Wargaming the Historical Battles (2018)

Posted September 14, 2018 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

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In amongst all the heritage events and campaigns, normal service has been maintained and, locally, we have continued to explore the Civil War and the challenges of reconstructing the battles in miniature.

The figures are Trebian’s.

St. Fagans

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St Fagans (1648) was a peculiar affair in which a small Parliamentarian force terrorised a much larger rebellious ‘army’ near Cardiff.  Our game was a follow up to CoW, where Mike E had put on a session using his own mechanisms.

The game requires a significant strength/morale loading in favour of the New Model troops – but in this case seemed something of a forgone conclusion.  Mike has taken on board some of our feedback so there may be more to on the battle and Mike’s thinking to come.

Marston Moor

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… (or: Trebian gets all his toys out) …

In which we returned to squares and to Richard Brook’s Victory Without Quarter.

Now I have refought Marston Moor on a number of occasions … notably with the old Pike & Shot Society display team and their colossal game (part of which fed recruits into my own Naseby model)  …  Marston Moor was a big affair and involves quite a lot of manoeuvre, deploying off the march and grand cavalry sweeps.

WTHB 18 03(Marston Moor … 15mm figures from the splendid Peter Pig range)

Which is everything that you want from wargaming a great battle – but is also a test of game rules and game management.  In this game we used quite a bit of the original game’s card management and it did make the game feel like a trudge rather than a sweep.

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I think Marston Moor is one of those iconic battles -one you want to be able to refight on the wargame table with entertainment, authenticity and flexibility in equal measure.


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Cropredy is an awkward affair to reconstruct … essentially a grand  (and rather unmanageable) ambush … an operational level battle with troops on the move … potential issues of surprise, visibility, nightfall, command distances etc.


Waller’s army was shadowing the King’s column from the other side of the Cherwell valley and opted to attack the marching force in the fields between Cropredy and Wardington after part of it had already crossed the Cherwell at Hay’s Bridge.

To do this he had to get his men across the river in a hurry, at Cropredy and Slat Mill, seal off the exit at Hay’s Mill – the eliminate the inferior force he had just trapped in the bend of the Cherwell.

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(Cropredy: some fleeing Royalist cavalry escape to safety across Hay’s Bridge)

We were still using squares, which created quite a few anomalies during the game … and unit-by-unit activation (which allowed multiple attacks on individual units in a way that really does need to be tidied-up) …

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(Cropredy Bridge: some views of the battlefield today)

In this game the initial attacks from the Parliamentarians went very well … Royalist leaders falling off their horses and being taken prisoner … but as the game progressed the management difficulties mounted and the historic withdrawal became inevitable … and probably more awkward in the game than in 1644!

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The Battlefields Trust AGM

Posted August 22, 2018 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

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This year’s Battlefields Trust AGM and Conference had a  number of interesting sessions for the ECW enthusiast …

Mark Hornsby and Phil Philo explained a lovely model Mark had constructed of the manoeuvres and actions at Piercebridge in 1642 in 6 and 2mm …

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Great stuff displayed alongside the very different approach I have used for Naseby.

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You will have doubtless seen the Naseby model before but here are some details from Piercebridge …

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Several of the talks were on our period also … Kevin Winter (NCWC) did a presentation on the development of armour … Simon Marsh presented a summary of the work (and the evidence) on the bridge of boats project …

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… but very specific to this conference (in Durham), we had a talk on the Dunbar bodies found adjacent to the cathedral … victims of the death march and (in many case, fatal) incarceration of prisoners from the battle of Dunbar …

Durham University Archaeology Project

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We walked into the city and visited the site and the exhibition …

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Well worth an hour or so of your time.   A fascinating story.  Most did not survive the horrifying ordeal.  Many of those that did found a new life after transportation and a decade of servitude in New England.  A brilliant example of research.

We also visited the reinterment site and paid our respects.

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(the Battlefields Trust delegates honour the deceased captives of the 1650 Battle of Dunbar)

Think about joining the Battlefields Trust and look out for the 2019 Conference/AGM.

More from the Naseby Project

Posted March 31, 2018 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

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In January the Naseby Project were invited by Historic Royal Palaces to showcase Phil’s wargame model of the battle at a games event they were hosting at the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

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The Banqueting House was, of course, the site of King Charles I’s execution in Jan 1649 (so a 369th) and this connection to the decisive battle where Charles lost his struggle against Parliament was uppermost in HRP‘s thinking.

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We set up an eclectic variety of games beneath one of London’s most spectacular ceilings (though one perhaps ‘off message’ as far as the battle might be concerned!) …

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It was not going to be possible to play the Armati game of the complete battle, so in the first session I ran sample episodes from the historic event … the gunfire at Sulby, Cromwell’s attack, the assault on the New Model infantry etc.

But I wanted to play through a complete battle, so for the second gaming session, I found some willing recruits to take on the roles for a Matrix game/free kriegspiel.

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They adapted very well and explored the historical narrative.  Two aspects that were particuloarly resonnant … Charles chose to ignore Carnwath’s advise and a led a charge of the reserves to intercept Cromwell’s attempted encirclement.  It faltered and Cromwell successfully argued the king’s capture.

N at BH 2018 07(Naseby kriegspiel at the Banqueting House … King Charles is captured)

Following the king’s misfortune, the Parliamentarians successfully argued that Col Okey could remount his dragoons and join in the encirclement of the army.  This is, of course, exactly what Okey said he did at the battle and presented a rare opportunity to replace the foot figures with the mounted ones that go on every outing but are generally not needed for the game.   A special moment.

As another interesting take, the King’s courtiers successfully spirited away his cabinet and papers so the details of the end of the Civil War would remain uncertain at the end of the battle.

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(the timeline of Naseby: how it all ended for King Charles outside the Banqueting House)

A special outing for the Naseby Project.


Back in a more familiar venue, we braved the snow and ice and took the game to WMMS in association with The Society of Ancients and Northampton Battlefields Society.

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Following the recent discussions on the SK Winter Tour of the battlefield, we paid some special attention to the action around the hedge and Sulby closes.

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Okey had something like 700 men at Naseby … dismounted with 1 in 10, we are told, holding the horses … (and if Okey’s account is correct, and Streeter’s interpretation is followed) all the horses were corralled up behind the 600 or so lining the hedging …

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It’s a lot of men and horses in ‘ambush’.  How was it achieved?  Is it plausible?  Should Maurice’s cavalry flushed out the enclosures before they took up their positions on Dust Hill?


More pictures from Naseby battlefield

Posted March 13, 2018 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

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This month Naseby project guides hosted an ‘off season’ visit by members of the Sealed Knot.    SK members regularly turn out in period costume to help visitors to Naseby get a feel for the period.

Always ‘on duty’, it turns out many reenactors had not actually been taken round the battlefieldas visitors.

This ‘winter’ tour was to remedy that.

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It is a good time to visit the battlefield as the hedges that have enclosed the fields since the 17th Century are less prominent at this time of year.

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The top of the Naseby ridge (Closter Hill) where the New Model Army was deployed

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Trying to envisage the cavalry deployment on Dust Hill

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Dust Hill still shows evidence of the ridge and furrow that covered the battlefield in 1645.  In the background you can see the flag at Sulby Hedge.  This marks the far (Royalist Right) corner of the battlefield.

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ROC Post and the end of the tour (and more ridge and furrow)

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Naseby Project ‘out and about’

Posted November 10, 2017 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

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The Naseby ‘battle in miniature’ has done a couple more outings over the Summer …

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The Holdenby event was the BBC’s ‘Northamptonshire’ day – and, despite being a blustery Autumnal day, was hugely popular.

From a battlefield championing point of view, we got cleaned out of every battlefield trail leaflet we could get hold of*.

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Holdenby, of course, is where Charles I was held prisoner in 1647 after end of the Civil War – so has it’s own point on the Naseby Timeline.  

Like the pub in the village, a great place to be able to display the model and interpret the battle.

Enthusiasts will be pleased to note that, in the pub, we did a full refight of the battle – which engaged not only some non-wargaming reenactors but also a foreign student over here on an exchange visit (who decided that Naseby would be a good topic to pick for her study project)!

Here are some familiar scenes – but after the recent refurbs and adaptations …

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(Okey’s dragoons unleash fire into the flank of the Royalist cavalry)

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(Maurice’s cavalry rally forward and drive back Ireton’s wing)

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(in the centre, there is a small amount of gunfire as the King’s infantry approach)

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(a general melee follows along the ridge held by Fairfax’s New Model Army)

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(Cromwell’s cavalry completely overwhelm Langdale and dominate the Eastern side of the battle)

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(with much of the King’s army surrendered or retreating, a body of Rupert’s Blewcoats prepares to make a stand – 15mm figures by Peter Pig and Minifigs)


These were very popular and successful outings … active learning and interpretation.   Obviously we could do so much more for people’s understanding and enjoyment of their battlefield heritage if only we had the resources to make permanent exhibits and upscale our ‘out and about’ programme.

There is a saying … ‘if you build it, they will come’

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(the Naseby Battlefield travelling display)

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*before, of course, a week later, being in yet another heritage funding meeting in which earnest stakeholders question whether anyone will visit.   Why is it the mandarins who appoint administrators to quangos always appoint people who don’t care about military history and have no knowledge of such a key sector in their new brief?  I am sure if we needed to resource a knitting museum or ‘social history’ tea room we’d have far fewer problems.

Col Pride’s Regt.

Posted October 25, 2017 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve been unsure/unsatisfied for some time over how to represent Pride’s Regt. on the Naseby model …

Streeter shows two bodies … a reserve and a small body captioned as a rearguard.

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It’s clearly a very important part of the model and the game – Rupert (Maurice) drives Ireton off this flank but fails to find a way round the end of the army.

Rupert and his cavalier leadership are blamed but Streeter shows this flank was well defended … firelocks around the artillery train as well as Pride split and plugging gaps.

After (for a long time) splitting the unit down (which leaves one of the bodies without pikes) I decided to build two units … with fewer men but each formed around a stand of pikes.

My units usually look like this …

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The reduced units will look like this ..

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This gives them the same footprint as full strength bodies (so they can block at full value even if we opt to lower their combat strength as a consequence of their split manpower).

I have also chosen to represent Bernard Astley’s Regt. on the Royalist side (so all the bodies are represented and both sides are now ‘up one unit’ on their rosters) …

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I think this works better.

This is how we set up at Holdenby.

Partizan 2017

Posted May 23, 2017 by yesthatphil
Categories: Uncategorized

The Naseby project was invited to exhibit as part of the history zone at Partizan, Newark Showground, at the weekend.  We took along the familar tableau of the battle and were fortunately to be sharing space with The Battlefields Trust, The Pike and Shot Society and the Civil War Centre.

… so an excellent opportunity to make the historical pitch to the Reformation/Early Modern warfare enthusiast.

Good light, too, for photographers …

(Naseby in glorious 15mm)

There was something of a Civil War thing going on … Burton And District did Cropredy …

An interesting interpretation of the topography and a pity we didn’t have time to chat about the characteristic terrain at Cropredy …

That was 28mm … meanwhile Andrew B and Simon M has a smaller scale Edgehill using Simon’s card driven To The Strongest rules … battle en masse and super figures …

Well, Naseby, Cropredy and Edgehill at the same show.   Plus the societies and the Civil War Centre … Quite a feast for the ECW Battles enthusiast!  Great show … spent most of it on the stand but well worth a look.