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.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

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!

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