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

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.


  1. Thanks, From memory, I think the Thomas rules reward having a reserve (if you have that luxury). Off to look at your Polemos game now to compare.

  2. It does; the attritional model he uses means that fresh troops are worth their weight in gold, since they do so much more damage.

  3. I enjoy your rules' comparisons very much. Are interested in including some additional, easy to learn rules to this study? I suggest Thomas' One Hour Wargames, Basic Baroque, and Ironsides. I compared these these three rules using the ECW Battle of Southam.

  4. Thanks very much. I won't promise anything but I will certainly have a look at the rules you suggest.

  5. The core of his rules are great, but only work for about 80% of on-table situations. I am constantly frustrated by having to rule on silly things like what *actually* constitutes a flank attack, and whether you can shoot through gaps and so on. I'm sure there's an intent, but I'd love to read the bits of the rules that are still in Neil Thomas's head :)

  6. Yes, agreed. I think DBA is a good contrast, in that it gets to about 99%, but the cost of doing that is much denser rules-writing; although fundamentally the game is of roughly the same complexity.