I managed to stretch my legs away from the painting table the other night and visited my Redcar (North East of UK) wargame group. A collection of like minded individuals who haven't yet grown up. This was the first time I had attended the current English Civil War (ECW) campaign. As a nominated Parliamentarian I was pleased to see that the siege of Oxford was still in progress, Parliament having already seen off one Royalist attempt to lift the siege I was an avid spectator at the Royalist second relief attempt. The Parliamentarians deployed and defended a hamlet on the approaches to Oxford (see below).
The Royalist army deployed and to the consternation of the Parliamentarian C-in-C it was not the "cavalry heavy" force he had expected for his defensive battle plan, but an infantry heavy force. Even more worryingly was the sight of the large cannon that the Royalists had thoughtfully brought along. The Parliamentarians shuddered as they could see a long investment under cannon fire ahead. The Parliamentarian Pike troops were least of all encouraged at this prospect due to their vulnerability to cannon ball. The Royalists are shown deployed (see below).
Immediately the Parliamentarians took on a negative defensive mindset and elected an unforced "tactical withdrawal" of their left wing of horse (admittedly stand-for-stand inferior to the Royalist troops of this period under DBR rules) and infantry behind and into the Hamlet (see below). To the interested spectator one could not wonder if this flight was somewhat premature.
Not to look such a gift horse in the mouth the Royalist right flank boldly advanced (see below) against empty space.
It was clear by this point the Parliamentarian Centre was floundering as the Royalist surprise weapon of doom, the large cannon (with admittedly good dice), was tearing holes in the Parliamentarian Pike, forcing Shot units to "screen off" the fire. These Shot units although harder to hit suffered casualties too and the Parliamentarian high command was flung into disarray for a counter measure (see below, as viewed from the Royalist lines).
The Royalist pounding was remorseless and the Parliamentarian Regiments of Foote were reduced to ragged bunches of desperate survivors and a remnant of their former glory (see below).
Enough was enough, the Parliamentarian C-in-C conceded a minor defeat and the Siege of Oxford (1643) was lifted (see below). Not really a game more of a superior Royalist strategy that meant it was a "win" even before the first shot was fired due to the Parliamentarian "self-pinned" defensive mind-set and dispositions.
Clearly the Royalists had won this game of "Paper-Scissors-Stone" but I pondered the "What if?". Could it have been different if the Parliamentarians had formed up in line of battle and fought it out in a slug-fest? Parliamentarians were certainly superior in infantry fire power (having a 1:1 "Shot to Pike ratio" as opposed to the Royalist 1:2 ratio), admittedly the Royalists had the advantage over the Parliamentarian early war "glass cavalry flanks" but could they have given a better game of it and contested the battle better?
Given that the hour was still early I asked players to "rack the balls" to see how the alternative would have least played out to see if the Parliamentarian Generals mind-set was at all as justified as they claimed it to be.