Monday, October 29, 2018

Vales of Lyndhurst - To be continued?

Battle of Clydesdale

The Franco-Confederate Army, commanded jointly by Chevalier Busset and the Duke of Kent, was met on their northward push for London, by a hastily gathered Royalist Army commanded by Sir Leopold Anders, brother of the Lord of Lyndhurst.  Here is was hoped that Sir Leopold could administer a check to the Confederates, buying enough time hastily to march northward to meet the other Confederate march that was menacing London from the north.

At this point I won't go into the actual fighting, but rather mention certain administrative aspects of continuing this campaign.  In transferring Barry's original concept using map battles, I have elected to make the transfer to grid war games, using my 48" x 52" table, as pictured.  The original I sketched onto a roughly hand drawn grid of off-set squares, which was in turn sketched a little more carefully onto a preprinted hex grid the same dimensional array as my table. I keep blank copies of this grid on file in this machine.  I can print them, or add details using Microsoft 'Paint' as I find convenient.  The small map in the right is the result.

Now, a rule set was wanting.  So I made one up, a 'Lonely Brain Cell' set, for these battles.  Borrowed heavily from the Bob Cordery concepts, with a little bit of Memoir '44 thrown in and a die rolling system I suggested maybe eighteen months or so back, I wanted something quick that produced a plausible looking battle.

What follows is really just a sketch.  I hope to refine it later.

Working Rules for Vales of Lyndhurst Battles.


Cavalry and infantry, henceforth called Horse and Foot, comprise battalions and regiments of 4 figures.
Artillery, henceforth called 'Guns' comprise companies of 1 gun and 2 figures.
Strength Points (SP):
Standard SPs for Horse and Foot is 4SP.
    +1 For Elite or Crack units
    -1  For Militia, Irregular or Light units
Standard SP for artillery is 2SP
    +1 For 'heavy' (12pr) cannon
Standard SP for Army command is 6SP


Horse and Foot may form
Line - 1 rank of 4 figures
Column - 2 ranks of 2 figures
Guns may be deployed, limbered or in the process of deploying or limbering.


Standard movement is 2 grid areas in good going.
In any kind of rough going, fording rivers, passing through woods, enclosures, built up areas, this is reduced to 1 hex only.
Units entering rough going, river hexes, BUAs, enclosed fields etc end their moves at once, except as follows.
Foot in column marching along a road may add 1 hex to its movement provided at least two of the three moved are on the same road, and the remaining one is on the same road or good going.
Foot in column, moving along a road for their entire move, ignore all other terrain constraints.

Standard movement is 4 hexes in good going.
In any kind of rough going, fording rivers, passing through woods, enclosures, built up areas, this is reduced to 1 hex only.
Units entering rough going, river hexes, BUAs, enclosed fields etc end their moves at once, except as follows.
Horse in column marching along a road may add 1 hex to its movement provided at least four of the five allowed are on the same road, and the remaining one is on the same road or good going.
Horse in column, moving along a road ignore all other terrain constraints whilst they remain on the road.

To move, Guns must be limbered.
Limbered Guns (except galloper guns) move 1 hex in good going, and may travel 2 hexes along a road.  Galloper guns can travel 1 extra hex.
Guns my cross rivers and streams only at bridges and fords practicable to vehicles.
Guns may not enter woods or marshes or river hexes except by a road or track that is practicable to vehicles.
Guns require a whole move to limber up or to deploy (unlimber).


Only artillery are able to carry out distant shooting.   The scale of this rule set is such that all other combats, shooting or hand to hand, take place between adversaries in adjacent grid areas.
In all combats, units roll as many combat dice for effect as their current SP, modified by terrain effects. 
All close combats are competitive, both sides rolling and determining hits.  A unit may attack one unit only; the defender rolls against all attacking units.  Units that remain in contact at the end of any given player's turn continue automatically to battle in the subsequent turns that they remain in contact.
A unit whose combat dice allocation is reduced by such modifications, still gets to roll 1 combat die.
The results of the combat dice rolls are assessed as follows:

  • 1 = target Guns lose 1SP
  • 2 = target Horse may choose to retreat 2 hexes OR lose 1SP
  • 3 = target Horse lose 1SP and may choose to retreat 2 hexes
  • 4 = target Foot may choose to retreat 1 hex or lose 1SP
  • 5 = target Foot lose 1SP and may choose to retreat 1 hex
  • 6 = target Foot lose 1SP and may choose to retreat 1 hex

    Hits are cumulative, including 'retreat' results.  A foot unit that receives two '4' hits may choose to retreat 2 hexes, lose 2SP or lose 1SP and retreat 1 hex.
Retreating units encountering friend to their rear, may pass through them to carry out their retreat.  A foot unit may also do so, provided the destination grid area immediately behind is clear, effectively retreating 2 hexes instead of 1.  This is the only time a Foot unit may retreat 2 hexes on the basis of 1 '4' hit.

Combat dice are modified by terrain, whether occupied by the target unit, or sometimes that occupied by the unit being diced for.
Combat Dice = Current SP modified as follows, or 1 whichever is the greater.

Reduce Combat Dice by 2 if:
  • Horse in, or battling against enemy in, woods, enclosed fields, built up areas
  • Horse battling against Foot or Horse that are uphill

Reduce Combat Dice by 1 if:
  • Foot (except Light)  fighting target in wood, enclosed fields, built up areas, hamlets or farms, or uphill
  • Unit is in a river hex, against enemy not in a river hex (i.e. when attempting a defended crossing).  This applies to any river hex, crossable by bridge or ford, or not.

    Modifications are cumulative up to a maximum of 2.
    Remember, if the modified Combat Dice comes to less than 1, it is taken as 1


Heavy Cannon (12pr):  Short range = 3 hexes; long range = 6 hexes
Medium Cannon (6-9pr): Short range = 2 hexes; long range = 4 hexes
Light Cannon (3-4pr 'galloper guns'): Short range = 2 hexes; long range = 4 hexes
At short range Guns' Combat Dice is DOUBLE their SP unless they are involved in close combat
(I am conscious that this isn't quite right, as enemy Foot and Horse can close to close combat without being shot at by grapeshot, but not sure yet how to fix it - even whether it needs fixing.  I am considering allowing one round of 'reserved' fire by defending units, but that will make attacks very difficult.)
For initiating moves, determining the battle outcomes and so forth, I used Bob Cordery's Portable Wargames system.  ....

Next posting will outline the composition of the armies, strength points and any other details that come to mind.  After that will come the narrative of the battle.
To be continued.
If anyone has comments or suggestions to make to the above, they may be used to modify this posting.


  1. The defensive grapeshot thing is one of the issue with the Memoir 44 turn sequence. There are ways to address it (by fiddling with the turn sequence, reserved fire etc as you suggest) but perhaps the simplest is to keep the SP doubled in Close Combat if the artillery is attacked from the front arc, otherwise just use the basic 2.

    Assaulting artillery batteries from the front was a really, really bad idea.

    1. Cheers, Martin -
      Artillery in close combat is really tricky. I have toyed with doubling the Gun SP in close combat, but have also considered a -1 modification! Possibly the answer is use both: Guns double their SP at first contact, but SP:=SP-1 in subsequent rounds if the enemy can maintain contact.

      Guns take a while to reload, by which time a determined enemy might have got themselves in amongst the battery. Might be worth play-testing this idea, but might also have to research quite how Marlburian era batteries operated - that is, nearer the 30YW or the 7YW systems.

  2. Why not represent Infantry with 8 figures instead of 4? That will look better, but your personal views on this might be different of course ;-)
    In my hex-based games, I usually try to "fill up" the hexes with troops, and that usually comes down to twice the amount of figures for an infantry unit compared to cavalry.

    One question about the rule mechanics:
    Is it mandatory to fight when adjacent? Usually, players want to do that, but by stipulating such a rule, it also avoids some weird situations that might pop up. A unit can only move adjacent when it is indeed fighting another unit.

    1. Actually the figure numbers are quite arbitrary, and were chosen for convenience. I agree that 8-figure units would probably look better. It would make no difference to the strength-point system. With 8-figure units I would not have been able to the same extent to differentiate the contingents by the colour of their coats. As it was, the Footguards got white-coated grenadier outfits only because I ran out of blue coats! I nearly exhausted my supply of green coats as well. I agree that 8-figure units would probably look better.

      The alternative idea was to modify Barry's TO&E. His regimental system was more Continental multi-battalion than the traditional British system of one field battalion per Regiment. I did consider - even began - merging the battalions into regimental units. When I saw the battle maps, though, especially the late ones, I changed my mind.

      I had not considered whether close combat could be optional, but I don't think it ought to be. In the Clydesdale battle, all situations involving adjacent enemies were taken to be close combats and always treated as such.

      However, the question arises what to do about lines of close combats. Suppose you have two side-by-side units attacking two side-by-side defenders. however you arrange it one attacker will be adjacent to two defenders, and one defender will be adjacent to two attackers.

      The attackers can each attack one target only. They might decide to assault both defenders, or concentrate on the one. The defender, if he can, fights both in turn.

      This is simple enough when moving into contact, each unit's move and battle taking place in turn. What about units already in contact. All the moving player's units in contact must 'battle' one and one only enemy unit in contact. The enemy units respond to any all such 'battles'. This seems to me the simplest approach.

      Incidentally, in the actual battle, the Franco-Confederates got to move first, with EVERY subsequent who-goes-first-this-turn rolls being 'won' by the Royalists. There must have been at least ten turns, so we're looking at a thousand-to-one deal here!

    2. W.r.t. adjacent combat: that's exactly why many rules (but not all), both board wargaming and miniature wargaming, somehow stipulate that after a combat, either troops are eliminated or should retreat (e.g. 1 hex), thus leaving no contact after the combat. That also makes it clear: if you're adjacent, you should fight, and if you're not adjacent, there is no fight. But that doesn't solve the issue completely. In a situation as you describe, 2 units from different combats might still end up being adjacent (they were adjacent before combat resolution, but fought different enemies with different outcomes).

      Apart from that, I also feel that if one of both sides has to withdraw after combat (when not eliminated), this also gives combat a more significant meaning than just "chipping away strength points". It also means gaining territory by pushing the enemy away and possibly disrupting the deployment lines of the enemy. But whether you want to strive for that effect might also depend on how you want the game to flow. Some people like convoluted combat procedures that last for several rounds, some people like short combat procedures that result in other effects such as routs or pushbacks.

    3. I can see your point, but for mine the 'chipping away strength points' is what happens in the event of a prolonged firefight. I rather think I want to keep that. I can think of several instances in which an attempted storm of a position, say, bogged down into a prolonged attritional battle (Malplaquet, Blenheim, Kolin, Torgau, Albuera, Borodino, Brawner Farm, McDowell, the Muleshoe at Spotsylvania Courthouse, The Western Front in WW1. It seems to me reasonable that should happen in my battles.

      On the matter of multiple adjacent close combats, I'm inclined to 'go with the flow' on this. Suppose RED units A+B attack BLUE's X+Y, with A contacting X and Y both, which leaves Y in contact with A and B, both. RED having the move (initiative), he can select that both attack Y, ignoring X, or that A attack X and B attack Y. Both have their advantages; both have their downsides.

      Now, suppose that, in choosing the latter option A drives back X but B in turn is repulsed. That leaves A and Y in contact, neither of which fought the other. There seems to be no reason for the two not to carry on the fight against each other.

      On the whole, the system at the moment seems to be a reasonable compromise between the two 'schools' you mention: the 'convoluted school' and the 'short combat school. Both are possible, and players have some choice in the matter as well.

      A bit of a spoiler alert, here: the combat around the village of Benbow was a drawn-out affair of attrition, but it was a case of units on both sides being fed into the maelstrom, to supply the place of units eliminated. It was brutal! The village itself changed hands several times. The outcome was to come as something of a surprise, in the event.

    4. Having said all that, I may be forced to keep the fighting power of the units at their ORIGINAL SP value, rather than matching their CURRENT SP value. The jury is out on this.

  3. I'll probably repeat this in my next posting but, while I'm here... There were two reaons for my choosing to build an Imperialist Army from the Wargames Factory figures I bought. Well, three really. The 'afterthought' I'll mention first.

    Somehow a kind of thread has emerged in several of my army collections connected with the double-headed eagle. One of my 30YW armies is Inperialist, one of my 7YW period 'Imagi-Nation' armies is modelled upon the Austrian (uniforms, flags, Inhaber), and my biggest Allied army opposing napoleon is also Austrian. I must have a thing about Austria or the Hapsburgs.

    The second reason was the variety of uniforms. Grey is the predominant fashion,but there were white, blue and green coats as well. Even among the grey, there was a variety in the differencing.

    Finally, I really like the dramatic lobster helmets of the cavalry. Of the 72 figures, I made two 24-figure cavalry units, and a 24-figure dragoon regiment.