Monday 15 April 2024

Simple ECW Rules

A couple of years ago I had a go at the very simple two-page rules in 'Wargame The English Civil war' (which I assume were , like the more detailed rules, written by Andy Callan). They gave a quite fun and quick game and I liked some of the mechanisms. However they are very limited in their scope, and they are designed to simply introduce the idea of wargaming - moving troops, fighting, shooting and morale - to beginners. They have no rules for terrain, the troop types are limited and (obviously) there's a number of situations you can get that aren't covered by the rules as written.

The other day I got the rules out, had another read-through and scribbled a few ideas into them for some terrain effects, as well as adding in dragoons (which are the main missing troop type).

I set up an uneven battle as well. The basic game gives each side one gun, four foot and four horse units. In my game I gave Parliament and extra horse and foot unit, whilst the Royalists substituted a dragoon for one of their horse but also has some hedgerows and a hill on which to base a defensive position.

Parliament advances, whilst the Royalist dragoons take the hedgerows that link the Royalist centre to its right wing.

Parliament had superiority in horse on both flanks, but the Royalists still got stuck in. Actually there's no advantage in teh rules for initiating the attack aside from deciding where the fight will take place.

Puffs of smoke represent units that have fired. This happens before movement and units which fire can't move.

In the foreground you can see where the Parliamentarian horse has attacked the Royalists.

As Parliament's troops got closer to the Royalist positions there was a lot more shooting.

You need a 6 to hit in this game, and most units roll two or three dice when shooting or in melee. If at long range or in other sub-optimal circumstances you need to confirm any hits made as well. So hits are hard to score. However the Royalist dragoons managed to get two hits on an advancing Parliamentarian foot unit.

Hits cause a morale test at the end of the turn. This is on a single D6, and can cause a rout even on one hit. Units are very fickle when it comes to morale. A unit of Parliamentarian horse ran away.

But then the Royalist horse did as well.

On both flanks.

On the Royalist right one horse unit was now outnumbered two to one (a situation the rules don't cover and which I still haven't resolved to my satisfaction), whilst on their left Parliament's horse had free-reign.

Parliament assaulted the hedge-line, and the dragoons ran straight away.

The surviving Royalist horse also gave up at this point.

A side loses when they have lost half of their units (discounting artillery). So those loss of three horse and the dragoons saw the Royalist army give up. Their foot was still looking strong, but both flanks were compromised. 

Parliament would have broken on five units lost, and in fact lost two horse and a foot unit. They were also suffering badly in the centre, and could well have lost a couple of units in the next turn or so, so if the Royalists had hung on for a little longer they may have scraped a victory.

I scribbled lots of notes in the rules, and now need to go back and work through each section. There's a lot of things I want to play around with. I'm still not clear exactly how leader benefits work, for example, and may scrap what's written in favour of something easier to follow and more intuitive. But the core of the rules seem pretty solid and I very much enjoyed the game. 


  1. Good stuff. Do these rules give a different game “feel” when compared, say, to your own ECW rules? If so, in what circumstances would you decide to select whichever set of rules? TBH I have some small 2mm forces for the ECW, but it’s rare they made it onto the tabletop/battlefield. ☹️

    1. Yes, there is a slightly different feel. And I tend to switch rules according to mood; it's fun try try games with different sets and sometimes ideas for one will flow from games with another. All rules have their advantages and limitations.

      I have another set I want to try, but not sure when I'll get a chance to give them the attention they deserve in the next few weeks.

  2. This looks like an interesting project, some times the portable rules do feel a bit restrictive and make you just want to break free and go 'old school'!!

    1. I do already have my One Hour Wargames variant if I want to get 'off the grid' :)

  3. I must revisit that book! I look forward to seeing your adaptations of the two page rules, but hope you will not have to increase the page count dramatically. It will be interesting to see how they compare with your own OHW ECW variant which I like very much.


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