There is currently quite an interesting discussion on the Facebook 17th century wargaming group concerning ECW wargames rules. What is fascinating about it is how few of the posters actually mention the period when they are extolling the virtues of their favourite set. Mechanisms - often Simplicity sometimes but rarely if ever the actual period. You would thin it would appear once in a while. But that is the "dark heart" of today's wargaming - it is ALL about game and rarely if ever about the period being gamed.
|Royalist foot- all formed 4 ranks deep both pike and shot. Equally 2 ranks deep for a smaller unit would be fine |
Now perhaps some perspicacious chap can answer me this. Why in some rules do the "game designers" allow silly formations and mad organisations. Now I'm only talking about historical wargaming here . I don't care if your Dwarfs form up in the famous King Ankelbyter XIV's pigs arse formation or of the Fartenberg Fusiliers use the inverse square- with all the bayonets pointing inwards. No I'm talking about rules purporting to be historical and allowing patently non- historical formations . In this instance specifically English Civil War.
|A better view of my prefered 4 ranks deep- but all forming the same depth- which is the real point. The additions to the base depths are simply to protect the charged pikes. This unit did several tours of duty in the OGUK display case|
Since when Gentle reader do the shot form up only half as deep as the pikes in a fully formed battalion of foot. I see it quite often on games using this or that ruleset. Pike and Shotte does it. To Defy a King does it. It is possible to do it in 1644 or Warhammer ECW or Gush . It appears possible in newer sets such as The Kingdom is Ours- which I do not own. (I do now own a copy - prper review later) But none of these answer the question. Why? I've read Barriffe and Elton, Glanced at Hexham none of these contemporary sources show the foot drawn up like this. Contemporary battle maps such as Streeter or De Gomme don't show it. All show foot in usually 6 ranks- both Pike and shot- no difference between the two. Now- being kind- if you squint a bit the 4 ranks of pikes with 2 ,2 rank sleeves of shot might just about look like a bad Swedish Brigade but since Swedish Brigade was only used (badly) at Edgehill by the Royalists that does not explain why it appears so often on ECW games today.. When you are daring enough to ask wwhy this is you either get blank stares or mumbling about how" it is in da rules innit" but never have I had any inkling of a period explanation. Surely the best thing to do would be to lose the 2 extra ranks of pikemen or- as I do- add the extra shot and make the whole unit 4 ranks deep- though I can see why plenty of chaps would not do this and would therefore unless you like big units prefer the former option. I am also aware of the "salvee" argument which allows foot to double their files in order to fire 3 ranks at once as a salvee. That does not mean that moving in doubled files was normal. Equally I know that on occaison troops formed up 3 ranks deep to cover a wider frontage Now if there is a source that details pikes regularly forming up with twice the depth of the regiements shot I should love to see it.
|Parliamentarian Cuirassiers 2 ranks deep to represent the 6 ranks they normally used early in the war.|
Equally when I began ECW gaming in about 1976 or so I started with small units of 6 pikes 12 shot or 8 pikes 16 shot but all formed up 2 ranks deep. Rules were with Derek Sharamns or later Gush and I suspect that under Gush is where- for me at least the rot began. Under those rules Pikes received a rank bonus in melee but shot could fire only a maximum of 2 ranks deep- I played tournaments at the time so .... However I have grown up since then and would not choose to be so unhistorical now.
This kind of silliness happens far less with Horse. Though I tend to form up my Early Parliamentarin horse 2 ranks of models deep - to represent their 6 ranks - as against the Cavaliers single rank of models to represent 3 ranks deep.
|A Royalist Brigade is"Swedish Brigade". 3 regiments of foot .|
Now I am aware of the abstraction argument - and as always some level of abstraction is unavoidable simply because we are using little metal men on a table and not big flesh and blood ones in a field, dice and not actual gunpowder and we are not, normally, attempting to maim and kill one another.(Though I have seen fits of picque at Tournaments)
|The rather more complicated version as depicted by De Gomme no where are the shot depicted at half the depth of the pikemen. |
So my question Ladies and Gentlemen
How has this "incorrect convention" become almost normal and why - despite the historical evidence to the contrary and as I am sure has occurred more than a few times. How many other bits of non historical silliness that did not happen of a battlefield do we take for granted merely because"they make a good game" .