Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Storm Breaks and Hawarden Falls

Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe surveyed the scattered debris of battle. On all sides the field was littered with abandoned weapons, and armour, a burning wagon here, a broken pike there. Amidst the corpses of men and horses the wounded groaned and whined pitifully. His own men spread out in small groups, helping where they could, and searching for any loot that might have escaped notice. A Lieutenant of De Laneys Dragoon company approached and reported that the enemy were nowhere to be found. Sir Samuel tore off his hat and threw it to the ground in frustration,
"I don't believe it!" he shouted, "Thats the third bloody battle we've missed!"

War has well and truly come to olde Englande with a flurry of battles across the land that have drenched many a field with English blood. In Rutland the forces of D'Hay and Cockchafer (Both played by Mark of Germany), having recently raised their banners, came to blows over control over the regions road network, with Cockchafers Royalists coming a poor second. Four more clashes later in the week saw Little Pontefract declaring its support for the King, and "Digger" Beckman establishing a Spy network but otherwise were largely inconclusive. Two participants became a bit more established having finally taking control of their starting territories- Beckman gaining Glossop, a road and an arsenal, and Big Jim Mcdonald gaining support from Dunfermline and nearby Crossford, and establishing a measure of control over the local roads.

With so many players now on the board war could commence in earnest and in a series of marches and counter marches, a succession of battles occurred as several forces blundered into each other. Many were simply caught out and forced to deploy straight into battle , those commanders with better organised scouts were able to lay traps for their enemy, ambushing them with outflanking reserves. The ebb and flow of this series of battles defies easy description suffice to say that in all the confusion Winwick changed hands, Sir Christopher's reputation as a leading commander of Horse took a bit of a knock, several commanders were severely inconvenienced by De Blondevilles pet assassin, Stapleton-Smythe marched from battlefield to battlefield and arrived to late to participate in any of them, and that wastrel Flasheart managed to lose Harwarden Castle to the Marquis of Newcastle when he was supposed to be attacking it!  He was a bit sheepish when this mistake was pointed out to him, admitting that lending Newcastle his stash of siege equipment to aid his assault was an "unfortunate error".

The Petard was against the gates- The Forlorn Hope were sheltering at the bottom of the wall where the garrisons musketry struggled to reach them; only moments now, and his men would be in. Turning in the saddle the Marquis of Newcastle spoke to a nearby Aide;
"I say, Awfully sporting of old Flashy to lend us his siege kit, what?" and put his spy glass up to his eye to see Lord Flasheart atop Hawarden's Keep, raging, shaking his fists, and miming what he intended to do to  the Marquis when he got his hands on him. The apoplectic figure was suddenly eclipsed by a column of fire and smoke as the Petard went off; the gates were torn to splinters, the rampart above gave way, and the ancient and battered walls either side admitted defeat in their centuries long struggle with gravity.
The Marquis frowned as he surveyed the wreckage of the gateway, and turned to his Aide with eyebrow raised. The Aide-de-Camp sighed, and cupped his hands to his mouth;
"You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

This hasn't stopped the Royalists sweeping all before them, the Parliamentarian cause not being helped by only Astbury, the MP for Wigan actually turning up, though he, or his troops at least, gained some valuable experience. De Cavanham seems to be leading the charge with no fewer than 6 territories to his name, representing most of south Devon's military resources, a complex array of drill squares, barracks and magazines and other stores being amassed around Plymouth.  Perhaps a little oddly the Swedes are currently the leading faction with an average of five territories per player, ably assisted by a master assassin, his lethal skills being employed to good effect so far, though his intelligence gathering needs some work.

After such a bloodletting a moment of respite would seem in order, but Sir Stapleton-Smythe is on the warpath, and its not over yet, not by a long shot!

The Story So Far...
Firstly this appears to be more or less the current state of affairs in England one month in, with the Swedes leading the way and the Scots bringing up the rear!

 Summery of Factions, Players and Territories-   total territory points are divided by the number of players in the faction to give the faction score.

Sweden   -5 Territory points overall

  • De Blondeville (Michael) CV8 - Bournemouth (Capital, Town +20pts), Manor (+1 brigadier) and Library (+1CV), plus a Spy Network, Portsmouth (port), and Winwick (village +5 points) - 5 Territory points
Parliament  -3.25 Territory points overall

  • Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe (Aidan) CV7- Warrington (capital Town +20pts ), Stockton Heath (village +5 points), and a Library  (+1CV)- 3 Territory points
  • David Astbury MP (Dave) CV8- Wigan (capital, Town+20pts), Leamington Spa (village+5pts), and a Road (+1 to determine 1st turn), and Veterans (Tough Fighters) -3 Territory points
  • Hazlerigg (Ian S) Cv8 - Rockferry (capital, town +20 points) Willaston (village +5 points) and a manor  (+1 brigadier) - 3 Territory points
  • Roland D'Hay (Mark)  Cv8 - Uppingham  (capital, town +20 points), Luffenham (Town +20pts),  Alesthorp (village +5 points) and a Road - 4 Territory points
Royalist - 4.1 Territory points overall
  • Lord Tiberius Flasheart (Rick) CV9 - Wrecsam (capital, town +20 points), Seige equipment cache (allows siege equipment and storming parties etc), Magazine (+2 powder tokens of d3 available) Kingsbridge (village +5 points), and Little Pontefract (village +5 points)- 5 Territory points
  • Marquis of Newcastle  (Ian H)- Cv8 - York (town +20 points), Manor (+1 Brigadier) and 2 Roads  (+1 to determine 1st turn) and a Chapel (include Preacher/Priest) - 5 Territory points
  • General Baldrick (Red)  Cv8 - Knutsford ( Town +20 points), Road (+1 to determine 1st turn)  and an Arsenal (+1 artillery piece) -3 Territory points
  • Sir Christopher Fazey (Chris) CV9 - Flint ( town +20 points), Magazine (+1 powder token of D3 available), and a Library (+1CV) and a Road - 4 Territory points
  •  Sir Andrew de Cavenham Cv8 -  Stonehouse (town +20 points), 2 Drill squares (one unit becomes superbly Drilled), Plymouth (port), Magazine (+3 powder tokens of d3) and a Cache of Siege Equipment (allows siege equipment and storming parties etc) - 6 Territory points
  • Diderich (Digger) Beckman - Cv8- Glossop (town +20 points), Arsenal (allows 1 extra artillery piece), a Road, and Spy Network  -3 Territory points
  • Col. Horatio Cockchafer - Cv 9 - Okeham (town +20 points), Arsenal, Road.  -3 Territory points
Scots  3 Territory points overall
  • James "Big Jim" Mcdonald (Luke) CV-8 Dunfermline  (town +20 points), Crossford (village +5 points) a Road, and Veterans (Tough Fighters)- 3 Territory point
Dont forget, that this rule is still in play:
"A moment of Tactical Genius" - Once per game the Army Commander may reroll a failed Command Roll. He may only reroll it once, and must abide by the second result. This applies to the General Commander figure of all players forces.

Its been an interesting start to the campaign, with players from Germany getting involved and a whole campaign day played out to the enjoyment of many, with some playing as many as 5 games in one day! I umpired all day and didnt get to fight- this seemed prudent given the number of Noobs playing, so I could lend a hand and impartial advice and answer rules queries. I lost track of who won what or even who played who, though some of the highlights were alluded to above, if any player notices a mistake in the territories listed above let me know, but I think they're all correct now!
Here are some pictures:
Royalist V Swedes, and the perfectly delivered "Pointing Finger" from
Michael clearly established the Swedes as the Victor

The MP for Wigan prepares to unleash his tactical Genius on an unsuspecting Paul

The same battle moments later; Pauls Royalists are pinned in
 place and outflanked by the New Model Army

I am a firm believer that how you handle your tape measure determines the level of your success; a forceful and aggressive gesture can break a whole wing! Here Andy ably demonstrates how not to do it with a feeble gesture that failed to break Flashearts line. The lesson was well learned, and Andy went on to win 3 of 4 games! 

Newcastle takes on the Scots in this meeting engagement,
taking the fight to the enemy in Echelon

A sideshow to the action on the table, but no less important,
 was the "seeing who can act most casual" competition

A case of mistaken identity results in Royalist clashing with Royalist. 

The NMA shatters Beckmans line and drives the Royalists back

Hawarden Castle under Siege again, in another inter-Royalist fracas.
 Flasheart's loss of his beloved castle was the result of an almighty cock up

Newcastles Storming Parties go forward, armed with it lent to them by their enemy...

Another impending Victory for Andy...

Fazeys Horse struggling to rebuild their reputation; after years of smashing their way through all and sundry they suffered a defeat and, here, a draw. Honour was finally satisfied in the final game of the day.

Fazey dares anyone to touch his tape measure

Michael and Dave deep in concentration

Heavy Fighting at Hawarden Castle as Flashy eats his hat!

Daves NMA advance to finish that rascal Flasheart for good!

The last games of the day

Newcastles Whitecoats drawn up to block Fazeys escape

Only to be left out maneuvered as Fazey's Royalists mass on one Flank to break through.

I am hopeful that we shall have another campaign day of this nature in Mid-March, as everyone seemed to have fun. Hopefully next time we'll a couple more parliamentarian players to even up the sides though, as the Royalist on Royalist action allowed them to get a little ahead!
I didnt notice any major problems with the rules for the campaign after these games, though questions were asked about the turn limit on the Break Through scenario. It caused a problem in one game but not in another but Ill keep an eye on it.

Right Ive got to review my troops prior to taking on Newcastle on Thursday, so tune in next time for another episode of "Whose Horse is it anyway?"...

The fire crackled in the darkness as a crowd of despondent soldiers huddled around it, their commander at the centre staring into the flames. Flasheart seethed, plotting his revenge, as his men licked their wounds . Oh, such an ignominious way to lose such a fine castle! It would be his again, he vowed, and no northern thug would defy him! But as his weary but loyal followers shared their meager supplies he could but marvel, in a horrified sort of way, at how the old saying had proved so apt.
"Bigods! Hoist by my own Petard indeed!"

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