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"A review/overview of "The Kingdom is Ours" ECW Rules. " Topic

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Puddinhead Johnson27 Mar 2017 7:46 a.m. PST

This is my review of the "Kingdom is Ours" rules. These are a set for the English Civil Wars. They're written by James Daniels. He is apparently one of the principals of Bicorne Miniatures in the UK. Bicorne makes a large range of really excellent 28mm ECW miniatures. The rules publisher is called Helion Books.

Units in the game represent infantry regiments, cavalry regiments, and individual artillery pieces. Infantry and cavalry units are composed of a number of bases. In the "basic game" each infantry unit is composed of four bases of pike and four of shot. (There are "advanced" rules for infantry units with varying ratios of pike/shot and for Highlanders). Each cavalry unit is also composed of 4 bases. Nominally each base has four figures. Changing that wouldn't affect game play. Each base takes four kills before it is removed.

Infantry units can form in three basic fighting formations; Horned – a central block of pike (two bases wide, two bases deep) flanked by two blocks of shot (one base deep); Demi-Herce – All shot bases in the front rank and all pike bases in the rear rank; Charge for Horse – an anti-cavalry formation, the equivalent of an infantry square.

There's a significant difference between the Horned and Demi-Herce formations. This is due to the fact that the arc of fire for Shot is 0 degrees—i.e. shot shoots only straight ahead and that LOF is drawn from the center of the block of shot- and a unit can shoot at only one target at a time. This makes it difficult to shoot both blocks of shot of a unit in the Horned formation. In Demi-Herce formation however, it's much more likely that all shot in a unit will be able to draw LOF. There is a downside to the Demi-Herce formation. In melee a base of pike backed up by another base of pike behind it gets extra dice. A unit in Demi-Herce doesn't get this bonus because the pike bases are lined up one deep behind the shot.

Cavalry can form in line or mass. The only practical difference between these formations is the frontage they occupy. When a unit is in melee all bases fight, regardless of whether the bases actually contact enemy bases. Therefore, the number of ranks is irrelevant as far as combat is concerned.

All units can form in March Formation. This allows them to move more quickly.

Units are organized into "Tertios" for purposes of command and control. In the basic game a Tertio consists of a Commander, 3 infantry regiments, 2 cavalry regiments, and 1 gun. If a side fields more than one Tertio it will also have a Commander in Chief.

Units and Commanders are rated as Excellent, Good, Ordinary, or Poor. These ratings are determined randomly (there's nothing of course stopping you from assigning ratings for a scenario or historical battle). The rating dictates a Commander's Command Radius and the number of orders he can give per turn. The unit's rating affects how it fights and reacts to morale tests.

There is no movement phase, fire phase, melee phase, etc. Instead, the order in which units act is by random draw. At the beginning of each turn each side puts a number of dice in a container; one for each unit on the table and additional dice for its Commander in Chief (the number of Commander's dice is based on the Commander's rating). You use a different colored dice for each side and for each side's Commander in Chief- i.e. You need at least 4 different colored dice. You also put a dice of a color different from either side's dice. This is the end turn dice.

The rules suggest that each Tertio in the game should use a different colored dice. When we played we had three Tertio's per side. That would have required 8 different colored dice (one for each Tertio and one for each Commander in Chief). I didn't have 8 different colored dice (or markers, chits, what have you) and so we just played with a different colored dice for each side and for each Commander in Chief).

You then draw dice from the container, one by one. The dice drawn determines which side (or if you have different dice for each Tertio, which Tertio) can act. For each dice of a side's color drawn, that side can give an order to one of its units. If the end turn dice is drawn, the turn ends, and the order dice are recalculated, returned to the container, and you start the process again.

When a side's colored order dice is drawn, and order can be given to a unit. Orders can be given to a unit directly, or by a Commander. For the Commander to give an order the unit must be in his Command Radius. The order can be given to any unit and a unit can be given up to three orders per turn. It's possible that a side can give multiple orders before the enemy gets to act. It's also possible that you'll have units that never get to act because you decide to spend the orders elsewhere.

The orders are Move, Change Formation, Charge, Fire, and Rally. There is no melee order. Melee happens without an order when opposing units contact.

The Charge and Rally orders can only be given by a Commander. Those orders can't be given directly to a unit. The number of orders a Commander can give is limited by his rating. For example, an Ordinary Commander can give only 3 orders per turn. That means that a Tertio with an Ordinary Commander could be given 3 Charge and/or Rally orders per turn, even if there are more than three dice available to give orders . The Commander and Chief can also give orders, and so if he intercedes with a Tertio additional Charge/Rally orders could be given.

Sound confusing? It is, and it's not explained very well in the rules. We were only able to understand all this by playing. And we're still not sure this is what's intended.

Charging and Rallying require an order test for the unit to actually carry out the order. Units that are outside of their Commander's radius also have to pass an Order test to perform any order. We think this requirement applies to orders given directly to units, not just to orders given by a Commander.

A Move order allows a unit to move. Units move a random distance (e.g. an infantry unit moves 2D6" per move order given). A unit has to move the entire move distance rolled, unless the player specifies it's to stop at a given terrain piece or next to a friendly unit. This may mean a unit bumps into a friendly and interpenetrates. When this happens both units are disordered.

The rules don't say whether movement is straight ahead only or whether changes of direction, oblique movement, etc. is permitted. We assumed that movement was straight ahead only with no oblique movement allowed. The rules don't say whether units in March Order are able to change facing while moving.

A Change Formation order allows a unit to change formation. It is also apparently the order that must be given for a unit to wheel (not entirely clear from the rules). A unit that make a formation change can still move ˝ of its move distance. The rules don't say how far a unit can wheel. They also don't say how a formation change is implemented (i.e. what base does the new formation form on ?) or whether a unit can move and then change formation or must change formation before it moves.

A Charge order allows a unit to charge into contact with the enemy. A charger can have only one target. (the rules don't explain what to do if the charger's position would bring it into contact with more than one defender). As noted above, a unit will Charge only if given this order by a Commander. The Charge process varies depending on whether infantry is charging infantry, cavalry is charging cavalry, cavalry charging infantry, etc. (Infantry cannot charge cavalry). I'll explain the process for infantry v. infantry. The unit getting the Charge order takes an Order Test to see if it will charge. If that's successful the Charging unit decides whether it will fire and charge or just charge. If it just charges it rolls for its charge distance (3D6" for infantry) and moves half that distance. If that brings the charger into contact, you proceed to melee. If that half distance doesn't bring the charger into contact the defender takes an order test to see if it shoots. If it passes defender shoots and applies results. This may make the charger take a Morale test which may stop the charge. If the shooting doesn't stop the charge, the charger then moves its remaining ˝ charge distance and if this brings it into contact with the defender melee occurs.

If the charging infantry decided to fire and then charge, it would fire. The defender would take any Morale Test caused by the charger's fire. Defender would then then fire and any Morale Test caused by the defender's fire would be taken. Charger then moves ˝ the charge distance and if contact results a melee is fought.

Where cavalry charges cavalry the defender can test to countercharge. Where cavalry charges infantry the infantry can test form Charge for Horse.

In melee all bases in a unit fight, regardless of whether they're in physical contact with enemy bases. The rules don't say whether a charging unit should be moved to conform with the defender. We just left them as they contacted. Each unit gets a number of dice per base. Pike bases contribute 2D6, shot bases contribute 1D6, and cavalry bases contribute 4D6. A charging unit gets double dice. Thus, getting in the charge is very important insofar as infantry is concerned (a defending cavalry unit can counter charge) . A disordered unit reduces its dice by half. There are modifiers for flank or rear attacks and if a unit is disordered its dice are halved.

In melee each dice hits on a 5-6. You then roll to kill. Against infantry a 3-6 is necessary to kill. The side that inflicts the most kills wins. The loser takes a Morale Test. The winner will also take a Morale Test if it lost a base in the fight. The Morale Test uses a D10 and there are modifiers for troop rating, Commander's presence, number of bases already lost from the unit, etc. The result of a Morale test is either the testing unit stays in good order, becomes disordered and falls back, or routs.

If both sides in a melee stay put the melee continues over multiple rounds until one or both sides break contact. Thus, there can't be any multiple unit melees (i.e. melees where two or more chargers are against one defender or vice versa).

If one side routs and the other remains in good order, the winner automatically pursues unless it passes a test to prevent pursuit. Once a unit starts pursuing it will continue until it catches the fleeing unit or is rallied from pursuit.

A Fire order allows a unit to fire. Maximum range for shot is 18", divided into 3 range bands. Artillery fires further. The arc of fire for shot is 0 degrees. The arc of fire for artillery is generally 30 – 45 degrees. You roll 2D6 for each shot base or per artillery crew. There are modifiers to the number of dice you roll. For instance, if the unit has moved in the turn it deducts dice. You need a 6 to hit a long range, a 5-6 to hit at medium range, and a 3-6 to hit a close range. For each hit you then need to roll a kill number; 3-6 for infantry; 4-6 for cavalry. If fire causes a unit to lose a stand the unit takes a Morale Test. The first time a unit fires it rolls 2D6 to see how much ammunition it has. Each time it shoots one ammunition is expended. Once it's expended that ammunition it can no longer shoot. There aren't any rules for resupply.

A Rally order allows a unit to stop pursuing, recover from disorder, or recover from rout. This order can only be given by a Commander, not directly to a unit. A unit has to pass an order test to rally. There are different modifiers to the test depending on whether the unit is rallying from pursuit, disorder, or rout. When a unit rallies from rout it becomes disordered. That disorder is permanent.

There are no army morale rules. So you could conceivably fight to the death.

That describes the "basic" game. There are special rules for terrain, rules to model troop's characteristics (e.g. Royalist Horse, New Model Army infantry, Cornish infantry, etc. ) and rules explaining what types of troops are available to different armies at different periods/locations.

We played a game just using the basic rules. Each side had two Tertios each consisting of 3 infantry regiments. Each side also had a cavalry Tertio of 2 regiments (we didn't follow the basic game convention of using a Tertio with both infantry and cavalry).

It was our first time playing and so the game went slowly. We got through about 5 turns in 3 hours. But I think that it would go relatively slowly regardless as that is the nature of a turn sequence that has in effect, each unit acting individually. The action concentrated on one part of the field. Neither side's cavalry acted at all. Again, I think this is the nature of this sort of turn sequence. You tend to get sucked in devoting all your orders to where the action is. Saving orders to bring an unengaged sector into the action requires you to forego acting where things are happening.

The mechanisms for fire and melee are simple and easy to use. There is some incompleteness with respect to the mechanisms for moving and changing formation, but they aren't so great that we couldn't get along. The dice order sequence is not well explained in the rules. I'm not sure we got it right even after a play through.

In sum, despite its flaws, I think the rules played well and were fun. It would be nice if the author would produce an errata/faq addressing some of the vagueness.

skinkmasterreturns27 Mar 2017 8:09 a.m. PST

Thanks for that,I have the rules but havent played them.I agree that it sounds like it would be slow going for the simple fact of pulling dice.However,It sounds like it creates a lot of friction,too,which can end up with a nailbiting game,and those are the best kind.

Codsticker27 Mar 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

Sounds like there are some interesting ideas; I like the simplicity of the orders and the charge/charge reaction sounds well thought out. Too bad about the lack of clarification in other areas though.

If both sides in a melee stay put the melee continues over multiple rounds until one or both sides break contact. Thus, there can't be any multiple unit melees (i.e. melees where two or more chargers are against one defender or vice versa).

I am not sure I understand; does this mean that in an ongoing combat, you cannot charge a unit into the flank of an enemy unit you are already fighting to the front?

Puddinhead Johnson27 Mar 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

If both sides in a melee stay put the melee continues over multiple rounds until one or both sides break contact. Thus, there can't be any multiple unit melees (i.e. melees where two or more chargers are against one defender or vice versa).

I am not sure I understand; does this mean that in an ongoing combat, you cannot charge a unit into the flank of an enemy unit you are already fighting to the front?

That's the way I understand it.

When you give a unit a charge order it charges into conduct and the resulting melee is fought to a conclusion. That may take several rounds of fighting. But the conclusion will see one or both of the combatants failing morale and breaking contact.

You don't pull another dice and give another order until that melee is done. So there is no way to have more than one unit in contact at a time. (a unit can have only one charge target and I believe this means that it can fight only one unit).

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 3:06 p.m. PST

I see a lot of avenues for tinkering here.

Ney Ney29 Mar 2017 10:06 a.m. PST

Thanks for this rules review. Id seen these rules in a shop but hasn't heard of them before so its good to get some info. Appreciated!!

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