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 19 July 2021

Battle of Killiecrankie 1689 - Simple '45 Rules Battle Report

Although Stephen Simpson's 'Simple Rules for the '45' from Miniature Wargames 134 are obviously aimed at the 1745-6 Jacobite rebellion, most rules aimed at the period seem to include all of them within their scope - with the possible exception of DBR, which I think would include the first rebellion within its scope, but not the second or third.  With that in mind, I included Killiecrankie in my latest round of games.  I had played this battle with Andy Callan's 'Savage Way of Fighting' rules and that worked fine as a game, so I wasn't too concerned about this. 

I won't repeat the background stuff from the first Killiecrankie battle, but the order of battle in Simple '45 terms would be as follows:

Jacobite Forces:

5 units of Highlanders
1 unit of Cavalry
Government Forces:
4 units of Government Foot
4 units of Government Foot (Below Average)
2 units of Cavalry (Below Average)
1 unit of Artillery 

The artillery unit could fire at any unit on the board at any distance; but each turn it had to be rolled for with a result of 1-3 meaning that the artillery becomes unserviceable and is removed from board.

The Set-Up:

Once again, with feeling: the Government Army along the line of the road, facing the ambushing Highlanders on the high ground.

The Battle:

The battle starts with the Government artillery bombarding the Jacobites, doing no damage, then breaking; the Highlands begin their advance down the slope.

A wider view.

The battle begins in earnest in thoroughly predictable fashion: the Government cavalry is routed by a combination of musket, sabre and intimidating battle cries and cat-calls...

The Highlanders' left flank is subjected to the crossing fire of the Government Foot

Meanwhile on the Government Left, the Scots Brigade throws back its right-hand regiment en potence to prevent it being outflanked by the victorious Jacobite cavalry.

A wider shot of the whole situation

The Government Foot's musketry begins to play on the Jacobite cavalry in the centre (centre-right), the Highlanders on the right (left)...

And on the Highlanders on the right (left)...

The Highlanders are undeterred and charge home against the Government Left (left)...whilst the Highlander re-orientate themselves to face the Government Right (centre-right)

The Government Foot is hard-pressed, but still holding...

Which gives time for the Government Foot on the extreme left (left) to wheel and deliver musket fire and a bayonet charge - the Highlanders break (left); the Jacobite cavalry has also suffered too much and also breaks (centre-right)

A wider shot of the battlefield as the Highlanders, despite the destruction of the Government Centre, are under increasing pressure on their flanks

Armed rebellion is never for the faint-hearted however!  The Jacobites on the left put in a renewed charge, routing one of the raw Government battalions (centre)

A wider shot: the Jacobite Right is in deep trouble (left), whilst the Jacobite Left is still confident of victory

And rightly so! Another Government battalion is routed (centre)

And so is the third (bottom-right)! The Highlanders have completely overthrown the Government Right and have cut off the Government Army's escape route to Killiecrankie...but the Jacobite Right  is in danger of being folded up, even though they have routed one of the opposing Government battalions (bottom-centre-left)

And no sooner said, than the last Jacobite regiment on the Left is put to flight (Centre)!

The battle ends - both sides have one wing entirely victorious.

Game Notes: A close run-thing: tactically a draw but with the Government forces having suffered rather heavier losses - however, strategically a disaster for the Jacobites, with the Government Army strong enough to over-match the remaining Jacobite forces; resembling in some ways the result of Sherrifmuir, in fact.

It was good fun as a game too, with the pendulum of defeat and victory swinging both ways until finally reaching an equilibrium in the middle.  Raw Government cavalry again proved utterly worthless except in its defeat exposing the whole Government position; the decision to have the Government Foot as half Experienced, half Raw may again account for the discrepancy with history, since the Experienced Foot generally held on long enough to allow their numbers and musketry to tell on the Highlanders.  Obviously there is no real way of deciding whether all the Government Foot should be classified as 'Raw' for this battle, or if we assume that they just rolled poorly in real life...

The tactical choices are relatively minor (which units to concentrate attacks on, minor choices of manoeuvre) but to a large extent the battle runs itself.  This is actually true of many wargames, although these simple games expose the fact rather more.  I am not really in a position to say if the rules need some differentiation to show tactical differences at the relative scale between the fighting in the 1690s and the 1740s, but there was nothing too obvious that I missed.  So, with the continuing proviso that the player(s) will need to fill in a few gaps in how movement is conducted, and that perhaps there should be rules for an Army break-point instead of being able to fight to the last regiment, I do recommend this set as a very useful 'quick play' game for historical recreations or perhaps a campaign-in-a-day.

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


  1. Nice to compare this game with the WRG one and the post game thoughts too.