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

Monday, 6 October 2014

ECW Campaign - The Map

After publishing yesterday's photo of the Battlefinder cards laid out for the campaign map, I spent a few hours playing around with Gimp, and produced a proper graphic-edited version, which I shall have printed at size A3 (or possibly A2, if the resolution will take it) and laminated by my friendly local print shop, for putting up on the magnetic board in my office.

Here it is, in a reduced size. If you wish to have a look at it, remember this is just a home-tweaked version of The Perfect Captain's Battlefinder system, which is available as a free download from their (his?) website. The only non-standard bit of these cards is that I have changed the place names to suit the North of England - so the influences are Nordic and Saxon rather than Norman. You will observe that some of the cards are inverted - this is deliberate, to get the river to run the correct way. Remember also that this is complete fantasy - no association with real places, past or present, is intended.

The card images do not represent immediately adjacent pieces of terrain - each of these sites may be anything from 5 to 20 miles from its neighbours on the board.

* * * 

Supplementary “Late Edit”

I received a number of emails asking for more detail on how the map is used. I am sort of feeling my way into this campaign, so to some extent the answers are going to be “not quite sure yet”; the idea is that it will be a simplification of The Perfect Captain’s Tinker Fox ECW campaign scenario, which is intended for use with Battlefinder and is, again, available as a download from TPC’s website.

It will be a simplification because I am conducting this campaign solo – thus, for example, the procedure of issuing “Letters” each turn to give orders to subordinate commanders can be a lot less formal and detailed. I had also thought that I was going to do something pretty rudimentary about provisioning the troops, based on the “Provender Points” (P ratings) in the margin on each “district” card, ignoring the more daunting prospect of running a detailed revenue budget for each army – my past experience of campaigns has been that the road to insanity lies in the housekeeping.

On further thought, I’m not so sure. It seems to me that the Tinker Fox game is substantially about keeping one’s own troops in line, by paying them (if absolutely necessary!) just in time to prevent open mutiny. I didn’t fancy that overhead – not in a huge amount of detail anyway – but I am also aware that the motivation of the troops in the ECW on a day-to-day basis has more to do with the likelihood of their getting paid than with any minor issues such as the falling-out of King and Parliament. Some element of revenue management may be necessary, though I am a bit apprehensive about it. Also, the existence of a treasure chest with each marching force gives some kind of additional objective!

Current thoughts, in no particular order, and with no implication of permanence:

(1) A turn will be a week. In that time, in decent weather, a mounted, unencumbered force may travel up to 5 districts (i.e. most of the way across the map, if the way is clear), and other forces (on foot, with wagons or guns) may travel up to 3.
(2) Thus the areas between cards represent substantial distances, as described. The map as shown is not a mosaic of terrain tiles; Dr Allen De Vries, who introduced me to the Battlefinder system, describes the map as “an array of football pitches in a large swamp”, which is a little bizarre. Further, travel between the districts is only possible along the 6 paths shown on the template. You cannot fight, manoeuvre or do anything else in the gaps.
(3) The only element of continuity between adjacent districts is the river. The river cannot be crossed between cards – all crossing points are shown in the districts. In some cases, the road appears to track nicely from one card to the next, but not reliably so. Between adjacent cards, the paths and so on behave in some unknown manner which just happens to get you to the correct edge of the next card.
(4) The cards themselves are probably only a guide(!) – for a start, my table is not quite that shape, in any of its configurations. Maps were notoriously poor, though I would expect that the “home” (defending?) side would get less surprises on the battlefield terrain than the other side!
(5) Initial idea is that the Royalists have a major “capitol” (Battlefinder terminology) at Lowther, with useful surrounding towns and villages capable of supporting garrisons. The Parliament side will start at the bottom (southern) edge of the map, and may be deployed on both sides of the river if required. Objective for each side is to get the opposition out of the area, and capture of the enemy capitol is an outright win. At some point, yet to be thought through, the Parliament side will be reinforced by a Covenanter force arriving in the lower right quarter of the map – from roughly the direction of York (or Newcastle, or some such place we may never have heard of).
(6) Back to the housekeeping - Tinker Fox seems to me rather to gloss over the matter of ammunition. On the fells of Lancashire/Westmorland, you might come across a sack of beans or a stray cow or two, but a train of powder and ball seems unlikely. Again, I am keen to avoid insanity in the detail, but this does need some thought. Attacking and capturing powder trains was a well-regarded activity in these parts. 

One message from the emails was “why publish a map if you don’t know how you are going to use it?” – which is valid enough, I guess. Partly I put it up there because a map is a map, and it must be possible to use it somehow – especially since the Battlefinder system and the Tinker Fox scenario contain more than enough clues for how I will choose to make it work. I also put it up there to let it ripen for a while – like the “know your enemy” pictures detectives put on their whiteboards in TV movies!


  1. quite nice work on the campaign map. I can see where having the terrain already defined within each map point would be quite handy and efficient.

    Does the campaign game deployment rely upon which entry path each combatant takes? That might add even more tactical flare to the campaign game.

    Interesting stuff!

    1. Hi Jonathan - I still have some way to go on deciding just how the map is to be used. I've had a number of emails (mostly from people who have thought about using this system in the past) and the best approach is if i add a "Late Edit" supplement to the post.

      Regards - Tony

  2. A great idea. I agree with MSFoy: we need a 'how to use it' explanation!

    1. I think I agree with MSFoy too, Rafa.

  3. On another catch-up exercise, but this is enthralling stuff.

  4. The Perfect Captain site is a little tricky to find your way around, but there is a fantastic amount of stuff there. The Battlefinder and Tinker Fox downloads are at



    My edited versions of the Battlefinder cards are at


    On the Perfect Captain site, there are also campaign cards for an Irish ECW campaign, there are Battlefinder cards for France and the Netherlands, and there is even stuff for the American Revolution. Naturally they expect you to use their tabletop rules, which are far too clever for me (death by rosters), but there is a huge amount of inspirational reading, including siege rules, naval wargaming and much more. The downloads are free, though they request that you make a donation to the Salvation Army or some charity of your own choice. Canadians, you see – great chaps.

    1. Yeah, I'm familiar with TPC, but, as you say, their rules can be a little 'fussy' for me. However, a few years a go I did try their stuff for the crusades with a view to a club and/or internet scheme, but it died the death. Excellent resource though.
      To be honest, I think you're making a better fist of it.


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