Saturday, November 24, 2018

Vales of Lyndhurst - rule set.

Early stages of the battle.  
Before recounting the action at Aldbury, as the Commonwealth Army of the North drives towards London, it seems here appropriate to run through some 'administrative' matters concerning this campaign.  First of all, I have persuaded myself of the inappropriateness of the 'working title' of the rule set I am using.  It is a kind of hybrid, incorporating ideas from Bob Cordery's grid war games, Memoir '44 (because I don't have Battle Cry or similar), and an idea I had a few years ago about using ordinary D6 dice in lieu of dice with horse, foot, gun etc symbols.  What I wanted was a very fast-play, simple rule set - a 'one brain cell' set, specifically for the Vales of Lyndhurst campaign.  So why not call it the Vales of Lyndhurst: Long Exciting Years - VOLLEY?
Battle between Commonwealth Horse and Royalist foot.
Eleventh Foot take a battering, but the Horse are thrown
Observant readers will have ... erm ... observed, that the figures used for this action are different from those seen in the Clydesdale action of two or three postings back.  Persuaded that the units looked better with more than 4 figures - which was a nod towards R.L. Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, actually - I went for my smaller plastics.  Most of these are Revell and ESCI, with the odd  Airfix figures (notably the Royalist 18th Light Horse) thrown in.    I went for 8-figure foot and 6-figure horse, with 2-figure gun crews.  I do think the appearance is the more pleasing.

Battle between Royalist dragoons and Commonwealth light horse.
Owing to the constricted space available for Commonwealth deployment - about one third of the force remaining off table at that - I looked into the possibility of 'stacking' units.  I allowed this in three instances only:
(1) two foot units in 'line' might be placed in tandem (one behind the other) in a single grid area;
(2) one foot unit may be placed behind one gun unit in a single grid area;
(3) Army (and other) commanders may be 'stacked' with any unit.
The first of these would be regarded a a column.

What could the effects of such stacking be?
1. If two foot units are in column (stacked), only the lead unit may be in close combat.
2. If the column moves in to contact and combat with enemy (i.e. in its own turn) it adds a D6 to its  combat dice allocation.
3. If the column is hit by distant shooting by artillery, or moving into contact with artillery, the hits and results received are applied equally to both units.
4. Except as provided in '3', close combat hits received are applied only to the lead unit; but forced retreats are applied to both.
5. A lead unit voluntarily retreating (after receiving hits) may pass 'through' (really, around) the rear unit in the same grid area to that behind.
6. An Army Commander 'stacked' with a unit adds 1 D6 to the unit's combat dice allocation.

I have to admit, these were fairly ad hoc.  The stacking was intended only for convenience, and the resulting columns intended for manoeuvre, rather than combat.  One likes to take a reasonable approach to completeness, though!
Royalist 2nd Dragoons charge the guns.  
 Off table reinforcements.
These were treated differently for the respective sides. 
The Commonwealth 'off table' reserves being immediately to hand, they could be brought onto the field at any moment of the 'Commander's' choosing.   The median number of units, upon which the unit activation die roll is based, was taken over the whole army.

The Royalist 'off table' reinforcements were held to be approaching the battlefield from some distance away.  Therefore:
1.  The median number of units was taken to be what was on the table to begin with, and would remain so until the reinforcements arrived.
2.  At the beginning of each Royalist turn, a die would be rolled, with a score of '6' required for the arrival of the reinforcements (five 'militia' battalions). [It is no 'spoiler alert' were I to tell you that the militia arrived on Turn 7].
3.  The median would at once increase in accordance with the augmentation in overall strength of the Royalist Army.
Later in the action: a but of a lull has descended, with the
Royalists still holding the line.
I have to admit that I don't think I have the artillery quite right.  The ranges seem to be a bit long; and I'm not sure about doubling the SP combat dice allocation for 'short'  ranges.  Manoeuvring and timing of artillery fire needs more thought.  The jury is still out on this.  What it brings me to, though, is figure, ground and time scales.

The arrival of reinforcements - both sides.
My unit organisations suggest 1 figure to 100 men.  I tend to use a rough (very rough) rule of thumb of 100 artillerymen for 4 guns (which really includes drivers, smithies, farriers and such like ilk, who really wouldn't be actual gun crew, but what would you?). As I have 2 gunners per gun, that suggests the Royalists had 16 cannon available, in two 8-piece batteries (companies).

Infantry battalions are therefore about 800 strong; cavalry regiments, 600.

In the Aldbury battle, the 8,400-strong Royalist army, with 16 cannon, was facing 14,400 Commonwealth troops, with 32 guns, though only 16 of the latter were immediately 'up'.  The Royalists were hoping for the timely arrival of 4,000 militia to redress at least some of the balance.

A certain amount of arcane calculation overlaid with that powerful mathematical technique called 'fudging' indicated a ground scale of a furlong (220 yards: or, very roughly, 200 metres) across the flats of the grid areas..  At 10cm on the table, that indicates a ground scale of 1:2000.

As it is my habit to calculate the time scale from the square root of the ground, this indicates a time scale of 1 turn to represent 45 minutes.  As I am using a unit activated IGoUGo system I feel this should be heavily 'rounded' each player-turn representing a half-hour, or each pair of turns to represent an hour.  Compromises, sure.  But I like to know, when I fudge, just what I am fudging around.

Unit Activation:
I'm starting to wonder about this.  I like the concept as offering a fine means of introducing a fog of war into solo games.  But I am finding that attacks are taking on a piecemeal look.  When I hit, I like to hit hard.  We'll leave this point open for the time being, and see how the action unfolded.

Post-Battle Army Reorganisation:

For the purposes of assessing losses after a battle, each strength-point lost represents 100 men no longer with the colours.  The battle losses are to be recorded accordingly.  After the battle, for each troop type lost, one die would be rolled as follows:
  1. Rolling for infantry, for each 4,5,6 return one infantry SP;
  2. Rolling for cavalry, for each 2,3 return 1 cavalry SP;
  3. Rolling for artillery, for each 1, return 1 artillery SP.
It will be observed that guns have a very good survivability in this rule set, but losses are commensurately hard to replace!


  1. Interestingly your unit sizes are almost identical to my Spencer Smith 30mm Volley and Bayonet Imagi-Nation armies; my cavalry however are 4 figures for HC and MC or 2 for LC. I have an extra gunner but that's due to there being 3 variants of gunner figures in the range. They weren't designed to fit a hex grid, although as I increasingly look at this for other periods it may be an option. At 80mm frontage they will comfortably fit my 4" hex mats.
    As part of this, I have acquired the Commands and Colors Napoleonic and AWI rules:
    The links for the Tricone set are not working for some reason, however you can get details of all the cards:

    The 2x sets have different dice; Tricorne has more retreat results.
    They are of course card driven, which I think has great possibilities for solo games.


    1. I have been sort of tempted to get 'Commend and Colours (I'd forgotten their name) but really just for the ideas. On the matter of different figure frontages for light and heavier horse, I've never really cottoned to that. Irregular lights, maybe.

      Having followed up your link I can see how the thing works but I'm wanting something simpler, without the cards. At the same time you want to be able to plan (even playing solo). My next posting will probably have something to say to that. Kaptain Kobold, below, has observations that are relevant this this topic.

    2. I forgot to thank you for the link. Thank you!

  2. I'm also pondering how to do the median units thing when you have off-table troops. I've seen one set (I forget which) where break points are based on all troops, even reinforcements that haven't arrived, simulating force holding on until reinforced. That would be the easy approach for a median-based activation game; the on-table force is slightly more active, but you don't have to adjust numbers as reinforcements arrive.

    One thing I have considered is always tying the appearance of reinforcements to spending activations, so whilst your on-table troops could be more active, you need to spend those bonus activations to actually bring more troops on.

  3. On the matter of off and on table troops, the difference in handling the Royalist and Commonwealth troops was that the former reinforcements began the day somewhat distant from the field, marching to the guns. The Commonwealth troops would have been deployed in the table had there been room (I didn't want to deploy them in the middle of a forest). It seemed to work - up to a point.

    But a difference I hadn't noticed until now was that the CW commander had to spend movement points to bring his reinforcements on the table, whilst the Royalist off-table troops simply appeared somewhere on the base line of hexes. Points had still to be spent moving them from there, though. Both however came in within a couple of grid areas from the 'Broad St' entry points.

    Again the proximity of the one and the separation of the other suggested the different unit and SP counts. Incidentally, in my earlier (Clydesdale) battle, I had separate unit and SP counts for the separate allied contingents, even though they were both on the field. That seemed to work quite well too. Fairly early on, the Commonwealth (I called them Confederation, there) became exhausted, but the French were able to carry on the fight, and came within an ace of scoring the victory.

  4. My Lord Archduke, what an interesting discussion. Furlongs. Furlongs! And fudging! Oh my, what can I say? Give me a lace coated gamer who knows what he fudges and fudges what he knows. (To paraphrase an old and honourable soldier.) Keep up the good work. Regards, Chris

    1. Cheers, Chris. I am old enough to know (many of) the old Imperial measures, and still young enough to remember them.

  5. My goodness, this brings me back to my very first wargaming attempts when I had not yet reached double digits of orbits around the sun. I used 8 infantry, 6 cavalry, 1 gun, on a square grid system. Rules not a patch on the elegant mechanisms you've developed but kept me engaged for hours. :)

    1. I can imagine the fun you would have had. I was well into my second lot of double digit solar orbits before I discovered miniatures war gaming was an actual thing. I used to play war games with various tokens and crude paper cut-outs - and draw battles - but never thought to draw up rules or anything. Marbles proved a great combat mechanism, though!

  6. I remember this now. I picked up a number of 1/72 Prussian sets I should drag out and finish, as well as AWI militia types.

    1. Hi Jacko -
      Looking at this again, I really want to resume this campaign, and the narrative too, some time. Two battles I have in mind: one in the West Country, and another attempt by the duke of Romney, now that Lyndhurst's manpower has been stripped down to provide some of the contingent at Aldbury, to attack the lands of his rival. That will probably be a semi-skirmish type of action. Maybe together we can formalise the rule set I've been suggesting, here. As I recall, they very nearly work!