Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

ECW - Test Days

Clive was good enough to come to stay for a couple of days to help with playtesting my ECW game based on GMT’s Commands & Colors: Napoleonics boardgame. He was also good enough to bring with him some rather splendid Swedish and Imperial 30YW armies of Revell figures, which was a considerable help, since my own ECW armies are too small to fight at present.

Hot news in North Berwick - photo courtesy David Warren/BBC

His visit coincided with the only bit of local excitement we have had in North Berwick in living memory – the fire station burned down. No-one was hurt, fortunately, but I am now a bit concerned in case the lifeboat station sinks. Clive has news that there is some Euro help on its way – two Spanish reserve fire-fighting crews have been despatched to help us in our hour of need – we understand that they are called Jose and Hose B.

Back at the wars, we started off with two Napoleonic battles, just to get us off to a comfortable start and to get Clive up to speed again on CCN.

The first Napoleonic game was an improvised action between an 1811 Spanish army and a French force consisting mainly of Confederation and Italian troops, led by King Joseph himself, no less. It finished very close – the Spaniards (Clive) won 7-6 on Victory Banners – the early failure of a couple of irregular units more than balanced by lamentable French artillery and the tragic loss of the King – struck down by remarkably lucky dice (he’ll be back). Poor old Joe was shot right through his wine bottle.

The second game was based on a scenario for Orthez published on The comments on the website suggested that the French always win – well, I have news for you – I was the French and I got absolutely hammered. It isn’t as though I did anything wrong – the game hardly lasted long enough for me to do anything at all, good or bad. It would be pathetic to complain that I was unlucky again...

Then we moved on to an ECW-type battle, using my rules extensions for CCN. We played the same action over a few times, gradually refining and pruning the rules. We found that cavalry were too powerful – far more potent than my early tests and calculations had suggested – so made some changes there which produced big improvements.

To avoid an oversized unit (of horse) being unstoppable on the field, the rules now restrict the number of blocks/bases which may count for Combat Dice. There are also some reductions in the advantages gained in melee by Galloper cavalry and by “Rash” Gallopers, and some detail changes in the use of Stand of Pikes as a defensive tactic.

Lastly, I have amended the rules for Veteran units slightly. Previously, I had a simple bonus of 1 die for a veteran unit in any kind of combat. On revisiting this, I can’t see why two equally-matched veteran units would kill each other more rapidly than any other two equally-matched units, so veterans now only get an extra die when they fight Raw or Militia troops.

I’m getting there. With luck, you should find a new panel in the top right corner which will link to downloads of the latest versions of the documentation and cards for the ECW game. Thanks again to Clive for his time and his intellect (and his company, of course), and thanks to my son Nick for his usual, intriguing, rather idiosyncratic photography. The last picture with numbered counters is of an extra game we tried using Victory without Quarter rules. The game didn’t go as well as it should – our knowledge of the rules is not good, the game was not adequately prepared, my support program on the laptop did some things which looked remarkably like logic errors, and fatigue had set in by this stage!


  1. It doesn't sound like those poor firemen will ever be able to live this one down. Fate singled them out here too-our last tornado hit the ground immediately behind the fire station and wrecked all their cars, then flew back up.

    The right sidebar links worked fine, I enjoy reading the Chaunce cards.

    1. If it wasn't so funny it would be very sad - they even had two fire tenders damaged in the building. The tornado thing is alarming - someone would be entitled to take that personally.

  2. Hi MSFoy,

    Looks like a great game and loving the ECW rules. I am planning on using them with my block armies at some point but have been very tempted by 28mm ECW plastics for some reason....:-)

    All the best,


    1. Hi David - this new revision should be a big improvement on the previous version, so I recommend you download it - the changes are not huge, but make a difference.

      Cheers - MSF

  3. I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream - and I hope you don't find this too crazy - is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, "Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!" That would be bad. --C.D. Bales from the movie Roxanne.

    1. Speaking for myself, I believe I will call the fire department every time I have a fire. There's no-one I would rather see on such an occasion.

      I can see that it would be unsettling if the boys from the FD gained a reputation for carrying their own bad luck around with them, but they still have a big attraction with all the equipment and water and stuff.

  4. I just hope the Police station doesn't get burgled...

    Sounds like you chaps had fun - I always find that a play test against an opponent throws up all kinds of stuff you would never think about when playing solo.

    1. Indeed yes.

      The "unstoppable cavalry" effect was quite funny - I'd done quite a few tests and a lot of pencil-&-paper calculation, and you would have chuckled if you'd seen my jaw drop when a couple of galloper Swedish cavalry units started rolling up my entire back line - crash, bang, wallop. That wasn't supposed to happen. I didn't seem to be able to hurt them at all, but by Jove they could hurt me!

      Anyway, it's a lot better now.

      Cheers - Tony

  5. Dear MSFoy, your blog is one which I like the most. I like your style, your subtle sense of humor and your nicely painted and well-assorted collection of minis.

    For this reason, I nominated for the Liebster Blog Award on my Blog

    I send you the best wishes!

    1. Fabrizio - thank you very much indeed for the nomination - I appreciate it a lot. In fact, I have already received a nomination, but it means a great deal that you enjoy my blog.

      Some day I will knock on your door and buy you a beer - that's a promise!

      No-one ever - ever - thought my humour was subtle before, so I am impressed and moved by your good taste!

      Con i migliori saluti - Tony

  6. There is a new old North Berwick saying - red sky at night, fire station's alight