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

Friday, 2 September 2016

Battle of Montgomery - rule tweaks

Because of the relatively small size of the forthcoming battle, I am intending to allow a little more tactical detail in the rules. The combat will remain pretty much straight Commands & Colors, but units will have a front, flanks and a rear, and will be able to do some (limited) changing of formation - thus the activation and movement rules will be different, and there will be a "reaction" test (based upon the quality of a unit) to allow emergency changes of front or configuration during the opponent's turn. [As ever, I hasten to add that this is not intended as an improved version of the published game - it is merely that C&C is rather a blunt instrument with which to fight a very small battle!]

This is all lifted straight from a rather long-winded (though much read) post I put up here about a year ago, Manoeuvring in Hexes; the only problem is that that note was about Napoleonic games, and extensions to Commands & Colors: Napoleonic - I've never actually written down how this translates to the ECW variant. I shall not attempt to batter through all the discussion in that post - please follow the link if you can be bothered, if not, just assume that I have thought about this before!

In the tactical extension to my ECW game, the recognised formations for Foot will be:

Column of March - essential if you wish to get anywhere in a hurry
(especially on roads - columns of march get a bonus hex of movement on a road)
but can't fight at all - not even a bit.

Formed Line of Battle (or battalia - choose your own jargon) - muskets on
the flanks, pikes correctly in the centre -  optimal fighting formation, but
moves slowly, cannot fire on the move.

This rather stylised arrangement of bases represents Stand of Pikes -
Renaissance equivalent of a Napoleonic square - this formation cannot
move, has no front, flanks or rear, has limited combat power but is good
defensively against Horse

Unformed - no formation, minimal combat ability - units which fail to
redeploy are in this form (with their original front), also units occupying
villages, woods or enclosures will normally be unformed, which is a useful
reminder that they must stop to reform as they emerge!

Units of Foot may be seen in this form, simply because their commander
has not got around to specifying what they are doing - this is just a
default "don't know" formation - to an extent, they are assumed to be getting
on with things, but must move at slowest rate, and if involved in combat
will be Unformed unless they shape up, or pass a reaction test

For Horse, things are less complicated:

This is a general purpose formation in which Horse can fight or move
- the front is defined, intuitively...

Column of March is almost a cosmetic device - it probably looks good to move
Horse around in this formation, and is essential if you wish to claim road bonus,
but remember they can't fight like this!

What else? Oh yes - for the purposes of the Reaction Test, the forces at Montgomery will all be Class 2, apart from the rather war-weary "Irish" Royalist foot units from the Shrewsbury garrison, and Tyldesley's two units of Royalist Horse, which will be Class 3 - which means that they are rather less likely to carry out emergency manoeuvres on the battlefield, and are subject to double retreats if things go badly.

The details about turning rates and all that are in the Napoleonic post from last year, if you have the stamina.

The units of Horse will all be of Trotter type, which means they have a standard move of 3, but advance to contact is limited to 2 (because of all the fiddling about with pistols).

The only other thing I can think of at present is that, since this particular game is to be played end-to-end of the table, temporary rules are needed to force units to face the flat side of a hex, rather than a vertex, which involves some intuitive, minor alterations to movement rules, firing arcs, definitions of flanks and permitted retreat directions. Easy peasy.

That's quite enough about that. Oh yes - artillery? There wasn't any. That was easiest of all.

*****Late Edit*****

Not so fast....

I received an email from Jack Mortimer, asking me if I would publish the full rules, or at least send him a copy by reply. The answer to both these questions is no, but I can set out a bit more of the detail.

Foot move 1 hex in line, 2 in column or unformed, + 1 hex bonus for a column of march which spends entire turn on a road. Cannot move and fire in same turn. Stand of Pikes cannot move. Terrain rules are pretty much as C&C. Units entering a new hex may turn 60 degrees without penalty; any larger turn, or any stationary turn (which includes a turn BEFORE moving) takes a full move. Any ordered change of formation takes a full move; any change of front or formation in reaction to opponent action is instantaneous, but requires the unit to pass a Reaction Test (q.v.).

Horse move 3 hexes, but only 2 if advancing to contact. Horse have negligible (i.e. no) range combat ability - pistol fire is abstracted into melee. Non-free turns and formation changes take 1 hex of movement (not a full move), otherwise movement rules as Foot. Charge to contact must be in a straight line - i.e. any necessary turns must be carried out (with necessary penalties) before final charge. Column of march gets 1 hex road bonus, as for Foot.

Units can only fire within defined frontal arc. Units attacked in flank/rear who fail reaction test and do not turn about do not get to battle back in melee, and opponents get an extra combat die. Horse in melee with Stand of Pikes roll just 1 die, the SoP itself also rolls just 1. Since a SoP cannot move, any retreat it suffers must be taken as casualties instead of movement.

Reaction Test - units are ranked Class 1 to Class 4 (elite to dross). When required, unit may take Test in reaction to enemy action; to pass, must roll 1D6 >= (Class + 1 for each loss counter - 1 if general attached); natural roll of 1 is always a failure, natural 6 always a pass.

Otherwise, the game is basically my CC_ECW variant!


  1. All sounds good to me! Not sure I'd wanna be caught in your unformed formation....that's agonna hurt!

    1. Absolutely - stand by with the antiseptic ointment!

  2. Looks good to me as well. On your "Stand of Pike" formation, a clarification on terminology, if you please. I have always referred to this formation as "Hedgehog." Is the proper terminology of the time "Stand of Pike?" If "Hedgehog" was also in use, I suppose if the Americas had developed this formation it would have been termed "Porcupine!"

    1. Ah - yes - well - in matters of terminology, my experience suggests that I am usually incorrect. I think a hedgehog is the correct term, though I associate that more with (pre-musket) formations like the Schildron. I think Clarence Harrison used "Stand of Pikes" in his "Victory without Quarter" rules, as a sort of pike hedgehog with the muskets sheltering under the pikes - ever the accomplished mimic, I adopted the phrase without thinking much about it.

      Yes - I think hedgehog is the correct term. Agree about the porcupine. If they didn't have pikes, might this be an Armoured Dildo?

    2. Oh man. To borrow from Huey Lewis, "sometimes bad IS bad!"