Friday 8 December 2023

An English Civil War remote wargame and battle report

Today I hosted an English Civil War game with Jon of Palouse Wargaming Journal. Jon commanded the Royalist forces against my Parliamentary army.

Early stage of the battle

The briefing and background provided to Jon prior to the game…

Sir Jon,
    A most grievous matter has come to light, requiring your immediate attention. The accursed
Roundheads, those spawn of Lucifer himself, are upon the march, their eyes set upon the fair
market town of Wittingby. They threaten to engulf it in their unholy rebellion, and we cannot stand
idly by!
    Therefore, I command you, gather your men with all haste. Let every loyal heart and stout arm be
at your side. Muster your pikemen, those bulwarks of our cause, and summon your musketeers,
whose thunderous volleys shall make the very heavens tremble. March, Sir Jon, march with the
wind at your back and righteous fury in your hearts!
    Wittingby stands on the precipice, its fate hanging by a thread. Let it not fall! Drive back the
Roundheads, send them scurrying like rats before your unwavering advance! Defend the town,
defend the crown, defend the very soul of England! Go forth, Sir Jon, and bathe yourself in the
glory of victory!
    God be with you, and God save the King!
Lord Hopton

The tabletop

A 6' x 4' tabletop was used for the game. Royalist troops muster in the red zone, while Parliamentarian soldiers gather in their blue zone. The outskirts of Willingby, depicted by the built-up area, are off-limits to both sides. Additionally, neither army can traverse the impassible marshland by the hill nor the wooded areas.

Tabletop Map

Determining the Order of Battle

The order of battle is determined separately by each player prior to the game using the following lists:

First, roll a D6 for Foot and Horse units:

  • On a score of 1-2 select 4 Foot units and 2 Horse units
  • On a score of 3-4 select 3 Foot units and 3 Horse units
  • On a score of 5-6 select 2 Foot units and 4 Horse units

Second, roll a D6 for Dragoon and Artillery units:

  • On a score of 1-2 select 3 Dragoon units
  • On a score of 3-4 select 2 Dragoon units and 1 Artillery unit
  • On a score of 5-6 select 1 Dragoon unit and 2 Artillery units

Once the order of battle is known, players sketch out their deployment in their deployment areas with the following constraints:

  • Dragoon and Artillery can be place 18 inches from the tabletop edge.
  • Foot and Horse units can be placed 12 inches from the tabletop edge.
  • Reserve units, if any, are placed within 6 inched from the tabletop edge.

The deployments are revealed at the start of the game.

Order of Battle

Royalist Forces:
  • 3 x Foot units
  • 3 x Horse units
  • 2 x Artillery
  • 1 x Dragoon units
Parliamentarian Forces:
  • 3 x Foot units
  • 3 x Horse units
  • 1 x Artillery
  • 2 x Dragoon units

Battle Report…

A roar of cannon fire started the battle for Willingby. The Royalist guns, finding their mark, inflicted heavy casualties on a Royalist infantry, forcing them to retreat in disorder. Meanwhile, on the hill, Dragoons from both sides clashed, neither side gaining the upper hand before the Dragoons of both armies retired.

Artillery exchange shots in the opening stages of the battle.

On the Parliamentary left flank, their cavalry launched a headlong charge against the Royalist guns, eager to silence their deadly fire. However, their move was met with a swift countercharge by the nearby Royalist cavalry, resulting in a fierce clash that left both sides reeling. Meanwhile, in the centre of the battlefield, the main bodies of both armies began their inexorable advance, steadily closing the gap between them.

The cavalry clash.

The army centres begin to close

The Royalist cavalry, thrilled by their victory, pursued their routed Parliamentarian counterparts off the battlefield. With the flank beside Willingby now wide open, the Royalist commanders swiftly shifted their reserve cavalry across the battlefield to exploit this critical advantage. Meanwhile, in the centre both sides had exhausted their ammunition and resorted to a brutal push of pike, their lines locked in a desperate struggle for control. On the other flank, the Parliamentarian cavalry saw an opportunity and launched a desperate charge, attempting to break through the Royalist line and turn the tide of battle.

Parliamentarian cavalry are routed with Royalists pursuing.

Having exhausted their ammunition the lines begin to close for a push of pike.

Despite the valiant efforts of their cavalry on the right flank, the Parliamentarians failed to breach the Royalist line. Their hopes were dashed by the timely arrival of the Royalist reserve cavalry, who charged the upon the Parliamentarian centre, causing their ranks to waver and crumble. Recognising the inevitable, the remaining Parliamentarian units, their spirit broken, withdrew from the field in haste, leaving the battlefield to the triumphant Royalists.

The Royalist cavalry reserve arrive to attack the Parliamentarian centre.

The Parliamentarian line is under pressure.

The Royalists are victorious.

A most enjoyable game and well played by Jon whose cavalry reserve delivered the final blow to sweep the Parliamentarian lines away.


  1. Yes, Jon did well to overcome his poor start "The Royalist guns, finding their mark, inflicted heavy casualties on a Royalist infantry"...

    1. Jon played a good game saving his cavalry until the end.

  2. Lovely looking game and enjoyable scenario and report Peter. As always, you show that you don't have to fill a table with figures to have a good time.

    1. Thank you. As much as I would like more miniatures, I don’t have a large enough tabletop, and too many units piled onto a tabletop can turn a game into a bit of a slog.

  3. Peter, this was a fun game from start to finish. From scenario design, to drawing up my army list, to reading the rules' amendments, to playing the game, you presented a complete package. And, I sneaked away with a victory. The battle was a near-run-thing until the end game. On that one turn, the Royalists saw all of their activation dice pulled from the bag before the turn ended without the Parliamentarians having pulled a single activation die. Now, that was lucky! Even more lucky when the next turn started off with the Royalist cavalry zeroing in on your isolated foote to give him a one-two punch and send him packing.

    Great job!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the game set up and the game itself, I too found it enjoyable. The dice draw activation approach certainly helped with adding suspense to the game turns. I am now trying the game using a 6 inch square grid after our discussion.

  4. Another excellent looking and reading game Peter and a well thought out scenario too - great stuff - just a pity the "wrong" side won (not Jon, the bloody Royalists!)

    1. An enjoyable game to play, but it was not Parliament’s day.

  5. Great looking game and obviously lots of fun, although somewhat frustrating for Parliament at the end.
    No doubt the town of Willingby is off limits to both sides as you won't be able to get the troops out of the pubs 😂

    1. The tables turned against Parliament in the end as the Royalist’s made good use of their reserve cavalry. My last hope was they would run off in pursuit, but they did not.

  6. Fine game, scenario etc there Peter. I find these days I have much more enjoyable games with fewer units per side than in previous years. Less is more in this case!

    1. Thank you. I tend to share the same sentiment about fewer units make for enjoyable games. Particularly when it comes to hosting remote games.

  7. Great report of what sounds like a gripping game, Peter 👍🏼👍🏼. Jon is a doubty opponent in these remote games!!
    Q. Was the battlefield randomly generated by your terrain card system?

    1. Thanks. No, the terrain was not random. I did think about it as another unknown for both players, but the setting up of terrain for a remote game seemed one step too far in terms of practicallity.

  8. Great looking game, and a most enjoyable narrative!

    1. Thank you. I am trying an AI tool to help with some of the narrative, but I still have to to quite a bit of rework.

  9. Great looking game. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, it was an enjoyable game to play.