Sunday, 2 June 2013

Battle of Ashby Street May 1643 AAR

The idea was to play out an encounter battle as described in the narrative leading up to the game. We used the following modification to the standard DBR deployment rules on a 4" x 3" table with 300 point armies.

No elements are deployed on table.

No ambushes.

Invader enters from anywhere on long table edge on first bound (all baggage is classed as (I) and mobile). PIPs must be used to maximise entry of elements onto the table i.e. no second march moves until all elements are deployed

Defender enters from anywhere on opposite long table edge on subsequent bound (all baggage is classed as (I) and mobile). PIPs must be used to maximise entry of elements onto the table i.e. no second march moves until all elements are deployed

If PIPs do not permit whole of army to enter on first bound, PIPs in subsequent bounds must be used to enable elements to enter table until whole army is on table. Elements not arriving in the first bound are assumed to be straggling and do not arrive until their command is allocated a PIP die score of 6, when they must do so or be lost.

n.b. Artillery (O) and (S) without teams cannot deploy and are discarded although they count towards command and army total ME for purposes of break points.

My long suffering regular opponent Keith had some misgivings about this scheme, as he argued it would encourage ahistorical formations marching on the table. I didn't think this would be too much of an issue as even with a PIP die of 1, any command marching on good going could deploy in at least two groups, using the command's general's 'free' PIP...

At it happened I think we were both correct and all the deployment did was negate the advantage of the 4" x 3" table, that is we ended up fluffing around before closing with one another.

Here are the armies as deployed after a bound each. Apologies for the poor photo. The Roundheads are deployed in the background, very sensibly choosing to position two regiments of foote on the hill and anchoring their left flank on the enclosures by lining the hedges with dragoons and placing what artillery had managed to stay with Edward Dighurst's little army during the approach march across the road. The Royalist army is largely mounted, with only 8 elements of commanded shot not on horseback. They've deployed in a conventional style with the cavalry on the wings and the shot in the centre. A couple of elements of dragoons have entered the enclosed fields in the lower right of the photo.

In the above picture the Royalist shot have advanced to the foot of the slope and, having subjected the Roundhead infantry to withering volleys of musketry, have drawn their enemy off the hill. Unfortunately for the King's men, the Roundheads have also trotted forward their pistoleers who are caracoling in front of the Royalist musketeers. The Royalists have brought up a couple of troops of horse to try and bolster their infantry.

It wasn't long before the Royalist centre broke, but the Roundheads had taken a pounding on their right flank and it too broke. The Royalist army, its morale on the verge of breaking, had no hope of victory. It did have a slim chance of seizing something from the defeat though as one of the peculiarities of DBR is the so called 'revenge bound' i.e. a command breaks when it has lost one third of it's 'morale equivalents' at the start of any of its bounds or the end of the game (my emphasis).

And so it was that a final desperate charge by a company of dragoons and two troops of cavaliers took the Roundhead guns and got amongst their baggage train. The result was both armies broke simultaneously and streamed from the field.

The fight had been bloody but the overall casualties were light as neither side rode down their fleeing enemy for the simple reason they were pre-occupied with their own flight!

Tactically it was a drawn battle, but the destruction of the Roundhead guns meant their strategic purpose was defeated. Without heavy ordnance their was little hope of a successful investment of  Felpersham...

And so, as spring 1643 gave way to summer in Borsetshire, matters seemed to be at something of an impasse.

That is, until the Earl of Grantham received a messenger frorm Oxford who had ridden on the orders of none other than Prince Rupert...