Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Campaign For Causton

In a previous post I raised the possibility of playing an ECW mini-campaign using my paper ECW armies and my (now heavily modified) version of the rules from One Hour Wargames. During the week I sketched out some ideas, and thought I'd share them in this post, before starting the actual games.

Not All Villages Shown
I decided to run it in the fictional county of Midsomer, since my early game reports were set there. Once again the Royalist Lord Standing will take the field against his Parliamentarian rival, Sir Thomas Barnaby against a backdrop of colourfully-named villages. 

Here's how I see it working. One side (the Defender) holds Causton for King/Parliament. The other side (the Attacker) is campaigning to take the town. The campaign will consist of at least four battles, fought in four phases. 

Phase 1 consists of a single battle. The fickle town of Causton will declare for whoever wins this battle. That side will become the Defender. The losing side becomes the attacker.

Phase 2 will cover a series of  initial skirmishes, as the Attacker attempts to gather supplies and build support for their advance on Causton. If the Attacker wins a game in this phase, the campaign advances to Phase 3. If the Attacker loses three battles in this phase, then the whole country will declare for the other faction, the campaign is over and the Defender wins.

Phase 3 covers the advance on Causton itself. If the Attacker wins a battle in this phase, then the campaign proceeds to Phase 4. If the Attacker loses two battles in this phase, then their army is scattered, and they conceded Causton to the opposition. The Defender wins.

Phase 4 is the siege of Causton. This phase consists of one battle, based around an attack on part of the town's defences. The winner of the battle controls Causton, and wins the campaign.

Each Phase will have a number of specific scenarios assigned to it from ‘One Hour Wargames’. Each scenario will only be played once. If you roll one which has already been played, roll again, unless all scenarios have been played already.

Phase 1 - The First Battle

Pitched Battle 1
Pitched Battle 2

Causton declares for the winner of this battle, who becomes the Defender for the rest of the campaign.

Phase 2 – Initial Skirmishes

Fighting Retreat
Defence In Depth
Control The River

Phase 3 – The Advance on Causton

Flank Attack 1
Surprise Attack
Double Delaying Action
Take The High Ground

Phase 4 – The Siege of Causton

Fortified Defence
Botched Relief
Twin Objectives

As you can see, that the campaign will consist of a minimum of four battles. Assuming every game is a win for one side or the other then it will run to a maximum of seven games, but some scenarios do allow for the possibility of a draw. In the event of a draw, neither side counts as having won or lost, and another scenario is played.
At the start of each battle. Roll basic forces for each side assuming six units. Then roll for for unit traits (see below).

Both sides then roll a number of dice equal to the number of units they have in the scenario to determine unit quality (see below), and choose which of their units will receive which quality, subject to a few restrictions (again, see below).

In Phase 1 decide who is the Red player and who is the Blue player randomly. In Phases 2 and 3, the last side to win a battle decides which side they want to be. In Phase 4, the Defender will be be the one defending the town/villages. Some scenarios give a side only four units. In this case the player may choose which two of their units are dropped, except that they must drop one unit of Pike and Shot  and one of Horse/Dragoons/Artillery, and can only opt to drop more than one raw unit  if it is not possible to reduce the force otherwise.

Unit Traits

Roll a D6 for each Pike and Shot, Dragoon and Horse unit as below, adjusting the score as necessary.

Pike and Shot – 1-2 Pike Heavy 3-4 Balanced 5-6 Shot Heavy (+1 Parliament, -1 Royalist, +1 Game 5 onward, +1 Defender in Causton)

Horse – 1-2 Dashing 3-4 Normal 5-6 Disciplined (+1 Parliament, -1 Royalist, +1 Game 5 onward)

Dragoons (First rolled unit only) – 4-6 Replace with Artillery (-1 Royalist, +1 Defender in Causton)


Roll a number of dice equal to the number of units the side has in the scenario. Assign each to a unit, subject to the restrictions below.

1-2 Raw 3-5 Regular 6 Elite 

Parliament: The first Raw quality assigned must be a Horse if one is present. 

Royalist: The first Elite quality assigned must be Horse if one is present. The first Pike and Shot graded Elite must be Pike-Heavy if one is present. 

Both: Dragoons and Artillery cannot be graded Elite unless no other units are available. 

After all quality is assigned, the loser of the previous battle determines a random unit. Unless it is already Raw, that unit is downgraded one quality level. If it is a Raw unit, the other player may upgrade a random unit, unless that unit is Elite, in which case no changes are made.


I have made a few assumptions in the campaign, some of which may not be based on fact, since I'm no expert on this period. I have assumed that Royalist horse tends towards impetuosity, and that Parliamentarian horse behaves itself, with both sides becoming more controlled as time advances. The Royalist foot is assumed to have less access to firearms, so tend towards higher pike ratios, whilst Parliament has more shot. Again, the number of shot increases for both sides as time advances, and in the final scenario access to the armoury of Causton gives an advantage in both possession of shot and of artillery. The timeline reflects a possible timeline for local forces in the war; both sides meet in an enthusiastic early 'it'll be over by Christmas' clash. One side consolidates their position, and the other side campaigns to oust them from their county town until either they capture it, or perform so badly that they give up.

It's always a struggle in any campaign to avoid the 'death spiral', where a losing side becomes increasingly less likely to win battles, thus perpetuating a cycle of loss. But there should be some reward or penalty which carries over from one game to the next. In this campaign the winner of a scenario gets to choose which side they will be. Since this is done after forces are decided, they can pick the side which offers the most advantage to the troops they have. In addition there is a small quality penalty given to the losing side, but not enough, I hope, to seriously hinder their chances.

Anyway, at the time of writing I have actually played the first game in the campaign. But that will be the subject of a future post ...


  1. Love the map. In my original home in Warwickshire, and in nearby counties, you actually get villages with names like that. My favourite was Mousley End, to which (as my mother put it) there must be a tale attached.

    I also love your paper armies setup. Why bother painting figures, a little voice is whispering in my ear. Definitely going to give it a go. One question, though: how big a board (battlefield) do you use with your modified OHW rules?


    1. My units are on bases 3" wide, so depending on my mood I use one 18" or 24" square. The OHW scenarios are for units on 4-6" frontages on a 3' square board, so I work at roughly half scale.

      I agree about village names; the ones in Midsomer are quite typical of some areas.

    2. I thought you had previously said you used 60mm bases. Have you changed sizes? Also, how big are your paper figures, roughly? Are they, for example, about 10mm scale, or 15mm, or ...?

    3. You're right - sorry. They are 6cm bases. Not sure where 3" came from.

  2. Very well thought out, I will follow with interest. Last week I bought Warlord Games' newly released 'To Kill A King', so my interest is high.

  3. Fascinating stuff mate! Clearly well thought out and with sensibly defined goals it's much more likely you'll play out to a conclusion which is hard to achieve with campaigns I always find.

    From my understanding of the period your assumptions are pretty sound and should provide a good reflection of the difference between the protagonists in game terms.

    Really looking forward to seeing this unfold. I suspect I will be pinching your thoughts for a future campaign of my own!

  4. Not an expert by far, but your assumptions are about what I'd have gone with.

  5. They certainly reflect what I suspect most of us who aren't ECW buffs would think Royalists and Parliamentarians ought to be like.

  6. Your campaign system seems ideal for both the ECW period and a manageable series of linked games. I'll certainly be using many of your ideas for my own games. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    1. It's a modified version of The Quito Campaign I did with my South American Wars of Liberation armies a couple of years ago, and has elements of my GNW Road To Poltava campaign to. It's helpful to have some simple campaign frameworks, onto which you can bolt period chrome.


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