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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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Andy Mellor

Hi Martin, just had time to read rules amendments and think they will work well. I've got a couple of things you might want to consider?


"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"

Looking at ECW musket drills it seems to be, Present, Fire. Present, Aim, Fire is a much later drill? You could represent this by giving the units a free wheel, before shooting, but only firing straight forward. Having No arch of fire will be easier to judge on-line and keeps the easy PL all round firing to some extent. The shot type units could fire on units that start in thier front arch other to flank and front?

This will have the result that units are pulled out of the line, as they will have to wheel back to advance forward? I.e do you ignore the dragoons to your flank so you can advance with the rest of your regiment or turn to face?

Regiment guns could follow this rule, maybe -1 to hit? Field guns cant as too difficult to change a batteries angel of fire. They should be aimed at a major houses only anyway?


PL normally ends up with everyone running away except the pike still waiting to fight. With morale 4+ a 12 figure unit goes from odds-on 7+ to an odds-against 8+ after losing 4 figures. If sub units (shot) in a battalion get +2 on the dice if within 2-3" of the parent (pike) unit and the parent unit gets +1 for each sub unit near, then the odds-against rolls wont occur until at half strength?

This will hopefully end up with a pike push that doesn't usually happen in PL.

Martin S-C

Hi Andy, thank you for the comments. I haven't playtested the rules yet but I certainly want to keep things as simple as possible while adding another layer of "ECW-ness" to the basic game, which is why I went for a 45deg firing arc rather than anything else; it seemed a simple rule, pretty intuitive and in common with many other rules. My thinking on your idea is that wheeling to shoot would take troops time and might be confusing since you're doing a Shoot action but actually moving the figures.

I think the way PL teats pike units might be the rules biggest weakness. Shot are so much more attractive as they can strike from range. I have only played 3 games of PL BTW and in two of them pike units got shot to ribbons trying to close which does not feel right somehow (though the shot force did have a veteran shot unit which added to the mayhem as I suppose it should). In the one game they were effective my opponent only tried to deter them with a single ranged shooting unit which wasn't enough. I think one issue might be that since the PL armies are so small and represent skirmishing forces a pike unit is out of place in that level of ECW combats which were much more commonly fought between parties of commanded shot, troops of horse and companies of dragoons.

One of the things I've just seen discussed on the PL Facebook group is players allowing the increase in a pike unit from 12 to 18 figures at a cost of +1 point. That might make Pike quite a dangerous unit. Worth a playtest.

I do like your idea of giving shot a bonus if they are near or in contact with their parent pike block, this gives a reason for players to buy pike units. The issue then is to balance the benefits of a force that is made up of shot-pike-shot vs one made up of shot-shot-shot. I have given pike a purpose by allowing shot to evade behind them if attacked. I suppose one could just have force structure rules in the way Grahame has designed the army lists for the 1645 campaign.

Andy Mellor

Hi Martin, some more thoughts.

Most units in PL run away, 18 strong pike block will still start to waver at 4 casualties same as 12 figure units (if moral stays at 4+). It's a 58% chance to pass a 7+ roll but down to 42% for a 8+ ( the biggest drop in 2 dice chance). If you take a normal shot unit firing on a 5+ that's 4 hits from 12 dice or 2 hits if at long range (using the average). So shot are down to 42% chance not to waver after 8 hits, ie 2 rounds of close range fire. Pike would be 12 hits or 3 rounds of close range fire, Possibly impervious at long range (reason why vet shot are more deadly causing 6 hits at close range and 4 at long). So shot shot shot selection should have a disadvantage in moral bonus, due to ability to cause moral wavering quicker? They can dish it out but can't take it so well! As your rules reduce rolls needed to activate by -1 then shot are firing on 6+ (72% chance), however this is still 10% for Mike!

Just for interest a 3+ moral, stamina 4 unit (ie the best) requires 20 hits (5 figures, last man) before getting to the 8+ roll. That's 5 close range volleys and only veteran musket (or Tony's cannons) can scratch them at long range.
5+ moral, stamina 1 unit (the worst, Picnickers) just run away!

Martin S-C

Good points Andy, the discussion about 18 man strong pike units on Facebook has now revealed that with those units the players don't start to apply the -1 per lost figure UNTIL losses reach 11 figures - i.e. only after the unit drops below the basic 12-figure unit. They check morale before then but without minuses. That would make them very tough.

Andy Mellor

Quote from: Martin S-C on April 01, 2020, 08:02:53 pmGood points Andy, the discussion about 18 man strong pike units on Facebook has now revealed that with those units the players don't start to apply the -1 per lost figure UNTIL losses reach 11 figures - i.e. only after the unit drops below the basic 12-figure unit. They check morale before then but without minuses. That would make them very tough.

Think you would have to call them Swiss!

Martin S-C

Something we could play test maybe? I suspect you'd need to adjust and see what worked best for balance. Maybe 3 extra figs for a 15 man unit? Something like that.

I would like to see pike units get used more in our PL games and have opponents treat them with a bit more respect!

Martin S-C

Andy Miller - waiting on you and your starting set up. I have Andrew Riley's info.


Just my little input on the whole pike survivable to make it into combat. Just hive the a plus to hit like in WAB against shooting,most will be hitting on 5/6s at range over 12" so give them the +1 to hit pike...

Martin S-C

The campaign has begun. The players are Andrew Riley for the King and Andy Miller for Parliament. A set-up phase in which the two sides established existing (meagre) forces, drew up some basic plans and set in place any recruiting programmes has been followed by a double turn. Each turn is one week and the first turn is August 1642 Week I. There will be turns I/II/III and IV each month to keep it simple. I issued a double turn to begin with so that we'd get some movement across the map and hopefully generate some encounters and that has certainly happened.

The game consists of a fictional swathe of middle England stretching from an east coast/fenland low lying area west to a region something like Rutland, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, with fictional place names chosen appropriately. The master map is here:


Of the eight major towns/cities on the map prior to the first turn three declared for the King and three for Parliament with two remaining unsure. Naturally there has been a scramble to influence those two that sit on the fence and we have encounters already at or close to both. I gave the die rolling that decided the loyalty or areas a small bias in the pre-game set-up phase so that the bigger cities tended to have a better chance of being supporters of Parliament while a series of manor houses, castles and other estates across the region tended to be more likely to support the King. This gave a nice asymmetric but still balanced distribution of initial control.

The eight cities/major towns are the only areas where troops can be recruited and trained and other units such as engineers or spies raised. Engineers are needed if you want to dig earthworks to strengthen defences or build works to conduct sieges. While news of a general nature is commonplace a spy will give you much better specifics of what is going on (and even why) in the areas controlled by the opposition.

On the map a red 'K', orange 'P' and brown 'N' indicate the loyalty of each area. At first there are lots of armed villagers scattered all over the map who are unable to move from their immediate locality but, once loyal to one side or the other, can be escorted by a regular unit from their homes to any city and processed into more effective units. Taxes are collected by a similar mechanic. All units moving on the map must have a named officer leading the force. Each city generates two named leaders and each manor house one. A feature of early moves has been quick dashes by horse and dragoons to establish ownership of some areas but at once, collecting units of clubmen from these places slows down any mounted column to the pace of foot units. This has already hamstrung a couple of intended fast marches.

Moves are made between the nodes via the grey transport links although the blue impassable rivers block some of these off which has delayed some planned moves. Forces made up of all mounted units including galloper guns can move two map spaces per week. All other units can move one. Officers and other personalities on their own such as engineers, spies and heroes can move four spaces and these can cross the impassable rivers at a -1 space cost because these small parties can hire boats and use local small ferries and such.

Activity in the west has centred around the town of Durnton which is the Royalist stronghold of the region and which has seen parties of troops leave to collect recruits and taxes. South of Durnton is a small pro-Parliament enclave centred around two manor houses, those of Repton Hall and Olney Castle. Small forces from here have collided with a Royalist recruiting party at Earl Shelton east of Craister which is the key neutral city of the region.

In the mid-map region there is not much activity at present although some recruiting and tax-collecting drives are in progress. No collisions here yet. At Kirby in the north which is the second neutral admin centre two small opposing forces have also made contact.

East of Bishop's Lynn which is the major administration centre of Parliament a siege or investment of a manor house has commenced. This is at Bevensdyke. In the south east where three cities are in close proximity (two Royalist and one Parliament) a considerable Royalist force has gathered outside Ouly and is requesting the surrender of the place "or else".

We have had our first skirmish as well in the very centre of the map at the little pro-Parliament village of Pinchbeck:


The "Battle of Pinchbeck", 4th August 1642

Lady Bella Hall, a most charming, witty and tough person owns Belton Hall (see map). She departed her estate on 1st August, in compliance with orders sent to her by the region's most senior Royalist officer, Sir Gregory Diss. Lady Hall had her own little army, privately raised and equipped - a troop of horse and a company of dragoons, each about sixty men strong. The good lady led her little band in person, a most unusual event in these times. She was instructed to ride north to Pinchbeck and there use her charms and persuasive demeanour to convince the locals to declare their village for the King and to join her with an armed band. She was also instructed by Sir Gregory to "collect suche taxes there that might be hadd".

1) Lady Hall leads her dragoons and horse along the lane towards the village.

2) Gathered in the village square a ragamuffin band of locals, much fired up on ale have got word of the Royalists approach.

3) The legend on the villager's flag indicates they mean business.

4) The Royalists approach.

5) A spokesman for the villagers, one Roger Stigges comes forwards accompanied by his standard bearer, Nigel Hawthorne who proudly bears aloft the "Pinchbeck Proclamation". Lady Hall speaks with Stigges attempting to negotiate terms that the villagers lay down their weapons and they nor their livestock will come to any harm but that they must surrender "fayre and reasonable" taxes to the Royalists. "If you do such, Sir, then we will give unto you no harm or distresse".

"This is outrageous!" Stigges raised his voice. Behind him the villagers waved cudgels and scythes and shouts of "Extortion!" and "Get off our land!" were heard. The crowd became violent.

6) Stigges' point of view of the 'negotiations'.

7) Sensing trouble Lady Hall ordered her dragoons to dismount and ready their weapons. Seeing this the locals raised a shout and rushed forward.

8) A scuffle broke out. Muskets were discharged and shouts filled the air. Several dragoons went down in the roadway groaning from wounds but about a dozen villagers fell, several to a volley of fire as they rushed forwards and more to sword thrusts. Many lay writhing in the dust and several lay still.

[The dice roll for the 'demeanour' of the clubmen at the start of the game was a '6' indicating "highly volatile troublemakers" on my little campaign chart, hence when a single turn of negotiations was over they attacked. Their dice roll resulted in one dragoon casualty (which in the campaign represents 10 men) while the dragoons put down three figures (30 men).]

9) Much to Lady Hall's surprise her dragoons wavered! They threw a miserable '3' on the morale test which even with the lady's +1 for inspiration made them waver. They fell back 3" into the field, as did Lady Hall as well. The clubmen rolled a magnificent '11' for their morale, so despite three casualties they stood their ground. Next turn with a resounding cheer, Lady Hall's horse galloped down the lane and careered into the peasants, swords swinging and chopped them to ribbons. Four clubmen went down in the dust and not a single horseman was hit.

10) The remaining clubmen routed, scampering away down the lane, the cavaliers cheering in hot pursuit.

11) Lady Hall gave her wavering dragoons a stiff talking to. Her offer of a gold sovereign each from the collected taxes caused the company to quickly rally.

So ended what later became notorious as the Battle of Pinchbeck, the first bloodshed of this most lamentable war. The pro-Parliament villagers have dispersed to distant farms with a few of them put into the village lock-up. The Royalists spent the next few days forcibly collecting taxes and polishing off what remained of the inn's supply of ale but they were unable, obviously, to raise any men for recruits.

Andrew Riley

Martin - ref concall with Mike and Colin last night - I just looked at Facebook PL and you have 21 likes and 5 comments.
You might have to demo at Hereward :-)

Martin S-C

Hi Andrew, I was referring to the Peterborough club FB page. Sorry - crossed wires.

Martin S-C

Hi to Andrew and Andy. I am very sorry that the campaign has stalled. The main reason is that the turn is just poor design by me, allowing players too many options and too much role-playing within what ought to be a very simple framework. I check and write everything out in longhand and I need to streamline that. I've also been sidetracked by my other wargaming periods in recent weeks and then the virus thing has been a distracting issue as I'm a carer for an elderly friend. I am not sure if my mind is on continuing I would very much like to, its a case of me getting down to simplifying the turn system; not from the player pov, but from mine.