Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Battle of Montgomery, September 18, 1644: Turns 1 and 2

This game was done solo as a play test of the draft version of a set of forthcoming rules for the English Civil War by Simon Miller et al, based upon the To the Strongest! engine. There is some background information about the battle here. The scenario is evidently based upon that by Bob Giglio. Interestingly, my fellow blogger Jon used the same battle to test out three other sets of rules for the ECW. His blog posts on the subject make interesting reading.

    I am doing this report very blow by blow to assist in the analysis of the play test, as well as for those of you who may not be that familiar with To the Strongest! As this is one of many play test games by a number of players, there are sure to be some changes between the draft version I used and the final one. Doubtless I will have made some mistakes along the way as well.

These very veteran troops, mostly painted in the mid 1970's,  were very happy to get out of their boxes to stretch their legs a bit. I think their last game was 10 years ago!

Set up for the Battle - Royalists to the left of the picture, Parliamentarians to the right. The two units of Parliamentary horse at the lower right are off of the table, "Foraging". At the start of each Parliamentary turn, they roll a D6 - if the score is less than the current turn number, the Horse will enter at one of the three hilly squares at the right foreground! Thus they cannot enter on Turn 1. 

View from the opposite end of the table, so now parliament is to the left and the forces of the King to the right. The trees back the corners of the usable playing surface.

Close up of the Royalist left...

and the Parliamentary right. The bridge was the objective of the Royalist attack. 

The scenario didn't specify which side acts first, but it seemed to me it should be the Royalists. Alternatively, it could have been determined randomly as per the usual To the Strongest! rules. he Royalist attempt a Group Move with there 3 Infantry units ("Battaglia", in the rules, but I'' call the m Regiments), using the Colonel (on white horse). They want to move 1 box straight ahead with all 3 units. This requires 1 more pip than the move would otherwise, hence a 3 instead of a 2. The 4 passes. 

Group move is executed; all must make the same move. These can only be lead by a Colonel; both are (tentative) additions for the ECW version of the rules. Colonels can NOT replay cards the way a General can. 

Black Regiment wants to move forward 1 box; it easily passes with a "3" (only a "2" was needed). 

The Black Regt has made it's move, and now the Blue Regt attempts the same and succeeds.

White Regt attempt to move forward 1, needing a "5" (one more than the card already played for the Group Move it participated in); the "2" fails, ending the Turn for the Royalist Center command. 

The Royalist Dragoons move forward 1 box on a "9" (I forgot that they could have moved 2 while still mounted); their attempt to move again failed (only a 10 would have passed). 

Over on the Royalist right, the Colonel in the Cavalry command attempts a Group Move (Forward 2 boxes), and succeeds. Group moves can not be used for charges. 

Situation after the Group Move; the Royalists are trying to make the most of their 2:1 advantage in Cavalry on this flank... while it lasts!

The Gentlemen Pensioners (full armor, although not for game purposes) attempt to charge the "Grey" horse to their front. They Fail with a 4, but their General, in the same box with the unit, replays the card, succeeding with a 7"".

Due to illustrating the action, this looks much more complicated than it is. The defending Roundhead Horse fires their Pistols before the Cavaliers charge home; this expends their ammo and they may not use their pistols again. They need an 8+, but turn a 9, and thus miss. The Gentlemen Pensioners charge; as they are "Swedish" trained (Gallopers), they can play a Bonus "To Hit" card once per game to reflect the shock of their charge. They do so here, and miss with their first card, but hit with their s"shock" card (a 6+ was needed). The Round head Grey horse save successfully  with an 8, and fight back with a 10 - a HIT! The Gentlemen fail to save with a 5, but the General, who only needs a 2+, saves with a 5 (if a General (or Colonel) is in a box with a unit that takes hits from fire r melee, he must play his own SAVE card. The Gentlemen are now Disordered - a Bad Thing. Another hit and they will be eliminated!

The Buff Regiment wants to move forward one on the diagonal, and continue on another box straight ahead; they needed a 6+ (2 above the 4 turned earlier for the Group Move) and turn a 10, so the move succeeds. 

The Royalist Red regiment attempts to charge the Roundhead White horse in front of them; they need a 5 but fail, turning a 4. The blue coated figure in the box with them is a "Gallant Gentleman', not a General, so no replay is available.. The turn is over for both this command, and the Royalists.  As a convention/memory aid, we turn failed cards sideways.

Center of the table at the end of Royalist phase of Turn 1. 

Overview from Royalist Right.

Overview from Royalist Left.

Start of Parliamentary phase of Turn 1; the Roundhead General (Fairfax, who was killed at this battle historically), has made a Command Move to join the White Horse. They then attempt to move 1 box to their rear, facing away form the enemy (their position was tenuous!); needing a 3+, they fail with an Ace, but the General replays the card, now a successful "4". 

On the theory that the best defense is a bold offense, the Parliamentary Grey horse attempt to charge the already Disordered Gentlemen Pensioners to their front. One more hit and the Gentlemen will be destroyed, and they will battle back at a disadvantage as well, needing 8+ to hit instead of 6+.  They only need a 2+, so the 3 succeeds. The marker behind them is a Fox, a reminder that this unit includes a Gallant Gentleman). 

The Gentlemen fire their Pistols defensively, but miss with a "3" (being disordered, they needed a 9+).  The Grey horse HIT with an 8, and the Gentlemen fail to save with an Ace; having suffered 2 hits they will be destroyed and removed from play, costing the King's cause 2 Victory Medals. The Royalist General saves with a "5". 

Having won the melee, the Grey horse should move into the box that contained their target, displacing the Royalist general to another friendly unit, and is now obligated to Pursue (rules for this are new with these rules). This is fine with the Greys, flushed as they are with victory, and they turn a "10" for their charge - Pursuit activations only need to Match the previous card, not exceed them (unless other factors complicate the situation).  Their "10" succeeds.

Now, to resolve the combat; once again this will look a lot more complicated than it is. it all plays out quite rapidly.

The f=defending Blue Cavalry shoot with their Pistols before the Roundheads charge home; their "2" misses, and thus the Grey cavalry play a to Hit card - their "4" also misses, However, the presence of a "Gallant Gentleman" with the unit allows it to replay a missed Hit card in melee once a turn. The GG does so, and the resultant 6 is a hit; and as it was not odd, the GG remains with the unit. Now the Cavaliers must save - the Cavalry tun a "5" which fails (they need a 7+, while the General plays a 56 ans survives. the Blue Cavalry are now Disordered. Uh-oh! Not being destroyed, they fight back. Their "7" WOULD be a hit, but since they are disordered they need an *8+ instead of a 6+_, and thus they miss. The King will  not be amused!

Next, the Roundheads attempt to turn the White horse 90 degrees; needing a 6+, the Ace fails. They have already used their General for a replay this turn, so the Left flank cavalry command's portion of the turn is over. 

The Roundheads shift the action to their Right flank, where a sole Cavalry unit makes up the command.  They want to move 45 degrees forward one box; needing a 3+ their 7 succeeds. 

they attempt the same trick again, but needing a 9+, the 8 does not succeed. The officer with the unit is a colonel. This keeps them, from going Out of Command, but Colonels cannot replay failed activation cards the way a General can, and thus this command is done for the turn as well. 

That leaves the Centre (British spelling for an ECW game!) . The  Colonel (white horse) attempts a Group Move, all three regiments to move 1 box straight ahead. The 9 succeeds easily,. but doesn't leave much room for further actions!

The Orange Regiment attempts to move forward one more box; now needing a 10, they fail to do so, unsurprisingly! That being the last command, the Parliamentary turn is over. 

Overview of the battlefield at the end of Turn 1. 

"I say, old chaps; see you the arses of yon White Horse straight a ahead? What say we give them what four up the bum, eh? With a 9, the Red Regiment of Cavaliers is more than willing to oblige!

Their blood up, the Rec Horse play THREE "Hit" cards - one for the charge, one for their one time "shock" bonus, and one for hitting a unit in the rear. Being in good order, they need a 6 + - three hits. Odds Bodkins! The Roundheads must play THREE Save cads - 4 - 10 - 5. Only the "10 saves, so the White Horse take to hits and are eliminated, surrendering 2 Victory Medals. Sir Thomas manages to save three times, and moves to join the Grey Horse, the only surviving unit of his command (on the table, as yet...)

The victorious Red Horse move forward to occupy the box that held the defenders, 

and are marked for PURSUIT!

General makes a Command move to join the Buff Horse, and orders them to turn 90 degrees to their left, which maneuvre they happily perform. 

"Begging your pardon, Sir Edward, but would your men be good enough to charge the flank of yon Grey Parliamentary sods?" "It will be our pleasure, Milord!", with a &+ needed and drawn! 

Using their one time shock bonus plus a bonus card for hitting a flank, the Buff Horse evidently need more gym time, as they manage only a single hit, which the rebellious Grey scum are unable to slough off, (being a Veteran outfit, the Greys needed a 6_+, but turned a 5). Their General, Sir Thomas, saves with a 6. 

The Grey's attempt to strike back fails however, needing an 8+ due to their Disorder. They replay with their GG, but turn a 3 (not shown) which both misses and results in the loss of the GG.  
Poor Johnny, we hardly knew ye! Things look grim for the Greys! 

The Royalists decide to attempt to rall;y the Blue horse, as their situation remains precariously Disordered. Lacking a GG of their pwn, they need a 3+ to activate a Rally attempt, and succeed with a 6. They play a "6". Unfortunately, being Trained rather than Veteran, they require a 7+ and just miss. "Tough luck, that!"

The Royalists decides that the smart money is another charge into the flank of the Grey. However, their "7" fails, and the General's replay fails as well. Turn 2 is over for the Royalist Horse! 

Turning to their Centre, The Colonel performs a successful Group Move 1 box forward with the White, Green, and Yellow regiments of Foote. Not much leeway for more action after that, though!

Moving on to the Blue Regt of Foote, their initial attempt to move forward 1 box fails with an Ace, but the Generals' replay with a 2 allows the move to come off after all. Having your Generals in the right place at the right time can mean a lot in these rules!

The Black Regt of Foote also successfully moves forward 1 box. 

The Blue Regiment moves forwards another box with an "8", but the further onslaught of the Cavalier infantry is stymied by the "3" played for the next attempt of the Blacks. The Centre is done for turn 2. 

Royalist Turn 2 ends with a mere whimper as the Dragoons turn an Ace and thus fail their attempt to advance. 

View of the Centre at the start of Parliamentary Turn 2; their D6 roll of 4 means no relief for the rebels this turn!

Parliament starts Turn 2 with it's one remaining unit of Horse on its Left. It is still under obligatory Pursuit, and thus MUST charge the Blue Horse to its front as the first action. The "5" succeeds, and, both sides having used their Pistols already this game, it is straight to the Melee. Being Disordered, the Grey Horse need an 8+ to hit, and so miss with a 7. Fighting back, the Blue Horse hit with an 8; both the Grey Horse and Sir Thomas save against the Hit, however. The failed charge removes the Pursuit marker, though.

Rather than pull back facing to the rear, the Grey Horse successfully ("6") charge again! his time they Hit with a "10", but the Cavaliers Save with a 10 and a 9 for the Colonel and the Regiment respectively, and then miss on their strike back with a "2". Pshaw!

If at first you don't succeed... The Greys attempt a third charge, but their horses are too tired, and even Sir Thomas's pleas cannot change that.

With the news that there is no sign of the Roundhead forager's return as yet, it looks like stalling for a bit might be their best option here in the Centre, so the Colonel attempts a Group move 1 box to the rear, maintaining facing. This somewhat delicate maneuver requires a 4+, and thus it succeeds. 

Content with their position, the command group passes on any further activation attempts this turn.

Feeling rather exposed, and unable to move to the side due to being in an enemy Zone of Control, the Yellow Horse try to move one box to the rear into the difficult terrain of the marshy ground. This required a 4+, which they fail to achieve, and thus the Parliamentary turn 2 is at an end. Once again, the Colonel cannot replay failed Activation attempts the way that real General can.

Situation at the end of Turn 2. 

The scene from the opposite side of the field. The Grey Horse do seem to be in a rather sticky wicket! Can they hang on until help arrives?

To be continued...


  1. Interesting I REALLY must try To The Strongest !!

    1. The card play looks a bit confusing, but in actuality is is really very simple and plays very quickly. Since the ONLY modifier to the "To Hit" numbers are troop type and being Disordered, you only have to look up modifiers or even save numbers infrequently for Saves if it is close. The grid eliminates arguments above move distances, facing, etc, as well as all measuring!

  2. Looks good, Peter! Great to see your ECW collection on the table. you are providing a very informative tutorial on the mechanisms in TtS. ZOCs? I have often considered introducing ZOCs into certain miniatures games. looking forward to Part 2.

    1. As I said, these troops are very happy to see the table. Although pretty much the oldest troops in my collection, most of them painted back when I was in college (I gave away my original Scruby armies in the late 1990's), I've never really found a set of rules for them that I liked very much. It seems like that may be changing! :-)

      TtS (and the draft version of these rules, which are related to but distinct from them) use the "Zone of Control" to prevent dodgy maneuvers. Basically, if a unit is in a box that another unit(s) faces directly into, it can only stand its ground, attack one of the units whose ZoC it is in , or pull back directly from one of such units.

      It may be a week or so for the next installment - I have the notes and pics, but the writing takes time (as you well know!)

    2. Crafting a BatRep is hard work. Crafting a GOOD BatRep is VERY hard work! If it was not for my own enjoyment, I often wonder if a BatRep is worth the effort. Do these thoughts enter your psyche before (or after) BatRep writing? Knowing how much work goes into one, I ALWAYS appreciate someone else's effort.

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    4. Foe the most part, I write them for myself and the participants, as a record of the game. Some are written to show the game mechanics, usually for relatively new rules - this is a VERY detailed write up, in part because it's a play test and is being used to give the author feed back. Between taking copious notes, many pictures, and writing, this one will probably consume about 10 hrs of my time before I am done, which is way more than usual. once again, that's due to the high detail level.

      My favorite write ups are the more creative ones from our Italian Wars games from about 10 years ago. They were much more literary in nature with lots of inside allusions, etc. I probably should move them to this blog before they disappear when the domain name expires!

  3. Very enjoyable Peter, and it is great to see your ECW figures on display.

    I am liking the look of "To the Strongest", and will definitely have to purchase these for closer examination.

    I must admit that I loved George Gush's renaissance rules back in their day, although I suppose that they may now appear a little stodgy by today's standards.

    1. I tried the Gush rules a few times 35+years ago, and found them inspiring but, yes, stodgy, with way too many Reaction Tests with a zillion factors, which 90+ of the time resulted in "Carry on". Also indecisive combat... at least in terms of nominal losses. Hence the need for the reaction tests. Still, they were one of several factors that got me really interested in Renaissance wargaming!

  4. Interesting battle and rules. So is a gallant gentleman sort of an inspired lower level officer that adds a bonus? And once he fails, he is considered KIA and the bonus goes away?

  5. A Gallant Gentleman functions similarly to a "Hero" with a unit in To the Strongest; It allows a replay of a missed "To Hit" card. In TtS! this is a one time thing and then the Hero is "expended; in this draft version of the ECW rules, he is expended only on an odd card. In the ECW rules (but not the current version of TtS - there is a second edition due ? by the end of the year) Rallying activations are done a bit differently, Ratrher than the Rally attempt itself being made more difficult byu each unit in charge range, the ATTEMPT to Rally is made more difficult for each unit that could charge the rallying unit. A GG negates this penalty. If this change makes it into the next version of TtS!, presumably the same would apply to Heroes there.
    In either case, the Hero or GG represent lower level leaders who exert a favorable influence on the unit by their inspirational example and prowess. A unit with such is a bit tougher than it would otherwise be.

    For point games, it is also a convenient mechanism for using up a few spare points!

  6. Oops, missed this, looks really interesting with your only just there grid and a period I play, would you use it for your Italian wars?
    Best Iain

    1. I think the base TtS! rules woukld be a better fit; the ECW lacks Light troops, and has a much narrower variety of troop types. Also the pikes and shot are integrated in a way that really wasn't the case in the Italian Wars as yet.

      The Artillery would need slight upgrading, perhaps (? some limited mobility), and maybe a bit for the transition from Handguns to Arquebus. Other than that, maybe a minor tweak for Pike vs Pike combat for the forlorn hopes (attachjed halberds/2H SWordsmen) - a bonus to Hit card in their first Pike to Pike melee would cover that like the "shock Lance" one time bonus for certain cavalry units). Finally, add hedgehog formation (which is included in these ECVW draft rules). That would really be about it!

    2. Just saw this. I am currently in the early stages of writing an Italian Wars supplement for the main TtS rules. I should have a rough draft of how it will work in a few weeks time; it'll have new troop types that aren't covered in the main rules and lots of period flavour.

      Best, Simon

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