Friday, 7 July 2017

I tried a 3-player scenario for Osprey's The Pikeman's Lament. I've played the rules several times now, but Mark had only played it once before and it was Henry's first time.

The premise is a group of German mercenaries in Polish service have decided it's more profitable to make off with the Polish pay chest, rather than actually fight to earn their pay. A Polish company of mixed troops have set off in pursuit and cut the mercenaries off from their escape route. However, at this moment a Ottoman raiding party shows up. It's a basic scrap over the loot!

The treasure is in a wagon which starts off in German hands. To move the wagon (6") a unit must be in contact with it. If the unit in contact retires or routs the wagon remains in place. The Germans want to get the wagon across the table from the north edge and off the middle of the south side. The Poles start in the SE corner and the Ottomans in the SW corner, they need to get the wagon off from their respective corners.

The Forces

1 x Winged Hussars - Elite Gallopers
1 x Dragoons - Dragoons
2 x Cossacks - Raw Gallopers
2 x Musketeers - Shot

2 x Cuirassiers - Elite Trotters
1 x Pikemen - Pike
2 x Musketeers - Shot

1 x Janissaries - Forlorn Hope
2 x Musketeers - Shot
2 x Tartars - Dragoons
1 x Balkan Foot - Commanded Shot

Unfortunately the game was so interesting that I forgot to take any photos after the initial set-up!

                                               The table viewed from the West

                                               The German Mercenaries

                                                         The Ottomans

                                                               The Poles

It was a game of strange dice throwing. A lot of double 1s early on meant several retreats and one of my Polish shot units were called away in turn 2! The Ottomans, on the other hand, rolled a lot of double 6s and ended up with 3 heroes, 2 of which were in the janissary unit as well as the officer, so their morale was very hard to break.

Initially The pikemen advanced, protecting the wagon whilst the Poles and the eastern half of the Germans rushed towards each other and the Ottomans and the rest of the mercenaries hung back (failed command rolls). The Poles moved a unit of shot into a wood to cover their flank against the Ottomans, sent the Cossacks off to try and flank the wagon, whist advancing the other shot and dragoons in front of the hussars. At this point my cunning plan went up in smoke as the screening shot promptly disappeared (double 1 activation again!). The Cossacks were eventually destroyed by a combination of  cuirassiers and a unit of shot well placed on a hill. Rather than get shot to pieces the Cossacks made repeated charges, but the cuirassier's armour was too much for them and they only killed a couple of the enemy for the loss of both units.

The Ottomans finally got moving and managed to catch the other cuirassier unit in a crossfire with the janissaries and both Tartar units. However the combination of good German armour and poor quality Turkish gunpowder meant it took that several turns of shooting to whittle the cuirassiers down to half strength. In turn the Germans made three successful caracole attacks against a unit of Tartars, but each time either failed to inflict casualties, or else the Tartars morale held, so they were unable to charge home. Right in the centre the Polish shot and a couple of Ottoman units spent their time exchanging gunfire with very little to show for it.

In the centre the pikemen braced themselves to defend the wagon, but a combination of shooting from the Polish Dragoons and an Ottoman shot unit, plus the charge of the Winged Hussars, swa them routed. At this point the dice gods turned against the Mark and in no time, all he had left was a two-man cuirassier unit, which included his officer. I had an intact unit of dragoons, a unit of shot with one casualty and my officer, the only survivor of my Winged Hussar unit! Henry's Ottomans looked horribly healthy, one unit of Tartars was down to half strength and he had lost half a dozen or so infantry from various units, he hadn't lost a whole unit yet.

My officer rushed forward as the Ottomans closed in and grabbed the wagon horses, leading them off under intense (but inaccurate) fire. Luckily I managed to get my dragoon behind him just before the Tartars could reach the wagon. All that remained was for my dragoon and shot to hold off the Tartars and remaining cuirassiers for a couple of turns to allow my office to get off the table with the loot!

A great game which everyone enjoyed. The Ottomans poor early activation and rubbish shooting made it look like it was going to be a two-way game at first, but once they got going they nearly swept the board. It was only luck (and the good armour of Elite Gallopers) that allowed my officer to grab the loot and escape.

Next was lunch, with a cold beer in the sunny garden, followed by a fun game of En Garde. Happy days!

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