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.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Polemos ECW: Battle of Ripple Field

I saw the Battle of Ripple Field battle done on The Stronghold Rebuilt blog recently and it piqued my interest, partly it just looked fut, partly since I had never heard of it and partly because it looked just right to be converted into a bijou scenario for Polemos: ECW.

Prince Maurice and his Royalist Force are advancing towards Tewkesbury and Waller's Parliamentarians are trying to stop him, or at least delay him.

The Forces:

The King:
C-in-C: Prince Maurice
1 x Subordinate Leader (Lord Grandison - Average)
16 (12) bases of Trained Horse (Swe)
2 bases of Trained Foot (Shot)

C-in-C: Waller
1 x Subordinate Leader (Hazelrigg - Average)
4 (3) bases of Veteran Horse (Dutch)
4 (3) bases of Raw Horse (Dutch)
1 base of Trained Foot (Shot)
1 base of Raw Foot (Shot)
2 (1) bases of Trained Dragoons
1 base of Artillery

The Raw Foot come on as reinforcements on the first turn that Waller throws a '6' for Tempo.

I went for a slightly enlarged scenario easily converted from the original; I think that using an order of battle closer to the historical numbers would lead to using the numbers in brackets instead.

The Terrain:
The ploughed fields have no effect in this battle.  The wheat fields with hedges (DV2) around them are counted as enclosures with DV1.  The slopes of the hills are gentle.  Ripple village is DV2.

The Set-Up:

The initial position: only Parliamentary forces start on the table, with the Veteran Horse guarding the hill in the near ground, the centre has the Foot and the Guns, the right (top) has the Dragoons.  The Raw Horse is in reserve (centre-right).

Another view of the Veteran Horse

And the Foot, Guns and Dragoons in the centre and on the right (left)

And the regiment of Horse in reserve
The Battle:

The first attack of the battle is a bold attempt to hit the Parliamentary flank by the Royalist Horse: it is a gamble, but Dragoons are not strong in Polemos so maybe worth a try...

And it works spectacularly well!  The Dragoons are routed

The Royalist Horse pursue into the enclosures, becoming heavily disordered (centre-left), whilst the Dragoons run off (right); Parliamentary Horse look on to try and stop the rot (top-right, bottom-right)

The Parliamentary reserves trot forward into combat against the disordered Royalists in and around the enclosure, pistols blazing...

Pushing back the disordered Royalist troopers

Which is quickly followed by their rout!

Crawford attacks the Parliamentary Horse

But the remainder are firmly back in possession of the disputed enclosure

The Foot and Guns are in a lively exchange of fire in the centre

Crawford gains the victory over a troop of Parliamentary Horse, who gallop to the rear...

But the Parliamentary Horse has routed another troop of Royalist Horse around the enclosure (centre-left)

The Royalist musketeers attempt to capture Waller's guns...

...whilst more Royalist Horse comes up to dispute the enclosure again (top-left)

The Parliamentary gunners prove surprisingly bold, pushing the Royalist Foot back down the slopes

The second Royalist Foot unit arrives and takes station in the village of Ripple

The Parliamentary Horse rout more of the Royalists near the enclosure!

But a nifty turn sees them hit in the flank...

With predictable results.  With nowhere to escape to, they surrender

Feeling that bold measures are needed to regain the day, Hazelrigg orders his regiment to charge!

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Foot are giving no ground to their opponents in the centre

Hazelrigg's attack is largely successful, causing heavy casualties and disorder amongst the Cavaliers...and Maurice is wounded and out of the battle!!

Having caused some execution amongst the Parliamentary Horse by their fire, the Royalist musketeers advance into the enclosure

The leading Royalist regiment on the Right is almost completely routed by the Parliamentary Horse!

Musket fire and musket butts have secured the enclosure for the Royalist - the Parliamentary right flank is turned!

However, the Royalist Horse again manages to put in a quick flank attack...

Which routs a couple of troops of Hazelrigg's Horse... (centre)

And the Parliamentary Army's morale collapses, leaving the field to the wounded Maurice and his somewhat battered force!
Game Notes: A good fun game that fulfilled its promise.  Polemos ECW handles this size of action pretty well.  The game proved that in Polemos ECW, well-handled disciplined Parliamentary Horse can give a very good account of itself versus the hot-headed Cavaliers, since the Cavaliers' charge is such an all-or-nothing tactical move and the penalties for being caught in a disordered pursuit are so intense.  The success of the heroic Parliamentary Horse troop around the enclosure would be very unlikely with Royalist cavalry, since they would have just hared off in pursuit when they overcame their first opponent (which is what happened in fact to Crawford's troop).  The only thing I wasn't happy about was the methods of the Royalist victories involving flank attacks on victorious Parliamentary Horse.  It has been a little while since I have played these rules but they were basically identical: the flanking troop of a defeated line of Royalist Horse was able to turn and advance to contact into the flank of the victorious Parliamentary Horse.  I can't remember any rules which would prevent this (either a rule stating that so much of an advance to contact must be straight ahead, or that flank supporting Horse must fall back a certain distance if the Horse they were supporting is routed) so it seems legal, but I am not that convinced...

Anyway, thanks to Kaptain Kobold for providing the insipiration to do this one!  I believe he is using a mod of Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame for the War of the Three Kingdoms, which may be published commercially at some point.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, the buildings mainly by Timecast I think.

And that clears the backlog of AARs, with the exception of a few Air Portable Wargame reports which I will do in a big batch once I have played a few more.


  1. Another lovely game and a great scenario as well. I agree that the flank attacks issue seemed strange and maybe a house rule is called for?

    1. Yep, I suspect I am either doing something wrong because I have forgotten a small but key rule, or I have house ruled it before and forgotten that. I will try and discover which!

    2. Actually, I have a vague memory that it is a design feature to simulate the swirling activity of a cavalry combat.

      But my memory is vague and it is a long time since I helped write or play PM:ECW.

    3. Many thanks. Thinking about it some more, I am happy with it: it is partly a soloism, since the only way it can really happen is to lose the combats in the enemy phase if the enemy has the tempo, then do the wheel in the friendly phase where that is the non-tempo phase, and then win the tempo to carry out the advance to contact. Since there is a random element to the solo tempo bidding, it probably happens more in these games than it would in F2F games.

  2. "*I don't know who Maurice's subordinates were in this battle, so I picked a Royalist leader at random..."

    According to Julian Lander in his DBR Ripple Field scenario in 'De Dellis Civile', the Royalist sub-commander was Lord Grandison.

    1. Many thanks Kaptain Kobold, I will amend accordingly.

  3. Nice to read a Polemos ECW battle report.

    1. Thanks Jason. I have written quite a few over the years, but hadn't done one for a while.

  4. I am having a go at another Polemos ECW battle myself, having only played the rules once, 7 years ago and not to completion. I have discovered a fantastic thing: if you read the rules Properly and Thoroughly, the game works very well. Incredible, that!

    1. Ha! Nice. They are a pretty sound set of rules. I think that there are only a couple of things that I have changed for myself over the years.