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An ECW campaign to be played online?

Started by Martin S-C, March 19, 2020, 04:07:27 pm

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Martin S-C

Given our current circumstances I am putting a toe in the water to see if anyone would like to be involved in a campaign we could do online. Grahame, if you had similar thoughts and anything planned then I will let you go with your ideas so that I don't step on any toes, etc.

I have however been looking at the excellent Battlefinder system and realised how easily it would help build a semi-fictional ECW campaign. It works with many other periods of warfare as well, but ECW jumped immediately to mind.

Battlefinder is a completely free resource, the authors ask only for charitable donations.


It is a grid of table top scenery set-ups linked by movement routes, so a nodal style map. The authors provide a variety of map "cards" which can be shuffled and laid out semi-randomly on the map board in a physical arrangement for two players or two teams and thus it can be used where there is no umpire available. However with the map board and table cards available as downloads it becomes very simple to create a digital version in which you can flip and mirror the table maps for extra variety.

I doubled the map board size from 36 to 72 spaces and renamed all the cards to build a layout that has a basis in a swath of England from the lowlands/fenlands of East Anglia to the more hilly and wooded East Midlands with fictional places names inspired by settlement names of the region.

My thinking revolves around two players or teams of players in a setting of late 1642 with the King having just raised his standard at Nottingham the country is in turmoil and this region of England is also in chaos with loyalties more-or-less equally and randomly divided between settlements.

The cities (marked in red) are the military and administrative centres of the region and will generate a certain points value of troops (Pikeman's Lament rules). Each town, village or other settlement will generate initially mostly Clubmen and each side's opening aims might therefore be to try and gain control over wider areas as well as contiguous areas and to bring the Clubmen to their administrative centre(s) where they will be trained and equipped to create units. Eventually lines will be drawn on the map delineating where each side has a stronger hold and slowly more capable armies will form.

A middle game may see larger forces attempting to wrest control of more of the map and an end game may see attempts to capture the opponents administrative centres.

I am still pondering over the rules but want to introduce some form of taxation and very simple economy by which to raise troops and even perhaps be able to send some troops off-map to help with the wider war effort. Doing this would keep armies to manageable size as well as open play up towards each team working for a bigger picture and gaining victory points for doing so.

While PL is a great fast play rule set it is only a skirmish game where each figure represents one man. I am working on a few changes where the figure scale will be 1:10 and therefore horse units will represent troops and foot units, companies. Guns would represent a variable number of cannon but with 6 figure crews, would be a company of artillery with 60 men. Your general would then become you plus nine staff, advisors, priests, cronies, hangers on, etc. I would like to introduce a few more military aspects into PL for this campaign with units having a facing, flanks and rear, some different formations and move distances as well as some kind of co-ordinated use of Shot and Pike companies which would work together as "Battallia". I think all this is do=able without losing the fun flavour of the rules and while still using the core mechanisms.

Battles would be either fought solo by various players on an honesty basis or by very small groups at people's homes - pairs or four players at the most. Being able to play face to face games of course would be dependent on the wider situation. At the very least I can kriegspiel battle results as I've many years experience of KS games and campaign umpiring generally.

Here is a link to the map. This was created as a test bed but there's no reason we couldn't use it.


Martin S-C

March 22, 2020, 01:37:54 pm #1 Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 05:00:49 pm by Martin S-C
Hoping at least someone is reading this and interested here are a set of basic campaign rules designed to work with the Battlefinder map system.

All of these are raw ideas and up for comment, testing and change. They are not complete by any means and are just a start. The values assigned (points, money) are definitely not final as these things always need adjusting.

= = = = = = = = = =

ECW 1642 Fictional Campaign using Battlefinder

The map (see previous post to file on Dropbox) represents a fictionalised area of the Fens, East Anglia and the East Midlands. To the east is low lying coastal country with few hills, dykes and a lot of marsh. To the north-west are bigger hills with some forest. A broad swath of good farming country with gentle rolling hills occupies the middle of the map. A number of significant rivers run across the map, in general these tend to flow from NW to SE. Several cities, towns, villages, farms, manor houses, castles and religious houses are scattered across the region. A red "C" and text denotes a city. These are the administrative centres of military activity and tax gathering. The black or red numerals denote how many points of troops each region generates. The dark blue rivers are crossable only at bridges and fords. The pale blue streams are fordable at any point. Certain areas are denoted with a black star on a yellow ground. These are strong-points and can be cities, castles, fortified manors or high-walled and stoutly built religious centres.

The rectangular mapped areas of the game board represent 6 ft x 4 ft wargame tables and are the main feature of the terrain in that locality, or merely the most memorable location there. Grey lines link these areas and are movement links. Tick marks around the edges of the 6x4 maps indicate the boundaries of areas where a force will enter that table from the adjacent movement link.

Foot, guns and wagons may move from one area to any adjacent area per map turn. A force of Horse, dragoons and/or galloper guns may move two areas per map turn. Each map turn represents a week.

Initially each region that has 1 to 5 points will generate 1 unit of Clubmen. 6 to 10 points generates 2 units, more than 10 points generates 3. All cities generate 4. If these areas are hostile to your side, these troops will defend their homes. If the region is neutral, they will not be hostile but can be persuaded to join your side after a period of occupation. Clubmen in regions friendly to your side will join your forces at once.

At the start of the campaign roll a d6 for each region. On a 1 or 2 the region declares for Parliament. On a 3 or 4 it remains neutral. On a roll of 5 or 6 it declares for the King. Each side then examines which cities are loyal to its cause and may place in these cities an army equivalent in PL points to the red number value of the city. The only other organised troops on the map at the campaign start are at the manor houses and castles. Each of these loyal to your side will generate 1 troop of Horse. These are all rated Raw. Each side rolls a dice for each such troop; for Parliament on a roll of 1, 2, 3 or 4 the horse are Trotters. On a roll of 5 or 6 they are Gallopers. Horse troops loyal to the King are the opposite; 1, 2, 3 or 4 are Gallopers and 5 or 6 Trotters. In addition, roll a dice for each such location. On a roll of a 5 there is a company of Raw Commanded Shot or Raw Dragoons there as well (player choice) and on a roll of a 6, there is a Galloper Gun.

Each city friendly to your cause and each manor house that generates a troop of Horse and a second unit (Commanded Shot or Dragoons but NOT a Galloper Gun) will also generate an Officer. We shall use dismounted figures for officers in the campaign at the rank of lieutenant and captain and mounted officers for majors and colonels. Generate a name, rank, background and other details for each officer at this stage. Unlike the base game, each officer in the campaign is one military rank higher, therefore all start as lieutenants and increase rank through captain, major and colonel. Beyond colonel the officer receives a promotion to major general and is promoted out of the region to fight in the Big War.

All initial troops are Raw. Raw troops will become Experienced after their first battle if they suffered losses or after witnessing two battles in which they do not suffer losses but enemy come within shooting range. After two battles in which Experienced troops participate and suffer losses, roll a die. On a 6 that unit becomes Veteran. An Experienced unit may also become Veteran after an especially heroic or glorious performance on the field in its first battle.

As there are no Raw Forlorn Hope or Commanded Shot, these units may not be raised until a non-raw Shot unit is available to convert.

There are no Raw Dragons either but I am going to allow them for this campaign. The Raw upgrade for Dragoons costs -1 point. They cannot skirmish and evade on a roll of 8+.

Any Clubmen loyal to your side in your starting cities; any Clubmen in other regions loyal to you who are escorted by regular troops to one of your cities and any Clubmen who were initially neutral but, by reason of having a garrison stationed in their region for two weeks and who then become loyal to your cause and are escorted to one of your cities may all be formed into regular troops.

The cost and time of this training and equipping are as follows:

12 Clubmen to 12 Pike = 2 weeks & £200
12 Clubmen to 12 Shot = 4 weeks & £400
12 Clubmen to 12 Dragoons = 5 weeks & £500
12 Clubmen to 12 Gallopers = 6 weeks & £800
12 Clubmen to 12 Trotters = 8 weeks & £700
12 Clubmen to 12 Gunners with 2 Regiment Guns = 10 weeks & £1000

12 Shot to 2x6 Commanded Shot = 1 week & £100
12 Shot to 2x6 Forlorn Hope = 1 week & £300

There are no Clansmen in this campaign. Feel free to create a campaign in other parts of the country or other periods of the war and introduce them.

An Officer must remain in a city at all times while troops are in training.

The points remaining in a city after the initial raising of two units may also be used to raise troops. Each point represents 30 men or 3 figures. Refer to the table above to raise units from these recruits but deduct £50 from the cost as townsmen are considered to be above average in wits (!) and will already be familiar with the drilling of the existing city forces.

The second function of the number allocated to each region is the tax income it generates. This value is collectable every 3 months (12 weeks). A non-artillery unit with an Officer attached to it must be sent to the region to collect the taxes. The unit and Officer must reside there for one full week in order to collect the taxes from all persons in that region. Regions with more than 10 points will require 2 units to go with the Officer due to the amount of peacekeeping, encouragement of citizens and searching of premises required. Each tax point collected is £100 and the taxes must be conveyed by wagon from settlement to city. These are vulnerable to enemy action during this journey. A city's taxes may be collected in one week as long as there is 1 unit (2 in the case of cities over 10 points value) in the city and an Officer.

Martin S-C

March 22, 2020, 01:48:05 pm #2 Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 05:30:58 pm by Martin S-C
Some idea to convert Pikeman's Lament from the 1:1 skirmish scale up to a scale that would represent fights between bigger forces with more formal manoeuvring. These ideas have come about after playing a few games on Monday nights as well as a need to have something more "substantial" for a campaign setting without changing rules entirely.

= = = = = = = = = =



These rule suggestions are to convert the 1:1 skirmish level of the game to represent small regular actions with more formally deployed troops. A figure ratio of 1:10 has been chosen with a ground scale of 1" to approx 5 yards. This gives Shot a range of about 90 yards which seems a reasonable distance. A turn can be anything from 5 up to about 30 minutes, the time scale is entirely flexible due to the unpredictable action sequence. However for the purposes of campaigns I suggest that a day's fighting, which would include various delays and the inertia of the situation/assessment/fresh orders cycle, should be 12 turns (that is 12 turns for each side).


Pike and Shot of 12 figures now form Companies representing about 120 men. Two or three Companies (1 Pike, up to 2 Shot) may be formed into a Battalia, though this is not necessary; we are still fighting encounters well below the Edgehill or Naseby level. If you wish to experiment with a Tercio, feel free to make up a unit of up to 6 companies; 2 Pike and 4 Shot. All other units that have 6 figures represent Troops (if Horse) or Companies (Dragoons, Commanded Shot, Forlorn Hope) representing about 60 men. Guns now represent an indeterminate number of guns from 2 to 4 crewed by about 60 men. This is too many men to be just the gun crews and so should be interpreted as including various teamsters, attached infantry labourers, hangers-on, interested bystanders and such all of whom are to be found around the cannons' location. A unit of 12 Clansmen is termed a Clan and a unit of 12 Clubmen is termed a Herd. Herds may still be interpreted as being amorphous blob-shaped units; they do not need to stop and dress ranks and files but they move very slowly anyway.


Officers are now pushed up one rank. The lowest rank is a lieutenant and increased honour advances the Officer through the ranks of captain and major to colonel. Beyond colonel, promotion is to brigadier- or major-general and the officer leaves the world of small actions to make a name for himself in the wider world of figure ratios of 1:20 to 1:50 where Important Events Happen. Majors and colonels use mounted figures, captains may be mounted or on foot. Lieutenants are always on foot.


The occurrence and use of these is unchanged.


Note that, generally speaking, units now take up a defined frontage, which must be available to pass through gaps and units tend to be wider. Units must face in the direction they moved, however wavering units end facing the enemy. No more small 6 man units in dense rounded clumps.

There is no longer a need to maintain 1" between friendly units. Units may be placed into contact. Units must however have sufficient space for their frontage to pass between friendly units. If there is not, passage is still possible but the unit moving through must take a waver test. If it wavers this represents disruption of the unit's formation.

Units may now approach to within 2" of enemy units without having to declare an Attack.


A march column is denoted by placing units 2 figures abreast and all subsequent figures behind the first pair in a long thin column. For some scenarios paths and lanes may be defined which will require figures to move in a single file column. These columns may curve at road junctions, etc. On roads all units in march column except foot artillery, Clubmen, wagons and pack animals DOUBLE their move action distance. Foot artillery, Clubmen, wagons and pack animals ADD 50% distance.

Across country all units in march columns except artillery, Clubmen, wagons and animals ADD 2" to their move. Clubmen add 1". Artillery, wagons and animals gain no bonus as this is their default march formation.


A Block is a tactical column; a formation 3 figures wide and 2 deep for all 6-figure strength units and 4 wide and 3 deep for all 12 figure strength units. 12 figure units may move in a Block 3 wide and 4 deep. The difference is not important and the variation can suggest different drills or the different preferences of commanding Officers.

Block is used for more rapid movement across country since, having shorter ranks than lines, they require fewer halts to dress the formation. A Block does not move faster than a line, it merely halts less frequently to dress ranks. All units except artillery, Clubmen, wagons and animals ADD 1" when moving in Block.


As even Shot formed up 6 to 8 ranks deep no formation in this period was a line as we would understand it as used in the later Lace Wars periods but with a wider frontage sufficiently long to deliver the maximum firepower, formations shallower than a column, that is, having fewer ranks than files, would require to halt and dress formation more often.

A line or shallow column is 1 figure deep for units with 6 figures and 2 figures deep for units with 12. Pike never form a line or shallow column.


Hedgehog is a defensive formation formed by Pike only. It is a variant of Close Order and since men face outwards with lowered pikes in all four directions it is stationary. Turn some flank or rear rank figures outwards to depict such a formation.


This is used by Forlorn Hope, Commanded Shot and Dragoons. The figures may be 1 or 2 ranks deep but should be placed about 1/2 to 1 base width apart. Stagger the figures if possible so that the second rank figures are between and behind the first rank figures.


All foot with firearms may conduct this drill, excepting Clans and Clubmen. If shooting by introduction either advance the unit 1" towards the target or, if your units are single-figure based, move the rear rank to in front of the first rank. Fire by extraduction is the reverse of this and a unit may move 1" away from its target or have the front rank placed behind the rear one. It is not necessary to intro- or extraduct while shooting, a unit can remain halted.

This tactic is not available to any Raw rated unit.


To change formation a successful Move Action must be made. A unit may change formation and remain stationary, or it may change formation and move, with a half move deduction. Formation changes may be made before, after or during the half-move distance allowed. A unit operating on a narrow frontage due to flanking obstacles or units could therefore compress its frontage and move a half move forwards, or move a half move and expand its frontage.

As a Move Action is required to change formation a unit may not do so and shoot in the same turn.


With more formalised formations terrain begins to have a greater impact on how units move.


When ascending a slope, movement is halved. All hills, unless their slope is indicated by the model terrain piece, are assumed to have a highest point at their (agreed) centre, or a highest ridge line along their centre line/spine. Common sense should be employed when deciding the shape of hills.


These can now be garrisoned. Up to 6 figures may occupy a small building (e.g. house) and up to 12 a large one (e.g. farmstead complex, church, manor house, etc). A move action is required to be passed in order to Garrison a building.


Fordable rivers and streams count double their width to cross. Wheeled vehicles and pack animals may only ever cross water obstacles at fords or bridges (or be ferried on boats of course).


Movement in rough or broken terrain or crossing walls and hedges is the same as in the main rules.



Units now have a defined facing. To determine a unit's flank, extend an imaginary line out to the sides, both left and right, perpendicular to the front base edge of the unit. Behind this line is the flank. To determine the rear of a unit, perform the extension of a similar imaginary line extending rearwards from the outer base edge of the two flank figures. Behind this line is the units rear.


To move in any direction other than directly forwards a unit should pivot on its innermost flank front figure, swinging its outer flank figure around to face the desired direction. Measure move distance from this outer flank figure.

Alternatively a unit may "withdraw-face" by swinging one flank backwards on the pivot of the innermost rear flank figure of the formation. "Withdraw-facing" is however a complex manoeuvre and any distance swung counts as twice the actual measured distance. Raw units may not "withdraw-face".

A unit may face about 180 degrees at the cost of 1" for foot and 2" for Dragoons or Horse.

A unit may face to a flank, pivoting up to 90 degrees at the cost of half a move.

Clubmen may turn to face in any direction prior to moving but any such facing costs a half move. Clubmen cannot wheel as drilled units can.

There are certain to be other instances of change of facing that players encounter that are not covered here. Resolve such events with a logical choice or agreed movement deduction.



Shot, Clans, Clubmen, Trotters, Regimental and Galloper Guns may shoot out to 45 degrees either side of their current facing. Forlorn Hope, Commanded Shot, Dragoons or Trotters performing Caracole may fire anywhere in their front facing, but not to flanks or rear.

Field artillery may fire out to 22.5 degrees either side of their facing.


Regiment and Galloper Gun range is 24"

Field Gun range remains at 48"

There are no other changes to shooting ranges.


Artillery fire on buildings will damage them. Each small or wooden building (e.g. house) has a defence value of 5 and each bigger or stone building (e.g. farm complex, church, manor house) has a defence value of 10. Each casualty inflicted on troops inside or in contact with a building causes 2 defence points to be deducted. When Field Guns are shooting, always add 1 to the damage done, even if no casualties were inflicted by the shooting. Once a buildings defence value is reached, roll a dice; on a 1, 2 or 3 the building is on fire and will burn for the remainder of the battle and no unit may move closer than 2". On a roll of 4, 5, or 6 the building is demolished. Remove the model and replace it with a suitable ruin or group of walls in outline. The ruins of demolished buildings count as Broken Terrain.



When a March Column is attacked the column does not roll any defence dice at all. It will take a waver test whether it loses a figure or not and always withdraws directly away from the direction of the axis of the attacking units approach. A unit that Attacked a March Column cannot suffer losses therefore and does not take a waver test.


If a Shot unit is in contact along one face with a Pike unit to which it is grouped as a Battalia, the Shot, if attacked, may attempt to Evade. They make a Move Action test and if they pass are placed on the far side of the Pike away from the direction of attack. This movement does not disrupt either unit, it represents the Shot sheltering beneath the levelled pikes. The attacking unit is then moved up and must Attack the Pike. If the Pike are not already in Hedgehog and this move strikes the Pike in flank or rear then the Pike unit must pass a Move Action test in order to form Hedgehog. If it fails, the attackers hit it in the flank or rear as applicable. In this case the Pike only roll half their normal number of Defence dice.


All foot units, including Dragoons who do not evade, other than Pike or Clans, have a -1 to their stamina when attacked by horse, whether Gallopers or Trotters. Shot should be more easily ridden down by mounted troops than the basic game allows.


Units attacked in the flank or rear will only defend with half their dice.


All morale ratings are increased by 1. This is in order to produce a higher rate of morale test failures.

When a unit is shot at in the flank or rear it will always take a Morale check, even if no losses were sustained. If figures were removed then a further -1 is deducted for the loss of cohesion caused by shooting from an unexpected direction.


All Action rolls are reduced by one. This is in order to make it less likely that a player turn will prematurely complete. We are moving now away from the skirmish setting of the base game into the realm of larger units that can more reasonably be expected to behave as ordered.


Is now raised to 48 points although players are encouraged to design asymmetrical scenarios or play within the framework of a campaign that will generate unequal encounters.


Raw Dragoons - these have a points cost of -1. They cannot skirmish. When Evading their action score is 8+.

Raw Regimental Guns - these have a points cost of -1. Their morale action score is 6+.

Veteran Regimental Guns - these have a points cost of +2. Their shooting action score is 7+. Their morale action score is 4+.

Raw Field Guns - these have a points cost of -1. Their morale action score is 6+.

Veteran Field Guns - these have a points cost of +2. Their shooting action score is 7+. Their morale action score is 4+.

Galloper Guns - 6 pts. Regt. gun, limber & horse + crew of five figures. Move Activation needed to limber/unlimber. Maximum movement limbered 12". May begin a battle unlimbered in which case they count as Regimental guns in all respects. All other rules as per Regt. Gun - no upgrade to field gun.

Raw Galloper Guns - these have a points cost of -1. Their morale action score is 6+.

Veteran Galloper Guns - these have a points cost of +2. Their shooting action score is 7+. Their morale action score is 4+.

Martin S-C

Andrew Riley


Hi Martin - excellent stuff and we'll thought through. We do have a set of 'rules of engagement'to allow PL to be used for bigger fights - have a look at the previous 1644  campaign thread. It covers formed units and the role of generals etc. When things get back to normal I'm certainly keen to give yours a go.

Martin S-C

Grahame - I think my idea using a map would work while we cannot have face to face meetings. It would be PBEM style and either I'd play the games solo based on the orders of the opposing commanders or I'd kriegsspiel them. I think later when life has returned to normal we'll all be playing your campaign and rightly so, so probably few would want another set in the same period.

Alternatively maybe your campaign and this map system could be put together in some way?

However for now, if I could only have 2 willing players, I am keen to test this system and iron out any snags. More players would allow 2 teams.

Andrew Riley

Martin - I am still at working full time pretty much, have worked from home office for several years but could fit in a couple of evenings per week or more so happy to give a go if that would meet the requirement/pace you want to run. Not read all (understand) your stuff yet but working on it. I don't know a lot about ECW so its a great enlightenment.

Martin S-C

Thanks Andrew, that's one player. Any more?

Andy Miller

I'd be interested, but in the current climate I'm less likely to have free time.
Judge Dredd (Judges/Cal 2k+pts, Ape gang), FoW (MidWar German armour 2k pts, MidWar Afrika Corps 2k pts, LateWar German 4k+pts), Bolt Action (German, US Infantry), OpSquad (Panzer Grenadiers, Falschirmjaeger, Brit Inf), Dux Brit (Saxons), WoW (a small airforce), Fantasy (High Elves, Brets), Dystopian (FSA), Uncharted seas (Iron Dwarves), Sails of glory, X-wing, Dreadball (Humans and Dwarves), Check your six. Star Wars Armada. ECW Parliamentarian army.

Martin S-C

It should not take much free time. Work on a PBEM style game is often fairly light weight.

Martin S-C

Andrew & Andy, have either of you got a preference for which side? If not, I will flip a coin.

Andy Miller

Judge Dredd (Judges/Cal 2k+pts, Ape gang), FoW (MidWar German armour 2k pts, MidWar Afrika Corps 2k pts, LateWar German 4k+pts), Bolt Action (German, US Infantry), OpSquad (Panzer Grenadiers, Falschirmjaeger, Brit Inf), Dux Brit (Saxons), WoW (a small airforce), Fantasy (High Elves, Brets), Dystopian (FSA), Uncharted seas (Iron Dwarves), Sails of glory, X-wing, Dreadball (Humans and Dwarves), Check your six. Star Wars Armada. ECW Parliamentarian army.

Andrew Riley

Royalist fine with me but may have to borrow some cavalry if we make it onto table.

Martin S-C

I just came across this via a link from the PL Facebook group. Looks awesome.