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.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Battle of Rowton Heath pt.1 - A Polemos ECW Refight

The first issue of Miniature Wargames had an interesting article on the Battle of Rowton Heath.  However, I could never quite work out how to set-up the thing as an actual game.  The battle was complicated, featuring a few widely-separated scenes of action.  Luckily however issue 29 of Wargames Illustrated also featured an article on the battle and it featured two separate scenarios covering different sections of the battle, both of which appeared very doable.

The first scenario covers the first attempt of Poyntz' Parliamentary Horse to relieve Chester, which was intercepted by a large force of Royalist Horse.

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

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)
Foot: 2 bases Trained Foot (Shot only) - count as Dismounted Dragoons

If you prefer mixed quality brigades, feel free to swap Trained and Veteran units between the 1st and 2nd; and 3rd and 4th brigades.
The Foot is counted as dismounted Dragoons to reflect their small numbers, use as genuine Foot if preferred.

The Battle:

The view from behind Langdale's lines; a few Shot in the enclosures, lining the hedge; whilst the Horse remain slightly back

A view of the enclosures between the armies

And from behind Poyntz' Roundheads

The same, from a slightly different angle

The detachments of Royalist musketeers behind the hedges

The Parliamentary Horse advance, disordered by the hedges and the enclosures

Despite the disadvantages, Poyntz relies on sheer weight of Horse to swamp the Royalist defenders

Another view

After a short, sharp struggle the Royalist musketeers flee!  But Langdale brings up his Horse to defend the outside edge of the enclosure

After some desultory attacks, Poyntz decides this is too difficult and calls the retreat!
 Game Notes: Short and not particularly sweet. Parliamentary numbers crushed the advanced Foot, but there is simply no way that they could win this one.  Attacking from inside an enclosure over a hedge is a -5 swing against the attacker.  At best, the attacker might get that down to -2, by a double overlap, but it is much more likely to be at -4.  However, because the swing isn't down to defence value it is down to an automatic two shaken levels, if the attacker gets beaten by more than 2 points, the base is automatically routed.  I know I have much to learn, but I'd love to know how to win this one as the Parliamentarians given this deployment!  So, I can't really recommend this one using these rules, unless you make some changes.  Maybe allow the Parliamentarians to use their Horse as Dragoons (at an exchange ratio of 2 Horse:1 Dragoon base)?

Rules were the Polemos ECW set, figures by Baccus 6mm, as were the buildings IIRC.


  1. Interesting reading this and the Neil Thomas' one. I would prefer the latter as both players have a chance. Here it would seem nigh on impossible for the Parliamentarian player to win.

    1. Yes, agreed 100%. I would say the major driver for fair in the Neil Thomas rules is approximately even forces (which this scenario has); whereas the Polemos rules are more situation/terrain/quality driven, which occasionally means you get a very unbalanced scenario.