Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Background Information

or "Filling the gaps in my ECW and WfG campaign(s)"

First off, a VERY brief history
In 1638 the vampyre Count Mikhail Lichtenfels and his partner the Countess Milyena Wittgenstein fled from the religious wars raging across Europe to the relative safety of England (who were no directly involved in the 30 years war), bringing along another kindred refugee, Jenya Ohlendorf, who they met before crossing the channel.
The Count's agents had found him a suitable property tucked away in a secluded part of the Erewash Valley, a region on the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and he wasted no time befriending the local witches coven - offering them the protection of his estates to practice their arts while they became his eyes and ears in the surrounding countryside.

In 1639 King Charles sparked military action against the Scots (First Bishops War) when he stubbornly tried to enforce the New Prayer Book on the Scottish Kirk. The cracks become blatantly clear between the King and Parliament, and Count Lichtenfels sees the possibility of trouble ahead.
In 1640 the political rift widened when parliament refused to grant the King funding to repel the once again rebellious Scots.
John Pym emerges as a leader for the dissidents, the Second Bishops War results in the Scots occupying Durham and Northumberland. Count Lichtenfels decides to slowly and carefully create a defensive ring around Fernbeck House, by introducing a mysterious 'plague' he hopes to maintain "The Masquerade" ( an organized conspiracy to convince the general public that vampyres don't exist. The Kindred fear that without it the kine {humans} would rise up and exterminate all the undead).

The current date in the campaign build-up is April 1642. The country is polarised between "Royalist" and "Parliamentarian", and the King has moved from Hampton Court to Windsor Castle for his safety.
Count Lichtenfels has completed his defensive plans and hopes to "sit out" the inevitable upcoming conflict in relative safety

Now onto the nuts & bolts
The campaign is at county level,  and represents the typical "garrison warfare" which took place all around the country throughout the English Civil War. To avoid clashes with the actual historical timeline, it's usual to create a fictional county for this kind of game but I've taken a slightly different route and placed a fictional region on the Notts/Derbyshire border.
The Erewash Valley is real, it's where I live, but my campaign version is a work of fiction based on some of the facts, and has been brought to life with the excellent "Battle Finder" system from "The Perfect Captain".

Quite simply, this is an abstract mapping system comprising a 6x6 grid (printed on four A4 sheets joined together.), onto which the map 'locations' are placed. There's a variety of ways to do this (fully explained in the accompanying text that comes with Battle Finder), but the only hard and fast rule is that rivers must be continuous across the whole map.
The distances between locations (travelling along the grid connections) are variable to suite the choice of campaign style, and the "locations" are designed to translate directly as 4ft x 6ft wargames tables (so I'll get multiple tables per location!)
Campaign resource info is printed on the location card borders.

I actually found this map on the interweb, and its creator has cleverly photoshopped the location names. I've unashamedly taken it and it represents the western end of the "Erewash Valley"!

One map is all that's required for a campaign, but since I'm running a 'hybrid', I've also produced the eastern end of the "Erewash Valley"........

.... and the two maps/grids join together side by side to give my fictional region.
The "Battle Finder" system and components are available as a free download here:-
where you'll also find some other excellent free gaming systems, including a set of ECW rules ....

..... (but be aware that these are a supplement and will require the core rules "Spanish Fury Actions" to use them), and there's also a set of ECW campaign rules called "Tinker Fox" which I'll be using as the core of the management system for the military campaign.

Moving onto the tabletop
The rules for small scale skirmishes are Witchfinder General from Dashing Dice Games, so that's all the 'fantasy' encounters, but also squad / troop size encounters in 'historical' games (just leave out the fantasy elements and they're a cracking set of skirmish rules)
Yes, I know I said I was thinking about trying different sets of rules, but having seriously thought it through (which is why this post is so late at night), all I really want to do is give them a little more solo playability. I'm perfectly happy with the rules mechanics and 'flavour' so they're 'keepers' and I'll just try a few tweaks as I go along

In answer to the question from John (Vagabond) "How do witches fly?"
Well, it's only possible if they have a broom!
At the start of the game roll 2D10 to determine the total number of "broom moves" available to witches with brooms.
A "broom move" = up to 10" plus 10" per command in a straight line, plus turns of up to 90 degrees per command. The flying witch can gain /lose height (up to 10") during the move with no movement penalty.
A flying witch can attack with what's called a "slash and gallop" (as per mounted horse in the rules), which is effectively a 'fly by' as they lash out at their target with their war sickle.
If a flying witch is shot and not killed, they are knocked from their broom on a 4+ score on a D6, and will suffer D6 "falling damage"
(The 'broom rules' could port over to other rule systems very easily by giving them the same move when flying as normal mounted troops and give them the height advantage of being able to pass over all terrain less than 10" high.)

Large scale military skirmishes will use the "Pikeman's Lament" from Osprey.
I'm already familiar with "Dragon Rampant" from the same stable, which I find very enjoyable to play, and the activation system is well suited to solo gaming.
If the 'fantasy' games throw up an encounter which is too large for "Witchfinder General", I'll simply import the historical forces straight into "Dragon Rampant" and 'stat up' the fantasy elements.

For army size 'battles' my rules of choice are "Victory Without Quarter" from Quinda Studios.
Again, the card driven activation system is well suited to solo play and as is the 'random event' card in the deck. There are no points lists, so the armies can be selected to conform with the campaign system, and the good news is that these are another free download :-

And Finally,
a little personal history behind my ECW gaming, which might put my current choices in context - when I first started playing I used these......
....then 'post Wargames Research Group' tried these....
.......before moving on to these.
If I was still playing against a regular opponent on a 6ft x 4ft table I think I'd still use 1644 (the mini campaign in there is good for two players as well!).
I still have the Warhammer ECW and 1644 rules, and really wish I'd kept a firmer grip on the old Airfix book - it's yet another of those things that got lent out and never returned before I moved on to my next posting while I was in the Army.

I hope that's righted my wrongs, but if I've not answered any questions regarding the 17thC games please let me know - I'll certainly keep you informed of progress and any changes as I go on!


  1. Well that certainly covers any questions I had! ;)

    1. 'Phew!' Hopefully that's the cracks rendered then - cheers Michael :-)

  2. What a great insight into the history of the campaign, the history of your ECW gaming from the start, and also plans for any scale game. Very much looking forward to reading how this progresses Greg

    1. Thanks Dave - in future I won't listen to the pesky voices in my head, and I'll CHECK to see if I've posted what I thought I had ;-)
      I was worried this would turn out a bit too "rambly", and it would have been better in bite sized installments.

  3. An excellent post, Greg. I really appreciate all of the information you have relayed here. This goes a long way to understanding this campaign, it's history, setting and rules. Many thanks for sharing.

    1. You're very kind Bryan :-)
      I'll endeavour to keep the info up-to-date as the campaign progresses!

  4. Thanks Greg that was a good, lucid and comprehensive post and explains all the things I didn't understand in the previous one.
    I had read somewhere that witchfinder general was a good set of skirmish rules. Thinking about it I know where I read it and I'll try and remember to find you the link because the guy wrote a couple of posts that you may find inspirational.

    All we need now is the next installment.

    1. Yay! Mission accomplished :-)
      I'd appreciate the link if you can find it John, inspirational reading is always welcome here!

      It shouldn't be TOO long before the next installment - I'll certainly make WfG my next game :-)

    2. Hi Greg this is the report I was thinking of.

    3. Many thanks John - I've actually stumbled across this blog before, and it's where I stole the idea of using GW Wargs as Hell Hounds. I didn't bookmark the site at the time, but done so now!
      Thanks again for taking the time and trouble to find and share the link :-)

  5. I'd forgotten all about the Perfect Captain's site !
    Thanks for all the info, the maps remind me of the old (very) "Warplan 5/5" game and map system.

    1. Sounds like you need to carry a CRAFT book arround with you the same as me Joe - I'm always jotting down little notes to myself!
      (Can't Remember A Flippin' Thing) ;-)

      Oh, and I found a Lidl that still had one of those "grass mats" in stock :-)

  6. nicely done Greg, a fine setup and explanation of whats to come

    1. Cheers Andy - a lot of the post is about "The Plan", and we all know what tends to happen when "The Plan" makes first contact with the enemy ;-)