Friday, 19 October 2018

ECW Campaign Game 6 report

As both sides contest the South East region their recently recruited forces clash at Lenham Heath, Kent. Parliamentarian forces were able to take up position first, followed by Royalists forces who had been camped near the market town of Lenham.

Initial positions
Royalist forces positioned their artillery in the centre hoping to goad the slightly smaller Parliamentarian into making attacks.

Royalist artillery open fire at visible units. The bulk of the Parliamentarian centre remain behind the crest of the hill to avoid being targets. While on their left the cavalry move forward. 
On the far side of the table Royalist cavalry charge the advancing Parliamentarian cavalry, and on the near flank Royalist dragoons and cavalry move forward against the weaker Parliamentarian flank.
Cavalry on both flanks are fully engaged. Meanwhile Parliament centre remain behind the hill under cover from annoying artillery fire
On the Parliamentarian right the Royalist have gained the ascendancy and part of the infantry centre are moved to shore up the flank.
Royalist cavalry push ahead running into dragoon units positioned behind hedges 
With supporting infantry and dragoons drive off the Royalist cavalry who were in a weakened state from their first clash.
On both flanks Parliament cavalry and dragoons are in control and Royalist forces are retreating except for their centre which remains in place.
At this point the Royalist commander was in a bit of a pickle. He had lost more units than his Parliamentarian counterpart and moving his infantry centre forward would expose both his flanks to the roaming Parliamentarian cavalry and dragoon units. With this in mind I decided the Royalists would retire from the field of battle in order and with their artillery.

A victory to Parliament, probably a minor victory given the field was ceded to them.

A map showing the deployment and thrusts (successful and not so successful) of each side
With the game in the bag, I decided to see if the Royalist commander had made the correct choice to retire in order. So I continued on with the game. Parliament forces moved their infantry forward and while taking casualties and losing units, they routed two more Royalist units and Royalist army resolve failed. All remaining units routed leaving the artillery. The correct decision had been made.

I am currently reading "War Games" by Donald Featherstone and in particular the chapter "How to Start a War Game" has taken my interest. There are some interesting rule ideas for deciding when in the day the battle begins, which then dictates the duration of the game and how forces position themselves for the next day if forces meet late in the day.  I plan to use some similar rules for the next game.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Campaign Game 6 setup

As both sides continue to shore up their bases, Royalists to the North and Parliament the regions around London. The next campaign move has Parliament attempting to secure the South East region. The ensuing battle will be the mid-point of the first part of this campaign (the year 1642) where both sides secure regions to their cause, and so far it is turning out to be a pretty even affair.

Campaign map of controlled regions (Royalist = Red and Parliament = Blue)
The terrain for the game was quickly selected using the cards. The hill in the centre may prove influential in the game, and areas of buildings may drive the cavalry action to the centre.

Selected terrain. Each card represents a 2x2 foot square on the tabletop
The layout is transferred to the tabletop and recruitment for both sides proceeds. Parliament will be able to re-roll two of their scores due to controlling two adjacent areas. Recruitment in the English Civil War appears to have been a fairly unpredictable affair, with many towns trying to remain neutral (to maintain trade) and the local populations not necessarily following the local gentry's allegiance to one side or the other.

Order of Battle:

Parliament (12 units)
4 x Cavalry
4 x Infantry
2 x Dragoons
1 x Commanded Shot
1 x Lobsters

Royalst (13 units)
4 x Cavalry
5 x Infantry
2 x Dragoons
2 x Artillery

Tabletop set up and units deployed
Parliament units

Having deployed Parliament units first (they are the smaller force) and Royalist units second (larger force). Then Parliament gets to move some or all of its units to adjust to the second force's deployment.

Parliamentarian units push froward to gain the centre hill
All ready for the next game.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

ECW Campaign Game 5

Game 5 of the English Civil War campaign has Parliament and Royalist forces facing off near the market town of Appleby. Rather surprisingly Parliament recruited well. Possibly excessive rents charged by landlords had created an environment for strong Parliamentarian support.

Opening positions
This was going to be an interesting battle. The smaller Royalist force, strong in infantry, was able to use a wood to protect its right flank and position most of its cavalry on the left flank.

The centre of both forces move forward to hold the centre hill
Parliament gained the centre hill and battle commenced in the centre. Parliamentarian cavalry were pushed forward. 
Royalist gallopers charged forward into the advancing Parliamentarian cavalry
Casualties start to mount in the centre
The move to occupy the centre hill provides an advantage when in melee, but not against musketry, and Royalist infantry were maintaining steady fire without running out of ammunition.

Unit losses were starting to appear in the Royalist centre
The Parliamentarian line looks fragile after losing units in the centre and cavalry flank 
The centres of both forces were begging to crumble as reserves are thrown in.
The Royalist reserve cavalry charge forward and shatter the Parliamentarian centre and resistance. 
A hard earned Royalist victory. Three areas that assisted their victory:

  • A strong infantry centre and good use of the wood to protect a flank
  • Not running out of ammunition meant Parliament could not take advantage of the hill
  • Parliament forces had evenly split their cavalry each flank, rather than placing a larger group on the open flank

Battle moves

Friday, 12 October 2018

ECW campaign move and game 5 set up

In the last campaign game (game 4) the Battle for Bryburn, Parliamentarian forces secured a marginal victory to gain control of the South Coast region. It was now the Royalist turn and they continue to secure the North by attempting to control Lancashire.

Campaign map showing the next region to be battled over

With the region selected complete the next step is for both sides to recruit. Because two adjoining regions are Royalist controlled, they will get the opportunity to re-roll twice during the recruitment.

Surprisingly Parliament recruited strongly, even with the Royalist advantage of re-rolling, and has the larger force.

Parliament (13 units)
Cavalry (Trotters) = 5 units
Infantry = 3 units
Dragoons =  2 units
Commanded Shot = 1 unit
Artillery = 1 unit
Lobsters = 1 unit

Royalist (11 units)
Cavalry (Gallopers) = 4 units
Infantry = 4 units
Dragoons = 1 unit
Commanded Shot = 1 unit
Elite Pike = 1 unit

With forces decided the next step is to determine the tabletop to be fought over. The cards were laid out and tabletop prepared.

Determining the tabletop layout with cards
Being the smaller force the Royalist units were placed first on the side of their selection. The larger Parliament force was deployed second, and Royalists get to make the first move to adjust to the attackers deployment.

Parliamentarian forces deployed on the right and Royalists on the left 
The small Parliament infantry has their cavalry split evenly on either wing
Royalist infantry anchor their right flank against the wood and bar a small contingent of cavalry in reserve all other  cavalry on on their left flank. Commanded shot take up positioning the woods.
All is ready to play out the Battle of Appleby this weekend.


Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Making some trenches for a WW1 game

For a bit of a break in-between English Civil War games I decided to get out my old Peter Laing WW1 15mm figures for a game. To get some inspiration for a scenario I looked up "Command and Colours The Great War" for some maps and found Cambrai (Bourlon Village & Wood) - 23-25 November 1917. Then setup the tabletop as best I could.


One of the challenges with WW1 games and the tabletop are how to represent trenches. My troops are on fairly large 3x4 inch bases and do not fit into any constructed trench. So my latest attempt is to use dark brown felt, an zig-zag template over which is sprayed a sand colour

A template is placed over the felt and spayed with a sand colour 
The end result from spaying is starting to look trench like (note - the over spray helps to disguise the weeds in the lawn)
A black marker is used to share up the trench outline and give the impression of duckboards in the bottom.
I am using a grid for my WW1 game, so troops occupying a length of trench are placed just behind the trench to show occupation.

A few more photos of the game set up. I plan to use a D3 version of One Hour Wargame rules on a 6 inch grid.

Balsa wood tanks support the assault
Bourlon Village
Bourlon Wood

Sunday, 7 October 2018

ECW Campaign Game 4 Report

Game 4 of the English Civil War (ECW) campaign, the Battle for Bryburn, was looking like a guaranteed Parliamentarian victory. Campaigns do throw up these lopsided games and for the most part I quite enjoy playing them. I take the side of the defender once I have planned the attacking moves for the larger force.

There were no surprise results in this game, Parliamentarian forces won, but I have classified it as a marginal victory. Not that the type of victory matters in the first year (1642) of this campaign, but it will in subsequent years when the marching armies start to come into play. This first set of campaign games where regions fall under Royalist or Parliament control are aimed to help me ironing out the rules in a series of small scale battles.

So why is the Battle for Bryburn a marginal victory? An army is considered to have been defeated when more than 50 percent of its units are routed (lost units). Therefore, in this game situation of 14 units vs. 9 units, the larger force barring any blunders will gain a victory. A marginal victory is when a defeated army has lost as many, or less, units compared to the opposing force. In the case of this game, when the Royalist forces conceded defeat after having their 5 unit rout (lost) the Parliamentarian force had also lost 5 units.

The Battle or Bryburn


Here are photos of the game being played...

As Parliamentarian cavalry and dragoons attempt to cross the river (which is fordable). Royalist cavalry put in a charge. Any unit fording the river automatically takes one hit. This is to encourage units to use bridges and avoid getting their powder wet (along with being wet and miserable).
Dragoons harass Parliament infantry as the cross the Bryburn bridge.  
The cavalry attack has become stalled as Royalist cavalry give good account of themselves. Parliament's cavalry are also hemmed in by the field hedges, and some units are forces to ford the river.
Numbers eventually tell, and some Parliament cavalry swing around the flank. 
It takes time for the infantry to cross at the bridge to reinforce the attack.
Royalist infantry reserve move to protect their right flank.
Dragoons from the right flank which had retired early in the fight are able to move around to help support the other flank. The attacking Parliamentarian forces had taken considerable losses, but ammunition was running out for the defenders.
With no ammunition Royalist defenders make a last gasp charge which fails.
With the completion of this battle Parliament gains control of the South Coast region. (Note - In my previous post on the setup for this game, I had incorrectly called it the South East region, along with getting the game number wrong. Both are now corrected - thanks to observant readers.)

Saturday, 6 October 2018

ECW campaign game 4 set up

Parliamentarian forces attempt to seize control of the South East Coast region. Setting the scene for the next battle.

Campaign Map indicating the next battle to be in the South East

The battlefield is quickly determined using terrain cards and for the second time in a row a fordable river is selected. The dice indicate it will be close to the table edge. See the previous post for more information on choosing terrain for the tabletop.

Cards determine terrain setup

D3 dice were rolled for recruiting activities in the South East Coast region. As expected Parliament support was high and the order of battle is:

Parliament

  • 5 x Cavalry
  • 5 x Infantry
  • 2 x Dragoons
  • 2 x Artillery


Royalist

  • 3 x Cavalry
  • 3 x Infantry
  • 2 x Dragoon
  • 1 x Commanded Shot
The smaller Royalist force deploys first and gets to make one move after Parliament forces are positioned.


Opening troop positions
Royalist cavalry position on their right flank
The infantry and commanded shot take up defensive positions in the parish and nearby woods
Looking down the tabletop