Saturday, September 12, 2015

ECW Battle of Southam - Impetvs

For the second Battle of Southam refight (see first Battle of Southam BatRep using OHW), the draft version of Basic Impetvs Baroque will be put to the test.  The forces are arrayed as in the first battle that used One-Hour Wargames (see Battle of Southam Setup and Scenario) with the same basic battle plan. 
Initial Deployment
The Parliamentarian Army under Lord Brooke gets the initiative and makes a general advance to begin the battle.  To counter the advance the Earl of Northampton brings forward both cavalry wings.  Counter battery fire is ineffective.
Parliament advances
Northampton grabs the initiative and launches the lead cavalry regiment of each wing into attacks upon the Parliamentarian horse.
Royalist cavalry wings charge
On the Royalist left, Carnarvon charges into the counter charging trotters who discharge their pistols upon contact with no effect.  In the clash, Carnarvon suffers one hit and fails his Cohesion Test falling back into Clarke.  Clarke is disordered in stopping the retreat of Carnarvon.

On the Royalist right, Middleton charges towards the Parliamentarian trotters.  The trotters counter charge discharging their pistols before drawing their swords.  The point blank fire from the Parly horse drop a number of Cavaliers from their saddles.  In the melee, the Cavaliers take more casualties and retreat back upon their supports. Northampton's horse is disordered in backstopping Middleton.  The battle is not opening well for the King.
Royalists recoil
Maintaining the initiative, Northampton rallies all of his cavalry from disorder while the gun opens up against Brooke's guns.  With great precision, the Royalists take one of the Roundhead guns out of action.

Despite the loss of the gun, Brooke's force continues its advance towards the Royalist line.  While Roundhead horse close to within pistol range to discharge their weapons, their fire is ineffective.  Hampden's Foot pours fire into Saville's Dragoons causing some damage.  

Wresting initiative from Northampton, Brooke presses on with heavy fire erupting along his battle line.  Countering the ineffectiveness of the pistol fire, the Parliamentarian musket fire is devastating.  Brooke's foot fires into Northampton's foot causing heavy casualties who now is teetering on elimination.  Hampden's foot unleashes a terrific volley into the dragoons and the outgunned dragons scatter.
Roundhead volleys erupt
View of battle from the left
Northampton's Foot rallies as both Royalist cavalry wings attack.  The lone Royalist gun near the bridge inflicts casualties upon Brooke's advancing foot regiment.

On the right, Middleton's horse obliques left to clear an unobstructed path to the Roundhead cavalry.  With Northampton, himself, leading the charge, his own horse regiment crashes into the opposition.  As the Cavaliers close, the trotters discharge their pistols to no effect.  Contact!
Northampton charges
In the melee, both combatants take casualties but the momentum of Northampton's horse forces the Roundhead horse back. Cavalier pursuit is limited and Northampton cannot catch the fleeing enemy horse. 
Roundhead horse retreat
On the Royalist left, Carnarvon and Clarke pull off a similar maneuver.  That is, Carnarvon obliques left to allow a clear passage of Clarke's fresh horse.  As Clarke closes, the trotters discharge their pistols, disordering the Cavaliers.  In the hand-to-hand clash, the disordered Royalists are repulsed by the steady trotters and fall back suffering heavy casualties.   
Clarke's Horse repulsed
With success on the right and a setback on the left, Northampton takes back the initiative.  Having eliminated one of Brooke's guns, the Royalist artillery shifts its target to Hampden's Foot. Under bombardment, Hampden takes moderate casualties and becomes disordered.

On the right wing, Northampton leads his regiment forward in pursuit of the trotters while Middleton wheels and launches an attack against Hampden's disordered foot.  Being disordered, the trotters cannot counter charge and are thus caught flat footed.  In the crash of man and beast, the trotters take heavy casualties and are thrown back in disorder.  The Roundhead horse is on the verge of scattering. 
Royalist double attack on the right
Not able to penetrate the pikes, Middleton's attack against Hampden comes to naught as both combatants are locked in combat searching for an opening to exploit. 
Middleton vs Hampden
On the Royalist left, Carnarvon attacks.  The trotters take heavy casualties and retreat back to the foot of the hill. With both Parliamentarian cavalry wings in retreat, the center is left exposed to flank attacks.
Carnarvon attacks
Carnarvon victorious on the left
In disarray, both Roundhead horse rally in place while the infantry in the center presses on.  Brooke's Foot with Brooke at the front, charges Northampton's Foot.  Barely clinging to the field even before the Roundhead charge, Northampton's Foot is scattered while Clarke's horse watches on (I should have had Clarke counter charge Brooke in support of Northampton).
Lord Brooke charges Northampton
Destruction of Northampton
In the continuing melee of Hampden vs Middleton in the center,  Hampden's Foot recoils back upon its supports taking casualties and disordering Holles' Foot.
Hampden falls back
Middleton pursues and contacts the weakening Hampden once again.  Still, Hampden remains firm as the Royalist horse search for an opening in the wall of pikes. 
Melee in the middle
With his position crumbling, Lord Brooke manages to hold the initiative.  While the trotters on the Roundhead left retreat to avoid destruction, the trotters on the right make a last ditch effort to stabilize the right.  Unable to counter charge due to disorder, Clarke's horse still succeeds in destroying the remnants of the Parliamentarian cavalry.  Brooke's Foot discharges a volley into Clarke's Horse causing heavy casualties.
Parliamentarian counter attacks
In the center, Hampden's Foot exchanges both ground and men for time as it falls back from Middleton's cavalry threat.  As Hampden falls back, Holles is ,likewise, pushed back and Royalist cavalry follow up to remain in contact.  Finally, Hampden has run out of men and is destroyed in the pursuit.
Hampden continues to give ground
The destruction of Hampden
While Northampton pursues the sole Roundhead cavalry, Middleton pushes on into Holles' disordered Foot regiment.
Lord Brooke's center weakens
The Thin Red Line
As Middleton close on Holles, Northampton's Horse charges the remaining Roundhead horse on the right.  Despite heavy casualties, the trotters choose not to be caught standing still and counter charge.  Unfortunately, with their ranks depleted, the trotters are no match for the Cavaliers and are ridden down.  
Royalist strike
The last clash
With the loss of the second cavalry regiment, Lord Brooke has exceeded his Total Demoralization Value and has lost the battle.

Victory for the King!

Another exciting contest!  Total elapsed game time was about one hour, similar to the duration of the OHW game.  Despite early setbacks on the Royalists' cavalry wings, the Royalists were eventually able to capitalize on their cavalry advantage to clear the flanks and threaten the center.  Roundhead cavalry put their pistoleer tactic to good use on more than one occasion but in the end, shock overcame firepower.  The subtle difference between the Royalist's having a musket to pike ratio of 1:1 vs the Parliamentarian ratio of 2:1 surfaced in play in both volley and melee.  These additional pieces of chrome add much to the feel of an ECW battle.  

To me, Basic Impetvs Baroque produced a much more tactically interesting contest than OHW but I will have more thoughts on those attributes in a later analysis.  One more ruleset to evaluate with this battle; that is my heavily amended Ironsides.


  1. Good stuff Jonathan. Don't have time for a proper read right now but will come back!


    1. Thank you, Aaron. Come back when you have time to take in the battle.

  2. Impressive array of ECW troops, Jonathan. I have heard good things about Impetvs, but never seen it hosted locally - even at Enfilade.

    1. More ECW troops remain in boxes, Dean.
      As for Impetvs, it really is a good system. We have had good games set in the Punic Wars, Reconquista, Italian Wars, Samurai Wars, and now ECW.

      Surprised no one at Enfilade! has given it a test yet.

  3. Interesting report, particularly in that the elapsed playing time for a more nuanced rules set was similar.

    1. Many rules systems could be fought to conclusion with only six units per side. Impetvs is helped by the fact that an army's breakpoint is just over 50% force reduction.

      The game gave a good period feel to me. The next game, Ironsides, will move one step farther up this complexity/period flavor ladder.

  4. lovely looking battle (figures/units) and games report, well done Jon!

  5. Very nice looking game and AAR Jonathan! I've been meaning to try Baroque Impetus someday.


    1. Thank you, Christopher!

      Do give Impetvs a try. You might be glad you did!

  6. Excellent game and report Jonathan!

  7. The Scenario works well in producing a close match game.

    Something that is often difficult to produce.

    1. Indeed! Both games were quite close with the outcome hanging in the balance.

      When I first saw this scenario from your playing of it, I worried about the asymmetrical force composition. I need not have been concerned. This unevenness gives each side some tactical opportunities and challenges. It is a scenario worth coming back to again.

  8. Another great looking game and excellent playtest Jonathan. The more tactical nature of the game with Impetus is evident, but I am a bit biased as I like them for ancients and am not particularly enamoured with fast-play rules.
    Look forward to the third of the series!!

    1. Thank you, James! Very good that you continue to enjoy this series of playtests with different rules.

      Impetvs is a favorite of mine too. We always seem to get a good game and it is never really over until it is over.

  9. Looks great again, royalist cavalry drive off their opponents leaving the parliamentary infantry high and dry, apart from the cavaliers disappearing in uncontrolled pursuit it seems like lots of early war battles, so nice period feel
    thanks for that Iain

    1. Thanks for the comments!

      As for Cavalier pursuit. Pursuit is mandatory but the Roundheads were able to retreat faster than the Royalists could pursue. Perhaps pursuit movement ought to be extended? I think so.

  10. An enjoyable read. I am liking this rules comparison project.

    1. Very good! The next rules up is Ironsides which you have played so the mechanisms will be familiar. Now, I just need to set aside time to game it.


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