Despite the dramatic title this battle was primarily determined by the opening dice roll. With two players (Paul – new, Ian – fairly new) unaccustomed to the rules set I took Paul’s side with my Royalists and Aidan’s Parliamentarians adopted Ian. Both Ian and Paul were using Swedish armies, although Paul’s did have more than a passing resemblance to the Marlborough and Elizabethan periods in places. 600 point armies were the order of the day, and so two 1200 point forces faced each other in a pitched battle.
On a nice big 6ft by 8ft battlefield the Royalists (easier to term the whole side this) won the dice roll to pick a side and deployed first, with my infantry in the village on our right, the bulk of Paul’s Swedes on our left, and my horse brigade anchoring the centre with backup from a Swedish foote regiment. Ian’s troops faced me, while Aidan, in a much more crowded deployment zone, faced Paul, and it all looked very colourful.
|Royalists to the left, with the village and my infantry in it, Paul's troops spread out into the fields beyond.|
|The Royalist horse in the centre.|
|Ian's Swedish infantry.|
|Aidan's massed Parliamentarians.|
The Parliamentarian plan (again, easier to refer to them all as that) was to destroy Paul’s forces using their horse before pressing mine back into the village using their superior numbers. The game-winning dice roll was the one to determine first turn (I rolled a one) and Aidan’s horse thundered across the battlefield with a princely three moves, slamming into Paul’s troops and sending them reeling backwards. Within the space of the (Parliamentarian) first turn Paul’s forces were broken, with the remains pushed back towards our centre. Two units of harquebusiers and one of commanded shotte were gone, and his dragoons only lasted to the end of our own turn 1. In return very little damage was done to the marauding enemy horse. The only fly in the rebel ointment was the Parliamentarian foote brigade refusing to move.
|Aidan's charge - Paul's troops have vanished!|
My infantry moved out of the village to challenge Ian’s advancing Swedish infantry, and my horse moved up in the hope of inflicting the same damage, while Paul’s remaining horse units counter charged Aidans with some small success hoping to stall them more than defeat them. At this point the Royalist commanders took stock and came up with 3 options – 1). Surrender – unthinkable. 2). Fall back to the village and form a defensive position – aiming for a stalemate, quite a boring option though. 3). Attack Ian’s Swedes in the hope of taking them out of the battle before turning on the Parliamentarians – ambitious to say the least, with, we thought, not more than a 30% chance of success. We went for three on the basis that it was the most entertaining option.
|The Royalist centre (Swedish foote supporting) begin to advance,|
|Aidan's infantry (foreground) begin to move but never make in into contact,|
My infantry stormed out of the village, catching Ian still trying to deploy effectively after clearing the tree line. Stradlings pike joined forces with one of my horse regiments to cause great destruction in the Swedish centre; driving a pike block and two groups of musketeers from the field, before performing the same heroics upon another pike block. This also fled, and my horse followed up to drive back and disorder some more musketeers. This was the high point. Unfortunately this cost me my horse brigade as the galling fire from Ian’s many falconets poured into them as they protected my infantries flank with their horseflesh. On my right Ian’s dragoons proved impossible to pin down, and my attempts at destroying his left flank of musketeers was thwarted by a combination of good closing fire (disorder all round!) and excellent Swedish saving throws.
|The Royalist foote attack, initially successfully.|
|Swedish guns put pay to the Royalist horse.|
|The Royalist/Swedes high water mark - the second of Ian's pike blocks is put to flight in the centre.|
On our left Paul’s horse had finally disintegrated completely, and his remaining infantry regiment was preparing to defend a hedgerow on the edge of the village against Aidan’s approaching infantry and rallied horse, but 10pm had arrived and we had clearly suffered a heavy defeat as the game ended. Aidan and Ian revelled in the success of their plan, although I feel I had handled Ian’s invincible Swedes much more roughly than they expected, and wasn’t pushed into the village. This being a warm up for Sunday’s big ECW game I can only hope my Royalists can do better then.