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.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Polemos ECW - Battle of Auldearn 1645

As an introductory solitaire game to help me to learn the Polemos ECW rules, I've had a go at doing Auldearn 1645.

Auldearn 9th May 1645:

Royalist Order of Battle:
C-in-C: Montrose (Good)
2 Veteran bases of Infantry (Shot only)
2 Veteran bases of Infantry (Shot Heavy)
2 Trained bases of Horse (Swedish Tactics)

Covenanter Order of Battle:
C-in-C: Hurry (Average)
1st Foot Brigade (English Regular Infantry):
4 Trained bases of Infantry (Shot Heavy)
2nd Foot Brigade
3 Raw bases of Infantry (Mixed)
3 Raw bases of Horse (Dutch Tactics)
4 bases of Light Guns

Each base of foot represents around 400-500 men, each base of horse about 100-120 troopers.  1 gun model represents 2 real guns.

Scenario: This scenario is designed as a simple solitaire game with small forces to learn the Polemos ECW rules.  It is based upon the scenario in Donald Featherstone’s book “Wargaming Pike and Shot”.

I use the system for tempo bidding in solitaire games described in my blog here:
This basically results in each side rolling D6 to bid initially, deducted from a base total of 7 Tempo Points.

As this game is a learning scenario, use more-or-less the same tactics for the Covenanters as they adopted in real-life.  The 1st Brigade should attack the village of Auldearn whilst the Brigade of Horse advances to occupy the hill to the South of the village.  The Covenanters were unaware of the presence of Montrose’s troops hidden behind this hill until Montrose launched his attack, so the Covenanters in the game should not react until they become visible.  The 2nd Brigade should be deployed as a reserve, with the artillery in the rear.  From the point where Montrose unleashes his hidden troops, try and fight both sides as hard as possible.

All slopes are gentle.  The village has a DV value of 2.

The battlefield, looking South to North.  Montrose has an infantry unit on Castle Hill (NW of the village), an infantry unit in the village itself, with the remainder of his forces out-of-sight behind the ridge at the SE.

Hurry's Covenanters marching from the West.  The regular infantry in the lead (in red), the levy infantry (blue) and artillery behind, horse on the southern flank.

From the South East (behind Montrose, bottom centre)

Same position, lower angle

Covenanters advance and deploy.  As in the historical battle, the artillery is left behind initially

Covenanter Horse advance unawares into Montrose's trap

Same position, looking directly East to West

Hurry leads his foot to attack the village!  The veteran Irish are going to take some shifting...Note that Montrose's infantry on Castle Hill begin to advance towards Hurry's second line, in a typically bold move!

The trap is sprung! Montrose routs two-thirds of the Covenanter Horse...;just!  The red shaken markers speak to the intensity of the cavalry combat.

From directly behind Montrose, about to pursue into the valley

Hurry's foot are thrown back from the village and are regrouping.  One battalia of Hurry's levies are grimly holding the Covenanter left flank (note the red shaken marker), whilst the remainder of the Levy brigade face the Royalist cavalry.

A famous advance!  Covenanter levies have seen off the Royalist cavalry and Montrose has had to scamper behind his foot.  Hurry's troops have forced entry into the outskirts of the village

Montrose restores the situation and continues his advance.  The Covenanter left flank has folded and the regulars have been unable to get any further forward into Auldearn.  The Covenanter right flank is now about to come under severe pressure too!

Same position, slightly different shot.  Hurry conceded at this point, his only aim now being to escape the jaws of Montrose's pincers!
 Game Notes: A really enjoyable test game, with victory quite closely balanced until the end.  Hurry was defeated as in the original battle, but perhaps did rather better than in real life.  Horse is very vulnerable whilst pursuing in these rules.  But overall, the quality of Montrose's foot told.  I hope to refight this again soon, but instead using the slightly different scenario recently published in WSS 78.  This scenario was played on a 3'x2' table using Baccus 6mm ECW figures (I used English ECW figures, I don't (yet!) own Covenanter or Highlander armies - yet more heresy!).


  1. I enjoyed going through your explanation and pictures of Auldearn. I do 10mm but have looked at the Polemus rules as an alternative to what I do. Nice to see a game played out with them. Featherstone uses the Victorian view of the Battle while the Project Auldearn guys (WSS78) use pretty much the current thinking. I'll look forward to your redo with their scenario - and see if you need to take the royalist forces in Auldearn and on Castle Hill up to elite in order to hang on long enough for Montrose to marshal the rest of his forces :-). Any way - well done!

  2. Thanks very much for the comments. In the Polemos rules "Veteran" is pretty much as good as "Elite" so I imagine it will be enough to give Montrose a chance to hang on - although time will tell :-)

  3. Excellent post! I really enjoyed the scenario, writeup and the pics.
    My friend and I are just starting out on a 6mm ECW project using Polemos and are looking forward to it greatly!

    This is our ECW blog - only a little now, lots more to come!