Friday, 18 September 2015

Not Even Push of Pike

Like most wargamers we tend to spread ourselves too thin.  We have many wargame periods in mind or in progress, lacking only the necessary research for armies to be readied, be they incomplete, unpainted or just plain unbought.  The odd thing is that it is the completed periods that seem to be thought about and played the least.  I don't think it's just us.
Spot the deliberate mistake.
One such period is the English Civil War, for which we have, according to the WRG De Bellis Renationis (DBR) Army Lists (Vol 2), about 400 points each of the respective Parliamentarian and Royalist armies (1641-1648), which is near enough complete as makes no difference.  These are 1/300 Heroics & Ros figures, mainly painted by Geoff sometime last century, but supplemented by some Scots musketeers, cavalry and artillery train added by me in more recent years.

The last time we'd had a game from this period was about 15 years ago and we used WRG DBRv1.1 whilst working our way through the smaller scenarios from the De Bellis Civile books (published by The Keep).  However, for this game we didn't use any particular scenario but decided, just like in the old days, to generate the terrain using the rules, line up opposite each other and see how we got on.  Anyway, the set-up turned out like this, with Parliament (blue) defending.
All terrain made by me, including houses from polystyrene offcuts & cardboard
Forces were as follows, each split into two commands:
            1   CinC Pi(S)               1    Sub Gen Pi(I)
            1   Pistols Pi(S)            10  Pistols Pi(I)
            16 Shot Sh(O)               3    Dragoons Dg(S)
             8   Pike Pk(O)              1    Galloper Art(F)
             2   Sakers Art(O)

           1    CinC Pi(S)                1    Sub Gen Pi(F)
           12  Shot Sh(O)               12  Horse Pi(F)
            6    Pike Pk(O)               2    Dragoons Dg(O)
            2    Sakers Art(O)           1     Galloper Art(F)

Rules used were actually DBRv2.0 which, we discovered, had some subtle but significant differences when compared with DBRv1.1.

Anyway, my plan (i.e. the Parliamentarian plan) was to hold the left secured against the hill, whilst trying to sweep around the right with my Pistols Pi(I), i.e. the Roundhead cavalry, pivoting on the village which would be occupied by one regiment of foot and some dragoons.  The left wing comprising mainly foot was supposed to stay where it was and be stiffened by the sakers positioned above them on the hill.
View of Parliamentarian lines from the Royalist left.
The thing is that defending passively doesn't come naturally to me, so almost immediately I commenced advancing my infantry on the left.  My cavalry on the right meanwhile started to move towards the enemy's position, where his cavaliers (Pi(F)) were climbing up the far side of the hill.
View of Parliamentarian left, with sakers on the hill

On the left I was having issues.  I realised that my sakers on the hill were poorly sited because being uphill from the target reduces their fire effect (presumably as the cannonballs tend to bury themselves when fired downhill, or something), and the regiment of foot up there really wasn't going to do anyone any good.
Parliamentarian foot in the BUA, dragoons to the fore
In addition, my infantry started to take casualties from the Royalist guns sitting being the marsh, whilst the regiment of foot that I had positioned behind the village was unable to move through it at any great speed.
Familiar foot advance
My Parliamentarian foot continued to advance to try to contact the Royalist foot that was moving up opposite, all the while taking casualties from the guns and then Royalist foot, both sides starting to lose cohesion but without my troops able to damage the Royalists enough.
Ebb and flow on the left as shot exchange fire
Meanwhile on the right, the Roundhead cavalry advanced to the foot of the hill accompanied by a galloper gun and some foolhardy dragoons.
Roundhead Pi(I) advance on the right
As the Roundheads reached the foot of the hill the Royalist cavaliers come over the crest and down the hill but are checked by fire from the Pi(I).
Roundhead cavalry push up to the hill
However, the fire from my cavalry dishcarging their pistols momentarily checked the cavaliers, but was not enough to discourage them and they charged down the hill into the Parliamentarian ranks, surrounding and overwhelming them within a few moves.  My cavalry command was therefore quickly demoralized (although for some reason I neglected to take a picture of  my cavalry surrounded and reduced to a single element in about two moves).
Stalemate on the left, but the cavaliers are coming...
Back on the left, the Parliamentarian foot were being gradually depleted but weren't quite able to get into phyiscal contact with the Royalists, the desired for 'push of pike'.  However, with my right wing effectively wiped out, it would only be a matter of time before the cavaliers were behind me and that would be that.
Cavaliers about to sweep away my galloper
Overall it was a fairly decisive battle, although we did notice a few signficant changes from DBRv1.1 to DBRv2.0.  The earlier set encouraged the use or separate units of foot (i.e. 4 elements wide with a block of pikes in the middle) but v2.0 was more like DBM where you could have an infinite line acting as one group if you wanted to (and had a table long enough).
View from behind Royalist lines
However, the main issue was that the Parliamentarians (me) made some basic errors, such as wasting a regiment of foot by placing it behind the BUA and another one on the hill so that neither could get into the action, which was an inefficient use of troops, particularly as I had chosen to advance off the hill and out of cover anyway.

Further, placing my sakers on the hill made them less effective and my dragoons (Dg(S)) were not used properly to hold the BUA and woods.  Next time I think I will keep the Pi(I) in reserve behind the foot and make the enemy come to us!


Doug said...

Nice looking game - what size of bases do you use for 6mm? (I got all megalomaniac and went for 60mm wide bases...)

The Wishful Wargamer said...

Hi Doug, these are based for DBR so that means 40mm wide bases with depths as follows: foot 10mm; horse 20mm; & dragoons/artillery/baggage 40mm. Figures are Heroics and Ros. WW