Friday, 6 October 2017

Pikeman's Lament tester

At one time 'The Strategists' shared a fascination for the English Civil War and many a pleasant hour was spent pitting 15mm Freikorps Round-heads against Royalists. The rules in vogue at the time were Forlorn Hope. They fitted the bill but as I recall quite a bit of time was spent adding and subtracting factors and such like and many a game ended in an inconclusive draw. As the clock got closer to midnight, thoughts of work and an early start put an end to further game-play.

With the emphasis on quick-play rules these days Dragons Rampant and its numerous derivatives has gained favour with us for Dark Ages, Medieval / Samurai and now ECW with the Pike and Shot version,  Pikeman's Lament. 
Recently I had the good fortune to purchase a superbly painted and based Royalist ECW 28mm Army at an annual bring and buy. Obviously this rekindled my interest in ECW.
Our first game went surprisingly well considering we had 6 players involved. Fortunately the rules do not differ significantly from the other versions other than unit stats and points values and a number of period flavour special abilities such as the Caracole for trotters and Skirmish /Evade for dragoons.
Detractors from this 'one rule system suits all style of gaming' say that it does not truly represent the specific characteristics and flavour of any period. No doubt there's some truth to that but when you only have 2-3 hours of an evening to assemble the layout array the troops and fight to a conclusion we have found simple does the trick for club nights. Also the rules are easier to remember so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.

The game was a simple "line up two relatively even forces against each other in an encounter battle and see how it plays out" type of thing. Purists shield your eyes as you will no doubt spot numerous Royalist flags merrily waving in the breeze on the side of the Parliamentarians.

Royalist lineup

The Parliamentarians arrayed for battle.

The game started auspiciously for the Parliamentarians as their field gun tore a gash through the Royalist foot on their first shot. Much back slapping amongst the gunners...probably just happy the bloody thing didn't blow up in their faces.

Break out the rum boys! Bang on first shot.

The Parliamentarians arrayed themselves in the customary formation of cavalry on each flank and foot in the Centre. The Royalists, having somewhat less cavalry, dispensed entirely with cavalry on their right flank. Instead they chose to array all their cavalry on their left, clearly planning to smash through the enemies cavalry and break through on the centre from the flank whilst holding off the Parliamentarian cavalry with firepower and their sharp pointy pikes on their Right.

Royalist field piece.

The Parliamentarian Left flank cavalry advanced to within pistol range of the Royalist and and successfully activated a caracole attack with the intention of breaking the enemies resolve and forcing them to give ground which would allow a follow up attack while the enemy had their backs to them. Unfortunately for the cavalry the infantry steadfastly held their ground despite murderous point blank fire from the horsemen and some choice anglo saxon cursing. A well aimed return volley sent the cavalry trotting back out of range to regroup in disorder and humiliation. Not a memorable first night appearance for my new troops.

Royalist troops blast away at Parliamentarian cavalry

Sadly for the Parliamentarians their gunners seemed to have been overcome with the success of their first round and decided to break out the rum thus all further shots flew wildly over the heads or fell short of the enemy for the rest of the game. The cooler heads of the Royalist gunners however prevailed and they repeatedly chipped away at the enemies neatly arrayed ranks of foot.

The Royalists cavalry assault on their Left flank was met head on by the Roundhead cavalry who not only held their own but pushed the Royalists back. Several repeat attempts by the Cavaliers met the same fate and as the day wore on it was clear they were a spent force.

In the centre both sides were within musketry range but the superior marksmanship of the Royalist musketeers and the ever increasing casualties from artillery had seriously affected the morale of the Parliamentarians and it was becoming impossible to activate them or rally them. It was clear a collapse in the centre was imminent.

The Parliamentarian cavalry on the their left failed to get back in the fight and repeatedly refused their activation rolls which left the Royalist foot free to move to the Centre to assist their comrades to seal the Parliamentarian's fate.

Royalist Command

Parliamentarian Commander pondering what went wrong?

Cavalry at the trot.
All in all we felt the rules meet our requirements admirably which are:
Quick-play and bloody with no faffing about.
Played to a conclusion in under 3 hours.
Easily digested and remembered.
Minimal book-keeping and referencing factor sheets (Continual adding and subtracting)
Fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Bolt Action

Wargaming has taken a bit of a back seat for a while due to work commitments and some great motorcycling weather but with a wet afternoon looming what better way to while away an afternoon than a fast and furious game of Bolt Action with a mate. Some hasty assembly work and a quick spraycoat by Dave ensured that the Allies could add some armour in the form of a Sherman tank to their force.

The game was a simple encounter between mixed armour and infantry elements of US and German forces somewhere in France.

Once objective markers had been placed on either side we began deployment.

Taking the part of the Americans I made a bold dash forward with my half track to cover the crossroad. Two companies of infantry skirted the forest on the left flank heading for the objectives whilst another headed for the ruined building overlooking the crossroad and the remainder of the infantry and my sherman took a wait and watch approach on my right flank.

It wasnt long before the Germans showed their teeth. Their scout car advanced up the road to challenge my half track but fortunately he only managed to inflict a pin on it. On the German left a Panzer IV poked its nose out of the woods and drew a bead on my stationary Sherman. An incredibly lucky shot tore through the turret completely blowing it off its mounting and effectively putting paid to my armour support on that flank....great.

Dave's Germans took a more cautious approach preferring to defend their objectives whilst pushing forward on their left to seek out my objectives.

By turn 4 Dave still hadn't suceed in dealing to my half track and the half track's HMG was having little effect on his scout cars armour, however my bazooka team made a courageous break from cover to loose off a shot from round the corner of a building at his scout car. Kaboom!... a direct hit.
There's a lesson here...bazookas are lethal. Thay have a handy range combined with massive armour penetration and have the advantage of stealth. I will be adding another team to my force in future.

Meanwhile, on my left flank my one of my companies had made it to the cover of the stone wall facing the copse with one of the objectives whilst the other unit, who were furiously sprinting across the open field wer the target of a lethal fusilade from the forest directly in front of them. The germans inflicted 3 casualties forcing me to go to ground.
Some good news though was that my mortar had zeroed in on the germans in the other copse and landed a round directly on them taking out two of them. This unsettled my opponent somewhat as this would make defence of his objective untenable at this rate.

The Germans, realising that my right flank was weak decided to throw caution to the wind and make a thrust to capture my lightly defended objective. It fell to a company of GI's entrenched behind a stone wall to hold them up. With the combined firepower of the Panzers machine guns and his wickedly effective infantry MMG's the GI's days were numbered.

My only hope of success was to push on with my assaults on his objectives on the Left.
I had three companies in position notwithstanding the fact that the one in the open field was pretty stuffed, despite exhortations and desperate attempts by my 1st Lieutenant to rally them! It was turn 6 and I had to act fast so I threw my relatively fresh company who had advanced to the edge of the copse into a close assault with the fanatical nazis tenaciously defending their objective marker. A furious melee erupted but sadly the GI's were no match for the Germans and despite what I hoped were overwhelming numbers they were wiped out by those nasty men in their pea pattern camo smocks. With no hope of me seizing an objective and Dave with his hands practically on an objective it was clearly a German victory. Well fought Dave and looking forward with anticipation to the next encounter.

I must say that Bolt Action V2 has really rekindled my enjoyment of WW2 skirmish level gaming. It's perfect for those midweek games where time is critical because the forces are small, setup is quick and game length rarely exceeds 3 hours.

Oh well must fly... I have to send off an urgent order for more bazookas ;-)