Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Action at Powick Bridge

It's ridiculously hot outside again today, so I thought that staying in where it's cool was a good plan. And if I'm indoors, what better way to pass the time than a game of something?

I had considered some HOTT - there's something I want to try out with one of my army pairs - but I fancied another go at an ECW Portable Wargame, and since that was already out on my gaming table, that's what I did.

I adapted a scenario for Powick Bridge in 1642, which saw Royalist and Parliamentarian cavalry forces bump into each other at the eponymous bridge near Worcester. Adapting the forces involved to the bases I had available I ended up with:

Royalist Advance Guard
1 x Raw Galloper
1 x Average Galloper

Royalist Main Body
1 x Commander (Prince Rupert, no less)
2 x Average Gallopers
1 x Raw Galloper

Parliament Advance Guard
2 x Raw Trotters
1 x Raw Dragoons

Parliament Main Force
1 x Commander
5 x Raw Trotters

Here's some of the terrain and initial setup. On the right the two units of the Royalist advance were set up in the fields. The Parliamentarian advance guard was crossing the bridge. The main Royalist force was on their baseline to the right, whilst the main Parliamentarian force had to roll to enter from turn 2 onwards needing a 5 or more.

All on table units were surprised. This meant that they couldn't move (except to retreat) or shoot, and if attacked in close combat fought at a -1. At the beginning of their side's activation each unit rolled a D6 - on a 5 or more the unit was no longer surprised and could act normally.

On the first turn only one Parliamentary unit recovered, and that was stuck behind the unit on the bridge. I decided that whilst the Portable Wargame allows interpenetration, a bridge would prevent this, so the unit's commander ranted and railed at the group in front of him still milling around in confusion.

A word about terrain. The river was impassable except at the bridge. The woods were impassable to all but the dragoons. The fields were assumed to be lined with hedges on all sides. These provided cover from for the dragoons, but not cavalry. Any close-combat attack across a hedge was made at -1. A unit crossing a hedge either into or out of a field stopped moving after crossing. This meant that they were a serious inconvenience to sweeping cavalry moves.

Parliament soon got its act together and pushed across the bridge, engaging the still disorganised Royalists in the fields.

Prince Rupert got his act together though, and led a counter-attack.

The Parliamentarians pushed forward with their superior numbers, whilst the Royalists tried to get themselves organised.

An overview of the battle. The Royalists were now mostly in action, and both sides were hotly engaged.

The lead Parliamentarian horse units were suffering badly, so were pulled out of the fight onto one of the flanks.

But an equally tired Royalist horse unit attacked them, destroying one, but then being scattered by its support.

In the centre Prince Rupert's horse fought valiantly, with support from the flank.

The supports drove forward and the Parliamentarian commander went down. I decided that whilst the 6SP allocated to a Commander was part of the Exhaustion Point calculation, loss of a Commander didn't count as points towards exhaustion. Otherwise loss of a commander pretty much ends the battle for one side straight away.

Whilst much of the Parliamentarian horse drove forward against the surviving Royalists, Rupert led a bold attack on the bridge itself, scattering all before him.

By now the Royalists had reached their Exhaustion Point, and began a withdrawal.

One unit fought off an attack by three times its number of Parliamentarian horse, inflicting hits on two of them.

Although exhaustion means that a unit cannot take offensive action, I reasoned that cutting your way back to your own baseline was allowed. And that's what Rupert did.

Driving down the table, he routed more Parliamentarian horse, causing them to go exhausted as well.

Since the Parliamentarian's aim was to move across the bridge and reach a Royalist supply train off-table, the fact that they were exhausted meant that they had really failed in their mission. However they held the field, so I classed it as a minor Royalist win.

The rules held up superbly, so I think I now have some workable cavalry factors in place. I house-ruled a few things which I will work into the main text; a unit fighting to its flank, for example, will not pursue if it wins a close combat. This seems obvious, but isn't explicit.

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