Tuesday 29 October 2019

An opportunistic book purchase arrives

This week a secondhand book I purchased arrived - "CHARGE! OR HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES" by Brig. P. Young & Lt. Col. J. P. Lawford. The book is in reasonable condition for its age having once been an ex-library book.

As I began to read the book I was soon tempted to get some Horse and Musket figures on the tabletop. So my very generic Napoleonic Spencer Smith figures were lined up for a game using a One-Hour Wargaming variant I am currently playing around with. As I work my way through the Charge rules it will be interesting to see if some of the ideas work their way into the OHW variant I am using.

Old Spencer Smith plastic figures

Saturday 26 October 2019

ECW Campaign - Battle of Yaxley

The campaign battle for October 1645 has a Royalist army holding the village of Yaxley. Their advance into the East Midland region has been blocked by a larger Parliamentarian army.

Royalist Horse Units
Royalist forces had positioned their foot and dragoons in and around the village of Yaxley, a strong defensive centre position. The Parliamentarian commander knew the Royalists had a strong contingent of Horse which were yet to be deployed, and decided to position all his Horse (including some Lobsters) on his left flank. A third of his Foot units were positioned on his right flank to block any surprise cavalry attacks coming around the wood. The remaining Foot units and artillery were positioned in the centre opposite Yaxley village.

The deployment approach used for these games has the smaller defending force deploy half their units first. The larger attacking force deploys all their units in one go. Then the defending force deploys all their remaining units. This approach caused the Parliamentarian commander to consider his flank deployments carefully with such a large cavalry contingent unaccounted for.

Map of deployment
View of the tabletop with armies deployed
Royalist cavalry arrived mid-morning and the Royalist commander opened the battle by pushing forward his dragoons to harass Parliament's artillery. This quickly provoked is opponent to respond and move his line forward, and have the right flank advance along the woods to push back the dragoons. That was about all for the opening moves, other than Parliament's artillery bombarding Yaxley and its defenders with limited results.

Parliament's force advances
Artillery bombardment of Yaxley and forcing back Royalist dragoons in the early stages of the game.
As noon approached Parliament pushed forward their dragoons on the left flank and prepared for an attack on Yaxley. As they advanced in the centre and engaged in musketry, their cavalry also moved forward to protect their flanks. The large Royalist cavalry quickly counterattacked and a large cavalry melee ensued between Yaxley village and the fields.

Dragoons move into the fields 
The battle quickly escalates with the attack on Yaxley village and cavalry melee
Both sides prepare to move in their reserves. While dragoons n the fields become a nuisance for Royalist cavalry.
The battle was taking its toll and by mid-afternoon both sides had committed all reserves. There was little either commander can do but hope their opposition breaks first. The Royalist cavalry looked like they may make a breakthrough, but for a dashing officer in Parliament's cavalry who successfully rallied their units. By late afternoon Royalist resolve failed and Parliament gained the slimmest of victories.
All reserves are committed
Parliament's cavalry hold and the Royalist's chance of achieving victory dissipates.
The campaign cards drawn for this battle did have an influence. The Royalist commander would rightly be frustrated having given up a unit to help quell a clubman raising. Then being denied a cavalry breakthrough, and likely victory, by a dashing officer card played by their opponent which halved the hits of a cavalry unit.

Battle movements
This was an important win game for Parliament who exit 1645 with the loss of one region. Without a victory here they would have lost two regions. The campaign now moves into 1646.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

ECW Campaign - October 1645

In September 1645 Royalist forces had after a couple of close battles managed to hold off a move by a Parliamentarian marching army to wrestle control back of the South Coast region. In October a Royalist marching army was recruited and made a move upon the East Midlands region. This will most likely be the last Battle of this campaigning year and is critical for Parliament to win having already lost control of the West Midlands earlier in 1645.

Campaign map showing the Royalist move
Both sides still have campaign cards which will last for the remainder of 1645, and draw additional cards for the upcoming battle. Parliament has a dashing officer in their ranks who can be called upon during the game to halve the hits any unit has. Recruitment for the Royalists marching army was  hampered by recent clubman risings which have drawn off one unit to to help suppress the unrest.

D3 dice are rolled to determine the units involved and the campaign card additions and subtractions made. The order of battle will be:

Parliament forces:

  • Foot Units = 6
  • Horse Units = 3
  • Dragoons = 1
  • Artillery and Special units = 2 (1 gun and 1 Lobster unit selected)

Royalist forces:

  • Foot Units = 4
  • Horse Units = 5
  • Dragoons = 1
  • Artillery and Special Units = 0

The battle will take place at the small village of Yaxley. Terrain cards are shuffled and laid out. Each card represents a 2 by 2 foot area of the tabletop. The Royalist commander having the smaller force chose their side first and made one card swap to place Yaxley village in the centre. Parliament's commander chose to rotate a wood card rather tham make any card swaps.

Initial card draw
Royalist swap cards and will deploy at the top. While Parliament rotates a card and will deploy at the bottom.

So all is ready to setup the next campaign game. Has Parliament's luck finally changed or will Royalist forces capture another region and seal a successful campaigning year?

Thursday 17 October 2019

ECW Campaign - Game Report

All my plans to have played an English Civil War campaign game last weekend were thwarted when I came down with a cold. The next battle is to occur near the parish of Lurgashall and follows on from the battle of Fernhurst which was drawn.

A closer photo of some of the action during the game.
The tabletop layout has a small fordable river running down the centre splitting the deployments for each side. As the smaller force, the Parliamentarian commander chose not to split his forces and gathered his units around the buildings whilst holding a reserve force to cover the bridge.

The Royalist commander positioned his cavalry supported by dragoons on the hill to cover his left flank. All foot units with one gun formed their centre. While on his right flank, across the river, were positioned dragoons, commanded shot and a gun. The plan for the right flank was to move down the banks of the river and provide harassing fire.

The campaign cards drawn for this game. Luck was not with the Parliamentarian commander who must reduce by one the number activation normally made in a given turn. Apparently there is jealousy between commanders and no rousing sermon has been able to quell it. The Royalists on the other hand find themselves well supplied with powder and can resupply their first unit to run out of ammunition.

A view of deployment from the Royalist side
A view from the Parliament side
Initial deployments
Battle commenced mid-morning with Royalist units quickly moving down the right hand side of the river and began harassing fire. In the centre Royalist foot and gun units moved forward en masse. Very quickly the centres were exchanging musketry. Men on both sides were giving a good account of themselves, while both bodies of cavalry looked on, waiting for the right moment to make their move.
Royalist centre push forward while guns and dragoons move along the river bank to harass the parliament centre.
Royalist horse hold back unwilling to commit against their more numerous counterparts.

By midday, and the mid point of the battle, all musketry was over and foot units where engaged in push of pike trying to grind down their opponents. Neither side was gaining any ascendancy, although as combat went on Parliament did appear to be gaining a bit of an advantage.

The Parliamentarian commander thought it was timely to move his cavalry forward gradually and support his centre to hopefully make a breakthrough. The reduction in his activations was starting to prove an issue. To counter this move, Royalists started to engage the cavalry threat with their own cavalry in a very piecemeal fashion. Royalist forces were quite dispersed which reduced the number of activations available to their commander.

This was turning out to be quite a tense battle.

Parliament's horse units edge forward and look threatening.
On the flank the cavalry engagement begins slowly
The final stages of the battle continued to be a tight affair. Royalist foot units finally stormed the buildings, which was their first real success of the day. Parliament forces continued to resist in this arm wrestle of a battle and it was only late in the afternoon when the fight finally left them, and an exhausted Royalist force could claim a very marginal victory.

Royalist horse finally charge the Parliament horse while in the centre the outnumbered Parliament are putting up a stiff defence.
With the centre locked up both sides fed in their horse units.
Movements during the battle.
This was an absorbing game which turned out to be extremely close. The reduction in Parliamentarian activations probably cost them the game as they failed to get all their cavalry units involved. It was one of those games where knowing the game has been won, you choose to play just one more turn and find the other sides army resolve fails as well.

Well, in campaign turns Parliament failed to control the South Coast region and the opportunity is there now for Royalist's to make a march on a Parliamentarian controlled region.

Saturday 12 October 2019

St. Nazaire project - warehouse buildings

In preparation for having a tabletop suitable to represent the WW2 St. Nazaire raid, I need to create quite a few warehouses suitable to represent the dock area. As many of the buildings are unlikely to be reused in other games I need to make them cheaply.

I do have some cardboard packing boxes and attempted to create some with that. The approach almost worked, but the cardboard was just too thick and difficult to work. So I tried some lighter card which worked out much better and a $3 sheet of the card will produce 3 warehouses.

A strip of card is cut out 4" high and 24" long. This is folded to make the walls 8" longways and 4" at the ends. Additional ends were cut out for the roof pitch and glued on. This helps add some stiffness to the structure.
Heavier packing box cardboard is cut to fit inside the building walls. This is glued and also held in position with painters masking tape. Masking tape is also used on the corners to tidy up the end pieces which are stuck on.
A roof is cut and bent to shape.
Packing case cardboard is cut and attached to pack out the second part of the roof.
The top piece of the roof is added.
Now that I have worked out how to build these warehouses. I estimate 30 minutes to build one ready for painting.
The outside is undercoated in grey
The base is painted black for consistency.
Once the undercoat is dry I used cheap poster paint to paint the roof dark grey and walls a red brick colour. Then windows and doors were simply painted. At this point the building colours look very flat, and I forgot to take a photo.

Once the poster paint is dry. The next step involves the use of oil pastels to quickly draw over the flat colours and give the building a look of texture.

Simple lines and scribbles with the pastels are used to give texture. Mistakes can be scuffed out with a finger and drawn over again.
Oil pastels are used rather than the caulk type. 
When complete 2 units can fit nicely inside.
20mm figures to give some scale of the finished warehouse.
I will be mixing up colours and possibly the roof lines to provides variety to the 10 or so buildings required. The cost of card, oil pastels and poster paint will make these buildings approximately $3 per warehouse.

Thursday 10 October 2019

ECW Campaign moves

The last campaign game (Battle of Fernhurst) was a drawn game. Rather than proceed to the next campaign turn where the Royalist cause would be able to march upon and contest a region, we will return to the South Coast region to finalise the outcome of Parliament marching on the South Coast. This is not in the campaign rules, but seems a fair way to deal with drawn games.

Both sides were allowed to re-roll one of their troop types to see if they could improve their order of battle. This represented additional reserves received or units which had been held up on the march and were unable to enter the previous battle. Neither side was able to increase their force strength after a couple of poor D3 dice rolls and the order of battle remains:

Parliament's Forces

  • 4 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 4 Horse

Royalist Forces

  • 5 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 2 Dragoon
  • 3 Horse
  • 2 Guns 

Campaign map showing the actions in the south coast region
Campaign cards were drawn for the game. Both sides already held cards which will last this campaign year 1645. This turn each side received one time only cards:

  • Parliament's luck was not improving and they now have some jealously happening within their command structures and as a consequence will reduce the turn activations by one. (Note: game rules allows a commander to activate up to the number of friendly units they can see within 12". A unit need not be seen to be activated. This rules tries to encourage commanders to be well positioned to stops forces becoming too dispersed across the tabletop.)
  • Royalists get to refresh the ammunition of one infantry unit when they run out of ammunition.

Campaign cards are dealt.
Next terrain cards were dealt. Parliament with the smaller force selects the side they want to deploy. They used their one card change and choose to swap the field and broken ground cards around. The Royalist choice was to have the stream split the table and tabletop deployment. Possibly hoping to isolate part of the Parliamentarian force, particularly the horse units, and use their numbers to attain victory.

Initial terrain cards
Parliament chose side (blue arrow) as they have the small force. Both sides opted to swap and turn a card.
This battle will occur near the parish of Lurgashall, 4 miles South East of Fernhurst the site of the last battle. I just need to finish off the Napoleonic game currently occupying the tabletop and play the game this weekend.

Saturday 5 October 2019

ECW Campaign - Battle of Fernhurst

In September 1645 Parliament was under pressure for a victory having lost control of the West Midlands earlier in the year. They were able to muster an army and marched on the Southern Coast region.
Campaign map showing the planned Parliamentarian advance on teh South Coastal region.
Having forgotten to use the campaign cards in the last game. I opted to draw two cards this campaign move. Parliament received support from Scotland and will gain an extra infantry unit for the remainder of 1644. They also received a Royalist card so this was ignored.

Royalist forces will also receive an additional unit during 1644 as the Queen had been successful at raising funds abroad, but they too have to ignore a card.

Parliament was unable to recruit a large marching force, and was very grateful for the additional Scottish unit. While the Royalist cause was well supported and news of earlier victories having swelled their numbers. The orders of battle are...

Parliament's Forces

  • 4 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 4 Horse
Royalist Forces
  • 5 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 2 Dragoon
  • 3 Horse
  • 2 Guns
Terrain cards were drawn and Parliament, being the smaller force, selected their side first. The only change was made by the Royalist side to rotate a card to place a wood further forward to provide cover.

Terrain cards are dealt.
Parliament selects a side first as the smaller force. While Royalists make a minor change on their left flank.
On to the game...

Units were deployed. The Parliamentarian commander set his centre between to the woods and buildings. On his left flank commanded shot held the woods and on the right flank all Parliament's horse units were combined. His hope was to charge around the woods and attack the Royalist rear.

Recognising the cavalry risk the Royalist commander duly held a large group of foot units in reserve. Other than that his deployment was fairly standard with horse units on each flank supported by dragoons.

Units are deployed.
The Battle of Fernhurst - September 1644
The battle began with Parliament pushing forward their centre and attacking on the right flank with all their horse units. Royalist horse and dragoons were soon engaged on the flank.

Early moves
Cavalry engagement
On the other flank Royalist forces pushed forward to engage the Parliamentarian centre which had moved forward to engage. While their artillery maintained a slow and steady bombardment.

Expecting to lose the cavalry engagement, Royalist reserves position themselves to counter a cavalry attack. 
The Royalist attack on their right flank had mixed results. Their dragoons suffered heavily from musketry by the commanded shot in the wood and were forced to make a hasty withdrawal. Their horse charged Parliament's centre which had been sustained a steady bombardment from their guns, but the centre was able to repulse the charging horse.

Royalist horse charge Parliament's centre.
On the other flank Parliament's cavalry had been successful in winning the cavalry engagement. Their planned move on the Royalist rear was frustrated by well positioned Royalist units. They chose to regroup and retire to their lines.

Royalist reserve units block the path of the victorious cavalry.
Both forces regroup and the battle concludes in a draw.
Both sides flank attacks had failed to provide the results they wanted. It was late afternoon and neither commander wanted to make another attack, and with losses equal the Battle of Fernhurst was a draw.
Battle moves
A draw will mean another battle will be fought on the South Coast as both forces regroup and reorganise.