Saturday, 26 September 2020

The Battle of Willow’s Edge : 15mm ECW at Devon Wargames Group


Rules used: To Defy a King

Figures: Blue Moon, Mikes Models, Magister Militum , Minifigs and probably a couple more

Cloth : Tiny Wargames

Buildings: some Hovels, others too old for me to remember

Over the last twelve months I have been slowly building up a 15mm Royalist army to go with my already completed New Model and Scots armies and whilst I am still missing most of the cavalry I felt that there was enough available to run a game. With the use of Mr Land’s 8x5 home table I could do what we all like to do and that is to get the whole lot out and then play for a day.

Now as this was an ECW battle the course of the fight went like this; the infantry marched forwards, fired at each other for a while and then meleed for the rest of the day, meanwhile out on the flanks the cavalry fought each other until one side was victorious, chased away their opponents and then turned in on the infantry. Right that’s the AAR done so this report will be more picture heavy than normal with a few comments on the rules used and if they worked for such a big battle.

Although the above is a bit stereotypical, it was what I wanted to try and achieve, I don’t want to see musketeers machine gunning down their opponents and the infantry should slug it out for most of the day. Also with the cavalry I want to try and get a situation where there are waves or lines of conflict, the possibility should exist where one side might break quickly but mainly I wanted a to see a bit of too and fro until one side gets the upper hand.

Perhaps you need the bigger type of battle to achieve this as you will have the extra figures available but then again with smaller forces you should still be able to achieve something similar but more quickly due to the lack of reserves.

To Defy a King is one of those rule sets that never caught on and has disappeared into the wargames cupboard along with so many others that we buy, I still use them for ECW as I like many aspects of the rules especially the army creation section. The rules are written mainly for around 10-12 units per side sprinkled with a bit of period flavour but I didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be used for 40 units a-side with a bit of pruning.

So out went giving orders to brigades and then sending messengers to change them which does normally work quite well and I also decided not to bother with any unit specifics like Ironsides or Brave etc, I just kept in the three quality levels and the different troop types. 

Beforehand I had made up some small chits to help identify the various quality levels and I distributed equal quantities of each type to both sides sufficient for their forces, I did however give the Scots/New Model a couple more Raw chits in their mix as they had more units and to reflect the Scots lower quality and the Royalists had two more Veterans in their set. Then they randomly drew a chit and placed it against a unit. After that was completed I allowed both sides to swap any three chits around amongst their armies.

These rules I find give me the period flavour I am looking for by how it handles combat. Melee and shooting work the same so I will roll it all into one explanation; you fight or fire per stand and need to score 8 on two dice with a few pluses or minuses. Using pairs of differently coloured dice really helps so that you can then throw them all in one go, the number of hits thus obtained is your chance of inflicting a stand casualty so you are not likely to inflict more than one at a time, the number of hits achieved must then be converted into a kill, 6 hits will remove a stand so anything under or over that will then need a single dice throw equal or under to the number of remaining hits in order to convert. 

Quite frequently the players only managed to get one or two hits needing them therefore to throw a one or a two to take off a stand. For example at the start of the game I allowed a three turn artillery bombardment, both sides had six or seven guns with each gun having two shots per model, the total number of hits I think was five and then only two kills were achieved, sounds like a terrible game.

In fact they loved it, casualties amongst the infantry did slowly accumulate over the battle and fresh units had to be fed into the fight, in comparison cavalry losses on the other hand were a lot heavier. The players decided after a while to stop trying to shoot the enemy away and instead get down to push of pike all along the line.

In melee along with the occasional stand removal you will also be pushed back a number of inches equal to the difference in the damage caused (not kills) and you can only go back so many total inches before breaking or routing (infantry and cavalry do different things), this distance will depend on your quality level. See it more like losing the will to continue fighting rather than unit losses if the lack of dead bodies worries you. The players would see a unit on its final inch just win the next round and regain some ground as the fighting flowed backwards and forwards.

The cavalry units being smaller were more prone to being destroyed but also had less possibilities to cause casualties due to their lack of stands, getting that one or two kill possibility conversion was important but I noticed that the push and pull of the melees was attracting their attention far more than taking off a stand of figures as it was key to their winning or losing.

Returning from lunch we found that we had acquired an additional player.

 Don’t try and move me, I am full of Mouseketeers

In the end I think I achieved more or less what I wanted, I had a game that the players enjoyed and with the right period flavour to my way of thinking.

For the record the Royalist right wing cavalry struggled to break through in what was a large swirling cavalry melee but definitely had the upper hand with some of the back line Parliamentarian infantry having to be moved out to help block the pending break through. On the left where there were smaller forces, the Parliamentarians had broken the majority of the Royalists facing them and were heading back towards the centre.

Here the infantry battle was going the way of the Royalists who despite their lack of numbers had pushed the Parliamentarian/Scottish line back to the bottom of the hill.

Of course this is not an evening type of game but no game this size would be and I will definitely play the smaller version using the army generator again, maybe with all or some of the rules in play or maybe not.

Now that the Royalist cavalry is almost up to strength and I have made some nice little holders for the chits to sit in, I wonder if it would work with fifty units per side.

This has been a Mr Steve production.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Clotted Lard 2020

With normal club activity suspended during the pandemic it was not unsurprising but hugely disappointing that the decision to cancel this year's holding of Clotted Lard was made, with, in this that would have been our third holding of the event we had twelve games scheduled together with about 60 attendees.

With the previous two shows the monies raised by our Lardy gathering was passed on to Combat Stress the veterans mental health charity and it was with great pleasure that despite the cancellation, the club was, thanks to the support of those intending to attend, able to pass on the money committed to the charity, which the club rounded up with an additional donation to bring the total raised to £400.

A copy of the letter from Robert Marsh, Director of Fundraising at Combat Stress acknowledging receipt of the monies is shown below and once again thank you to everyone involved in enabling the good work of Clotted Lard to continue in spite of a global pandemic and not being able to enjoy our normal day of wargaming with the Too Fat Lardies.

Normally with our Clotted Lard post I would have hoped to bring visitors to out club blog lots of eye-candy to outline the fun day of gaming and thought we should try to compensate in some way and so I have included some pictures of various projects club members have been focused on during the current restrictions and that get posted to our internal club IO Group forum.

This sample of pictures shows that although club life publicly is in stasis, work continues in the club to develop our joint collections which will enable us to create yet more fun on the table-top when things return to normal.

As well as additions to the Wars of the Roses/Medieval collections we also have examples of work in later periods including WWI/RCW 15mm figures as well as other collections spanning various historical periods and genres, that all point to the continuation of our hobby life away from club, but very much in anticipation of being able to get back together and enjoy the company and banter that is wargaming and what we enjoy doing.

It looks like restrictions on our communal way of life are likely to continue for the foreseeable, but I think these pictures help illustrate that the Devon Wargames Group is just hibernating through this period and will come back with yet more great games to enjoy and with an eye very much on hoping we might be able to play with our new collections at another Clotted Lard in September 2021.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Siege of Delhi, Indian Mutiny - Black Powder

Editors Note:
This post covers one of the three games played in early March 2020 and was submitted prior to the announcement that the club has now closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 Lock-down and the prohibition on social gatherings.

We look forward to a resumption of normal life as soon as possible, extend our sincerest condolences to those who have lost friends and family during this time and encourage everyone to stay safe, stay home and protect out National Health Service.

I was only on the field as a Reporter for The Times, so I do not wish to detract from the official report that will be forthcoming. However, it has to be said that those dashed Mutineers learnt the error of their ways and Our Gallant Fellows gave them a Damned Good Pounding!

After the British Cavalry were gallantly led forward and chased off the ragged heathen Horse, they were obliged to retire back to our Siege Works, so Our Thin Red Lines could get in some good target practice!

The mounds of Mutineer dead were almost as high as our parapets! The Horde of Pandey's even managed to unnerve the Highland Battalion, which was in the open, causing them to retire from the field in disorder. This left the Besieging Artillery dangerously exposed and lured the Mutineers in, for a desperate charge at the guns.

They were bounced by a half strength field battery, but were confident when they hit a disordered, half strength Naval gun in the flank! However, the British matelot is built of sterner stuff and although badly outnumbered and outmanoeuvered, they fought off the Mutineers and turned to face, daring the Horde to try again!

A mighty cheer erupted from the British Lines and the Mutineers decided to retire and lick their wounds. Happily Our Troops could return to their encampment in time for Tiffin and gather around the camp fire for some tales of Daring Do.

I Remain as Always,

Your Correspondent in the Field,
Currently outside Delhi

Saturday, 11 April 2020

ACW 15mm using Brigade Fire and Fury 2

Editors Note:
This post covers one of the three games played in early March 2020 and was submitted prior to the announcement that the club has now closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 Lock-down and the prohibition on social gatherings.

We look forward to a resumption of normal life as soon as possible, extend our sincerest condolences to those who have lost friends and family during this time and encourage everyone to stay safe, stay home and protect out National Health Service.

The Scenario

This game was based upon the Battle of Raab. Archduke John of Austria was being pursued by EugĂ©ne de Beauharnais, Napoleon Bonaparte’s stepson . In this game the Austrians were replaced by the Rebels and the Union troops replaced the French.

Battle of Raab, 14th June 1809

The Rebel army was made up of half Veteran and half Experienced and Green units, whilst the Union troops were either Veteran or Crack.

The number of stands was the same for both sides so it was all about using quality against defended positions.

The town counted as full cover and the farm was fortified. The river was fordable but disordered all troops on crossing. Guns could only cross via the two bridges but the horse battery with the cavalry could cross to the right of the fortified area.

The Game

The deployment and first move were made using cards to simulate mist coming off the river. On revealing the units we found the Union deployed on their right with the cavalry division and two crack infantry divisions. The two other divisions were on the left next to the main bridge leaving the centre completely free.

The Rebels deployed in and around the fortified farm and on both hills to gain height for their guns and waited. The rebel guns opened fire on the advancing union columns causing light casualties. As the union forces advanced on their left the rebels surprised their opponents by coming to meet them. Shaking into line both armies clashed exchanging fire and charges. In a very ballsy move a rebel brigade left the farm and crossed the small centre bridge in an attempt to attack the unions in the rear.

On the union right the fast moving cavalry and infantry headed around to attack the rebel left. The rebels held the hill and dished out fire from their guns in the fort and on the hill without slowing them down. Once again the rebels awaited their destiny.

At this point the action was all on the rebel right flank and they managed to force the union forces to
straighten their lines, a euphemism for falling back. These actions had, however caused severe damage to the rebel units as well as to the union. The rebel problem was that their units were not all that good. With that Union attack now seemingly stemmed the rebels sent what spare units they could away to their left to help stem the next onslaught

Eventually the union troops arrived on the confederate left and the cavalry dismounted and started using their machine guns (repeating rifles) to try and pin down the defenders of the fortified farm but they were faced with artillery and infantry and were gradually whittled down. The fast moving union infantry then burst through the woods and attacked the rebels lined up on the hill. The rebels fought bravely but against superior quality troops they were eventually pushed back. However it has to be noted that a rebel brigade did repel a massed attack from three good union brigades before finding themselves suddenly all alone on the hill, whereupon they fell back in good order onto the town.

As this was going on, the union forces on their left now launched a second attack and got to grips with the rebels and forced them back towards the town.

At this point the Confederate leaders gave the order to fall back to the next town down the road and a slight union victory was declared.

I would like to thank all participants for playing the game in such good humour. The scenario was interesting for me because the accepted rule is that the attacking forces should outnumber the defenders. In this case the quality was meant to negate the quantity issues. It did seem to work so I was happy.

This is Steve Land production, generously corrected and added to by Mr Steve. Thanks to you sir.

Figures from AB and Blue Moon. My thanks to Nick and Mr Steve for their efforts in painting them for me. Battle Mat by Tiny Wargames. Buildings by Empires at War. The trees are a mix of Ebay buys and from Buffers Model Railways. The hills were from Total System Scenic (TSS). Roads and rivers are from Fat Frank. The rails fences I got from ebay.