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