Tuesday, 18 November 2014

By the Sword Divided II, The Umpire strikes back!

By the Sword Divided II

An English Civil War Campaign

   Captain-General Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe took a sip of his wine and turned anther page. The room was silent except for the crackle of the fire, its heat keeping the winter chill at bay; there was ice on the window panes, and fresh snow on the ground outside. But the Marquis Du Jardin’s treatise on extreme gardening had him less than completely enthralled. An observer would never have guessed at the disquiet within, but Sir Samuel gazed at the page and saw no words. Instead he was waiting, metaphorically, for the other shoe to drop, which is why on the table beside him was a second glass of wine.
There was a knock, and the drawing room door opened, but Sir Samuel didn’t look up from his book, merely indicating with a wave of his hand an empty chair, and the waiting glass. The newcomer entered, took his seat, and drank, but said nothing. Colonel Mansfield hadn’t brought his commander a message; in a way, he was the message. There could be only one reason that he had returned from London so soon.  The negotiations had failed, there would be no peace this year.  
At length Sir Samuel snapped the book shut and leaned back. He turned to speak but the question of how the talks between the King and Parliament had fared died before reaching his lips; the Colonels grim stare into the leaping flames gave him his answer. He stood and crossed to the window; it was cold out but the last snow had been light, and the seasons storms had been and gone. If the weather held it could mean an early start to the campaigning season. And a campaign there most certainly would be now..
  “Do you think he knows?” he asked, as the Colonel joined him at the sill, indicating with a nod of his head a frozen figure huddled in a Rhododendron bush across  the lawn. Lord Flasheart’s spy had been there throughout winter, showing dedication to his lord, if not common sense. Even now, in plain sight of two Parliamentarian officers he made another feeble attempt to conceal his position.
  “His employer you mean? No doubt. The kings messengers rode forth just as I left...”

Forty miles away, on the welsh border, the party was in full swing. It was  now well into its third week, and was showing no signs of abating.  Lord Tiberius Derek Ramses Flasheart drained his goblet and launched into another bawdy chorus, two dozen guests joining in with gusto, while as many more sang a variety of  songs in competition. The band of dwarfish musicians, having long since exhausted their own repertoire, hammered away at their instruments in a desperate attempt to accompany at least one song. A midst the cacophony jugglers juggled, wenches wenched and dancers danced. Lord Flasheart, one leg still covered in grease and his hat sticky with unexpected jam, gazed upon the throng and saw that it was good, and moreover, that there was still half a cellar full of wine remaining. 
  He hardly noticed the sudden icy gust of air, and slam of a door, but a wave of silence washed across the room. As the music trailed off he rounded on the minuscule musicians and roared at the small pianist to play on, before following their anxious gaze.  In the doorway was a man, tall and haughty, eyeing the crowded room with evident distaste. He was wrapped up against the cold, but the buff leather coat, breastplate and straight bladed sword were all visible beneath his cloak. In his hand was a packet. Lord Flasheart advanced on him, scooping a glass of claret off a flunky’s proffered tray as he crossed the room, until they were face to face. The newcomer spoke;
“The Lord Flasheart, I presume?” 
Tiberius replied with the barest nod; he couldn't take his eyes off  the newcomers packet.
“A message for you, milord”. Tiberious took the proffered packet but didn't open it. The seal was that of  Charles I, King of England.
“So,” he slurred quietly “the wascawy webel wabble s’ill ‘ave some figh’ in ‘em ‘eh? Well, so be it.” He knocked the claret back in one swig, turned sharply on his heal to face his guests, slapped the unopened packet on his thigh, twirled his mustache in such a way as to cause four of the watching ladies to faint, and addressed those of his officers present,
“Gen’l’men, to your wegiments…the war is back on!” 

Welcome, to this, the second season of BTSD.  Some of you may have played in season I, others may be new to ECW campaigning; I hope that either way you will enjoy this campaign.
My aim is simple: to run, over the following 12 months (or longer, or until people get bored) a campaign set somewhere in "Merrie England" during the early years of the English Civil War. It will not follow history too closely, and all manner of Foreigner and Alien will be welcome. Only lip service will be paid to the historical split between Royalist and Parliamentarian, in this Warr without an Enemie, there can be only one victor!

So, I hear the gentle reader ask, how can I get involved? How can I pin my colours to a righteous cause, or strive to take Englandes throne for myself? And where shall my path to glory begin, being a mere captain with barely a troop of horse to my name?  Have no fear friend, for I, your humble Umpire will gladly guide you on your first steps to glory!

All you have to do is play a series of games and inform me of the result. The objective of your games is to capture territories, and simply, the player/faction with the most territories will be declared the winner! Beyond that you can have as much or as little involvement as you like. I will weave the reports I receive into something resembling a coherent narrative, and these will be posted on this very Blog for you to follow, but if you want to add in your own work then feel free to do so. Simply email me with anything you create, battle reports, recurring characters, short stories and the like, and they will become part of this collective effort! Hopefully in such a way we shall all benefit and be entertained but do not worry if time or inclination is lacking, you are not required to participate more than you want to, and I shall happily fill in any remaining holes with my own imagination.

It is my aim to make this campaign friendly to longbeard and freshfaced militiaman alike; if you are new to ECW gaming and have only limited forces or no force at all available, this should be no obstacle to participation! To be sure, our gaming group includes numerous individuals like myself with extensive armies, who are generally happy to lend figures out for games. Some of you I know may already have a small collection, or a starter set, which could easily provide you with sufficient troops, as our starting armies will only be small.  The campaign should give the budding general opportunity to increase his forces in a manageable and affordable way as he desires, and possibly even stand a chance of getting it painted!

 My only request is that if within this digital chronicle you find something you like or dislike, that you find witty or tedious that you say so, so I may develop the story to the liking of its readers, otherwise I only know for certain that I am entertained by it, which would seem to miss an important point...

For now gentle reader, read on, for what follows are the rules by which your fate will be decided!  I shall  then follow with an example of how it works. You may want to print this off, so as to have it handy at the gaming table.

The Rules:
Each player shall began by selecting the army with which they shall participate: pick from one of the factions in the Pike and Shotte book listed as mid 17th century, obviously the ECW lists and also any of the 30YW lists are fine. It is from this that you shall select you army! There are several extra restrictions as follows.
  • Your army may be selected to a total of 250 points.
  • You must include a General.  This is your representative or avatar on the field of battle. If he has a Random Command Value Roll this once at the start of the campaign, he retains it throughout the campaign.
  • You may include up to one Brigade Commander, but no more than one.
  • You may include up to one Artillery piece, but no more than one.
  • You may not include any Siege Artillery ,petards or Storming parties.
  • You may not include any Dramatis Personae.
  • You will also need a deck of cards, available from nearly everywhere.
  • And you'll probably a notebook to track your progress and territories and other awards.
Once you have selected your army arrange and play games against players of the opposing faction (or even the same faction if you want!) and attempts to capture as much territory as possible.

Some other Important Rules:
Limited Powder: 
          At this stage of the war powder is in short supply: Each player will need a deck of cards to hand. Take one suite from the deck (i.e 13 cards!) to represent your available powder supplies for each game. Each time a unit fires its weapons (not counting bows or thrown weapons!) remove a card from the powder supply. When you run out thats it for this game. Your basic supply may be supplemented by extra powder from various territories, and other places too, so you'll still need the rest of the deck,especially if your opponent forgets his deck!

          At various times during the Campaign a Special Event will occur.  This will be probably be a Bad Thing for at least one player if not all of them and is mainly designed so that everyone gets to laugh at somebody else’s misfortune! It will involve a roll on the appropriate table.

          Each Player starts with 3 Territories. One of these will be a town, the place your troops spent the winter and the location of your Headquarters. Pick an appropriate name for your capital. This is your capital, the place from which your campaign of conquest will be launched, and provides you with the benefits noted in the table below. Next, take two different coloured dice and roll a D66 ( I.e a D6 representing the Tens and a D6 for the Ones!)  twice on the following table. You may reroll any duplicates (though you must abide by the reroll) and reroll any results of Special Event for the moment: They will only come into play as battle start to be fought.

These two plus your Capital are your three starting Territories.

Capturing Territories:
         Each time you play a game you and your opponent will  “stake” a Territory that you own on the outcome of the battle. In addition make a roll on the Territory chart to generate a prize! The Victor may pick either his opponents stake, or the new territory that was rolled and his defeated adversary gets whichever is left as a consolation prize!
         Each time a Town or Village is rolled it must be Identified with a name: A Mappe will be kept displaying the current status of each Town and Village so far in play and new ones will be added as they are rolled up. Obviously if a player loses a town or village that he staked, it may well switch faction!

The Territory Chart. Roll D66 to select a territory.

11 :  Special Event: Alert the Umpire as he must roll on the Special Event table, You may now roll on the Territory Chart again.
12-16 : Village:  Select a name for the Village and add it to the Mappe. Whilst you retain control of this Village it adds 5 points to your available Forces.
21-23: Town: Select a name for the Town and add it to the Mappe: Whilst you retain control of this town it adds 20 points to your available Forces.
24-25: Chapel/Church: Allows a Preacher or Priest to be added to one of your units of infantry: It gains the “Fanatic” Special Rule.
26-31: Magazine: Gain D3 powder tokens. Roll this when the territory is generated, and this many tokens are added to your pile each game. If the territory changes hands the new owner rolls the D3 afresh.
32-34: Road: Control of a good Road enables you to concentrate your forces quicker and supply them more easily: Whilst you retain control of a Road you may add +1 to the Dice to determine who gets first turn. If no dice would be rolled you may steal the 1st turn on a 6+!
35-36: Port:  Select a name for the Port and add it to the Mappe: Control of the sea can be erratic but bring in vital supplies- roll d6 before each game and apply the following 1- piracy or enemy action means the port gives no benefit for this game. 2-5 gain a number of powder tokens equal to the result rolled. 6- Storms wreck the harbour and enemy ships persuade friendly traders to seek safer ports; the Port now counts as a territory that grants no benefits until it changes hands, after which it can be used again as normal!.
41-44: Arsenal: Allows an extra Artillery unit to be selected as part of your force.
45-51: Drill Square: This territory gives you chance to train your men in the skills of war; select one unit in your force to become Superbly Drilled.
52-53: Siege Equipment:  A cache of siege equipment, contains such sundries as ladders, and entrenching tools, but also gives you access to Siege Artillery, Storming Parties and Petards. The owning player may equip any unit of infantry with ladders at +3 points; this gives them +1 to any order they receive that would result in them having to climb an obstacle like fortifications or a castle wall.
54-56: Veterans: N.b: note this is not an actual territory and doesn't count towards your total, nor can it be staked before a battle. You also cant have this as one of your starting territories, so reroll it. This represents the skills and experience your men have gained in the crucible of battle! Select one of the following - Tough Fighters, Elite 4+, or Steady. One unit in your army gains the chosen ability and retains it for the rest of the campaign, unless it is ever Destroyed, in which case the bonus is lost for good.
61-62: Manor:  This enables you to include an extra Brigade Commander in your Force.
63-64: Library : Apart from a general array of texts for broadening the mind and sharpening the intellect you gain access to texts and tactical treatises of the great commanders of ancient times, enabling you to become a modern Alexander or Hannibal! Nominate an officer in your force to gain +1 command for as long as this territory is held.
65: Powder Factory- Control of your own factory for making Black Powder ensures a reliable supply for your troops. As long as nobody blows it up...Roll a d6 before each game; on any result other than a 1 add that many powder tokens. On a 1 an accident blows it to kingdom come and the territory  ceases to exist!
66: Spy Network: N.b: note this is not an actual territory and doesn't count towards your total, nor can it be staked before a battle.  Control of a network of spies requires a lot resources but can be worth it: before each game roll a D6 on the Spy Chart.  If you roll this as one of your starting territories you may keep this and roll for a further territory!

Spy Chart: Roll a D6.
1) Counter Espionage  Your Spy is caught and the network unravels, the territory is lost!
2) Assassin: An attempt is made on the life of an enemy officer: Pick a commander in the enemy army (or general if none other present) Roll a D6: 1-2 Fails  3-6 The target is dead, or unable to take part: a subordinate takes his place but with a -1 modifier to his command rating.
3) Sabotage: A saboteur gets in among the enemy's horses in the night and hamstrings as many as possible before capture: Roll a D6 for each enemy mounted unit: on a 4+ it takes one stamina point with no save..
4) Bribery: An enemy officer is in your pocket! Nominate an enemy unit at the beginning of the game: for the rest of the game it must roll a D6 at the start of each turn: on a 6 it is disordered.
5)Stolen Plans:  With access to your enemies plans and maps it is much easier to pick your ground! After set up but before deployment you may reposition any one piece of terrain. You may also pick your deployment zone in any case where you would normal dice for this.
6) Poisoned Wells!  The Spy manages to weaken and disrupt the enemy in one blow! Roll a D6 for each enemy unit at the beginning of the game after deployment: on a 6 its owning player must choose between the unit beginning the game disordered or taking a point of stamina with no save.

Periodically a result on the Territory Chart,or boredom on behalf of the Umpire might result in one or more players being effected  by an Event.  The Umpire or a Representative of the Umpire will roll on this table. The result will effect all players unless he decides to allow players to elect democratically the target of Gods Wrath or simply pick a victim randomly.

1) “Bryng Out Yer Ded!” An outbreak of Plague has made some towns and villages no-go areas, and people are leaving urban areas in droves…this is making billeting and Recruitment a bit tricky. Each effected player rolls a D6 for each Town or Village they control: On a 4+ it is unable to provide you with any extra forces for your next two battles!
2) “Stande and Deliver!” An outbreak of Highwaymen in the area causes disruption to your communication system; messengers have been mugged, supplies stolen.  If one of your Territories is a Road you may not use its benefits for the next two battles, if you have a Spy Network it will be unavailable for the next battle.
3) “The Peasants Are Revolting!” The people of England are growing restless from the hardships of prolonged war and decide to declare independence! One Random town or village held by the effected player no longer provides him with additional forces: In subsequent games the effected player may attempt to restore his authority, and after deployment despatch a single unit of either Shotte (inc commanded shotte) , Pike , or Horse (inc Dragoons etc)to the task. The unit doesnt take part in the battle: Roll a d6- The Shotte require a 5+ to restore order, Pike a 4+, and Horse a 3+.
4)  “Put that Bloodee Lyght out!” A surreptitious smoke causes one of your powder magazines to be blown sky high, you immediately lose a random territory, and shortages mean that in your next battle you fight you must reduce your powder supply by d6 cards.
5) “Rat on a Stick,Rat Pies, get yor hot rat pies here, 2 for a shilling, Rat on a stick, only the finest rats used, tuppence each, what about you young sir, thy looks hungry…” times are getting hard and famine has struck; your troops must go further afield to forage: For as long as the Famine runs half the units in your force must start the game in reserve. Command rolls can be used to bring them on as normal but with a -1 modifier.
6) “Storm Chaos Grips Ye Olde Englande!” Rain, Fog, Driving snow, High winds and hail, and all the other features of a typical English summer, conspire to quench your fire: in the next battle all shooting hits at no better than 6s regardless of modifiers.

       Obviously you will need to play some games. No doubt you'll be able to work this bit out easily enough yourself, sometimes though I will have a particular scenario that needs to be played, and sometimes its easier to have a set scenario to play, so here are some basic ones to get you by. These all assume two players on a 6x4" table and with scenery arrayed in a manner the players find agreeable, rolling off to determine who picks the side they deploy on. Each game will last at least 4 turns. At the end of turn 4, roll a D6; on a 4+ play another turn.
      Normally Victory will go to the side that breaks the other first. However if by the end of the game neither side is broken then divide the battle field into quarters and add up how many quarters are held by each side. Then deduct from this the number of their units that were destroyed. The side with the highest total wins! For example; Steve and Timmy play a game but neither is broken at the end of the game. Steve holds 3 quarters and lost 2 units so scores 1, Timmy only holds 1 quarter, and lost 3 units so scores -2, and thus Steve is the Victor!

I Pitched Battle:
The players take it in turns (established by a roll off) to deploy units one at a time, deployment zones being 24" apart along the long table edges, and at least 12" from the table edge. Roll off to determine who chooses to go first. Victory calculated as above.

II Meeting Engagment:
Ensure that a road is a feature of the battlefield,  which leaves the table at two opposing points roughly in the middle of the long table edges. Roll off to see who chooses to go first. Units must be ordered on to the table arriving at one of the road edge entry points. They arrive in march column. Roll off to determine who chooses to go first. Victory calculated as above.

III Flank Attack:
 Set up as for Pitched Battle, except that the player that rolls highest to determine who deploys first is also the Attacker. They may keep up to 1/3rd of their units in reserve to attack the enemy flank. These are available to arrive on a randomly determined short table edge on turn 2 on a 4+, or automatically on turn 3. They must be ordered on to the battlefield as normal for reserves.Victory calculated as above.

IV Breakout:
Set up as for Pitched Battle, except that the player that rolls lowest to determine who deploys first is also the Attacker, who must break out. The Attacker has the first turn and to win must move three or more units off his opponents table edge(under orders or initiative moves!). He has only 4 turns to do so. If less than this escapes the defender wins.

V Unto the Breach:
 Roll off to determine which player is the defender, unless only one player has the Siege Equipment territory, in which case they are automatically the attacker. The Defender must deploy first, the Attacker also gets first turn.  For this game the Defender may only use half of his available points value. Both players agree on what scenery to use as normal, but only the defender may choose where it goes. The scenery must include Fortifications for the defender. This will obviously depend on what is available, but as a rule of thumb try and have either 3 small positions (Redoubts, gun emplacements etc), one larger position like a Starfort and perhaps a small position as well, or one really big one like an actual castle. In essence the smaller positions should be worth 1 victory point each, the larger positions 2 victory points (divide them into distinct area and award a point for each ) and the biggest should be 3 Victory points (divided as before), and there should be three "Vps" worth altogether.  Whoever scores the most at the end is the winner.  Defences grant the following bonus to troops in or behind them: +2 to Morale and +3 Combat Resolution. Agree before hand how they will be applied depending on the terrain models available. For example some positions may grant an all round defence, so a unit within gains the benefit regardless of where their attacker is, but a wall or barricade might only be defensible from one direction leaving the defenders rear exposed...as usual in Pike and Shotte apply common sense in spades!

VI The Enemy of my Enemy Dies Next:
This Scenario is for an odd number of players, or when the factions are not equally accounted for, for example if three players turn up, one each of Royalists, Roundheads and Swedes. Two players of the three (or two of the three factions) are drawn at random (using the "pickacardanycard" method of the ancients) to set up and deploy as for a Pitched Battle.  The remaining player deploys  on one short table edge of his choosing. This player is the "Stanley". The "Stanley" does not initially take part in the battle, instead he watches as the other two lay into each other. He may decide which side he wants to support.  He may not do this in turn 1 or 2 but from turn 3 onwards he can pick a side or continue to dither. If he never makes up his mind this has no effect on the outcome of the battle and he neither loses nor gains a territory.Obviously either player can attempt to buy his support, in any currency they like! Sometimes he wont get to pick a side; if he is attacked or shot at (either by choice or blunder!) then he will immediately join the opposite side! Once a side is picked he may not change his mind, and participates in that side's turns as normal. If a player manages to beat both his opponent and the Stanley, then he gets to pick any TWO of the territories staked/rolled beforehand; the perks of winning with such a handicap! Things are not so straightforward for the side Stanley joins; There will only be one territory up for grabs between the two of them, whether they win and get to pick of the two available territories (remember the loser always gets one of these!), or lose and left with whatever the victor doesn't want. They cant both have the territory. There are two ways to determine who takes it: The two reluctant allies can agree amicably, the Stanley may well be content with his fee, in which case the two simply go their separate ways. If they cannot come to an agreement then the battle continues! The defeated player removes his army from the table and the two allies fight on from the positions they ended the game in, rolling off to see who goes first. The number of turns played is simply the remaining unplayed turns of the original game, unless one side is defeated first. If the turn count has already reached its limit then just one more turn is played! Then the victor is determined as normal, and they gain the territory! This could potentially leave one player with no gain for efforts, such are the vagaries of war. This scenario should be full of intrigue, bribery, desperate negotiations and back stabbing!

Obviously feel free to adapt these scenarios to the situation, I may ask some of these to played specifically, or devise others for you. Obviously if you choose to play a multiplayer game then either
make sure that all the players on each side are the same faction.

Opening Gambits:  Now Of course you're all excited, can't wait to get started and your all wandering...what do I do now?  You need to go  here and follow these instructions:

1) Declare your Support for the cause of your Choice!
2) Declare which Army List you will draw your forces from.
3) Take Command! Select your General: this is your tabletop representative.  Roll his Command Rating if appropriate. Select a name for him and declare it and his intentions, aims, hobbies and Interests, foibles and allergies to the world!
4) Raise your Standard! Declare which town supports your faction and will be its base and Headquarters. 
5) Roll Your starting Territories: You may do this in another persons presence, or on your own if you think you can be trusted!  
6) Muster Your Troops! Collect, paint, and organise an army up to the total allowed by your starting territories, ( I.e 250 points, +20 for your Headquarters town, plus whatever else you rolled. Don’t forget to include your General etc in this total, and that there are other restrictions noted above).
7) Take the Field!  Seek out your enemies, destroy them in battle, take their territories and claim Victory!

          Captain-General Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe, a noted horticulturalist , was elected as the local Parliamentarian representative after voting which resulted in a landslide victory, Sir Samuel being the only member of the electorate present, and therefore casting the only vote.  Support from his home town was virtually guaranteed after he had brought home the gold for Warrington in "Englande in Blume, 1638". It has to be added that there is no basis what so ever in the accusation that Sir Samuel "bought" his constituents support with the threat of topiary with extreme prejudice.
         Having raised his flag at his base of operations in Warrington he has begun to gather his resources and rolls twice on the territory table; utilising his extensive library to read up on great commanders and campaigns of the past, and immediately sending a detachment to claim the village of Stockton Heath for Parliament too.
         Thus Sir Samuel(CV7) can boast a Town (+20pts), a village (+5pts- He had initially rolled a second town, but as you can reroll a duplicate he had aimed for something more interesting.), and a Library(CV+1).
         With a princely 275 points to spend on troops he begins to recruit. He himself is 40points, and he adds his own Lifeguard of Cuirrassiers, Ye Uncuttables for 53points. The Warryngton Traynd Band answer the call to arms with a unit of pike and two units of Shotte for a total of 88 points. A single saker is found in the towns keeping and taken for 21pts, and Delaneys Regiment of Dragoons are sworn in for 35pts. Finally, Captain Asquith's Company of Fyrelocks present themselves for duty for 35 points, giving a total of 273 points. Now all he needs is an opponent!

          It is perhaps worth pointing out for those of you who are considering starting out as an ECW general that a set like THIS, would provide a force of some 300 points, and would need only a General or Commander to be ready for Warre, and even He could be converted from one of the plastic figures in the set.

Obviously if you've any questions let me know! Otherwise, I'll see you on the field of battle!