Thursday, 29 August 2019

Catlow Moor, a Kelhamshire scenario using Pike and Shotte

It has been some time since Lord Melchett and Sir Victor crossed swords, so I dusted off my ECW figures and set up a scenario for our weekly game.  Catlow Moor is an area of upland between the Kelham and Catlow valleys.  Mostly rough moorland with bogs and pools, a few farmers try and scratch a living on its fringes.  By chance both commanders have decided to try and outflank the opposition by cutting across this moor, Lord Melchett had reached Earnshaw's Farm last night and requisitioned the best (ie only bedroom) relegating Seth Earnshaw and his family to the barn.

As a misty dawn broke, the Royalist force roused itself, preparing to continue its march.  However, scouts reported that an enemy force was approaching and so Lord Melchett ordered his force to deploy; the cavalry, two brigades, each of 3 regiments and commanded by Colonel Richard Foster and Hesketh Fleetwood, were on the firmer ground near Black Pool.on the Royalist left.  The infantry in two brigades in the vicinity of Earnshaw's Farm.  Colonel William Saville commanded two regiments behind the low ridge, (called rather optimistically Wolf Heights).  To his left Sir James Fotheringay deployed the three regiments of his brigade to occupy an enclosure and link to the cavalry brigades.

Sir Victor's men had deployed in the same way as Lord Melchett's.  On the Parliamentarian right were the cavalry; one brigade commanded by Colonel James Livesey, the other by Sir Walter Foote.  In the centre on the low ridge called Low Fell, Colonel Ezeekial Cooper deployed his three regiments.  On the left Sir Richard Clayton's three regiments were struggling through the boggy ground of Fleet Moss.  Both sides have only limited artillery, (one light gun each) and the same objective, drive back the enemy and then continue the advance.

The battlefield from behind the parliamentary force.
[There is a fault with the photograph above, I hadn't noticed that Wolf Heights had been moved, (no one had owned up yet).  It should be by the farm, not in the centre of the table.]

A dice roll allocated the parliamentary command to Steve and seeing he had a slight superiority in foot he decided to attack towards Earnshaw's Farm whilst occupying the more numerous Royalist cavalry.  For my part as Lord Melchett, I decided to use my superiority in cavalry to drive off the Parliamentarian horse and then turn against the infantry.

Earnshaw's Farm

Clayton's brigade and Fleet Moss, with Cooper's brigade beyond
Both Fleetwood and Foster struggled to get their men moving forward, which would have allowed the Parliamentary cavalry to take the narrow gap near Black Pool, nullifying the Royalist superiority in cavalry.  However, both Livesey and Foote also struggled to get their men moving.  This general inertia was not present in Cooper's command as the Parliamentary foot stepped forward with a will.  To the left, Clayton was also moving, but one unit got disordered by the boggy ground of the Fleet Moss.  Saville's men seemed to be still half asleep and by the time they reached the crest of Wolf Heights, Sir Richard's men were in musketry range and greeted them with a volley.  In the centre, Fotheringay's and Cooper's men were also exchanging volleys.  Cooper's own regiment got in a telling volley against the Royalist light artillery, forcing them to fall back.

Cooper's Brigade advance
On the Royalist left the cavalry eventually came to blows.  Fleetwood's leading regiment, Gillibrand's clashed with Nutter's and although the Royalists prevailed, they had shaken by their losses and thus could not follow up.  Fortunately for them, Nutter's withdrawal had disordered their supports, Livesey's own regiment and this allowed the Royalists to fall back to recover.  Foster and Foote also engaged in melee, but after a long and inconclusive struggle both sides fell back to reorganise.

The melee between Fleetwood and Livesey
With the cavalry fight inconclusive, the initiative lay with Sir Victor.  Cooper's men seemed to be gaining the advantage against Fotheringay.  Gerard's in the enclosure, were losing the fire fight with Talbots and Rodney's redcoats, although larger than Cooper's own regiment were similarly being out shot.  On Wolf Heights, Saville's leading regiment, Assheton's was facing the fire of two of Clayton's regiments and without waiting for their supporting regiment, Taylor's, charged their nearest foe, Gell's.  Disregarding a rather ineffectual closing volley Assheton's charged home, trusting to their greater number of pikemen.  However, Gell's stood their ground and their greater numbers told on the flanks, forcing the Royalists to fall back up the slope and take shelter behind Taylor's who had just arrived.

The struggle begins for Wolf Heights
In the centre Rodney's charged Cooper's regiment and routed them, disordering their supports.  Sir Victor galloped over to try and rally the fleeing regiment.  He managed to stop their flight, but the unit had become so disordered that it was a long time before it could take any further part in the battle.  For his part Fotheringay ordered Rodney's to follow up their victory.  As the regiment surged forward they took a withering volley from the rapidly recovering Tiplady's regiment who had witnessed Cooper's rout.  This stopped them in their tracks and a further volley forced them to fall back to recover.

Colonel Foster was also suffering a setback.  Gillibrand's regiment was still recovering from the earlier melee when it was hit by one of Foote's fresh regiments.  Caught at the halt, the regiment was swept from the field and the Parliamentary horse was only stopped by a gallant charge by Molyneux's regiment.  Fleetwood also suffered a setback when Clifton's was also routed by the recovered Livesey's.  Both brigade commanders mad strenuous efforts to rally their remaining regiments and take the fight to the foe. 

Gell's regiment routs
Clayton had managed to get his third regiment, White's, reorganised after the crossing of Fleet Moss and it reached the lower slopes of Wolf Heights just in time, as Taylor's regiment had charged Gell's regiment and routed them.   It took a steady volley from White's to stop Taylor's from exploiting this opportunity.  Lord Melchett ordered Gerard's to advance from the enclosure and sent orders to Saville to press forward with Assheton's to support Taylor.  Fotheringay was to maintain the pressure on Cooper's men and when a solid line was formed a general advance would be made.

The cavalry melee resumes
Fleetwood and Foster had by now managed to restore order in their remaining regiments and they too began to advance.  Livesey and Foote tried to offer resistance, but their  regiments had all suffered losses in the earlier melees and they began to give ground.  A newly formed regiment, the Kelhamshire Horse, which was part of Foote's command broke under the pressure, fleeing the field.  Royalist numbers now began to tell.  Slowly the Parliamentary troopers were forced back, being driven away from the infantry and towards the slopes leading down into the Catlow valley.

Sensing that if he maintained his position, his infantry would be in danger from Royalist cavalry, Sir Victor ordered Cooper and Clayton to make a slow ordered withdrawal.  Lord Melchett saw a victory within his grasp and sent orders to Fotheringay and Saville for an all out attack.  However, his commanders could not comply.  Their regiments were on the brink of exhaustion and almost out of ammunition.  Riders were sent to Fleetwood and Foster with orders to turn some of their men against the Parliamentary foot.  By the time the couriers arrived, the cavalry melee had degenerated into a running fight down into the valley and it would take hours for the Royalist cavalry to form up.  Fuming, Lord Melchett turned his horse and left the moor, seeking the delights of the Swan Inn in Twiston, ordering his staff to make arrangements for an advance on the morrow.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Britcon 2019

Usually, our penultimate wargames show of the year, Britcon is more of a competition event than a traditional show; but it is local and Steve and I take a participation game along on behalf of the Lance & Longbow Society.  This year our game was a fictional scenario set in the 1470's, with two local families, the Lowthers and Stricklands, coming to blows in an escalating row over manorial rights and boundaries.  The catalyst had been the capture of the Strickland heir by a raiding party of Lowther retainers.  Sir Thomas Strickland has therefore raised a small force and headed north to free his son, Walter.  For his part Sir Hugh Lowther  has also gathered his men together to defend his home.  The two forces meet a few miles south of Penrith near the hamlet of Clifton.  Word of this serious breach of the King's Peace had reached the Warden of the Western March, Richard of Gloucester and he, together with his retinue is heading south to restore order.  This gives the participants just 1 hour to defeat the opposition before Richard arrives.

An overview of the battlefield
Over the weekend we ran the game five times, with the score 3 to 1 in favour of Lowther; though in the majority of cases the result was very close, with both sides suffering very heavy casualties. Many thanks to our volunteers from the general public; Tim, a New Zealand gamer on a touring holiday, Mike, Jim, David and another Tim, who had gamed at university a few decades ago, but not since.  They, together with Andy, Peter, Steve and Will helped the weekend pass quickly, even though the show as a whole was pretty quiet other than the Saturday morning.  Special mention must be given to Dave for providing the essential liquid refreshments and to Lynne, a newcomer to wargaming, who played a couple of games on Sunday.

Fenwick's spears about to attack Conyer's archers

Lowther's archers supported by Pennington's men at arms
The only other game was a Thirty Years War battle, Breitenfeld, using Pike and Shotte rules.

Swedish cavalry commander

Swedes on the left, Imperialists the right
Imperial infantry

Swedish infantry

A mass of Imperial cavalry beginning their advance

Sunday, 4 August 2019

A bit of an experiment

Last week's game had a Gulay Gorod but in didn't really play a major part in the action.  In our after game chat Steve and I discussed some of the likely rules which we may need to devise to cope with an attack on the wagons formed up in a defensive square.

The wagons formed up
This week's game was the consequence of our chat.  A Muscovite force has been attacked in a frontier fort.  Attempting to return to mother Russia, they have broken through the encircling Cossacks and made their way north, only to find their way blocked by a Polish force.  This has allowed the pursuing Cossacks to catch up with them.  The Muscovite commander has formed his wagons into a square, hoping to hold off the attackers long enough for a relief force, (if the messenger got through), to arrive.  He has 2 units of Streltsy and one unit of Soldatski, plus a unit of feudal cavalry.  The defence is bolstered by a selection of light artillery both limbered and in some of the wagons.

For their part, the Poles and Cossacks recognise that cavalry are not going to break into the Gulay Gorod, it will be a job for the infantry.  They have therefore held their cavalry back to counter any sally by the Muscovite feudal cavalry whilst the infantry attack.

The first Cossack attack repulsed
Bad communication has resulted in the Cossack attack going in first before the Poles have advanced.  Good defensive fire disordered the initial Cossack attack and allowed the defence to  repel this first attack.  Seeking to drive off the Cossacks altogether, the Muscovite commander ordered his cavalry to sally out.  However, the Polish pancerni intervened, forcing the Muscovite to attack them. 

The sally by the feudal cavalry
Meanwhile the Polish infantry had attacked and the defensive fire had not been as effective.  The Haiduk units drove back the Streltsy, who fell back, disordering their supports.  Free from the threat of a cavalry attack the Cossack infantry returned to the attack and this time overwhelmed the defenders.  Although the feudal cavalry had driven back the pancerni, their was no avenue of escape for the infantry, all the Muscovite commander could do was surrender.

The Poles break in
As do the Coosacks
The feudal cavalry's victory counts for naught
Our deliberations after this game came up with some possible bonuses for the defenders within the Pike and Shotte rules.  These will be adjusted in the light of further trials.


Gain +1 on save from missile fire due to cover of wagons

In melee gain +1 to saving roll for cover

Count as 'Stubborn' ie may re-roll one failed saving roll for both melee and missile losses. (once per turn for each category).

Stamina of unit increased by 1

If taking a break test get a +1 modifier


A foot unit can be ordered to move an obstacle aside to allow a unit to leave the Gulay Gorod. Once the sallying unit leaves, roll 2 d6, if a blunder is rolled, gap remains open.

Artillery fire – incoming

Guns fire normally, however, light artillery need to be within half maximum distance (ie using 2 d6) in order to damage wagons. Scores of 5/6 are potential hits on occupants of wagons. 4 a possible hit on wagon itself. Roll again for each potential hit, score of 4+ inflicts 1 damage point on wagon. Wagon has total of 3 points, after 3rd hit remove wagon and replace with wooden obstacle. Occupants have 50/50 chance of survival (no modifiers).
Hail shot cannot be used to damage a wagon, only against occupants.

[What about 'unclear target'? Targets qualify if they are in buildings or partly within sight]

Artillery fire – outgoing

Swivel guns – 180 degree arc. 12” range. No hail shot. Use only 1 d6. -1 modifier to save.

Light guns in wagons
Normal 45 degree arc. 18” max range. Use 3/2/1 dice as usual -2 on save.

Normal light guns
Fire as usual.