Thursday, 30 April 2015

Roundway Down - a Pike and Shotte scenario

It is a couple of months since the last ECW outing, so this week Steve and I revisited the Pike and Shotte rules.  Steve had chosen the action at Roundway Down and it is one of those battles that once you have gamed it you begin to wonder how the historical result was achieved.  The numbers involved were approximately Royalists; 2,000 cavalry (Wilmot) plus potential attack by Lord Hopton's infantry from Devizes (1,000?); Parliament c2,000 cavalry and c2,500 infantry.

The battle began with Wilmot's cavalry deployed in three brigades (ie units) with a small unit of dargoons and Prince Maurice's brigade in reserve.  Between the Royalists and Devizes was Waller's army.  This was deployed in the traditional manner with cavalry on the flanks and infantry in the centre.  In Devizes, to the rear of Waller, was Lord Hopton with four units of infantry.  He would intervene if Wilmot successfully rolled  a 6 on a d6 to activate him.  The dice decreed that I would take the part of Wilmot and with some trepidation I began to move forward against the numerically superior Parliamentarian force.  We used the Pike and Shotte special rule 'eager' for one of Wilmot's brigades and this cavalry soon outdistanced the rest and charged Heselrige on Waller's left flank.  It was at this point that things began to unravel.  The supporting Parliamentary artillery fired on the Royalist cavalry as they closed and disordered them.  Then the 'lobsters' fired their pistols and inflicted another casualty. My 'saving' dice all failed to 'save' and so these casualties 'stuck'.  In the melee Wilmot's men managed to inflict more casualties, but unsupported, they ended up drawing when the result modifiers were added.  Having reached their stamina level they had to take a break test and of course failed, falling back.

Wilmot attacks Heselrige
In the centre, my cavalry moved forward more slowly, (due to rolling 7's and 8's for command, which allowed me only one move).  This allowed the Parliamentarian artillery plenty of time to inflict casualties. Fortunately for Steve, he rolled quite a few 6's which disordered my cavalry and meant I couldn't give them any orders until they recovered.  As he threw a six on each of the next 4 moves this rather threw a spanner in the works!  Byron, on the left was more fortunate, that is until his charge left him 2" short of the enemy cavalry.  A round of hail shot and a pistol volley quickly sent him back towards the base line.  Just to put the icing on the cake, my reserve cavalry decided that they would be spectators for a bit and rolled a succession of 9's and above.

The game could have been over in 30 minutes, but for
1  Rolling a 6 at the first attempt so Lord Hopton moved his infantry out of Devizes and towards the rear of Waller's army.
2  Steve became infected by my ability to roll 'high' when attempting to issue orders and Waller's army stood it's ground rather than press home it's advantage against my cavalry.

Wilmot attacks Waller's regiment
After 3 moves Wilmot and Byron had recovered and moved forward again.  Once again Wilmot attacked Heselrige and this time prevailed, driving the 'lobsters' back behind Waller's own regiment of horse who were supporting them.  Wilmot followed up, expecting to achieve a decisive breakthrough.  In the melee they rolled 10 dice requiring 3 or more to inflict a potential casualty.  Against this, Waller's regiment rolled 8 dice requiring 4 or more.  The result was 8 - 6 in favour of Wilmot, we then rolled the 'saving' dice; each of us needing to roll 6 or more.  Steve rolled 8 dice and got 4 or more on each one.  My 6 dice can be seen below, only one 'save'.

With 5 casualties, Wilmot's had to take a 'break' test, they failed and had to fall back.  Waller's followed up,
meleed Wilmot's again and drove them from the field.  The reserve cavalry managed to stop the rot and halt Waller's charge, but both units became shaken and had to fall back.

Waller's infantry wait for Lord Hopton's attack
Lord Hopton's infantry had deployed and were now attacking Waller's second line, but they had had plenty of time to prepare.  The fire-fight between the musketeers was evenly balanced, but the intervention of Lord Hopton's pike blocks drove back the Parliamentarian line.  However, this was the Royalist's 'last hurrah'. The cavalry was a spent force.  In the centre, the seemingly perpetually disordered cavalry failed a 'break' test and fled the field.  Byron's cavalry, hit again by the Parliamentary artillery (another 6 inflicted a further disorder) also failed a 'break' test and followed their colleagues from the field.  With only the reserve cavalry remaining, Wilmot decided that the day was lost.  Left to his own resources, Lord Hopton fell back to Devizes.

At this point we called a halt and had lunch.  Steve and I chatted about how the rules had worked and we decided that the rules about disordered units not being able to be given orders and 'Initiative' which was limited to units within 6" of the enemy was too limiting.  We therefore adopted the 'Piffy' rule. (Piffy after the phrase "stood around like Piffy on a rock bun".  This enabled disordered units to fall back a move like Shaken units.

In the afternoon, we ran the scenario again, swapping commands.  Once again the Royalist cavalry struggled, although the central unit did at least manage to break the  Parliamentary infantry line.  However, they then became enmeshed in a melee with a mixed unit of musket and pike in 'hedgehog' formation and were driven off with heavy casualties.  Steve, had real difficulty getting Lord Hopton's force moving and once again by the time they deployed the Royalist horse had been defeated.

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