Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Nantwich III - Coming soon

Yes, Byron is back. The man they couldn't kill is back to face his arch-nemesis, Black Tom Fairfax.

I decided to finally get around to trying the estimable M. Foy's ECW CnC derivative rules using his Ramekin variant for command. I picked Nantwich because it's a battle I've tried before so I have some sort of point of comparison, and because it's an interesting scenario. I'll be using the gymnastics mat again to expand the table size from 8' by 3' to 8' by 4'. This give a bit more depth and room to manoeuvre. The grid will be 18 by 8 hexes. Wider but not as deep as the standard CnC board.

I'm hoping to get a mini-game in one evening this week to have a run through the game mechanics. Just a couple of horse and foot regiments a side.



I've plotted the start positions for the main game, with units starting more or less where they were in my last attempt at Nantwich.

Royalist Dispositions
(1) 15:00
NE of Acton - Gibson
W of Nantwich on Acton road - Huncke (Muskets only - maybe start as if they already had two losses).
Guns to go in front of Acton.

(2) 15:30-16:30 (turns 3 to 7)
Warren (F), Earnley (F) & R.Byron (H&F) to left of Gibson heading west in that order. Come on in 2 or 3 batches in successive turns


Parliamentarian Dispositions
Order of march:

PF: Pioneers and Forlorn Hope - possibly play as a weak musket only unit if they come into combat. These will cut through the hedgerows negating the movement penalty for following troops.
L: Lambert's Horse
B: Brereton's Foot
A: Assheton's foot
G: Guns
Bg: Baggage
H: Holland (F)
Bo: Booth (F)
WF: Wm Fairfax (H)
TF: Thos Fairfax (H)
Dragoons will follow.

Garrison in Nantwich: (Muskets only)  - sortie between 4:30 and 5:30. Will dice for which turn.

Late edit: Just realised this was my first post with the new Blogger. Seemed to work easily enough, apart from not being able to get the Preview function to work. Any ideas?

Monday, 29 June 2020

The Art of Persia

I've been enjoying this 3-part series on BBC4. It finished tonight but it's available on BBC iPlayer.

Link to iPlayer:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000k48j

Taster clips here:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000k48g/art-of-persia-series-1-episode-1

It's as much a history of Persia as an art history programme. Obviously it's a large country with a long history, so it's only a brief survey, but it is well worth watching if either you have a little or no knowledge of the country, or if you are more knowledgeable it's well worth going along for the ride because of the stunning art and architecture on display. There was a lot of emphasis on poetry and collections of classic stories which helped keep alive the language and culture through successive Arabic and Mongol invasions. So a good bit of background to the country.

For the wargamer there's also a brief bit about the Achaemenid, Sassanid periods, plus successive dynasties in what we call the Middle Ages, and Early Modern periods.

Well worth three hours of anyone's time.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Country or city? Going round the block.


Out walking on Saturday evening I was struck by this view. I only wish I could do it greater justice with a better photo.  This is miles inside the M25 (London orbital motorway for those from outside the UK) looking in the direction of central London. 

The tower blocks are part of the Le Courbusier inspired Alton Estate in Roehampton built in the late 50s as social housing. Some of those flats would have fabulous views over Richmond Park or towards central London. Can you imagine (in the country where a disaster like the Grenfell fire was possible) that any part of the public sector would build housing with views like that now? It wouldn't surprise me if, like much council housing in the UK, many of the units have long since been sold to tenants. Many found their way into the possession of investors who now rent them out to the grandchildren of old tenants, but at market rates. Such is progress. Given when they were built, the public debt has probably long since been paid off, so had they been kept in public ownership, even at below market rents, they could have been earning a surplus for the local authorities whilst serving a social purpose. Even as far back as the 70s, as council rents had gone up with inflation, the income from them must have dwarfed the amounts needed to service the debt. Instead public money is spent giving benefits to help working people pay the rent. So in a way it's gone full circle with 'subsidised rents' but with different beneficiaries of the tax-payers' largesse. 

The house I now live in was also built as a council house in 1920 - part of the post Great War building of 'homes fit for heroes'. The last council tenants who bought the house some time in the 80s would have been of my parents' generation. That generation who were able to buy their council houses or flats (including my own parents) would have had a one-off capital boost having bought them at a good discount from the market value. Councils were not permitted to spend a penny of the capital receipts for the housing stock that they had no say in selling, so they could not replace social housing by building more. We now have the lowest proportion of owner-occupied dwellings for decades in this country. Many well paid young people cannot afford to buy, with properties selling for many multiples of average income. Ironically having a large, state-owned and operated housing stock meant that buying a house was much more affordable for middle income families. With low rents for decent quality housing, the private rented sector was not so lucrative, so privately owned houses and flats were not being snapped up by investors. Now people like us pay three times for the privilege - higher prices on the houses we buy to live in; higher tax to subsidise the market rents of those who can't afford them; and, indirectly, through the loss of financial surpluses on local authorities' housing stock.

Sorry, I went off track a bit there. It all started off with me noticing the juxtaposition of large  mammals doing their thing in front of very urban looking housing.


Monday, 22 June 2020

AWI Uniforms

This is a plea for help. I'm planning to paint up my Pendraken AWI figures and get some on the table in the not too distant future. I've always fancied giving Loose Files and American Scramble a go.  I need to find a good uniform (ideally one showing all participants*). Either a book or website(s). Could anyone make any recommendations?

I'm not a particular button counter, but looking for something reasonably authentic. I'm more interested in the campaign look than regulation uniforms like the 1768 Warrant.

* or at least Brits, Continentals, Germans, any uniformed auxiliaries


Late edit: after the original post was made I had two kind offers of help getting books. First Jonathan (see his comment below) and then Iain (Caveadsum1471) got in touch to say he also has a relevant book which he could post to me.

I should also mention that M.Foy has also in the past generously posted copies of Funcken 18th century volumes and some 6mm Napoleonics figures he wasn’t using.

Gentlemen of the Wargaming Blogosphere, I salute you. (Imagine me removing my cocked hat with a flourish and bowing gracefully).

Sunday, 21 June 2020

The Battle of Torgau

The deciding match was held today by the River Elbe in Saxony (actually a dining room in a SW London suburb). As Jonathan correctly pointed out, this was a refight of the Battle of Torgau 1760.

The team from the capital triumphed in a hard fought, attritional battle. The Prussians lost 13 brigades and 3 generals to the Austrians' 12 brigades and 2 generals. A narrow, bloody victory on the casualty count but unlike the real Daun, I held the ridge at the end of the day. Due to the severe losses in cavalry (and the fact that my son/aka Frederick still had a strong cavalry force) the Austrians would had remained in position to lick their wounds, whilst the Prussians retreated into the night.

The game was run using a 'fast play' (well they are shorter) version of my SYW rules. There's a few gaps but they were very playable and my son picked them up quickly. After a few turns I hardly needed to consult the rules, so they're good for raging games. The game took about 4 hours in all, but this was a big one. In the real battle about 55,000 Austrians faced off against 50,000 Prussians. 2 hours were played solo after my son had to drop off the call. A pedant would claim that it wasn't really a victory since half of it was played solo. But I'm claiming it. It's not often the Old Dog is able to demonstrate his superiority these days. After my son dropped off the call I was able to get many more turns in the equivalent amount of time since it was easy for me to see everything, not having to view it through FaceTime.

A bit about the rules
The rules have 'brigade' units of two bases of infantry or cavalry. Line infantry and cavalry 'brigades' are two Prussian/Austrian regiments strong (4 battalions or 10 squadrons). Large regiments like hussars or Prussian DR5 and DR6 are single regiment 'brigades'  having 10 squadrons. Skirmishers 'brigades' are two bases each representing about a battalion. Artillery are single based brigades representing 10-12 guns - their frontage is 1/4 that of infantry/cavalry brigades. Brigades are removed on suffering 3 'Attrition Points' which represent a combination of casualties, tiredness, ammunition expenditure, morale, and disorder. As with most of my own rules, units continue doing what they are doing until orders are changed by a successful dice roll against a general's 'Initiative Rating'. The IR can be supplemented by 'ADCs' sent by the Commander in Chief - the number of these will vary from turn to turn, again subject to dice rolls.


The Game
I sent my son the rules, the orders of battle, the dispositions and links to 3 accounts of the battle. I think he only read the rules. He certainly didn't read the accounts. Must be all this years of studying. From the first turn he decided to launch Ziethen straight across the Röhrgraben stream whilst Frederick attacked from the north. Initially Ziethen was successful - his cavalry wing repulsed the first wave of Austrians, and his infantry advanced to take Zinna and eventually meet up with Holstein's cavalry column between Zinna and the Austrian's main position. Frederick was also lucky in that none of the Austrian guns had any effect on the first column of Prussian infantry (mostly grenadiers). Eventually though the grenadiers were forced back by a series of counter attacks. The Austrian grenadier corps and later Ried's light corps did sterling work on the left of the Austrian position. Over in the east, Lacy gradually established a solid wall of infantry which advanced on the hitherto successful Prussian cavalry and pushed them from the field. By the end they had circled Zinna to the south, cutting off Ziethen's infantry from their start positions. It was then clear that Frederick was not going to force Daun off the ridge or break the Austrian's communications with Torgau.

Reflections
I was quite pleased with the way the rules played, but I'm pondering a change to the combat mechanism. Very rarely did the fight go the way of the side with the disadvantage, because each side rolls three dice and picks the best one. This smooths out the luck somewhat so the side with the most pluses usually wins. Not sure about this.

Anyway a good game was had. Thanks to my son, who has shown patience and good humour. He's looking forward to a big game next time he comes down here, so we might have a convert on our hands. Or more accurately, a returned prodigal son as he did have an active interest in historical wargaming when he was about 12/13.

The Battle in Pictures
Here are a few shots of the action with explanatory notes.


Frederick's initial assault goes in (centre). Ziethen' corps crossing the stream top right. The outskirts of Torgau town can be seen in the far distance.

Ziethen is across the stream and establishes himself on the Austrian side.

Action at the main Austrian position. Prussians attacking from the top. Top right is Holstein's cavalry wing who, thanks to indifferent command dice, failed to make their quality and numbers really tell.

Prussians to the left and above the line, Austrians  to the right/below it. Reid's Corps and the Grenadier Corps have already had an impact. More was to come from them!

Group circled in black are Ziethen's infantry around Zinna. Troops circled in yellow are  the badly beaten up Austrian cavalry - Holstein would finish them off.

Battle rages north of the Röhrgraben near the Grosser Teich pond.

Austrian infantry counter attack along the ridge line, forcing the last of Markgraf Karl's column back.

Here we can see the remnants of Karl's column  - the troops now at the rear with the round 'Attrition  Markers', 3 of which means removal of the brigade.

Back to the fight between Ziethen's horse and Lacy's wing.

The last of the meaningful fights on the northern edge of the ridge.

Ziethen's cavalry is pushed back to the stream!

The Hussar General's infantry is doing better and have now linked up with Holstein.


The end in sight for Ziethen's cavalry - just one battered cuirassier brigade faces  4 brigades of infantry and a brigade of hussars coming up on their flank.

Ziethen's infantry is faced with a choice - return to support their cavalry comrades or try to smash the flank of the Austrians on the ridge. They choose the latter in the hope of snatching victory. Eventually this attack stalls.

Here you can see some Grenzers (Austrian light troops) at the top left. They have  sneaked through the forest and attacked the battered infantry from the first Prussian wave. Many of these units had been on 2 Attrition Points. With the right timing and support, the Grenzers were able to storm the stunned Prussians and chase them from the field.


Lines at the end. The troops circled in yellow are the heroic Grenzers.

Another view of the same. The two dark patches to the left of the stream in the bottom left are ponds. Late on in the real battle Ziethen's infantry discovered the causeway between them and launched attack on the Austrians who weren't expecting anything from this direction. It was dark by then.

I'll do a separate post showing orbats and sources as this post has gone on for long enough.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

It's coming. The Decider.

The fifth in the Lockdown Liverpool v London series is on tomorrow. I started out with the intention of just playing the role of gamesmaster but my son decided the games were competitive after .....

The game will be a historical battle from the Seven Years War. Here is a clue as to which one it is. Kudos if you can make it out from my layout and photo.

Prussians to left and top right, Austrians down the centre. The board is approximately 6 feet by 4 for this one.

Prussians bottom right and top left, Austrians across the centre. The bastion (which needs painting) is purely to represent the town and will have no effect on the game.


Rules will be the simplified version of my house rules Bellona et Fortuna. The young man will be playing the unscrupulous Fritz and I'll be that wise reformer of armies Feldmarshall Count Leopold Josef Daun, Prince of Thiano. Kick off will be around 2pm.

Victoria!

Monday, 15 June 2020

A stroll through Tragdardland

Viewing the picture of the famous church tower in Tradgardland on the blog run by the estimable chronicler of the Duchy, I was reminded I had been to the capital city. I recovered some photos taken on my perambulations around the city one evening 3 years ago, almost to the day. The trip was not all pleasure for I was in the duchy on official business representing the interests of the E of C. The following might be of interest to students of the warlike arts, showing as they do that the science of military engineering reached a high degree of accomplishment there.

First, a picture of the aforementioned church together with a flying saucer that looks like it is suspended from the pole.

I believe this next one is the Ducal Palace. That's not a trick of the eye or evidence of a badly held bad camera angle. The palace really does slope down to from the north to the south. The eccentric Duke, ever a prince of the Enlightenment, had it built sloping to aid his experiments with motion. His Chief Architect had to have raised edges built onto all the tables, rather like those on ships, to prevent plates and crockery sliding off.





The next is the barracks and stable building for the Ducal horse guard, with many storeys in the roof as evidenced by the rows of windows. The lower floors have more space so the higher up the building the lower the rank. The horses were naturally housed on the ground floor being the most important and expensive inhabitants.








Whilst an extensive section of the city enceinte remains, and the curious visitor is able to walk around  it, not much can be seen due to the foliage that has been allowed to grow there. Engineers of former times would have been shocked by the lax way suburbs have been allowed to grow up and obscure the field of fire (see right of the picture).

The alert and keen-eyed will have notice the chap in the blue shirt who I'm sure was one of the duchy's security detail, keeping an eye on me as I obviously showed too much interest in the military installations - more than was necessary to be polite to ducal sensibilities. He cunningly was able to follow me by appearing to be in front of me all the time.

Here we have Alan's shed [click here for contents] where he keeps his endless assortment of toy soldiers and books of uniform plates.



Still with matters nautical, here is the innovative warehouse (the first of its kind in Northern Europe, and copied in Copenhagen by the Danes).


Also we see here again the diligent officer of the Ducal Security Detachment who has contrived to be in front of your correspondent so as not to arose suspicion by seemingly following him. But you can always spot a plain clothed policeman.

In the mercantile quarter this rather delightful tower feature on the corner is believed by many to be modelled the chateaux of the Loire, but the cognoscenti will recognise it is an homage to the Moomin house. Close inspection revealed blue underneath the peeling yellow paint.



I believe it was the 3rd Duke who was building 'the Rome of the North' and had this constructed in the late 17th century. Baroque was still the rage in the Baltic then, until the Stilbruch around the turn of the century (see the Sydporten below).



Next to the Danish minister's residence, here we see the Russian church. The ducal house was related to the Romanovs via the Dukes of Holstein. The Duke of Tragardland was secretly pleased when his childhood playmate, Charles Peter Ulrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp (a.k.a. Pushy Piet*) had been removed as Tsar of All the Russia's by his ambitious German wife, Catherine. The two duchies' interests had common ground with each other and Russia used them as counter-weights to Danish power in the Baltic. They wanted the Danes as allies against the Swede, but they didn't want the Danes becoming too powerful.




Back to military engineering. The approach to the Citadel from the town side.



The Garnison-kirken at the citadel. Pews in the church are covered in graffiti carved by the bored soldiery over the years. I will spare your blushes dear reader by not revealing what they said about such exemplars of Christian morality as Princess S of A.Z.




The Sydporten at the Citadel.



A wider view of the Sydporten. Here you can see the graceful proportions and symmetry with which the ducal engineer endowed the citadel. Also the keen observer will notice the restrained decoration of the gate house. Surely a sign of austere Lutheran Pietism. Phillip Spener travelled to Tradgardland and Pietism took root in Tradgardland before Denmark. The style is in marked contrast however to the playful style in his vestments adopted by Duke Karl Frederik.



The peaceful waters of the wet ditch today bely the harsh realties that would have face anyone attempting to storm the citadel. This view is taken from the apex of one of the bastions.



A rather idyllic view of the same bastion and the Garrison-kirchen. With the lily pads, grassy bank and church spire you could believe yourself in a peaceful English cathedral city.



View through the inner dry ditch/fausse-braye up to a bastion flank. Runners shown for scale.



Battery piece with replica carriage in a bastion.



Curtain wall between two bastions. My favourite of the pictures of the citadel. Your correspondent thrilled at the sight of this.



Nearly there now. In fact we are now. Seasoned travellers will have worked out my direction of travel and will have correctly divined that my destination was the most famous statue in Tradgardland. Yes the renowned Den Glatte Fiskekone (the Slutty Fishwife). The 'lady' here, whilst at her work of descaling, gutting and filleting a fish, has 'artfully' allowed her apparel to slip and reveal her gifts. It also appears that her lower garments have become so wet that they appear not to be there. Some say this was all deliberate to distract the rent collector from his business. Ignorant people point to the skirts of her dress and say she is a mermaid because she has a fish’s tail. In the Duchy they leave such silly notions to less enlightened folk like the Danes.



And that dear reader is the end of my sojourn in Tradgardland.

I leave you with this plan of the city. In the south you can see clearly why the governor should be clapped in irons. Governors owe their princes the duty to keep suburbs further away from the enceinte, and must not be worn down by the wailings of the populace to the contrary. 








Sunday, 14 June 2020

‘Our brave boys’

A group of ‘patriots’ went to protect the Churchill statue outside Parliament yesterday. Thank God British culture has someone to defend it eh.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/keith-palmer-memorial-urinating-video-arrest-a4468481.html?amp

I bet he’s not a racist either.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Hex Grid-based version of D3ECW Fast Play Rules

The following is a copy of my gridded version of the D3 ECW rules posted by Peter at Grid based wargaming - but not always . These are a fast play rules. I didn't particularly take a long time adapting them to a grid-based game and I may have missed a trick or few on the way. Anyway, they're here for you to copy and use and adapt, but please give credit and kudos to Peter when you do. I tried to upload them as a document for download but Blogger doesn't seem to like files created in Preview or Pages.


**************************

D3 English Civil War Wargaming Rules - Hex Grid Version


These rules are a variant of One-Hour Wargame Pike & Shot rules by Neil Thomas. 
The game uses a combination of D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) & D6 dice (1,2,3,4,5,6). 
They are geared towards games using 8-12 units per side.

Updated 1-Jun-20 to clarify Trotters in melee.

GRID AND ORIENTATION

The hex grid is normally laid out with the apex pointing towards the long side of the table. Forward movement and firing is permitted to either direction on each side of the apex. Units that turn to the flank can only move and fire along the axis perpendicular to the ‘flat’ side of the hex that they are facing. See diagram below. 





Only one unit may be placed in a hex. All movement distances and firing ranges given below are in hexes. A firing range of 1 for example means that the unit can fire into the next hex (providing it is within the above mentioned field of fire).

For the purposes of Remote Gaming the grid has an alphanumeric referencing system. See APPENDIX.


UNITS
All units are singly based & represent the following unit types:
  • INFANTRY — Combined pikemen & musketeers, the mainstay of infantry units.
  • COMMANDED SHOT — A detachment of musketeers used to hold a position or support cavalry. They are able to occupy woods.
  • DRAGOONS — Mounted musketeers used to quickly seize key locations on the battlefield & support the cavalry on the wings.
  • TROTTERS — Cavalry trained to discharge their pistols before contact & then advance at the trot. 
  • GALLOPERS — Fast, hard hitting cavalry trained to charge at the Gallop, using the pistol with the sword on contact.
  • ARTILLRY — More of a nuisance factor than a game winner. Once in position & firing they must stay in place & make no further moves. They are problematic but can force a reluctant enemy to advance or suffer losses over time.
  • COMMANDER — Representing the player on the tabletop.

SEQUENCE OF PLAY
Players take turns to move, shoot & melee.
  1. Determine the number of activations a side can take. (Based on the number of units a commander can see & are within 2.)
  2. Activate units one at a time up to the maximum allowed for the turn.
  3. For each enemy unit routed increase the hits on the enemy commander.

MOVEMENT
Unit movement allowances are:
    • Gallopers - 2 or 3 if charging into contact
    • Trotters - 2
    • Dragoons - 2
    • Infantry Commanded Shot, & Artillery - 1
A unit may move up to their movement allowance, but never exceed it.
All movement must be forward & in a straight-line.
To turn units pivot on their centre at the start or end of their movement, bur may only pivot once during movement.
Unless the units is moving directly towards an enemy with the intent to charge them. A unit must cease movement once it comes within 1 of an enemy unit
Units within 1 of an enemy unit cannot move, unless to retire or are pivoting to face an enemy (which counts as a move).
Units may not move through other units, even friendly units.

TERRAIN EFFECTS
  • WOODS - Provide cover & only Commanded Shot units can enter
  • TOWNS - Provide cover & only to Infantry & Commanded Shot may end their move in a town. Only one unit may occupy a town.
  • HEDGES - Provide cover only for melees. Units move only 1 when entering or leaving an area of hedges.
  • MARSH/LAKES - impassable to all units.
  • RIVERS - impassable except at bridges & fords.
  • HILLS - provide cover to units defending a hill in combat.
  • ENTRENCHMENTS - Provide cover for infantry, skirmishers & artillery units. When shooting units can re-roll D3, but must accept the second score.

SHOOTING
Units have field of fire is as shown in Grid & Orientation above, unless they are in a town when they have a 360 degree field of fire.
Units must have a clear line of sight.
A unit may only shoot if they are moving forward or are stationary.
Pistols have a range of 1, Muskets a range of 2, & artillery 4.
Roll the dice to determine the number of hits:
    • Dragoons D3-1
    • Commanded Shot D3-1
    • Trotters D3 (ammo)
    • Infantry D3 (ammo)
    • Artillery D3-1 (shoot every other turn)

Ammo - On a D3 score of 3 the unit runs out of ammunition & may no longer shoot for the remainder of the game.
If a unit is in a town or woods reduce the hits by 1 except for artillery which ignore cover.
Artillery must have a line of sight to target and cannot shoot over friendly units. They also only shoot every other move.
MELEE
Only cavalry & infantry can initiate a melee with other units. This occurs whenever they move into contact with another unit.
Units can only attack the unit they are facing.
Attacking Gallopers roll D3+1 when charging in. 

Cavalry (eg Trotters out of ammo and Gallopers already in melee) roll D3.
Infantry roll D3
Commanded shot roll D3-1
Dragoons roll D3-2
The number of hits rolled are modified by the following:
    • If a target occupies a hill or is attacking the flank of a unit, they have the option to re-roll & accept the second score.
    • If a target is Infantry or Cuirassiers unit -1.
    • if target in a town, woods, or hedges -1.
Artillery units are eliminated if engaged in melee.

Units may not leave a melee unless by giving ground.

GIVE GROUND
If a commander is unable to activate a unit which is in melee to continue the fight, then the unit must retire 1, but still remain facing the enemy. If they are unable to give ground due to blocking terrain or units, then they must take a hit.

ROUTING
A hit represents a combination of casualties, declining moral & exhaustion caused to a unit by combat. Units rout when they exceed 6 hits & are removed from the tabletop

ARMY RESOLVE
If an army's commander has more hits than number of available units, then the army retires.
 COMMANDER
The number of units a commander can see & are within 2 determines number of activations their army can make.
If an enemy unit comes into contact with a commander, remove the commander who can return next move from base edge of tabletop.
Commanders may never be shot at.
Commanders can attach themselves to a unit for protection, but reduces the range of command by 1. If unit eliminated, then general is treated as if he has been attacked (see above).
A commander may move at no cost after all their units have moved. This includes any unit they may be attached to.

Units with an attached commander can re-roll any attacking dice (shooting and melee).

ELITE PIKE (optional)
Elite pike are Infantry units  that cannot shoot & their melee attacks benefit with a +1.

CUIRASSIERS (optional)
Cuirassiers are treated as Trotters, but their three-quarter plate armour reduces any melee hits by 1.

APPENDIX - GRID REFERENCING

In the example below the village is at grid reference H1. The woods are at grid references G2 and H3. The hedge runs from M6 to N7. 


Sunday, 7 June 2020

Lansdown FaceTime Game

My son and I had our 4th FaceTime game on Sunday. After the lack of clarity over what was where (or 'fog of war' if you prefer) in our Continuation War game the other week, I decided to try a gridded game. Last Autumn I created a hex grid on the back of my battle cloth. I fancied trying the ECW D3 rules produced by Peter of Grid based wargaming... fame. These aren't written for a gridded game but it wasn't too much bother to adapt them. We did veer slightly from the standard ECW D3 rules in that we had subordinate commanders ( 2 Royalist and 1 Roundhead) as the table looked dauntingly wide for one commander to control more than a tiny proportion.

Once we got the hang of them, we managed to churn through the turns quite quickly. The game was over in something like 1 hour 45 minutes and lasted 6 turns. I dare say we would take less time if we played it again. The game ended in a tactical victory for the Royalists, but a bloody one in which they lost more units than the Parliamentarians. So a fairly similar outcome to history but one achieved in a slightly different way.

I set the game up using a grid 17 by 8. The hexes are 13cm across the flats. Another change from previous games was the use of a stable camera rather than using my phone. Unfortunately I hadn't figured out how do screenshots with it. My son took some from his end but these didn't come out for some reason, so I still don't know how it looked from his end. I only had the small version of the shot in the corner of my screen. However, what we do have, another change, is a set of maps showing the game turn-by-turn thanks to my son keeping a record. I gave him the Royalist side as there was a strong Cornish presence at the battle and he is half-Cornish himself.

Roundhead centre and right. The white beads that you can just about see on the Royalist side have letters on them  for the grid referencing system. I bought a string bead set from the toy section of Wilko's a while back not knowing what I would use them for, but knowing they would be useful at some point.
Approximate starting positions.
I chose to start the game at the point when Waller's attack on Freezing Hill had been beaten back and he organised his army to receive the Royalist attack on Lansdown Hill. The first map below shows the approximate positions which I gave my son as part of his briefing pack. We then placed our respective units on copies of the maps and then I set them up on the table when we did the big reveal. The dark thick T-shape shows the steep slopes of Lansdown Hill and the rest of the area inside it is considered the plateau.


My son hadn't actually read an account of the battle, but the briefing gave a nudge by saying most of his pike could be considered elite if they were banded into pike only units. However, here he strayed from historical precedent. His Cornish pikemen were banded together in units but on his right wing (top left of the picture) not in the centre. The commanded shot were then placed in the centre (flanked by the guns) and his left wing was made up of all his horse and dragoons. There were also two pike and shot units on his right. He didn't know what units I had, just that I had less of each arm apart from dragoons.

Position after Turn 1. Blue = Royalist. This shot is rather truncated and doesn't show the Royalist right wing fully. Foot = Pike & Shot. Unit labels inverted show units moving back. Numbers next to units are the numbers of hits suffered. I am moving the horse wings back hoping to use my guns as flanking support before facing the Royalists in melee.





After Turn 2.The Royalists horse attacked my right wing horse unit and came off the worst. The Roundheads had good luck in most of the melees in the game.
After Turn 3. The Roundhead foot unit between the woods held up the Royalist musketeers for most of the game, routing at least one unit who tried to club it out with them. The dragoons retreated out of the wood after some good shooting. On the right two units of Royalist horse have been routed, but the hits begin to mount up on the Roundhead horse. The Cornish pikes are off the pic to the left (Royalist right).

After Turn 4. The Roundhead horse units on the right have gone, and the Royalist horse have hit the foot unit at the same time. Despite getting re-rolls for hitting the enemy in the flank, the cavaliers' dice rolls were poor. We knocked off some of the hits on one cavalier unit because it seemed unfair that the foot unit got two lots of dice rolls. Meanwhile, the cuirassiers are on the way to the rescue.
After Turn 5. On the left the pike unit is ready to climb the wall and seize the rebels' guns. The guns were out of command all game and did nothing. The melee between horse and foot on the right has ended in the foot and one horse unit routing, leaving one battered cavalier unit left. The Roundheads have routed more Royalists, but they are now on 4 out of the original 7 units themselves. A miscalculation on my part was leaving the foot unit too long guarding the gap between the woods.
After Turn 6. It's all over. Despite the cuirassiers smashing the last Royalist horse unit,  the stalwart Foot regiment between the woods has finally gone. The Roundheads retreat off the field. The Royalists are in no position to pursue and spend the night on the stricken field.

So overall a swift game and a satisfactory outcome. I realised afterwards I had made a mistake on the Parliamentarian OOB. They should have had more horse than the Royalists, but no dragoons. I doubt it would have made a difference to the end result, but those dragoons did a good job in the wood. With an extra horse unit, I'd almost certainly have placed it on the left like the cuirassiers and had to drag it over to the right where it might have been used to hit say the Royalist dragoons. On balance the right result.

With the scores at 2-all and my son has challenged me to a deciding SYW game, a period we haven't played for a long while. The question is, whether to do a gridded game or not. Surprisingly, he wasn't overly enamoured with the gridded game despite the greater clarity it offered.