Showing posts with label pike and shot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pike and shot. Show all posts

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Neil Thomas Pike and Shot

Ever since I bought Neil Thomas's 'Wargaming: An Introduction', I've been keen to try out the Pike and Shot rules and see how they compare to my own dubious attempts to put together English Civil War games. I've read mixed reviews of these rules on the 'net, but wanted to see how they played out. So this evening I sorted out two basic armies and gave them a go.

The Royalists had:

2 x Average Foot (3 Pike with light armour, 3 Shot with light armour)
1 x Elite Foot (3 Pike with medium armour, 3 Shot with light armour)
2 x Average Chevaliers (4 bases with light armour)
2 x Elite Chevaliers (4 bases with medium armour)
1 x Artillery

Their Parliamentarian opponents had:

3 x Average Foot (2 Pike with medium armour, 4 Shot with light armour)
1 x Elite Foot (2 x Pike with medium armour, 4 Shot with light armour)
3 x Levy Reiters (4 bases with medium armour)
1 x Artillery

I selected a few terrain pieces - two hills and some fields, then randomly placed them on a board, then randomly diced for sides and first move. This would be a straight encounter battle.

As you know, my ECW forces are paper figures with units on single bases, whereas the rules assume units made up of four or six bases. To track hits (actual bases lost) I drew up a roster for each side, but used small stones to mark the casualties scored.

Here are the forces of Parliament arrayed for battle.

And the Royalists.

I allowed the artillery to move at Pike speed. Deploying it used a whole movement, and once deployed it couldn't be moved again.

Parliament was strong in firepower, whereas the Royalists were better in melee, an edge offset a little by Parliament's better armour. But a bold push forward seemed to be the Royalist's best plan.

Royalist horse crested a hill, and came under pistol fire.

They charged.

I rather liked the initial stages of cavalry combat, with the Reiters being able to shoot properly and the Chevaliers being limited to using their pistols at the moment of contact. It forced an aggressive tactical doctrine on the Royalists.

The cavalry action expanded as more units joined in.

The infantry advanced. With cavalry in action near their flanks the Parliamentarians held their ground, but the Royalists were keen to close.

A unit of Parliamentarian horse broke, and the Royalists pursued.

The artillery was now in action as well.

The Royalist cavalry now turned onto the flank of the Parliamentarian infantry.

However the Royalists weren't having it all their own way; one unit of Parliamentarian cavalry was holding its own against and elite opponent.

The infantry melee in the centre became general. The Royalists had taken some shots as they advanced, but were still in good shape. Now pikes and armour would decide the day.

But with Royalist horse on their flank, the Parliamentarian foot needed to win quickly.

The Royalist artillery was lost to its Parliamentarian opposite number.

The push of pike in the centre was a long, hard slog for both sides, but with the flank advantage it was rapidly turning the Royalists' way.

And, indeed, they rolled up the last of the Parliamentarian foot on the same turn as their horse overran the artillery. The Royalists scored a fairly decisive victory, losing just their artillery and a unit of horse.

I rather enjoyed these rules, despite the oddities of how the mixed pike and shot units took casualties.

Of course they had the usual Neil Thomas issues. Basics such as how units turn, or how a flank attack is defined are left to experience or imagination. And they are delightfully random as well, but I rather like that in a game, especially when I'm playing solo. But if I persist with playing them then I will deal with the issues as I go along. For playing ECW games there's something to be said for writing out the rules to exclude weapons and troops not really in use, although I found that after a few turns I could remember most of the rules and factors anyway.

As I have stated before, this is not an era about which I have any kind of expertise, but I felt that I'd had a fun game, and that there was some good in these rules.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

One Hour Wargames - Scenario 17 - Encounter

With a new combat system to try out for my ECW variant of the One Hour Wargames rules, I moved straight on to the next scenario in the 'One Hour Wargames' book. This was is simple, but fun, albeit somewhat random. the field is empty except for a hill in the centre, which is the objective for both sides. Both armies start with one of their six units deployed. The other units appear randomly throughout the course of the battle as they march to the sound of the guns, or fighting, or whatever. Thus you never quite know what troops you will have available, or when.

Since the main changes to combat were with cavalry I rejigged my army lists generation rolls; I gave both sides four units of horse, with the Royalist horse being impetuous. I then randomly determined what the other two units would be, but in fact both sides ended up with units of pike and shot.

The Battle of Griffins Hill

As 1643 drew to a close there were a number of small skirmishes in the county of Midsomer. One of these saw the antagonists both trying to seize some key high ground near Causton. Parliamentarian horse advanced from the north,  Royalist foot from the south.

More troops arrived. The Parliamentarian horse swung to the east of the hill, as their foot arrived and moved to take it from the Royalists.

A cavalry fight ensued to the east of the hill.

And fierce footing took place on the hill itself.

The Parliamentarian horse routed, pursued by their Royalist opposite numbers.

To the west of the hill more Parliamentarian horse arrived.

On the hill itself the fight had developed into a furious melee, which saw the Parliamentarian infantry rout.

Another troop of Parliamentarian horse arrived. Things were not looking good for the isolated Royalist foot.

They formed a hedgehog to resist the cavalry assault, and held off attack after attack, despite being battered after the earlier fighting. Their hilltop position and their pikes saved them again and again.

More horse arrived on both sides ...

... and one troop of Parliamentarian horse found itself engaged to the front and flank.

Another shot of the furious melee around the hill.

The melee ended with the Parliamentarian horse breaking ...

... followed by the Royalist infantry. The surviving horse of both sides became engaged.

To the west of the hill Royalist horse engaged the remaining Parliamentarian infantry unit, preventing it from moving to the hill.

The Parliamentarian horse on the hill broke and were, once again, pursued from the field by their Royalist opponents.

This left two continuing melees one to the east and one to the west of the hill. At this point, night fell, leaving neither side in clear control of the objective.

The game played out very quickly, partially because, at any given time, there weren't that many units in play. The Royalists were unlucky with bringing troops onto the table; half of their troops didn't arrive until near the end, and one of their foot units never turned up at all. This was offset by the luck their foot unit had on the hill and saving every hit scored against it by the attacking horse for several turns. Otherwise this game would have been a relatively easy Parliamentarian victory.

I think the basics of the combat mechanism are sorted, so in my next games (which may or may not be part of the scenario project) I will maybe try out foot with different pike/shot ratios.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

One Hour Wargames - Scenario 16 - Advance Guard

The Battle of Fletcher's Cross - Refight

I thought that it was about time I kicked myself up the bum and got on with playing and writing up another game in my project to play all of the scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' in order. However I actually played the next scenario (16 - Advance Guard) only a couple of months ago, just after putting together my paper ECW armies. I could have cheated, and just counted that as the game, but instead I decided to play it again, with the same forces and (roughly) the same rules. I say 'roughly' because they have moved on since then, and I am now exploring a few ideas for simplifying and streamlining the combat mechanism, whilst still allowing a certain amount of granularity so that I can reflect certain troop types.

Anyway, the battle started once again with the village of Fletcher's Cross enjoying a quiet Sunday morning (or Monday evening in this case).

The peace was shattered by the sounds of a force of Royalist troops under Lord Standing, coming from the north. The force consisted of four units of pike and shot, one of dragoons and one of horse.

Simultaneously Sir Thomas Barnaby's Parliamentarians were advancing from the south, with three units of pike and shot, one of dragoons, one of horse and a battery of artillery.

The Royalist dragoons occupied the village and opened fire on the surprised Parliamentarians.

Both sides rushed to deploy their troops before and around the village. The Parliamentarian foot moved to bring musketry to bear on the village, and also deployed their guns astride the lane. Both sides sent their horse to the east. The Royalists, anticipating that their dragoons might not survive an onslaught by the full Parliamentarian force, positioned a unit of foot in reserve, ready to occupy the village if the dragoons were driven out.

A view of the battle from behind the Royalist lines.

To the east the horse clashed in a battle that would last for several turns with neither side gaining any advantage.

Fierce fighting erupted on the south side of the village, as the Parliamentarians brought their full force to bear. The dragoons defended themselves gallantly, though, barricading the streets and laying down a telling return fire.

The Parliamentarian dragoons moved to occupy a copse to the south west of the village. From there they could cover the Parliamentarian left flank.

The Royalists attacked to drive them out of the copse, and another long struggle ensued.

Sir Thomas personally directed the attack on the village.

Meanwhile Lord Standing was content to lecture the Royalist foot on the importance of keeping a reserve.

(In game terms the leaders were just for show - you can ignore them)

Eventually the Parliamentarian fire proved to much for them, and the Royalist dragoons fled from their barricades.

But more Royalist foot moved to replace them. And Royalist units moving around to the east and west of the village were taking some of the sting out of the Parliamentarian assault.

A unit of Parliamentarian foot broke.

The reserve foot didn't hold the village for long. Its morale wavered under fire, and its own firing quickly depleted its powder, so Lord Standing was obliged to withdraw it back into reserve and bring a unit from his right flank into the village to replace it. This unit had more fight in it.

To the east of the village the Parliamentarian horse broke,but the Royalists horse hared off in pursuit and Lord Standing was not to see them for the rest of the day.

Sir Thomas tried to rally another of his foot units, but to no avail. It joined what now seemed to be a general retreat.

He switched his attention to directing the artillery, now the only force he had putting any pressure on the village.

To the west of the village the Parliamentarian dragoons slipped away through the woods

The only real fighting going on now was to the east of the village where infantry of both sides were engaged in a fierce melee.

Royalist foot moved to menace the Parliamentarian guns ...

... then attacked.

With their guns lost, that was really the end of the battle. The remaining Parliamentarian foot fled the field, leaving the Royalists in command of the village.

Lord Standing congratulates his troops.

This was a fairly easy Royalist victory, and I would agree with other people who think that this scenario is very much weighted towards the side which moves first; the objective is the village so the first side to get into the village is going to be at an advantage. Choice of rules and mix of troops might alter this a little, but it holds true in principle.

I have boiled most of the combat down to rolling 2D6, looking for hits on a 4-6, but with variations as to how the dice are read to trigger other effects, limitations or advantages. I'll write these up in dues course but, for example, horse get 2D6, but if they get a double then they score an additional hit for impetus. If either of the dice are a '1' then they lose that bonus for the rest of the game. This covers 'average' horse. More impetuous Royalist horse doesn't lose the bonus ever, but if they roll a double, or destroy the unit facing them, then they automatically take one hit, reflecting increasing disorganisation or a wild pursuit. This is, in fact, what happened in this game; the Royalist horse were on four hits when they destroyed their Parliamentarian opposite numbers. The extra hit destroyed the Royalist horse as well, representing them chasing off after the fleeing Roundheads. I am working on some ideas to reflect disciplined Parliamentarian horse as well, but I'm still deciding what effect I want to achieve there. A variant of the 'double' mechanism could also be used to reflect foot whisc is shot-heavy or pike-heavy as well; it gives results which are not quite as extreme as adding or subtracting whole dice.

Finally, all pictures were taken with my new camera, although the lighting could have been better. Since I didn't start playing until after 9pm the game was lit by the normal room light, plus a desk-lamp. The results were still pleasing, though, and I'm keen to try it out with some 'real' figures at some stage.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE
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