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


Friday, 3 September 2021

Kilsyth 1645: Battlefield Dry-Run

 Having spent a week or two deep in my books, sorting out the details of the Kilsyth battlefield, and a day of falling into ditches, plugging around the actual countryside, I've now assembled a tabletop version for the forthcoming game. From the sublime to the agricultural.

As mentioned previously, I've decided to turn the battlefield through 90 degrees, and start the action as the actual fighting started. It looks OK - the distances are about right - the next viewing will be in a couple of weeks, when there will be more soldiers and rather fewer dining chairs on show.

It's a very plain-looking field - rather a bleak piece of Scottish moorland. I had thoughts of adding streams to break up the ground a bit, but decided against it. The streams are all small, and they just disappear into the general idea that the ground is rough! The picture above shows the valley from the South - Montrose will be on the left side as we look at it, Baillie on the right. The hills and woods are unambiguous, the hills with rocks on top are impassable, the walled-off areas at Colzium Castle (left foreground) and Auchinvalley Farm (brown field, in centre of the table) are proper enclosures which may be defended; the other buildings are just scenery, with no cover or other function, to identify positions on the battlefield.

And now we are looking back the other way - Montrose will be on the right, in this view. Colzium Castle (far end) was the home of the Livingston family - strong Royalists, and Montrose's troops camped on their land the night before the battle. The castle was demolished in the 18th Century, and much of the estate is now under the modern reservoir.

My reference to a "dry run" is a sort of lame reference to constructing a battlefield with the reservoir removed. You can see how an idiot with too much caffeine might think this was amusing at 11pm.


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

Specially for WM and Stryker, here's a close up of Colzium Castle (aka Claypotts Castle, courtesy of Lilliput Lane)

 

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21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hi Jon - the Grand Plan is for evening of Sept 15th. I've separated out the troops which will be involved, and done some crafty flag-swapping to balance the sides up. The armies are locked away in boxfiles until the evening before, to keep the dust off and protect the flags (which implies that our house is beset with bio-hazards, which is not true, I hope).

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  2. Your battlefield is excellent, Foy. How could it be otherwise? It's even got castles in it!

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    1. Thank you WM - it's only a little tower house, really - Colzium doen't feature in Andrew Spratt's super series of reconstructions, which I guess means they can't find enough of it above water level to form any judgements, or else it was too humble to be included!

      Andrew's page is worth checking out anyway:

      https://www.maybole.org/history/castles/index.htm

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  3. Looking forward to seeing the AAR - the Montrose battles always seem difficult to replicate for a historical result.

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    1. It's hard to configure a game around the legends of Mac Colla and The Montrose - I'm going to take care to classify a few of Baillie's units as "raw" (which doesn't necessarily mean they can't fight - it just means that they can spring a few disappointing surprises by getting discouraged at the wrong moment!). The Highlanders are very fierce - they move quickly, but can decide to pack in if they are fed up - last time I played a [solo] game based on this battle (and the set up was quite a bit different), I played it twice, one win for each army.

      Volatile?

      One feature of this battle which is also a surprise (having seen the ground - occasionally on my hands and knees!) is the influential role played by cavalry - the field is very rough, and covered in streams and gullies - the ladies who ride round our farm at the weekends would all get off and lead their animals on foot - food for thought!

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  4. The table looks grand Tony. Wonderful having a windmill 'just as scenery'. I loved your pun at five to ten on a Saturday morning (the two morning cups of coffee were some time ago now...)!
    Regards, James

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    1. Thanks James - the windmill just marks the high ground at Easter Auchinrivoch, which is where Baillie's troops were aiming for when they started the flank march. If the mill gets in the way during the game, it will be relieved of duty, and placed on top of the dresser!

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  5. I do like your set up. Can you tell me is it painted on wood?

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    1. Ah, well now...

      My main battle boards are 1/2" chipboard, bought from Timberland (before they made shoes) in Stevenson Road, Edinburgh, in 1971. In those days, there were two boards, 5' x 4', and somehow I carried them both home from Stevenson Rd to Marchmont - on foot and the bus...

      It was only later that I realised that things would be easier all round if I cut them into four boards at 5' x 2'. Originally painted dark green, which was the standard colour for battlefields at that time, but when you turned on the overhead light the room actually went darker. I friend of mine who was an interior designer suggested that a lighter shade would be better, and would set off the uniforms, so I applied a pea-green shade called "Tapestry Green", made by Robbialac (long OOP), and eventually trained myself to like it. The Robbialac colour has been superceded by a very close match, Dulux's "Crested Moss No.1", which is also OOP but can still be bought from Dulux mixing stations. My boards probably consist as much of coats of paint as timber now. From 1973 or so I had plain green on one side and 7" hexes on the other (I was a satanist before it became fashionable).

      Almost exactly 8 years ago I repainted the boards with the hexes rotated through 90 deg, as per C&C, but the hex size remains at 7". I also added a (central) extension board, and for the sake of tradition I had that made up in 12mm chipboard too.

      The original batch of hills are some awful fibrous stuff called "insulation board" - don't know if it still exists - it had the advantages that it was light and you could cut it by hand with a Stanley knife. Later hill additions, and all the scenic plates I use, are laser-cut MDF, laminated where necessary.

      This is a rather more humble description than I might have wished - it would be nice to say, "yes, hand-painted beech, handed down from my great grandfather, who was a Major General in India", but the truth is that my battleboards are a lasting tribute to 50 years of being stingy!

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  6. I don't think I've seen that castle before - very nice! Good to hear the full story of your vintage battle-boards...

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    1. Hi Ian - the castle is, I think, Lilliput Lane (!) - it doesn't get out much - it looks daft in Spain.

      The vintage battle boards - chipboard? - luxury!....

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    2. ..(contd)... yes, it's Lilliput Lane, and it seems it's a model of Claypotts Castle, which is a surviving example of a tower house near Dundee. I think I paid £2 for it, so it's one of my more extravagant efforts.

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  7. Very good Tony, will be nice to see the ECW's back out for a bash again. Always liked those boards of course :)

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    1. Hi Lee - by ECW standards, this is going to be a fairly small action, and an encounter style game, with running about and all that. By Scottish standards, of course, it's one of the larger ones!

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  8. It’ll be interesting to see how this one turns out. As Rob said, I’d imagine it difficult to get the results to turn out on historical lines with Montrose.

    Like the castle!

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    1. Hi Chris. My track record of getting historical refights to line up with the actual result is laughably awful. I'm sure this has a lot to do with my poor analysis and design of the scenario, but, as far as I can see, as soon as you roll a dice the game starts to diverge from history - it becomes a thing apart, with its own narrative and its own dynamic. I have a number of friends (mostly in the past, now I think about it) who attach great importance to playing out real battles - it's almost as though it gives the games some extra gravitas, and overtones of scientific accuracy* - in my heart I suspect that it makes it a bit less like playing a fun game with soldiers, which is a neurosis I am always happy to discuss! Real battles are interesting, of course, and well worthy of study, but anyone "refighting" a famous battle is bound to be constrained, even if they don't realise it, by what happened in the past, and what the official strategies were on the day. I am confident that Kilsyth will work out quite reasonable, in that something like the same armies will scramble about on a hilly terrain, and the battle will almost certainly turn on some stroke of luck (good or bad - I'm even hoping to use the "Chaunce" cards!). Whether or not we have a pile of pro-Royalist historians to write up the game report afterwards remains to be seen!

      I once wrote up a disastrous reversal of history in one of my games, in my usual flippant, blethering manner, and somebody commented (very kindly) and suggested that I should use different rules. Brilliant - I chuckled about that one for days! He was almost certainly right, it goes without saying.

      The castle was a real cheapo on eBay - it is one of the last of my short-lived Lilliput Lane/David Winter collection, which was too bulky and heavy, and too easily damaged to be practical. I also still have Preston Mill (which is in East Lothian, not at Preston, Lancs) and a nice Scottish house. The mill sometimes gets a run out in the Peninsula.

      * It's interesting that the OK list of historical refights includes such oddities as completely made-up games which were featured in an early Peter Young book, or similar. Maybe the real criterion is "I didn't design this scenario, so don't blame me"!

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    2. I was thinking more along the lines that Montrose always seemed to pull off victories in implausible circumstances. It’s like trying Rossbach in a SYW game.

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    3. Yes that's true. Montgomery is another ECW battle that seems to defy logic. Montrose obviously carried some magic dust in his pocket - a real talent. He was at his best when he had MacColla's Irish boys with him, and when the Govt troops he got to fight against were rookies who'd been raised just to fight him; best I can do for history is make sure troops qualities reflect this. He was well snookered when MacColla buggered off and the veteran Covenanters came back from England.

      Earlier comment suggested BBC DVD "Blood of the Clans" to set context of clan politics surrounding Montrose - I bought it, and Episode 1 is right on the money!

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  9. There's a teaser on Vimeo for Blood of the Clans - wonder if I can find the whole thing on the interwebs this side of the water!?

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