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Forlorn Hope (3rd. Ed.)

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TITLE: Forlorn Hope, 3rd Edition (2001)Forlorn Hope 3

AUTHORS: Peter Berry & Ben Wilkins

PUBLISHER: Partizan Press



There is a Yahoo Group for the rules which is unfortunately not very active.   The files section in the group does include some useful downloads like quick reference sheets

PRICE (with date): $33.00 (in 2009)

REVIEWED BY: Ken Portner

PERIOD COVERED: The English Civil Wars (approximately 1642 to 1656).


The book is a full size, soft cover volume printed on glossy paper and running 110 pages. It is illustrated by numerous very well done line drawings.   In addition to the rules themselves it includes army lists for various armies of the period (e.g. King’s Oxford Army, New Model Army, Waller’s Western Association army, etc.) scenarios, a selection of full color flags for 6mm, 15mm, and 25mm miniatures, and very good, if general, description of uniforms.


The rules are intended for tactical games.  Each figure represents 33 actual men.  The basic unit is the regiment.


Army size depends of course on the battle being recreated.   The scenarios included in the rule book call for from anywhere between 100 or fewer miniatures per side to 200-300 per side.   Units are also variable in size based on the battle, but generally run about 10-30 infantry figures and 5-20 cavalry figures.


The smallest unit is a regiment.  As in the wars themselves, the strength of each “regiment” can vary widely.  Figures are nominally based individually, as casualties are taken by individual figure and combat strength, etc. is calculated by individual figure, but multiple basing isn’t a problem.


List the game scales, especially:

Ground scale (1” = 100 yards or 1cm = 1 lightyear)

  • Time scale (1 turn = 1 day or 1 turn = 20 minutes)
  • Figure/Base Ratio 1 figure = 33 men
  • Recommended Figure size (15mm or 25mm)= Not specified
  • Table Size: Not specified
  • Game Length: Not specified




Turns are “simultaneous” – i.e. both sides move, shoot, fight, etc. at the same time.

Declaration and Reaction Phase:

  • Declare charges and take morale check to see if unit charges
  • Declare reactions to charges and take morale check to see whether target complies

Movement Phase:

  • Move routing units
  • Move charging units and units that fled from charge
  • Other units move

Fire Combat and Reaction Phase:

  • Units Fire
  • Units taking sufficient casualties take morale test
  • Charging units check to see if they charge home.

Close Combat Phase:

  • Units in contact fight
  • Take Melee Reaction test to decide winner
  • Units pushed back in melee move back and winners follow up

Reaction and Rally Phase:

  • Morale Tests (as required)
  • Attempt to rally or restrain pursuit
  • Attempt to rally lost figures


Foot units are characterized by a ratio of musket:pike.  It doesn’t matter where in the unit the actual musket armed/pike-armed units are located.   Units with a higher ratio of muskets shoot better, those with a higher ratio of pikes fight in close combat better.    Cavalry is characterized as Gallopers or Trotters.  Gallopers charge slightly further and are better/more aggressive in close combat.  Trotters can fire and are slightly weaker in close combat.

Units are supposed to be operating under an “order” at all times.  These orders restrict what they can do, e.g. units with a “Hold” order cannot initiate a charge.  These are loosely defined.  They can be changed by an officer figure via a die roll test.  Otherwise, command and control rules are pretty basic.

There are lots of morale checks/tests to be taken;  To charge; on being charged; to charge home; to have a leader join/leave a unit; on seeing an enemy unit rout; to rally lost figures; each time hit by artillery fire;  when seeing a  friendly unit rout; upon taking 20% casualties in any one turn.    The tests use a D6 and compare the number rolled to a number determined based on a chart listing factors.   Typically rolling equal to or greater than the total number derived from the chart equals success.  There are different charts for most of these morale checks/tests.

Combat is straight forward.   For either Fire Combat or Close Combat you calculate a Combat Factor.  This is based on the type of unit attacking (Cavalry, Foot at different ratios of musket to pike) and the target unit.    Infantry with a higher ratio of muskets do better in Fire Combat, those with more pikes do better in Close Combat.  There are situational modifiers to these factors.  You take the factor derived and cross reference it with the number of figures firing/fighting to get the number of casualties resulting.  This is expressed in number of figures lost.  

For Close Combat the winner is determined by a random die roll (a combination of D6 and Average dice; better troops roll more Average Dice, poorer troops roll D6) combined with various factors (e.g. number of casualties caused).  The difference in the totals is used on the “Reaction Tablet” to determine the result.   This can be either a push back or outright rout with additional casualties.    A unit that is pushed back a certain distance (depending on its quality) will rout.   I believe this is supposed to represent the scrum of the push of pike.   


Army Lists:

The army lists go far beyond the typical “Early Royalist,” “Late Royalist,”  “New Model Army,” etc. found in most ECW rules.  They instead address the specific quirks of the different regional forces.  The lists are very well done and provide guidance on rating the troops and assigning musket to pike ratios. The lists include

  • Oxford Army  1643
  • Oxford Army  1644
  • Oxford Army  1645
  • Waller’s Army 1644
  • Hopton’s Army
  • Newcastle’s Army
  • Scottish Army
  • Ulster Protestant
  • New Model Army

Scenarios Included:

  • Wigan Lane (1651)
  • Dunbar (1650)
  • Tadcaster 
  • Corbridge

The rule book also includes several pages of color flags for 6mm, 15mm, and 25mm figures.  There is also a very good discussion of arms and uniforms worn by the troops.


These rules are obviously a labor of love and reflect a great deal of research.  They are worth their price for the uniform, equipment and historical information alone.

That being said, there are a number of annoying rules inconsistencies and omissions.  The turn sequence in the rules book itself does not actually state when non-charging units move — this was added in an errata, but the absence of something so fundamental is troubling;  The rules say that a unit can evade a charge as a reaction if eligible, but doesn’t say which units are eligible; At one point the rules say that routing units must break through friendly units to escape (which causes the friendly unit broken through to check morale); at another point it says they can flow around — but the rules don’t say when they must go through as opposed to around.   Foot contacted by horse while the foot is moving are disorganized — since charge moves go first this can’t happen, unless the foot’s movement status is based on the previous turn. There are others, but this provides a sense. 

Also, the rules will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea.   I would characterize them as “old school.”  Movement is simultaneous, command control is fairly basic, and there are many morale checks to take and many charts to consult.  They are not a quick play set and I don’t think they’re really appropriate for large games.   This is contrary to the current fashion of “simple”, quick play rules which abstract many things.


I have not played these rules.

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Review Published Dec. 7, 2009

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