Thursday, 30 April 2020

Return To Ripple

For our Thursday evening game this week Catherine and I replayed my Ripple Field Portable Wargame scenario. She took the Parliamentarians, whilst I had the Royalist attackers.

Once again I led with the horse, swinging them out on my left where Catherine had deployed her horse. She held the hill with dragoons and shot, ignoring the useful enclosures that flanked it. Waller positioned himself with the artillery.

I charged, and inflicted a hit on the Parliamentarian horse. It fell back.

Meanwhile my shot advanced, and took up positions at the foot of the hill. Catherine looked concerned.

More horse came in and charged Waller and his guns, but were repulsed. Milling in confusion at the foot of the hill, they were an easy target for the artillery, and took other hits from shooting, eventually falling back.

The Royalist shot poured fire into Parliament's men, but Waller's troops held firm. In the distance you can see Haselrig's horse coming out of reserve to support the other Parliamentarian unit.

With Haselrig holding back, I switched some of my horse to the centre, where it charged the dragoons on the hill. Being dragoons they fell back.

Reinforcements from Tewksbury arrived and took up positions in the village of Ripple.

On the Royalist right I failed to take the enemy guns. Despite good initiative rolls, my combat rolls were appalling. And I was taking numerous hits on my units. Meanwhile the defenders on the hill hadn't taken a single hit.

I got desperate and charged Haselrig's horse on my left. He fell back and took a hit, but my pursuit now left my flank exposed to the other horse. In the ensuing melee I inflicted another hit on Haselrig, but eventually my horse were routed.

My shot continued to make little impression on the Parliamentarian position.

Prince Maurice ordered a charge, hoping to drive the enemy off the ridge, but they still held. The Royalists fell back.

But the dragoons had fallen further back, and the flank of Waller's shot was exposed. I had a spare unit of horse, and rushed it into the gap. In the distance you can see the dragoons falling back beyond Ripple.

With the dragoons now away from the action, I brought back the horse that was pursuing them, and it hit the rear of Waller's shot. Royalist shot poured fire in them from the front. Slowly their will to fight was eroded. But very slowly.

The Royalists had now taken so many hits that they had to test morale to see if they would continue fighting. They did. A third unit of horse was brought up against the shot on the hill, and that was enough to break them. In addition the horse pursued into the flank of the now unsupported artillery, which was also overrun. Waller was captured.

And that was enough to break Parliament's morale as well. Despite holding Ripple Catherine failed her morale test, and the army quit the field.

In fact Catherine held a strong position around the village, with the relatively fresh dragoons (now returned) and the Tewksbury Foot both in cover.

After their success against the lead unit of Royalist horse, Haselrig had been content to hold Parliament's horse in position to the right of the hill.

The Royalists consolidated around the ridge. They had scored a pyrrhic victory, and their own troops were battered.

Parliament's troops were tenacious in this game, inflicting hits on me most turns, whilst I was unable to return the favour until right at the end.

I tried a small tweak to commanders in this game, although didn't really get to use all of it. Firstly when totalling the army's total SP (and therefore their breakpoint), a Commander counts as 1SP only. When lost a Commander counts as 1SP towards the breakpoint total. The player can bring them back at the cost of one action, but it must be the last action of their turn (this stops you bringing back the commander and immediately using him to get a +1 in combats you initiate).

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Ripple Field

I set up and played another ECW historical action this evening - the 1643 action at Ripple Field. I used information from Volume 1 of 'De Bellis Civille', a set of ECW scenarios for DBR written by Julian Lander and published back in 1997.

The action saw William Waller defending a hill just north of the village of Ripple against advancing Royalists under Prince Maurice. The order of battle were:

Royalists - Commander, 4 x Trained Horse, 2 x Trained Shot. These start off the board but can enter from Turn 1 along the road from the north, of the squares on either side.

Parliament - 1 x Veteran Horse (Haselrig), 1 x Raw Horse, 1 x Trained Dragoons, 1 x Trained Shot, 1 x Trained Artillery. They also have 1 x Raw Shot which can arrive along the road from the south on the turn on which the Parliament player rolls a 6. The artillery fires at -1 to reflect the fact that it was poorly sited.

(Waller was somewhat outnumbered in this battle and the OOB doesn't really reflect that. If I played it again, I'd probably reduce the Trained Shot in the main Parliament force to Raw to reflect the fact that it's not as large a unit as the Royalist counterparts)

Waller's troops start on the hill facing north, or in the enclosure to the east. I deployed the horse on the left, the shot and artillery in the centre and the dragoons in the field. Note that only the two green fields count as enclosures; the light brown ones are just for show. Haselrig's horse was deployed in reserve.

The Royalist horse led the advance, and swung out wide to their left to work their way around Parliament's flank. If Parliament were forced to take a morale test for losses, they would get a +1 for being in undisputed possession of the hill. If not, then they would get a +1 if they occupied the village of Ripple. A flank move would prevent them falling back to achieve this.

The artillery and dragoons fired on the horse as it advanced across their front. More Royalists appeared; some shot, led by Prince Maurice himself.

Firing broke out along the line, to little effect, as the final Royalist units appeared.

(Actually it's only whilst writing this that I've noticed that one of the Royalist horse never got deployed or, indeed, taken out of the box. So the Royalists fought the whole battle a unit down.)

The Royalist horse on their right launched a series of charges up the hill against its Parliamentarian counterparts, who counterattacked.

At this point, Waller got word that the Earl of Stamford's regiment was marching along the road to Ripple.

After stalling for a turn (random event) the Royalist horse on the left also got into action, attacking the dragoons in the enclosure.

The dragoons came under increasing pressure.

On the other flank Parliament's horse broke ...

... and the Royalists pursued up the hill and swung into the flank of the shot led by Waller.

Both Parliamentarian flanks were now under attack, making a withdrawal much harder.

Haselrig led Parliament's reserve into a counterattack, that shattered the disordered Royalist horse.

The lobsters then charged down off the hill onto Ripple field, where they hit the Royalist shot in the flank. The Royalists had been taking hits steadily from units on the hill ...

.. and broke, leaving Prince Maurice to be captured by Haselrig's men.

Haselrig followed this up with a sweeping advance into the other Royalist shot unit.

Things were now looking desperate for the Royalists, down a horse and shot unit, and with their leader captured, it looked like Parliament would win the day. But on Parliament's right repeated attacks on the dragoons' position in the enclosures had seen them routed.

And as the Royalist horse swung through the enclosures to outflank the artillery position on the hill, Waller panicked, and withdrew his shot unit back towards the village.

(This was a random event, and what a time for it to happen)

Unsupported, the artillery was overrun by the Royalist horse ...

... and it's removal meant that the other group of horse could now swing to the north of the hill and attack Haselrig's troops.

The casualties inflicted on Haselrig's unit were sufficient to take Parliament to its breakpoint. Without possession of the hill, nor of the village (for the reinforcements had never appeared on-table thanks to a lack of spare unit activations), Waller failed the roll, and the remains of his force fled the field.

I've not had a game of the ECW Portable Wargame decided by a random event in such a dramatic fashion before, and it was a fitting end to an interesting, if quick, game. I will certainly be playing this one again, with all of the Royalist units. And, I've also just noticed, a missing hill. But that was never important to the game, so was no loss.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Army Showcase - Boxers and Foreign Devils

I was looking through my Flickr account the other day when I came across this set of photos I'd done about ten years ago of my 15mm Boxer Rebellion matched pair for 'Hordes of the Things'.

The basic lists for these armies can be found on Page 77 of the v2.1 of the rules, so I won't repeat them here. The lists also have the notes on the various abilities attributed to the troops by Chinese writers at the time.

Tigermen and musketeers. Although historically the Tigermen appear to be skirmishers of a sort, I run them as warband, because they look like they ought to be. The Imperial musketeers are shooters. All of these figures are from Irregular Miniatures.

Peking Boxers. They were said to be 10' tall and bulletproof. I used 25mm figures from Irregular's Ancient Chinese range for these sword-armed heroes. Flanking them are the rank and file. They are based as hordes, and that's how the list does them and how I originally ran them. However the army performed badly against its historical foe with hordes, so these days I run them as warband, albeit on a very deep base. Again the figures are from Irregular Miniatures.

The Boxer commander is also a warband, and is based as such. More Irregular Miniatures.

The feature elements of the army are the Red Lantern Auxiliaries; women possessed of awesome magical powers. This one can fly so is a ... flier. She's a 20mm figure from Atlantic's Maoist Chinese set (yes, they did such a thing). She was originally seated in a rickshaw, which brings us to ...

... the other Red Lantern. I left her in her rickshaw. She's the army's magician.

Finally the army can call on the aid of Guandi, the God of War in his golden armour. Guess what he is. Aside from being an Irregular Miniatures 25mm Chinese general.

Opposing the Boxers are the Foreign Devils. These are primarily from Tabletop Miniatures' Boxer range. I wanted to do one element to represent each nationality involved, but I ran out of elements, so I'm afraid fans of the Germans and Austro-Hungarians will be disappointed.

These are the Russians and the Japanese. Solid and reliable, they are blades.

There are two elements of British troops, representing a mixed party of Royal Marines and sailors. Fearless, and always ready to bring the fight to the enemy, they are warband.

Less gung-ho are the Italian Bersaglieri and US troops. Skirmishers by nature they are classed as shooters.

The army's cavalry is provided by the Bengal Lancers. I think these are Tabletop figures, but I'm not sure if they originally had turbans or if I added them myself. Anyway, they are knights.

The general for the Foreign Devils supervises their artillery. But who are those ladies next to the gun? And why are they naked?

It was well-known that the Foreign Devils disrupted Boxer magic by means of naked women, so the army includes an element of naked women. they are from Peter Pig and are classified as a cleric.

The army actually includes a real-life cleric. This is Bishop Favier, who led the defenders of the cathedral in the north of Peking and was apparently the incarnation of a 200 year-old devil-prince. I generally run him as a paladin, but he would work as a hero as well. I have no idea of the origin of this figure; I think it was in a mixed bag I got on a bring-and-buy.

To be honest I find that the Foreign Devils generally get the better of most games. More so when the Boxers were bulked out with hordes, but still with them as warband. I think their troops combine together better, and with both a paladin and a cleric they can pretty much nullify the Boxer's magician  for the entire game; for the Boxers to remove both causes of magical disruption they pretty much have to eliminate the Foreign Devils' army. One possibility is to run the Bishop as a cleric, but drop the element of naked women (using the figures elsewhere in the army) and add 4AP of new troops.

Still, these armies have seen good service over the years, particularly the Boxers, who predated the Foreign Devils by a while.
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