In this play example, we'll be looking at the first few turns of the Marston Moor scenario.
Each player has seven formation cards, with five formations being active at the start of the battle. For both sides, these five formations include two cavalry, two infantry, and an artillery card.
The active infantry are roughly similar on both sides: they're limited to placing one die per turn, and when they attack, they do one hit per die while taking a hit themselves for launching the attack. One of the two infantry cards on each side can place only sixes, and the other fives or sixes. However, the Royalist infantry are all part of the same Wing, meaning that only one of those cards is going to get dice on a turn, while the Parliamentarian/Covenanter side has one infantry card for each wing. This means that, potentially, each of those infantry units can get a die slotted for them.
The active Royalist infantry has 10 sticks between them, while the Parliamentarian forces have only 7. However, the Royalists have only one infantry unit in reserve, the Whitecoats, with only 2 sticks, while each Parliamentarian infantry formation has a second formation behind it, with 9 additional sticks between them. This means the Royalists are going to be incentivized to Rout the two active enemy formations before those formations have a chance to Retire.
Royalist artillery only has the capacity for one cube, while the Parliamentarians have the capacity for two. Both artillery formations are limited to screening enemy attacks only, and are capable of screening any attack. The Royalists need a four-die straight (1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5, 3-4-5-6) to do it, and have roughly a one point five percent chance of pulling it off when rolling all six dice. The Parliamentarians on the other hand need a triple to place a cube, and have about a twenty-nine percent chance of doing so when rolling all six dice. Those chances go down to nineteen percent with five dice, nine percent with four, and just under three percent with three.
Finally, there's the cavalry. The two Royalist cavalry units use Doubles to place dice. Byron needs two pairs to attack Cromwell, while the Northern Horse can attack Fairfax with one only pair. Both can use a pair to screen attacks made against them and against the infantry units they're protecting. Both can also benefit from the Rupert's Lifeguard formation: when one of those guys is about to Rout, the Lifeguard swoops in and gives them one more stick, one more chance.
On the Parliamentarian side, Fairfax also uses Doubles. Cromwell can accept any die or dice, and can use them to attack, but needs a Pair to screen.
So the Parliamentarian has certain advantages in infantry, artillery, and cavalry, which the Royalist Player needs to keep in mind as he assigns his dice.
TURN 1 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
The Royalist has the first turn. His Action Phase is skipped since there weren't any dice placed in a previous Roll Phase. He rolls six dice: 1-1-5-5-5-6. He can place dice on one card for each Wing - one blue and one dark blue.
He assigns one of the fives to Tillier's Right, belonging to his blue Wing. Tillier's Right can accept either one five or one six per turn. He assigns one of his doubles - in this case, the two ones, but it doesn't really matter - to Byron. Note that Byron needs two pairs to attack Cromwell. So why doesn't he place two ones and two fives to give him those two pairs? The reason is that the "Doubles" on his card means he can only place one set of Doubles per turn.
TURN 1 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ROLL PHASE
The Parliamentarian rolls 1-2-2-3-6-6.
He knows he's going to want to assign as many dice as possible to Cromwell. Again, Cromwell can accept any number of dice. However, he's still subject to the overall limitation that the dice being placed in a single turn on a single card must be identical (straights are an exception). You can't, for example, place a one and a two. So he's either going to place two twos or two sixes. He decides to place the two twos, because that leaves one six that he can assign to Baillie.
TURN 2 - ROYALIST ACTION PHASE
The Royalist does nothing during his Action Phase.
TURN 2 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
Having assigned three dice during Turn 1, the Royalist has three dice remaining in his pool. He rolls 1-3-4. Since he needs Doubles to place dice for his cavalry, and fives and/or sixes for his infantry, this is just a garbage roll that he can't use.
TURN 2 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ACTION PHASE
The Parliamentarian chooses to Attack with Cromwell. Now, the Royalist has two ways of screening (cancelling) this attack, and if he can screen, he must screen. He can either screen it with Byron, or he can screen it with his artillery. Since it's a lot easier to roll Doubles than to roll a straight, and since Byron can screen only specific attacks while the artillery can screen any attack, the Royalist Screens with Byron. Because he is screening during the Parliamentarian's Action Phase, the Royalist will be forced to forgo his own Action Phase on his next turn.
TURN 2 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ROLL PHASE
The Parliamentarian's attack adds Cromwell's two dice back to his dice pool, and so now he rolls five dice: 1-2-3-4-4. He can't assign any of these dice to his infantry units, so he's stuck choosing between Fairfax and Cromwell. The only Royalist card with any dice on it is Tillier's Right, which threatens a formation that's under Cromwell's protection. But since the Royalists can't attack on his next turn, he doesn't need to worry about that, and so he places the pair with Fairfax instead so as to protect Baillie on a future turn.
TURN 3 - ROYALIST ACTION PHASE - FORCED SKIP
Again, the Royalist is forced to skip his Action Phase because he reacted (Screened) the enemy Attack during the Parliamentarian's Action Phase.
TURN 3 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
The Royalist rolls 1-1-1-3-4. He isn't able to assign any dice to his infantry with this roll, and must decide whether to assign two of the ones to Byron (to protect against a future attack by Cromwell) or to his Northern Horse (to neutralize Fairfax and/or Baillie). He figures Baillie is going to take some time to build up some steam - with only three sticks, he really is only going to be able to attack twice assuming those attacks aren't screened - so he assigns the pair to Byron.
TURN 3 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ACTION PHASE
The Parliamentarian Attacks with Fairfax. If the Royalist had assigned that pair to his Northern Horse, he could screen it with that Formation, but he didn't, and so he is forced to Screen with his artillery. Because it's so hard for him to roll a four-die straight, the early use of his artillery to screen may be a tactical blunder he'll have a hard time recovering from.
TURN 3 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ROLL PHASE
The Parliamentarian rolls five dice: 1-4-4-6-6. He decides to assign one six to each of his infantry formations (one Red, one Pink). Again, since the Royalist Player can't Attack on his next turn, the Parliamentarian isn't worried about preparing a screen (especially as his own artillery is still active).
TURN 4 - ROYALIST ACTION PHASE - FORCED SKIP
TURN 4 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
The Royalist rolls 1-2-5. Only one of the dice can be used (the five) and only by one card (Tillier's Right), so that's where it goes. On the bright side, it's the second die for that card, which would be great if he could actually get a chance to Attack. Because it's easier for his opponent to roll useable dice, he really needs to start pulling some dice off of his own cards, and right now, the Parliamentarian isn't giving him much opportunity to do so.
TURN 4 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ACTION PHASE
The Parliamentarian Attacks with Crawford, because he knows it must be Screened by Fairfax, again denying the Royalist an Action Phase.
TURN 4 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ROLL PHASE
The Parliamentarian rolls 2-2-3-5. He gives the pair to Cromwell; the only formation that can use the five is Crawford, but since Cromwell and Crawford both belong to the red wing, he has to choose between them. He figures Cromwell is a safer bet.
TURN 5 - ROYALIST ACTION PHASE - FORCED SKIP
TURN 5 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
On the bright side, Screening with Fairfax on the previous turn gives him two more dice to roll: 2-2-3-5. And that's actually not a bad roll at all. He assigns the pair to his Northern Horse so as to Screen any attack from Baillie, and he assigns the 5 to Tillier's Right. Tillier's Right now has three dice.
TURN 5 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ACTION PHASE
If the Parliamentarian chooses to Attack, he has two options. He can attack Tillier's Left with Baillie, which must be screened by the Northern Horse. Alternatively, he can attack Fairfax with Cromwell, which would eliminate two of Fairfax's three sticks.
Essentially it's a question of timing. He can maintain the deadlock by forcing the Royalist to screen yet another attack. And this deadlock can continue until either he chooses to end it (as he's contemplating here) or until he flubs a roll and can't keep up the pressure. Obviously he's going to prefer the former to the latter, so the question is, is now the time to end the deadlock and to do some actual damage to the other side?
The risk is that at this point, the Royalist will get to actually do something on his next turn. Now, the Parliamentarian still has his artillery in play, so any attack is going to be screened. And since he'd be rolling four dice, he figures he's got a decent chance of rolling a double sometime on the next two turns, which would allow him to screen any attack made by Tillier's Right with Cromwell. So he Attacks with Cromwell, dealing two hits to Byron.
TURN 5 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ROLL PHASE
And then he rolls 1-3-5-6. No doubles. Oof. Now, he has a few options here.
He could, first of all, assign none of the dice. That would give him four dice to roll on his next turn, and increase the chances that he'd be able to roll the double he needs to secure his flank. He could also assign one die to Cromwell and hope that on his next turn, he rolls a matching die, so that the two of them together would constitute a pair. But that makes his position a lot less flexible.
He could assign one die to Crawford. This assumes that he'll get whomped by Tillier's Right, losing three of his four sticks, on a future turn - probably Turn 7. What that one die will do is enable Crawford to Retire before getting Routed. This will bring in the reserve unit, and prevent a loss to the Parliamentarian's morale. If he isn't able to roll a double on the next turn, this would in retrospect be the safest play.
He could assign one die to Baillie, bringing Baillie up to three dice. This would pose a significant threat to Tillier's Left. Now, the Northern Horse would screen that attack of course - but if and only if it still has its pair in place. What the Parliamentarian is anticipating is that the Northern Horse will attack Fairfax on Turn 6, which his artillery will block, enabling Tillier's Right to attack Crawford on Turn 7. But if the Royalist feels that the threat from Baillie is credible, he might just keep the Northern Horse in place.
The Parliamentarian decides to take a risk by assigning one die to Crawford (enabling him to Retire the next time he gets an Action Phase) and one die to Baillie (which will either keep the Northern Horse in place or, if it doesn't, will enable Baillie to score some hits against Tillier's Left in retaliation).
TURN 6 - ROYALIST ACTION PHASE
The Royalist Attacks with the Northern Horse, and it is Screened by the Parliamentarian Artillery. If the Parliamentarian isn't able to roll a double or a triple on his next go, the Royalists will get to Attack Crawford. He hopes he'll be able to roll a double of his own with the three dice available to him so that he'll be able to protect against Baillie's inevitable attack.
TURN 6 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
And hey, he does! In fact, he rolls 4-4-5. This is really the perfect roll for the Royalists, because it not only gives him a pair for his Northern Horse, but it also gives him a fourth die for Tillier's Right. If he's able to Attack Crawford without it being screened, Crawford will Rout and won't have a chance to Retire. Of course, with four dice tied up with Tillier's Right, that might leave his position a lot less flexible, and he might be forced to let it be screened. It all depends on the next couple of turns.
TURN 6 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ACTION PHASE - FORCED SKIP
He'd love to Retire Crawford now, but since his Action Phase is skipped, he can't. It's a taste of his own medicine, and he doesn't care for it.
TURN 6 - PARLIAMENTARIAN ROLL PHASE
He rolls a 1-5. Well, this means that Crawford is toast. He assigns the five to Cromwell, so that on his next turn, he can use it to Attack Byron. This will trigger Rupert's Lifeguard, so Byron won't Rout just yet, but he'll be one Attack closer to it.
TURN 7 - ROYALIST ACTION PHASE
Of course the Royalist Attacks with Tillier's Right, dealing four hits to Crawford, who Routs. This immediately brings a new Parliamentarian formation out of reserve and into the game.
This lowers the Parliamentarian morale by one and ups the Royalist morale, bringing the Royalist one step closer to potentially winning the game.
TURN 7 - ROYALIST ROLL PHASE
He rolls 3-4-5-6 - that is, exactly what we needs to put out a new artillery cube. Now any attack made on his opponent's next turn is going to first have to deal with that. That leaves our Royalist friend in a much better position than he was in previously, and so I think we'll conclude the play example here and leave him feeling upbeat.