Remember Limerick! The War of the Two Kings: Ireland, 1689-1691

Volume VII in the Lace Wars series

Remember Limerick! (RL!) is the seventh volume of Red Sash Games' Lace Wars series, and opens a new subject, the Nine Years War, sometimes called the War of the League of Augsburg, Toward the end of the 17th Century, at a time when Europe is consumed by war, the powerful Catholic dynasty of the Habsburgs, and the Pope, have formed an unnatural league with the Protestant states of northern Germany, and with the Prince of Orange, de facto ruler of the Netherlands, against their coreligionists, the French. They oppose the overweening ambitions of the Sun King, Louis XIV. To augment the strength of the League, William, Prince of Orange, has taken advantage of popular dissatisfaction with his father-in-law, King James II, to engineer an armed coup and take over the government of England. This will help fill the coffers of the League and ensure that England does not ally with France.

But the English throne brings with it the governance of Scotland and of Ireland. While some in these countries welcome the Glorious Revolution, many do not. Especially is this so in Ireland, where a small Protestant minority lords it over a helot population of Irish and Anglo-Irish Catholics - an Ascendancy secured only a generation before by the swords of Oliver Cromwell's men and still maintained by force of arms and by force of English Law. In the last years of King James' rule, his Deputy, Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnel, has worked hard to overturn this Cromwellian Settlement, stuffing the Administration and the Army with Catholics. The Protestants are afraid.

King James, abandoned by many that he trusted, including his own family, suffers a nervous breakdown and leaves England for France, determined to devote the rest of his life to religious pursuits. But his cousin, King Louis, points to Ireland as a place where a fallen monarch may retrieve his fortunes. Tyrconnel and the new Irish Army, and a picked brigade of veteran French, will enable James to drive his son-in-law from the British Isles - and incidentally, force Dutch Billy to withdraw much of his army from the Low Countries, where the French hope to gain much in the next few campaigns. The last Irish "rebellion" lasted eleven years....

The Game

RL! is a two-player simulation of the Cogadh An Dá Rí, The War of the Two Kings, otherwise the Williamite War in Ireland. The conflict lasted from 1689 to 1691, and saw two pitched battles - one the largest ever fought on Irish soil - many skirmishes, and several desperate sieges. King James - Dismal Jamie - abandoned the struggle early on, but by that point the Irish were fighting for themselves.

The armies of each side were similar in composition: infantrymen equipped with a mix of muskets and pikes, regiments of sword-and-pistol-armed horse, trained to charge home, regiments of musket-armed dragoons acting as mounted infantry, and relatively small, and cumbersome, trains of artillery.

Fighting for King Billy were many of his steady and reliable Dutch regiments (sorely needed back home), a brigade of elite Danish mercenaries (extremely expensive), a brigade of French Protestants - Huguenots, exiled from France for their beliefs - and a mix of English and Scottish regiments, some veterans of the Dutch Wars, and others as raw as their Irish foes. The pick of these are the Ulstermen, fanatical Scots-Irish Protestants from the north of Ireland. This war will be their victory.

Opposed to them are the men of the three other Irish provinces, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught, added to Tyrconnel's pre-war corps and augmented by eager supporters of King James who had accompanied him into exile. In Connaught, the "wild" Irish have rallied around Balldearg O'Donnell, last of the Gaelic war-chiefs. In a surprisingly modern touch, a proclamation of King James has allowed the formation of a vast guerrilla force, the Rapparees. Ranging from dispossessed landowners to rank outlaws, these bands operate behind enemy lines, ambushing couriers and small patrols, rustling cattle, and burning farmsteads.

To support the indigenous forces, the French have sent an expedition of regulars, innumerable advisors (a mixed blessing), including the Comte de Lauzun as commander-in-chief, a convoy of war stores and money, and most valuable of all (much more valuable than that buffoon of a C-in-C), a small train of artillery. But there is a price. They want a brigade of Irish recruits in exchange.

RL! examines both the conventional fighting and the rapparee war, and the difficulties of supporting large forces in a poor country - and by sea, too, since Ireland is an island separated from England and France by some very dangerous waters. Will French victories against the Dutch on the Continent force the Williamites to divert money and troops from Ireland, or will the Irish peace party reach an accommodation with King Billy? For once, you are not in control. All you can hope to do is enhance your Prestige, so that when the war ends you can find decent employment in the Emperor's war against the Turk....

Map scale is slightly different from the other games in the series. In fact, there are two scales: a pair of maps using 4 league hexes - that is, 16 Km each - and 8 maps rendered at 1 league per hex. A league was the distance a man could walk in an hour. Unit scale is battalion/regimental. Units are rated for Effectiveness and Movement; raw strength is factored into Effectiveness.

Turns are equivalent to three weeks - 16 turns per year. Each turn is broken down into several phases - supply, operations, admin, etc. There are scenarios for each year of active operations - three in all - and a Campaign Game.

Like the other games in the series, RL! is Operational in scale, emphasizing maneuver and logistics. Individual units are assigned to headquarters that represent the primary combat formations. These move about the map in an attempt to fulfill Campaign Plans that will bring their owner Prestige. Fortifications and their garrisons are critical, and the game includes a comprehensive siege mechanic in addition to the regular "field battle" combat system. The latter focuses on grand tactical issues such as training and morale, frontage, reserves, artillery and cavalry superiority.

The Lace Wars system also involves the use of Auxiliary counters. These represent support troops and irregulars who had a major impact on operations, but cannot be adequately represented as traditional game units. Instead, a player might have a pontooneer auxiliary that he can play onto a stack to help it cross a major river, or a converged grenadier auxiliary that provides a morale bonus in combat. Because of the scale, many combat elements can be used either as units or as auxiliaries. [Playing cards could have been used instead of counters, but there are production issues involved, and besides, some of the auxiliaries' functions are hard to indicate with cards. In essence, however, auxiliaries are that kind of game asset, not "pawns" like the combat units.]

Politics are not neglected, either. Since the circumstances are always different, these rules vary with the game; in RL! there is a struggle to control the 32 counties of Ireland; this dovetails into the rapparee war. RL! uses the concept of "national will" - termed Morale - to reflect the ups and downs of the party struggle on both sides. Moreover, Morale is tied directly to the players' military forces. As losses are inflicted, they do not eliminate units directly, they reduce Morale, until at a certain point, a player's forces become "brittle" and subject to permanent elimination. Eventually, Morale drops to zero, which ends the game: one side has agreed to surrender. Fortunately for you, victory does not depend on who surrenders, it depends on the amount of Prestige you have been able to amass in the meantime.

Leaders have an important role to play, as befitting an era where personal command was critical. They are rated for skill or effectiveness, personality, and influence (i.e. the chance they have of retaining command despite their incompetence).

The supply system incorporates lines of communication, the strategic placement of depots, foraging, and attrition. River and canal movement has been taken into account and will prove as critical to success as the use of rail lines in games that cover more modern periods.


1) Two 12x18 inch full colour maps at 4 leagues per hex. A set of 9 maps at 1 league per hex may be obtained separately (the sample image is taken from the 1 league maps). The maps represent Ireland in the late 17th Century.
[NB sample map image is low-res].

2) 480 counters representing the forces of the Williamites and the Jacobites: Irish, English, Scottish, Dutch, French, Danish, and Huguenot. RSG is a DTP company, so by default, the counters come printed on label paper, which you must affix to cardboard and then cut out. However, we do carry a limited stock of "real" boxed games with die cut counters. Since 2009 we have also offered DDV (digital download version) copies, usually available several months after a game's release. You can compare the prices on the front page.
[NB sample counter images are low-res].

pic of RL! game components

3) A set of charts and tables, plus several 11x17 inch display cards.

4) A series rulebook - 3rd Edition (3.5) - called the King's Regulations and Orders (KR&Os), a game-exclusive rulebook, scenario & OOB information, and an historical commentary.