Tally Ho!

Thursday 13 April 2017

ECW Musklets and Marshalls - the all new Capatines and Calivers

As the commander of the Allied forces for the Key Points campaign is away, we decided to test out some ECW rules I've been working on. These are a conversion of the Muskets and Marshalls rules we've been using for the Napoleonic games recently that are available from http://hintonhunt.blogspot.co.uk/.

A number of tweaks are needed so its probably easiest to reproduce my design notes from Captaines and Calivers, the ECW version of M&M.   

The Rules


Many rules like to distinguish between fast-moving Gallopers and static Trotters relying more on firepower, likely in search of tactical differences to spice-up the rules. I see little evidence this was true with many units charging somewhere between a trot and a gallop, and with no-one relying on caracoles or static shooting.

The main point of difference is therefore the quality and also the discipline. Horse are likely to pursue defeated opponents so having greater discipline gives more chance of them influencing the remainder of the battle.         


 Infantry is where the greatest adjustments are needed from a Napoleonic rule set. The firing systems were very different and the volley is seen as more the prelude to an assault than a normal fire mode or a attempt to stop an assault. In fact defenders in a melee usually attempted to keep-up steady fire as the attackers advanced in the hopes of inflicting some damage. For this reason the defender does not shot to halt the attack but rather receives an additional combat dice to reflect their shooting.      

So the volley is something the player with initiative can initiate, but leaves them unable to shoot next turn, so vulnerable should they not charge. Equally though it has a morale impact on the enemy possibly weakening them. 

 A number of formations have been introduced - partly to provide some additional tactical choices and partly to enable Dutch or Swedish deployment methods to be employed.   


Artillery were not the great killers in the ECW they were in later conflicts - rates of fire were lower, pieces hard to manoeuvre and grapeshot being rare. Also the crews were largely civilian and so took less damage to see them off as most were relatively unskilled.

For this reason close-range fire hits on a 4 not 3 as in M&M. Also the light batteries have been made a little smaller at 4 for Gallopers.   


A morale test has been introduced to charge or counter charge as there is no longer the natural trigger of volleying to halt the attacker.  Fresh units (+1), with support (+1), attempting to charge (+1)  are bound to charge even on a roll of 2.

The Game 

To speed things along on the test game I pre-deployed all the forces adopting a classic ECW formation with both sides having pike & shot in the centre and Horse on their flanks. Parliament had a forlorn hope of Dragoons deployed forward in a small field, faced by an assault party. Parliaments Horse were rated Disciplined so there was more chance of them remaining on the table should they win a melee.  
Forces of parliament arrayed for battle

Scottish Horse on the Royalist right 

Parliaments left flank

Parliaments centre

Royalist forces 
The Royalist forces made the early running, advancing across the line to engage the parliamentary troops opposite them. The Horse lead the way with the assault party also rapidly attacking the Dragoons holding the field.

Scottish Horse advancing

The assault party prepares to attack the Dragoons
Fortunes were fairly mixed for both sides in the early cavalry exchanges. On their left the Royalists gained the  initiative and managed to catch their opponents at the halt, predictably pushing them from the field. On the Royalist right the fortunes were reversed with the Scottish Horse soundly beaten by the parliamentary forces and routed from the table. As expected the Dragoons were pushed out of the field  by the assault party.
Scottish Horse take to their heels or maybe hooves
In the centre the main infantry lines came in range and commenced a steady fire upon each-other. Both sides began to inflict casualties and a few disparities emerged between the shooting effectiveness. The Royalist Irish brigade fired a lively volley and then charged, routing their opponents and  pursing into the second rank. The parliamentary foot also tried a volley but with less effect and were stopped dead as a struggle developed. 

View from the Irish Brigade position before they routed their enemies

Montrose scots advance
In the centre a slogging match ensued with the tide ebbing and flowing but with the Royalists having the upper hand. On the flanks each had one side had cleared one flank but crucially the more disciplined parliamentary Horse had remained on the field and was ready to intervene. With time running-out we declared the game a draw and reviewed the rules 

Scots move forward

The Irish charge-in

Parliamentary cannons take aim

The Irish in action again

The Verdict

The rules held-up well for a first outing with no obvious major glitches. It certainly had the feel on an ECW battle and if we had played a little longer (or faster) then the returning cavalry would have had time to make their presence felt on the centre.

+1 combat dice for standing and firing felt too powerful so part-way through we opted for +1/2 on the die roll instead. This puts it on a par with infantry charging but you don't receive the morale bonus.

The decision on when to risk a volley and charge felt meaningful and added an additional tactical choice.

We will play a second test game on our next regular club night so watch this space for more on this and also the up-coming Easter game - 28mm War of the Spanish Succession        


  1. Looks like you could have a goer there! I did have a ECW rule set written 45 years ago that may have had some useful ideas but sadly these have been long since lost. Glad that you have felt it viable to use the system for another period.

  2. well if any ideas come back to you please send them through!