Tally Ho!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Strike Fast ECW Campaign - week 0 (practise game)

As a prelude to our latest campaign we held a practise game this week to remind ourselves of the rules. We're using "Captaines and Calivars", an ECW variant of Ian from Hinton Hunts, "Musket and Marshalls" Napoleonic rules.

We've used the rules before but never with Highlanders, so this was an opportunity to test them. The campaign itself is set in 1650 and follow's Cromwell's suppression of the alliance between the Royalists and Covenanter's that attempted to seize control of the UK, often known as the Third Civil War.

We rated the Highlanders as 8" move, +1 in combat, and no shooting - this being accounted for in the increased melee factors. 

Since this was a trial / rules refresher we went for a very simple setup with both sides splitting their cavalry equally between the flanks and massing all their infantry in the centre.  Both sides deployed dragoons forward to hold a village (Royalist) and fields (Parliament) near the centre line.  

Royalist Scottish lancers on the left flank

Royalist centre-left
The Royalist forces place 6 units of Highlanders in the front and backed by an equal number of Irish mercenary troops. This would give us an early test of their fighting power.

Royalist centre right - highlanders to the fore

Cromwell's horse on the left

Cromwell's centre-left

Cromwell's centre-right

Cromwell's right
Cromwell was likely to enjoy a significant advantage on the right flank as his Veteran troopers squared off against the Raw Scottish lancers.

Long shot of the game from the Royalist right 
The game began with a general advance across the line from the Royalists forces as they sought to come rapidly to grips with their highlanders. Cromwell held in the centre (save for an incursion against the village) but advanced his cavalry on the flanks.
Highlanders advance quickly past the village
As is traditional with many ECW games the first action was on the flanks as both sides sought to impose themselves on the cavalry melee. On Cromwell's left the action was pretty even with both sides well matched. On his right however he made short work of the Scottish lancers but was in able to prevent his troopers from pursuing the beaten enemy.

Scottish lancers move forward
Crunch - this would end badly for the Scottish 
As the centres clashed we got our first chance to see how the Highlanders performed. Several units swept quickly passed the village and charged headlong into the waiting English troops who met them with a steady fire.
Highlanders advance on the English 
Royalists attack on Cromwell's left
Pipes playing the Highlanders prepare to charge

Highlanders advance stalls

It is fair to say that the results were disappointing for the Royalists as both Highland units rebounded off the English line and found themselves Disordered for their troubles. A second wave advanced but found themselves under fire from across the English line and under threat from Cromwell's horse who had managed to win on both flanks. So after 2.5 hours play we declared the Parliamentarians the winners.  

Scots somewhat outnumbered

English make progress on the village.

It was pleasing to achieve a result within 3 hours for a large game (nearly 30 units a side) but we concluded the Highlanders needed a further review. It was slightly tough to judge their true performance though as they diced so poorly. Despite being +1.5 up I most melees they still managed to loose most of them due to some awful dice rolling. We are considering 3 options:
  • Have less of them so they matter less - a shame as we have lots and they look great!
  • Reclassify them as Pike & shot but of poor quality.
  • Allow them some limited shooting (volleys and short range) but reduce the combat bonus
I would like to try the later as this seems to reflect their tactical method best, so I'm looking at:
  • Move 8"
  • May shoot / volley at short range only
  • +1/2 in combat
  • May not form pike stand as historically they were vulnerable to horse charges

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Parachute Assualt

For our final game of WWII before beginning our ECW campaign we decide to use one of the very few scenarios I've not played from Charles Grants "scenarios for wargamers". In this battle the Germans were attempting to capture and destroy a radio transmitter, guarded by 2 platoons of Russians

Scenario details

The following apply to the attacker
  • There are 4 Jump off points (numbered 1-4).
  • Teams are assigned a turn to arrive, max 4 per turn
  • Dice for each team: 1-4 they arrive at that JOP and 5,6 they are delayed until a future wave
  • Troops may not be attacked the turn they land
The following apply to the defender
  • All teams are on overwatch until they fire or are attacked

The Battle

The Russians deployed with a platoon in the village, 2 sections plus 2 maxims guarding the radio transmitter and a section plus 2 light mortars in a near by pumping station. 

The transmitter sitting on a hill with a JOP in the foreground
View of the hill from the village

The defenders dug-in around the transmitter

The village on high alert

The pumping station 

As dawn broke over the Russian positions a low drone overhead heralded the arrival of the German para's first waves of troops drifting silently from a cloudless sky. Most of the Germans ended-up landing to the north east or north west of the radio station. The former coming-down close to the village and the Russians defending there.

Germans creep into the stream bed

Germans to the south - soon they would be under heavy mortar fire

The Germans moved swiftly into a convenient stream bed and began a gloaters-style action as they poured fire into both the radio transmitter and the village.

German main position in the stream bed

The defenders are thinned put by German MG fire 

Germans ready to move off

This had the desired effect of weakening the transmitters defenders and pinning the bulk of the Russians in the village.  This allowed the Germans to manoeuvre troops into the woods near the transmitter and launch a series of assaults into the defenders.  The Germans landing to the south through fared  badly as they were decimated by accurate mortar fire from the pumping station.  

The first assault goes in

Follow-up attacks rout the defenders

With the position desperate, the Russians in the village staged an attack of their own, but it was too late to prevent the destruction of the transmitter.

A morale boosting Russian assault

The transmitter falls 

The Verdict

These types of games are tough to balance and its easy to write something where the attackers have no realistic chance to win. So I perhaps over compensated here by making the Russians RAW troops. This meant they were easy prey to the Germans fire even when dug-in. So that would be something to fix in a future scenario.

Also we found the Germans were not terribly inconvenienced by the jump itself so perhaps a higher chance of troops being late or landing off-table next time?

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Christmas game - Marlburian battle

As has become traditional we once gain dusted-off the Marlburian / GNW / WSS figures for our Christmas game. Again we used Beneath the Lilly Banners (version 1) for the battle - version 2 has been out for some time but we're holding-on for version 3 to be released in 2018.

The scenario was loosely based on Blenheim with a combined Anglo-Dutch army deployed in the north against a larger Danish / Swedish army to the south, with a series of fortified villages along their line. 

View from the village on the Danish far right flank - my command for the day

Long shot from then Danish left flanks

The Danish centre

Reserve angle of the Danish centre with the Anglo-Dutch in the distance

Close-up of a British line regiment 

British gun with cavalry support to the rear
The Anglo-Dutch were significantly stronger on their right flank but outnumbered along the rest of the line, so decided to launch their main attack on the right. The Danes largely stood on the defensive hoping the villages would do their work and satisfied themselves with a series of spoiling attacks from their horse.      
Danish Horse stood too on the left

The British cavalry on their own left

My command holds a small village on the right flank.

A British regiment opposite me - they would prove a thorn in the side of the Danish cavalry 
On the Danish right the early moves saw good success - several British cavalry units were routed and some deadly fire slowed-down their infantry attacks.
Danish / Swedish horse make progress

The British attack on the left stalls.
On the Danish left though the opposite was true with the Anglo-Dutch winning the early cavalry combats and threatening to overwhelm the Danish defenders. On this flank the Danish were forced into a series of defensive operations designed to stabilise the position and allow the right time to win the game.

Danish left under pressure
Bloody cavalry melee on the Danish left
The Danish still retain a decent sized force uncommitted.

British horse charges a Swedish regiment- they went to to break them later.
The flank is stablised

Over on the Danish there was an attempt to force the issue with a steady advance but this was disrupted by several British cavalry charges which took time to contain and defeat.  

Opposing cavalry charge to contact 

British at bay on their own left 

My Swedes open-up on the advancing British 

The British centre
So the game ended a draw with both sides strong on their own right, but not having been able to force the issue and turn the advantage into a winning position.

As always with BLB V1 several quirks in the rules dominated the early part of the day as we learnt them again - firing/ melee/morale are all handled completely differently for the three arms and this takes some adjustment. Cavalry combat also tends to bloody and fairly random unless you can gain an advantage through preparatory fire. This has inspired me to commit to another Marshals and Muskets variant - this time for Marlburians.

So for some eye-candy to enjoy.....    

Danish regiment stood-too

Danish horse

British line advances

Swedes are ready to get stuck-in

Danish commander ponders his next move

His British counter-part