Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Scots March South - the Battle of Louthburn

Astonishingly I have been able to play a second game in my OHW campaign (very) loosely set in the late 1640s in the Scottish and English Borders.

Sir Vernon Cottar, flushed with victory at the Battle of Dundoon and reinforced by more regular forces, has pressed south beyond Hadrian's Wall to reinforce Scotland's petitions that Charles is King of Scotland as well as England and to remind those po-faced Puritans that a glass or two of whisky never did anyone any harm.

Scenario 7 - Flank Attack (2)

The initial set up for the battle is shown below.  I decided that the Scots, as the victors in the previous battle, should have the choice of which side to take.  The wily Cottar chose Blue (what else?) and set up a force to the front of the Parliamentarians while moving his main force onto the English left flank.  The Parliamentarian Lord Lieutenant of the Northern Marches, Lord Thomas, had placed his strengthened forces on the large central hill, confident of blocking the Scottish advance south but unaware of the army massing on his left flank.

The Parliamentarian Army ensconced on the hill, facing the smaller Scottish force to its front, unaware of the Scottish threat on the left
The Scots began by pressing home their advantage on the English left flank, their cavalry crashing into the Parliamentarian reiters on the hill, while their own reiters manoeuvred into the rear of the English position looking to wear them down with firepower.  The Scottish infantry also advanced on all fronts, again with the aim of shooting down the Parliamentarian forces.  And the firing was particularly effective with the added bonus of none of the Scots running out of shot or powder in this first turn (ie none rolled a 1 or 2). 

The English react, trying to manoeuvre to engage the enemy while maintaining their advantage on the hill
Lord Thomas was nothing if not a trier.  He quickly spun his reiters and cavalry to face the threat to his rear while trying to disentangle his infantry on the hill to face their Scottish counterparts.  His troops started to return fire while also facing off the Scottish cavalry charge.

As the game progressed the Scots continued to wear down the English through their firepower until the ammunition began to run out (clearly supply chain issues back to Edinburgh!).  The English cavalry on the right wing charged off the hill to engage the Scottish reiters in the rear, beating them off over a couple of turns.
The Scots close in on the Parliamentarian position
Some sharp shooting by the remaining English infantry regiment followed by an equally sharp push of pike saw off the flanking Scottish infantry, as the remaining Scottish infantry closed in from the front.  Eventually sheer weight of numbers told and the Parliamentary foot soldiers quit the field.  But was it all over for Lord Thomas? No!  He rallied his remaining troops, one of which was a unit of reiters on the hill top who clearly had had a good thing going with the quartermaster as they never ran out of the ammunition and continued to blow holes in the Scots.

In the end it came down to the last Scottish infantry regiment squaring up to the last English regiment of reiters, facing down the inevitable barrage of carbine and pistol fire and knocking the English horse off the hill.

This is another OHW scenario which went right down to the wire.  In this case I thought the Scots had it won but the better English position on the hill meant it was finely balanced.  If the Scots had run out of shot and powder earlier things would have been much tougher before they had closed on the hill.  I'm not entirely convinced these rules are particularly historically accurate but they do result in a quick, close and enjoyable game.

Next time: Static Defence

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Casualty Marking in One Hour Wargames

Everyone who is familiar with Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames will know that, whatever the period of the rules, a unit can take 15 hits before it is rendered hors de combat.  I usually play solo and therefore I have keep track of the status of all the units on the table, which is a bit dull. So what to do?

The d4 casualty counters in action. You can see the combination of lost bases with the dice hits allowing the units to be visually worn down

My OHW units are formed of 6 DBx bases set in two rows of three.  As a game progresses, whenever a unit takes 5 hits or more it loses a base from the rear rank.  By taking from the rear rank the frontage is maintained (this is pretty key to the rules) but by keeping at least one base in the rear rank, the unit's depth can also be maintained.  And to keep track of the hits taken by units before losing a base I use d4 dice sitting behind the damaged unit.  I was pleased to find a dozen d4 for £2.99 on Amazon, helpful as most OHW scenarios feature 6 units per side.

Not the most revolutionary change to OHW but it works for me!

The Battle of Dundoon

I have managed to fight the first battle of my OHW campaign.  As I mentioned in my previous post I have randomly selected 6 scenarios from the book and pre-selected the forces for a Pike and Shot campaign, in particular the English Civil War.  And due to the proliferation of Swordsmen infantry units in the Neil Thomas rules, it had to be Scots (complete with Highlanders) against Parliamentarians.

Scenario 4  - Take the High Ground

Sir Vernon Cottar, Scottish General in the Borders was aware of the threat from the south. Cromwell had been installed as the Lord Protector and Lord Thomas, Lord Lieutenant of the Northern Marches saw an opportunity to deal a blow against the recalcitrant Scots. And so he moved North quickly to take Cottar by surprise, only to find the wily Scot had placed a holding force on the hill not far from the Border town of Dundoon.

The battlefield after the first English move

The aim of this scenario is to hold the hill at the end of the 15th turn, being the hill on which the Scots have placed two infantry regiments.

The two Scottish regiments on the key objective
The English advanced rapidly with the aim of sweeping the Scots advanced guard away and then holding the hill against the rest of Scottish army.  The single English cavalry unit was sent up the road to delay the Scottish advance.

For much of the battle things seemed to go well for the English, although the Scottish advanced guard put up a stiffer resistance than expected, not helped by many of the English units running out of shot (too many low rolls for the ammo check).

A panoramic view of the battlefield as the English sweep across the hill while on the right flank the English cavalry is about to be flanked by some Highlanders
But gradually the main Scottish army arrived at the front and began to turn the tide.  The English cavalry on the right flank were attacked to front and flank and were eventually routed.  On the left flank the greater hand to hand fighting prowess of the second Highlander unit took down an infantry regiment.  And while it in turn was swept away by the English firepower cavalry (reiter) that had swept across the hill, this just gave time for the remaining Scottish infantry regiment to close on the hill and  blow away the two English regiments.
The English reiters are about to strike the Highlanders in the flank.  While they win in the end, the Scottish reiters manage to pull away and shoot down the English horse
The last  act was the final Scottish infantry regiment on the hill holding off the last of the English horse, routing it from the field.

Next, Cottar will move into England to exact his revenge.

This was a scenario which hung in the balance right to the end.  I thought the Parliamentarians were going to win but they were just worn down enough to fail at the end.  Firepower is king in this game and the Parliamentary forces ran out of shot pretty early in the game, while the Scots kept some firepower to the end (luck of the dice).  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Once more unto the Challenge dear friends!

Well, I knew the 6 by 6 Challenge was going to be hard to find the time to do it, but I hadn't quite realised how hard it was going to be! The opportunity to play something over the New Year period and slightly after was clearly designed to give me false hope!  A combination of my son's 18th birthday celebrations (a small marquee and all the trimmings) followed immediately by a trip to the US (business not pleasure) and various other comings and goings put paid to any more than the two rather interesting games of Four Against Darkness played so far.

But enough of that back sliding I hear you cry!  Rather than give in now (far too early for that sort of thing) I need to plan out some games so that when the opportunity arises I can take full advantage.  I have pre-determined the six scenarios and forces from Neil Thomas's seminal "One Hour Wargames" (OHW) which I will play following the simple campaign rules that appear in the book - these are less campaign, more a way of linking scenarios together and encouraging some sort of connecting narrative but they suit my purpose.

So here's the plan, with exception of the period, all choices were made with the assistance of dice throws.

Period: Pike and Shot.  Thomas's liking of swordsmen in these rules seems to point more towards sword and buckler men of the 16th Century than my more preferred English Civil War.  However, if I were to go more for Cromwell's campaigns in Scotland I am sure I would be allowed some creative licence to bring in some Highlanders who would fit the bill.

1. Scenario 4 - Take the High Ground

Red   3 Infantry    1 Reiter    2 Swordsmen
Blue  3 Infantry    2 Reiter    1 Cavalry

2.  Scenario 7 - Flank Attack (2)

Red   3 Infantry    2 Reiter    1 Cavalry
Blue  4 Infantry    1 Reiter    1 Cavalry

3.   Scenario 14 - Static Defence

Red   3 Infantry    2 Reiter    1 Cavalry
Blue  4 Infantry    1 Reiter    1 Swordsmen

4.   Scenario 20 - Fighting Retreat

Red   3 Infantry    1 Reiter
Blue  4 Infantry    1 Reiter    1 Cavalry

5.   Scenario 24 - Bottleneck

Red   2 Infantry    1 Reiter    1 Swordsmen
Blue  4 Infantry    1 Swordsmen   1 Cavalry

6.   Scenario 26 - Triple Line

Red   2 Infantry    1 Reiter    1 Cavalry
Blue  4 Infantry    1 Reiter    1 Swordsmen

That's about it for now.  Let's see if I make a bit progress on this in due course!