Monday, July 27, 2015

Royalists Triumphant!

Another round of Pike & Shotte with both of us applying lessons learned (sort of).

 Both royalist and parliament forces deployed in fairly dense lines, which follows historical practice.  After two games of this is has become clear that you cannot rely on commanders to execute plans of any complexity or subtlety, much less any 'grand strategies.'  Your best bet is to line 'em up and do your best to corral the whole lot forward a bit.  Even with this mind,  however, I could not resist deploying the Royalist cavalry on my left to attempt a flanking maneuver through the woods.  I anchored the right flank against the river which I felt would protect it enough from the opposite numerous Parliament cavalry.

Things chugged along. My flanking maneuver, to the surprise of no one, was unbelievably slow. We finally remembered to use the first fire rule (add one dice to shooting total).  Gabe wasted no time having Parliament infantry blast away at the Royalists once in range.  I had the Royalists hold their fire, hoping to concentrate multiple first volleys at a single target for devastating effect, which did not pay dividends.   

As with the prior game, Parliament was able to send a sleeve of shot on the Royalist right running almost immediately.  Fortunately the looming presence of the Royalist cavalry, finally making their way around the Parliament flank, prevented Gabe from pushing his advantage.  Some of the Royalist cavalry even succeeded in overrunning the Parliament artillery, but then chanced a reckless charge into a Parliament pike block and was destroyed.

Back in the center and Royalist left, the Parliament cavalry began to advance as both sides exchanged musketry.  Both sides were near the breaking point, but a Parliament cavalry squadron was caught out alone in front its own lines, and the Royalists delivered a truly "withering volley" (the first time I have seen such a thing represented on a tabletop) which broke the Parliament cavalry battalion and subsequently sent the whole army into retreat. Victory at last for the Royalist cause!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Charge! Or How to Play Wargames

A fast evening game of Charge! Or How to Play Wargames was played on a 3'x4' field on the living room using 54mm plastic figures.  These are my 'freelance Napoleonic project' figures, and are not painted to any specific units or nationalities.  I meant to throw together some background story with my oppoent (age 7) but forgot.

Both sides were compositionally identical: 24 infantry, a cannon with 4 crew, 6 cavalry, and 2 officers. 

The Charge!rules are wonderfully simple: the entire 'elementary' game rules are summarized on two pages!  They are also good simulation rules, both in terms of the effect of musketry and the back and forth of cavalry melee. Both sides began trundling forward.  Army Red's (me) artillery fire was spot on and Army Black took dreadful casualties as they advanced.

No pictures but there was a swirling melee to the left between the cavalry.

Infantry finally close in and the musketry fire commences. Army Black begins to chip away at Army Red.  The break point is first to loose 19 figures. Things get down the wire: Red has lost 18, Black has lost 17.

A great musket volley by Black's infantry at point blank seals their victory: 6 casualties in one blast!

Including set up time, I think we played this whole game in 45 minutes or so.  The figures are a mix of HaT infantry, Timpo cavalrymen on Imex horses, Armies in Plastic cannons, Call to Arms crew with All the Kings Men heads swapped on, and Italeri command figures (phew!).



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cavaliers Embarassed in ECW Defeat

We played our second English Civil War game, again using the Pike & Shotte rules. Each side had twice as much infantry as the last game (so two infantry 'battalias' of one pike block and two musket 'sleeves' each) and two cavalry battalias of two squadrons each (last game had one battalia of three each).  We also used medium guns instead of light falconets for artillery. 


The board had essentially three terrain features arrayed along the center: a village surrounded by hedgerows on the south edge, a hill at the north-center (complete with grazing sheep), and woods on the north end. At the center and center-south was as fairly open space.

The Parliament forces (Gabe) spent a lot of turns trying to set up an infantry battalia (the 'Orange Regiment') in the cover of the hedgerows by the village while a cavalry battalia moved quickly through the streets.

The Royalists (me) responded with (attempted) aggressive cavalry attacks on both flanks. The melee in the village streets went poorly with the defeat of the entire Royalist cavalry.The cavalry melee around and on the hill to the north was an effective stalemate. All this in spite of inferior Parliamentarian cavalry commanders!

In the center the Royalist Blue Regiment lost a musketeer company early on and the Red Regiment failed to form-up as intended.Parliament's cavalry charged from out of the village as the Orange Regiment finally climbed over the hedgerows and got in musket range.

The Royalist Reds formed hedgehog causing the Parliament cavalry to pull up short and the Blues were already broken and leaving the field. The Parliament Green Regiment also began to break up but the game was over as the Royalist cavalry battalia lost in the village plus the breaking Red Reg. meant that half of the army was broken.

For next game:

1. Consider placing starting-lines 18" from table edge rather than 12".This could reduce the game time, as a lot of time is wasted as the infantry of both sides struggle to get into musket range. There would still be a large back-space behind each army for maneuvering and reserves.
2. Continue to forget to use the 'first fire' rule for all musketeers – each unit gets bonus for the first volley of the game.
3. Might be time to drop the 'marauder' rule for both sides' cavalry. Same thing for Parliamentarian cavalry's 'caracole' rule. Parliament cavalry commander could also have an '8' rating rather than a '7'.

I have now lost two games, somewhat badly, but I am enjoying myself immensely.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Death of a Swiss Pikeman

[From a tapestry depicting the Battle of Pavia, from drawings by Bernard van Orley.]