Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ripple Field

For our last game of 2014 Steve set up a scenario from the English Civil War, Ripple Field.  He used Steve Maggs' book  of ECW scenarios and set up a table with a low ridge flanked by two hedged lanes. Waller's Parliamentary forces were trying to prevent Prince Maurice from moving further west.  Both sides were predominantly cavalry, with Waller having the slight edge in artillery.  (Historically, the Parliamentary artillery was ineffective and was swept away by the Royalist advance).

The dice decided that I would command the Parliamentarians and I decided to place my dragoons on my right to try and prevent an outflanking manoeuvre, the cavalry reserve was placed behind my left.  From the beginning I rolled some very lucky dice for my artillery.  The Royalist cavalry in the centre was particularly severely damaged and very few reached the guns.  Those that did saw my gunners running for the safety of Middleton's musketeers and were then driven back by a discharge of hail shot from a second gun.

In the lane on my right, my dragoons fired on the Royalist horse as they galloped past,but to little effect. They then turned their attention to the Royalist musketeers who were following in the wake of the the horse. To try and prevent the Royalist horse breaking through I sent forward the small unit of 'lobsters' under Haselrigg. Although outnumbered, the confines of the lane would be to their advantage and I trusted they would plug the gap.  It was not to be.  The dice decreed that this was not to be Haselrigg's day.  Although better armoured, his men were pushed back and eventually routed.

Meanwhile, the two main cavalry forces crossed swords on the flanks of the ridge.  On my right, the fight was close,with the advantage swinging one way and then the other.  Steve committed his reserve on this flank and this proved decisive, my forces eventually being driven from the field.  On my left, the artillery had disrupted the Royalist advance and I took advantage of this. Committing part of my reserve, I drove the Royalists from the field, but then found myself under fire from the Royalist musketeers lining the hedge. Losses mounted and the battered remnants of my cavalry eventually straggled back to the ridge, but were too weak to take any further part in the battle.

The Royalist dragoons had by now moved right round my left flank and were threatening to attack the rear of Middleton's musketeers.  I had to commit my final reserve, a raw cavalry unit to drive them off and this left Middleton's men alone on the ridge as Maurice's own regiment of horse,joined by the victors over Haselrigg swept forward.  The gunners saw the enemy horse and ran for safety.  Waller personally formed up Middleton's men to face this threat and as the Royalist horse closed a devastating volley was fired.  The losses were such that the Royalists had to fall back to reform.  Again they charged, and again a close range volley stopped them in their tracks.  Prince Maurice rallied his men once again and then led them forward a third time.  Middleton's third volley was not as effective and this time the cavalry closed to combat.  The musketeers did their best, but without pike support they began to edge back.  At this crucial point the Parliamentary cavalry reserve returned from driving off the Royalist dragoons.

Charging forward, they joined in the melee and their intervention swung the advantage back to Waller's men. Maurice's cavalry were driven back and the battered remnants of the Royalist force retreated.  A reversal of history, but the action could have gone either way.

After lunch we reset the troops and fought the action again, with me taking the part of Maurice.  Again the artillery was quite effective and again the melees were close run affairs.  This time Maurice won by a narrow margin, but with heavy casualties.

The 1644 rules which we used are quite simplistic and results often rest on the commanders ability (or not), to roll a '6'.  The artillery can be effective against small units and perhaps we should have reduced the number of guns.  But, two close-run games in a day, with plenty of fun involved, why change things?

Many thanks to everyone for their continued interest in the blog over the year.  Happy New Year and I wish you all a successful 2015.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


At the weekend we had a city break in London.  We had not visited the capital in December before and it was well worth the long trip.   Military themed sights were not high on our list, but we did see this diorama depicting a V2 rocket launch in the Science Museum space gallery

At Somerset House we saw an exhibition by the photographer Bryan Adams, entitled "Wounded: the legacy of war".  Not an easy collection to view, but in my opinion all MP's should go and see the consequences for the armed forces of the deployment decisions voted on in the Commons.

On the river we saw the Dutch Naval ship HNLMS Luymes as she came under Tower Bridge

Sunday, 7 December 2014

RECON at Pudsey

The Pudsey show has been our last outing of the 'season' for a good number of years.  Usually the Lance & Longbow Society has a stand, but unfortunately, this year we left out application too late and the hall was fully booked.  Anyway, we set off across the Pennines looking for those Christmas bargains.  The show was well attended, but it seemed that the range of traders was not as broad.  Certainly, I was unable to buy the 30mm x 30mm bases I needed for the SYW cavalry.  The B & B was well patronised and had a good range of items on offer and I picked up a copy of Bowden's "Napoleon's Gande Armee" for a very reasonable price.

Will took some pictures of a Battlegroup Overlord game, but it was a game by the Furness Warlords which caught my eye.  It featured the Battle of Lake Erie from the War of 1812.  All the models (1/300 scale) are scratch built and a jolly good job has been made of them.

At the other end of the wargaming scale was this strategic level game of WWII

I think this was the Sabin game I saw at the Fiasco show a couple of years ago.

Overall a satisfactory day out, another book for the collection and a chance to catch up with fellow gamers; shame about those bases though.

Monday, 1 December 2014


With no game this week, I thought I would take a closer look at one of those battles which tends to capture the imagination, Minden.  One particular incident, the charge of the French cavalry against the British infantry was of interest. This is because, in the Konig Kreig rules, which Steve and I use, the French cavalry units only field 6 figures and so are vulnerable to failing morale tests when they start to take casualties. In addition, the rules make the British musketry fire more effective (a 50% chance of inflicting a casualty with each die rolled).  So,to see if the charge could work using these rules I carried out a paper exercise, running through the charge procedure 20 times.  All dice were d6.

I began by checking the morale of the participants. The French (rated 6) could not fail, the British rated 5,could fail on a 6.  On 4 occasions the British failed the test and retreated.  When the British stood, they fired a volley.  Six dice were rolled, requiring 4 - 6 to hit.  On average you would expect to inflict three casualties on the French cavalry with each volley.  In the event a total of 41 hits were obtained for 16 volleys, a rate of c2.5.  The casualties on their own would not stop the charge as you only check morale once per phase, but they could effect the melee value of the cavalry, as increments are gained for ranks and numbers of figures.

However, before the melee takes place the cavalry have to 'break the bayonets' and close on the infantry.  Again this is a 50% chance if the infantry are in line; so you would expect a melee in 8 of the remaining 16 charges.  In the event only 6 melees took place and of these 3 were won by the cavalry and 3 by the infantry.

In total, of the 20 charges only 7, ( 4 in which the infantry failed their morale check and 3 victorious  melees) could be counted as a success.  Bearing in mind that I discounted the effect of the supporting British artillery it would seem that the commander of the French cavalry would be well advised not to charge full strength British infantry units as the chances of success are not good.

I ran the exercise again using Brunswick infantry, they inflicted fewer musketry casualties, but the French cavalry only managed to 'break the bayonets' 7 times out of 17 attempts. However, they won 4 of the resulting melees, meaning that the overall result was the same as for the British infantry; 7 French successes out of 20 attempts.

For my third attempt I charged the infantry with a larger unit of Reichs Armee cuirassiers, (12 figures strong). They had  more luck with the dice; breaking the bayonets on 9 out of 17 attempts and they won all of the resulting melees. Even allowing for the vagaries of my dice rolling it seems to support the dictum about 'big battalions'.  The solution could be to combine two French cavalry units together to make them less vulnerable; but this would then have a negative impact on British cavalry units which are of 8 figures and are generally classed as medium rather than heavy.  In a melee therefore, the British (melee value 7) would face French cavalry with a melee value of 10, rather a large handicap.