A tabletop gaming blog, with a vague bias towards Central/Eastern Europe and the Early Modern period.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


So, one of the consequences of my solo battle a couple weeks ago was that I decided that eight miniatures is insufficient for a standard battle line unit in Pike & Shotte. I therefore resolved to increase every battle line unit from eight to twelve, every block unit from twelve to sixteen, and every cavalry unit from six to eight.

Here is my expanded Haiduk regiment. The four new minis are in a firing pose, thanks to the Wargames Factory WSS sprues I brought back from IL. Sadly, I slightly screwed up their chest lace both in sculpting and painting, but even so, I think this new version of the regiment is a net improvement.

Unfortunately (for my wallet) this means that my Berestechko project is now 1:250 instead of 1:400...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Skirmish in Volhynia

I finally got around to actually trying out a game of Pike & Shotte. Nothing fancy, just a pretty basic solo game. One battalia per side, no terrain, no skirmishers or artillery or scenario rules.

I don't have a proper gaming table, but I do have a very large bedroom all to myself, so I marked out a 6' by 4' section of the floor to play the game on. The armies consist of everything I have painted and based, except that I held back one unit of German-style musketeers to keep the Polish-Lithuanian army from having more points than the Cossack army. Oh, and one of the Pancerny was actually a medieval Kievan noble.

The Polish-Lithuanian Army was:
Commander, random rating (henceforth, the Magnate)
1x Pancerny squadron
1x Rajtars squadron
1x Haiduks regiment
2x German Musketeers
Total 199 points

The Cossacks had:
Commander, random rating (henceforth, the Hetman)
4x Cossack Infantry (counts as Haiduks)
1x Cossack Pike (counts as Scots Pike from Montrose list)
1x Levy Infantry
Total 214 points

The Cossacks had a bit of a points advantage, but I think that was more than compensated for by their complete lack of cavalry.

The Poles deployed as follows with the haiduks dead center, flanked by German-style musketeers on each side, and then one squadron of cavalry on each wing (the pancerny in the place of honor on the Polish right, the rajtars on the left.) The Polish commander took his place just to the left of the haiduks.

The Cossacks deployment, from left to right, was musketeers - pikemen - musketeers - commander musketeers - levy infantry (peasants) -  musketeers. Note that Cossack musketeers are better in melee than German-style musketeers, and equivalent to haiduks.

Both commanders ended up being rated 8, and the Cossacks won the dice roll to go first. I chose to represent casualties with non-six-sided dice (red if possible), and disorder by positioning the unit leader just outside of the unit, facing inward, as if he is yelling at them to get their act together

Turn 1- The Hetman orders his whole battle-line forward as one... but, as one, they stay in place. Perhaps hungover still?

The Magnate has marginally better luck. Every order he gives is followed, albeit with no particular haste. The infantry lumber forward while the cavalry wings trot around the side of the battlefield in a leisurely attempt at a double-envelopment maneuver.

Turn 2 - Again, the Hetman gives the order for a general advance. Apparently his tone is much firmer this time around, because the whole army positively springs into action, practically sprinting towards their foes. At the end of the advance, the panting Cossacks level their muskets and fire at the Polish forces. The pancerny and the haiduks take casualties, and the haiduks are thrown into disorder by the volley as well.

Startled by the sudden eagerness in his foes, the Magnate immediately orders the pancerny to charge. Unfortunately for him, their distance thwarts his attempts to communicate. Unable to give any more orders, he angrily rides toward the pancerny with the intent to command them in person.

Meanwhile, his infantry fire on the Cossack line, damaging and disordering the Cossack pikemen and the peasant levy, and also causing a casualty on the Cossack unit to the Hetman's immediate right. As the Polish turn ends, the haiduks regain order.

Turn 3 - Extremely concerned by the disruption of his pike formation, and its subsequent inability to repel cavalry until order is re-established, the Hetman makes a risky request of the Cossacks just to his left. They comply aggressively, crossing the battlefield to menace the flank of the worrisome pancerny. In doing so, they draw the attention of the Polish Scots regiment, one of the German-style musketeer units. The Cossacks take traversing fire, which disorders them but causes no casualties.

The Hetman then attempts to order the peasants to charge the other German-style musketeers, but being disordered they are unable to respond.

The two units of Cossack infantry on the Cossack left catch the pancerny in a deadly crossfire. Even with one of the shooting units being disordered, the close range and enfiladed fire ensures that the glittering Polish horsemen are scythed down like ripe wheat. The few survivors scatter.

On the other side of the battlefield, Cossack musketry takes a light toll on the rajtars.

Horrified by the obliteration of his best troops mere moments before he would have arrived to take personal command, the Magnate orders the general attack. The Scots move up to shoot Cossacks at close range, while the Haiduks charge a different unit of Cossacks, and the German musketeers charge the peasants. The haiduks take closing fire, and are disordered but not injured. Finally, he attempts to order the rajtars into the fray, but they prove no less stubborn than the other cavalrymen were. He rides towards them, again intending to take personal command, hoping that this time the squadron will still be there when he gets there...

Despite their prime positioning, the Scots fail to damage the disordered cossacks with shooting.

The haiduks crash into their target, and since both haiduks and Cossacks are capable melee fighters, much violence is anticipated. Alas, it is not to be...only one casualty is inflicted by the haiduks, and none by the Cossacks. It's enough to force a break test though, which the Cossacks proceed to fail. They withdraw one move and become disordered, although the haiduks are unable to exploit the gap on account of their own disorder.

The Germans, despite being mediocre close-combat fighters, do much better, causing two casualties on the peasants for none in return. Flank support from a Cossack unit to the peasants' right is not enough to draw the combat, but apparently the priest leading the peasantry is quite an effective demagogue, because the hapless peasants pass their break test with flying colors.

Turn Four - Anxious to sort out his left flank, the Hetman orders the Cossack pikemen to charge the Scots musketeers. Grateful for the opportunity to actually participate in the battle for once, they get right to it, taking two casualties but no disorder from the closing fire. The Hetman's next concern is the rajtar cavalry loitering on the right. He orders the peasant-supporting cossacks to advance into position to enfilade, but they refuse to abandon their pitchfork-wielding brothers-in-arms.

Every Cossack unit that can shoot, does so, but perhaps they are starting to run low on powder, since no damage is dealt.

Despite the poor showing of musketry, the Hetman is pleased to observe the Cossack pike absolutely steamroll the Scots, destroying them utterly (albeit taking two casualties of their own). Next his attention turns to the German mercenaries battling the poor peasants. When the two sides deal equal damage to each other, the combat is decided by the flank support provided by the stubborn Cossacks. The losing Germans have to test, but suffer no penalty to the roll. Nevertheless, they fail spectacularly and scatter to the four winds.

Having lost three of his five units, the Magnate withdraws from the field and victory goes to the Cossacks.

Thoughts - Well, that was pretty close. If either of the Polish cavalry units had ever got stuck in, things would have gone quite differently. I have to say, this system is pretty easy to get the hang of, but small details can make all the difference. Command distance in particular made life difficult for the Polish commander, on account of his spread-out double envelopment ploy. The Cossack troops, on the other hand, were arranged close enough for battalia orders to be used to good effect.

I look forward to playing again, possibly against a real person some day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The King's Reiters

Here we have the most elite of the German-style troops in the Polish army. Originally the King's bodyguard were halberd-wielding infantry called drabants, but by the time of Berestechko they'd more or less merged with a regiment of reiters, with only a small proportion retaining their halberds for guard duty. The rest fought mounted in the typical German style, which must have been much more useful on a battlefield.

It's a shame though, I would have liked to convert up a regiment of halberdiers for this project. Ah well.