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 19 March 2017

ECW Refight Battle 02: The Battle of Andersea November 1642

General Situation: After his defeat at the Battle of Cricket St. Thomas, Hopton was called East to help restore the situation in the South after the fall of Portsmouth, to distract and delay Waller's victorious forces.  This was achieved, but his opponent in the Southwest, the Earl of Bedford, took this opportunity to advance further into Somerset, cutting off Hopton from his main areas of support in Cornwall and Devon by occupying Bridgwater and preventing Royalist movement of the River Parrett.  His mission in the south achieved, Hopton has retraced his steps westwards and is intending to break past the Earl of Bedford's army.

Hopton (Good): 4000 Foot (4 Veteran Foot (M) bases, 4 Raw Foot bases (M) ), 4 Guns (2 Arty bases)
1750 Horse (8 Veteran Horse (Sw) bases, 6 Raw Horse (Sw) bases); 250 Dragoons (1 Raw Dragoon base)

n.b. M - 1:1 pike:shot ratio; Sw - Swedish tactics

Bedford (Poor): 4000 Foot (4 Veteran Foot (SH) bases, 4 Raw Foot bases (SH) ), 8 Guns (4 Arty bases), 1750 Horse (8 Veteran Horse (D) bases, 6 Raw Horse (D) bases); 250 Dragoons (1 Raw Dragoon base)

n.b. SH - 1:2 pike:shot ratio; D - Dutch tactics

(n.b. - I stuffed up the calculations, both sides should have had 500 Horse less than they actually had here.  As both sides were the same, I figure that no real harm was done).

The Set-Up:

Yet again, I rolled up a rather sparse set of terrain!  The terrain is randomly generated according to the tables given in the Polemos ECW rule book and for the second game in succession, I generated very few terrain features.

The Parliamentarians are defending the North (top) around an isolated farm, using a standard formation: infantry in the centre, horse on the wings.  The Royalists have overloaded their right wing with cavalry

Room to manoeuvre on the Royalist left wing is limited by the presence of the River Parrett and some marshy ground around its banks.

A view along the lines from the East: Royalists approaching from the left, Parliament's forces to the right, defending

And from the opposite angle, behind the Parliamentary right wing.
 The Battle:
The Royalist infantry on the left advance and are confronted by Parliamentary cavalry: the Earl of Bedford has ordered his right-hand infantry brigade out from the cover of the hedges to support.

The Royalist cavalry on theit right advance; Hopton halts the left-most brigade, fearing to charge too recklessly into the veteran Parliamentary infantry which is supporting the Royalist cavalry.

The first clashes!  The Royalist Horse charges in...

The Royalist infantry on the left continue to push forward...

The melee on the Royalist right continues: the first troops become disordered and start to waver...

Same position, slightly different shot

The Parliamentary horse begins to break in places...but the Cavalier cavalry is also looking shaky...

The Royalist veteran infantry confidently move up to attack the Parliamentary horse on the Royalist left at pike-point

Another Royalist infantry brigade moves forward to try and storm the Parliamentary main position

The Parliamentary horse's first line comes off slightly the worse, but the second line restores the situation, by and large.  Some Royalist cavalry again begin a wild pursuit of a defeated enemy (top-left)

The Royalist infantry on the left have routed some of the Parliamentary horse; Parliamentary infantry begins to pour in musketry to try and stop their advance

Parliament's left wing advance, daring Hopton to throw in his final brigades of horse

So near and yet so far: Royalist infantry briefly break through the hedge, but are repulsed subsequently

The Parliamentary forces have formed a solid line again on their left

A see-saw combat on the Royalist left sees Royalist infantry break some of their veteran oppenents (see the base routing top-left)

But the Parliamentary centre has held-off a second assault, this time leading to the right-hand Royalist battalia breaking...

A Parliamentary charge against the Royalist's second line cavalry has some of the cavaliers on the run, the others wavering...

Stalemate on the Royalist left, as some of the Royalist infantry are broken in their turn

The final position on the Royalist right: the defeat of that second-line brigade has stopped much hope of Royalist victory here.  The action continued indecisively for a couple of turns, before it was clear that the battle was a tactical draw.
Game Result:
A tactical draw - the Royalists lost slightly more infantry, the Parliamentarians more horse, plus two guns (temporarily).  However, the strategic win was clearly with the Earl of Bedford again, as he has held Bridgwater and the line of the River Parrett against Hopton.  Both sides lost c.850 men in this quite hard fought struggle.

The Earl of Bedford

Ralph Hopton

Game Notes:
The Polemos ECW rules continue to give a good game, quick to play but with convincing results, generally.  I may play about with the troop quality modifiers a little: using only  Veteran and Raw (because this fits in better with "The King's War", which is the boardgame being used as the campaign engine) seems to create too many "sure things".  The 1:1 pike:shot ratio continues to perform very well against 1:2 pike:shot ratio troops,  perhaps ahistorically.  The problem is that if musketry is generally ineffective, then more pikes seems like a good idea!  But on the other hand, this may be a consequence of my poor tactics...
There is also still much to be understood about exactly how best to use horse in this game.  The Royalist cavalry do have the advantage in terms of more ferocity in the charge, but their recklessness does leave them very vulnerable to second echelon forces of Parliamentary horse.
Figures by Baccus 6mm, on a homemade mat on a 5'x3' table.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Nuts! Normandy Campaign Mission 05: Attack on Lac d'Iseult

Pressing home their advantage, our plucky Tommies from the Tyneside Scottish, have some scoff, a brew and a fag, pull-through their weapons, bomb up and mount up for the next attack...

This mission is very similar to the previous one, an attack through the countryside to try and penetrate the weakening German defences around a small pond in some parkland.  The German force is down to morale level 1 now, so another successful mission might just seal victory...

The Tyneside Scottish have a more-or-less full platoon, although with a couple more Rep 3 replacements newly-joined since the casualties suffered in the last mission.

The Mission:

The battlefield.  Mainly woods and hills, with a big pond/minute lake in the corner.  The British are advancing from the btottom of the board as viewed.

1 Section, the Pl Sgt and the 2" mortar team advance gingerly into the dead ground

Note the potetial enemy forces (PEFs): one near the hedge by the house, one right in the centre, one top-right (also in the open)

Contact!  British LMGs from 1 Section (bottom left, on the hill) and 2 Section (by the lake) open fire on the German MG42 caught in the open - it is despatched in short order.

2 Section's view of the German MG42 pair.  You can see them, honest!

Position cleared, note the German PEFs starting to appear closer.

The Pl Sgt, a Bren gun team and the 2" mortar team adopt a position atop one of the hills.  They spy another set of Germans - a full section - in the open (just seen between the two woods)

The eagle's eye view:  British Pl Sgt's group on top of the hill, the Pl Comd leading 3 Section into the woods (extreme right); the Germans caught in the open are about to get plastered
The British LMG and 2" mortar open up: the Germans are suppressed and have no answer, the MG42 silenced in the first seconds

The Germans lose six casualties in a few moments: the survivors break and run (top-right)

And 3 Section and the Pl Comd eliminate the rest as they emerge through the woods before they can make good their escape.  However, at this point, more stray artillery hits the British!  One man is killed and two are injured from 2 Section.

More bad luck!  A wandering German patrol comes in to the British rear.

The German patrol's view: nothing seen

The German section adopts covered positions; the British Pl Comd decides to ignore them

Without much further incident, the majority of the British Pl is able to exit the German-side of the battlefield.  Victory!
Game Notes: The British were very fortunate with the position of the German PEFs in this one, as they were able to catch both of them (the other was a 'false alarm') in the open and hit them with superior firepower.  I was able to use the additional THW mortar rules and they seemed to work fine; the 2" mortar on the hill was very effective indeed!  Even when the unexpected German reinforcements came up, they luckily arrived in such a place as they could be ignored safely.  Mirroring reality very well, every single casualty in this game was caused by artillery, mortar or machinegun fire.
And that about wraps up this campaign, as the Germans' campaign morale is now 0.  However, the main objective of this series of games was to teach myself the basic mechanics in a fun way before I start thinking about how to adapt them more fully to my ways of thinking and to look at creating some more involved scenarios.  The rules have been everything I imagined they would be and more.  I will try and write a more full review when I have played a couple more times and at least had a proper go with some armour/anti-tank interactions but I really like this game.  The games are quick and simple to pick up, but very involving to play.  I only wish I'd had this game at 12 - 14: I would have absolutely loved it!
As in all the other games in the series, I used Baccus 6mm, Adler and GHQ figures, Leven Miniatures' buildings, Nuts! Final Edition rules on a 2'x2' board.  I hope that this short campaign has been interesting and maybe useful for those who play or who are considering playing this ruleset.

ECW Refight Battle 01: The Battle of Cricket St. Thomas, September 1642

General Situation: The early manoeuvring in the Southwest has come to an abrupt end.  Hopton, commander of the Royalist forces in the area, has deemed himself storng enough to attack the local Parliamentarian stronghold of  Lyme, as he has heard that his opposite number, the Earl of Bedford has retired towards Sherborne.  However, local intelligence informed Bedford of Hopton's intentions and movements, so he has reversed his movements to intercept the Royalists.  Bedford comes across Hopton on the line of march and orders the attack...

The Armies:

Hopton (Good): 4000 Foot (2 Veteran Foot (M) bases, 6 Raw Foot bases (M) ), 4 Guns (2 Arty bases)
Hertford (Poor): 750 Horse (6 Veteran Horse (Sw) bases)

n.b. M - 1:1 pike:shot ratio; Sw - Swedish tactics

Bedford (Poor): 4000 Foot (2 Veteran Foot (SH) bases, 6 Raw Foot bases (SH) ), 4 Guns (2 Arty bases), 1500 Horse (10 Raw Horse (D) bases, 1 Raw Dragoon base)

n.b. SH - 1:2 pike:shot ratio; D - Dutch tactics

The Battle:

The Royalists defend the bottom, Parliament advances from the top.  The Earl of Bedford has decided to mass his horse on his right (top-left) to try and overpower the Royalist left-flank, whilst holding off the Royalist right with infantry.

Looking along the line from the Royalist left/Parliamentary right.  Will Royalist skill overcome Parliamentary numbers?

Foot and guns in the centre, facing each other across the streams.

View from the Royalist reserve through the centre

Undaunted by the numerical disparity, the Royalist cavalry charge into the Parliamentary horse.

Hopton, seeing that the Parliamentary left flank is refused and defensive, moves his right wing to attack

The cavalry melee on the Royalist left-flank:  the veteran Royalist troopers push their raw opponents backs

The ebb-and-flow of combat: two bases of Parliamentary horse get pushed back (they are all double-ranked); but in the centre it is the Royalist troopers getting the worse of it

Looking along the line as both sides break their opponents!

The Royalist cavalry have pursued forward in disorder, but the Earl of Bedford is preparing to lead his second line into the fray

Same position, but wider shot: note that the Parliamentary cavalry's first-line is preparing to being crossing the stream into the flank of the Royalist infantry

Roundhead infantry splash forward through the stream; but note the Royalist right is nearly ready to engage the infantry holding the Parliamentary left

Bedford routs the remaining Royalist troopers - his right wing has triumphed

The foot exchange musketry, but the Royalist horse declines to charge!

The foot begin to get to grips in the centre; superior Parliamentary firepower is discomfiting the Royalist foot

The Royalist foot close in and rout their Roundhead opponents on the right; the Royalist cavalry are then (finally) persuaded to trot into the fray

The Marquis of Hertford quickly turns a battalia of foot about to confront the victorious Parliamentary cavalry

Crunch time in the centre as the foot approach push of pike the Royalist cavalry break the remaining Parliamentary foot on the far side of the stream.  In true Royalist style, they then pursued their defeated opponents off the battlefield and didn't return in time to achieve anything useful!!

The battle in the centre goes this way and that, with neither side gaining a clear advantage...eventually two bases of each side are broken

Realizing the game is up, Hopton breaks out forward across the stream to avoid the flanking Parliamentary cavalry, abandoning his remaining foot and guns

As Parliamentary horse and foot close in from all sides, the remaining Royalists surrender, including the Marquis of Hertford.

Position at the end of the battle.
 Game Result:
A clear win for the Earl of Bedford and Parliament.  Both sides "won" the flank where they were strongest, but the Parliamentary forces were able to exploit this by turning the flank of the centre more quickly.  Typically, the wildness of the Royalist cavalry's pursuit did not help!  Overall, losses were very high:
Royalists: c.560 killed and injured, 2100 captured inc. the Marquis of Hertford, 4 guns
Parliamentarians: c. 560 killed and injured

Marquis of Hertford

Game Notes:
As ever, the Polemos ECW rules gave a good, believable game.

I have no serious quibbles, although I think that some of the modifiers are quite big (i.e have a  very large influence on an opposed D6 roll, the basic combat mechanic).  Shooting is normally ineffective, artillery fire almost always so. I'm not certain that the (admittedly very difficult) balance between musketry and pike action is quite right, but this is a very debatable point.  My review of these rules is here. The main area I still have queries with is the army-level morale mechanism, which I have mentioned before.  The solitaire mechanism I use is here.

Figures from Baccus 6mm.  The table is 5'x3'. I think the building was from Timecast.