Wednesday, 13 July 2016

After Action Report; Solo ECW game (Regt of Foote v1 rules) 13 July 2016

Encouraged by my previous two WoR solo games I decided to try another RFCM set of rules; Regiment of Foote (RoFv1). I played the first version of the rules and used 500 point early war ECW armies; a lot of conscripts and pistolier cavalry, with a few veteran Royalist charger cavalry. The terrain was randomly chosen and resulted in a remarkably symmetrical battlefield.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the rules is the pre-game mini-campaign set-up. Each army undertakes a range of activities; marching, camp etc. and suffers or benefits from random events; lost stands/units, improvements in quality etc. This introduces a random element in the final army composition resulting in a degree of imbalance between the armies. The army who marches most is the attacker, and the bigger the difference the greater the imbalance. In my game both sides completed the same number of marches, so the attacker was the Royalists because their final score was closest to zero. The defending Parlimentarian army lost one of their better infantry units plus a medium gun, and 3 other units would arrive late for the battle.

Deployment for both sides was fairly standard; infantry and artillery in the centre and cavalry on each flank. Even with the reductions to the Parlimentarian army, they still out-numbered the Royalists, but the Royalists enjoyed superiority in cavalry particularly having some good quality chargers. On the first Royalist turn they threw well for motivation and action points. On the Right flank the Royalist charger cavalry swept forward into immediate combat with the opposing Parlimentarian pistolier cavalry, and destroyed them swiftly. The Royalist attack on the other flank was more gradual, but the outcome was the same. On no occasion was the pistol fire by the Parlimentarian cavalry sufficient to stop or disrupt the charging Royalists. In the centre the Parlimentarian infantry advanced and this should have proved a problem for their Royalist opponents, but at the crucial time the central Parlimentarian general rolled badly for motivation, and things just ground to a halt. The Parlimentarian ‘late’ units did arrive promptly, but the distance from their generals meant that getting them up to the battleline proved difficult. A similar command problem afflicted the Royalist flank generals, which resulted in them leaving some of their command behind as the assault units charged forwards. This is a common occurance in most RoF games I have played. I think I should try a more patient approach, moving a force as a coherent body, rather than rushing in with just a few units. The game clock reached zero and it was time to calculate the victory points. The result was a clear Royalist victory.
Royalist on right. Red counters denote veteran, yellow denote trained and green denote conscript.

I think RoFv1 is possibly my favourite RFCM set of rules. The mini-campaign is excellent and adds character to the games. The deployment rules generate historical set-ups; the flanks have to be cavalry heavy compared to the centre, which will contain most of the infantry. The battle rules are clear, simple and play fast. There is a good balance between shooting and melee. It can be annoying when a general fails his first motivation (ending his attempts for the turn), or a unit throws a low score for activation. If a force becomes spread out then this happens quite frequently. My main criticism is that reinforcement/late units tend to sit, un-activated, on the baseline because of the distance from the already deployed generals.
Finally, RFCM have published RoF version 2 (2016). I have not purchased a copy myself but have read copies bought by others. I am not impressed. The rules are not a development of version 1 but use a radically different game mechanic and, in my opinion, should therefore have a different title from RoF. It appears to me that the authors have simply transposed their Square Bashing mechanic (which I like for a WW1 setting) on to the ECW period. The battlefield in now divided into square grids and units move in a horizontal/vertical basis. Individual unit sizes are smaller and standardised. Maybe others find this OK, but I was very disappointed when I saw what the authors had done. I was hoping for an improved edition based on version 1, which has many great features, and not a totally changed game mechanic. I should stress that I have not played using the second edition but I cannot see this happening in the near future (sorry). I will be sticking to version 1!

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