Friday, August 07, 2015

ECW Warr Without an Enemie - Battle of Southam (1642)

First ever play-test of the Warr Without an Enemie rules set from the Wyre Forest Wargames Club.

Jeff and I had set the plan of building English Civil War armies (I selected Parliament to start) and getting them on the table in both large and small actions.

We have done Edgehill, now for a smaller action, Southam, this time with a really new rule set; indeed it was printed in 2014 and some new changes were made in 2015.

the jumble of orders
In reviewing the rules I discovered that 'disruption points' were the critical item that we would need to keep track of on the tabletop, with 5 as the maximum number.  So I designed some quick play aids with the 1,2,3,4 around the sides of a dark square, on the 'white' side when flipped over I put a 5 in red ink with circles around it - to make it stand out that the unit was in some 'trouble'.

The rules also call for orders to be given to each unit or group of units on the tabletop, so I made up a set of cards, blank black on the back side with the orders, red for advancing or aggressive orders and black ink for the more static or retreat orders.

Then on to the tabletop, Jeff was still dealing with chemo-brain (as he calls it) so deferred to Rob to command the Royalist forces.

The scenario has the Parliament on the edge of a hill covered in hedgerows facing a Royalist force with their backs to a river, though this does not really matter as the Parliament does not have any effective cavalry being set with only Raw Pistoleers.

I chose to set up in classic horse-on-the-wings fashion, while Rob selected a more or less freestyle cavalry stacking on the flanks with dragoons on foot out front of a lone Pike and Shotte unit that the Royalists had.

The field at start

Parliament flags (double size and double numbers for this small engagement)

View from behind the Parliament lines
The first turn was just artillery cross fire, though there was no chance of anything actually happening, as these were Ultra-Light batteries manned by raw crews (-2 dice which is all they get to roll)

Turn 2 was a bit more exciting as we get to follow the complicated procedure of charge testing ...

Royalist left moves up

getting ready to charge (though not perfect as the "1" on the DP marker shows

The Parliament line stood and gave artillery fire, this time scoring multiple DP's on Royalist horse
Turn three was the clash of horse on the Parliament right.

the Royalist left wing horse, Raw Gallopers were triumphant over the Pistoleers of Parliament

the Royalist horse won the first engagement, then because they were Raw, had almost no chance to stop them running off in pursuit

Raw Dragoons (dismounted) were leading the way of the Royalist foot towards the Parliament line

while on the Royalst right, the best horsemen were getting blasted apart by the deadly cannonade

Parliament guns were having an effect in the center
The WWAE rules call for "Command Points" to be rolled for each turn, we did this in the open for this playtest game, though I suspect that such information is vitally important to not be openly shared.

The Parliament Average commander only gets a d6+1, while the Good Royalist one gets d6+2.  Close, yet often the Royalist needed the extra command to move his commander about to keep up with the needs of the wildly roaming horsemen in his force.

With the loss of the Pistoleer horse, the Parliament side now had to test for morale, not a big deal as it would only cause a 'retire' order if the roll was a 1, it was not so we continued.

turn 4, the Royalist right wing cavalry now moves to get out of cannonade

the Royalist commander had to constantly use up command points to keep moving

Parliament lines shift, to get ready to charge the line of Dragoons that were peppering the line

even a small shift like this took up 4 command points in the move and clearing off the disruption it caused
I have learned that moving any force and keeping it in good order is a near impossibility, double so if doing the moving under fire.  The "DPs" associated with wheeling and moving are horrible, made worse if you roll bad die number ('!s' in your movement)

The Royalist learned this in spades as attempting to wheel his left wing horse, they rolled double ones and not only did they not mvoe they increased their DPs by 2!

Royalist advance had halted on the left, and shifted on the right

now the Dragoons (left) started to inflict huge DPs into the Parliament Pike & Shotte

the return fire was hopeless, a charge was the only way to beat the Dragoons

given the order to charge, the Pike & Shotte unit ended up crashing into a Horse unit, then retreating into the guns, a horrible mess for the line
Losses in DPs (Disruption Points) build up until you have 5 of them, then every DP (from fire not terrain) after that causes the loss of a stand of the unit.

Melee combat could cause units to melt away fast, and units that are at 3 or 4 DPs hit by a lot of fire could also suddenly vanish almost on the spot.

The Pike & Shotte unit collapsed in the crashing about against the guns and the hedges.

This called for another army morale roll, though by now the Royalists had also lost a unit (the Gallopers in pursuit) and this also caused a number to appear for the Royalists, who promptly rolled a "1"! which called for their army to retire!  The Parliament side also just rolled their number, a "3" and this also called for a retire order to go out to all units.

Though the horse on the Royalist right were now locked in Hand-to-Hand and as such could not change any orders.

We then rolled for CPs (Command Points) to see if we could each get  our armies new orders to at least hold ground.  Well the Royalists went for a new charge order ...

By the end of the turn, there were more casualties, more DPs, yet neither side was any closer to winning.

horse of the Royalists, hit both flanks

Pistoleers managed to catch the gallopers with DPs and hold them up

end of the turn, bad rolls again came about
Now the situation for both sides was grim.

the Royalist left held up with too many DPs, the right was blasted apart by cannon and pistol shotte

view from the Parliament rear

looking from Parliament right across the field

the critical die roll
Now with both sides needing to roll over a "3" to stay on field, the unthinkable happened - BOTH ROLLED "1"

Final result: BOTH armies withdraw immediately from the field, they flee away from each other!

I think this was the most accurate result for such raw forces put into contact with each other.

Rob has since noted some more errors we made (likely in the charge procedures) yet I liked the rules and flow overall.

At all times the commander is engaged in the action - there are not many 'dull' moments, since movement and fire is not U-go; I-go.  The movement and firing are all in sections and simultaneous which makes for a more intense and dramatic set of actions.

This rule-set I shall want to play again.

 Added 16 August 2015:

Find more pictures and the point of view of the Royalist commander here <--click a="" nbsp="">



Unknown said...

Nice post. looking at these rules so it was good to read about your experience with them. Thanks

El Grego said...

Thank you for posting this report. Having both armies retire from the field of battle seemed to be very fitting!

Unknown said...

Thanks for this a great report and nice photos. It looks like you had a great game and I look forward to further reports.

MurdocK said...

Stu Rat, you just so 'random' ...

Sometimes my inner grognard stands out.

Jason said...

Good AAR, I've been looking at these rules and it is good to see them in play.