Saturday, 18 February 2017

First Game of The Pikeman's Lament - Ottomans and Poles

We tried out The Pikeman's Lament at the last Tring Club night and were very pleased with the rules. We also managed to get almost 3 games into 3 hours playing time (due to unforeseen circumstances we had to cut the last game short, but I reckon another 30 minutes would have seen us to the end of that as well).

1 unit Winged Hussars - Elite Gallopers
1 unit Pancerni - Gallopers
2 units Cossacks - Raw Gallopers
1 unit Dragoons - Dragoons
1 unit Haiduk Infantry - Shot

I thought about making the Hussars Aggressive, but decided not to until we had tried a few games out. I'm still undecided with the Polish light cavalry, Tartars are obviously Dragoons, or Veteran Dragoons, but armed with lances I'm not sure whether the Cossacks were primarily skirmish or melee troops.

1 unit Sipahis of the Porte - Gallopers
3 units Feudal Sipahis - Trotters
1 unit Tartars - Veteran Dragoons
1 unit skirmish musketeers - Commanded Shot

Sipahis of the Porte tended to be used as the heavy cavalry reserve, so I felt Gallopers suited them better. I'm not sure about other Sipahis as Trotters, but that suits them better than Gallopers or Dragoons. I may need to play about with the troop types a little bit here.

The Games

The first game was the Ga Pa scenario. For some unknown reason the Polish Commander placed his officer in one of the Cossack units, which made him quite vulnerable. The Poles put their shot in the centre and quickly moved them onto a hill, where they stayed for the game, mainly sniping at passing Turkish horsemen at long range. On the left flank the Dragoons and Pancerni faced off against a unit of Sipahis and the skirmish infantry, whilst on the right flank the Hussars faced the Sipahis of the Porte supported by the Tartars. The Cossacks were in the centre on either side of the shot, facing the last 2 Sipahi units.

On the left the Dragoons hung back whilst the Pancerni rapidly advanced against the Sipahis. The Turkish infantry ducked into a nearby wood, from whence they picked off a passing Pancerni. The Pancerni charged and we followed what was to become the standard format for melees in this game. The Gallopers won the melee, the Trotters failed their morale test and fell back, wavering. The Gallopers used their compulsory follow-up, winning again. I rolled crap morale dice and the Trotters routed. The Pancerni had only lost 1 man in melee, but the skirmishers in the wood picked off another one, so at least they were down to half strength.

On the right the Tartars advanced into range of the Winged Hussars and killed one man. Now the Hussars charged but the Tartars evaded out of range, peppering the Hussars with arrows. This opened up a gap between the Hussars and the Officer's Cossack unit and I threw my Sipahis of the Porte into the gap, supported by another unit of Sipahis. Now my Tartars attempted to Skirmish again, hoping to kill another Hussar and remain out of charge range. This is where things went really pear shaped as I rolled a double 1, then my Tartars went loopy and charged the Hussars! (On a roll of double 1 or 6 for an activation, you roll on a Good/Bad Things happen table). Of course the Hussars counter charged and smashed the Tartars in melee. The Tartars failed their morale roll and fell back wavering, The Hussars Followed up, won again and, guess what, the Tartars routed!!! Sound familiar?

                                               Tartars frustrating the Winged Hussars...

                                                ....then stupidly charging them.........

                                            ...exit stage left, pursued by Hussars!

Back in the other flank, the dragoons had got into a firefight with the Turkish skirmishers, lost a couple of men and become wavering. I moved a unit of Sipahis onto their flank and rolled for a successful Caracole activation, but never needed to charge home as the Dragoons routed from my shooting, my only success in this game. The Polish officer's Cossacks took a couple of losses from the Feudal Sipahis, so they retreated out of range and I failed to pursue them with the Sipahis of the Porte for two successive turns. By this time the Hussars were back, charged the Sipahis of the Porte (who naturally refused to counter charge), The Sipahis lost, failed their morale test, Hussars followed up etc etc. (you can see where this is going). So Game One a clear win to the Poles.

                                                  Dragoons getting picked off from the woods

                                               Whilst the Sipahis sneak up on them

                                             "They're behind you!" time to rout!

Game 2 was Rescue Mission. The Ottomans rolled ended up as defenders, and I could see this was not the army for this scenario. I put the skirmishers to guard the prisoner and flanked them with the Sipahis of the Porte and the Tartars. The 3 units of Feudal Sipahis were coming on in turn 2. To add insult to injury the Poles rolled a double 6 in their first turn and ended up with an extra unit of shot.
While the Tartars skirmished with the Dragoons and Cossacks, the Pancerni charged the Sipahis and the Hussars charged the skirmishers. My reinforcements came on first time, but then failed to activate for the rest of the game. The Hussars smashed the infantry and pushed them out of the camp, followed up and wiped the survivors out. The Sipahis held the Pancerni off for 2 turns of combat, but then got charged by the Hussars and routed. The Polish infantry just strolled into the camp, freed the prisoner and started to retire. We called it there as there was no way any of my units could reach them. A quick game.

The final game was Patrol, which we gave a limit of 15 turns to complete. We ran out of time at turn 10 with neither player having got any units off the table. Interesting the Winged Hussars failed to perform as the super soldiers they had been in the first two games. They led the Polish rush across the table and bumped into a unit of  Sipahis supported by the skirmish infantry. The infantry shot one of the Hussars before they charged the Sipahis, who lost both the initial charge and follow-up melees, but held their nerve (passed both morale tests) and killed 2 more Hussars, taking them down to half strength. The skirmishers now shot another Hussar as a fresh unit of Sipahis moved into range. At this point we had to end the game, which was finally turning in the Ottomans favour. The Hussars were down to 2 figures, the Dragoons were down to half strength and I'd routed the Pancerni without losing a unit as yet! At least it looked as if the Ottomans did stand a chance against the Poles, so long as I did actually manage to pass a morale test.

We had great fun with the rules and look forward to many more games. They had been very quick and bloody to play, but the fact that the majority of units on the table were mounted had made things move very fast. The Winged Hussars apparent invincibility in the first couple of games had been down to my truly abysmal dice throwing, in the third game they were good, but far from unbeatable. The Pikeman's Lament feels like Lion Rampant plus. Now the Officer's +1 bonus within 12" also applies to Activation so it seemed much easier to get the units moving across the table (well at least some of the time!) and the double 1/6 effects added some fun to the game. The ability to follow an officer as he gains experience and potentially improve himself over several games will lend itself to mini campaigns. I am certainly looking forward to many more games.

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