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 29 October 2017

Battle of Rowton Heath pt.2 - A Polemos ECW Refight

This action follows on from the action detailed in the re-fight of the first part of the Battle of Rowton Heath.  In essence, this is a re-run of the idea of the first battle but on a different part of the Heath with some reinforcements for the Parliamentarians.  The Royalist attempt to reinforce Langdale had been defeated, with ultimately disastrous consequences for the Royalists.  It would actually be worth fighting that action as a large skirmish, since it was ultimately the pivotal point of the battle and the campaign!  However, for this action the time is rolled forward to 4pm and Poyntz' second attack on Langdale.

I played these actions as two entirely separate games incidentally - the results of the first weren't "carried forward" to the second (because the optimal strategy of the Poyntz in the first battle is not to bother trying to do anything but rout the small elements of Royalist shot).

Check out here for a modern aerial shot of the battle area.

Orders of Battle:


C-in-C: Poyntz (Good)

Horse of the Northern Association:
12 bases of Veteran Horse (Dutch tactics), 12 bases of Trained Horse (D) n.b. use any reasonable brigade structure

 Army of the Cheshire Committee:
4 bases of Veteran Horse (Dutch tactics)
2 bases of Veteran Foot (Shot-heavy)

The King:

C-in-C: Langdale (Average)

Gerrard's Brigade: 5 bases Trained Horse (Swedish tactics)
Vaughan's Brigade: 6 bases Veteran Horse (S)
Monckton's Brigade: 6 bases Veteran Horse (S)
Blakiston's Brigade: 5 bases Trained Horse (S)

The Set-Up:

Please forgive the sub-standard photos in this post.  The lighting was particularly horrible and I have only been able to retrieve the images a little.

Poyntz' (bottom) approaches.  Unusually, his Horse occupy the centre flanked by two battalia of Foot.

Langdale's troopers defend the hedge lines

Looking along the lines...
The Battle:

Poyntz advances methodically (top); Langdale redeploys some of his reserve Horse to face them (bottom-left)

The wider view of Poyntz' (top) advancing into the enclosures

Parliamentary Foot is approached by Royalist Horse, Parliamentary Horse moves up to support.

Poyntz has advanced to pin the Royalist Horse on the left and his infantry are advancing around the flank; he now breaks some troops left to try and outflank the position with Horse too

The battalia of Parliamentary Foot watches the Royalist Horse approaching...

Poyntz rushes his Horse into position just in time...

A closer view

Yet again, the Royalist Horse fail to charge and become shaken...the Parliamentary Horse move up to counter-attack, the Parliamentary Foot moves up to deliver its musketry fire...

From the other side...the Royalist Horse watch apprehensively...

And very smartly the Royalist Horse are routed by a mixture of musket, pistol and sword.

The Parliamentary Foot and Horse push on...

On the Parliamentary left, the Horse has established a block to allow the Foot to find an exposed flank - the Royalist Horse are trapped, not willing to turn, retreat or charge

On the right, the veteran Parliamentary Foot and Horse prove unstoppable, and more Royalist Horse flee to the rear

The musketry of the Cheshire men starts to wear down the Northern Horse...

The Royalist left flank in a state of collapse! This allows the remainder of the Parliamentary Foot to find another exposed Royalist flank (bottom-right)

And this tactical advantage is soon exploited, as more Royalist Horse are pinned, outflanked and trapped

Steadily the Parliamentarians gain the upped hand...

The Royalists need some success somewhere, so risk a charge; at least this time one troop manages to charge home

Little good it does them though - the Parliamentarians hold then rout their opponents

Parliamentary musketry begins to collapse another brigade of Royalist Horse

Which is mirrored on the other side.  Outmanouvred and outfought, the Royalist army collapses - victory to Poyntz.
 Game Notes: Another game which went according to form.  The Parliamentary infantry advantage allied to the inferior Royalist deployment (here the Royalists were inside the enclosures as opposed to defending their outer edge) gave Poyntz the advantage, which he exploited with brutal efficiency.  Yet again, the systemic advantage that Horse using Dutch tactics showed itself here and the Royalist Horse had a thin time.  As I have mentioned previously I think, fighting in difficult terrain actually increases the decisiveness of combat in Polemos sometimes, because everyone is fighting with a level of Shaken as a base level, making it that much more likely that a base will be broken rather than shaken and/or pushed back.  It increased the chances of breaking an opponent by musket fire, for example, which is otherwise very very hard to do.
An interesting challenge this game - I'd like to know how Langdale might do better, given the situation; and yet again, Polemos produced a result very close to that in history.

And that is it for Polemos ECW battles for a while!  I have completed ten games this year as part of the Boardgamegeek 10x10 challenge so I need to switch fire for a while; plenty of Polemos SPQR still to do...although I might play a few more ECW battles with the Neil Thomas Wargaming: An Introduction rules.

Rules were the Polemos ECW set, figures by Baccus 6mm

Battle of Adwalton Moor - A Wargaming: An Introduction Refight

After re-fighting the Battle of Adwalton Moor using the Polemos ECW rules, I then re-fought it using Neil Thomas' Pike & Shot rules in his Wargaming: An Introduction

I won't go through the scenario details again, you can see them in the linked post above.

Order of Battle:


C-in-C: Fairfax

3 x Foot units (2 bases Shot, 4 bases Pike, Raw, Light Armour)
2 x Horse units (4 bases Reiters, Trained, Medium Armour)

The King:

C-in-C: Newcastle

7 x Foot units (3 bases Shot, 3 bases Pike, Trained, Light Armour)
6 x Horse units (4 bases Chevaliers, Trained, Light Armour)
2 x Artillery units (but I advise dispensing with this - see Game Notes below).

n.b. This was my reading of the forces in the scenario as written.  Comments for the previous refight using the Polemos ECW rules indicated that the Parliamentarian Foot should be rather better than indicated above, although I'm not sure how many of the ill-equipped raw foot were amongst them.  Perhaps better would be:

2 x Foot units (4 bases Shot, 2 bases Pike, Trained, Light Armour)
1 x Foot unit (6 bases Swordsmen (i.e. a mixture of clubs, spears and pikes), Raw, Light Armour)

Also, re-classify the Horse as Chevaliers instead of Reiters.

The Set-Up:

The deployment: Royalists are bottom, Parliamentarians centre.

Looking along between the two armies.  Warren Road is in the foreground, Fairfax' forces to the left, Newcastle's forces to the right.  Adwalton is centre-right.

Same, closer in.

And from behind the Royalist army, looking over the moor.
 The Battle:
Newcastle's right wing advances

The Parliamentarians make ready to fight

Newcastle advances his centre alongside

And moves hos Horse in parallel on his left

A shot of Newcastle's broad advance

The Royalist Horse have endured some losses on the right flank, but have gained the upper hand

The struggle continues...

And then the Parliamentary Horse are crushed as the Royalist Horse comes round their flank

The infantry firefight, casualties are accrued by both sides

But superior numbers of muskets are making life impossible for the Parliamentary infantry in the centre; note the other unit of Parliamentay Foot (right) moving back to form a new flank position on the hedge

This was to avoid being fixed and destroyed by superior numbers of Royalist Horse and Foot

However, Newcastle makes his superior numbers tell, attacking the "hinge" of the Parliamentary position

With the centre cleared, the Royalists claim the victory.
 Game Notes: A reverse of the situation that occurred in the twin refights of the first part of Rowton Heath: in this game, it was the Wargaming: An Introduction rules which were pretty lopsided in favour of the Royalists, since the attritional mechanic favours the bigger army and the lack of control rules mean there are no real limits on employing those superior numbers.  Making some of the changes indicated in the discussion on the order of battle above would help, but I don't think they would make that much difference, although it would be of slightly more interest.
Very observant readers will have noticed that the Royalist Army seemed to lose its artillery in the early stages of the battle!  This was a deliberate choice by me, since I remembered that artillery is both highly effective in Neil Thomas' rules and that would totally change the character of the game if I used it: the Royalist optimal strategy would be just to sit and blast a few units and force the Parliamentarians to withdraw or attack.  This is very different in comparison to the Polemos rules: artillery just isn't powerful enough to do that. Neil Thomas' rules aren't really designed to do these kind of smaller force versus larger force engagements.  To make it more of a battle, I would increase the Parliamentary force to 4 infantry units and 2 horse units, and restrict the Royalist force to 9 units (player's choice of which).

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Baccus 6mm and Timecast.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Battle of Adwalton Moor - A Polemos ECW Refight

Miniature Wargames 86 contained a scenario for the Battle of Adwalton Moor. At first sight the scenario looks very unbalanced, but in the real battle, the Parliamentarians seemed to make a reasonable fist of it despite having inferior numbers, poorer equipment and lower quality troops, so I felt after due consideration it was worth a go.

Part of me wonders why exactly the Parliamentary forces fought this.  It isn't a classic attack/defence battle (the odds were too great) nor is it a delaying action.  It was actually a Parliamentary surprise attack that didn't come off, but I don't quite understand why Fairfax persisted,  Nevermind...
The aim of the battle is for Newcastle to break the Parliamentary army whilst suffering as few losses as possible, whilst Fairfax is merely aiming to hold on, a draw here being as good as a victory.

Orders of Battle:

The Royalists:

C-inC: Newcastle (Average)

Commander of Horse: Goring (Average)
3 brigades of 4 bases of Trained Horse (Swedish tactics)
2 brigades of 6 bases of Trained Horse (S)

Commander of Foot: Col Skirton (Good)
2 brigades of 4 bases of Trained Foot (Mixed)
2 brigades of 3 bases of Trained Foot (M)

2 bases of Guns
3 bases of Light Guns

The Parliamentarians: 

C-in-C: T Fairfax (Good)
Maj-Gen Gifford (Average)
F Fairfax (Poor)

4 brigades of 2 Trained Horse (Dutch tactics)

3 brigades of 2 Raw Foot (Pike-Heavy)

Order of battle details are quite sketchy in the article.  Possible variants might include some variation in the ability and equipment of the Foot of both sides, in particular that of Parliament.  The Royalist forces should add up to 10,000 in total, but this might be 6-8,000 Foot and 2-4,000 Horse.

The Battle:

The armies arrayed on Adwalton Moor; view from behind the Royalist right-rear

And from behind the Royalist centre

The view along the lines from Warren Lane - Fairfax' Army to the left, Newcastle's Army to the right

A closer view of the Parliamentarians: infantry line the hedges, with horse to the flanks and rear

And from behind the Parliamentarians towards the advancing Royalists

Some of the Royalist Foot, in front of Adwalton village

And the remainder of the Royalist Foot.
 The Battle:
The Royalists begin by advancing into musket range on their centre-right

The Royalist Horse advance to try and turn the Parliamentary left flank

Realizing that to hesitate would be to inevitably lose, the Parliamentary Horse decide to advance into contact and rely on the Polemos rules favour for slow controlled advances to help them out - and they are duly rewarded, disordering and pushing back a couple of troops of Royalist Horse

Pressing home their advantage, a couple of units of Royalist Horse are routed!

The second group of Parliamentary cavalry push back their opponents

Somewhat reversing fortunes, the Royalist Horse pull off a successful charge for a change and rout some of the Parliamentary troopers

But further Parliamentary success has routed a large contingent of Royalist Horse!

The Parliamentary Horse about to defeat yet more Royalist cavalry

Royalist Horse on the right flank streaming towards the rear!

The situation on the right: one group of Royalist Horse is pursuing towards the Parliamentary rear, one group of Roundheads is pushing on toward the Royalist rear...

After several rounds of ineffective musketry, eventually Royalist fire superiority told and gave the opportunity to advance, which the Royalist Foot has taken and breached the line of the hedge.

The Royalist Foot approaching the remainder of the Parliamentary position more gingerly...(centre-left)

The left-wing Parliamentary foot on the point of collapse...

Another view; the Royalist musketeers are having no effect at all on the Parliamentary Horse

The Parliamentary Horse see off another base of Royalist Horse!

The hedgerow is decisively breached by the Royalist Foot!

A slightly wider shot of the same

On the other flank (Royalist Left), the Parliamentary Horse launch another desperate spoiling attack

And meets with some success! Another base of Royalist Horse races for the rear

Royalist Foot begin to envelop Parliamentary Horse..

And yet another Parliamentary Horse triumph!

The Parliamentary Horse by the hedge are pinned in place whilst the flank attack is prepared...

So far so inconclusive in the other infantry fighting, but Royalist Foot are again working the internal flank

Some order restored to the Royalist left flank

Parliamentary Horse in trouble as they are surrounded by Royalists...

And Parliamentary Foot retreat in a hurry after being attacked in the flank!

Parliamentary Horse trapped and charged

and a closer view just as the Parliamentary Horse surrenders en masse

The remainder of the Parliamentary Centre routs and the Army's morale collapses
 Game Notes: An interesting game, well served by the Polemos rules.  Their emphasis on shock enabled the Parliamentary force to put up a really good show - as did their historical forebears. The battle was won in a very historical way too - by Col Skirton pushing his men into and through the Parliamentary defences and breaching the line after a number of reverses.
The Parliamentary Horse continues its excellent showing in this series of games, fully exploiting the fact that it only needs to roll par to win.  Considering the odds, the Parliamentary Horse did nearly manage to pull off an unlikely victory before the Parliamentary Foot was defeated.  I'd be interested to know other gamers' views - what is the relative efficiency of Dutch cavalry tactics versus Swedish?
So a better game than the scenario promised, at first glance, which the Polemos rules enabled.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Baccus 6mm and Timecast.