It was Cavaliers vs. Roundheads in a recent game of Victory Without Quarter, a free set of rules available online. I played this game a couple Saturdays ago at a friend’s house with the usual group of wargamers.

We had four players per side, so a lot of miniatures were put on the table. I was on the Parliamentarian side for once, we faced off against the Royalists.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of all of the forces deployed before the game starts. And I didn’t get any pictures of the fight going on my left.

But the game played in the Parliamentarian’s favor. We held our left flank, and our right engaged the Royalists over a hill and some farm fields. Our dismounted dragoons reached the “hard points” on the tabletop held off the enemy’s advance.

I commanded the center with a couple batteries of canon.

Victory Without Quarter uses “random events” to spice the game up, and for once these didn’t play against the side I was one. It rained a lot, and nobody could shoot for a game turn or too. A Parliamentarian spy had revealed our plans to the enemy, so they had the initiative advance early in the game. But this wasn’t a game-breaker by any means.

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The Parliamentarians make it over the wall, only to be outnumbered. Though they did inflict damage before routing.

A couple of the players and the game referee commented on our strategy of basically sitting in place. But in Victory Without Quarter, the initiative system makes it almost impossible to advance in a cohesive battle-line.

A individual units can find themselves quickly isolated, and unable to be activated since the initiative order is completely random.

For example, my pike-and-shot regiments started closer to that wall than the Royalists, yet the Royalists reached the wall first, because of the random activation.

Some units can get called repeatedly, but others might get called only once or twice during the whole game.

This it what happened to the Royalists, as their lines became staggered, we were able to take them down one unit at a time.

The Parliamentarians lost 5 units for the whole game, the Royalists 11. There were 22 units per side. So it was game over.

While Victory Without Quarter works okay (you can’t really complain about free rules after all), I’m still not enamored with the initiative system.

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Foreground: The Royalists get pushed back from the well. Far Background: Parliamentarian cavalry go behind enemy lines.