Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cutte ye Bridge! (an ECW skirmish game)

We played a small game of ECW skirmish on Saturday using Ganasha Games' Flashing Steel rules. These rules use the same basic game engine as Song of Blades and Heroes, which we used to play our Bronze Age Europe game.

Bill Stewart wrote the scenario: A flying column of Roundhead foot and dragoons under Captain Dullard has been sent by Rupert the Rich to seize Goingbroke House and outflank the defensive position of Lord Goingbroke. The key to this maneuver is the capture of Shorttcutte Bridge and Butler's Botton, a local ford. Lord Goingbroke has sent some foot under Captain Templar to hold the line and, if necessary, deny the Roundheads the bridge by blowing it up if in imminent danger of capture.

Phil Bardsley, Bill, and Dick Larsen were the Roundheads; Chris Craft and I were the Cavaliers.

Chris and I set up our men, I lining the road from the wee market village of Cheap Goingbroke, and Chris manning both sides of the bridge with explosives in hand to destroy it.

William's dragonnade advanceth menacingly
Phil came down through the village, Bill's dragoons went up the middle, and Dick's boys skirted the river to Butler's Bottom.

A warme welcome for ye Round-heads
My advance guard of three musketeers manned a stone wall and peppered Phil's company at medium to long range with no effect beyond slight discomfiture. As Phil advanced farther, I was able to render one trooper hors de combat with a little bit of volley fire.

Phil undeterred
Another few shots and there were more holes in the ranks. Bill started moving in towards my other positions along the road and sent men towards the bridge against Chris' force.

William's dragoons skulk forward whilst Dick's men prepare to brave Butler's Bottom
Seeking glory at the table's edge, as is his wont, Dick sent his men across Buttler's Bottom only to see several swept away by the current. He nevertheless made it across with a sufficient force and trudged on deliberately towards the bridge while Phil and Bill kept our attention focused on this side of the river. Bill moved his dragoons ever closer in and massed them by some buildings for an attack on the bridge.

A skulking of dragoons
There was a great deal of general shooting now and lots of smoke on the field.

Ye shooting groweth hotter
Phil continued on intrepidly and was soon at my throat. A brief fight for the wall and hedge line left my three musketeers dead as door-nails and my first line of defense breached. Chris managed to get the gunpowder in place in readiness to blow the bridge and manned the hedges on both sides against Bill and Dick.

Emplacing ye gunne-powder
At many places, the fighting amounted to trading musket shots across the width of a hedge.

In mortal combatt an hedge's width apartt
Phil's onslaught down the road forced me to abandon part of my position along the hedges and take a new position on the hill. From there I continued to pepper him with musket shots, to little effect.

I moveth to an hygher grounde thence to discomfit myne enymyes
But Phil pursued me uphill and we we soon locked in mortal combat on the crest.

Ye Round-heads attacke most furyously
Meanwhile Dick advanced down the table edge and lost a few more men to Chris' musketry. Chris pushed back a strong attack by Bill on the near side of the bridge, but the tentacles of doom seemed to be closing and we decided it was time to blow the bridge.

Bill's dragoons hasten past to ye bridge
Dick's men skulketh foreward in ragged arraye
Chris had managed to get the barrels of gunpowder in place and needed to light the fuse, which required a skill test. Passing that the fuse burned and we wouldn't know until the end of next turn what resulted.

Ye fuze is litte, hasten away!
Chris managed to get all his men away from the danger zone and at the end of the turn, he rolled for effect and the bridge blew up most satisfyingly.

Ye bridge ytt bloweth uppe!
The game was called a tie, effectively, although most of our forces were cut off by the bridge blowing. Chris had only four men on the far side of the bridge while Dick had a larger force—even after losses to musket fire and Butler's Bottom—and so was assumed to be able to get the upper hand against Chris' few men.

We had a slow start getting used to the nuances of Flashing Steel, but in time we clicked along. The rules play quickly and easily. As with Song of Blades and Heroes, there are a few things I'd like to see the rules have: facing (rather than shoot and fight 360ยบ), armor values, and separate values for hand-to-hand and shooting combat. FS and SoBH do address these things abstractly already, except for separate shooting/HtH values. 

Dick used his own figures; all the other figures were painted by Bill Stewart. These are from the very nice Old Glory range that goes back about 20 years or so. I was able to put out my new Conflix buildings and get into a game for the first time the Miniature Building Authority bridge I got last year. I have several Renegade and Bicorne Miniatures for the ECW. These stand nearly a head taller then the OG ECW figures, even though they are both sold as 28mm ranges. Renegade is out of commission currently, but hopefully not permanently. However, Bicorne offers the same figures as are in the Renegade range and more.


  1. Great looking game with lovely figures and terrain.

  2. Nice battle rep, have you tried the other variant of SOBH Firebrand? it contains rules for using more units each side which I think would work well combined with the ECW setting.

    Also contains some variations on ranged abilities (and magic abilities).

  3. Splendid-looking figures and terrain. Can I ask how big the table was?