A Victory for the King

Now you might think the Gentlemen Pensioners last properly saw action at Edgehill, but the band of veteran wargamers borrowing that title meets every year over the Phalanx weekend – and this year I was asked to stage the Naseby reconstruction as an entertainment for early arrivals on the Friday afternoon.

Chaos on Closter: the King's commanders close in on Fairfax

It was a good opportunity to play the game with a well-informed cast, and also to go over the game, ‘live’, as it were, before COW in a couple of weeks.   This year’s Conference of Wargamers will feature a Battlefield visit to Naseby in the afternoon and this refight at Knuston Hall in the evening.  Last weekend’s outing therefore allowed me to draw up the important ‘to do’ list (all those things left undone over the duration of the project …)…

First off, the synopsis of the game scales and mechanisms:

… the game is played to Armati 2nd edition as adapted on the attached pages.   All units deploy wide except Dragoons (when mounted), and although the units are Optimal Scale width,  the measurement system is Armati Intro.  The table is 3′ x 4′, with a foot therefore being about 500 metres.

There is no strict troop scale (Armati is unit-to-unit, and the scale is really 1 unit of FT represents a regiment, 1 base of HC represents a body of Horse shown on Streeter’s plan), but working backwards from the (generally more reliable) Parliamentarian numbers*, a foot figure represents around 33 actual men, a mounted figure around 100, and a gun, probably 4.   The disproportion between Horse and Foot is largely because the wargame units represent cavalry in a single rank, infantry usually deeper (so visually, you need to imagine significantly more ranks in the cavalry depiction than the infantry).

All shooting and fighting is unit-to-unit (not section to section) and player consensus overrides rules (so if it is obvious to both parties who is shot at, the priority targets rule does not apply; if both players think units have lined-up, they have – only otherwise is it assumed that there is an offset etc. etc.) … this all makes the game easier to play.

Second, for the benefit of players, here is the arrangement of Regiments deployed on the battlefield …

(you can click on the picture for a bigger image)

Naseby: White/Red for Parliament - Yellow/Blue for the King

The Commanders are in brackets, underlined for seniority.  Otherwise, the underlining indicates that the formation is infantry (or Dragoon infantry, of course).

There is Association horse behind both Parliamentarian wings; Col. Pride’s regt. was dispersed as a flank and rear guard on Parliament’s left but is not represented (I have put the Firelocks guarding the Train as a full unit, and have placed Fleetwood’s cavalry as a flank guard – which is what I believe Ireton was trying to organise when the battle begins: I think that puts sufficient cover in the vulnerable ‘pocket’**).

Maurice’s Horse incorporates the Queen’s Regiment;  Astley’s Tertia comprises the Duke of York’s, Hopton’s and Page’s Regts.; Bard’s Tertia comprises Bard’s, Thomas’s, Owen’s and Gerrard’s Regts.; Lisle’s Tertia comprises Lisle’s, St. George’s and Gilby’s Regts. plus the ‘Shrewsbury Foot’ (amalgamated companies from Irish Regiments).

Just on the edge of the table, the King’s reserve is a hybrid division comprising the King’s Regiment of Foot, the Lifeguard of Horse, Prince Rupert’s Regiment of Foot and Col Howard’s Regiment of Horse (originally interspersed amongst the Foot in the deployment’s Second line).

King Charles and the Reserve at Naseby

The complete Orders of Battle:


♦ The King (I:4,  Bold but may not leave the reserve division.  The Umpire will dice against the players’ die roll to move the King’s division: if the Umpire wins the Kings aides will have dissuaded him from moving.  If Rupert joins the division the King will take his advice and the movement is not diced for) …

1 mixed unit of Horse and Foot – 5(2)0 but ignores enemy horse for movement and impetus, 1 4(1)0 HC (controlled division) … The Life guard, the King’s and Rupert’s Foot, Howard’s Horse.

♦ Rupert (I:6, Rash) – commands the army on behalf of the King.

The Right Wing: ♦ Prince Maurice (I:5, Rash)

2 units of veteran 5(1)0 HC (controlled division);  2 units of 4(1)0 HC (controlled division), 2 units SI attached musketeers (controlled division – may detach);

The Centre: ♦ Lord Jacob Astley (I:5, Bold)

3 Tertiae of reinforced veteran 6(2)0 FT (pikes/muskets) … Astley’s, Bard’s and Lisle’s.

2 medium guns; 2 independent  SI muskets

The Left Wing: ♦ Sir Marmaduke Langdale (I:5, cautious)

2 4(1)0 HC – Northern Horse – (controlled division), 1 SI muskets (may be attached to HC); 1 4(1)0 HC – Cary’s Horse – (out of command)

(9 standard units, 3 enlarged units, 4 active commanders … CR: H7 + 5 detachments and 2 guns.  BP: 7 including lost commanders BUT the BP is reduced by 2 if the King’s division withdraws from the field)


♦ Sir Thomas Fairfax (I:5, Rash) – commands the army: starts stationed with the reserve but may join any unit in the army

The Reserve: 2 5(2)0 FT (single unit divisions) – Rainsborough’s and Hammond’s

The right Wing: ♦ Oliver Cromwell (I:6, bold)

2 units of veteran 5(1)0 HC (controlled division); 2 units of 4(1)0 HC (controlled division); 1 unit of 4(1)0 HC (uncontrolled division – Association Horse)

The Centre: ♦ Philip Skippon (I:5, Bold)

5 units of 5(2)0 FT Pike/Musket – Fairfax’s, Montague’s, Pickering’s, Hardress Waller’s and Skippon’s Regiments – (controlled division); 3 medium guns; 2 SI musketeer detachments (controlled divisions)

the Left Wing: ♦ Henry Ireton (I:5, cautious)

2 units of 4(1)0 HC (controlled division); 1 unit of 4(1)0 HC in the second line (controlled division); 1 unit of 4(1)0 HC (uncontrolled division) – Fleetwood’s cavalry already withdrawn as a flank guard.

In addition, Parliament deploys

A Firelock unit 4(1)0 +1 on firing, with the Train (uncontrolled division defending RG); 1 unit of Dragoons deployed as 2 LI Muskets in Sulby Hedges (controlled  division) – Col. Okey’s Regt. … it may remount as a single unit of Dr. at the Parliamentarian end of the hedges; a forlorn hope of SI Muskets (uncontrolled division) in the Broadmoor valley bottom.

(20 units, 4 commanders … CR: H7, L1 + 3 detachments and 3 guns.  BP:9 including lost commanders)


When an army has reached its breakpoint (BP), it must withdraw, conceding victory. This ‘dead stop’ is randomised thus: at the end of any turn in which an army has reached or exceeded its BP, roll a die: for the army to continue, a die roll of 2 or higher must be achieved +1 for each additional unit lost above the BP, and for each additional turn played since the BP was reached … but a 6 is always a ‘pass’.  It may well be that this will result in both sides dicing to continue the fight, and the random finish deciding victory.

Victory for the King … How did it go?

The game starts according to the script … Okey’s Dragoons opened fire on Maurice’s cavalry, causing disorder.   In the movement phase, chivvied on by Rupert, the cavalry pressed on (hoping to dice off the disorder rather than opting for the guaranteed removal of a halt).

The infantry Tertiae advanced as did Langdale’s wing.  The New Model foot held the ridge, and Cromwell decided to hug their flank rather than venture down through the rabbit warren.the great cavalry battle on Parliament's left

Ireton opted to charge Rupert’s line, losing and being swept away by the regiment that had impetus from their higher FV.    Rupert’s other regiment had lost impetus due to the unrecovered disorder (from the Dragoon musketry to flank), and was held.   This pattern of success and loss, some pursuing, some not,  meant that although Ireton was beaten (and indeed killed in the fight), it took several turns.  A fortuitous initiative win also meant Fleetwood’s (out of command) Cavalry were able to charge in and defend the infantry’s progressively uncovered flank.

Meanwhile the Royalist infantry crashed home, and, realising that the clock was running down, Cromwell finally charged down into Langdale’s counter-charging Northern Horse.

The balance of the infantry battle on Closter Hill went to the King … although outnumbered in units, the three ‘reinforced’ Tertiae count as veteran, and have a 2 FV advantage over the New Model foot (who have a mitigating plus for the hill, but only in the first round of combat – Skippon committed himself to combat to bolster his men further, but went down in the fighting): Parliament lost 3 regiments (Skippon’s, Hardress Waller’s and Pickering’s: the entire left of the line), the King, 1 (Lisle’s).   Fairfax, too, joined the fray.

The attack on the ridge: the approximate position of the Monument is superimposed for reference

(note that, following Streeter, this projection omits about half a mile or so of open country between Closter Hill and Naseby village: this is where Pride’s rearguard mentioned above was probably positioned)

With just one unit remaining unbroken from Langdale’s wing, the King’s army was 5 down; Parliament had, by now, lost all of Ireton’s Horse, plus the Commissary General himself, and the left flank infantry (7 units plus 2 commanders in total) triggering the endgame mechanism.  Cromwell threw less than 2, and the army’s morale collapsed.

It might have been a near run thing: Langdale’s last unit was bound to break, and as the header photo shows, Astley’s Tertia was ‘one off’ at the end of the final turn (a good shot in the next phase would have tipped it over, and the ‘push of pike’ that would inevitably follow would see it rout on contact – thus making the King 7 down): both sides would then have been dicing to stay on the field, and fortune might have won the day for Parliament.

I really enjoyed this running of the game – and thank the players.  As we regularly say (even with reconstructions that are relatively constrained, as I have made this one) … I haven’t seen it swing that way before.    Players bring their own flavour to the game, and, as timing proved decisive in the victory, I think it will be important to ensure players understand how the endgame works.  That said, otherwise the mechanics of the game ran very smoothly (and get another tick).  I have been placing some of the King’s baggage on the table edge behind the army, following Streeter, which got the odd knock.  It was suggested maybe I should put a pictorial edge there – indeed, perhaps a printed string of Streeter waggons – instead, and in imitation of the engraving …

Tempting …


* The size of Parliament’s force is better documented.  The King’s army’s numbers have (from the very beginning) been much disputed, often according to an agenda (some liked to ‘talk it up’, feeling it demeaned the King to suggest he could not command equal numbers; other Royalists characterise the army as a small band of loyal heroes) … it has always been important to Royalists to emphasise that the King lost because he was outnumbered and because Rupert – a rash foreigner – let him down.

**mental note … possibly the unit of firelocks should be shown as a mix of Train guards and Pride’s rear guard? … For completeness, as it were …

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3 Comments on “A Victory for the King”

  1. Kent Reuber Says:

    How are you modeling tertia? It looks like these are extra wide units (hard to tell from the picture)? Do these stands have more break points?

    • yesthatphil Says:

      Hi …

      The initial layout follows Streeter, and the second line Regiments are a base wide and interspersed with blocks of horse.

      At the start of the Armati play-through, the second line bases close up behind the lead regiments of the Tertia (and the horse close up into a reserve division) making 3 big Armati units … 2 wide x 3 deep … they use the reinforced rule (so are +1 FV) and are veteran (so take 5 BPs to break) …

      This makes them a very tough prospect for the NMA regiments on the ridge (who will get +1 terrain benefit on contact, after which it gets worse) … and, realistically, unless the NMA foot gets lucky, the infantry quality edge the King’s army enjoys will be a ticking clock – in particular for Cromwell’s wing.

      Sorry for the delay in replying, Kent … (hope the above makes sense)


  2. […] on Shaw and Shaw House.   For simplicity we used the generic unit stats from the Naseby orbats ( here) .. Skirmishers and Forlorn Hopes in gardens and enclosures are not dispersed and gain +1 for […]

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