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

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