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Upton, 1651

The English Civil War, The Kingdom is Ours, 28mm

This week we were in Worcestershire, trying out a new set of rules. Rather our game was set there – as usual we were in the Navy Club in Edinburgh. The battle was fought between my Parliamentarian Eastern Association, posing as part of the New Model Army for the day, and Jack Glanville’s Scots Covenanters. So, as the the Earl of Manchester I was in charge of my English force, while Jack as the Earl of Leven commanded the Scots. In these rules, the two armies were divided into “Tercios” – in this case two equal forces of five regiments – three of foot and two of horse, plus a gun. On my left Peter led Crawford’s tercio, while on my left Ken played Cromwell to perfection. Jack’s tercios were led by Dougie playing Leslie, and Luca, a visiting Italian, commanded Lumsden’s tercio. Jack and I both had a regiment of dragoons in reserve. All the troops were equally rated, except each Scots tercio included a regiment of Highlanders, while one of his cavalry units was a lancer one.img_3472Bill Gilchrist did sterling work as the umpire – a real feat, as I think he’d only come across the rules that evening. Still, his civil service training stood him in good stead, and a combination of speed-reading and a close study of pertinent points helped the game run along fairly smoothly. Rather, it went as smoothly as any game using these rules could. One player said of The Kingdom is Ours that the rules seem to take different bits out of several other sets of rules – and not the best bits either.  For starters, Order Dice are drawn from a bag, colour coded to show which tercio or army commander gets the dice. Armed with it he can give a unit or part of his formation an order (move, fire, charge etc.), and nce that’s done then the bag is dipped into again for the next dice – until the purple dice appears, marking the end of the turn (just like a Tiffin card in Lardy rules.cam01Both sides began by advancing, but on our right Ken’s progress was hampered by a small river. By the time his leading regiment – Lillburne’s Dragoons – reached it, one of Dougie’s Covenanter regiments (Sir James Douglas’ Foot) was lining the far bank. A quick volley and Lilburne’s took a handful of casualties, and retired back over the little hill behind them. While all this was going on Cromwell’s two regiments of horse just sat there, waiting for something to do. That happened the next turn, when Leslie charged forward at the head of his own two cavalry regiments. The Scots horse then  milled around, as they lacked the order dice they needed to do more. In front of them was Russell’s foot, who formed into their “prepare for horse” formation. That pretty much stymied the Scots, although goings-on elsewhere on the field showed that charging in against a ring of pikes mightn’t have been as suicidal as it sounded.cam03In Crawford’s tercio, the Earl of Manchester’s foot were on the right wing, in front of the little hamlet of Upton.  Over in the centre my saker banged away at the Scots dragoons lining a hedge in the centre of the table, causing a few casualties, and showing just how flaky the morale system can be. Then this rather languid battle erupted into action. The Earl of Dunfermline’s Horse trotted forward, stood in front of Machester’s foot, and fired their pistols at them. This caused enough casualties to force Peter to take a morale test. He failed it spectacularly, and the whole foot regiment ran away, without even firing a shot back. They were promptly ridden down by the Scots horse, which then retired in good order to its side of the table. img_3473Peter brought Fleetwood’s Horse forward to plug the game. No sooner were they in place than the Dunfermine’s Horse charged again. the ironsides were unable to counter-charge, and so they came off worst in the ensuing melee. That meant another morale test, and once again Peter rolled a “1”. Fleetwood’s Horse routed from the field, leaving our centre looking very shaky indeed. That, unfortunately, was all we had time for. In all we only got about four turns in, and one of these was a very short one, as the purple dice was the third one out of the bag. That wasn’t particularly “fast play”, which of course wasn’t all the fault of the rules – we hadn’t used them before, and so there was a lot of rules checking going on. That wasn’t particularly fast either, as the rules can be a bit vague in places, and their layout doesn’t lend itself to the speedy finding of things.cam02All in all the general impression of the rules wasn’t favourable. In fact, nobody liked them, apart, strangely enough, from Peter, the man who rolls “1”s on a D10 with amazing consistency. Bill, as umpire, later described them as “truly dreadful”, and I reluctantly concede that he might have a point. They produced some incredibly flaky events, like that devastating pistol volley, and the “fun but intrusive” random events which marked the end of every turn. I didn’t like the randomness of the morale tests, or the constant switching between D6s and D10s. Nor do I like the Warhammer-esque rolling of buckets of dice, followed by rolling for kills, followed by rolling again to see if pikemen or musketeers become casualties. it all takes too long to get where you want to go.  There was an awful lot of record keeping (ammo levels, casualties and so forth), and while I found them entertaining, I’m not convinced they were anything close to a simulation of a real battle. We might try them again – or we mightn’t bother.cam04



2 Responses “Upton, 1651”

  1. Graham Knight
    8th October 2016 at 6:50 am

    Thanks for the review. I was thinking about a set but now will pass. The figures look good though.

  2. 8th October 2016 at 7:41 am

    I wouldn’t want to put you off them Graham, and I’m sure some people will enjoy them. Its just that of the seven people involved in our game, six didn’t like them at all. To be fair we should really give them another go… although I don’t think we’ll like them any more. In a fortnight we’ll be playtesting the ECW version of To the Strongest. It’d be interesting to compare the two.

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