Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Friday 1 January 2016

Polemos ECW - Battle of Stow-On-The-Wold, 21st March 1646

This battle of Stow-on-the-Wold was the last major conflict of the First Civil War, when the last Royalist Army was defeated by Parliament.   Veteran wargamer Stuart Asquith created a scenario based on the battle for Battlegames magazine issue 006.  I have followed the scenario, only converting the troops into Polemos ECW terms, which is the ruleset I currently use for the period.  So:

The Royalists:
1st Brigade (Lucas): 2 bases Trained Horse (S-Swedish), 2 bases Raw Horse (S)
2nd Brigade (Vaughan): 2 bases Trained Horse (S), 2 bases Raw Horse (S)
3rd Brigade: 2 bases Trained Foot (Shot Heavy), 1 base Raw Foot (Shot Heavy)
4th Brigade: 2 bases Raw Foot (Shot Heavy)

The Parliamentarians:
 1st Brigade (Morgan): 2 bases Veteran Horse (D-Dutch), 2 bases Trained Horse (D)
2nd Brigade (Brereton): 3 bases Veteran Horse (D), 2 bases Trained Horse (D), 1 base Trained Dragoons
3rd Brigade (Birch): 1 base Veteran Foot (Shot Heavy), 2 bases Trained Foot (Shot Heavy)

Notes: 1 infantry base = c.500, 1 cavalry base = c.125, 1 dragoon base = c.250

The Terrain & Set-Up:

The initial set-up: the Royalist Army at the top in a traditional deployment: cavalry on the left (Lucas), cavalry on the right (Vaughan), the commander Astley in the centre with the infantry.  Parliament's Army is at the bottom, with from left to right, Morgan, Birch and Brereton's brigades.  The battlefield is an open slope, with the Royalists uphill.

View from behind Morgan's trooper on the Parliamentary left

View of the right from behind Brereton's command

The Royalist infantry: five battalia strong

From behind the Parliamentary infantry, looking up the slope towards their Royalist counterparts
The Initial Moves:

The roundheads advance on both flanks with their horse, hoping to defeat their opposite numbers then envelop the Royalist infantry; the Royalist infantry advance, hoping to get to grips with their opposite numbers too.
 The Right Wing:

The Royalist cavalry attempted to overthrow the Parliamentarians in a charge rather than await the onslaught.  They were singularly unsuccessful, being driven back up the slope in disorder.

The roundhead cavalry then pushed forward to exploit their advantage, and the Royalists recoil.

Most of the Royalist cavalry flee or surrender after a short, sharp melee and the Royalist commander, Astley, is captured at this point.  Only one squadron (centre) hasn't routed yet, but it can only be a matter of time...

Same position, slightly different angle

The last Royalist cavalry is being pushed back, being overmatched in quality and quantity by their opponents.  The dragoons in the foreground are turning to support the flank of the Parliamentary infantry (out of shot to the left)

The position just before the destruction of the last Royalist cavalry on this wing
 The Left Wing:

Not as many pictures were useable from those taken of this flank unfortunately.  However, this is the position after the first clashes: one Royalist squadron is fleeing towards the woods (top right) but some raw Horse supporting them have pushed back the Parliamentary cavalry down the slope (centre-left with red shaken marker); the Royalist cavalry on the right is holding but under pressure (see the shaken marker to the right)

The Royalist cavalry in rout, except for the single base remaining.  Its veteran opponents have been routed and are fleeing back down the slope! (centre-left)

They too were eventually driven off however, and the victorious Parliamentary cavalry is now wheeling right towards the flanks of the Royalist infantry...
 Coup de Grace!

Just ss the final Royalist cavalry was being put to flight or to the sword, the Royalist infantry get to grips with the roundheads.  Hamstrung by the Royalist Army morale beginning to collapse (understandably), the Royalist infantry would not charge home.  They did however deliver a volley that would not have disgraced redcoats 150 years later!  The Parliamentary infantry waver...but in the background one can see the Royalist second line fleeing from the wheeling Parliamentary cavalry...

Unortunately the Royalist foot cannot be persuaded to advance and break the Parliamentary centre and the inevitable happened: the Roundhead cavalry surrounded the Royalist infantry and destroyed them....
 Game Notes: Another small, short game played as a training game for me before I try bigger battles with these rules in this period.  It was played on a 3'x2' table and took 12 turns altogether (just shy of 60 minutes playing time).  It was a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians which followed a broadly historical course.  The superior experience of the roundheads proved too much for their inexperienced opponents who had moments of success but lost too heavily in the initial exchanges to really recover.  Losing the Royalist commander in the middle of the battle didn't help too much here either.
I played the game solo using a variant of the solitaire tempo bidding process I have previously described. The Polemos ECW rules were used and gave an exciting game, although the morale rules felt a little quirky - more on this when I review the rules more fully.  Everything felt believable though with the right mixture of choice and chance.  The scenario was good too.  One could play this using the Baccus 6mm ECW boxed set without any additional troops I think (except replacing the Dragoons with another base of Trained Horse, perhaps) so it would be good for a newcomer to the period or rules.  The terrain is very simple though: a plain field with a few decorative trees, some very small woods at two of the corners and a road!  Well within the reaches of an hour's DIY and some cheap commercial tree models.

I am a fan of Phil Barker's rules but I have never played DBR: my troops are based to the Polemos standard so I would need to make extensive changes to use DBR without rebasing.  Does anyone have any opinion on the relative merits of DBR and Polemos ECW?

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