Wednesday, 22 August 2018

King Charles raises his Standard at Nottingham Castle!

After months of political maneuvering and a stalemate in the "paper war",  the gloves are off!

The king raised the royal standard today, 22nd August 1642, in Nottingham castle and "Summoned all well affected people north of the River Trent to muster there", what better day to get my ECW campaign started?!
With curve balls aplenty to deal with, time has been VERY limited here at TWA Towers, but I'd earmarked today for a test drive of the "Pikemen's Lament" rules.

Chaotic scenes are witnessed across the East Midlands, as parties loyal to King or Parliament begin their initial moves to secure key locations for their cause. In the (fictional) Erewash Valley, the two major towns of Kenborough (parliamentarian) and Worringham (royalist) are polarised in their allegiances, and the struggle has begun for strategic control of  the region.

The first job was to create a pair of rookie junior officers using the 'Background' and 'Traits' tables in the rules, so allow me to present, for King Charles.........
Ensign Gerald Castledine. A weasel of a man with little honour, much to the chagrin of his rich merchant father who paid for his officer rank and financed his troop of horse.
Being of a "sly nature", he may refuse any personal challenges without occurring any usual moral checks.
For Parliament.......
Ensign Henry Palmerston. The son of a priest and seemingly also blessed in some way, as he always seems to escape danger.
Having the 'Blessed' trait makes him invulnerable to "Lucky Blows".

Next, I raised two "companies" to suite the scenario, which was a variation of 'Mission C: The Kings War Chest' in the rulebook -
On hearing that King Charles had declared a state of war, the local parliamentary C-in-C acted swiftly to consolidate men and munitions. The Trained Bands were called to arms, and a young officer (Ensign Palmerston) was instructed to seize the weapons, powder and shot stored at Trewes castle - by force if necessary, and transport them to Kenborough.
His company of foot were bolstered by a troop of dragoons for the mission, and a squadron of the Kenborough Horse were also placed at his disposal to act as escort once the munitions had been brought out of the castle.

Taking advantage of the confused state of affairs at the garrison, Ensign Palmerston soon had the contents of the armoury loaded into a pair of carts and away at speed with the dragoons, his pike and shot moving slower in an attempt to "screen" the rear.
Having outpaced the foot, and misunderstanding their orders to rendezvous with the Kenborough Horse at the bridge, the dragoons called a halt by the river and watered their horses while they waited for everyone else!
"Minimalist Wargaming" - as I said, hobby time is currently at a premium, but I was determined to get a game in - no chance of titivating the table scenically and there'll be no "cotton wool puffs of smoke" or fancy markers I'm afraid.
The dragoons watering their nags
The "Defenders" were allowed 4 points worth of troops on the table and in contact with the river. The rest of the force could arrive from turn 2 with successful 'Move Orders' on the north edge of the table (the screening force) or south edge (the rendezvous party).
The "Attackers" deployed their entire force on the west edge of the table (having sallied out from the castle), and would move first each turn (no rolling for initiative)
Castledine's cavaliers lead the royalist advance
This could be very one sided!
Especially since the dragoons failed to activate!!
Gerald Castledine is a young man with something to prove - and since he commands a unit of cavaliers, what better way to go about it than by charging pell-mell at the enemy (especially those rag tag dragoons who have finally responded to the royalist advance!)
The dashing cavaliers suffer the first casualty from the skirmishing dragoons (was this unlucky chap the first fatality of the war??)
The end of turn 2, with parliamentarian reinforcements arriving after the royalist advance.
Both troops of Kenborough Horse and the pikemen led by Ensign Palmerston have arrived 'on time' but the musketeers failed to activate.
Castledine's launch the first charge of the battle, but the dragoons successfully evade......
.....only to be charged again by another troop of royalist horse who'd advanced around the flank.
Castledine's troop was itself then charged and seen off by a unit of the Kenborough horse!
It looks like poor Gerald is heading for an early bath (in the river!)
Over on the left flank, the inexperienced royalist cavalry attempted to ride down the foot soldiers who'd just strolled down the road and started waving their pointy sticks at them and calling them unsavoury names.
The outcome was predictable!
Not wanting to go anywhere near formed pikemen, the better disciplined parliamentarian horsemen discharged their firearms at the opposing musketeers, with what seemed little effect....
... it obviously rattled them though, because they failed their "Shoot" activation order when they attempted to respond at the very start of the next turn.......
......and since ANY failed activation passes the initiative to the opposite side, and their illustrious leader and two troops of horse were running away, and the parliamentarian musketeers had turned up, the old corporal in charge of the Trewes castle garrison infantry decided to march his men back to the security of said castle and leave the wagons to the roundheads! What was in 'em anyway??

Trouble ahead for young Gerald Castledine when he dries out and arrives back at Trews castle, and accolades await Henry Palmerston if he can get back to Kenborough with the wagons.
A thoroughly enjoyable test drive of the rules, and I now "get" how dragoons 'work' which seemed odd when I initially read the rulebook.
Looking at the game and the rules as I typed this AAR, I spotted a mistake I'd made regarding when and how troops react to losing in melee - well, the war has only just started and generally all rank and file participants (including your humble scribe) are new to this malarky!

Many thanks for visiting, reading, and putting up with the poor photo's! As ever your comments and questions are most welcome!


  1. Nice report. Looks great. I still make mistakes even know with games I should know off by heart lol!

    1. Thanks Simon - the older I get, the more mistakes I make..... whatever happened to "older and wiser" ? ;-)

  2. Great to see some of your marvellous ECW miniatures on the blog, Greg. Love the write-up too. No worries about rule errors - I think we all do those from time to time.

    1. Cheers Simon, getting the ECW games actually started IS a major milestone for me, and I'm chuffed to have this first game under my belt :-)
      The mistakes weren't my first, and definitely won't be my last ;-)

  3. It looks like the war has started with a fairly typical local action. Confusion and inexperience, combined with rash and unpredictable commanders sounds like a great combination to me.
    The Royalists were caught like the hazelnut between the nutcrackers, having commited most of their cavalry, then having flanking enemy forces on both flanks, and within striking distance was always going to be a hard combination to beat.
    The melees seemed to give the right results, although there are a lot of dice on the table, what was your first impression of the rules?
    Nice to see the terrain cards in use, this should develop into a most interesting campaign if that's the way you are going with it and I'm looking forward to seeing more.

    1. Many thanks John, nice to hear your impression of the 'chaotic' opening shots were the same as mine :-)
      The core rules in Pikeman's Lament are the same as the earlier titles Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant, so I'm fairly familiar with the concepts - my "first impressions" of the period specific 'tweaks' are a thumbs up! :-)
      The number of dice is part of the simple game play, and I'll do a little explanatory post next ;-)
      Definitely more to come!

  4. Great AAR Greg, learning as you go is all part of gaming, I'm sure we've all done it at one time or another. The models look great, and the pikemen really knew what they were doing against the cavalry

    1. Cheers Dave, the young ensign in charge of the pikes had the sense to get 'em into 'close order' as soon as they marched onto the table - he seems a more level headed character than his opposite number!
      There's no substitute for a play-through when it comes to learning a set of rules.... it doesn't matter how many times I read them before hand ;-)

  5. Cracking stuff Greg, never let mistakes get in the way of a good movie is what I always say :)

    1. Many thanks Frank, one of the MASSIVE advantages of solo play is the absence of 'rules lawyers' :-)
      Glad you enjoyed the trailer, and hope you tune in for the series :-)

  6. A most entertaining batrep, Greg. Learn from your mistakes and move on - that's what I do. Besides which, telling a good story is more important than sticking to the letter of the rules.

    1. Thankyou Bryan, it was an 'even handed' mistake so didn't affect the overall outcome, so I'll definitely be moving on :-)
      Really pleased to have this opening encounter under my belt, and looking forward to playing some more Pikeman's Lament when I get (or make) the chance to do so - things are still a little chaotic here atm, but GRADUALLY returning to 'normal'.

  7. I liked the report Greg, flowed really well and looked like a successful play through

    1. Cheers Andy :-)
      Despite the current lack of hobby time, I was determined to play this opening game on the anniversary date of the ECW "starting".
      After a couple of read throughs, I was beginning to wonder if I'd actually LIKE Pikeman's Lament - the game put my fears to rest :-)

  8. Getting to grips with the rules didn't distract from the very good game report - go Parliament!

    1. Many thanks Joe, as a fellow Roundhead, I hope you didn't notice any bias on my part ;-)

  9. Great AAR Greg! Personally, I'm a big big fan of mistakes :) Make them all the time and never learn from them lol! Looking forward to seeing more.

    1. Thanks Ivor - I'm a subscriber to the "To err is human" theory (that's my excuse anyway!)
      Most certainly more English Civil War to come, with other levels of action and different sets of rules. Finding hobby time to actually play the games is tricky at the moment, but where there's a will there's a way :-)

  10. That looked like a brilliant game. Love the Lion Rampant rules and been very tempted to put up an army for the English Civil war using Pikeman's Lament for a while. . . .
    Also, subscribed to your blog as somehow I wasn't

    1. Many thanks Mike, the rules share enough mechanics with the "Lion/Dragon Rampant" sets to make them really easy for anyone familiar with them to pick up, but enough tweaks to stand them apart and give them a nice period feel.
      Great for representing large skirmish / small battles, and I'd highly recommend them!

      Many thanks for your sub and sorry for my (very) late reply.