Just baby steps to start off.
Today’s main priority for me was scarifying the South Lawn before the rain came, so the siege was delayed until late on. There was a lot of trying things which didn’t work too well, and then trying them again. My developing siege game is played in two modes – strategic and tactical. A strategic siege turn represents a complete day elapsed. At any point in a strategic turn, either side can declare a switch to tactical – a tactical turn represents about half an hour of more detailed action, and the game becomes simplified, up-and-down-the-table Commands & Colors until the tactical spell is over.
|Middlehampton, ready for the siege|
Thus a sally, or a storm, or anything outside the scope of the normal day of bombardment, digging and attrition requires a tactical switch.
Each army has a number (range 1-3) for each of the following indicators: Resolve, Vigour and Leadership. These affect the troops’ fighting effectiveness, and also their ability to carry out digging and other labouring tasks. I have a sketchy mechanism for controlling rations, and reduced rations can have an effect on Resolve and Vigour. There should be some system for Plague, but I haven’t worked that in yet. The fortress defenders also have the mixed blessing of a civilian population – these have a number of interesting attributes, but in particular they have a Loyalty Number, which can range from +3 (fiercely supportive of the garrison, will fight alongside them, if required) to -3 (hostile, require constant policing, prepared to revolt or collaborate with the enemy). Thus the townspeople can be a valuable source of labour, or they can be a major nuisance and distraction, and this has a knock-on to the Resolve and the effectiveness of the garrison.
At the start of each day, the Digging Number for the day is set. Initially, this is set by rolling 2D6 and taking the lower; in subsequent turns, roll a die at the start of the day – if it is higher than the Digging Number, increase the Digging Number by 1; if it is lower, reduce the DN by 1. The DN must be in the range 1 to 6, and is the score which must be achieved by diggers to complete a section of work on that day – it is, if you like, a simple, rather bovine abstraction of weather and other imponderables which make shovelling earth more or less difficult. It is possible, for example, for the DN to get so high that it becomes almost impossible for the besieger to make any progress.
|Never had a use for the Giant Die before - here's today's Digging Number - seems clear enough...|
In the Test Siege of Middlehampton (for such this is), the initial Digging No came up as a 3. The population is between 4 and 5 thousand, the soldiers placed there for defence include 3 companies of musketeers from the county trained bands, plus 2 full regiments of foot, 2 regts of horse and a total of 7 guns, of which only 3 are heavy. The townspeople – strong supporters of the King – have a Loyalty Number of 2 – they will gladly work to help the garrison, but will not fight. The initial scenario tests also revealed that there were 6 days available before the attacker (those Covenanters again) would appear.
|Very neat job - no trace of the old suburb, and a nice new earthwork - these|
boys are good - they will give you a competitive quotation for raised flower beds
The Military Governor of the Town, Sir Edward Bloat, took advantage of the available time, the easy Digging Number and the sunny disposition of the citizens to demolish the suburb of ramshackle sheds and farm buildings outside the town’s Stockgate, and – under the direction of his German chief engineer, Captain Von Schuwel – to erect an earthwork embankment in front of the section of the curtain wall west of the Stockgate, complete with a “mount” – an entrenched artillery position. This would give valuable protection for the old masonry wall footings, eliminate the risk of the suburb buildings providing shelter for the enemy, and add to his available firepower. The walkways and most of the towers of the old walls were unsuitable for artillery.
|Man the Sconce|
|The rest of the town garrison are kept off the table for the moment - if I had little|
houses with detachable roofs, I could put them inside the buildings, and maybe
they could all have cups of tea and sandwiches
He had also considered the alternative of building earthwork walls right around the suburb, and leaving it in place, but there was insufficient time to complete the work. He installed 2 of his heavy guns, plus Bertram’s company of the musketeers, in the Duke’s Sconce, a modern addition to the town’s defences, and waited for the visitors.
Lord Leven’s boys duly arrived, and got busy setting up a first parallel, placing the two heaviest cannon and an enormous mortar in emplacements to bombard the Sconce, which was seen as a major obstacle to an otherwise systematic operation to approach the walls of the town.
A regiment of foot (of 3 bases, in full Vigour) gets to throw 3D6 – that becomes 4D6 if they have an engineer attached. To build a section of trench, one of the dice must be equal to or greater than the Digging No. To build a gun emplacement, 2 dice must meet the number. If the work is not completed, the position of what is planned is denoted by gabions, and until such time as the earthwork is finished the diggers get reduced cover. I haven’t done any forward sapping yet – the plan is that the engineers will be more important in this.
|One of the gun emplacements isn't finished - just a few gabions, which will give|
the diggers very little protection in the meantime
|Good view here of the new earthworks pieces from Fat Frank - I rather like them|
It became obvious very quickly that the Scots’ heavy guns were going to make little impression on Von Schuvel’s fine Sconce, so, concerned about the time in which the town was to be taken, Leven ordered an assault on the Sconce, to attempt to take it by escalade. So the call went up - "Tactical"! The advancing foot were hit by a storm of iron from the artillery, and two regiments were stopped with heavy losses, but the remaining 3 units in the assault pressed on, and captured the outwork very easily, in the end. The cannon were taken, and turned on the town, and the musketeer company, though it is said they asked for quarter, were cut down to a man.
|The besiegers' two Full Cannons are the main wall crushers, but they have to be|
at close range to score consistent hits
That’s as far as I’ve got. I haven’t even started working with food supplies, and there’s a pile of stuff (not least the dreaded mining, for which I have a cunning scheme) which I shall get to. It is very easy to come up with draft rules which make it impossible to cause any casualties in certain situations. Tweakle, tweakle. Fix it and move on.
With the Sconce in Parliament’s hands, the spadework should proceed in a more standard manner. I say this, kind of hoping that it implies that I know what that should be – in fact I am learning a lot as I go along. Keep Chris Duffy's book open at the right page.
Good fun – chaotic, but good.