played through a refight of the Battle of Whalley using the Portable Wargame. I used the same troop classifications as the previous game,  but with a few changes to the setup and the rules.

Firstly I shifted the map up one row so that the Parliamentarian right flank wasn't so exposed. Secondly I started the two Royalist units facing the wall with a hit each. Finally I made two changes to the actual rules. The first one was that I used the Average line on the hit results for all troop; 1-3 the unit takes the hit, 4-6 they can retreat or take the hit. I'll discuss this below. Secondly I reflected quality by varying the number of hits a unit could take; Poor units took one less and Elite one more. This was factored into the Exhaustion Levels as well. Finally I added a small change to the initiative roll; if the score is a double, then the side which eventually gains initiative was allowed to recover one hit on a unit of their choice. I rather liked the idea of a double having an effect. Again I'll discuss this below.

So this was the setup. The fields were just for show; the key terrain consists of the villages, hills river, bridge, ford and wall.

The Royalists got a rally on the first turn, removing the initial hit from their rather poor dragoons. After a brief exchange of fire at the wall, the Royalist troops fell back across the stream to await reinforcements.

On the other flank the horse of both sides met at the stream.

The Royalists pushed forward boldly, since their troops had the edge in terms of quality.

They were forced back, though. Both sides lost a unit, but the Parliamentarian horse was better supported. Parliament pushed forward against the retreating Royalist foot and horse.

The Royalists best foot unit was badly mauled in the attack, and sought shelter in a village on their side of the stream. But the rest of the Royalist army stabilised their position, and with the pressure mounting, the parliamentarians fell back to the safety of the walls. The Royalists followed up.

The clubmen attacked an elite parliamentarian foot regiment in the flank. This was a bold move that rapidly came unstuck, as the regiment simply turned and shot the hapless peasants down. next time theyll learn to attack with support.

Despite their lack of quality, the Parliamentarian horse drove forward with panache, and eventually routed the other unit of Royalist horse. This pushed the Royalists over the Exhaustion Point, stopping their attack.

The Royalists started to fall back to their side of the stream, but Parliament pressed them hard.

The Royalist dragoons were routed at the ford (far distance in this picture) and at that point I decided that the day belonged to Parliament.

This was a fun game, with a real to and fro to the action; the Royalists were pushed back at first, rallied and went on the offensive, but were then driven back again. Their best foot unit was savagely mauled early on, and they never got a chance to recover it, whilst their horse were totally outfought.

But let's discuss the changes to the rules. Firstly the change to the way units take hits. The current method does work. Poor units are more likely to take hits whilst better units have the option to avoid them by falling back. But  I found that this method didn't really feel right when one side was defending a position. In this case a retreat really isn't an option, so the effect of quality is almost irrelevant. One option was to add results which forced a retreat, making it more likely for Poor units to receive it. But I couldn't quite work out how to build it into the table in a way that made sense. But the rules themselves include an option for changing the number of hits a unit could take. Combined with the retreat rules this makes Elite units rather too good; an extra hit and less chance of taking hits in the first place. But with all units getting stand and take a hit or retreat equally, then the extra hit a unit was allowed makes a difference. It didn't seem to adversely affect this game, and I'll try it again in some more I think.

The second change simply makes use of doubles for the initiative roll. I should say that I don't like wasted rolls, where you simply roll again until you get a result.. One option was to automatically give the initiative to whichever side didn't have it in the previous round. But I opted for the rallying off of a single hit instead, as it seems more dramatic. One downside is that it doesn't connect too well with the Exhaustion Point rules, as a side opposing one which has reached its Exhaustion Point, and which can't take offensive action, could simply pull back and recover all hits before going in again. Maybe playing games to a turn limit would mitigate this. I think I'll try that in future games. A final thought on the rallying is to go back to the original system where a side reaches its Exhaustion Point based simply on hits taken, rather than units lost. With rallying this allows a side to possibly recover from exhaustion, but there's still the danger that a good run of combats along a line of battle could break a side very early on in a game. This was, in fact, the reason I shifted to basing things on lost units.

Anyway, plenty of ideas to explore, which means more games I guess.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Battle of Whalley

With one thing and another it's been a while since I set up a miniatures game at home, so I thought I'd make an effort this weekend. I felt the urge to have a go at a Portable Wargame, so I got out my paper ECW armies again, and played through a scenario based on this scenario for the 1643 Battle of Whalley.

I used an 8x8 grid, with forces as follows:


1 x Commander (Colonel Shuttleworth)
1 x Elite Pike & Shot (Shuttleworth's Foot)
1 x Average Pike & Shot (Brereton's Foot)
1 x Average Dragoons
2 x Poor Gallopers


1 x Commander (Earl of Derby)
1 x Average Pike & Shot (Molyneux's Foot)
1 x Elite Pike & Shot (Tyldesley's Foot)
1 x Raw Pike & Shot (Fylde's Clubmen) - This unit cannot fire and starts with a Strength of 3
1 x Average Trotters (Derby's Horse)
1 x Average Gallopers (Houghton's Horse)

This is an encounter and the scenario starts with both sides partially inactive and the Royalists especially at a disadvantage, surprised by the sudden appearance of Parliamentarian foot from behind  a stone wall to their front. I started with this setup; Royalist foot and dragoons facing Parliametarian foot behind a wall, whilst the bulk of the Royalists were back towards their baseline.

I gave the two Parliamentarian units behind the wall a free shot, and then started the first turn. However on the first turn, only the four units nearest the wall could activate. On Turn 2 all Parliamentarian units could activate as normal. Royalist units had to dice, and were available on a 1-3. On Turn 3 all units on both sides move and activate normally.

The initial Parliamentarian surprise didn't seem to impress the Royalists much; the Royalists simply fell back so that they could regroup with the rest of their force.

The Parliamentarian horse moved forward.

They crossed the stream, and were engaged by their Royalist counterparts.

Meanwhile the Royalist foot formed up on their side of the stream, ready to take the fight to the Parliamentarians ensconced behind the wall.

The advanced, with the dragoons and clubmen swinging around the flank.

Meanwhile more Royalist foot had driven Parliament's dragoons back away from the farm covering their army's left flank.

The Royalist dragoons finished them off.

The cavalry action was also going the Royalists' way; one unit of Parliamentarian horse routed ...

... and then the other.

This now left the Parliamentarian foot holding off the Royalists. They held out for a while, but there was little they could do.

A Royalist push saw one of the units break, ending the battle.

The Royalists had a few units that had taken hits, but didn't lose any.

Once again I ran the Exhaustion Point based on units lost, not just hits inflicted, and whilst I counted a Commander as 6SP for calculating Exhaustion, loss of a Commander didn't count towards the break-point.

If I ran the battle again I think I would simply start both of the units in front of the wall with a strength point lost, and then proceed with Turn 1 from there. Also Parliament's right flank was probably too open, making it very easy for the Royalists to turn it, so a slight shift in the map might work. However the rules gave a perfectly fine game, and that's what's important. It felt good to be pushing lead around on a Saturday afternoon, even if the lead is paper.
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