Monday, 17 August 2015

Pike & Shotte while on holiday

Saturday, I was not "otherwise engaged" so Martin and I took our periodic grudge match to the table at the Hamilton Road Games Group. Bear assisted me with my Swedish army and Martin's French were on the table with Kevin joining in later in the game. We used Warlord Games' Pike & Shotte rules.
We realized that a good portion of both of our armies were actually Germans. The French (with Martin standing in as "The Red Eminence") hired loads of German mercenaries. The Swedes under Gustav Adolph did as well and also hired Scots. The odd part of this game is that during the "French phase" of the Thirty Years War, the Swedish army was bankrolled by the French who wanted to keep the Hapsburg power in check, even though one might think that the Catholic French would not side with the Lutheran Swedes. By that time in the war, it was all power politics and religion was far down the list.
We laid out just about equal armies, while both acknowledging that the Swedes should have been outnumbered. Martin had just purchased the Thirty Years War supplement, The Devil's Playground, and that allowed some special rules for the Swedish army (like salvo firing for the infantry) and reconfigured the army list a bit. The Swedes are limited in how many cuirassiers they can have on the table, but the supplement added a category of "Swedish light horse" to the list - actually cuirassiers with lightened armour. The number of Finnish Hakapelli regiments is increased, although I only took one. Much of Martin's cavalry were the heavily armoured cuirassiers but my lighter horse can countercharge when attacked. We were not able to try out the salvo rules due to circumstances.

The Swedes had the first move and I attempted to throw my flank guards out quickly. Bear's left flank horse and arquibusiers moved well as did the medium guns of the artillery. My infantry moved slowly, but my right flank guards of cavalry skirmishers, Finn, and Scots, refused to move. It's so annoying when an entire battaglia "falls asleep." This continued later into the game.

Martin's French infantry advance in column while his German regiments advance in line of battle.
In Pike & Shotte, column does not move quicker, but it will always move at least one move even if the battaglia commander fails his command roll.

Bear's artillery and Gustavus Adolphus with his bodyguard of the day.

My Swedish infantry attempted to advance in column.
The commander failed his command roll a few times, but I forgot about the "move anyway" ability of the column.

Bear's cavalry of the near left flank - Cuirassiers and Swedish light horse.

My right flank - mounted skirmishers, Hakapelli (with the sky blue flag) and mercenary horse.

The advance of both sides was ponderous at best. Martin's right soon engaged Bear's cavalry. I wasn't clear on an order and the Swedish cuirassiers came up to menace the French-paid German infantry. I had wanted them to go the other way, but it turned out all right and was probably for the best. The Germans soon formed hedgehog and the French regiments did the same soon after. Bear moved his guns to the edge of the central hill but since they were medium guns, they never did get the range on the French army. Martin's artillery was similarly less than effective for the most part. My light battalion guns never even got into range since the infantry wouldn't move!

Martin's German troops

The bodyguard follows the general and the artillery.

Martin's far right wing faces Bear's far heavier cavalry. Those are Croat hussars 'way out by the edge of the table.

Bear moved the cuirassiers and the Swedish light horse to the right. I hoped they would move to the left and crush Martin's wing, but this actually worked out better since it imtimidated all the infantry. If I could've moved the Swedish infantry up, their battalion guns and salvo firing musketeers would have made mincemeat of Martin's foot troop.
That was not to be.

French troops form the classic hedgehog at the command of their great captain, Turenne.

The Hand of God resets a German pike-and-shot regiment. Bear's one cuirassier unit menaces the battalion gun in the background. The dice keep track of unit casualties.
When my right flank cavalry woke up ("Good mornin', boys. Coffee and herring perhaps?"), I realized where Martin had placed his cuirassiers - right, just in front of my skirmishers, mercenary harquibusiers, Hakapelli, and commanded Scots shot. I was in trouble. My skirmishers engaged Martin's and my troops threw Martin's back. As I continued to move forward, the next move's command roll was "12" - Box-cars - a blunder! Oy vey! The entire wing had to move to the right, which took the skirmisher and the mercenary cavalry off the table. I guess they had a dental appointment or something. Anyway those two units were lost to me, leaving the Hakapelli and the commanded shot holding the bag. I was able to send a small unit of dragoons to their aid but it was too little, too late.

French and Swedish cavalry skirmishers fight. Martin's troops are proper TYW harquebusiers firing from the saddle.
My unit is ECW Scots dragoons who will be used for this purpose.

After the skirmishers and the mercenaries fell of the edge of the world, the Finns grimly held the line.

Swedish dragoons changed direction, crossed the ford, and attempted to add something to the right flank.
By this point in the battle, Bear's command on the left was a bit scattered, but was also threatening the French infantry. My guns were out of range and my infantry had just started to slowly advance. (Low command rolls, but at least they were moving.) My right was in trouble, but a forest there made for a bottle neck without a ford behind it that would coup up the French cavalry if it came on.

The swirling cavalry melee on the left swirls on.

Heavy-weight French cavalry facing much-lighter right flank.

Finally the infantry decides to move... and they weren't even mercenaries on strike!
(Irish pikes from my ECW Irish Conferate army impressed by the Swedish part of my brain.)

Bear's cuirassiers take on one of Martin's battalion guns. Hail shot was too much for the horse and they fell back,
but in decent order at least.

The cavalry reserve eyes the French hedgehogs, hoping for a break.

Bear's German mercenary cavalry had turned to face Martin's German mercenary cavalry which had originally turned to face some Swedish light horse that broke and took off. There was more fighting to come out here.
It was getting on to cerfew time at the library, so we called it. The centres of either army were hardly engaged. The Swedish left was in good shape and the cuirassiers were busily (although a bit impotently) threatening the French infantry. The Swedish infantry was taking it's bloody time coming up while the Swedish right was in serious trouble. It probably was a draw at best. And it was fun - always the best part.

Lessons learned:
  • Don't forget the rules, especially when they actually allow you to move!
  • Our tables are probably too wide. We should start further in.
  • The Swedish strengthd are aggression and fire power. The salvo rule permits them to fire just as they charge then come on with pike and musket butt. I want to see it happen; it should be messy. The same thing with Swedish artillery; it's lighter and has to move closer to be in any way effective.
  • Gustavus Adolphus can cause and entire battaglia/brigade/division to move with a "Follow Me!" order. I've got to do that.
There will be a next time. I told Martin I wanted to play some time using my O'Neill's Irish from the Great Rebellion of the 1590's. Yes, the shot are arquebus armed, but the galloglaich could make things interesting.

No gaming for a while with a number of reenactments and previous engagements coming up.

One final photo of Martin's French regiments... who are actually French serving France with French command.

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