Thursday, September 05, 2019

ECW Formations, a question of scale

Finding that I had yet no one image of my Royalist forces, and that there were enough of them to do a force size comparison with 1:1 (where one man equals one miniature) I thought to lay them out today and get the images recorded for future discussion.

I drew my unit sized from Stuart Reid and his "All The Kings Armies" and went with a smaller size than the ordinances called for as this is closer to what would be actually fielded when battles took place.

First the Foote:

the force takes up a frontage of 36 inches with everyone packed in close order
 Normally these would comprise of 10 companies of pike and shot with 30 men in each, I used the 2:1 shot to pike ratio, so this works out to 100 pike and 200 shot.

As you can see from the image I have gone with a fairly tight formation and even so, with 6 ranks deep of shot (with 99 in each wing actually) you can see that the shot sections almost match up with the pike section for depth.

the Foote shown in oblique to give a better view of the depth and flags as this is 95% of the Royalist force that I have

 Such a force, taking up 36 inches or three feet on a wargames table would be impossible to continuously simulate (needing 300 minis just for the one unit!), while visually stunning, for tabletop game purposes its just not workable.

behind the foote at 1:1 is a more common Pike & Shot unit of three stands and only 6" wide
So we make the compromise, for instance swapping 5 pike for the 100 (20:1) and 6 shot for the 198 (33:1) we get the more commonly seen unit on the games table of three stands, one Pike and two Shot, with a total frontage of 6 inches.  Which from the 36 inches of the 1:1 unit translates into a 1/6 scale.

wargames table unit of only 11 minis and 6 inch frontage
Then the Horse

Again they are described as 6 troop units of about 30 men each.  The ordinances calling for 100 in each troop, on campaign with losses and desertions along with recruitment, they tended to be around 30 men in each troop, according to Stuart Reid.

The horse in six 'troop' formation with a couple of horse widths between troops

When laid out at 1:1 this gives us 180 horses and men, allowing for a spacing between troop units, this again comes out to a frontage of 36 inches.

Once again placing a three foot horse unit on a wargames table will take up almost all available space, though truly look impressive!

1:1 unit (180 minis)  in front and 1:15 unit (12 minis) in behind
So the compromise of a 1:15 scale is made, giving a 1/6 frontage difference from 36" down to 6" (the same frontage as the foot unit essentially).

the compromise unit of 12 horse in the same six troop pattern
Thus we have something of a scaling at between 1:15 to 1:33 (with an average sitting around 1:20) in men to miniatures ratio.

I'm hoping this little comparison will help folks in visualizing things that happen on the wargames table better.


Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Understanding a little more about the 30 years war

I have been using some of these videos to better understand more about what was going on in Europe, while the "Bishops Wars" were going on in England, prior to the English Civil War.

They are also good to run in the background while cleaning miniatures, sculpting and painting.


What do you use to keep informed or have as background in your painting time?

Monday, September 02, 2019

Royalist Forces Completed, the Oxford Horse

In my progress of this English Civil War armies, I have started with the Parliament and then transitioned into the Royalists.

overview shot of the whole force with the King
This has been an example in painting progress and skill increase, wherein my Parliament troops are really quite simple in their painting, some done very quickly.  Now with the three different 'forces' Cornish, Welsh and now Oxford in my Royalist army I have done more details, and due to my decision to have the white band field sign on the Royalists, the time used on the models was increased.

again the horse speed painting technique was used, then the work went into the riders

fully flocked and waiting for the flags

Then a parade with the King:

this troop is using a Prince Rupert type of flag

the troop is flying something of a royal banner

this one is inspired by the white coat with buff leather that I painted them in

here are all four troops (one does not have a 'color' and will be also used as dragoon stand in)

So now at long last (5 years!), my base English Civil War forces are all done.

Sigh, yet now the Scots, Irish and conjectural French forces are looming on the horizon ... thankfully I have already been collecting some of the Scots/Irish and a recent trade has brought a bunch of 30 years war troops into my possession which could be used to make the French.

Ultimately I have plans to have a brigade of New Model Army pike and shot to be finished along with the gifted Cuirassier lobsters from Jeff.

Up next will be a Black Powder game organized by Rob, then we will start our campaign game in ECW.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

More Shiloh ...

the seemingly never ending scenario has had two more game sessions done with it, one with just Nate and McLean, the other was just last Friday, with five of us there to keep the action moving and the result was holding at pretty much the same ... the Union was just clinging to a tiny corner of the sunken road.

I predict a draw will be the result, though interestingly enough Sherman was dead, and Grant had been in two close shaves, one that killed an officer near him another that put a hole in his coat.  (must have been from branches shattered from the artillery that were firing at the nearby regiments on othe Union left flank.

Chris got a great shot of the critical engagement on the flank of the hornets nest and the edge of the sunken road
 Nate was able to TWICE ROLL a 10! to 'throw back' Confederate charges on the critical corner of the sunken road ...

game end for the day, still holding that damn tiny section of the road ... the next time the Confederates would have artillery to POUND them at within the limited 4" range (due to the woods in the entire area).

overview from the confederate center

the seambattlestar gunboat (with a hand nearby to show how large it is), indeed wider than the river in the area (must be using crawler tracks to stay out of the mud)

view across the table looking towards the galactic battle cruiser stuck in the mud

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Union and Confederate fingering in the dungeon

The title of this post is at the request of our host McLean in his 'War Dungeon', where he hosted another ACW battle game, this time Shiloh.

the 'fingering' is used to calculate the bonus or penalty to opposed die rolls in melee combat

Nate gives a briefing of the deployments

Union troops muster near their cam locations as the battle drives other Union forces fleeing through their camps that morning

Fleeing Union troops (top) from Sherman's Division.  Sherman held ground at the cost of his own life and the entire division was eventually surrounded and defeated in detail, leaving no survivors

view of the center and left of the 'hornets nest' as some Union troops had been driven out from the sunken road, though they still held a small portion of the west side of the road

a view just to the right of the earlier one of the 'hornets nest' (as built by Rob) where the advancing Confederate forces could be seen

Confederate artillery was racing INTO the Hornets Nest, to give fire cover to the sunken road

last stand near Shiloh church as the Union lines were stretched, then shattered in close combat


Hornets Nest filled with troops of both sides as the Union desperately clung to the last tiny part of the sunken road (a critical game objective), already the Union were now loosing more troops than the Confederates and facing large movement penalties, which were causing divisions to retreat from contact.  With the sunken road lost there would be a permanent further penalty.

the lines closed in for one more close combat action

my phone managed to capture some great shots of these 15mm miniatures

Overall field at the end of action - approximately 2 pm in the 'day' but not the end of game time available

at this point there was a 'second line' in the Hornets Nest and it was filled with artillery to cover the sunken road, further artillery was moving to the right to secure the other end of the terrain feature

while the sunken road was not 100% in Confederate hands, only a worn Union brigade held on to a tiny portion of the road and three fresh Confederate brigades were closing in

Rob, Chris and my son Alex in the War Dungeon listening to more details from Nate.

We ended the battle action technically at a draw, however the loss of the sunken road was going to happen, whether the Union could take it back, or indeed hold off the Confederacy from pressing the Union off the table within charge range of their river landing site is a matter of conjecture.

Casualties were heavy on both sides, with AS Johnston being KIA, along with WT Sherman and at least two other Union and Confederate division commanders being shot (though one only lost his horse).

Not much 'movement' here it was all battle right from the start.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Campaigning season nearing an opening?

recently reviewed titles
I have been away on a road trip with family, during the little down time I had (#1 driver on a 7800 km round trip over 14 days), I managed to get in a re-reading of the Grant and Bath titles.

While Tony Bath did have some interesting input for just the ACW period, sadly most of his work revolved around the details of a long-running Hyborean game that he had run in the 1970s and was very much an ancients and points system tour-de-force.  GDW must have been happy with any 'uptick' in sales after his product hit the shelves.

Grant was more of a generic approach and touched on loads of subjects in all time-periods and even some of the speculative fiction in high-tech and fantasy realms.

The Nanaimo group has been discussing a campaign in ACW for some time now and I have put in a few immediate observances from my 21+ years of running Napoleonic (100 Days and Campaign of Nations) and Sci-Fi (Battletech mostly) minis campaigns on written postal, email and electronic forum systems as well as playing in at least three 'local' campaigns with Jeff Hudelson (of BlueBear fame).

The responses prompted me to review these titles so as to come at the resolution from a text supported point of view.

As this is potentially a local based game with email as a control factor, two methods come to the forefront by Bath and Grant:

Mini Campaigns (p61. of "Setting up a Wargames Campaign")

For this a series of teams of twos or threes were used.

While Tony did it with ancients and Wars of the Roses, we could just as easily use this for ACW:

Each 'side' breaks their available forces into three parts, then decides on the strength of forces to engage on one of three battlefields (which could be blind random or known by both sides and thus make overall plans for), with retreating forces kept track as well as the surviving winning forces (with each side having some recovery of wounded and routed troops, as well as the winning force on a field getting better re-supply) for a 'final push' game where the winner of the best of three takes on the looser of the best of three with the surviving attacking forces against the surviving retreating forces.

Thus you could see the first two battles going to one side and the third battle simply conceded, with a sacrificial blocking force to allow the majority of the troops to retire to the 'final battle' to attempt to shore up the final defender forces.  Alternately the first two might split and make the third an all important tie-breaker and deciding battle for who will be having a chance to conquer and who will need to last-stand defend.

Okay, so much for something quick, as this will only take four table-top encounters to come to a conclusion, Bath writes about 'mini-campaigns' as something to fill in while a larger one is being organized or when a larger campaign has 'gone quiet' and isn't generating the expected field battles.

four battle mini-campaign


The Use of Board Games (Chapter 23, p134-136, "Wargames Campaigns")

Here Grant uses a full chapter to expound on the value of using already existing board-based war-games to conduct the 'strategic' or 'operational' level of movement on the board map system, then convert the 'encounter battles' to the appropriate tabletop system that you may already be using to run the miniature battles.

While Grant admits to not having used the system himself, he vouches, as do I, for the effectiveness of using such games.

Columbia Games has a pair of games to simulate the American Civil War from the grand strategic point of view in Virginia, with Bobby Lee and in the west with Sam Grant

Here I leave a copy of the map from Sam Grant, as the discussion has been revolving around using the war in the west as the basis for a series of connected battle actions, hence a campaign.

Sam Grant map from Columbia Games

What campaign effects and systems have you used?
What were the results?


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

English Civil War - Warr Without An Enemie

A wonderful day of English Civil War battle at the fictional Battle of Bollingborough July 21, 1643

We used the Forest Wyre Wargames Club "Warr Without An Enemie" rules set.

This was a first time for this era of historical game for McLean, our host at The War Dungeon, and it led to a most memorable experience for him:

more about what brought this about in the after action report


Having the most experience with the set and a total of 5 of us present I took on the role of game controller/referee and set the players loose in organizing their commands.

I used a random terrain selection, before the match, to set up the terrain, from Tinker Fox: by the Perfect Captain.

Then using a discussion item from a blog (whose name I cannot recall right now), I set up the reconnaissance for the two armies, that sets up the deployment 'options'.

Roll 1d6 for each cavalry brigade in the army.  Roll 1d6 for each dragoon unit in the army.

Compare rolls:

equal = flip a coin for which side has the deployment line, neither gets to have choice; have each side write up their 'march order' in column and have them deploy in the marching positions (in the column formations) as they would approach the field of battle (easy way to do this is to have either both forces marching parallel or towards each other - unseen until the 'moment' of battle).

out score opponent, but not by double or more = the winner gets to choose the side they deploy on, so the other side must deploy on the other side

out score opponent, by at least double, not more than triple =  the winner gets to choose the side they deploy on, so the other side must deploy on the other side, the loser must name their column of march and deploy in that column of march, then then winner gets to deploy their brigades (march direction does not matter as they have won the information battle), after seeing the side deploy that was outscored.

out score opponent, by at least triple, not more than four-fold = the winner gets to choose the side they deploy on, so the other side must deploy on the other side; loser names their column of march and must deploy ONLY THE first two brigades or half, whichever is larger.  The remaining forces are deemed to be 'marching' to the site of battle (name the road or axis of approach).  Winner of the information die roll, may then deploy brigades as they wish after seeing the deployment that was outscored.

out score opponent, by at least four-fold or more = the winner gets to choose the side they deploy on, so the other side must deploy on the other side; loser names their column of march and must deploy ONLY THE first two brigades or half, whichever is larger.  The remaining forces are deemed to be 'marching' to the site of battle (name the road or axis of approach).  Winner may then choose a cavalry brigade -or- dragoon unit that is in 'pursuit' mode and that unit may deploy up to 2/3 distance from the winner base line on a flank position.  Winner of the information die roll, may then deploy brigades as they wish after seeing the deployment that was outscored.

The idea here is to have better strategic respect for the dragoon units of the army, there were relatively few of them as they did not have a big role on the battlefield, but a larger one in any army strategically.  Obviously a foot only army with no horse units at all was totally vulnerable at all times to being surrounded and cut of or cut apart by an enemy army that only needed a single unit of dragoons to be able to run circles round them.

Anyway, onto the game.  The Royalists were beaten by 2:1 in this information die roll and so had to deploy in their march column, while the Parliament was able to set up a 'limited' ambush.

Parliament to the right and Royalist to the left in their column

General Wade at the rear of his column, likely having just returned from his own examination of the ground which his cannon had covered

The Parliament force included a huge 4 regiment brigade of London Trained Bands (our first use of them in this rule set)

Horse at the rear of the Parliament column

Foot in the center, with some mixed Northerners horse, foot and a gun in the vanguard of the column.  For my own part I see this column as marching out from a town, likely south of Oxford, and using the Northerners as a 'meat shield' for the more experienced and valuable Oxford foot and horse.

Parliament had their horse brigade in the center of the formation

with a smaller force of Essex foot and a light gun to their far right flank

breaking out from the road and their hiding positions the Parliament forces dashed to better fighting positions and over the large hill that separated the two armies.

an alternate view of the deployment
 Turn one was somewhat longer than needed as folks were figuring out what each 'phase' meant as some call for movements which are carry-over from earlier turns - of which there had been none.

more maneuver over the hill for Parliament an positioning for the Royalists to face the oncoming forces

the big horse lines of the Royalists were delayed shuffling around a wooded area

the large London Trained Band lines stood out on the Parliamentary left

Parliament General was rated poor and cowardly (meaning that attaching him was a waste of time)

While the Royalist General Wade was a Good and Inspirational commander (attaching causes double bonuses)

London Trained Bands

More of the LTB
For turn 3 the advancing Parliament horse deployed into lines of battle

and on the right set up fields of fire

while the Royalist vanguard was slogging through small woods

Parliament foot lined up to have interlocking fields of fire

Royalist cannon were dragged through the edge of a forest and up the hill to get into a deployment position with cover

Parliament horse deploy

Royalists make ready

the lines had formed up for battle now

Turn four saw the action heat up as dragoons deploy into fighting line at the top of the hill and the horse units test each other, with Royalists being driven off by London Trained Band firing at close range standing up to a charge!

dragoons fire

LTB fire

exchange of fire in the center, dragoons vs pike&shot

the Parliament light gun in action (it may have caused a disruption point?)

Royalist Norther horse, were to get itchy saddles and ride out from any supports

the Parliament line, dragoons (left of image) to LTB (right of image)

far on the right of the Parliament line were some regular foot, pike & shot, that held the village and the access road for Parliament

Northern foot pushing towards the Royalist left flank, slowed and disrupted by some woods

now the battle was fully joined with both Royalist and Parliament horse battling for the hill top

view of the center from the Parliament left

General Wade was to have his first wound of the day in this cavalry clash

Parliament horse tried to charge home through the dragoons ... sadly rolling too low

Northern brigade of Royalists continued to push forward

some great extra scenery from Rob

The Royalist center took the fire from the dragoons apace

though some units did not stand so well (DP marker at 5)

Parliament horse on the hill top

and beyond

Essex foot brigade and artillery (of the Poor army commander) continued to fire the ordnance into the oncoming Royalist Northerners

Royalist baggage train, models by Rob

the Royalist horse had caused much mayhem on the hill top, the dragoons had voluntarily routed to flee the horsemen rather than be run over via the flank

LTB now made its large regiments presence felt via more shots

though the top of the hill was still 'held' by Parliament

while the forward squadrons were going to face a tough fight with Royalist Pike & Shot
Turn six ended with the first required die roll by Parliament for army morale, not a tough one as only a 3 or 4 on 3d6 would have caused any troubles.

now the positions did not look so favorable for either side, as the Royalist horse looked to take advantage of the raw London trained bands

while the hill would see tough fighting for the Royalist center

while the far right of Parliament was to now have a very clear set of targets caught in a three way crossfire between artillery and pike & shot

moreover General Wade was now injured

though horsemen of both sides charged past each other, seeking to break the lines of men protecting each of their baggage trains

Royalist cannon fired!

royalist foot driven back, though not with losses

holding the far right the Parliament commander made sure to keep up fire on the Northern units still remaining after the horse were wrecked.

the London trained bands, did not stand so well this time as they were forced to retire in melee

one LTB did get into a hedgehog

the damage to the Royalist horse did cause them to slow their follow up attack ... (Rob in the background setting up his own shot)

General Tyndall was the Parliament commander, and while useful as a General and perhaps an administrator, he was of no value in battlefield command. (rated poor cowardly)
The end of the turn was to see a set of die rolls now with Parliament needing to roll more than 6 and Royalists more than 5.  They both passed.

I missed photos in turn 8, mostly because I was helping to explain the meaning of the missed morale role to the Royalist command.

The rolls for the end of turn 8 were more than 7 for Parliament (they did that on a 3d6), and for Royalists, they rolled a 6 total on 3d6.  This meant for a conversion to retire for all units and rout for any that were already in retire ... this caused the Royalist horse charges to all halt and start retrograde motions.

The start of turn 9 as the LTB was disrupted, but just barely still in action, while the Royalists were scattered about, with a badly wounded commanding general and the general of the Royalist center foot brigade also now wounded

the firefight on the village flank was intense with the Royalists now retiring from the fight, giving ground and taking more fire from the Parliamentary artillery

General Wade was so injured he could not move to join an attack

nor did he have CPs to spare to help his mostly disrupted units (the 5)

while the Parliament still controlled the hill

the routed dragoons had only now emerged from the forest and were finally getting settled under control (three turns)

while one unit of the LTB had fled the field, at least 1/4 of the brigade was still holding its ground!

This was the supreme moment.

End of turn nine army morale rolls:

Parliament needed a 6 or more on 3d6, this they achieved.

Royalists needed a 7 or more ... this was the roll:

McLean rolled the dreaded three-eyed-raven

This was a game ending moment, as it was half or less than the total points of 7 and that causes the immediate rout of the army.  Game end.

overall positions at game end

another player's shot

General Wade used his last CPs to join his horse, though they held the line in their last fight with Parliament horse

Northern brigade was holding ground at the end

while General Tyndall did not loose the battle, one could not really say he 'won' it either

it was the Parliament horsemen, tenaciously attacking that drove the Royalists to their starting line

Many of the pictures come out with a yellowing of the images due to the lower light levels in the War Dungeon.  I brought along my 'sky cloth' and put it to use in these final images from the table.














Finally I also took a couple of pictures of the feature display of McLean's grandfather's uniforms from his time in the RCAF in WWII





Again another great game day at The War Dungeon.

Looking forward to some more ACW coming up in August.