Saturday, June 30, 2012

Correction to the previous post!

Jim's latest battle report contains a mistake -- and its a big one! THIS WAS NOT MY FIRST GAME OF PIKE AND SHOT!

Well over 30 years ago, a group of friends from the wargames club at Hobart College were invited to join the older players who played regularly at Jim's place -- 89 Cambridge Rd.

The room on the right front was dedicated to wargames -- and it was an Aladdin's cave for a bunch of 16 / 17 year olds.  The collection of figures was enormous.  The terrain was like nothing that wargames who had grown up on S&T magazines had seen.  And a bunch of the camp cromwell regulars were there ready to show us young wippersnappers how to wargame.  I cant remember who else was there that night -- it may have been Peter and Steve.  And I definitely played Oakie at Cambridge Rd -- I just cant remember if it was that evening.  But one thing is certain -- that first game was Pike and Shot -- an English Civil War scenario using Jim's home grown rules.

The result was the same 30+ years ago though -- I was smashed! But I came away from that night thinking that when I was an adult I wanted a room just like the one at Jim's place!  (And, even though I have a Garage rather than a room, I think I have succeeded)

Also, the reason for no up close figure shots is that some of those same figures from 30 years ago made an appearance in the pike and shot game last night!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pike & Shotte at Nick's: 1690's

Jim's French v. Nick's Grand Alliance 1000 pts

Both sides were rather put off by the long ridge on the far side of the table & put their cavalry on the same flank closer to the camera.  The French are on the left in the pics.

The French have 2 cavalry divisions of 4 units, one them Maison du Roi and 2 infantry divisions of 4 line & 1 grenadier, plus 4 guns.

The Alliance have 2 infantry divisions of 4 line with pike coy, 1 heavy cavalry division of 4 units, a mixed division of 2 cavalry & 2 guard infantry, plus 4 guns.

The Alliance got first move & some good command dice.  They immediately advanced their heavy cavalry and infantry centre while moving their mixed division towards the centre.

The French infantry were supposed to seize the village, but refused to move.  Their centre infantry advanced into the wood.  The French deployed 2 guns in front of the village and 2 between the their infantry & cavalry with a field of fire between the woods.

On this flank the Maison du Roi charged with the other cavalry following up.  In the centre the Alliance attacked the wood, but were making no headway.  On the far flank the Alliance grand battery destroyed the French artillery in the village and their right flank infantry began moving towards the village (which the French finally occupied).

Heavy cavalry v. heavy cavalry with 3+ saves turned into a slog, but the Maison du Roi gradually pushed the enemy back and then broke them.

With support from the guns and part of the left flank division, the French in the wood beat off all attacks, including the grenadiers.

The Alliance right finally got some infantry into action this side of the village, but the defended village protected the French flank.

When the Alliance heavy cavalry broke, the 2nd French cavalry was able to wheel left to threaten the Alliance centre.

The Alliance infantry made a last desperate attack on the wood, but the French infantry held firm.

The French cavalry charge into the rear of the Alliance foot was the coup de grace.

It was Nick's first Pike & Shotte battle.  He made a some poor strategic decisions & the French took full advantage.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hail Caesar Successor Battle

Steve's Seleucids
Jim & Mike's Ponts

Both armies 500 points in 3 divisions. The fist pic is taken from the Pontic left after both side's first move.

The Ponts deployed infantry in the centre, cavalry on the far flank and cavalry behind the left of the infantry.

The Seleucids deployed their cavalry on their right and two infantry divisions centre and left.

Because the Seleucid line overlapped the Ponts both sides made revolving door moves, except the Seleucids began moving their cavalry to their left.

The Pontic cavalry on their left moved left and the Seleucid's responded by turning their cavalry around and moving it to the right.

In the centre the two rows of phalanxes smashed into each other.

On the far flank the Pontic cavalry outflanked the Seleucid infantry.  The cataphracts pinned their front and the light horse hit their flank.

The cavalry rolled up the end of the Seleucid line as the phalanx pinned it's front and the left flank Seleucid infantry division broke.

Things were looking bad for the Seleucids now.  They had split their cavalry with their cavalry commander taking the cataphracts left to help out the infantry.   As a result the rest of the cavalry had command difficulties and was tied down by skirmishing light cavalry while the rest of the division could support the infantry (if only it could get some command dice).

But the Seleucids weren't going down without a fight.  Their centre infantry division got a breakthrough and then flank attack in the Pontic phalanx line.  But the big Pontic infantry division could take that and it became a matter of the Ponts finding a way to finish off the Seleucid infantry.  They had many opportunities, but Steve's famous Panzer Lehr dice kept on passing Break tests.

The cataphracts finally got into action against each other and the better supported Ponts were getting the upper hand when the Seleucids finally ran out of luck when their last phalanx broke under the bow fire of the Pontic skirmishers.

That was 2 of 3 divisions broken and the battle won.  The decisive event was the Ponts outflanking the Seleucid left.   The phalanx v. phalanx fight was pretty even - the Pontic plastics won one end of the phalanx fight with the help of cavalry, the Seleucid metals on the other end had their wins, but had too much to do.  The notoriously skittish Pontic cataphracts did nothing spectacular, but at least they didn't disgrace themselves this week.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pike & Shotte: Pavia

Sunday School at Barrie's

Pavia Scenario from the Pike & Shotte book
Imperialists: Jim, Barrie, Dillon
French: Mark, Richard

The pics are all taken from behind the Imperialist line.  The Imperialists advanced their left with de Alvales' arqubusiers in front of von Frundsberg's Landschnecks.  On their right del Vaste occupied the village that was the French HQ with his infantry supported by his cavalry.  The other two divisions, cavalry & infantry took a while to get over the river.

The French sent their cavalry right across the front of the Imperialist advance and began moving their Swiss to their left.  D'Alencon's division on the far flank seemed in no hurry to move across towards the action.

The Imperialists sorted their line out into a flat S.  Landsnecks at the head with cavalry behind, de Avale's arquebusiers in the swamps, then de Bourbon's pike & shot and del Vaste's division in and behind the village.

The French cavalry swept around the end of the Imperialist line.  Lead by the "Rash" King Francis, they had to charge anything within 9".  The Landscnecht pikemen turned left and advanced on the French cavalry provoking them to charge them while their own cavalry covered their flank.

The French cavalry obliged by bashing themselves out of the battle on their pikes.

On the far flank de la Pole's Black Band got out of the walled field.  Some of them attacked the village without success, the rest deployed outside the wall on the flank of the Swiss which had now come up.

d'Alencon's large division on the far French flank was on the move, but still a long way off.

The battle reached the critical stage as the Swiss attacked de Bourbon's pikemen.  On their left the Black Band were pinned down by del Vaste's cavalry.  On their right the arquebusiers of d'Allencon's advance guard exchanged shotte across the swamp with del Avale's arqubusiers.

Off pic on the left the French cavalry had broken and the Imperialst Lanschnechts and cavalry were reorganising.

de Bourbon's men were hit hard by the Swiss and pushed to the brink, but their leader pulled the shaken units back and rallied them as the cavalry and Lanschnecks arrived to help out in the nick of time.

del Avale's arqubusiers broke under the fire of d'Allencon's and fell back, but the Lanschnechks took their place in the line.

Now counterattacked on three sides, the Swiss broke.

This meant the French had lost 2 of 4 divisions and failed the army break test.  At this stage the Imperialists had 5 VPs for taking the French HQ, the French had none.  We were rather confused by the scenario rules for VPs - they say nothing about when to stop and count them.  We decided that when someone failed the Army Break Test was the logical time to call a halt.  As it happened that meant a minor victory for the Imperialists which seemed fair as they only won by the skin of their teeth - de Bourbon only just survived the Swiss attack.

It was a great wargame - a good scenario and a great set of rules.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pike & Shotte: 1690

Jim's French
Mark's Grand Alliance

Both armies were 500 points.  The French had 2 infantry divisions each 4 musketeer, 1 guard, 2 guns, a Maison de Roi division of 4 and a cavalry division of 4.  The Alliance had 2 infantry divisions of 4 musketeers with pike coys, a heavy cavalry division of 4 and a mixed division of 2 cavalry, 2 grenadier & 4 guns.

Both sides put all their infantry in the centre and all their cavalry on the French right (nearest the camera).

The French advanced their infantry to attack the enemy right and to secure half the near village to cover the flank of their attack.  Their cavalry held back out of range of the Allied battery on the hill.

The Allies advanced their cavalry cautiously, defended on their right and occupied the half of the village they beat the French to.

The French advance on their left gained an advantage in concentrated fire, but poor command dice prevented them from exploiting their initial success and the Allied infantry hung on.

In the centre, the infnatry exchanged fire in the village.  French couldn't throw either a save or a rally dice for love or money and despite being in buildings their units gradually melted away and suddenly, the division broke.

Seeing the infantry faltering and the enemy cavalry within reach, the French had now sent their cavalry forward with an advantage of 6 to 4.  Initially they were successful, breaking half the enemy cavalry, but the surviving Allied heavies counterattacked in their turn and the opposing heavy cavalry divisions both broke.

The army break test agreed to was at least 2 divisions broken, but at least one infantry division broken.  This meant that the French army was now broken as they had already had an infantry division broken.  Every other Allied division was 1 shaken unit off being broken, but the French had not been able to finish any of them off.   There's a lesson there.

This was our first try at the 1690's period - the end of the era covered by Pike & Shotte.  We used 7 years war or Marlborough period troops with a few pike stands added in and they looked the part.  The rules worked well - the game felt right (even if the dice didn't).  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hail Caesar: Rome v. Mithridites

Jim & Mike's Pontic army
Steve & Tony's Romans (Marian)

500 points, 3 divisions each.

The Ponts on the left have a cavalry division in the forground, infantry in the centre & more cavalry on the far flank.

The Romans have their cavalry on the far flank and infantry divisions centre and left.

The Romans advanced cautiously, but holding their German cavalry back on the far flank.

A lot of skirmish action took place between the lines as the Ponts tried to make a general advance, but not getting much cooperation from the dice gods.

Eventually, the Ponts did get moving and the two lines met right along the line except for the far flank where the Roman German cavalry was still held back (for fear of the cataphracts).

On the Pontic right, their cavalry was generally successful, but the Romans only fell back, they did not break.

In the centre both sides had some wins and losses - the right hand phalanx broke on first contact, but then the adjacent Roman cohort broke too.

At this point Steve saw an opening.  Both sides had supports behind the near end of the phalanx line.  Steve's victorious cohort charged forward against the Thorakatai that had been supporting the broken phalanx and the supporting cohort tried to wheel right to charge the flank of the adjacent victorious phalanx.  He failed the command roll, but had his Russell Crowe CIC there for a re-roll and got the 2 moves he needed.   The phalanx broke under the flank attack and the sweeping advance hit the next phalanx, breaking that too.

The Pontic infantry division was now doomed, but all was not lost for the Ponts.  Their right flank cavalry finished off the left flank Roman infantry division and the cataphracts were finally closing on the German cavalry.

The battle came down to the charge of Jim's magnificent metal catphracts, bronze armour shining, charging up the hill with knotos and 4+ saves v. German cavalry with 5+ saves.

But as they have so often done before these cataphracts turned into pussy cats.  Both cataphract units broke in a shower of crap dice.  The division broke and with it the Pontic army.

It was an exciting battle that went to the proverbial wire.  Jim's impressive Warlords plastic phalangites that he had spent the last 5 days painting up had a forgettable first day out, but at least they were defeated by a tactical masterstroke & not bad dice.  The less said about the cataphracts the better.

Friday, June 15, 2012

West of Launceston

Nick's mountain men suffered a tragic loss last week -- two loyal friends were killed in the altercation with the Donkey Botherers Gang. Needing money for a proper funeral, the mountain men signed up with Wells Fargo. Easy money they said! No danger they said! Just a regular run they said!

Stagecoach Robbery -- Legends of the Old West -- Nick (Mountain Men) vs Rob (Outlaws)

As the stage coach approached Hanging Rock shots rang out. One of the stage coach horses was hit, slowing the stage coach down. Various ruffians appeared from behind the rocks and started shooting. And a couple of outlaws rode up to the stage coach and tried to climb on.

Flash Nick let fly from his trusty burro, and managed to fell one of the outlaws. The other mountain men charged into contact with some of the outlaws. Despite a diet of raw buffalo hide, the tough mountain men proved to be pathetic brawlers. Maybe they need some iron in their diet! But in a flurry of 6's, the mountain men were comprehensivly thrashed in hand to hand combat repeatedly. Meanwhile, one outlaw managed to get on the coach, and others riding alongside managed to slow it down. Nick's men headed for the hills, and the coach passengers were allowed to continue their journey, lightened of unessential goods!

Kid Brown was the only outlaw to be wounded, but he was wounded bad. The gang took him to the doc, but he was captured by the locals, and sent before the judge -- the judge with a reputation as 'the hanging judge'.

Next week -- the hangmans noose. Can Rob's boys save Kid Brown before the noose tightens? If anyone wants to set up a lawman posse, let me know. Otherwise the mountain men will try to ensure the law takes its course!

There was the usual FOW game. And there was even a new FOW player who showed up just to have a look around. Pic is Dennis in his game with Rob.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hold the Line in Pike & Shotte

Tony's Royalists v. Steve's Covernanters

1000 pts each in 4 divisions, two infantry & 2 cavalry.
The scenario was baesed on FOW's Hold the Line Mission.  The Royalists had their 2 infantry divisions defending the village in the centre of the table with their cavalry to come on their rear table edge using FOW's reserves rule.  The Covenanters had all their forces deployed on the table at the start 18" back from the Royalist front line.  
Victory conditions.
1) Either side win if they break more than half the enemy's divisions.
2) Covernanters win if they take the whole village (4 houses).
3) Royalists win if they hold out until 11.30.

The pics are taken from behind the Royalist's left. The Covernanters deployed with cavalry on both wings.  The Royalists deployed their foot in an arrowhead in and to each side of the village.
The Covernanter right galloped forward at a great rate, but their left got to the river and got stuck there.  Their centre plodded forward opening up on the village with artillery and musketry as the impi enveloped the forward part of it.

The Royalist reserves arrived fairly promptly.  The first division was sent down the left to meet the Scots right.  The second one was sent to the right, but made slow work of it.

The cavalry clashed head on on the Royalist left.  The fight was short and sharp with both sides getting mixed fortune and both divisions breaking...1 all.

In the centre the Scots were finding out how hard it can be to take a village - particularly if you rush at it.

And on the far flank they still hadn't got over the river.

The Scots left finally crossed the river and the Royalist right formed hedgehog while waiting for their cavalry to come up (both sides getting bad command dice on this flank).

The Royalist left got distracted finishing off the Scots left, but was now moving forward to counterattack.

In the village, Scots persistence finally paid off with 2 houses falling to them.
At long last the troops on the far flank got to grips.  Steve's greater experience told as he used his mix of cavalry, musketeers & dragoons to good effect.  The hedgehog was pinned down by the horse, then shot up by musketeers.

But when the cavaliers finally arrived things looked bad for the Scots horse.  But a few good dice and some critical support by the dragoons stopped the cavaliers.  The Scots held on and it was the cavaliers that broke.

On the near flank, the Scots infantry broke when the Royalist left advanced on them.  But their artillery was unshaken and the Royalist left broke under the artillery fire.  

This was 3 divisons broken out of 4 for the Royalists and although they still held half the village, they had to concede the battle and withdraw.

It made for a good game having another victory condition apart from the army break test - even though it was the break test that decided that battle in the end.  We set the test at more than half rather than half or more so the battle couldn't be decided by a dice off of the two cavalry wings and to ensure that we got a serious fight in the village.  Steve found taking the village very hard work, but he was on a learning curve.  we treated each house and wall complex as a single piece of terrain that could hold 1 unit.  The main issue we found with the house fighting rules was that +2 morale for defenders gave the pikes a 2+ save, thus too invincable.  Considering that the pike is hardly the perfect weapon for village fighting, it seems too much advantage relative to musketeers (who have a 3+ save there).  Making the save 3+ for all in buildings - so the pike & musket have the same save seems more logical to us.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pike & Shotte at Barrie's

Poles (Leigh & Mark)
Turks (Barrie, Jim & Richard)

1000 points each.  The Poles had 4 divisions with commanders rated 8 or 9.  The Turks had 5 divisions with commanders rated 7 or 8.

The Poles are on the right in the pics.  Their initial deployment is, from their right: Pancerni, Winged Husssars, Pike & Shotte with 3 guns, Cossacks.

(The battlefield ends at the river).

The Turks deployed, from their left: Tufeki Fusiliers, 4 guns, Janissaries, Sipahis of the Porte, Feudal Sipahis plus light cavaly skirmishing across the front.

The Turks advanced their light horse to skirmish with the Pole's main line.  The Poles swung their Cossacks to the right and advanced their left.  Their foot advanced slowly at manhandled artillery pace.

(There's a bit of a gap in the photo sequence as the photographer got too engrossed in the action).  On the far flank the Pancerni attack on the Turkish foot was disrupted by the artillery and bounced off.  The artillery and musket fire then broke the division.

On the near flank, part of the Turkish skirmish line was disrupted and unable to withdraw and was ridden down by the Cossacks sweeping across the line.

The Sipahis charged the flank of the Cosacks forcing them to fall back, but not breaking any units.  The Winged Hussars then charged the Sipahis.  They smashed their way through them, then turned around and came back.  Both Sipahis divisions broke, but with the help of light cavalry & musketry sniping the Winged Hussars also had 2 of 3 units shaken and that division also broke.

Both sides had 2 divisions broken, but the Poles had lost 2 of 4 so failed the army break test (half divisions broken) while the Turks with 5 divisions passed, so the Turks won the battle.  it was a close run thing as the Turkish light cavalry was on the verge of breaking with 3 of 6 units broken and the unit on the right end under heavy fire from Polish muskteers - but Richard's dice saved all the hits so the unit did not break preserving the division...and the army.

The battle was very entertaining & enjoyed by all.  My main concern with P&S (and the HC) is the army break test.  I feel it can be a bit arbitrary and it gives armies with an uneven numbers of divisions a significant artificial advantage - not sure how to fix it though.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Austria, 1809, somewhere in the forest.

Nick vs Rob in another Lasalle game.

2 divisions aside. Rob (French), had two infantry divisions. Nick (Austrian) had an infantry division, and a reserve Grenadier division. The battlefield was covered in forests (obviously of the plantation variety, because both sides moved through them).

The battle was really decided by a couple of very early rolls -- subcommander abilities. The French rolls were not good -- 4x rolls of 2. But French commanders need a 1 to be bad, and 4+ to be good -- so at least the French commanders were average. The Austrians rolled even worse. The main infantry division commander must of had pictures of empress Catherine with a horse! Because he was so bad there was no other explanation. He reduced Austrian morale, AND gave one opposing French unit a turn a tactics bonus in combat due to his incompetence. The Grenadiers command was not as bad -- he only gave the opponents a tactics advantage. That is, for two combats each turn, the French could roll to hit on 4+ rather than 5+!

The French went for an unusual phalanx, aimed straight at the Austrian center. Whats more, the phalanx worked its way slowly through a woods. On each flank the French artillery provided support. The French artillery on one flank rolled high -- and forced the Austrian artillery back. On the other flank the artillery repositioned, but then slowly plinked away at the Austrians holding that flank.

The French phalanx finally appeared out of the black forest, only to be met by stout Austrian resistance. The lead French units were forced back, causing confusion in the following troops. Time after time the French charged, to be beaten back. This is where the Austrian commander incompetence came into play. Every now and then, the French would slightly disorganise the Austrian troops. Unable to address the ranks, the Austrian units slowly deteriorated into mobs. Meanwhile, competent French commanders reformed their troops and sent them back in. The Austrians were winning on the flanks, but not fast enough. The French were using their tactics bonus at the critical point. Suddenly the Austrian center gave way, and the French main thrust poured through onto the objective, giving the French a close and hard fought victory.

No cavalry this time -- we went for a smaller battle, due to Nick's need to pick up teenage daughter from the movies.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Battle for Little Dickington 1642

Jim's Parliamentary Army v. Tony's Royalists

1000 points a side Pike & Shotte.  The objective was to take the village of Little Dickington and it's vital crossroads and bridge (either by being the only side to have troops in the village or by forcing the enemy to retreat due to Army Break test).

Parliament had 2 infantry & two cavalry divisions, the Royalists 1 infantry division & 2 cavalry divisions.  The Army Break test was more than half divisions broken, but Parliament also lost if they lost both infantry divisions.  Parliament deployed first to make things a little easier for the less experienced Royalist.

Parliament are on the left in the pics.  Both sides have infantry in the centre, cavalry on both flanks & their guns on the left of the foot.

Parliament got first move and with their dragoons advancing quickly down the road and grabbed most of the village in the first two turns.

The Royalists advanced their cavalry in wide flanking manouvres on both flanks.  The Royalists got musketeers into one corner of the village and a fire fight raged in and around the village for the rest of the battle.

On the far flank, parliament just managed to get their artillery deployed in time to help their cavalry out.  The guns shook a cavalier unit and the remaining 3 were beaten by the 4 roundhead horse.

On the near flank, infantry formed a hedgehog to support the roundhead horse, but the horse was soon broken by the cavaliers lead by Rupert.  But musket & pistol fire had taken their toll and after some hot shooting from the hedghogs, the cavaliers were on the verge of breaking themselves and prudently withdrew before the musket fire could finish them off.

The roundhead horse moved across the rear of the foot to assist the right flank.  The Parliamentary foot stepped up their attacks in and around the village.

Finally the Royalist musketeers holding their corner of the village had enough of fighting at 2:1 odds & broke.  A failed command test meant the ground was not retaken in the Royalists next turn giving Parliament victory.

The take the village scenario provided an interesting change from our free for all fights.