Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Wargamer's Guide to the English Civil War", by Bill Protz

 It is a great joy to find a set of rules that "model" a period of history well, and this set, first printed in 1974, is one of those rare treasures. The second edition, published in 1977, consist of 74 digest sized pages. There are about a dozen photos and illustrations, some helpful diagrams, and a good two page bibliography.

Scale of troops is either1/20 or 1/10,  One inch =either 10 or 15 yards.  A 6x4 table handles a small 28mm game nicely

Bill breaks the game out at an almost leisurely pace, explaining the logic behind almost every facet of the rules. There are explanations for formations, movement, melee, and morale. Most of the "real rules" are contained on nine pages of charts.  The rest of the rule pages give a fuller vision as to why and how to "fire by introduction", or how, on the game table, to "take cover under the pikes".  A thorough read will prove both entertaining and enlightening. I took a highlighter to my old copy and noted some of the cases that are not "everyday occurrences"  and found it a great help. After a couple of games, most will find the charts to cover over 90% of the action involved.

The key concept to these rules is a units "CR" or "Combat Rating".  This number reflects a units melee and/or missile power, and it's morale. As an example, at 1-10 scale,I have a unit of  Covenanters, four command figures, twelve pikemen, and twenty-four musketeers. My pike division, including command, is 15 men @2 points each, plus a piper @1 point, for a total of 31 points. My two musket divisions, right and left, are 12 men each @1 point, for 12 points per division. The total regimental CR is 55 points. As the unit takes casualties, figures are NOT removed from the table. The CR losses are recorded, and as the units reaches 25, 50, and 75% loss of CR, morale drops severely.  I find that this effectively models the slow chipping away of a unit, followed by sudden and shocking collapse.

Musketry can annoy and eventually damage a unit, and artillery can demoralize a unit with one lucky round, but it is the cold steel of melee that decides the outcome of battle.  Both sides multiply their CR by a 2d6 roll, and the higher score pushes back the lower one inch. The loser checks morale, and is not forced to withdraw or routed, another round will be fought on the next turn. Protect your Flanks! The loser will generally suffer casualties at a 4-1 rate compared to the winner, and being flanked doubles the attackers CR.

Cavalry is represented by the Armored Horse, such as Cromwell's Ironsides and Rupert's lads,  Lobsters, such as Hesslerigg's regiment, and dragoons, who have no place fighting from horseback, and are rated accordingly. Dragoons, however, are amazingly versatile, and are a lot of fun in a "scouting" or "foraging" game.  There is much discussion of cavalry tactics, such as the caracole.

Half the book is devoted to the appendix, and is most useful. There are some sensible notes on army composition, and a  nice list of coat colors for several dozen regiments. Besides the aforementioned bibliography, there is a solid glossary of terms, that might not be familiar to those lacking an Osprey collection,  and most exciting of all, an awesome section on "Sieges and the Storming of Places". In this section, bill lays out four classification of assault, gives historic examples, then recommends forces and lyouts for the game table. Rules and suggestions are given for battering with artillery, use of the petard, mine and the dreaded grenadoe.  These rules would be a great addition to any black powder games needed siege rules, from the Italian Wars to the Indian Mutiny. Having played  several of these attacks, they were "White Knuckles" games, in which every turn seemed to promise mayhem and excitement.

I have enjoyed actions using these rules with as few as three units per player, and as many as fifteen. They produce a fast-paced, exciting game that requires good tactics and good fortune to be victorious. I heartily recommend them. They are available direct from Bill at

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Warlord Miniatures: a Closer Look

As promised, this column will take a closer look at the new line of 28mm miniatures from Warlord Games. I ordered my first two packages about five weeks ago, from Noble Knight Games, and received them three days later. My first selections were a "personality set' consisting of a mounted figure of Prince Rupert, looking very much like the cover picture on Osprey's "Edgehill" , and his famous war-poodle "Boye". Both are well cast in white metal, with minimal flash and mold-lines. This set is deserving of special effort in painting, and I have put mine aside to be a "reward" when I finish my first tercio of three regiments.

The second set was one of the much-anticipated plastic boxes, this one of Royalist Cavalry. Let us establish right here that the only difference in the Royalist and Parliamentary Cavalry boxes is the outer artwork, and a printed sheet inside the box, with historical notes and a half dozen ECW and TYW flags. The same holds true of the infantry boxes, with the Covenanters having four metal command figures and several sprues of bonnets to change their look.

The cavalry sprues are brilliantly executed. There are four basic figures, minus right arms and the top of their heads. This allows the modeler to build his lads with flint pistols(Carried upright or extended), Wheel-locks(the same), four swords (two upright, two leveled), or a horn or cornet.

Headwear offers the same type of options. Each sprue offers two soft hats, a montero cap, and four different "lobster pots". One rider on each sprue has a carbine sling, so one is provided, as is a cavalry warhammer.

The torsos have a mix of two in buffcoat, one in breastplate over leather, and one with thi gh armor. There are three of these sprues per box.

The horses are two piece models, plus saddle holsters(in two styles). Clipping of the pistol butt gives a nice effect on the models brandishing their pistols. Bases supplied allow single figures (1x2 inch) or two figures(2x2).

The set assembles into twelve very attractive figures.

The infantry boxes contain three sprues that build a total of twent-four musketeers and twelve pikemen. A command sprue allows great variety in building an officer, ensign and a musician. Parts from this sprue and the extra torso on the other sprues allow the building of up to three sergeants.
There are thirteen different hats on the three main sprues. This allows alot of variation, especially when working with more than one box. Bases are included for single figures, two three, 2x2, and a row of five. There are a few extras in each box.

A nice set for those wanting to try out the plastic line, is the "Firelock Storming Party". This set contains two beautiful metal figures, an officer with prtisan, and a drummer armed with a pistol. There are sixteen small sprues, each with a running torso, two sets of arms with flintlock (one pointing forward, the other at port arms), and two pieces of headgear, a soft hat and a montero cap. Thse hats are interchangeable with those in the infantry sets. A sprue of bases, identical to that found in the infantry boxes, is included. This will help give you some "extras" if you buy the blister packs of metal figures!

One of the metal sets, full of "attitude" is the Clubmen blister. Eight figures, with two sprues of weapons, these are great for skirmish games such as "Sword and Pistol", or as a small unit defending a village against foragers. These were painted by my friend Dan. I like the personality he brings to his work.

By the way, I will be landscaping and flocking my bases this week as soon as I finish my Scots.

Other sets, to be examined later, include the Scots Covenanters, Dragoons, artillery(sakers, mortars and Scottish fframes), metal blister packs of pikemen in heavy armor, infantry command, specialists,and command figures of Essex and Cromwell.

I have had great success purchasing Warlord figures online from Noble Knight games, here in the US, from Warlord Games and Wayland Games in the UK, and in shop at the Griffon in South Bend, Indiana. Fine service and fast shipping from all!

Next time, an in depth look at "Wargamer's Guide to the English Civil War", my personal favorite rules.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Welcome to 17th Century Britain!

I am glad you are here. The purpose of this blog is to be a place members can share ideas and information about the series of wars that took place in mid-17th century Britain, better known here in America as the English Civil War. My interest in this period includes, but is not limited to the military, religious and political forces at work; the uniforms, equipment and leaders of the armies involved, and the re-creation of the Wars' battles with miniature soldiers. Any material that you might wish to share here will be most welcome.

My interest in this period began in 1970, when I was fourteen years old. My favorite hobby shop began to stock the British magazine "Military Modeler". The classic miniature soldier firms Hinchliffe and Miniature Figurines were regularly showing off beautiful new sculpts from the period. I knew almost nothing about the English Civil War, but the picture of Prince Rupert, his dog Boye, and a dozen pike and musket soldiers fired my imagination. I read every pertinent entry in my dad's copy of "Dictionary of Battles", everything I could find on armor and equipment (not much available here at the time), and tried to get some wargame figures, without success. Monetary fluctuations and Rates of Exchange were a bit beyond me during those days of Nixon's financial crisis.

In the meantime, I purchased a boardgame from SPI: "Musket and Pike". It offered numerous scenarios and troop types from the Dutch Wars, the Thirty Years War, and the English Civil Wars. A great variety of troop types were included, such as pikemen(three quality levels), musketeers, several varieties of cavalry, and artillery. It was a great bargain at $8.00, and I had many happy hours playing it in college. I still own it in the original box.

Finally in 1979, I got my hands on some metal miniatures from the period. I ordered through the mail about fifty infantry, and a dozen cavalrymen made by Grenadier. At the same time, I ordered a copy of Bill Protz' "Wargames's Guide to the English Civil War" for $3.00. The firm from which I ordered had run out of Bill's rulebook, and substituted a copy of TSR's "Cavaliers and Roundheads", which sold for a half dollar more. Several weeks later, I was painting my two regiments of foot and one of cavalry. Reading the rules, I knew I needed more figures, and my recent source was gone...
Jack Scruby came to the rescue.

My first copy of the "Courier" had a nice ad for Jack Scruby's Soldier Shop. My next day off from work, with Christmas bonus in hand, I called and spoke with the father of US wargaming. In about a week, I had no bonus, but about seven hundred 9mm pike and musket soldiers from Jack.

Individually, they were not much to look at, but grouped by the dozen they got your attention. I soon was playing Powick Bridge and the Storming of Brentford, right out of "Battle" magazines' "Battles of the ECW" series. not long afterwards, I made my first Rule Change. My friend Eric, in Birmingham, Alabama, convinced me to try out George Gush's Wargame Research Group 1420-1700 rules. I likes the wide variety of soldiers available, and the army lists did a lot to help the paucity of reference material avaible on this side of the pond. I also got the first osprey book on the period, by Brigadier Peter Young.

Years passed, and I tried a good set of skirmish rules for the period, "Sword and Pistol" by Richard Stevens. WRG was still by main set of rules for large battles. In the late 90's, I made the jump to "De Bellis Renationis" also by WRG. I played a few games using these rules, after remounting most of my figures to reflect the latest rulings, but just did not enjoy the games as much as I had anticipated. Other periods took over an increasing amount of my gaming and painting time.

About 2007, I had a Gaming Epiphany: The simpler rules of my early days were more fun than the more complex rules printed since then. I sought out and found my dust-covered copy of Jeff Perrin's "Cavaliers and Roundheads", and printed and assembled several hundred of Fabrizio Davi's paper soldiers for Lutzen. I had a tremendous amount of fun playing those rules. Shortly thereafter, I found "Old Regime" rules on the web. This is the site for three sets of rules by Bill Protz, including the second edition of "Wargamers Guide to the English Civil War", although no longer at the $3.00 price(In fairness, 25mm metal figures are no longer 3/$1.00 either).I ordered a set and was stunned at the level of information in this seemingly humble booklet. Bill backs his rules with a LOT of material explaining how the formations worked, movement and fire, artillery of the period, background information, and a large section of sieges and storming of places. There was almost no rebasing of figures needed to use my Lutzen Paper Warriors with Bill's rules, and began to use them quickly, eventually playing a campaign over the course of several months. They are some of the most enjoyable rules I have ever played.
Reading material has become far more available, thanks to Osprey Publications, and Amazon. I would like to run at least one book review per month, and welcome any submitted.
New miniatures have inspired me to start this blog. I am referring to the "Pike and Shotte" line from Warlord Games. These 28mm metal and hard plastic figures are small works of art, and must be seen to be believed. I'll be reviewing the current mix in my next column, and posting some pictures of figures painted by my friend Dan and I.
Now to go paint some Aberdeen Militia......