The English Civil War, Pike & Shotte, 28mm
A few weeks ago I agreed to play David Imrie this week, in an English Civil War game. At the moment he only has a small Royalist army – my figures are Parliamentarian – but we were joined by Iain McDonald and Jack Glanville, who brought along their own Covenanter figures. So, in our game the Royalists pretended to be New Model Army troops for the evening, and joined forces with my own army. That gave us six regiments of foot a side, in two brigades, supported by four regiments of cavalry and a regiment of dragoons, backed up by a gun battery.The Covenanters had a similar-sized army, only they had one less regiment of cavalry. All our foot regiments had around 48 figures in them – a block of pikemen and two “sleeves” of musketeers. Cavalry units were 12 figures strong. We played the game on a relatively open tabletop, fringed by a few small copses, on an 8×6 foot table.Dave, who commanded the New Model Army left began with a blunder – a big one. His infantry brigade promptly turned about and marched off the table, leaving a big gap in our line. It would take three turns before these troops got back to their starting positions. To cover this disaster Dave launched his two regiments of cavalry forward, one of which which smacked into Iain’s right-hand regiment. A unit of Scots lancers promptly counter-charged, and soon the fight turned into a swirling mass of horseflesh, with a few blue-bonneted musketeers getting trampled underfoot.Over on our right the two sides also advanced their cavalry, who met in a narrow valley with wooded hills on one side and a copse on the other. Here the Covenanting horse were comprehensively routed – Cromwell’s Ironsides are much better troopers – and so the Coventanters – Jack in this case – was forced to screen his flank with one of his infantry regiments, which slightly weakened his centre.That actually wasn’t much of a problem as the New Model guns were far less effective at long-range shooting than their Scottish counterparts. My own infantry had moved to the left of that small copse, and began its advance with two regiments forward and a third in reserve. My left-hand unit – Pickering’s regiment – began to take casualties from the Scottish guns, and a succession of demoralisation results stalled their advance. Eventually they lost half of their musketeers from this effective long-range shooting.Meanwhile the Covenanters were advancing on their own right – taking advantage of that big gap in our line. this could have been serious, but one regiment pointedly refused to advance for a few turns, leaving the other to face the returning New Model infantry and our guns. It was steadily whittled down by English fire, and it too lost a sleeve of musketeers before falling back. The Scottish infantry on Iain’s right flank also retired, having had enough of being ridden over by both sides. Eventually Vermuyden’s regiment drove back the Scottish lancers, and the New Modelled horsemen pulled back to regroup, before renewing the fight.It was at that stage that the game sort of petered out. On club nights we have around three hours to play a game, but for various reasons it took us the best part of an hour to set up and get going. Even then the game kept on being stalled as players left for cigarette breaks, to go to the bar or to wander off and chat with their mates. Therefore Bill Gilchrist, who was umpiring declared the game to be a draw.It probably was, but I think the advantage lay with the New Model Army, and we would probably have won a victory if the game had gone on. Still, it was an enjoyable little game, and gave us a chance to re-acquaint ourselves with the rules. David and Iain are laying on an English Civil War game at the Claymore show on 1st August, and so this was a chance for them to iron out some of the rules problems bad basing needs before the big event. For the rest of us it was just nice to get our Civil War toys unto the table.