A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 27 July 2012

A Nation Divided – into Hexes? (3) – The Cuddies


Mounted troops I have worked on thus far are types CU, TR, GA – being respectively cuirassiers, “trotters” and “gallopers”, and there should probably be lancers and some other kind of light horse still to be thought about.

I have to come clean here and admit that, having spent some time reading about Parliamentarian cavalry early in the war advancing cautiously and using their pistols, I got completely carried away and produced some monstrous cavalry melee rules which were about as straightforward and easy to use as the inside of my grandfather’s pocket watch. Having been shocked out of my excited state by the realisation of what I was doing, I am pleased to say that I have finished up with some CCN-based rules which are much simpler – very much simpler. In case it comes in useful in 30YW contexts, I have preserved a little of my frenzied “pistol melee” efforts as a rather crude “caracole” rule, which I shall append here as something which I do not intend to use at present – and possibly as a kind of warning to other kindergarten rule-writers.

Anyway – these are the first-cut rules:

No cavalry may carry out ranged combat – all pistol and carbine capability is assumed to be covered by the melee rules.

CU move up to 2 hexes and battle, GA move up to 3 and battle, TR move up to 3, but cannot move more than 2 if they are making a melee attack. Typical units of horse in my armies will have 2-4 blocks/bases of 3 figures (on 60mm square bases – these are 20mm figures).

Melee combat: 1 dice per block/base, +1 dice for CU (heavier), +1 dice for GA in first round of a melee (more dashing), +1 dice for certain identified Royalist GA units (not more than 25% of all cavalry present) who are nominated as “rash” (crazier).

The standard CCN rule allowing cavalry attacked by infantry to carry out a manoeuvre called Retire & Reform is lifted straight into this ECW variant. Combined Arms attacks with artillery support are not allowed, since artillery of this period could not co-ordinate in this way.

In CCN, a victorious cavalry unit which eliminates its melee opponent, or forces it to vacate its hex, may take advantage of a Breakthrough rule, by which it may opt to claim the vacated hex, plus (optionally) move another hex, and may carry out an immediate Bonus Melee attack if it is now in a position to do so. My ECW variant will also allow this, but the breakthrough and bonus melee may be repeated as many times in a single turn as the general wishes. 

Rash Cavaliers: to reflect the extra difficulty of controlling successful Royalist horse, a special variation applies to Royalist GA units which are designated as “rash”. Such units must carry out a breakthrough, unless they are brought under control, and must carry it out in such a way as to create a bonus melee if it is possible to do so – the Royalist commander may choose which unit to attack if there is a choice, and he does not have to attack villages, woods or earthworks - terrain situations which put horse at a major disadvantage. If he wishes to stop the breakthrough and continued attack by such a rash unit, after any melee victory, the Royalist commander must get them under control. This is achieved by rolling a Cavalry symbol or a Flag on a single Combat Dice; if a Leader is attached to the unit, control is also gained by a roll of Crossed Sabres.

The Caracole

I fear you are not going to like this – it needs more work, and I don’t intend to use it for the time being anyway.

CU and TR units may make a special melee attack with pistols – the Caracole - and this is the subject of a special rule, as follows:

CU & TR may ride up to melee contact, and declare a Caracole attack. The attacker rolls a single Combat Dice for the whole unit. There may be terrain or other tactical situations which require a deduction from the number of dice, such that the attacker is left with no dice to roll! If they score a hit on the defenders (and crossed sabres doesn't count for this particular type of melee) or frighten them (dice turns up a flag - which can't be ignored - but defenders don't retreat yet), remove any casualties, but there is no immediate "battle back" from the defenders - what happens is the attacking CU/TR cavalry now carry out a CCN-style "bonus melee" - on the spot. So a second round of melee takes place immediately (it counts as a continuing melee, so any defending GA do not get their 1st-round bonus dice). This melee is a normal 1-dice-per-block-plus-valid-bonuses combat.

If the single dice caracole attack does not produce a fright flag or a valid type of casualty, the defenders get to fight back with a single dice. If this causes the attacking CU/TR to retreat (or eliminates them) then that's the melee over. If it doesn't, the pistol-armed attackers may choose to retire a single hex. If they opt not to, the melee continues in future turns as a normal continuing melee combat.


Dragoons (DR) are neither horse nor foot, and so they require their own rules. The first complication is that I am duplicating my dragoon units so that they may appear on the table in either mounted or dismounted form. Since in their mounted form they will be on cavalry-style bases of 3 figures, it makes sense to put the dismounted dragoons onto special open-order bases of 3 figures too. When they mount or dismount, simply switch the models – it’s a hassle, but it’s less of a mess than most of the options.

Dragoons may not fire when mounted, and they are very poor in melee. Their musket range (when dismounted) is 2 hexes, same as the musketeers. Theoretically, they have a 3-hex move, which they may use to do the following things:

* if mounted, move up to 3 hexes on horseback, or up to 2 hexes and dismount
* if dismounted, up to 1 hex on foot, or mount and ride up to 2 hexes

If they are on foot at the end of the move, they can shoot (half a dice per base/block of 3 figures, rounded up) – so 3 bases get 2 dice, for example.

They can melee at the end of the move, whether on horse or on foot - but not very well (half a dice per base/block of 3 figs, mounted or not).

Unlike Foot units, Dragoons can fight as soon as they arrive, whatever the terrain.


  1. I think the rules for horse and dragoons are very good Tony, you have captured the different training methods and qualities very well for C&C. I have been running through a couple of imaginary combats in my head and I think they will work well.I'm thinking that once you have the final draft completed I might try to produce a quick reference sheet similar to those for the C&CN Spanish expansion, I find those really useful and can more or less play off them after only a few games.I have noted your suggestions for playing with 6mm figures based on 60x60 bases by using markers.

    Great stuff, keep going Tony - you have certainly inspired me with this :-)


    1. Thanks Lee - that's very supportive! There's a few bits of this last instalment that I'm not happy with yet, but it's getting there.

      Cheers - Tony

  2. Apart from the fright flag that caracole rule doesn't seem so bad.

    I confess to a minimal knowledge of 17thC cavalry tactics, and what I have read is probably 30 years out of date, but, to me caracole evokes 16thC Reiters, formed 20 or more deep facing massed pike blocks of 5,000 or 10,000 pikemen. I wonder how often a proper caracole was attempted by ECW horse as opposed to a volley of pistol fire before charging? That said, something along these lines sounds like a good way on incorporating the one volley before getting stuck in.

    As useful as the the galloper and trotter labels are, I confess to finding them annoying since they are so recently contrived. Haven't got a better suggestion though and I suppose few units would have been well enough trained to use either tactic as the occasion demanded.

    However, it seems to me that the most effective cavalry of the war were Cromwell's Ironsides (etc) who were trotters of the best sort as far as I can tell, sword in hand with steady ranks well closed.

    Would that make for 3 tactical approaches: fire off pistols before contact hoping to confuse and alarm the enemy as least as much as yourself, wild-eyed out of control gallop and disciplined but slower shock charge if well enough trained? As I said though, I'm no ECW expert so lots of salt is recommended.

    Last point, having 1 game of C&C ancients under my belt, they reward armour by making it harder to hit the unit. Perhaps instead of giving Cu an extra die, they could ignore swords in melee?

    1. Thanks Ross - the fright flag didn't strike me as especially the worst bit in the "Caracole" effort - the whole idea of separating out different tactical approaches (pistols/swords/fierce faces) seems counter to the spirit of C&C. Even quite detailed rule sets such as Terry Wise's and Mr Protz's handle the differences between the two types of cavalry (whatever we call them) in a broad-brush way, by making one lot a bit more effective than the other. I think that by 1640 proper, cycling Caracole was a historic parade ground trick well beyond the capability of any ECW horse, so I think it's out of scope for me at present. White Mountain have a rule for this which is probably better than mine.

      Pistols being just one of the ways cavalry could be unpleasant to the enemy at close range, the broad-brush (crude) approach seems OK - give the guys who go in hard with the sword an extra dice over the guys who go a bit more carefully with loaded pistols.

      The names of the cavalry types - I couldn't agree more. I'm on holiday at the moment, so can't check what DBR calls them, but there again DBR will be obliged to put their names in an endless list including Bedouin clothes-pole berserkers, to demonstrate the encyclopedic knowledge of the authors. I am not worthy. I was going to call the types A and B, but that begs too much explanation.

      I am constantly surprised that the same terms come up in various expert ECW sources, yet there seems little agreement on what these things meant! Alternative terminology would be most welcome!

      Cuirassiers - the CCA approach is sound - I think I'll use that. ECW CU units were few, and relatively ineffective - also, from a completely egocentric point of view, they are of no relevance in the North-Western sector of the war I shall be concentrating on - which is not a good reason for not getting the rules into a decent shape.

      Cheers - Tony

  3. Well met MSFoy - I have been looking long and hard at this project for a long buried idea concerning the ECW and lo and behold, you seem to have pulled several rabbits out of several hats! I think the cavalry rules look about right in that players will need to use them historically and as long the designations are clear enough it should not be a problem. I certainly agree that a traditional Caracole would be beyond most ECW horse and I am thinking that the difference would be limited to those that fired on the way in as opposed to those that did not.

    Very thought provoking stuff and many thanks for saving me a heap of work!

    All the best,


  4. Thanks David - I keep getting a lot of "just a minute..." moments. Latest such is this morning's realisation that dragoons need a bit more definition. In particular, anyone fighting against mounted dragoons will obviously be looking for Cavalry symbols on the Combat Dice - when they are dismounted, since they are in open order, taking hits for Infantry symbols (of which there are 2 on a dice) would give an unreasonably high hit rate. Thus - anyone fighting against dragoons needs Cavalry hits to kill them, whether or not the dragoons are mounted.

    Cheers - MSF

  5. I have been reflecting upon the point made by Ross re those 'labels' Gallopers/Trotters. Something is bothering me about those being applied to all horse, as it implies clear different training methods up and down the Country, with locally raised units being trained to fight either 'Dutch' style (old fashioned by now) or 'Swedish style.I feel strongly that for the majority of troops of horse, locally raised and trained there would be very little if any distinction between either side and the way in which they fought. No doubt Ruperts own horse regiments, trained directly under his control in the latest continental style should be something like 'Elite/Rash Gallopers' and maybe those Parliamentarian units trained by Cromwell and Ireton, the Eastern Association Horse, should be Very Disciplined Gallopers, but I feel there has to be a class of horse somewhere in between that relects the vast majority of 'local' raised troops of horse. I hope I'm not complicating things, again just offering more food for thought Tony :-)

    Pistols; in the 17th century they were not very good really! Good armour would not be penetrated by pistol shot, even at point blank range, most armour was 'proofed' against such shot and breastplates of the period will carry the all important proof mark of a shot dent. I have read many a accounts of pistols being discharged whilst actually touching armour or headpiece, with little more effect than concussion. I think we must be wary of any idea of controlled volleys of pistol fire in 'our' war, pistols would be discharched and then often thrown at the enemy as a missile, which implies use at very close quarters. I dare say those fine Gentlemen such as Rupert who owned a magnificent pair of rifled pistols -which had to be unscrewed at the barrel to load - would not not have indulged in such behaviour, but in a tight spot a pistol made a good missile once discharged as it was otherwise effectively useless during the action.

    IN summary then, no Roundhead horse could stand a charge from Ruperts chaps in the early war period.

    Royalist horse could not break the solidly disciplined troopers of the horse under Cromwell and Ireton by mid war period.

    The vast majority of locally raised horse of both sides would not have achieved either standard of training and would fall somewhere in between.

    Pistols were pretty rubbish!

    Just a personal view of course, but based on many years of studying the civil war.


    1. Hi Lee - thanks, once again, for this. Interesting input.

      I think the problem may be one of terminology. Whatever the right names are, there was one kind of cavalry behaviour which started attacks with the pistol, and another which went in a bit more vigorously with the sword. These roughly correspond to the Trotters and Gallopers I have produced rough rules for - I think we all agree that no-one likes the names, so we need new ones!

      Given the existing suboptimal names, early Parliamentarian cavalry would be Trotters, I guess, but later units like Fairfax's cavalry and the NMA horse would probably rank as non-rash Gallopers. I'm not sure that the King still had rash Gallopers by then, but in any case I hope that the potential self-destruction of out-of-control Royalist horse will be a source of risk.

      Need new terminology, but I need to make a mark in the sand here - let's assume that there were 2 types of cavalry, whether as a result of training or justthe way it worked out on the battlefield!

      Please keep the thoughts coming - it's a great help.

      Cheers - Tony

  6. Hi Tony - I can fully understand your 'mark in the sand' and I can see how that would work for C&CN. You are right about terminology too of course. All great stuff and I can't wait to see some of these ideas play tested.