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.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Battle of Roundway Down 1643 - Another Refight!

This time I used Neil Thomas' Wargaming: An Introduction for the game to give a contrast to the Polemos rules, but keeping most other things the same as in my previous refight of this battle; see here for details. 

 Neil Thomas' rules don't specify troop ratios or ground scales or anything like that, but do give some very generic army lists.  I used the following forces:

Royalist Army:

2 units of Horse (Chevaliers, Medium Armour, Elite)
2 units of Horse (Chevaliers, Light Armour, Trained)
1 unit of Artillery (but allowed to move at the same rate as Pikemen)
1 unit of Foot (3 bases of Shot, 3 bases of Pike, Light Armour, Trained)
1 unit of Foot (3 bases of Shot, 3 bases of Pike, Light Armour, Elite)

Parliamentary Army:

1 unit of Cuirassiers (Reiters, Heavy Armour, Elite)
3 units of Horse (Reiters, Medium Armour, Levy)
2 units of Foot (4 bases of Shot, 2 bases of Pike, Light Armour, Trained)
2 units of Artillery

The Set-Up:
The same terrain as previously:  Parliamentarians (left) with Horse to the flanks and Foot and Guns in the centre defend Roundway Down from the approaching Royalist cavalry (right)

And centred on the Parliamentary army: note again the road by which the Royalist infantry can/will approach

And the view from behind the Parliamentary lines

And closer in on the defending Parliamentarians; the Cuirassier unit is top-right.

And a view of the Royalists approaching

And reversed angle
 The Battle:

The Royalist Horse advance - one unit takes some casualties from the defending artillery

The Royalist Horse advances; just before contact the Parliamentarian Horse advance and discharge their pistols, causing some further casualties

Same position, looking from the Royalist side down through the Parliamentary position

The fight gets to sword range; losses on both sides, but the Cuirassiers are coming off distinctly worse...

On the other flank, quite even but with a slight advantage to Parliament's troopers

On the near flank (bottom), the two units of Royalist Horse have finally overcome the Lobsters.  The Royalist reserves have come up but have suffered very heavily from artillery fire and then musketry.; the cavalry fight on the far side is a close-run bloody draw

On the near flank, the second line of Parliamentary cavalry tries to restore the situation; both Royalist Horse units are distinctly worse for wear!  In the centre the Royalist cavalry managed to destroy one unit of Parliamentary artillery before being destroyed itself

A grim slow struggle on the far flank as only small remnants of the initial units are still fighting!

With no further Royalist cavalry threat to the centre, the Parliamnetary infantry wheel to be in a position to fire on the Royalist cavalry; the Parliamentary reserve has already turned about to face the rear and the approaching Royalist infantry

On the far flank, the Parliamentary cavalry (much reduced) finally emerges victorious!  The Royalist centre and right is now completely open...

Parliamentary musketry finishes off another unit of Royalist Horse, now only  a single unit remains

The Royalist infantry approach and start taking some casualties from musket fire; the Parliamentary cavalry charge the Royalist artillery (right)

The Royalists concede as clearly nothing can stop the Parliamentary cavalry now
 Game Notes: Interesting for both the similarities and differences with the previous Polemos refight of this battle.  The main similarities were that the Royalist success at Roundway Down is difficult to replicate; that the game was fun; and that as the Royalist commander I made the same appalling mistake again by moving the reserve forward far too far and far too early!!  The differences are perhaps more interesting though: infantry is more effective under these rules, and artillery even more so.  There are no "command rules" at all really (I use a very tame one where the general can attach to a unit and allows a re-roll for failed morale tests, but counts as another unit eliminated if he is with a unit when it becomes eliminated), but the attritional model of combat means the game overall isn't any quicker (it takes longer to dispose of enemy units).  It is however far less hard on the brain, although that comes at the cost of perhaps a little under-writing and maybe less appreciation of some of the constraints really faced by commanders of the time.  Occasionally I suspect I am playing to the rules and not the intent.  I am not sure whether I feel that this game is calibrated better or worse overall than the Polemos rules.  The factors look as if they are bigger and bolder in Neil Thomas' rules, but I am not sure that this is in fact the case.  Some of the ranges and suchlike are definitely wrong, but Neil Thomas states that he is happy with such things if he is still creating the correct overall effect.  And for this battle, it depends on one's view of the relative effectiveness of horse, foot and guns in mid C17 warfare.
Incidentally, I can't recommend these rules highly enough to the beginner or to the fan of simple rules - they definitely give the smoother, lighter experience. 

Figures by Baccus 6mm.

Battle of Roundway Down 1643 - A Polemos ECW Refight

The article in Miniature Wargames that featured the Battle of Lansdowne also featured the Battle of Roundway Down (and see here too). 

This was one of the biggest Royalist successes of the entire war, achieved despite the apparent odds. I used the following orders of battle:


C-in-C: Lord Wilmot (Capable); Lord Hopton (commanding the Foot only)
Horse: 14 bases of Trained Horse (Swedish tactics)
Foot: 2 bases of Veteran Foot (shot-heavy); 2 bases of Trained Foot (shot-heavy)
Guns: 1 base of Light Artillery


C-in-C: Waller (Decisive)
Horse: 5 bases of Trained Cuirassiers (Dutch tactics); 15 bases of Trained Horse (Dutch Tactics)
Foot: 4 bases of Trained Foot (shot-heavy)
Guns: 2 bases of Artillery

The Royalist foot would appear after 8 turns from the opening of the fighting.

 The Set-Up:

The Parliamentary army defending Roundway Down; the Royalist cavalry approach from the right

The view from the rear of the Parliamentary army over Roundway Down; the road to the bottom-right is where the Royalist foot may eventually appear (it is the road to the town of Devizes)

A view of the Royalist Horse:
The Battle:

The Royalist Horse advance; the Parliamentary wings advance to meet

The Royalist horsemen getting the better of Hazelrigg's "Lobsters"

However the Parliamentary horse on the other flank get the better of their opposition: two bases of Royalist troopers rout

The to-and-fro of the fighting between the Royalist Horse and the Roundhead cuirassiers leaves the Royalsit victorious but disorganized.

The Parliamentary cavalry on the left have punched right through the centre of the opposing Royalist cavalry

The Royalists bring up their reserves to try and impose some order on the situation

However the Parliamentary forces manage to get around and start attacking the Royalists' right flank

The Royalist horse pushes on on the left to try and restore a faltering situation

Further uncoordinated attacks don't achieve success: the Parliamentary artillery achieve an unlikely success and throw the Royalist Horse back at close range

The Royalist troopers on the left just cannot make that breakthrough

Whilst the Royalist centre is in almost full retreat

With only the Royalist left flank left in the game - and that only just, with the Royalist army's morale now decidedly low, the battle ended.  The Royalist foot never got into a position to launch an attack.
 Game Notes: Another game where I think I have struggled to do full justice to the historical events but it did play out okay on the tabletop.  I am sorry that the battle will be hard to follow visually - a problem where everyone on each side is dressed the same!
The rules again gave a good game, although I did worry a little about the way that tempo works here. The Royalists never had enough Tempo Points to simply order a general advance.  In some ways DBx is better here: the difficulty there is in doing lots of discrete activities whereas in Polemos it is seen as intrinsically the number of units being ordered (generally speaking) that is the drain on command effort.
Although history was reversed, the initial bit wasn't too off: the initial deployment was rigged to enable the Royalist Horse to achieve the overlaps which appeared to give them victory on the day.  One thing that I continually get wrong as a player is messing up the depth that WofTK Horse needs; the Parliamentarians lost more bases than needed earlier on by troops in the second line being routed into by the leading lobsters.  However that was nowhere near as bad as what I did with the Royalist reserves, moving them far too far forward far too early: this enabled the victorious Parliamentary cavalry to take them in the flank.  They needed to be at least 400m further back.
Incidentally, I have pretty much given up using Royalist Horse the way the game has designed them to be.  The intention is that they will use the charge (which in Polemos is a form of ranged combat) to intimidate their opponents and then charge home - but risk going into a fairly disorganized pursuit.  However, the risks in the first and the latter are such that they are actually too risky!  Better effects seem to be achievable by the more pedestrian Parliamentarian cavalry.

As ever, rules are the Polemos ECW set and the figures are from Baccus 6mm ECW range.

A Polemos ECW Refight - The Battle of Lansdowne

This weekend has seen quite an English Civil War / War of the Three Kingdoms focus.  The first battle was the Battle of Landsdowne taken from a scenario published in Miniature Wargames 19:

There was a map which was okay but quite a lot of the details were a bit buried in the text.  In those pre-internet days, there was often an emphasis in the article on explaining the history of the battle, to the slight neglect of the wargaming set up.  There is very little about relative troop quality and experience, commanders' abilities and so on.  Anyway, between the article and the wikipedia entry, I came up with the following orders of battle:


C-in-C Waller (Decisive)

16 bases of Trained Horse (Dutch tactics)
4 bases of Trained Cuirassiers (Dutch tactics)

1 base of Trained Foot (Pike heavy)
2 bases of Trained Foot (Shot)
1 base of Trained Dragoons

2 bases of Guns


C-in-C Hopton (Decisive)

14 bases of Trained Horse (Swedish tactics)

4 bases of Trained Foot (mixed)
2 bases of Veteran Foot (mixed) 
2 bases of Trained Foot (Shot)
1 base of Trained Dragoons

4 bases of Guns 

However, the staging of the battle was more troublesome, as it was difficult to work out at which point it should start!  Waller goaded Hopton into attacking by driving in his pickets and some of his cavalry; and then later goaded the Cornish foot into advancing by his artillery fire.  I simply don't know how to set up the game in the context of the Polemos rules where any of that makes much sense.  Given the ranges and the terrain, Waller's army would have to be deployed much closer to Hopton's compared to what the reality seems to have been.  So I have used a bit of a wargamer's handwave and just committed Hopton to the attack.

The Deployment:

View from behind Waller's position; Horse at the rear with the cuirassiers on the right; guns and foot behind a breastwork overlooking the road and fot and dragoons in the woods on the slopes; the Royalist army can be seen across the valley approaching over Freezing Hill

Same position

The view along the slope from the Parliamentarian left to the right

A closer view of the Royalist army in standard array: foot in the centre, horse on each flank
The Battle:

The Royalist Army advances slowly down the slope and into the valley; a unit of Dragoons scouts ahead to find a weaker spot in the woodline (bottom-right)

The Royalist army begins its attack: infantry brigades prepare to begin clearing the woods; the now dismounted Royalist dragoons have climbed up the slope (top-left)

The first Royalist attack is successful: superior numbers defeat the Parliamentary musketmen

The victorious Royalist infantry slowly advance throught the woods (centre-left); an indecisive exchange of musketry has commenced on the opposite side of the road

Same position, but this shot shows (top-left) the progress of the Royalist dragoons too

As soon as Hazelrigg's regiment begins to receive musketry fire it advances into the woods; perhaps surprisingly its numbers tell and the Dragoons are severely shaken

The dragoons aer routed in short order, but the Royalist infantry is now in a position to launch its attack up the slope against the breastwork: Parliamnentary musketry and gunnery force the Cornish foot back (bottom-right)

After a while, the Royalist infantry has also managed to get into position to assault the woods on the other side of the road

Indecisive infantry fighting continues - the Royalists cannot make their infantyr come to grips either in the woods or up the slopes

Until they can!  Superior numbers and pressure eventually tell in the woods and push the Parliamentary shot back

Mixed fortunes around the breastwork:: a battalia of Cornish infantry gets into one end of the breastwork but the Parliamentary infantry and gunners hold the main part still and throw the Royalists back down the slope

The Royalist infantry in the woods have routed the Parliamentary shot and are slowly advancing, ignoring the Dragoons to the flank (bottom-right) as the supporting Horse watches them

The Royalist infantry reform for another assault on the breastwork, whilst the lead Cornish foot is attacked by some troops of Parliamentary horse (top-right)

The Royalist infantry fail again and this time are pursued; the Parliamentary horse look to be introuble against the solid Cornishmen further up the road

A closer-view of the Parliamentary horse struggling to beat the Cornish infantry

The successful Parliamentary counterattack routs some Royalist infantry whilst others become shaken

However, the Royalist infantry past the breastwork have seen off their mounted opponents

The attacking Parliamentary infantry is now surrounded, whilst Royalist infantry push forward through the woods; Royalist horse attacks the dragoons on foot in the woods

The Royalists have essentially broken through in the centre now as the last of the Parliamentary foot is on the verge of defeat

The position at the end of the battle: the Royalists have forced the slope and since Parliament has no remaining infantry, time for them to pull out
 Game Notes: Enjoyable enough, more so than I had perhaps anticipated, but I don't think I (or the scenario) really managed to capture the full flavour of the events of the battle which are quite hard to replicate.  However, the actual assault doesn't seem to have been too far away from following real life.
I don't quite know what to make of the Polemos ECW rules at the moment.  They are good for solo play, work well enough, give some interesting command restrictions and on an individual level each rule seems sensible enough.  However, the factors seem to throw up some quite odd results.  The bonus for attacking plus the overlap bonus that Horse will usually get (because there are only c.125 troops per mounted base as against c.d500 troops per foot base) mean that Horse is very effective in these rules, especially as musketry is very ineffective indeed.  That is why each side was able to successfully pull of a mounted attack against isolated infantry defending in woods.  The modelling of disorganization via "shaken" points seems more realistic than, say, DBA, but that and the command point mechanic do notably add to the complexity compared to DBA.  That said, when you get to know the rules, you can rattle through them quite quickly.  I think this one took 20 turns, representing 1 hour and three-quarters of real time, which seems not too unrealistic for this sort of affair.  So it doesn't slow down the game too much, but it does notably increase the brain-strain.

Troops by Baccus 6mm, including some of the very nice new ECW Horse!