Pushing The Limits

The header picture is the inside cover of the soon to be released FK&P rules (with kind permission of the authors).

Like any good scientist I continue my endless experiments with FK&P by varying as many parameters as possible at one time. I know that the scientific method, as taught, requires that only a single variable be changed at a time but where’s the fun in that. The greatest leaps in scientific progress have always occurred thanks to a combination of intuition and general messing about. There is, admittedly, a great deal of hard work that comes afterward to carefully and systematically confirm a finding but the tinkering before hand is much more fun.

So I’m tinkering with FK&P in the Barley Valley to test the limits of what is possible.

If you look at the Barley Valley again (and note – all the pictures can be enlarged by clicking) –


– You’ll notice that there are way too many terrain features for a board that is based on 9 x 18, 4” (10cm) boxes, an insane number of features, really.  I’d mentioned in the last post that a box is 100 yards for tactical purposes (FK&P rules) but I am superimposing a grand tactical scale of four hundred yards per box to see if I can essentially play two games at once. This is NOT something I would force on another human opponent (or even suggest they try). My thinking is such a system might bring about a number of tactical situations and surprises that I could not dream up as a solo player. we will see. That’s why I say pushing the limits.

I also mentioned that I will use cards to drive most of the early movements of the Government (James II) side:


There are actually several decks for this game, three for the Government (milita foot, militia horse, the main body), a deck for another autonomous set of actors (the civilians of Wessexshire), and one small deck for Monmouth.

Many wargamers build their units out of sub units (I call them pieces or stands) and this allows them not only to be constructed in different ways but even disassembled on the board during the game (if you had the mind to do so).

Andrew Brentnall, for example, uses three stands (as do I) to build a base unit:

Andrew 10mm

Andrew Brentnall

But he can also double them to make very dense (and, I would admit, more realistic looking units):


Andrew Brentnall

Simon Miller also uses beautifully detailed 28mm figures which, at first, don’t even appear to be modular:


Simon Miller

The above unit,however, just like mine and Andrew’s, is composed of three pieces, two musketeer and one pike. Simon has them on custom bases with scalloped edges that mate together near seamlessly.

Of course, like Andrew, Simon has a penchant for large, dense units!


Simon’s Lifeguard of Foot

Regardless of the size or basing, however, all of these units are easily accommodated within the FK&P rules, only the box dimensions are changed (or one can simply use “doubled” boxes, where four represent one).

I think it is possible to play a grand tactical game by having a single piece of each unit represent the whole and until contact is made (a scenario specific condition) activation is not required (hence no possibility of a unit moving multiple times in a turn). When contact occurs, the full unit is put on the board and the regular FK&P tactical rules come into play (on that portion of the field). Yes, one must maintain a certain fiction about the scale of the topography, but this is what the limit pushing is all about.

From a weapons and tactics stand point 1685 is little different from 1650 (OK, I can come up with a list of subtle changes but I think they can be ignored). One thing that does have to be accounted for is the addition of grenadier companies to most of the government units. Their first role was to use grenades (although they soon became the elite company of each battalion).  Historically grenades were NOT issued to Faversham’s army at Sedgemoor but for fun I want to also try a simple grenade rule – using a marker, much like Attached Shot, which gives a unit a one-time bonus melee to-hit card (I may later try using them to negate certain types of defensive bonuses).


A composite grenadier battalion (as Commanded Shot) made up of the grenadier companies of First and Second Guards, Dumbarton’s, Kirk’s and Trelawney’s (all by JTP painting services). The marker in front is the expendable grenade (Grn) marker.

I also have in mind that a unit might be broken into its component parts to give an even finer level of granularity in the game but that is for a different day.

I had said that I would present the Orders of Battle for Barley Valley in my last post and will do so in picture form this time:


The Duke of Monmouth’s Army consists of four brigades, of which the Duke personally commands the first brigade of foot (upper right, near the Drover’s Rest. Nathaniel Wade has been promoted to a brigade commander and has the second brigade of foot (upper left). Between the two foot brigades is the brigade of horse under Lord Grey. The train (one wagon, two guns on the road in the lower half of the picture) acts as a MacGuffin, the thing that needs to move from point A to point B, for Monmouth to be succesful. The final brigade is two regiments of Dorset militia (to the left of the train) that have gone over to Monmouth.


The government force is being quickly cobbled together under the nominal command of General Lord John Churchill to delay Monmouth’s advance. His command is nominal in that if the Lord Lieutenant of Wessexshire appears, he will have total command of the Wessex forces and most of the additional militia. Churchill has a remnant of the regulars but may also end up commanding all the militia forces as well. The Guards Brigade (the Duke of Grafton commanding) is in the upper center) and the first horse brigade (commanded by Churchill directly) is deployed along the road. The four foot regiments along the bottom are the bulk of the Wessex militia and will be organized in a variety of ways depending on which officers show up. The second brigade of horse (Wessexshire, Wiltshire and Devonshire miltia), to the Left in the above picture, may also be parsed out in different ways depending on the availability of officers.


The wildcard force. The countryside is alive with rumor and alarm and many citizens have armed themselves with whatever was to hand. To what purpose remains unclear. The notorious Big John Harkins is also said to be roaming about; a capable organizer and enthusiastic supporter “King” Monmouth, he may bring Wessex out for the Duke.

With the stage now ready I will commence to see if this actually works.


Elsewhere, work on the Flodden 1513 Armies continues









6 thoughts on “Pushing The Limits

  1. I’m really enjoying all of these posts. I aim to use the rules with my League of Augsburg figures for some Monmouth period games or ImagiNations. Not sure yet, but will wait until I have the rules in my hand.


  2. Thanks both. The 1685 – 1688 offers a huge number of opportunities for alternate history possibilities. LoA figures, in all scales, are far and away my favorites. As it stand now the rules release is exactly a month away!


  3. It’s good that you are retired. Otherwise you would not have time to spend on your passion, which has become your vocation. As always, I am impressed by your attention to detail and your knowledge of the history and customs of the time. Enjoy pursuing your passion!


  4. Pingback: First Contact at the Drover’s Rest | In Red-coat Rags Attired

  5. Pingback: Building the Auldearn Scenario : The Orders of Battle | In Red-coat Rags Attired

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