Well this week Ernie and I got together for a game. He expressed a desire to play a big game based around the English Civil War. I was going to give him the option of Warlords Pike and Shotte or Pikeman’s Lament, but in the end I forgot to take the former rules, so we ended up playing Pikeman’s Lament! In the end it was I think a good choice.
We decided to play a larger game than normal and had 52 points each. more than double the usual force size of 24. The only difference we made from the normal rules is to have each officer have a modified (superior) version of the commanding skill. In this case we would not end a command phase on the first failed command roll, but on the second. That was their skill.
We rolled for a scenario and got the forage village one. We changed this slightly that each objective was worth 1 point as was control of the field at the end of the game. So that set up, a medium sized engagement over a village with our two forces fighting it out for supplies and honor. These are my normal units as I described in my previous post. The village is from the clubs terrain and is more of an Italian ruin than English village, but heck it worked. You can see the table set up below.I was the attacker and my force of Royalists consisted of typical Pike and shot units plus three units of cavaliers. They also had a regimental gun – the first time we had used one of those in a game. My setup was aimed at quickly gain control the village with my Pike and Shot units, while just holding on the flanks. The 4 objectives were in the village so my aim was to try to get at least three of them and force the Scots to attack into the village. The village was defended by 2 units of clubmen (one on my side and one on the Scot’s) but I assumed I could get through them fairly easily. The fields on with side of the village would slow down the Scots so allowing me to get the victory… Well that was the plan anyway.The Scots army under Ernie’s command took a completely different approach. He had two units of Forlorn Hope ready to take the village. Now those units are I know tough especially in terrain, so that was not great for my plan. But on the positive, they are small units and so if weakened the Forlorn Hope units can be got rid of pretty quickly. Those were the only Scottish troops even close to the village though. Most of their forces were on the flanks. I assume they were planning on winning there, overpower my weaker flanks. The taking the village. Even their commander was on one of the flanks, giving that whole side a boost in morale and command.So the game started and I tried to force my Royalist Pike units into the village with supported shooting from the Shot. Of course this failed horribly with my shot unit failing to obey commands. First they did not shoot and then they surged forward to attempt to engage in melee with the clubmen. Arg…
Eventually, after multiple turns I did manage to get my Pike units into the village and chase off the clubmen, but they did not kill them. Overall not a great start to the sweeping attack of the village. Meanwhile, I moved my flank units up a little to support this.
Even when in the village the Pikes struggled with the clubmen who fought back surprisingly well. They caused a couple of casualties on my units while they were getting to the village. Eventually, two units of Pike did get the two objectives on my side of the village though but the clubmen were still in the way so could not move through the village to get the other ones. During this time the two Scottish Forlorn Hope units initially sat outside the village out of range of the clubmen and shot at the clubmen unit facing them. Only when the that clubmen unit was weakened did they charge in on that side and gain entry to the village. The canny Scot’s for sure did this fast enough, to deny my complete control of the village. More likely it was my continuing failed command rolls and poor combat on the Royalists side that allowed them to get into the village before I could secure it all though. So much for that plan…The battle for the fields on the right of the village had started to heat up though. The Scots pushed up and rather than try my usual Royalist trick of charge forward as fast as possible with the Cavaliers to get them killed while taking out a unit or two, I decided to play careful with them. So I moved them in-between the shot units. They would hold back their charges till the shot had weakened of the Scotish units. Initially this looked like it would work and I even got the bonus activation of getting first fire back on a unit twice to help in my shooting in this area.The left hand side of the Royalist force was a holding action from the start. Here I was outnumbered and so although I pushed up a little I decided to try a holding action to keep the flank safe. Where the dice pile are was a Scottish gun but a very bad activation the previous turn recalled that unit off the table. That reduced the Scottish superiority in this area a little. The following turn I got an extra unit – yeah command bonus rolls are great for adding some chaos to the game. I brought an extra regimental gun on the other flank still planning to just hold on this one. That left side though started to not look so clever as a few more turns. One unit of the Scottish gallopers started a true flanking ride, while the other closed with my regimental gun and started to give it a hard time. The remaining Scottish units on that side started to take a few hits but it would not take a lot for me to lose this flank. The only positive was that my shot was still fresh and the regimental canon was shooting well. My cautious approach with the Royalist cavaliers continued on this side, with me holding back the unit vs. charging out to take on the Scots.Things continued to look bad on that side when the regimental gun was lost a turn or two later. It had done enough damage to the Scottish cavalry in front of it to reduce that to half strength though previously. This was the signal for me to charge in with my Cavaliers and clear that damaged galloper unit out of the way. I rarely need an excuse to charge with cavalry. Unfortunately, although the Cavaliers did that the Scots caused 2 hits back, making it suddenly a very vulnerable unit. Shooting by the Scot’s unit subsequently destroyed it! I was saved on this flank by a set of wild actions, especially some bad activation rolls by Ernie. The Scottish shot hesitated (they failed a command roll and went backwards twice) and so really took themselves out of the game! This allowed my shot unit to focus on the Pike unit coming towards them. Eventually they failed a morale check, meaning the Scottish pike also headed back to their own starting lines. So although there was still the flanking gallopers I was in a lot better position on this side of the table than I had expected.
Back on the right flank of the village I had actually retreated back from the village to give me more time and space. I eventually released a Cavalier charge which did get rid of the Scottish lancers which had been weakened by the shot. But I still a problem, as a good Scottish command roll had brought on another units of Gallopers on this side of the field. That moved rapidly up to support that flank. I guess this was a replacement for the regimental gun lost on the other flank! That galloper units would destroy my Cavaliers in subsequent turns. The usual added command interest in Pikeman’s lament occurred on this flank as well. One of the Scottish units wavered and would not move forward. Meanwhile the Scottish commander had lost a VP point for being uncooth in command only to gain it back a few turns later with some outstanding commands. The fight for the village had heated up by now. I had withdrawn the Pike units which had collected an objective and brought up a shot unit. My thought was to use this to shoot the Scots and weaken them for the Pike units to kill. Unfortunately, that units kept failing to activate and the last clubmen unit stubbornly held out as while. Eventually a Scottish Forlorn hope killed the clubmen – yes so much more my units sweeping the village and holding it. Now it looked like the opposite may happen!
What I had done is park the Shot unit with my commander close to the village but in the center of the table. This meant that his command bonus was available to units on the left flank, in the village and even a couple on the right flank. In the end that unit just sat there the whole game, providing that bonus vs really fighting! It was more use there as a reserve than anything else. On the right flank a couple of turns had us both asking what happened… The Royalist regimental gun, the one I got as an extra through a bonus command die roll, came up and that plus 2 shot units suddenly had a great couple of turns. The Scottish Pike unit commanded by the Scottish officer had been a consistent target for me. Eventually it failed a morale check and left the table. That was likely a turning point I thought and would close the game out quickly.
Then in the next turn the Scottish shooting followed by a snake eye’s morale check from me meant that a unit before the shooting was full and undamaged failed it morale check and ran for the hills. So although the Scottish office was gone so was one of my units. But it did not then there. The turn after that my shooting did the same to one of the two Scottish shot units on that side of the battle. In three turns 3 units had been lost on this flank. It started to look a lot more open on this side of the table.In the center of the table, the shot unit in the village which I was trying to use to weaken the Forlorn Hope units failed to activate spectacularly. Instead of shooting it instead and for the second time in the game, decided to charge into melee with the enemy instead. This was not a good tactic and it got wiped out. Considering the number of failures to activate that unit I rolled maybe I was better off not having it on the table. It was definitely a unit made up of hothead guys into a punch up vs. using their muskets. Maybe they just did not have much powder, that might be a good reason as well.
I had brought up a pIke unit to support that shot unit but now that was looking a little exposed. There were 2 Scottish Forlorn Hope units still in the village against just the Pike unit. It decided to back it out of the village – a complete 360 from my plan, in now surrendering the village but possibly winning the game on the flanks.Bank on the left flank, the Scots by this time had their flanking unit of Gallopers through the woods and threatening my remaining shot unit. But I had a Pike unit coming up fast to help them out and then rolled the for another bonus unit. This I made a shot unit and brought it on around this flank. Although not the strongest in a fight they are useful in the later stages of a game. I thought the extra shot here would definitely help kill the Scottish galloper unit in a turn or two.
Getting this extra unit though was enough for the Scots and Ernie called the game at that point, withdrawing from the field. So this was a ‘winning draw’ for me in this game. A minor victory in the we each got two objectives but I held the field. Overall it had been a close thing and great fun. The game lasted approx. 3.5 hours and had plenty of ups and downs. We had a laugh with the natural narrative writing itself happening in the village. That was one of the Royalist Shot units there just wanting to get into hand to hand and failing more activations than it passed to do anything else. The finally charging into combat on another failed activation and being routed.
In the end my plan was reversed and the flanks held much better than I expected while my rush for the village failed and the Scottish Forlorn Hope units were as hard as nails in the village. I guess this did follow the saying ‘that no plan survives contact with the enemy’. Overall, a fun evening gaming and we both really enjoyed it.