I finished off reading “Pike and Shot Tactics 1590-1660” by Keith Roberts. In its 64 pages, which has lots of illustrations, it covers the development of tactics during the period along with the challenges the commanders and armies faced.
|Just finished reading|
My interest in the book was more towards the end of the time period covered and the English Civil War. The take outs from this book from a gaming perspective are:
- The commanders battle plan was very important and the army would undertake training and drills in the required formations prior to the campaign and battle.
- The level of experienced officers and troops would influence the choice of formations a commander would use in their battle plan.
- The commander, when having to engage in battle, would adhere to their battle plan regardless of the ground fought over, adjusting the plan as best they could to suit ground and available forces, but not fundamentally altering the plan.
- Communications in this period were slow and commanders had few opportunities to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses and had to rely on their army’s deployment to gain an advantage.
- The importance of unit positioning so units in the first line so they could retire and have space in which to move and not crash into the units behind, or spaces in which other units can advance to bolster lines.
I am now thinking about how to incorporate more decision making into the game’s planning and deployment activities. For example:
- Have players in advance of the tabletop game list their units and place them into the marching order: vanguard, battle, and reserve. This would dictate the order of unit placement on the tabletop, right to left.
- Players would have to draw their battle plans in advance, positioning the units for the vanguard (right flank), battle (centre), and reserve (left flank) in the first, second, or third lines. Essentially listing units on a 3 by 3 grid (see picture below).
- The tabletop terrain becomes known to the players after planning and they can have to divide the tabletop into three sections for the centre and both flanks. The minimum section width must allow two units to comfortable fit side by side. For my unit base size of 4 inches width a minimum of 12 inches would be used. It is at this stage the player gets to adjust their battle plan to fit the terrain by the sectioning the tabletop and deciding the position of the first line. The second and third lines would fall in behind.
|Example of a battle plan.|
|Example of sectioning the tabletop for deployment|
I am still thinking about incorporating unit experience into the rules and how best to do that. One thing has been confirmed is I will be keeping my units as a single base, as I had been thinking about reducing the number of units and increasing their size to two bases for a unit. Having more units on the tabletop, 10 to 12 units per army, helps with more detailed battle plans. The tabletop may hopefully have some resemblance to one of the period prints.
|I do so like these print of battles|
I found this post really interesting Peter. I like the line of thinking that your reading has taken you down, and will enjoy following the development of your ideas.ReplyDelete
Thank you. I suspect my ECW armies will be on the tabletop soon for a game or two.Delete
Interesting. Good to see you putting the info in this book straight into practice on the gaming table.ReplyDelete
The book is an interesting read about the period. Now to test out the planning rules and ideas.Delete
I too love the 'look' of the period battle prints, one of the reasons I really prefer my shot as deep as my pike. Going down this segmented army and lines approach - did you ever see 'The Perfect Captain' 'Pikes level!' rules? I'll email you a copy - you might be able to mine them for some ideas.ReplyDelete
The prints certainly capture the imagination as a wargamer. Thank-you for sending the rules, I look forward to reading them later today.Delete
Good to read the points that you took away from the book. Another thing to note is that during the ECW, the best Cavalry would be placed on the right wing (point of honour?) of each side, so battles tended to rotate anti-clockwise as the action unfolded. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how your plans unfold:).ReplyDelete
Yes, it mentioned the right wing was normally stronger. Adding a rule constraint that the left wing must cannot have more units than the right wing could work. Thanks.Delete
Interesting thoughts Peter....I agree with you about those period prints of pikeblocks etc, very inspirational!ReplyDelete
I sometimes consider going with 6mm figures after viewing the prints.Delete
Good stuff - I remember taking the same points from that book, with formations etc being quite inflexible the deployment plan became important and dictated the march order, and was unlikely to be changed! And with left, centre and right wings and perhaps 3 lines in each, you would really need at least 9 units, probaby more, in each army.. I agree the old pictures of battles of the period are very inspiring!ReplyDelete
A fascinating read and I will have to see how it all works out with 8-12 units per side.Delete
The prints are very inspirational Peter. Looking forward to seeing your figures and games.ReplyDelete
If you did the armies in 3mm you could make the the same as the prints by painting them white with black shading.
3mm would be interesting.Delete
Hi, an excellent book I agree and has made me rethink my armies just as you are doing. The book, "Edgehill the battle reinterpreted" also has a very informative chapter on Deployment, which builds on Keith Roberts work. Well worth reading. Paul.ReplyDelete
Hi Paul, Thanks for the tip on the Edgehill book and deployment. I will have to seek it out.Delete
I second Paul's recommendation of that book. I used it myself to devise a system rather similar to yours for prebattle plans and deployment, which was published in Bob Cordery's The Portable Pike & Shot Wargame, if you can't find the Edgehill book.Delete
Thanks for the recommendation and note on the portable wargame book.Delete
More and more games these days are starting to have a minigame in the beginning for deployment. I'm thinking of CoC, Triumph, Hannibal, Clash of Spears...I think it's great. especially for periods where the battle lines are somewhat fixed. I don't know a lot about Pike and shot stuff, but what you say describes it really well. The trick to a good pregame deployment minigame is one that matters but doesn't take too long. 😀ReplyDelete
I will have to have a look at the Triumph pre-game rules, it is one set I own from the list you provided. Thanks.Delete
Interesting thoughts; tactical flexibility doesn't seem to have been a big thing during the ECW to say the least!ReplyDelete
Experience, or lack of, was also a limiting factor.Delete