Inverlochy (1645) With FK&P

After further e-mail discussions with Andrew Brentnall and Simon Miller, I made some more tweaks to the units. The two Campbell Highlander (levy) units were increased to a H/vp (Hit/victory point) level of 3 and the pure pike (clan levy) unit to 4 (recognizing its larger size and reduced mobility*). All of the Highland (retinue) units on both sides had their Save value improved from +8 to +7. The three Campbell clan levy units now have TWO untried markers, which increases the historically demonstrated likelihood of their breaking early. The adjustments in the victory point values now brings both sides to 19 as the army break points. Note that “retinue”, “levy” and “clan levy” are my own qualifying tags I place on the unit labels.

* as it turns out the rules are clear that the change from 3 to 4 would not decrease mobility, 3 and 4 being equal in that regard -d_guy 10-19-17)

I also decided to make a few aesthetic changes to the way the units are represented for For King and Parliament. Since the units are now three inches wide (down from five inches for Baroque), I have increased the depth of the pikes to give more apparent mass. Technically, this makes them deeper than they actually were (and changes the M:P ratio) but gives a pleasing effect none-the-less. The horse will also have a few more figures added to increase mass, eight total for “Swedish” (galloper) and twelve for “Dutch”(trotter). Both will use deeper stands. .

Just as reminder, as a solo player I use cards to randomly sequence the order in which brigades (on both sides) can attempt to activate, otherwise the rules are as stated in the current FK&P draft -d_guy

The Clan Campbell array waits in the early morning light for the impending Royalist attack. Inverlochy, Candlemas Day, 1645 <click to enlarge>

The collection of sheep grazing behind the front center of the Campbell line are “untried” markers -d_guy

Turn One

As the sunlight began to filter down from the peaks of Ben Nevis with the mist still swirling on Loch Linnie, Auchinbreck surprised the Royalists by seizing the initiative and advancing his army directly toward them. After taking personal command of the Campbell clan array, he ordered his field gun to fire on the MacDonalds which it did to good effect.

On both flanks, the Lowland battalions (Rough’s and Cockburn’s) expertly performed oblique marches to extend the Covenanter line beyond the flanks of the Royalists.

Finally shaken out of their surprise, Col. O’Cahan led his brigade positioned on the Royalist left forward, but his advance was uncharacteristically sluggish! Sensing that he had caught Montrose by surprise, Auchinbreck ordered his clansmen to make a full attack.

Montrose immediately countered by leading his entire center to meet them. The Keppoch MacDonalds were first to make contact, charging into the Campbells of Lochnell, firing as they did so. Lochnell gave as good as they got, however, and withstood the onslaught, driving Keppoch back. The rest of Montrose’s advancing center faltered.

At that point MacColla swung into action, first ordering Ogilvie’s lancers to attack Cockburn’s which had now positioned itself in front of the ruined castle. Although attacking with great spirit, they too were repelled. Like his friend, O’Cahan on the left, MacColla’s advance was almost lethargic.

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Inverlochy: The situation at the end of turn one. The Royalists are initially meeting a much more active enemy than they had anticipated. <click to enlarge>

I again left the activation cards in place for the first picture to give a sense of what game play looks like. A card turned parallel to the baselines indicates that a unit has failed an activation (and its brigade’s turn is terminated). The piles of face down cards are those played for determining hits and saves drawn from the activation deck. I recommend immediately placing them face down to enhance the fog of war (being able to see every played card assists in making probability calculations! A thin advantage, but an advantage).

The Covenanters got the first three brigade activation possibilities and proceeded to confound their opponent (me) by stretching their line. It was tempting to ignore them but the Royalists did not act quickly enough to “shoot the gaps” (which was likely a dangerous idea anyway). -d_guy

Turn Two

Once again both of the Covenant flanks activated first. Cockburn’s fired a couple of heavy volleys into Oglivie’s lancers causing light casualties. On the right, Rouge charged O’Cahan’s Irish but after fierce fighting were driven back with heavy losses, losses which included Col.Rouge who was bashed insensible in the melee’. (He will not regain his command or his senses until turn four. -d_guy)

Argyll’s two battalions, standing on Tor Na Faire and with their brigade commander now forward with the clan warriors, failed to do anything, apparently transfixed by the battle unfolding in front of them.

The Royalist lancers, having shaken off the fire from Cockburn’s, charged again but were this time destroyed by the Lowlander’s accurate fire.

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Rouge’s Lowlanders (near the castle) finish off Sir Thomas Ogilvie’s Lancers <click to enlarge>

Meanwhile on the Royalist left, O’Cahan was having difficulty getting his brigade into attack position. Using the flat of his sword, he finally managed to get his musketeers to take up a better firing position, but no more than that. Concerned by the behavior of the normally forward Irish, Clan Maclean stood in silence watching.

Montrose, half-pike in hand, ordered his full brigade to charge. Clanranald collided with the levy pikemen of the Campbells of Auchinbreck, who took many casualties, including the Captain of Dunstaffnge, severely wounded by a sword cut above knee. These simple crofters and herdsmen did their duty, however, and threw back the attack. Seeing the MacDonalds of Clanranald repelled,  the rest of the attack stalled. Montrose was aghast!

Auchinbreck again seized the initiative and ordered his levies forward. The Campbells of Parbrech charged into the muskets and pikes of Inchbrackie’s Atholl men but suffered heavy losses. They managed, however, to withdraw in some semblance of order. The Lochnell Campbells hit the hated MacDonalds of Keppoch while those of Innerae took on the warriors of Glengarry. Neither line, however could budge the other, but the warrior/poet, “Stammering” John, fell in the fighting.

With neither line showing signs of wavering, both took a moment to catch their breath, withdraw their wounded, and hurl rocks and insults at each other.

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Inverlochy: the situation at the end of turn 2. The Covenanters are trading the Royalists punch for punch and they have succeeded in driving the only unit of horse from the field. And yes, I am playing the part of Ben Nevis casting its shadow across the scene <click to enlarge>

I was surprised that the raw and (double) untried Campbell levies did as well as they did, managing to stay on the field and even inflicting a few casualties on the enemy. They are, however, heavily damaged and unless I can pull them back to attempt to recover them (not an easy task), they will likely not stand much longer. The Royalists continue to have some amazingly awful card runs. -d_guy

Turn Three

MacColla, still surprisingly tentative, continued to slowly move his brigade forward.

On the left, Rouge’s hit O’Cahan’s with well-aimed volleys (slightly wounding the Colonel himself) but the Irish fired back with equal effect.

Using his own initiative, the major commanding the second battalion of Argyll’s moved toward the castle to cut off what appeared to him to be a Royalist breakthrough on the Covenanter left. meanwhile Auchinbreck, his blood up, drove his clansmen into the attack and again they could make no headway.

Manus O’Cahan redoubled his effort and his Irish fired a salvee at Rough’s and charged! The Lowlanders quickly disintegrated before the determined onslaught. O’Cahan’s Highlanders, the Macleans, also charged and finished off the Glenncaddel Campbells. The entire Covenanter right flank was collapsing!

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O’Cahan’s Irish move on, having just destroyed Rouge’s Lowland battalion on the Covenanter right <click to enlarge>

Hearing the victory shouts and slogans of the Irish and the Macleans, Montrose attacked with a vengeance. Inchbrakie’s men destroyed the Campbells of Parbreck with concentrated fire and Auchinbreck’s own pike battalia ran off the field with them. A musketball glanced off Auchinbreck’s raised sword and hit him in the head. His seconds managed to drag their confused chief back to the Argyll regiment. The Battle had reached a crisis, which was only deepened as MacDonnell’s Irish slipped through the gap in the Covenanter front line and prepared to attack the second battalion of Argll’s as they were repositioning.

In desperation, Cockburn moved his men toward the center to close the gap.

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Inverlochy: The situation at the end of turn 3. After fighting the Royalists to a standstill, Montrose’s veteran troops are making sharp inroads into the Covenanter lines. The entire right side of the Covenanter army has suddenly fallen apart <click to enlarge>

Turn Four

A note on decision making and game mechanics: turn four opened with Macolla’s brigade getting the first activation chance. They drew a nine. As they were perfectly positioned and had all of their ammo, I decided that if I had a much lower activation, I could “climb the ladder” (i.e draw successively higher activation cards to allow two or even three double volleys – possibly enough to take out Cockburn’s Lowlanders). A brigade commander can once in a turn redraw the activation card of the unit he is with – MacColla drew an ace! His entire brigade failed activation! I love these mechanics – they entice you to be really stupid! 😀 -d_guy.

MacColla decided to continue spectating the battle.

Cockburn’s activated next and fired their last double volley which proved devastating. Not only was Laghtnan’s Irish heavily damaged, MacColla was mortally wounded and died as he was carried from the field! Laghtnan’s return volley was ragged and ineffective. Fortunately for them, Cockburn’s failed to fire again.

You can’t make this stuff up! The rules contain a nice little mechanism for deciding if an accompanying officer is hit, how bad, and the final disposition. The card sequence on both sides wrote a script for me that I would NEVER have chosen! -d_guy 

On the Royalist left O’Cahan began to rally his brigade but after their victories they had apparently lost interest in further fighting.

O’Cahan’s and the Macleans both have disordered (hit) markers and the rules provide a means to attempt to remove them. True to form, the first unit attempted to rally, failed and caused the brigade to end its turn -d_guy

Argyll’s second battalion exchanged ineffectual musket fire with MacDonnel’s Irish as they approached, apparently maneuvering to cut off any retreat to the castle. Still addled by the blow to his head, Auchinbreck could give no further sensible orders.

The left flank of Montrose’s brigade continued to press forward but halted at the upslope of Tor Na Farie.

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Inverlochy: The situation at the end of turn four is grave for the Covenanters. Their right flank and center have been destroyed and the Royalists are through to the second line at multiple points <click to enlarge>

Turn Five

The remnant of MacColla’s brigade, now operating without their commander, tried to break through Cockburn’s brigade but these stalwarts continue to hold.

Having recovered his senses, Auchinbreck, seeing his right and center collapsing, ordered his Argyll battalions to concentrate toward the castle on his left. His gun failed to ignite its charge and the servers began frantically to extract the ball.

Twice Cockburn’s charged Laghtnan’s but were pushed back each time. On the Royalist left, O’Cahan still could not get his brigade rallied. In the center, the Highlanders on both sides failed to go forward but continued to rain torrents of abuse on each other and one particularly obnoxious Keppoch man was brained by a well thrown rock!

Three successive aces caused the last three brigades (two Royalist and one Covenanter) to fail to activate! I need to count the number of aces in the decks again! 😀 d_guy

Turn Six

Col. Cockburn wisely pulled his men back to the Covenanter camp to help Auchinbreck stabilize a new line of defense. On the Covenanter far right, O’Cahan still failed to get his men (who were now more and more engaged in rifling the pockets of the enemy dead than paying much attention to aught else) back into good order. On the other flank, Major Laghtnan had greater success in rallying his battalion but MacColla’s (former) Lifeguard did not succeed in moving much forward to avenge their fallen chief.

The Lochnell Campbells surged ahead into the Keppoch MacDonalds and inflicted more  harm before they were forced back. Led by Montrose in person, Glengarry finally broke the levies of Innerea with a charge.

Although the last remnant of the Campbell’s first line, Lochnell, continued to fight Keppoch to a standstill, Inchbrackie’s Atholl men achieved the ridge of Tor Na Fairie and captured the Covenanter field gun.

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Inverlochy: The situation at the end of turn six. The Covenanters are in a near untenable position, with their right flank well and truly turned. Auchinbreck, however, is still trying to form a defensive perimeter around his camp <click to enlarge>

The Covenanter army now has only one victory point to give (the Royalists have fifteen remaining!) and I would normally call the battle at this point as unwinnable for the Covenanters but they have fought so well I want to see what happens -d_guy.

Turn Seven

Col. O’Cahan, apparently seeing that the battle was won, gave up trying to move his brigade forward, the action having moved rather dramatically away from his position. Rubbing the throbbing goose-egg on his head, he sat down on a rock and took a long pull from his whisky flask.

The Campbells of Lochnell continued to stand firm and again drove into the MacDonalds (they had lost track of the number of attacks they had already made). But taking even more casualties, the Keppoch men stood equally firm.

Once the initial firearm use is lost, Highlander units can use only their melee weapons and closely match each other. Historically the fighting would break into individual duels and could go on for some time. This is fairly nicely represented by the back and forth fighting in this game – d_guy.

Inchbrackie flanked the first battalion of Argyll’s and dropped many with their musketry. Clanranald then attacked up the slope, but Argyll’s pikes and swords drove them back. Finally Montrose led Glengarry into them, spearing an Argyll sargent as he did so. The flashing blades of the Glengarry men finished the job. Auchinbreck fought with his men until he was dragged to the second battalion still slinging curses at Montrose and his MacDonalds.

The Battle was over.

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Inverlochy: The situation at game’s end. Not unexpectedly, it is a decisive victory for the Royalists. The Covenanters have only three Units left (plus the meager garrison of the castle). What’s more they are cut off from one another. While the Royalist casualties were light in comparison, they did lose the near irreplaceable Alasdair MacColla!

The scenario gave a very good game and captured much of the character of the historic battle. Unlike the original battle, the Lowland Regiments, particularly Cockburn’s, performed exceedingly well as did the Campbell Highland men and levies (which I had drastically handicapped). To say the veteran Irish underperformed would be an understatement.

Notes on For King and Parliament

The newest rules draft is reading quite smoothly with little or no ambiguities (other than the ones I manage to induce in my head! 😀). If you have played To the Strongest! you will already be familiar with the major base mechanisms, but they have been cleanly updated (in fact I believe one or more have been back added to the TtS! “living” documents) and are tuned specifically to The Wars of the Three Kingdoms (WTK). I must also say that a good deal of effort was spent in capturing detail and feel of the period. FK&P also gives due consideration to some of the unique problems I have on the Celtic Fringe (Highlanders, Scots Horse and lancers, Pure Pike units and Rabble – the last will probably play the part of early war Irish insurgents rather well).

I added some specific notes after the last trial battle (Lessie’s Moor) and add a few more below:

Command/Control – There are actually four command levels (Side*, Army, Command, Brigade) and how these are assembled is highly flexible. There are officers that operate at the last three levels and a great deal of fun can be had simply figuring out the best way to deploy them during each turn. The officers have simple command rules (movement, command range, combat interaction) but can be richly detailed in their “personality” and the level to which they can exert command.

How one sets up the initial command structure can greatly effect how the game plays. Having each of the Lowland battalions be their own brigade with a named officer, for example, allowed them a great deal of flexibility in how they moved and fought, as well as allowing them to take greater chances with card draws since a failure would affect no other unit. For me at least, this approach is ideal for writing historic scenarios since you can easily model the command strengths and weaknesses of each army. Officers can also become casualties (with different possible outcomes) which can also alter the course of the game (and provide a very rich narrative potential).

*Side is not actually a command level but recognizes that (which was not uncommon in the WTK) several closely allied, but independently commanded Armies might show up to represent one side in a battle.

Battle management – In a multi-player game you will be dealing with your own Army, Command or Brigade (or as I play it solo, one random brigade at a time). Irrespective, the battle management is the same and centers on several decisions. Where to best deploy your officer(s), the order in which you attempt to activate your units, the continuing sequence of activations (do you try to “climb the ladder”*) and when, if ever, do you attempt to rally/recover damaged units or those stuck in pursuit mode.

There is also a resource management component: ammunition, dash (energy for horse), special characteristics and other expendable such as attached shot or light guns. The overriding decision is deciding if you are in an all out sprint or a paced endurance run (and whether you can stick with that decision 😄).

*I use “climbing the ladder” to mean the process of drawing subsequent activation cards for a unit. The next card has to be one (and sometimes more) rungs higher on the activation ladder than the previous card. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Shooting – battalia don’t run out of the basic ability to shoot nor can they normally resupply  (as in TtS!) but a variable number (based on level of training and unit size) of ammo chits allow special types of firing such as longer range or quicker volleys. Do you conserve for later or go full pedal to the metal?

I have not done much with the field artillery (a fairly rare commodity where I do most of my battles). So far it seems to be as generally useless as it should be!😄  Siege guns are a different matter and particularly important in Ireland (and only slightly less so in England). Hope to test them out at some point.

Melee – resolution is very fast (and entertaining), yet allows for a fair number of simple modifiers to be applied. As with TtS!, Hit and Save values are simple to remember.

Celtic Fringe Potential – I frequently deal with second line, levy and militia troops and these are easily handled by the training/experience levels available (basically the better trained/more experienced – or motivated – the easier they activate, save and rally). The extended rule of using “untried” markers allows further ways to “tune” the troops.

Highlanders (used both in Scotland and Ireland) have their own troop type in FK&P and, all things considered, are implemented as well as any rules set I’ve seen operating at the battalion level. There is a strong recognition of the Highlanders being best in their first charge (although some flexibility exists here), a viewpoint I heartily approve. What’s more, the existing rules provide a simple framework that I think can be further extended to fine tune this troop type. I plan to test these minor extensions in the next scenario I try – the inter-clan Battle of Mulroy, fought not very far from Inverlochy in 1688.

I’ll add more notes on FK&P after the next play-through.