Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire Peninsular War, but with the odd foray into ancient, medieval and WW2 battles.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Polemos ECW Battle - Coutras 1587 Re-themed

"Coutras 1587" - A French Wars of Religion Battle Re-framed as an ECW Battle

Orders of Battle:

The Royal Army (Admiral Joyce):

The Right:
5 bases of Raw Infantry (M) in two brigades

The Centre:
14 bases of Veteran Horse (S) in two brigades
1 base of Raw Dragoons
1 base of Artillery

The Left:
6 bases of Raw Infantry (M) in two brigades

The Parliamentary Army (Lord Joseph):

Infantry:
3 bases of Trained Infantry (S)
8 bases of Trained Infantry (SH)
1 base of Artillery

Cavalry: 
8 bases of Trained Horse (D) in two brigades
1 base of Trained Dragoons 

 I also gave the Royal Army two Poor generals, each controlling one of the infantry wings.

This scenario was re-themed from the Battle of Coutras scenario in Minature Wargames 008:


The forces were faithfully ported across, with the closest reflection of troop types and ratings possible, with the French Catholics becoming the Royalists and the French Huguenots becoming the Parliamentarians (it seemed most appropriate this way round!). 

The Set-Up


An "aerial shot": slightly unnerving because it isn't straight above!! But useful for showing the ground and general positions: river to the left, with woods and marshes; the twon of Coutras astride the road, then scrub and trees at the bottom-right (treated as "enclosure" in the rules).  The Royal Army is at the top of the board, foot on the flanks and horse in the centre; the Parliamentary army is at the bottom; shot on the flanks, mixed infantry and horse in the centre

The position looking from Coutras behind the Parliamentary line towards the Royalists - note the position of the left flank is hinged on the marshes, protected by a unit of shot.


 
The view from just behind the Parliamentary commander in the centre

 Let Battle Commence!
Following the Royalist battle-plan in the original, the initial attacks were directed against the Parliamentary flanks

On theother flank, the leading brigade of Royalist infantry, with Dragoons in support, attmepts to get to grips with the defending Parliamentary shot
The Flank Attacks:
The initial period was dominated by this Royalist attempt to attack and turn one or both of the Parliamentary flanks.

The advancing Royalist infantry struggle to wade through the marsh and musketry combination (shaken markers are still red counters at this point, I will use something better by the end of the week!)
A similar struggle on the other side of the table.  The Royalist infantry outnumbers its opponents, but is undergunned and ill-experienced in comparison to the Parliamentary musketeers.
First blood for the King! The left hand unit of Shot (red flag) is routed by the Royalist infantry on the left of picture who have managed to negotiate the ground and the musketry; their comrades have been driven back by the fire of the second unit of shot (yellow flag), however
Affairs are a mirror image on the other wing: the Royalist infantry struggle to make progress through the marsh

The right flankingRoyalist unit (mid-left of picture, yellow flag) is routed by the fire of the Parliamentary shot
The remaining Parliamentary shot on the right is coming under increasing pressure, outnumbered as it is by six-to-one


Parliamentary infantry engage in a desultory musket duel with some Royalist dragoons
The Royalist Attack

Feeling that the flanking attacks were going as well as could be expected - and the Parliamentarians were certainly not able to move any troops from the flanks to support the centre - the Royalist commander begins to move up his Horse ready to charge

The Parliamentarians watch and wait...

The Royalist infantry finally break through the wall of musketry and the scrub and come to grips with the remaining Parliamentary shot, who flee in short order

The storm about to break on the Parliamentarian centre...

The Parliamentarian commander advances some foot (towards the left of the picture) to try and disrupt the Royalist preparations, without any appreciable success

Eschewing any complexity, the Royalist cavalry charge straight in.  As so often, they prove that "bold measures are the safest", routing 500 Parliamentary foot and 500 horse in 10 bloody minutes!  A Parliamentary counter-attack achieved nothing but exhausting the troops and getting the commander captured!  At this point, Parliamentary morale collapsed... 
 Game Notes:
An enjoyable enough game, although I badly messed up the scenario's translation into the ECW period, which made the game far too one-sided (in reality, this had been a crushing Huguenot victory).  There were three main drivers for this:
1.  The original scenario rated the French Catholic horse as 'A Class' and the French Huguenot horse as 'B Class'.  However, the rules reflected a tactical superiority of the Hugeunot horse over the Catholic 'lancers'.  In the Polemos ECW rules, the Royalist cavalry generally have a tactical superiority over their Parliamentarian rivals.  Thus in this game the Royalist cavalry was simply too strong for anything the Parliamentarians had.
2.  Because the Royalist Army was 27-bases strong overall, I gave the Royalists a couple of sub-commanders.  This however made the Royalist infantry too capable of recovering and re-attacking the Parliamentary shot on the flanks until they got lucky.
3.  The scenario suggested that the Royalists should get a -1 on all dice throws to simulate the effect of their long night march before the battle.  I am slightly sceptical of such things in general and didn't implement it but looking back on how the game went, I think this may have been a mistake!
In addition, I probably deployed the Huguenot lines of horse too close together (which meant that the rear line was swept away in the rout of the first - support lines in this game probably need to be 2BW back for horse. 

Played with the Polemos ECW rules, using Baccus 6mm ECW figures and Total Battle Miniatures' buildings on a 4'x3' table.  The game took about two hours.

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