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.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

SImple '45 Rules - Falkirk

Still scratching the itch that seeing lots of Jacobite Rebellions stuff on the Wargaming for Grown Ups blog recently created, The simple rules for the '45 in Wargames Illustrated 134 contained three scenarios: this is the second one, the Battle of Falkirk.  The real battle was a Jacobite victory, although not very decisive.  With that in mind, this scenario is tilted in the Jacobites' favour, although not quite to the same extent that the previous scenario (Prestonpans) was.

Order of Battle:
The Jacobite Army: 6 units of Highlanders, 4 units of Infantry (Lowlanders/Foreigners)
The Government Army: 8 units of Infantry (5 of which are poor), 2 units of Dragoons (both of which are poor)

The battlefield contained a ravine and an area of boggy ground which was impassable in any kind of formation.  As befitting the simplicity of the rules, they are both simply forbidden to both sides.

The Set-Up:
Government forces at the top, Jacobites at the bottom.  One Government unit is slightly behind the ravine and so protected (left); some of the Government's troops are just arriving (top-left);  the Jacobite Highlanders are mainly in their front line, Lowlanders to the rear (bottom)

Another view, Jacobites to the left, Government to the right

A closer view of the Government forces

And the Jacobites

The Battle:

The battle begins with the Government Dragoons advancing (right), and the Foot advancing somewhat slower (left)

Government musketry starts to cause some casualties, particularly in the centre of the Jacobite line

The Highlanders advance to meet the Government Foot.  The flanking unit (left) routs from a combination of Highlander musketry and manly bearing...

One regiment of the Government Dragoons also flees (centre)

The gaps start to appear in the Government's first line

One of the Dragoon regiments charges home

A wider view of the battle at this point

The Government's Foot does a little more damage to the advancing Highlanders...

...before the Highlanders charge in! 

Another view

Another Government Foot unit routs (centre)

So the Government's second line must come in to help the heroic battalion of Foot still resisting (centre-left)

...which sees off one of its opponents in fine style (centre)!  The left-hand unit of Highlanders starts to take serious losses from the Government's improvised second line of Foot (left)

Many Highlanders are cut down by the Government Dragoons...

Two regiments of Lowland Jacobites join the fray (centre) whilst the leading Highland regiment (top-centre) presses on into the Government's second line, regardless of its losses

A closer look at the Jacobite Foot advancing

Despite the casualties, the courage and determination of the Highlanders on the right overcomes the Dragoons, who rout

The Government Foot in the centre is finally overmatched and breaks...

...leaving a second line to overcome

The Jacobite regiment on the left cannot stand the fire any further and breaks

But the Jacobite Right and Centre resumes its advance

The leading Highland regiment is broken in the melee (centre)

But the Jacobites are about to launch another co-ordinated assault

A wider view

The Jacobite Lowlanders (centre) are taking serious casualties from the remaining Government Foot

But the Highlanders launch another charge (right)!

Amazingly, the Government Foot holds it (right), but their neighbouring unit is broken by the musketry of the Lowlanders!  At this point, the remaining Government troops began an orderly retreat

The position at the end of the battle
Game Notes:
A good, quick but fun and more interesting than the Prestonpans scenario, partly because it isn't (quite) as one-sided, partly simply because there are more units on each side, leading to more interesting interactions and possbilities.  Again, the model, although simple, worked convincingly.  It didn't quite follow history, but it wasn't too far off.  Mechanically, poor units break after one failed morale check, whereas other units must fail two.  This seems to replicate the fragility of many of the Government's regiments simply but effectively.  The morale test is well calibrated to produce believable results, but no "sure things".  They encourage all the different troop types to act believably without being prescriptive.  The main problem with the rules are that they are just that bit too short, not covering those things which give rules bulk but do need to be incorporated: arcs of fire, moving by wheeling (or not), moving backwards, firing into melee (or not) - I don't think any of this sort of stuff is covered.  As a solo player, I can rule on these things to please myself, but it might be more of a problem for head-to-head games.  What I think is absolutely needed is an army break point, to stop armies fighting to the last man.  I used the venerable "withdraw once more than 50% of units have routed", which seems reasonably close to reality.
I think that this is a game that could work in a school or college quite well, if one wanted to demonstrate how the battles of the '45 were fought.
Figures are again by Baccus (from the C17 and the Napoleonic ranges) on a 2'x2' table.  The game took about 30 minutes (including set-up and photography time).


  1. Nice - I rather liked that. Nothing too complicated but a believable outcome.

    1. Thanks Doug. You are exactly right, that seems to have been the author's purpose.

  2. Excellent report! Have you considered replaying this battle with the rules in use for Prestonpans?

    1. Many thanks Jonathan. These rules are the same ones I used for you mean the Andy Callan rules I used for Culloden? If so, yes, there is every chance that this battle and Prestonpans will get another run out with the Andy Callan set.

    2. Yes, of course, that is what I meant. Thanks for making that point clear.

  3. A nice report and an interesting scenario. I think this might fit in nicely with our current Honours of War campaign, so will have a think about it. Interesting that the rules don't give arcs of fire etc, but as you say, with a bit of common sense these can all be resolved quite easily.

    1. Thanks very much Steve, I appreciate it. I am sure that these rules are a period adaptation from the author's C18 rules, which I think were published in an earlier WI. I will dig them out and see if there are any further bits of explanation which got cut from this Jacobite Rebellions-specifc set. Otherwise, you will need to play it through a couple of times to put these small but necessary bits in.

  4. Have been experimenting with Simpson's WI75 rules solo with 18mm figures - I'm happy to see there's another article I was unaware of. Thanks for this post, it's inspiring me to maybe try "the war in a day" on April 16, 275th anniversary of Culloden!

    1. You are very welcome. Thanks for reminding me of the date, I might have to replay this one.

    2. I did run all three scenarios solo, and enjoyed it very much! Thanks again for alerting me to them.

    3. You are very welcome. I hope to replay them myself in the next few months.