Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Learning Experience with Pike & Shotte

As all of you surely know, my title for this blog entry is a smoke screen. "A learning experience" often implies the salvaging of a bad situation. Or as I told my daughter this morning: "No experiment is a complete failure; it can always be used as a bad example." (One of Finagle's Laws. That's fodder for another blog... someday... soon... later.) Anyway, last Saturday, Martin and I took the field again with our Pike & Shot era armies. Martin has a 30 Years War French army that wears an Imperialist mask while I field a Swedish army made up of units from my attempt at an Irish Confederate army of the English Civil War. It was a true "learning experience" since I got my proverbial tukus handed to me.

In truth, both of us thoroughly enjoy this period and have found Warlord Games' Pike & Shotte rules very satisfying, playable, and enjoyable. This outing, we doubled the size of the regiments, fielding cavalry at 4 bases large (making them from 12 to 16 figures with the exception of the skirmishing cavalry like Martin's Carabiniers and the Swedish light horse.) and the infantry units 8 stands of shot and 4 stands of pike. It was an experiment and I feel it worked just fine. The units looked good and were not very manoeuvrable, which fits the period. 

I won the toss and had Martin deploy one of his battaglia first. The battle field was a bit constricted with hills and trees but there was plenty of manoeuvre room in the centre and on one of the flanks. I had my three infantry battaglia and the medium guns. My cavalry deployed to the right in two battaglia, mostly harquibusiers (medium cavalry with some armour, advancing at the trot) with one regiment of cuirassiers (heavy armoured cavalry who advanced to fire in caracole or rank-on-rank pistol fire) and one of Finnish Hackipelli (crazed Finns advancing at the gallop with ferocious intent.) On my left was a small battaglia of skirmishing cavalry, dragoons, and a unit of harquibusiers for support. Martin's infantry and heavy guns stood the centre, the bulk of his cavalry on his left facing mine, and a battaglia of Croats, dragoons, skirmishing Carabiniers, and one regiment of harquibusiers. (Martin and I are responsible for all the photos this week.)

the table, looking from my left flank

Imperialist dragoons, harquibusiers, and Croats on the far left.
The round base is the battaglia commander.

Swedish dragoons, harquibusiers, and skirmishing Reiters.
The cardboard houses make a great farmstead.

Martin's centre

The same from another view.

My centre - with the Scots and Irish regiments
The infantry advanced very slowly. To be honest, I was afraid of Martin's guns. My cavalry moved on the right flank to meet Martin's, most of which turned out to be cuirassiers and Wallenstein's body guard (armoured lancers... yeech!) The dragoon/Reiter flank just stared at the Croats and their compatriots for much of the game. Things turned foul for my cavalry early, with the cuirassiers and the Hackapelli dying rather quickly. Bravely, but quickly.

Harquibusiers ("Sieg oder Todt!"), Hackapelli, and cuirassiers

Martin's cuirassier-heavy cavalry line

Using the hill to his advantage, Martin had more room to deploy and so, to flank me.

With the Hackapelli and cuirassiers crushed, the rest of my cavalry try their best.
The fight see-sawed a bit on the cavalry side while I tried to deploy my infantry to a wider front. Somewhere around this time in the game, Martin explained the "facts of life" of the game to me, and I'll share that with you later. In any event, I began to advance my infantry regiments, using my commanded shot as a hinge between the infantry and the cavalry wing. I was attempting to spread my front battaglia out and bring up the reserve battaglia and I found the terrain a bit more constricting than I expected.

My Swedish Yellow and Green Regiments watch the Imperialists in the distance.

The Green Regiment attempts to deploy left.

Martin bring on the pain.

As the Imperialist regiments approached, I felt the Green regiment had deployed enough.

Of to the right, the Daleigh Regiments backed by the Blue regiment finds itself in  desperate hand-to-hand combat
with Martin's commanded shot turning my right flank. My medium guns stood idle for the whole game.

The Yellow regiment mixes it up with some Imperialists.

The dice behind each unit keep track of casualties. Both Martin and I have taken damage.

From Martin's vantage point.
We both decided to mount our command groups on round bases. They're much easier to distinguish this way.
Soon Martin collapsed my cavalry flank and had destroyed 5 out of 7 regiments. Not long after that, he wiped out my skirmishing Reiters and surrounded the supporting harquibusiers. The centre was still in doubt but with both flanks crushed, I felt I had to concede. It was a tough game and a fairly fought one.

Lessons learned (aka the Facts of Life)

  • With TYW Swedes, the shock troop are the infantry, not cavalry. Both the pike and shot are qualitatively superior to their Imperial counterparts. The guns are not as scary as I had thought originally. So now I have to think nasty, snarl-y infantry with cavalry support and follow-through. As Martin put it, "Stop leading with your chin." I may use some simple references and add Galoglaich regiments to the Swedes since Gustav Adolf is said to have had some in the battles in Livonia (or so I'm told.)
  • I want to field my Irish army for O'Neill's rebellion but I've got to consider how to do that with arquebus armed Kern, the range being so much less than muskets. They'd never stand in an open field battle, but if I can drag the battle into rough terrain, I have at least an even chance. Galoglaich, Bonnachts, Kern, horse boys, Irish chain mail-armoured cavalry... yeah, I'd like to see that.
Croat light cavalry of the Imperial army.
Swedish Reiters and harquibusiers on Kevin's nifty plowed fields.
He found a door mat at the dollar store for $1 and cut it up. Looks good to me!

The Reiters and harquibusiers take on the Croats and the Imperial harquibusiers while the Imperialist dragoons take the farmstead to provide flanking fire.

After chasing off the Reiters and destroying the harquibusiers, the Imperialist right flank gathers for a picnic!

Meanwhile on the back porch at home, Pooka our beagle suns himself.
"We were wolves once, wild, crafty, and free. Then we saw that you had couches."

No comments:

Post a Comment