I used the same deployment as before, but tried a different plan for the Parliamentarians. Instead of pushing the cavalry forward to their inevitable doom at the hands of the dashing cavaliers, the plan was to sweep the infantry out into a line and roll over the Royalists, forcing their superior numbers of cavalry to attack the pike-blocks head on. The cavalry would skulk to the rear, ready to plug gaps or exploit opportunities.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, in the first game it was mostly the Earl of Northampton being all over the place, rallying and organising his men. Royalists units would start to waver, and he'd bet there, waving his sword and probably laughing in a jovial way, urging them back into the fight. Lord Brooke couldn't really compete.
The Parliamentarian right collapsed after a spirited cavalry counterattack, the Royalist centre was barely troubled and things were looking good on their right as well. Parliament lost four units. The Royalists lost nothing.
I realised that the command rules probably made it too easy to rally hits off units. So I decided to limit rallying to one hit per unit per turn, plus a change in ammunition state as well if the command roll was made for that. This would allow a commander to slow the degradation of their units, but not reverse it if they were under constant pressure.
With this in mind I set the game up again. Between the two games was collecting my son from the station, eating home-made pizza and watching an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'.
Parliament went for the same plan as before. The Royalists held off on the counterattack until the last minute, so their infantry could provide some support to the horse.
With Lord Northampton's enthusiasm curbed by the rules changes a little, the Royalists found their work cut out for them. That's not to say it wasn't a close game. Parliament had its better quality infantry on the flanks, where they could blunt the cavalry attacks, so the raw infantry had to do its best in the centre. Inevitably it faltered and crumbled, but as it did so the Parliametarian cavalry swept through, pistols blazing. Before the Royalists could regroup and recover the enemy cavalry was everywhere. The dragoons fled, and although the Royalist gunners put up an amazing fight, they were overwhelmed as well. With four units lost the Royalists had to roll their army morale; they failed it. Lord Brooke lost three infantry units, though; had the Royalist morale not failed they could have probably taken out another Parliamentarian unit to force them to take a test.
I think I now have the basic mechanisms and factors of the game sorted now, so the next step is to actually write up the rules.