Thursday, 3 November 2016

Pike and Shot battle report - Italian Wars

A couple of weeks ago we played a second game of Pike and Shot. It could only be a one night affair because we knew that the table was needed to organise the demo game for Fiasco in Leeds on the 30th of October (see previous post). This wasn't a problem because the game had been set up to go through the rules (Pike and Shot published by Warlord), as a learning exercise, and to try out one or two ideas.

Firstly, colunellas.

There were four colunellas in action. These were classed as Reliable units of shot with Pike Company and Swordsmen

They are not pike blocks, something I failed to make clear in the set up post. Consequently, they cannot automatically turn to face or use Hedgehog.

The colunellas went forward against some very tardy French (the French failed to activate, at all, on every turn, except the last).
The colunellas loosed off several effective volleys then charged. 

Even a charge by a unit of Gendarmes, into a flank, failed to stop the onslaught, though this was down to some appalling dice rolling on my part - I rolled a bucket of dice Vs a handful and lost, being repulsed in the Break Test.
Crossbowmen are rubbish in melee. Gascon Crossbowmen are double rubbish. They fell back everywhere.

Not being able to deliver closing fire is a real disadvantage. I'm still not sure why this should be the rule - crossbows and arquebus having similar rates of fire, fire at level trajectories at close range, etc. I'm not saying that from a game point of view I don't like it, I do, but I don't get the 'why'.
As the game wound up, the French pike charged and, even though the French pike were not the best quality, they were rolling equal dice to colunelas, though they had to win well to offset the swordsmen. 

I have a mind to make the colunella sword and buckler element Swordsmen +1 rather than Swordsmen D3. Otherwise, even though my colunella were not fully play tested, it was obvious that they were not super units. In fact, they are pretty average in many ways and especially vulnerable to flank attacks. I think they will work very well; I think they will need defences to hold against good quality pike blocks and determined heavy cavalry.

 On the other wing, a ding dong of a battle between heavy cavalry soon developed between Large French and Regular Venetian units. The latter were supported by Stradiots.
The cavalry battle went back and forth in a similar manner to the first game. I liked this charge, counter-charge, retire aspect of the rules very much. It felt like a cavalry battle, and all the time the cavalry were getting weaker (in stamina) and weaker.

The Stradiots proved to be very effective. Using Fire and Evade, the French cavalry proved unable to bring them to hand strokes.
In the end, both cavalry were fairly weak and the infantry felt able to take to the open field to decide the issue with a whiff of sulphur. Where the enemy have Stradiots (or similar) a unit or two with arquebus would probably be the best solution.
The centre was a simple match up between Swiss and Landsknecht pike. The rules handle this quite well but I still hanker after big units. 

At the Leeds show I talked about this to a couple of people, and the possibility of having Huge units. Both have far more experience with the rule system than I do, and both thought the rules are elastic enough for them to work, At some point I'll try it: BTW, at present I have 36 figs in a Standard unit and 54 in a Large unit, I'll be looking at 72 figures in a Huge unit which is at least getting towards being right.

I think I will introduce a 'general' Bad War rule for Swiss and Landsknechts when fighting each other. However, having read the rule I'm not sure that it is the rule I'm looking for. I don't think the definition of bad war should be to make units more deadly. My view would be that it makes them more tenacious and less likely to give up a fight. I'm not able to say for sure, as I don't know the rules well enough, but I wonder if a bonus (+2 ?) to the Break Test result of the loser might not be a better way simulate what the history tells us about the stubborn professional nature of Landsknechts and Swiss when they met at push of pike.  

That will be the last game of Pike and Shot until the players have all read the rules. Graham has them at the moment, Peter will get them next. I like the rules enough to know I'll want to play them again.


Neil said...

Good evening,
Firstly what a Absolutely beautiful looking game! and a good AAR. Regarding your idea for the 'bad war" rule, the Hail Ceaser Rulebook has a similar rule for units which are classed as Phalanxs. If the the Phalanxs is beating in the combat by a score of one or two then the combat counts as a draw and no break test is required, the only exception to this rule is when the unit is already shaken then it does not apply. Maybe an idea for you .

Steve J. said...

Wonderful looking game and nice to know you are enjoying the rules.

Charles Turnitsa said...

The shots of your game, and your report, are both great! Especially your lovely miniatures.

I like the idea of the Bad War result. I have heard complaints lately about the whole Black Powder/Hail Caesar/Pike and Shot family of rules that there are just too many unit specific special rules. I disagree, I think it gives units and classes of troops a lot of flavor.

David said...

As ever a fine looking game accompanied by a thoughtful AAR.

Gonsalvo said...

A lot of people do like Pike and Shot; I bought a copy 2 years ago and have yet to even open it, LOL! I played Hail Caesar ? 5 years ago, and they were OK, but wasn't thrilled with them (probably in part because I have a long standing distaste for saving throws). Anyway, I really do have to at least read these rules some day!

Warren said...

James once again stunning looking game....your minis are an inspiration and I have followed your blog for many years. I have Italian Wars figures, may be enough to make two armies and you have made me want to drag them out of storage

Thanks and keep it up