Building the Auldearn Scenario: The Set Piece Battle

To the best of my knowledge wargaming Auldearn (and there are many examples) has been shaped by the thinking of David Stevenson and even more so by Stuart Reid. Using Ruthven as the most likely actual witness and then rationalizing other source material around his framework brings about several plausible and quite playable scenarios. These are reflected in what I have done so far in adapting the battle to the For King and Parliament rules framework.

Other interpretations are possible and the most interesting one is to configure the Battle of Auldearn as a fairly straightforward set piece battle. This can be done by using the Chronicles of the Frasiers and the Ardintoul Manuscript excerpt in the History of the MacKenzies as the basis for the initial deployments.    Historic Scotland (Alba Aosmhor) has partially taken this approach and also raised several questions about the orientation of the battlefield and the location of the heaviest fighting.


A view to the west from Lord George Gordon’s position showing the Covenanters advancing out of the morning mist.

The battlefield should be shifted two or three rows to the north on my layout but I want to keep the same setup for all the Auldearn scenarios so I’ll compress the Northern flank a bit. This setup, although allowing a much wider initial deployment for the Covenanters, still presents some difficult decisions about how they should advance.

Aldearn 9x12 set piece

Both sides are deployed more forward than the other scenario variants. This potentially  speeds the Covenanter advance since they need not negotiate Auldearn Burn on their initial move.

Special Scenario Rules for this Variant

As this variant supposes that both armies are on the field and arrayed in a fairly conventional deployment no reinforcements are needed for the Royalists nor are the Covenanters constrained in their movements. As the Order of Battle allows the option of using a musket & pike regiment (and a field gun) in place of two of the Irish Commanded Shot units (Laghtnan’s and MacDonnell’s), the Irish Regiment should replace Laghtnan’s in A8, MacDonnell’s removed from C7 and the field gun placed in C10.

Victory Conditions
All scenario variants will have the same victory conditions:
1) If the Covenanter player holds either the Auldearn Kirk square (C11) or any two of the three Auldearn village squares (D11, E12, F11) at the end of any turn, it is a Covenanter victory.
2) Either side may win on points in the usual manner (the Royalists break on giving up their 13th victory point, the Covenanters break on losing their 18th)

The game ends at the end of turn 16.
If the Royalists avoid the Covenanter victory conditions it is a Royalist victory.


The field as it is laid out for Auldearn as a set piece battle. The Covenanter army is deployed in the foreground.

As with the other variants I will play through this one a few times.

9 thoughts on “Building the Auldearn Scenario: The Set Piece Battle

    • Fantastic work…..thanks for sharing your different takes on the battle. If your doing Alford next l think you will find even more varience amongst the various accounts of that engagement.


      • Thanks, Peter! Most of Montrose’s battles give a good deal of scope for interpretation which makes them fun. I will get to Alford soon (thanks for the heads-up, I haven’t close read the sources yet).
        Likely I will jump back to Ireland first – Battle of Liscarroll – to try to understand how the Irish actually lost it!


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