Saturday, 27 May 2023

Naseby - twice!

 For our latest Tuesday/Wednesday Zoom session, John had produced a Naseby scenario for his Matchlock Squared grid rules.

Naseby was a showdown between the Kings Army and the shiny new New Model Army, although the latter still had a lot of bugs to shake out. For the game, Rupert was actually in command of the Royalists while the King looked serenely on from the rear. Fairfax commanded the Roundheads, while Cromwell galloped around with his cavalry.

Me, Pete and Russell took the Roundheads, Tim and Simon the Royalists. I commanded the infantry in the centre.

The Royalists are heavily outnumbered but their entire Army is rated as 'elite'(!). The Roundheads are more of a mixed bag. Iretons cavalry on the left are average, Cromwells boys on the right are also 'elite' whereas my numerous infantry are 'poor'. Oh, well, at least there are a lot of them. We also have some dragoons lurking in the enclosures to the left. Rupert is leading the cavalry on the Royalist right.

The Royalists shake out into line and march towards us. There isn't much else they can do, and it is what the Kings army did irl. Cromwells cavalry march out to meet them on the right. There isn't any particular benefit to multiple lines in these rules, but our deployment area is quite constrained, so we just have to grin and bear it.

The cavalry engage in melee on the right, which includes some slightly iffy diagonal moves. I'm increasingly unconvinced by 'in square' combat in these sorts of games as it produces some very strange positioning results. The rest of the Parliamentarians step forwards a square, including our Dragoons who are now nicely lined up.

Battle is joined. The Royalists just charge into contact along the whole line, relying on on their troop superiority. It is a bit scary as their infantry get five dice in combat while ours are only on  three. Our defensive fire doesn't make much of a dent.

The Parliamentarian infantry vanish like mist in the sun, while our cavalry on the left are doing surprisingly well, and Cromwell manages a flank attack on the right, routing one Royalist cavalry unit.

Although the Royalists have destroyed lots of Parliamentarian infantry, suddenly their flanks are looking very vulnerable and Ireton and Cromwell start to mop them up.

Suddenly it is all over, the cumulative Royalist losses means their army just collapses as the Cavalry rout, the infantry are just overwhelmed and Rupert is carried wounded from the field. It turned out to be a mini Cannae, just like the real battle.

As that was fairly short and sharp, we set it up again the next night with the sides reversed. I was the King this time, and Pete took the cavalry. Tim was Fairfax and Russell was Cromwell.

The Royalists went for another headlong charge, but this time shook their whole force out into line so they would all get engaged.

Cromwell got stuck in, but otherwise the Parliamentarians stood their ground. This time Rupert was on the extreme flank, which was perhaps a bit risky considering the lurking Dragoons.

The Parliamentarian defensive fire was less than impressive! Most of the Royalists units made contact with no or minor losses.

And soon there was a gruelling melee going on between the infantry, in which the superior quality of the Royalists told. The cavalry battle was all the wrong way round, Ruperts wing was losing heavily to Ireton, while Cromwells boys were taking a right kicking. As the Royalists were so heavily outnumbered I pushed the King and his escort forwards rapidly. 

The Parliamentarian centre collapsed and the victorious Royalist infantry pressed on the confront Fairfax himself. Perhaps the cavalry melee would prove to be irrelevant?

Ruperts wing collapsed and he withdrew wounded from the field, pursued by Iretons cavalry!

It was a real dog fight in the centre. The Kings Guard now engaged Fairfax, but the Royalist flanks were collapsing. Broken Parliamentarian infantry fled to the rear.

Fairfax was wounded and retired, but suddenly the Royalist Army fell apart, assailed from both flanks, with only the Kings Guard in any semblance of good order. Charles decided discretion was the better part of valour and withdrew from the field to join Rupert in the rear.

Those were both really close run battles, can the superior quality of the Royalists beat the more numerous Parliamentarians? , although in both cases it turned into a version of Cannae as the Parliamentarian infantry was driven back, exposing the Royalist infantry to being outflanked.

There are still some aspects of these rules I'm unhappy about, it is mainly the way the squares work, they are simultaneously far too restrictive but also allow far too much freedom of movement. I prefer the approach taken in 'Marston Less' where regiments are grouped into blocks  in either the centre or one of the flanks. The combat system in those rules leaves something to be desired, but in terms of the manouvre of formations, it is spot on. Having said that, Matchlock Squared produces a fast and decisive game, with plenty of dramatic moments, which is all you can really ask for isn't it. 


  1. Thanks Martin, i enjoyed that presentation. I have bought a few ECW books recently and when describing battles they generally seem happy about talking in terms of the ‘the centre’ and the ‘wing’, describing the action in general terms.

    1. The ECW is an interesting period as supposedly the great 'revolution in military affairs' had happened by then, but both armies still seemed to blunder around like it was 1605, not the 1640s.