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 - 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.


  1. What, Cavalier horse not acting cavalier? Do you attribute this tendency to treat the Royalist horse more like Trotters due to rules or your risk aversion?

  2. Both! But mainly the rules, I think (unintended). On an opposed die roll, the Swedish tactics' Horse must beat the other side by a full two points to make it worthwhile. It will still charge home on a 0-1 but will take a shaken level. This gives a -2 combat modifier. The bonus for charging into front edge contact is +2. So that gives you an even roll, but that shaken will last into the 2nd round of combat and the charge bonus doesn't. The basic bonus for advancing into combat is +1 anyway even if you don't charge. If you lose the opposed roll, then you take a shaken level in situ and don't charge. If you come through all that and win, then you have to go into a disorganized pursuit. Even if you have enough positive factors to make the charge more of a sure thing, most of those factors are repeated in the close combat chart, so it still isn't particularly worth it IMHO and you are going to pay the disprganized pursuit penalty.

  3. Is the effect because of the number of times that Royalist cavalry temporarily 'abandoned' the rest of their army to the single purpose of pursuit. It seems an easy way to deal would be to dampen down the risk of lengthy pursuit, but which reflects history better?

  4. I don't think I have a problem with the over-zealous pursuit part of the mechanic. What it does mean though is that because the tactical advantages of charging in the first place are so meagre and doubtful, then for me it doesn't even nearly compensate for that risk. Neil Thomas' has a similar pursuit mechanic - triumphant Royalist horse must pursue for a turn towards their opponents baseline and it can be used against them (the Parliamentary infantry took advantage of it in this game); but in the Neil Thomas' rules, the Royalist horse generally has a clear advantage in hand-to-hand combat which makes it still worth committing them in first place.