Conference of Wargamers

Quite a treat, this year …

As I have said earlier, we had arranged that the ‘something to do on Friday afternoon’ (for early travellers) would be a visit to Naseby battlefield.  So, additionally, I booked-in a refight of the battle as part of the weekend programme.   Many thanks to Tim for that Sunday morning slot (it meant I was able to set the game up, once the room was vacated, the night before) …

WD walkers visit the Naseby Obelisk

We visited the battlefield in the rain.

It was an English summer’s afternoon and it showed us little mercy.   We were grateful to Graham Evans for providing laminated copies of Streeter and the OS map.    We didn’t have sufficient dry weather to do much more than the monuments, the long distance recce from the ‘Fairfax Viewpoint’ and a wet exploration of Broadmoor.

Nevertheless, I think visitors got a valuable impression of the position Fairfax and Cromwell chose for the New Model Army, and the ground over which the battle was fought.  I also hope that I was able to help explain the transition of the landscape … from, then, traditional ‘strip’ farmed open fields, to, now, small enclosed fields with hedgerows …

Despite the weather, there has been some good feed back from the visit and I am grateful to people for that.

Naseby: a full house for the Sunday morning game

The Sunday morning refight used the evolving ‘Armati Intro’ system explained on the accompanying pages.   The last few times I have not bothered with fatigue rules and I am slack on policing manoeuvre (neither of which seem to make much difference in non-competitive games … willing players don’t really ‘try it on’ that much)*.   With those simplifications, we got a multiplayer game (with army BPs of 9 and 10!) played to a natural conclusion within 2 hours (including introductions).  Yes, I pushed the pace along – but I think it was worth it.

The game itself rattled along quite plausibly – however things went badly for the Royalist right flank from the start: Okey’s men did some damage, and attempts by Prince Maurice to rally on the move were less than successful.  So Ireton’s front line charged in to exploit this, and though some were broken by the impetus of those Royalists that were not disordered, some headway was also made.  Even by game end, the battle for this flank was not clearly won by either side.  Such was not in Rupert’s plan.

In the infantry struggle on Closter Hill, Astley’s Tertia never made the headway of its historical counterparts and was progressively reduced then broken by Skippon and Hardress Waller.  The same could not be said for the other end of the line, where the fortunes of war favoured Bard and Lisle.   Fairfax’s, Montague’s and Pickering’s regiments were all under pressure … Rainsborough’s was sent in to shore up the line – despite which Montague’s broke and headed for home.

Naseby: the end draws near

(click on the image for a better view)

On Parliament’s right, the slower paced melee over the rabbit warrens created its own dramas.   Langdale was unhorsed twice, dusting himself down after the first action and rejoining the fray.   Despite the exchange of blows going predominantly in favour of Parliament, Cromwell, too, fell victim … then, to everyone’s surprise, when the body was discovered there was no life in it and that greatest of gentlemen was dead.  Although Parliament eventually won the day, English history would have had a very different tone.

Rupert spent most of this game at his command post alongside the King (rather than micro managing his cavalry with Maurice on the right).  This enabled the reserves to move more determinedly up into support.  Initially, these moves were intended to cover the fortunes of the infantry on Closter Hill … however the return of some of Cromwell’s cavalry threatened to outflank the King’s division which consequently was forced to drop back again.

With worrying losses on both flanks, with Astley’s Tertia routed and the King withdrawing, the Royalist army’s resolve gave way and the day was lost.  In the final analysis, an interesting position: although King’s army was defeated and he was caught still on the battlefield, Cromwell, his most determined adversary had been killed in the action.  One can only speculate whether the other leaders would have had the same mettle without Cromwell’s sense of destiny.

Naseby: Cromwell is found in the aftermath of melee

For those interested, of course, Cromwell’s demise though always a risk was never likely.  As a game mechanism, his higher FV cavalry need to lose a round of melee with him in the fight … then the Royalist player need to roll a 6 to hit him … then, following my system, we roll a die for him after the melee to see how he is recovered (and he needs higher than 1 to be a survivor of some kind).

Nevertheless, I will continue to look at casualty rates and mortality to ensure there is a proper balance.

*I have no issue with using the fatigue rules in more detailed games, though I do think a slightly relaxed approach to the manoeuvre rules might benefit the game in general (especially as applied to light troops) …

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Also at COW, Chris James presented his game ‘We are All Englishmen‘, an engagingly anecdotal approach to the period with special effects each turn from bible-bashing vicars to the ghost of Rupert’s dog.

We are All Englishmen

There were quite a number of interesting features in Chris’s game, and a number more raised by the players as the encounter progressed – and I think everyone liked the little special effects that gave some period colour to the proceedings.  I will include a glimpse of the ghost of Boye, a see-through image that might temporarily shatter the resolve of those more superstitious Parliamentarians who saw it.

‘Hokum’, I think the film reviewers call it!

Shh - it's only a poodle (Boye makes a ghostly appearance)

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Throughout, COW was its usual mix of serious inquiry, historical wargaming … role play, experiment and silliness.

I would commend WD’s annual weekend to everyone.  In addition to my own GitS and Naseby games, I got to play in the big Roman game, WW2, naval (Fletcher Pratt) and even stuck one on Michael Wittmann at Villers Bocage!

For a more general view of COW, see my Ancients on the Move report, or more on the modern stuff on P.B.Eye-Candy …

As for the silliness I mentioned …

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One Comment on “Conference of Wargamers”


  1. […] … and a feature on the Naseby visit and game that I put on over the weekend (here, on ECW BATTLES) […]


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