Monday, 17 April 2017

The Scots Make a Stand at Connor's Bluff

When I last left the Scottish forces under the command of the newly ennobled Lord Cottar they had had an unbroken string of successes against the Parliamentary forces of the north and west midlands.  However, thanks to a typically underhanded English trick, instead of facing the victorious Scots in a straight fight, the Lord Protector had instead embarked the New Model Army onto the Commonwealth fleet and had headed north into Scotland on a punitive expedition.  Cottar's army needed to head north and quickly!

This is the back story to the fourth engagement in my loosely connected campaign of 6 battles taken from the book "One Hour Wargames" set in the time of the English Civil Wars.  This time around I had selected scenario 20 - Fighting Retreat which had the Scots retreating north before an on-rushing Parliamentarian army.  The Scots had only 4 units while the English had the more standard 6.  The aim of the game was to be in possession of the hill on the northern edge at the end of the 15th turn.

In a further twist I decided to do this game in miniature.  Normally a game of OHW takes place on a 3 foot square table and the units I use are 3 DBx bases wide by 2 deep.  However, both the kitchen and dining tables were otherwise engaged and I didn't fancy the floor, so instead I decided to adopt an idea I had read on Shaun Travers's blog in which he had played a OHW game on a 30cm square tile.  In my case I used a chessboard on which the squares are 2 inches per side.  Therefore, using a 6 by 6 grid (quite apt for the 6 by 6 Challenge!) from the board and only one base per unit I could scale everything down by two thirds.  With some terrain swiftly cut from paper and glued to the board with Bluetac the set up looked like this:

The position at the start of turn 1 - the Scots are on the board at the bridges across the river.  The key hill - Connor's Bluff - is to the north.  The English are massed just off the 6x6 playing area
The play progressed pretty quickly, the chess grid helping speed up the game as not everything needed measuring (eg infantry can move 2 inches per turn = 1 square) although care needed to be taken not to guess too much over the diagonals.  In short, the Scots decided to hold the river line on the west flank, while sending an infantry regiment to hold the hill.  on the east flank an infantry regiment took up a blocking position between the central marsh and the eastern wood, while the reiters acted as a mobile firepower reserve.  The Parliamentarians pressed quickly up to and across the river, hoping to use their reiters to soften up the Scots with their firepower.  Thanks to some superlative shooting on the Scots western flank (some good dice rolls!) one of the English regiments was destroyed while the other was allowed across to allow the Scots reiters to have their turn (and try to eat up the turn counter).  This proved to be a critical error as the English east flank, despite having been held up for a time, managed to break through.
The Scots are victorious in the west but lose out in the east
The English cavalry finally got across the river and into contact, successfully defeating the Scots reiters but falling foul of the supporting infantry.  But this had enabled the two remaining English infantry regiments to close on the Scots on Connor's Bluff and by the end of turn 13 out of 15, had carried the day.

This was yet another finely balanced scenario which had within in it some interesting challenges in terms of choice of strategy.  Using the smaller board and units also worked well and I was able play another game directly afterwards.  I quite liked the basic looking terrain - it reminded me of the pictures in Featherstone's "Battles with Model Soldiers" - although may be next time I would try some printed terrain from or similar.  I suspect I will be returning to this sort of format again in the future!


  1. I am glad the small surface area worked out well for you too. The game look does have a bit of an old school air to it! I found that after doing the 30cmx30cm game 2 years ago I wanted to try out some more different style of games but have never got around to doing so (I converted my own ancient rules to a 30cmx30cm but have never played; had a few attempts at 6mm WW2 rules but all were really bad). However, I had a inspired thought last week for a 6mm WW2 skirmish game on an A4 sheet of paper. Maybe one day it will even see a playtest.

    I have dabbled in grids but they always seemed to me like I am playing a boardgame. But as I get older, I think I am close to getting rid of this barrier!

    1. I am intrigued by the use of grids in wargaming, such as Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame and Peter Pig's RFCM series but I'm not sure I really like the moving by squares side. Just having the grid on the board helped move things along as there was less measuring to do. And I do know what you mean about the age thing, even if I suspect I am a bit older than you!
      Finally I am toying with the idea of trying out your ancients rules instead one of my other choices, due to their suitability for solo play. I will see how my next set of games go with Squad Leader and Memoir 44.

    2. i played a lot of hex based wargaming in the 80s and 90s and so anything "hex-ey" borders on wargaming. I am still a bit cold on the hexes, and it is squares I am warming to. There are lots of games that appeal that are square based, and it is easy to convert some rules to squares - I even have a draft on my computer on doing it with my ancient rules on a chess board :-)

      I cannot really say if I am older or not but I was born in 1965 so you will now know who should respect who!

    3. Golly you come across as being youthful(in a good way!) - I guess it's still having children who are quite young. 1965 was a very good year....!

    4. Yes, had children later than we wanted to. But they do help see everything from a fresh perspective! And I am now getting in a fair amount of decent board games with them.