Friday, 17 May 2019

A border skirmish; an eastern renaissance scenario for Pike and Shotte

This week we needed a quick game as we were under time pressures.  I settled on a small skirmish between a Polish force and an opposing Muscovite force over a disputed border settlement.  The settlement had been garrisoned by a unit of Polish dragoons and the Muscovites had raised several units of feudal cavalry to drive them off.  Fortunately a force of pancerni were in the vicinity and rode to help out the dragoons.

an overview of the table layout
 As you can see above, on the right, five units of Muscovite feudal cavalry plus one of skirmishing light cavalry.  The Poles, on the left have five, (later reduced to four), units of pancerni, a unit of skirmishing light cavalry and a unit of dragoons in the village.   The Muscovite  feudal cavalry are large units deployed in three ranks and three of them are rated raw.  All the Polish cavalry are standard sized units and are trained.  I initially had five units of pancerni, but on reflection thought that this would make the Polish too strong, time would tell if I was correct!

Polish dragoons manning the defences of the village
A roll of the dice allocated Steve the Muscovite command and he rolled for the quality of his commanders.  Against the odds he got two rated '9' and one a '7', the Poles had three '8's.  As the game began we had one of those moments of 'eccentric' dice rolling which imprint themselves on your memory.  Rolling to move his skirmishers, Steve got double 6, in Pike and Shotte this results in a blunder.  I know some gamers dislike this rule but for the moment we use it.  Rolling against the blunder table Steve proceeded to roll another '6'; Charge!.  How far would he move?  Roll the dice, '6' ,  3 moves !! This meant he could reach my skirmishers.  Would they counter charge (6-12 required), result, '5'; they stood to receive the charge and this meant that their 'lance' bonus was lost.  The result of the melee was fairly predictable, my skirmishers lost; not only that, they then rolled '4' on their break test and routed towards the base line.  What a start !!

The Polish skirmishing cavalry rout

The pancerni fare no better
Things did improve after this and my dragoons in the village made a nuisance of themselves, sniping away at the Muscovite cavalry which came within range.  Our various units charged, counter charged, fell back and the tussle swayed back and forth for control of the defile between the boggy ground and the village.  The Steve repeated his 'blunder' trick and clobbered one of my pancerni units.  This also routed from the melee and defying my attempts to rally it, disappeared into the distance.  Although Steve did have problems with the brigade of feudal cavalry commanded by the '7' rated general, (being rated militia they need to roll lower than 7 to move), he eventually wore down the Polish force and I was forced to retreat.

The pancerni prevail

The Muscovite commander, (large yellow flag) leads his men into the attack

Breaching the Polish centre

The remains of the Polish right about to be overwhelmed
Following lunch we re-ran the scenario, swopping sides.  Again we had the ebb and flow of combat, though as the Poles advanced further forward the dragoons played less of a part.  This time it was the Poles who prevailed and after losing over half their force the Muscovites fell back.

The game was really a test of our cavalry rules, especially those for deeper formations.    Although their number of combat dice are reduced, they do gain a +1 adjustment to the melee result.  This was counter-balanced by rating the pancerni 'tough fighters' allowing them to re-roll one failed morale dice.  There are still some wrinkles to iron out especially the thorny issue of lances.  Quite a few eastern cavalry carried them but giving them the bonus allowed to gendarmes seems a little excessive.  Should the lance be ignored?


  1. I like the Blunders rule and the things that fall from it. I would find it hard to ignore a 1st round bonus for lances ....but then the Featherstone influence is never too far away from my thinking :-)

    1. Hello Norm
      Yes, I remember the lance bonus from my early Napoleonic games. My regular opponent at the time seemed to have an endless supply of lancer units and as the Brits, I of course, had none!