Playing Around With FK&P

Why would I, while in the midst of documenting my take on Baroque units using my newest basing scheme, jump away and do something different? The short answer is that it is in my nature to do so. I have had several careers in fairly diverse fields and in the end never quite decided what to do when I grew up. Apparently it’s not going to happen – growing up I mean!

I was pleased to have recently gotten the newest draft of For King & Parliament (FK&P) to play around with. As I have all the new Baroque units assembled and photographed (giving me material for several future posts), I can indulge in actually playing a few games with this promising rules set.

I have collected rules for the Musket and Pike period since time out of memory but continue to look for rules systems that can be easily taught to non-wargamers, that are reasonably fast to play, can scale well, and most importantly still capture the feel of the period. All of these seems possible with FK&P, plus I like gridded, dice free games and these rules deliver that as well.

For King & Parliament is designed by Andrew Brentnall in conjunction with Simon Miller using Simon’s game engine from the popular To The Strongest (TtS). I started evaluating TtS a few weeks ago for one of my other wargame endeavors and quite liked what I’ve seen so far.

I decided to start with Andrew’s scenario, the Battle of Lessie’s Moor which is set in the mythical county of Borsetshire, home of the sprawling British soap opera, The Archers. In fact virtually all the family names from the show find their way into the orders of battle for the two sides. As I was totally unaware of The Archers, reading about the show has only added to the fun (and I suspect I’m still missing a number of inside jokes!).  To insert a semi-historical leavening to the proceedings, Andy also added a passel of Prince Rupert’s younger brothers, each commanding a regiment of horse.

While whimsical, the scenario (which is set in the early stages of the Wars – Spring of 1643) captures the sense of the struggle between the two factions that played out in many of counties of England during the First Civil War. As in the actual war, the participants almost certainly know each other, may be long time rivals or lifelong friends (or both) and may even be related (even occasional without knowing!)  Using The Archers is clever since all of this background is readily available to those that enjoy the storytelling aspects of wargaming and translating the modern characters to the 17th century only adds scope to this undertaking.

So, with out further ado, let’s take a look at some of the set-up considerations (as always, you can press or click each photo to embiggen).

A general view looking South along the Darrington road (on left) toward Lower Loxley Manor (far right), the family seat of the Pargetter family. The Parliamentarian army is arrayed in the foreground, having taken full possession of Butt Hill (a gentle prominence in the center) and a small wood (known locally as Elves’ Copse). Their advance is for the moment checked by Lord Pargetter’s smaller Royalist army

I am using a 4′ x 3′ battlecloth from Simon’s BigRedBatShop, with a subtle grid work of 10cm (~4″) boxes. The Baroque units have been cut down from a 5″ front to 3″.

A detail showing the Fairbrothers Brigade of horse, each regiment commanded by a family member. These are “Dutch” style, so double ranked. The orange die represents the ammunition status and the black die the dash status (a property of mounted troops). To the extreme left the officer mounted on the half circle is Capt. Nelson Gabriel attached to the Borchester City Regiment.  (He is actually a “Gallant Gentleman” status Marker).

The move stands are 3″ x 1.5″ for most units and 3″ x 2.5″ for deeper units such as the “Dutch” style horse shown above. This allows me to use three of the five pieces assigned to each of my Baroque units and have the room to place two units in one of the grid boxes.

A detail picture showing the placement of a Parliamentarian gun battery atop Butt Hill. I rarely get to use my sakers on the Fringe so it was a pleasure to deploy them. Attached to Nichols Carter’s regiment (to the left) is Chris Carter, another “Gallant Gentleman”. He is a farrier and noted for his fiery temper. Soon he will be seen to be “a d__d forward fellow with a pike”

A general view looking to the Southeast. The Parliamentarian commander, Edward Grundy, scion of the renown and quite ancient Joseph, has positioned himself next to the guns on Butt Hill. Known as “Fast Eddie” to his intimates, he is likely far beyond his depths as “Captain General”. Directly across the barren of Lessie’s Moor is his opposite number, Nigel, Lord Pargetter. A solid and brave fellow, he is gifted with limited imagination and a deficit of grey matter. For some inexplicable reason he has chosen to fight under the yellow banner of the the Lord of the Isles.

A North looking view showing the bulk of the Royalist foot in the foreground. Lord Pargetter is left of center and his two subordinate brigade commanders (each under a black and yellow banner of their own), Col. Josh Archer, commander of horse and Col. David Archer, commander of the foot, to Lord Pargetter’s left and right respectively

Not pictured is the flying brigade of horse with supporting shot sent out from Oxford by Prince Rupert to strengthen the Borsetshire Royalists (and rid himself of the annoyance of his excitable brothers). The brigade is commanded by the irrepressible Prince Philip Frederick carrying the rank of general (undoubtedly to consternation of Lord Pargetter!). With Philip completing the triptych of dim bulbs commanding, the encounter would later be known as the “Battle of the Three Ninnies” (or “Three Idiots” in some texts).

A closer view of Lower Loxley Manor showing its lovely Cotswold golden sandstone enclosures.

 

Any game board can easily be gridded to any dimension by using a simple square frame. The only limitation is to keep the corner of a unit or terrain feature in in the same corner of all the boxes (in this case upper left hand). The picture shows one that I used for a 6″ grid encounter with a set of my own rules I was experimenting with some time ago

Finally a note about the the flags I use. All my regular foot units carry a faction flag to show at a glance which side they are on, consequently both sides here carry the red and white St. George’s cross. This is not historically accurate but the images of the Parliamentarian army at Edgehill,  in the 1970 movie, Cromwell, are seared into my mind and are the principal reason I got into to this period (and I am far from alone in this). So, I make allowances.

A view looking East across Lessie’s Moor showing a number of the flags on both sides. To do this particular production I am using most of my Anglo/Irish army, virtually all of my English Royalist army, and a smattering of New Model Army Regiments of 1649 – 1652 in Ireland and Scotland. Most of the horse is NMA. Each regular foot unit carries the faction flag and a regimental flag, the trained bands a single regimental flag (the blue and the green near the center of the picture). Each cavalry regiment has a single cornet (usually fanciful – Game of Thrones sigils being prominent) and each brigade commander a personal standard of some sort

In fact I find my self giddy that I am about to game a battle between Englishmen on English soil, something I haven’t done since the days of my youth.