Saturday, 21 January 2012

6mm ECW - Polemos

I bought these rules (the Old First Edition ones) from a table sale a few years ago and as I had some Irregular Miniature ECW figures I'd painted up years ago, I decided I'd re-base them to suit the rules to give them a run out.
Pete Berry's Polemos ECW - published by Baccus

There are many reviews on the Internet (mostly very positive about the rules) so I thought they'd got to be well worth trying out, so I was very pleased an opportunity finally arrived this week.

Si prepared by reading through the rules (I'm a Dyslec so it would takes me twice as long!) and he picked a scenario for the action from Charles Grant's Scenarios book, published smoke years ago by WRG. It required one force (Roughly double the size of their opposition) to advance across the table and fight their way through a defended gap between two low, wooded ridges.
Map of our table (drawn in PowerPoint 2007!)
The armies were small (I've only got a small collection!);-
  • 3 x cannon with teams
  • 8 x bases of mixed infantry
  • 3 x bases of cavalry
  • 1 x base of muskets (Forlorn Hope)
  • 2 x cannon with teams
  • 4 x bases of mixed infantry
  • 1 x base of cavalry
  • 1 x base of muskets (Forlorn Hope) 
Basing is very important in Polemos. All Infantry & cavalry figures must be on bases that are twice as wide as they are deep (In our case 50x25mm). All move distances and firing ranges etc. are in multiples of base width (BW) or base depth (BD). Artillery are on bases that are BD x BD (or in our case 25x25mm).
During the ensuing action you can see the specially made measurement sticks we used. Marked on one side in BW's and the other BD's (4 BW's long is perfectly adequate for the game as ranges are generally short!)

The intention was to just play a friendly encounter to get to know the rule mechanisms, which neither Si or I were really that familiar with.
The defenders wait expectantly on the road between the ridges.
Central to the sequence of play was deciding on Tempo points (TPS)TP's govern what you can do in your game move. Each level of commander has a designated starting TP level (i.e. General =5) to which you add the roll of 1D6 (D6's are the main dice to be used throughout the rules). You then use a number of the Tempo points to your own choosing to bid for who gets first activation (Holding Tempo). Whoever bids highest gets to choose 1st or 2nd to activate! Then any TPs you have left are used to either move (or at the very end of the turn sequence), rally troops. Whoever hold the Tempo generally moves for less cost.
The attackers march through the village towards where they plan to do battle!
Having moved, the Tempo Player then declares any charges - these are treated in the same way as ranged combat, but use different factors. Failure to succeed at this point means the chargers fail to move to contact.
The brave defenders cavalry unit declare a charge on the attackers.

Then you carry out any ranged combat and finally any close combat.
Initial charge forces on base of attackers back.
Infantry advance into close combat, not charge, so there's no need for them to declare charges. Success in the ranged combat portion of the charge declaration means the cavalry move into contact and decide the outcome through close combat.
Attacker's Forlorn Hope assaults the defending cannon on the right hand ridge line
Ranged combat (and in turn close combat) is very simple to resolve. Each unit type (and indeed troop class) will have an attack/defence factor to which you add 1D6. Then subtract factors to allow for your circumstances (shaken, uphill etc) and finally compare the results - simply subtract the target's total from the shooter/charger's - on a table of outcomes. The lower the result - the less impressive the outcome!
The defended right hand ridge
Outcomes could be;-
  • No effect
  • Halt
  • Recoil
  • Take "Shaken" points
The second Non-Tempo player than declares charges and carries out ranged & close combat.
Finally at the end of the turn, both sides can try to rally troops by removing "Shaken" points with any spare TPs. A Word Of Warning here;- don't expect dramatic outcomes. ECW firearms were pretty ineffective - especially their artillery!
The melee in the centre (on the road) is moving towards a bloody climax. Note the 6mm D6 indicating "Shaken" points

We marked "Shaken" points with little 6mm dice. You can collect up to 3 before you are forced to rout. If you rout into other troops who won't yield, through impassible terrain or off table, then the base is lost. This is the only circumstance when you need to remove casualties!
The final sequence of the turn is to carry out an army morale check, with a D20, if you've lost more than 5% of your total units.

We liked it! The mechanisms are really quite simple once you get into them and soon you're playing off the QRS in isolation.

The book has soft covers and is printed on glossy paper in black and white. It has examples of play together with diagrams to explain the rules further. Over half the book is made up of historical army lists and historical notes together with some really interesting designer notes. There is a card QRS provided as well as it's inclusion in the rear of the book.

There are a couple of things that we struggled with;-
  1. Manoeuvre:- changing formation, wheeling etc. needs some thought and practice.
  2. Advance to contact;- It takes forever for the two armies to meet one another when foot can at best advance only 2BW per move (100mm) when marching. On our little 3ft square table it took about 4 turns before any attackers were near enough for the defender to react!
Would I play again? Oh yes! I love this period in history, and I think these rules capture this pretty well. They're simple and quick to learn and with perhaps some house rules/agreements to counter the two items mentioned above, I can see them becoming a favourite.

Now where's shall I get some more 6mm figures from........

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