End of term for Newbury

SELWG 2013 02

I was pleased to take the Newbury game to SELWG with the Pike & Shot Society.   I really only conceived of the game as one to play at Colours, where you have a view of the battlefield – but it has enjoyed a few more productive appearances.

Since I accepted the invitation to take it to Crystal Palace, I have been contacted by the Battlefields Trust who would like to see if I would be interested in taking on the Battle of Langport (1645) … so just at the point where Newbury is probably coming to the end of its main spell in the limelight, along comes the prompt for the next project.

It is probably also worth mentioning that in the full play through on Sunday afternoon, we also recorded – for the first time – a clear Parliamentarian victory (as opposed the various mutual cessations and comings of nightfall that have usually ended the game and which happened on  27th October 1644).    It sort of validates the game somehow: that although in our reconstruction the King’s position usually holds, Parliament’s plan can work .

SELWG 2013 05jpg(aerial shot of the action at SELWG … the King’s army is hotly engaged at all points of the perimeter …) 

The game was an spirited romp through the possibilities in which the Parliamentarian commander insisted all his officers took the most aggressive option possible at all ‘player choice’ points: this resulted in all contingents advancing and attacking pell mell, but did mean the King was quickly engaged in all sectors and that his army’s morale was getting worn down all round, simultaneously.

SELWG 2013 06(Balfour’s cavalry break into the gardens along the northern side of the watermeadow)

Cromwell’s small cavalry wing was unable to last out the action, and was broken when their commander fell in the hurly-burly of melee, but elsewhere the relentless gamble paid off … Balfour broke into the position south of Speen, Waller chewed his way through the village, and at the other end of the battlefield, Manchester led his troops into the fray in person.

As well as Cromwell, Manchester, Balfour, Maurice, Ludlow and Goring were all cut down or were overwhelmed with their men (the highest commander toll in any ECW reconstruction I have moderated) … though after the battle, only Ludlow and Maurice were found to be dead (the others were either still missing or were being patched up in a local Church – Cromwell certainly amongst the latter).

The high toll is not entirely unfeasible in this period (see my earlier post on risk) … and results from the very aggressive attitude adopted by the commanders.  But it did get the job done (with the help of a spate of poor saving dice by the Royalists).

The plan for the ECWBattles project now is to look at Langport with a view to doing a game to support the Trust’s interest; tidy up the ECW adaptations page; publish the full details for the Newbury scenario; and contribute an analytical piece on minor tactics (the employment of pike and shot as separate bodies encouraged by the Games Workshop family of wargames refuses to go away, so I propose to go back over the historical material to see if any further definition is possible either way).

So … Newbury data next, then some history …

SELWG 2013 07

The Society of Ancients at SELWG: link

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5 Comments on “End of term for Newbury”

  1. Jon Freitag Says:

    Really great looking layout and I have enjoyed following your Newbury reports. Looking forward to seeing your Langport treatment.

    • yesthatphil Says:

      Thanks, Jon …

      Like any blogger, I welcome comments, positive or otherwise.

      Then again, the positive ones are best 😉

      Thanks again


  2. Bill Braham Says:


    Good to see this getting another outing. Apart from the aggressive attitude of the Parliament commanders would you say that the poor saving throws by the Royalists contributed? Based on the number of time that you have run this do you think saving throws have an undue influence on combat outcome or does it even out?

    Look forward to the Langport game. In my ignorance I thought it came down to no more than a concerted push up the lane by the Parliamentary cavalry.

    • yesthatphil Says:

      Hi Bill

      I think there is a certain randomness to shooting, particularly at targets in some sort of cover … you need to get lucky … but if that is combined with an aggressive approach to the whole enterprise it means that if you do get lucky, you may well be in the right position to exploit your good fortune.

      I don’t think this is too far off the mark.

      I’ve run this enough times, re-read the sources … and run the game again … sufficient to feel that a natural outcome for the battle is a stalemate that runs til nightfall (which is fairly early at this time of year).

      Because the position is strong and because the day is short, to make a success of the battle, Parliament really does have to push the pace.

      But I don’t think that vindicates the criticisms after the battle: I am pleased we have had a public running of the game which has shown that the scenario has not been set so harshly that it is unwinnable; I’m also comfortable with the idea that without some good fortune – and some ‘incautious’ chucking in of troops – the result goes with the events on the day.

      It has been a good way to learn more about the battle.

      Re Langport, that’s my understanding too … but it may have been a near run thing, and there are some interesting aspects that i may be able to explore …



  3. […] more on Newbury 1644, see Phil’s ECWBattles […]

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