Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hail Cromwell: English Civil War

Jim's English v. Chris & Steve's Scots

Both sides have 4 divisions.  We deployed by putting 4 red & 4 blue counters in a bag, then withdrawing 1 at a time & deploying an English division on a red and a Scots division on a blue. The English are on the right with 2 divisions of 2 pike & 4 shot, one each side of the hamlet and 2 cavalry divisions of 4 horse on the left. The Scots have 1 cavalry division of 4 horse on their right, a highlander division of 4 clans in the centre & 2 infantry divisions of 2 pike & 4 shot on their left.

The English tried to advance their left & centre, but only the left flank cavalry got 3 moves.  The Scots cavalry also got 43 moves and charged over the hill at the English leftmost division.  The highlanders advanced enough for the second P&S division to move to their right.

The Scots horse has fallen back onto the hill as the English bring up reinforcements.  Both side's infantry is moving only slowly.

Both English cavalry divisions have now attacked the Scots horse.  The Scots infantry has now redeployed with the highlanders between the P&S divisions.

The Scots horse has broken, but it bought enough time for a pike & shot wall to cover the Scot's flank.  The rest of the Scots infantry is finally on the move.

The English cavalry are making little progress against the Scots foot even thought he Scots have taken the brave option of not forming hedgehog.  In the centre the highlanders have charged home forcing the English foot back.

The highlanders & left flank P&S have the right flank English P&S in trouble.  But the English pike & shot division in the centre is counterattacking the now damaged highlanders.  On this flank the English cavalry & half the centre P&S are doing serious damage to the Scots foot.

The English P&S on the far flank has broken, but it's too little, too late for the Scots.  The highlanders have broken under the musket fire from the left of the hamlet.   The Scots P&S on their right is on half strength with an isolated & shaken musketeer unit about to be charged by cavalry.  The Scots concede the battle.

For this battle we tried making a change to Hail Cromwell to make it more like Hail Frederick than Hail Caesar.  Our house version of Hail Caesar is not much different from the book.  Our Hail Frederick rules include aspects of Black Powder and naturally have more significant differences from HC.  One major difference is that we don't use saving throws in HF - instead we just use less dice to hit.  This speeds up the game significantly.  There is one less stat to remember, two less steps in every combat resolution, and it removes the annoyance of throwing a handful of great dice only to see them come to nothing when the enemy saves them all.   The saves serve a useful purpose in HC as they provide more variation is troop characteristics - which are needed due to the variety of armour.  But in the Black Powder era, there is little armour and this subtlety is not needed.  A mathematical analysis showed me that as long as you convert the dice numbers right, simplifying the system makes no difference to either the luck element or the game balance.   It might not sound like much of a difference, but over the many combats in a big battle it adds up to a lot less calculation & a lot less brain drain.   Certainly this battle ripped along at a cracking pace, even better than last week under the old system & was most enjoyable.  With 20 units a side it took us just one & a half hours.  And the game was certainly not 7 Years War in different uniforms.  The tactical nuances of pike & shot were still all there - the paper/scissor/stone of pike, musket & horse was very evident - generated by no more than appropriate choice of combat stats & a few special rules in the brilliant Warlords rules system. 

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