Saturday, 10 October 2020

Mesto Vody: an Eastern Renaissance scenario for Pike and Shotte

Although Steve and I have settled on Pike and Shotte (or at least our version of it) as our rules for this period we do look at other rule sets to see if there are any mechanisms which could be transferred.  One set which I have looked at is "By Fire and Sword" by Wargamer. One thing that caught my attention was the way in which they dealt with the various categories of firearms.  They make provision for the quality of the firearms, giving the better quality ones a greater range.  Therefore, a standard musket has a range of say 18" whereas a poor quality firearm has a range of 12".  We thought we could use this to reflect the variable quality of equipment of levy, militia and standing units within the Eastern theatre; this game was a trial of that idea.  A mixed Polish/Cossack force is raiding into Muscovite territory in response to an earlier incursion by the Muscovites.  It comprises of two Cossack infantry units, one of registered Cossacks and one of moloisty and two Polish infantry units, a "foreign regiment" and a Lan militia unit.  They have a light gun to support them and four units of cavalry, 2 of pancerni and two of Cossack light cavalry.  In response the local Muscovite boyar has assembled 3 local infantry units, two units of servant Cossacks and a unit of border dragoons.  He has been joined by the commander of the local garrison commander with a Soldatski unit, a unit of urban streltsy and a light gun.  There are also four units of cavalry, two of feudal cavalry and two of light cavalry. 

The initial set up, Polish/Cossack forces in foreground

The Muscovite force had deployed by the settlement of Mesto Vody to block and repulse the Polish/Cossack raid.

The Polish Lan regiment

The battle began with a swift advance by the Cossack infantry, the Poles seemingly more reluctant to move forward.  On the Polish/Cossack left one unit of Pancerni advanced further than the rest, but it's isolation was ignored by the waiting Muscovite cavalry, the first of several failures by their commander.  
The Muscovite commander with a unit of servant Cossacks beyond

The Cossack infantry were now coming into musket range of the Soldatski, but they chose to wait, rather than fire at long range.  On the left the Polish cavalry had managed  organise their advance and were now closing in on the Muscovite cavalry.  
The Cossack infantry near the Muscovite line

The Pancerni charged and caught a unit of Muscovite light cavalry before they could move.  Caught at such a disadvantage, the light cavalry had little chance and were pushed back.  Charged again before they could rally, the Muscovites quit the field, however, the Pancerni resisted the urge to pursue and re-dressed their ranks. 

The Pancerni stike

Matters were looking slightly better for the Muscovites in the centre.  The Soldatski's first volley was sufficient to disorder the Registered Cossack unit facing them.  A second inflicted more casualties and forced the Cossacks to halt to rally.  On the extreme right, the Moloisty unit was coming under fire from the Muscovite light gun and also a small unit of Border Dragoons ensconced in the buildings of Mesto Vody.  The Polish infantry had now moved up onto the left flank of the Registered Cossacks and into range of the Streltsy and Servant Cossack units.  Even though the Servant Cossacks had poor quality firearms and were therefore firing at long range they managed to inflict losses on the Lan infantry, whose return fire was less effective.  Volleys from the Streltsy disordered the Foreign Regiment before it could fire and the Polish light artillery was slow to get in position to support their infantry.  To the Muscovite commander it looked like the enemy infantry were beginning to waver and he ordered the Soldatski to charge.  They did charge, but not far enough to reach the enemy line, (we use variable move distances), and received a short range volley.  Fortunately for the Muscovites this was ineffective, the return volley was not and the Registered Cossacks took further casualties. Next turn the Soldatski charged, received another short range volley, but closed to melee.

The Soldatski charge falls short

The cavalry battle was now in full swing.  The remaining Muscovite light cavalry unit was charged by a Cossack unit, counter-charged and managed to defeat their opponents, pushing them back.  However, the  Muscovites now had to deal with the reserve Cossack unit which charged forward to cover their comrades while they rallied.  The feudal cavalry and Pancerni were also now locked in melee.

The cavalry battle in full swing

The feudal cavalry struggled against the Pancerni,   As they fought, the last Muscovite light cavalry unit broke and routed from the field.  The nearest feudal cavalry unit had just pulled back disordered from melee, as had the opposing Pancerni.  Before they could recover they were hit by the Cossacks and routed, with the Cossacks in pursuit.

The Muscovite light cavalry rout

Followed by one of the feudal cavalry units

In the infantry battle, the Soldatski were not fairing too well, (a roll of 5 '1's out of 7 dice did not help).  None of the other Muscovite infantry units had ventured forward  so the Soldatski were unsupported;  the Registered Cossacks meanwhile had two flank supports and this swung the balance.  The Soldatski fell back onto the hill, disordered.  Here they attempted to rally, but a volley from the Registered Cossacks proved too much and the Soldatski routed.

With the final feudal cavalry unit being overwhelmed by the two Pancerni units, the Muscovite infantry were now on their own.  The Steltsy had inflicted heavy losses on the foreign regiment and the Lan regiment had been hit hard by the fire from the Servant Cossacks, but without cavalry the position was hopeless and victory went to the Polish/Cossack force.

The final position

Discussing the game afterwards Steve and I thought that the new musketry rules had worked quite well.  Although the difference in effective range was only a matter of a few inches, the troops with the better quality firearms did get an advantage lacking in the standard Pike and Shotte rules.  The only area the poorer quality firearms achieved parity was at close range (set at pistol range), at that range we felt the quality of the firearms made no difference.

As for the Muscovite cavalry, they were at a disadvantage from the very start, or even before we started.  We had established that the respective C in C's would be rated '8' for command and that the two sub generals would roll for rating.  1/2 meaning a rating of '7' ; 3-6 '8'.  Both Polish/Cossack sub-commanders achieved '8' ratings, one of the Muscovite commanders rolled a '1'; that commander was of course for the cavalry.  Taken together with rating the feudal cavalry as militia, it meant that to move the cavalry had to get 2-6 on two d6, less than a 50% chance.  Hampered like that, they were always going to struggle.  Lesson for the future, try not to give militia to poor commanders!

1 comment:

  1. Useful test, probably a better way of reflecting the inaccuracy of differing troop training