Sunday, April 6, 2014

Black Powder Pike and Shotte Game #1, #2, #3!

I've been looking forward to putting toys on the table using Pike and Shotte. Several of us are going to play a larger game in a couple of weeks at Area 51 Comics and Games in Grapevine.  I wanted to make sure I understood some of the mechanics, game play and work out kinks in the rules that would result in issues playing this larger game. I played with Rusty Gardner, a new Tejas transplant from the Ohio gaming scene. We had a "crackin'" game last night. It took several turns to get smooth with the rules.  After we played a few bounds, these rules were fast, easy and a hell of a lot of fun.  I took some notes and hopefully will be able to teach some if not most of the game functions.  Clay D. showed up on Sunday. We ended up playing two games in a 3.5 hour period.  I'm liking these rules.  Three games in a weekend ain't too shabby!!

Now on to a quick review.  The rules are most definitely a gentleman's game. Rules lawyers and grammar gamers need not apply.  The rules are pretty broad in some areas; yet, are specific enough to not have large sized holes.  If you want a set of rules for a hard-assed tournament setting, these rules are not for you.  If you want a set of rules to enjoy an evening's game with enough give and take to challenge most historical gamers, you should pick up a set of these rules.

We played the game on an 8'x6' table with two players.  The figure density was ok for the table space.  One can play terrain as hard or as soft as one desires.  You can slow down the game with a lot of terrain.  Hopefully, someone that follows this blog might have some postive comments on how much terrain is too much.  I found that a bit of 'this' and 'that' is enough.  I've never been to England so I'm sure my "terrain eye" is not correct.
The variable response to orders is a staple of the Black Powder games so I won't go into the mechanics.  Suffice it to know that one's forces may not do what one wishes WHEN they wish.
This is a bit unnerving at first but once you play a couple of games is relegated to the "normal course of events".

Disorder is critical in this game. Causing disorder coupled with "hits" on units keep units from acting in lock step.  We forgot to keep up with disorder during the first game. It would have made major differences (I would have lost sooner...Ha!)
Units have arbitrary "stamina" or strength. Once units take more hits than their stamina, they become "shaken" and must take a morale/break test. We found that once units reach their max, it's time to get them to the rear and begin to rally them.  There's a catch here...the general can attach and begin to rally the unit. The general cannot give any other orders while rallying a unit. This leaves the other units or battalias without the ability to act or react.  This makes the commitment of units to battle and rallying from hits very timing critical.
Foote units are independent units consisting of pikes, two (2) "sleeves" of shotte (Dutch Brigadas or Dutch system).  I'm used to playing Gush's venerable "Renaissance" rules. Shotte units are subunits to the parent pike unit in Gush's rules.  It took me a game to figure out this was not the case in Pike & Shotte.  In the photo on the left, one can charge muskets only.  Musket units have three (3) options when charged by horse.  The optimal option is to form "hedgehog" (square to we old Napoleonics guys). Not a good idea for cavalry to charge frontally.  Another option is to stand and fire; hoping to put casualties on the charging horse forcing them to go shaken. Again, not such a good idea but an action forced upon infantry by a poor command check. The last option is by far the worst option. Infantry fails its command and stands and takes the medicine.  (Illustrated by the pic above-happened to my Yellow Shotte unit).  When the melee is over and the hapless musketeers are scurrying away looking for a cold beer, the other units are taking break tests as well.  This is not good if you're the infantry.  Pretty good if you're the cavalry.

Artillery are a bit flaky as they probably should be in other rules sets. It takes a "5" on a D6 to hit another unit.  No modifiers for "fast movers" or other stuff that gets in the way.  One throws 3D6 at short range, 2D6 at half range and 1D6 at long range.  Don't roll a "double one". If so, the artillery is out and does not function for the rest of the game.  This illustrates the civilian crew and non professional nature of artillery in the 17th century.

Melee is pretty straight forward. Hits are not saved but totalled. The difference between both sides in the melee determines the winner. A straight up break test is made.  If lost, the unit literally either retires or breaks off the table.  Units that are supporting or to the flanks of the broken unit take a break test as well.  The possibility of an entire batallia melting away is quite real. It happened to my cavalry wing twice.
Batallias that lose more than 50% of their components auto break off the table.  When an army loses more than 50% of their original strength, they leave the table.  Simple, fast and brutal.  Brings a game to conclusion quickly!

Will I play this again?  Heck yeah! I think there's a place and rules to play my French-Italian Wars and build out those 17th Century Polish and Ottomans I've always wanted to have in my collection.These rules are highly recommended.  Get ready to have a great game.

Here's a gallery of the games and some shots of my English Civil collection.  The collection is a mixed bag of Old Glory, Dixon, Warlord, Perry, and Foundry miniatures.  Ebay is a good friend when putting a project together.  Enjoy the "eye candy".
Warlord Artillery 
Preparing a lead party for the King's Horse

Cavalry scrum down

Horse advances on the right flank

Horse turn 2 charging home

Commanded shotte peek around the hedges

Lobsters hit the poor bloody infantry

Commanded shotte face off against Lobsters

Dragoons line the hedges

Long range sniper! Warlord model

Rusty plots his smiting of the Parliamentary forces!

Birdseye view

The hits add up as the horse moves home...maybe!

Horse units square off

traversing fire near the Rattye Palace pub

right flank view

sneaky commanded shotte

Death of the Yellow Infantry unit!

Miller's great morale rolls....but of course!

Hits...Shaken...not stirred....unit breaks!

more smiting of the Yellow regiment!

Artillery cannot stand....smako...

Essex tries to raise the ire of the Parliamentary lobsters

Good Clay sets up!

Good Clay #2

All the figures in the corner are mine. Broken..and mine! arrgh!

Blue regiment stands behind the wall

Cavalry smokes the artillery (unsupported of course)

Limbered artillery

Royalist Horse scatter the Parliamentary Lobsters!

More horse action

Miller's Horse moves to the attack

Old school cavalry battle

Miller's horse charge home

Push of Pike

The "Lambs" advance

Botond's Mill

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Great Napoleonic Book! You Should Get This For Your LIbrary!

I was perusing (surfing) the Miniatures Page about a week ago or so and came across an ad about a set of Eitling books and a book by Hourtoulle.  I frankly did not know anything about Hourtouelle.  I'm sure glad I made the purchase 'blind'.  I can highly recommend this tome for your Napoleonic library.  I'm sure there's some issues with some of the plates but i'm not a button counter anymore. I just really like the book!

Thanks to Tom Seiman for making this purchase easy! He's highly recommended as a seller as well.

I'm off to read and paint. VIII Corps is in the book. That just warms the cockles of my little ham-eater's hearts!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Two Great Napoleon at War Games Today at the Rat Palace Redux!

We played a couple of great Napoleon at War games today. We played a touch over 2600 points per side on an 8x6 table.  Hosted a great group of four players. Clay Smith was illin'.  Get better Clay!

We rolled a scenario out of the rules and played the Rear Guard scenario. The French were the attackers and the British were the defenders.  The scenario played out pretty well for the first game. The British team played a Heavy Cavalry Division with the multitudes of reserves available to it.  Got my first taste of Elite, Fearsome French Grenadiers a Cheval.  They were overstrength, elite, brave clean and damn sure reverent! Rusty brought out some really great looking French miniatures today. I was totally enthralled with his Dragoons and Lanciers. I'm thinking a Dragoon brigade would really look good on the table. Definitely an alternative to the usual Cuirassiers we field on both sides (French and Austrian) of our collections.  Rusty is moving into his house soon and we'll have two venues in which to game on the SOUTH SIDE of Dallas! Watch out...we're takin' over!

Post Launch of the British Heavy Cavalry-A grand void!
The British Heavy Cavalry division smacked down on French infantry in turn one and were then smacked down in turn 2. The first game was over by turn 3 as the French had occupied the British forward objective (not contested).  We decided to recycle the crushed forces and play a second game using the same terrain and objectives.  It was nip and tuck as both sides caused force morales.

The games ended after about 6 hours of elapsed game time.  We could have and probably should have played on to a visible conclusion but we were ready to call it a day.  It was over 70 degrees in Dallas yesterday and today it was sleeting, icing up and was about 25 degrees all day. We decided to call it since the roads were getting nasty and icing up.  We're planning on putting on our next game at Madness Comics in Plano on March 23rd. All are invited and welcome to play. Just bring some painted miniatures, dice and ruler and let's throw down!

Here's a brief (sorta') gallery of the action....
Brunswick and Dutch-Belgians finally decide to get to the battle during GAME 2!

British Reserves never arrived in GAME 1. The French won in game turn 3!

Dead Eye Shot Brunswick Artillery-New Line Miniatures

Brunswick Uhlans read the road sign and follow the directions!

Rusty and Scott plotting the demise of the Allies.  En Avant!

French occupy the Chateau de Brie!

Rear Guard action. British choose Right Flank. French choose balance. 

Scott and Rusty's French supported by Wurttenburger Arty.

Steve finds out the hard way the futile point of attacking a building in NaW

Scott is a GREAT teacher! I'm a teacher....I know good teachin'!

Grenadiers a Cheval vs. Scots Greys. Who will win?

Pre Launch photo of the British cavalry on the Frogs!

French initial forces-Game 1 and 2

Lonely British Heavy Cav Brigade

Pre Launch positions of the British Heavy Cavalry on those pesky Frogs!

Post launch conditions on the right flank

French initial deployment near the village of Fugpee

Rusty's French I think..they may have been Scott's. They all look alike to a Brit.

French advance on left flank-Game 1 and 2

"Not again...those damned British Heavy Cavalry"

Tex the Giant Schnauzer is a gamer and a pain in the butt for food

The Allies finally decide to arrive IN GAME 2! Brunswickers and Dutch-Belgians

Brunswick Light Cavalry Brigades shoulda' read the "road sign"

Thin Black Line-New Line Miniatures Brunswick "Black Horde"

Dumb Brunswick Uhlans pursue and get shot away by the French leaving a muttered expletive by the British player (me)

"I'll meet them with my Lanciers!"

French-Brunswick standoff in the Rat Palace Redux

Rusty's "killer" Wurttenburger Heavy Arty. battery.

Close up of Rusty's Wurttenburger "killer" arty. battery