Melee comes down to pikes or 'improvised weapons' - the musketeers reversing their pieces and using them as clubs! Pikes count supporting ranks while only the first rank of musketeers can fight. Melee generally continues until one side withdraws or breaks, the loser of each round being pushed back 3" per turn, better quality troops can absorb more push backs than poor (D's and E's) who are easily broken. Once broken a unit (or sub unit) is required to rally before returning to the fray, all pretty straightforward. This brings us to one big difference to most sets of ECW rules I have played over the years, the fact that a pike and shot unit comprises a parent unit (pikes) and two sub units (musket wings) each of whom shoots and fights individually. Generally you will try to keep sub units within 1 move distance of the parent body or suffer morale penalty. Thus it's possible for a sub unit to be forced back, or to take a reaction test due to casualties etc while the parent body remains unaffected or vice versa. I found I thought in terms of individual units, and this worked really well in the smallish/ large unit games we used to play where you might want to deploy both wings of muskets to support the attack of the pike block who would attempt to close to force a Push of pike. You can of course have your musket sub units fall back to the protection of the pikes in a typical Stand of pikes formation, overall I think it models Civil War action very well.
Disorder plays a major part, it's a bit of a long list of factors that means a unit (or sub unit) becomes disordered, but most are pretty much self evident and quickly committed to memory, I have listed these on my playsheet. Units disordered suffer negative modifiers to shooting, melee and reaction tests.
Just a very quick note on the Reaction Tests that form the backbone of the morale rules. The tests are quick and easy to take once you get used to them. Essentially, the aristocratic Royalist Horse, well mounted and full of confidence in their 'Swedish' style training received under Rupert and Maurice, will be classed as 'A' and are difficult to control once in sight of the enemy, they are also difficult to rally, but are very good in melee. 'Uncontrolled Advance' is usually the result for such Horse when an opportunity to charge presents itself. 'B' class are in some ways better in that they have more discipline and control, Cromwell's 'Ironsides' (the Eastern Association Horse), would be typical B class Horse, they can stand to receive a charge, firing their pistols before drawing swords in melee, and if broken are easier to rally than A class Horse. Class 'C' would cover pretty much the average cavalryman in the Civil War, sufficient training to follow orders, while 'D' and 'E' are very brittle and easily broken.
This brings me to what is to some a bone of contention with these rules, the fact that there is no 'Trotter' or 'Galloper' classification, I'm quite happy to go with the fact that the morale class of the Horse represents the difference in the training and tactics of the Horse Regiments as explained above, and that the Reaction Test results will usually bear this out in realistic fashion. I don't recall the terms 'Trotters' or 'Gallopers' ever being used in contemporary descriptions, 'Dutch' and 'Swedish' style yes, but the vast majority of Civil war horse, certainly at the time my armies represent 1642 + would have had basic military training, possibly in the older 'Dutch' style and this can be represented in the typical 'C' class unit on the table.
Horse under these rules can be fielded as EHC (3/4 armour), HC (back and breast +pot helmets) and MC (buff coat and helmet or steel 'secret' beneath a soft hat). Now I am the first to accept that these classifications are somewhat arbitrary, the majority of units being a mix of at least the two latter with the odd wealthy individual in 3/4 armour thrown in. However my view is that some units would have been far better equipped than others, according to the wealth of the person who raised the troops, and the many servants or retainers who followed their masters into battle would have been lucky enough to obtain a poor quality buff coat, very different from the fine thick leather examples in the Popham collection with scalloped sleeves and a heavy 'proofed' breastplate worn over it. So I'm happy to go with this, and I classify my Horse accordingly, the more armoured the majority of the figures, the better.
|Prince Ruperts Regiment of Horse, 'A' class 'HC' - sword and a pair of pistols, figures represented with a mix of equipment.|
Essex Miniatures ECW range.
Now for a change of subject, I have been looking at various ranges for a few different personality figures that may be compatible with my Hinchliffes. I remembered having some of the old Essex 25mm ECW's years ago, in particular the Charles I and Cromwell figures were magnificent (see images below) it may well be that they are too large, too chunky to match my collection, but I have ordered a few to see how they match up. Fingers crossed, but they are now advertised as '28mm', however I'm sure some of the castings are the very ones I had previously, we shall see when they arrive.
|I'm hoping that these will work for me on Hinchliffe horses? Image borrowed from the Essex Miniatures website.|
|Image from Essex Miniatures website, I have these two figures on order.|
I'm about to start work on my biggest foot unit to date, The Kings Lifeguard of Foot. These will comprise 15 pikes (in three ranks of 5) 4 command figures including 2 standard bearers, and 24 musketeers. I'm going to take my time with this one and plan numerous conversions. I have been looking to see if any of the Garrison pikemen are still about, and learned that the moulds were sold to Rob Young, who does still cast a few to order now and then. They match my Hinchliffes perfectly - I have several among my pike blocks -and would love to able to create the Kings Pike from them. If anybody might be able to assist me in this matter I would be extremely grateful.
|Garrison pikeman 2nd from right, I'd love to be able to find more!|
|Another Garrison variant (left), this time in helmet. You can see how well they match my Hinchliffes.|
|An example of Garrison mounted figures (centre), just lovely!|
If you would like a copy of my WRG play sheets please contact me: email@example.com