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Marston Moor at Bristol Independent Gaming

What better way to round off a pretty topsy-turvey year with the biggest game I’ve ever played in. Ten players, thirty two foot wide table and a whole day of gaming. Big Don had done all the legwork, building on the work of David Burrows on the Slitherine website. The rules system was Field of Glory Renaissance and the number of units was immense. The photo below gives you some idea of the scale, and this was just the Royalist forces! What follows is a highly abbreviated account of the battle as I had Cromwell himself ( Chris Corbyn-Jackson) bearing down on my righteous forces all day….

View above of the Royalist forces south of the Marston- Tockwith road. Note the ditch that reminded me of Lutzen but was to proove to be an important factor here, disrupting rather than halting the attacks across it. As Royalists intent on defending York, we were quite confident in our infantry centre. Our horse on the wings was less content.

Above, Napier’s command was already lining the ditch as the battle commenced. Our strong infantry was bolstered by Tillier behind and the infamous horse of Rupert beyond.

To the right of Napier on the Royalist side was Lord Byron and my command. Three of my units were in rough ground and I did not fancy my chances of getting over the ditch before the Allies appeared. 

I did have a useful large unit of dragoons to steady my line. Ominously, the blue bonneted Scots appeared very confident in their ability to crush our forces.

Sure enough to the flank of the advancing dragoons was my nemesis Cromwell and the Eastern Association horse, including Cromwell’s own double strength elite horse (above). I wasn’t going to vault the ditch like Byron in the actual battle so our accompanying musketeers let fly with shot!

The left wing Royalist horse stopped at the ditch and prayed that we could gain enough time for our infantry to be victorious against the centre. Cromwell and Leslie were being quite slow to develop their attack just yet (below). The third line was of Scots and Napier was well placed to discomfort the Jock-o-nese horse.

Napier’s foot had already sent one regiment of superior infantry packing. Under the direction of Andy Claxton, they crossed the ditch and flanked the Scottish horse.

Royalist hopes were rising but the crossing of the ditch by our vanguard spurred the Allies into action. The crossing of the ditch was to be the limit of our gains this day.

The Scots above were more than willing to replace the lost Eastern Association foot in the front line. Andy and the troops of Tillier were drawn into a hot exchange of musketry. Meanwhile in the East, Sir Thomas Fairfax was also busy bringing up large numbers of Allied troops (below)

However, the Royalist left under Goring were spoiling for the fray. They would have to take on dragoons in the rough but the Parliamentry right was under severe pressure for most of the game. Below, Royalist artillery makes the Eastern Association pay!

The fighting was now all along our front and much to my surprise we looked to be holding the upstart Allies.

I may not have fancied crossing the ditch but Cromwell was ready! Vaughan’s horse scattered and I was forced back to seek reinforcements from our centre. However this left the rough ground hotly contested behind Cromwell .

The central portion of the battle looked to have swung in our favour. Eastern Association foot regiments were disappearing and the Scots behind them taking losses. If my remaining troops on the far right of the Royalist lines could hold on, the devastating swing of Cromwell’s horse would be averted.

The fight was fierce and bloody but the gallant Royalist evicted both the dragoons and their supporting horse. Cromwell would need to send more valuable troops if he was to secure this area of Englande!

The Allied high command needed to push harder and Fortune played her part. Goring was tearing up the Allied right but increasing numbers of Royalists were seeking sanctuary in the rear.

Cromwell was at last beginning his sweep into the Royalist centre. Newcastle and Rupert were looking longingly at the safety of White Sike Close! Goring had torn through his opponents and giving the Parliamentary a lot to think about! 

The Royalist army was however running out of steam. Losses had been severe and retreat seemed the only option. We hadn’t been wiped from the field but it was time to leave the North!

I can honestly say this was one of the most absorbing games I had ever participated in. We all left for a drink and pizza,fired up with ideas for the next fight. Our thanks to our genial host Mr. mc Hugh for his tireless work and Bristol Independent Gaming for providing a first class venue. Until the next one, have a great New Year from Wales and the West!

Post script from the Clevedon games master himself, Don Mc Hugh

“We played Edgehill at the Exeter show last year using an orbat from Ben at the Oxford club. After the game and some reading, I was not convinced with the numbers of troops and units. Having decided to do Marston Moor next, I brought several books and started sorting it out.

 A major inspiration was this blog – It was Paul’s use of smaller units of royalist cavalry that lead me to speak to Nik, one of the FoGR writers about the idea. It was Nik who gave me approx numbers for the scaling of units. Ian and I play tested the smaller units at my place and deciding it was successful, I finished the orbats (these are entirely my own work) and was pleased to discover we had enough figures.

 In my correspondence with Paul Johnston, he sent me the stuff I gave you last Sunday. It was this that I used to put the terrain together. I would like to thank Paul for his assistance, he was a major influence and was very generous with his help.

 So glad you all enjoyed the game so much, we will do another one this year, just need to find one with lots of troops for the number of players.

 Best regards



Einherjar! Fight all day, feast all night , live forever!



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