As a brief introduction about myself I have been a wargamer for 35 years as well as member of the Sealed Knot for 15+ years, this society is the largest and oldest re-enactment society in Europe and we present battles and other elements of the English Civil War.
I have fought for the King against the base rebels and religious fanatics for this time as a musketeer, dragoon and artilleryman (and I also ride) the following rules alterations are those I use based on my understanding of the application of the drill and weapons of the period and my practical experience compared to the version 4 rules on the GMT website.
I have tried to explain why I made these changes so you can decide for yourselves if they feel correct to you.
Please use them or disregard them as you wish.
Earl of Northampton’s Regiment Of Foote
Banbury Castle Garrison
GOD SAVE THE KING!
My major observation regards the use of formation status in the game particularly when coupled to the length of game turns (20 minutes of real time) but there are other areas where I use changes
The game currently requires the active direction of officers to effect formation changes. I believe this is wrong because it was (and is) the NCO’s responsibility to attend to formation integrity in all circumstances in which a unit finds itself. This is their absolute duty and requires no input of any sort from the officers of the unit concerned or indeed higher level officers. Accordingly I regard formation maintenance and recovery as a function of the movement process as it requires no expression of direct orders to be set in motion.
This view based on my own experience makes a significant difference to the way the game plays but in my subjective view results in a more accurate portrayal of the flow of battles of the period.
Heavy Inf was slow and cumbersome but it is not nearly as fragile in retaining it’s formation as the game implies (nor is the cavalry). Both moved slowly most of the time to maintain formation integrity and were/are generally successful in doing so.
Changing formation is regarded as difficult in some books about the period and in the rules of this game but I think this is an error which arises from early reports of this being slow (which it is) and the drill books being written in a style that a modern author would not use, being converted into difficult (which it is not). As long as your sergeants, corporals, file leaders etc know their job and are properly distributed the recruits in the ranks just have to follow the back of the man in front and the changes flow. You only need 30% of your infantry to know what to do in order for the complete block to operate smoothly.
Moving into and out of open order is fairly simple, you just spread out and reform much like opening and then closing your fist, you can do both while marching (crucially there is no need to stop moving) these actions are controlled by the sergeants etc. as above, they do not take 20 minutes as the rules imply, it is more like 5 minutes at the most and in game turns is relatively insignificant. Therefore to move into or out of Open Order Infantry units expend 1MP and cavalry units expend 2 MP (based on 5 minutes = 25% of a Game Turn length).
Deploying from column to line (once in the battle area you would not switch into column) is described in the rules as very difficult and requires an hour of game time to achieve transitioning through Column via Formation Broken up to Formation Normal. This is completely wrong. If you look at the drill books of the period (Barriffe in TACW’s bibliography is a good example) you will see that it is a straightforward and controlled transition, it takes some time but it is not difficult.
The column marches in battle formation, in that the first division of musket who will be the right wing of the line are in front, the pike follow and the second division of musket who will form the left wing are the rear. The officer decides where he wants the line to form and takes up position. Where he is standing will be the right hand of the line.
If you imagine the column as being made up of 9 six sided dice (3 for the musket in front, 3 for the pike in the middle and 3 for the left wing musket bringing up the rear) the first dice takes up position by the officer, the second dice moves in beside the first dice to it’s left and then all the other dice move up in turn taking position to the left until you have your nine dice in a line (to return to column the right hand die marches off and the others then march on behind in turn).
These moves from column to line takes up to 10 minutes depending on the size of the unit. Assuming a game turn is 20 minutes of real time then it follows a unit will spend half of it’s enhanced MP allowance to change to line from column.
The pattern for Cavalry and Light Inf. is the same
The effect of a Column being attacked is overstated in my view. Remember that the column is actually marching in battle formation, when attacked it need only halt and face left or right as appropriate to be correctly positioned so it will not automatically be Formation Broken.
However there is a weakness in this position that does require attention.
A unit is designed to have an interior latticework of experienced soldiers to hold it together. Looking at the dice example above will demonstrate this.
When the Column deploys into Line it is the front rank of every die combined that forms the front rank of the unit and in that form the internal lattice is complete.
However where a column has to face left or right it is the relevant side files of the dice which make up the front rank, clearly the majority of these men were intended to be within the unit not on it’s outer edges and could contain a high proportion of new recruits, in addition the experience lattice is broken.
There is therefore a possibility (but not a certainty) that the unit will break.
In these circumstances perform a Morale Check when the unit is fired on by pistol, musket or case shot and when it is the subject of Close Assault even if it has already checked because of fire.
The check is made before resolution of the fire and close assault.
If the unit fails it becomes Morale Shaken and Formation Broken.
The impact on an ‘unlucky’ column that fails both checks (if appropriate) will be that it is unable to return fire being Formation Broken and will then be close assaulted as Morale and Formation Broken.
The difference between Formation Shaken and Formation Broken is far greater than the difference between Formation Normal and Formation Shaken. In effect the deterioration of Formation is a geometric progression not arithmetic ( 1 + 2 + 4 not 1 + 1 + 1).
A Shaken Formation is still recognizable and functions albeit with some negative penalties in combat but not movement. A Broken Formation is a mob that does not function at all. The amount of time to recover from these different states differs according to the relative amount of work the NCO’s have to do (again this response is automatic, the NCO’s do not stand around admiring the view until a senior officer rides up and orders them to reform).
All Inf. to reform from Formation Shaken to Formation Normal costs 1 MP.
To reform from Formation Broken to Formation Normal takes an entire turn.
Cavalry. to reform from Formation Shaken to Formation Normal costs 3 MP.
To reform from Formation Broken to Formation Normal takes an entire turn .
So a unit Formation Broken can recover to Formation Normal in a single game turn (20 minutes of real time). I believe it is ‘right’ that a unit that is Morale Broken will take 20 minutes to regain a level of morale and then a further 20 minutes to regain Formation Normal.
A unit will not reform from Broken to Shaken as the process does not function in that way, the sergeants rebuild the formation as they require it to be, they do not transition through the halfway house of Formation Shaken.
My clear conclusion regarding formation changes is that they should properly be considered movement point issues and do not require actions of any sort and therefore all references to reform within the rules should be deleted and replaced by MP costs.
Recovering morale is a different thing entirely and it is the actions of the officers that make the difference (they have some uses).
In my view the TEC is too harsh in requiring formation hits. From my own experience I know that slopes, streams and marsh slow you down when advancing in battle formation but do not disorder the formation to any extent and the sergeants, file leaders etc quickly dress the ranks.
The slopes at Edgehill (where the battle was fought not the ridge above), Naseby and Marston Moor are quite gentle and present no obstacle to a unit. I have visited and walked them all and have fought on steeper slopes elsewhere which did not degrade formation cohesion as well as some that did.
For this reason I regard all slopes in Naseby/Edgehill/Marston as gentle slopes and delete the formation hit penalty for streams and marsh.
Expensive and mostly useless!
The artillery at Edgehill/Marston/Naseby etc. achieved nothing except for support at musket range when firing case shot. The description of the battles from those present make this abundantly clear and this pattern was common throughout the Civil War (siege artillery are a different discussion).
Please ignore any views of artillery you may have from Napoleonic times, these were not significant additions to the combat power of a British Army in the 1640’s…small calibre, low rate of fire, and poor mobility.
You can easily hold a 3lb ball in your hand, firing a few of these from a battery or a heavier ball every few minutes is not going to make any significant impact on a unit unless you are very very lucky.
To my mind using the existing artillery tables will give an a-historical result as the numerous Formation Hits which result were not observed at all in these battles.
Therefore treat all FH only results as a miss.
An MC result implies something serious has occurred to the target unit so add 1 SP loss.
At case shot range (one hex) the die roll modifier should be +4.
Artillery firing into the flank of a unit or head of a column at any range above one receive a +4 modifier (this replaces the column modifier) it is not cumulative with the case shot modifier.
As an offensive battlefield weapon the artillery had little utility, it is only in defence at short range that they add anything. Never leave artillery stacked on it’s own, they need infantry support in the battle line. Trying to fend off half a dozen hairy pikemen with a barrel wormer is not a winning proposition as I know to my discomfort.
Delete the cavalry sidestep 10.8.6 as the FH only result no longer exists.
HEAVY INFANTRY MUSKET FIRE
The use of musket fire is heavily geared to the smooth running of a conveyor belt system within the musket block. The front rank fires and retires to the rear and begins to reload, the second rank steps up and fires and then retires to the rear and so on and so on. As long as the formation holds the conveyor functions and the rate of fire continues (3 ranks per minute) but if the formation is shaken the rate and volume of fire is sharply degraded, if the formation is broken all fire ceases.
All fire is actually this conveyor system (apart from salvee) so the reaction fire rule is changed. All movement is broadly considered to be simultaneous
An Infantry unit may only reaction fire once during an opposing players individual wing activation (this restriction does not apply to cavalry who may use both shots).
Remember an infantry units single die roll for reaction fire actually represents the unit firing for a considerable period of time.
The following extreme example demonstrates why I make this change.
A single hex Heavy Inf unit X is the non phasing player. Three enemy single hex Heavy Inf units are in MP range (A,B &C) and activated.
Unit A moves adjacent, A fires by introduction and X fires. B&C move adjacent effectively at the same time as A and then fire at X with no reaction fire. If X were allowed to reaction fire at B&C as in the existing rules it would effectively mean that the musketeers in X were able to make the firing conveyor work at three times the speed than those in A,B&C could manage, obviously illogical.
Alternatively if you assume that A,B&C move up one after the other so that X can turn it’s fire on each of them then it means unit A chooses to cease fire when B moves adjacent to X and then both A&B stand by watching whilst C and X exchange fire, this is also illogical.
My conclusion is that X fires once and A,B&C fire once
X fires 3 times, A fires 3 times, B fires twice and C fires once.
Personally I believe the first option is correct.
Firing To The Flank.
Musket blocks are designed to fire to the front, the conveyor works that way but does not function at all to the flank. If required to fire to the flank only the 3 end files can bring their muskets to bear and they fire in rank, loading and firing in place. The volume of fire they can produce in one minute is significantly less than the fire volume to the front.
Take a musket block of 300 men part of a Heavy Inf unit of 1000 men as an example (300 musket on each flank plus 400 pike in the center). They form up 50 files wide and 6 ranks deep. This means that the 3 end files contain 18 men who can fire every 30 seconds to the flank. Therefore in one minute they will fire 36 balls. The musket block using the conveyor method will fire at the rate of 3 ranks a minute (because the ranks that step up have already reloaded). Therefore in one minute they will fire 150 balls. The disparity in fire volume is very clear.
If the unit is up to twice as large (as many units in the game can be) the disparity in fire volume becomes even more clear as the volume of fire to the flank does not change whilst that to the front grows significantly.
I believe therefore that the flank column on the Fire Table should be deleted as it overstates the fire potential. Instead use the Commanded Muskets Column with no modifiers for unit size or casualties.
Musketeers can load and fire every thirty seconds whilst moving in the conveyor, I know because I have to do it! In addition to my musket I own a pair of English Lock Cavalry Pistols, they are no harder to handle than my musket and I can comfortably load one of them on horseback when stationary or at the walk within one minute. The game implies it would take 40 minutes to reload two pistols. Since some pistols will be wheel locks and not flint locks and therefore slower to ready and to allow for the replacement of broken flints or pyrites the cost to load one pistol is 2 MP (5 minutes and this is slow).
The effect of this is that a cavalry unit under Charge Orders that has been in Close Combat in a previous turn and is Formation Shaken will be able to return to Formation Normal (3MP), reload both pistols (4MP) and then make the minimum one hex move toward the enemy required by Charge Order status. Basically they spend 20 minutes to reorder themselves, reload and get ready for action again and move off which feels about right to me (obviously they can get back in to action again sooner but without the advantage that reloaded pistols provide).
In Close Combat your Flank not your Rear is the worst place to be hit. Attacked to your rear the rearmost ranks simply turn round and take on the assault. When attacked from the Flank your front is reduced to 6 men who are outflanked and enveloped and whose morale drops very quickly. The impact of a flank attack is devastating, it is a bit like a column of dominos going down one after another and it is very difficult to form a solid line of men wide enough to halt such an assault. Having been on the receiving end of attacks from Flank and Rear I can attest to this difference only too well.
Amend the Close Combat Table. +2 for each Flank hex the defender is attacked from.
Artillery firing into the flank hexside get a bonus of +4. This is because your target instead of being 6 ranks deep is now anything form 30 to 100+ ranks deep and the cannon ball will have significantly more opportunity to cause casualties as it travels through those ranks.
Infantry and Cavalry firing into a Flank do not get a modifier. A soft lead musket ball will not carry through rank after rank of people like an iron cannonball.
The effect of Fire or Close Combat into the head of a column is the same as through a Flank hexside.
Units are slow, they have to be to maintain Formation. Therefore I limit units to one reaction movement per enemy wing activation. They are not designed to be able to switch about.
The exception to this is forming Hedghog, units can always make this attempt.
FORMATION STATUS CHANGES
Unit MP allowance is normal.
May not fire at all
May not initiate close combat
A unit in Hedgehog is totally immobile.
It cannot advance or retreat after close combat.
Ignore 1 hex retreat results.
If forced to retreat 2 hexes the Hedgehog collapses and the unit becomes Formation Broken.
To reform to Formation Normal from Hedgehog takes an entire turn (standard rules require an hour of real time to achieve this which is too long).
CHANGES TO CHARTS AND TABLES
Stream /Marsh. Delete the Formation hit.
Close Combat Table
+2 For each flank hex defender is attacked from
Delete Formation Broken
Delete Flank column
Delete Formation Broken
Delete FH when they are the only result.
MC + 1 SP
+4 Target is flank hexside/head of column
Range 1 = +4
Light Inf Table
Add ‘Heavy Inf Flank’ to Commanded Muskets Column.
Delete Formation Broken
+1 for SP>1 does not apply to Heavy Inf. nor do casualty points have a negative die roll modifier.
EDGEHILL ALTERNATIVE TERRAIN AND DEPLOYMENT
Whilst there is always uncertainty about precise details of deployment and terrain at this distance from the real events enough information is available about this battle to indicate that there are errors that have a real impact on this game and should be corrected.
The first problem relates to hedges, too many and in the wrong places. The following eye witness accounts clearly demonstrate that this is the case.
Parliament Left Flank
Ramsay the Left Wing Commander in a letter to Parliament stated……placed 300 musketeers in a hedge “which did Flanke the whole Front of the left wing”.
Three of his officers also stated “did also lay upon the left hand of the horse in a hedge two or three hundred musqueteers, for to Flanke the front of our Horse, and give fire to the enemies at their charging”
The official Royalist account of the battle states “It being perceived that the Rebels had placed some Musqueteers under a Hedge that crost the Field (that is from Parliament’s lines toward the Royalists), where the encounter was to be made, that flanked upon their left wing”.
There are further references in the same vein but it is clear that there should be a hedge to the immediate left of the left wing of Parliaments’ position which extends broadly towards the Royalists and that the Musketeers currently deployed in the rules to the left front of the cavalry are in the wrong position and should be behind the missing hedge. A similar deployment to that of Okey’s Dragoons at Naseby three years later.
To keep this change simple and to avoid marking your map just imagine a hedge starting between hexes 1902 and 1903 which parallels the stream 2 hexes away and extends to the map edge and then place the Musketeers in 1902,2002 & 2101 where they will flank the front of the horse.
I believe that all hedge hex sides and hedge lined road on the Royalist right should be ignored if they are not bordering hexes ending 00,01,02,03. All references to hedges on the right wing of the Royalist Army mention hedges to the right not to the right front. With the exception of the dragoons on the extreme right who drove the parliamentary Musketeers from the hedges and the Lifeguard (who were added to the line as a late addition after their officers threw a hissy fit at being left out of the charge) no report that I am aware of mentions the Royalist right encountering hedges.
The description of the cavalry advance is as follows:-“while they advanced the Enemy’s cannon continually played upon them, as did the small divisions of their foot which were placed in the intervals betwixt their squadrons, neither of which did in the least discompose them so much as to mend their pace. Thus they continued moving, till they came up close to the Enemy’s Cavalry”
It is significant that this account stresses that nothing caused them to mend their pace, if the hedges and hedge lined roads that are printed on the map were there this description of what took place could not have been written. I firmly believe that the right of the field was hedged but the ground between the main armies was not.
In addition the commander of The Lifeguard, Lord Stuart wrote afterwards that his unit had to “leap over 5 or 6 hedges and ditches” in their approach to the rebel horse. This unit as already mentioned was a late addition and to the extreme right of the line and the fact of the difficult terrain his unit faced was sufficient for it to be worth mentioning as something special to them.
Had such terrain faced the main body of the right wing it would certainly have been memorable and recorded.
Parliament Right Flank
Sir Richard Bulstrode (rode in the Prince of Wales Horse)……”upon their right Wing were some briars(hedge) covered with Dragoons.
James Duke of York…..”As for their right wing of horse……..drew up behind their foot……and lin’d the bushes with some dragoons to make a shew”.
The only hedge on this flank is too advanced to be the one mentioned. I think the dragoons are almost in the right place so I suggest adding a hedge between hexes 2021/2022/2023 and 2120/2121/2122 which neatly extends from the map edge to the ploughed field.
The dragoons then set up in 2021/2022/2023. Which puts them behind the hedge and obviates the need to extend a hedge into a ploughed field which is not something you will see very often!
In addition to the redeployment of the Musketeers and Dragoons above I believe the following changes should be made.
Holles Rgt.was ridden over by fleeing Parliamentary Horse on the left wing. In the game they are part of Ballard’s Rgt, for them to be in the right place for this to have occurred the unit needs to set up in 1607/08 (I appreciate this cannot happen under the game rules).
Royalist Cavalry…..the pattern of deployment of the cavalry should mirror that of the infantry in that there are gaps between the front line units which are covered by the second line. This pattern of deployment was the ‘ideal standard’ for the period. Accordingly the deployment hexes should be as follows although the practical impact on the game is minimal (with the exception of putting the Life Guard in the ’right’ place for their singular advance over the hedges).
1 Maurice 3108
Kings LG 3103
11 Maurice 3305
Clearly my version of the rules provides a different game experience to the original but is still broadly similar and (to my mind) is more ‘accurate’ although clearly this is subjective.
There are a multiplicity of books on this subject but if you want the best available then Edgehill, Marston Moor and Naseby by Brig.Peter Young remain unrivalled and for a modern update and overview All The King’s Armies by S.Reid will give you all you need.
If you are deeply ‘sad’ obtain a copy of Barriffe from your library, this will show you the detail of possible drill and formations available at the time which may well surprise you as well as straining your eyesight!