Despite having owned a copy of the Warhammer English Civil War rules and an intense interest in the era, I’d never actually played a battle. That all changed when one my friends purchased some figures and suggested we restage the battle for the future of the monarchy.
We decided upon fighting a flanking battle and, as I was playing the Royalists under the command of Prince Rupert with a decent cavalry force, I agreed to send them off the table till turn three. Before we set up, I was a little nervous about having around half my force offtable, but seeing the not-much-bigger Parliamentary force before me, I wasn’t too worried. Sure, in terms of quality, their infantry was better than mine, but I felt I had a fighting chance of holding out till Rupert and his chums could arrive to save the day.
As it was, it quickly began to look as if they wouldn’t even need Rupert, after all, as a mortar shot took out most of the Parliamentary pikemen in the first turn and an agitator convinced a unit of shot to march away from the battle, depriving the Parliamentary forces of a substantial chunk before the battle had even really got underway!
The second turn saw the mortar prove just as accurate for a second time, only for my underestimation of the range to cause the shell to explode short of the pike. Then, in the third turn, having got the range right, it decided to deviate well away and do nothing. That’s mortars for you, I guess! Sadly, my marksman was failing to live up to his name and achieved only a single hit (thankfully a kill!) in the battle.
Heavy musketfire depleted the Parliamentary cavalry by the third turn, when Rupert arrived to menace the Parliamentary saker.The remaining Parliamentary pike, steadfast in the face of their losses, were inspired by their agitator to advance with fervour, although they failed to achieve anything much…
Desultory Parliamentary musketfire caused barely any Royalist casualties and with Rupert’s horse on the board, things were looking very bad for the rebellious forces of Parliament, especially when cannister shot from the saker managed to only kill a single horseman.
Rupert’s horse then proceeded to run down the saker crew, driving them off. Meanwhile, the other unit of Rupert’s cavalry contingent moved to take up a position beside the Royalist infantry block in order to threaten the remnants of the Parliamentarian cavalry, which were wiped out a moment later by a further volley of musketfire, leaving Sir John Meldrum injured and alone with the Royalist cavalry bearing down on him!
The mortar’s final short wiped out the remainder of the steadfast Parliamentary pikemen, save for the leader and accompanying agitator, who joined Sir John in a failed attempt to charge the depleted left-hand unit of Royalist shot, who chose to fire and retreat behind their allied pike, causing the three ‘brave’ Parliamentarians to rethink their strategy when faced going up against a near-intact unit of pikemen!
Ironically, both forces had had their left flanks rendered useless – Parliament’s had been wiped out and the Royalist mortar and marksman were out of gunpowder, leaving the battle to be decided in the centre.
Rupert led his cavalry on a rather inglorious charge against the surviving guncrew, being briefly faced by a lone artilleryman willing to stand his ground and fight, whilst the other unit of horse went for Meldrum, the agitator and leader of pike, only for the three of them to turn and flee rather than stand and fight!
Meldrum continued his flight followed by the other two cowards. Other than the lone artilleryman, who was slaughtered in the final turn, the Parliamentary forces had been reduced to two units of muskets without any gunpowder left to shoot, who opted to charge the Royalist horse in one case, being countercharged and wiped out, and the Royalist pike in the other, being routed, leaving the largely intact Royalist forces victorious!
Overall, Warhammer English Civil War played as well as the various other iterations of Warhammer that I have tried and produced a fairly realistic result (and, certainly, one pleasing to me, at any rate!). The limitation of gunpowder to four turns’ worth of shooting is an interesting and historically accurate element that forces you to consider whether opening fire is a good idea or not. Muskets are very powerful, punching through what little armour is available, but once you’ve used all your allotted shots, your unit of shot becomes a rather subpar melee unit. Despite the amazing piece of good luck I had with the mortar in the opening turn, artillery proved pretty ineffective in the battle as a whole, again quite realistic for the time. It certainly made for a fairly quick, fun battle and I hope we will be revisiting the period again in future (indeed, I intend to invest in some figures myself). Highly recommended!