Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Draft Version of Portable Wargame:English Civil War

Here is a draft version of my English Civil War adaptation of Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame . I am playing on a grid of 11x11 squares.  I welcome any comments and questions. I hope to post a battle report using the rules this week.

Here is the link to the rules:
 Portable Wargames ECW rules pdf at Google Drive


  1. Hi Steven,
    I read the rules and I have several questions.
    a) When you say that a unit is Infantry Pike does that mean that all the men are pikes?? Or there are some percentage of muskets. If yes what is the maximum percentage and consequently why don’t they fire (Perhaps with negative modifiers).
    b) The same in the case of Muskets, can I consider that there is some percentage of pikes
    c) For example, if I want to represent the “Tercios” o something similar, are they pikes or Muskets?
    d) In the cavalry case I can imagine that they can’t fire because they used their pistols in a very close range and taking into account the scale, this use of the pistols is more close to close combat than firing. Am I wrong?
    e) Do you consider to make some differences between gallopers and trotters cavalry?
    Thaks for your patience.
    All the best

  2. Hi Carles,
    In order:
    a. The way I am playing, a typical infantry regiment is three units: One of pikes, and two of muskets. Later New Model Army regiments might be three units of muskets and one of pikes. A tercio might be set up as two Units of pikes, side-by side, and four units of Muskets at the corners.
    b. There is no reason NOT totry out mixed ability units. "Shot heavy' might fire and hit on 4,5,6. "Balanced" units could hit with muskets on a 5,6. "Pike heavy" might only hit with fire on a 6. Close combat Strength points could be adjusted the same way.
    c. See "a," for my take on the tercio.
    d. At this scale, I see pistols and carbines as Close combat weapons.
    e. I would leave the move the same, but probably make the galloper cavalry have better morale ratings, for example, "elites' on the Hit Resolution roll, while the trotters are Average.

    Try some of these ideas and please post how they work. I plan to play a small game tonight and will post the results.

    Thank you for the very solid questions. I think there is some real merit to using the approach you ask about if playing a large scale game, such as Marston Moor or Lutzen.

    BTW I have begun playtesting of Portable Wargame:Ancients. I hope to post a set of rules for that period by the first of December.


  3. Steven,
    Firstly, a big thank you for making your ECW PW rules available! They, and the photograph of your set up, inspire me to give revisit this period; my neighbour is a great admirer of Cromwell, so - provided he plays Parliament - I'm sure he will join me in some games.

    Below are a few thoughts arising from reading, but not yet playing, your rules:

    1. Although the die scores make it much easier to inflict losses on Clubmen, I wonder whether they should have the same Strength as Pike and be able take take 3 Hits.
    2. Dragoons: should mounted movement be reduced by 1 square if the unit is to dismount and be able to fire next turn; similarly, should dismounted dragoons lose one square to mount up before riding off in the same turn?
    3. Like Carles, I would distinguish between Horse that caracole, advance at trot (like Ironsides/NMA) or follow the Swedish system of charging at gallop.
    I do think you need to have some mechanism that makes victorious charging cavalry like to pursue the enemy off-board to loot his baggage train and thus disaapear from the field for an unpredictable length of time. Dice for their return?
    4. I would not bother dicing for the fall of case (grape) shot: at close range, with a levelled piece, point of aim is not really relevant - what is random is the number of casualties/morale effect. Should the chance of a hit causing SP loss or retreat be the same for ball and case shot?
    5.I would like to distinguish Foot fire by files or ranks (introduction/extraduction), neither of which were very effective, from salvee (volley fire) by doubled files immediately before close combat. In the latter case, the musketeer blocks would first double their files - the rear three ranks would move forward to extend the frontage of the musketeer 'sleeves' to fire one massive volley at close range, after which they would 'fall on pell mell' with clubbed muskets. This could be portrayed by increasing the chance of a hit, or by doubling the number of dice thrown. Each musketeer 'sleeve' would have to consist of two bases, that could be placed one behind the other when deployed six/eight deep, and side by side when three/four ranks deep with doubled files, the extending the frontage of a Foot battalia by one square on each side.
    6. I like the idea of throwing for the damage to one's own units; great for creating uncertainty and fog of war. I would suggest the presence of a Commander should reduce morale damage to target, rather than increase accuracy of firers.
    7. Personally, I prefer to limit unit activation once battle has been joined to response to new orders, assuming that once a unit has started to act upon an order, it will continue to do so until either successful or forced to give up. In this period, I think most orders during a battle were delivered orally by the general or local commander (left wing, Centre, Right Wing) riding up in person.

    Lots to think about, and experiment with, thanks to the solid foundation of your adaptation of Bob's rules.

    Thanks again!

    1. Arthur, you have also raised some very good points. One of the joys of a system that is built on simplicity, is that a few "pieces of chrome" can be applied without without over-complicating things.

      An example, is the "Ill-armed foot". They can be Clubmen, rated as "poor", thus taking casualties more quickly. They can be "average" and represent the early Royalist pike levies, or Irish with cut-down pikes. Or they could be "elite", hard to kill, and represent McColla's Highland Bodyguard.

      Dragoons mounting/dismounting: I think you are 100% right.

      Cavalry deserves more more detailed attention. I will address this in a separate post.

      Musketry, at the level I am running, seemed to reflect the points you were making, in that standing muskets get the +1 to hit, which moving troops do not.
      (BTW do you find that musketeers always inflict more damage in melee than with fire, no ,matter what rules you use? I seem to...)
      "Extending the Unit" for salvos could work, with the provision that they COULD NOT fire on the next turn. I will try this out in my next game.

      I see no reason a commander could not do both, easpecially one of the real "Greats" like Rupert, Skipton or Montrose.

      My early games have seen a little skirmishing on the wings, then a forward movement of foote, then several turns of Infantry Close Combat. Even playing without the initiative bonus of a Commander, most of the action has been dealing with the Unit to your immediate front.

      More later. I have to go get in some ice time before my next hockey game. Thanks for the very insightful post,