Well, this time “just played” rather means “recently played”, since this game took place way back in mid-December. My clubmate Michael decided it was time for some Poles vs Swedes action, using his WIP Pikeman’s Lament rules.
I won’t go into any detail concerning these rules since they’re still in a playtesting phase, but suffice to say that they’re based on the Lion Rampant engine and designed for skirmish gaming in the pike and shot period.
This game marked the start of a campaign that will probably run for some time and that takes place during the Swedish-Polish Wars, a period of intense conflict between the two great nations that preceded Sweden’s involvement in the Thirty Years War.
For a more detailed background overview, plus more pictures of this particular game, head on over to Michael’s blog.
So here we are, in the autumn of 1625. The Poles, led by Rotamaster Janosz Kowalski, have enlisted some Flemish lowlifes as cannon fodder/mercenaries (painted and played by Jesper) and are in the middle of a salary discussion when Swedish troops (a mix of Michael’s and Ulf‘s models, played by Ulf and Andy) suddenly emerge from the nearby hamlet.
Two strategic points are of immediate interest to the combatants: the bridge to the right, and the hill in the center of the board. One point of Honour is awarded per turn for holding one of these objectives, and the game will end when one side has 10 points.
Since the Flemish troops are deployed closer to the bridge, the Polish lads quickly advance towards the hill. The Krakow Militia takes the lead, followed by the Haiduks, while the Winged Hussars cover the left flank.
It’s easy work at first and some Honor is scored, but trouble looms on the horizon as the Swedes draw near. Still, nothing that would ruffle any true Militiaman’s feathers.
And meanwhile, the mercenary cavalry has taken up position at the bridge, while their Forlorn Hope wade across the river. This is looking rather promising.
Then the Swedish fusillade begins. And what a wall of lead it is! The whole unit of Militiamen is wiped out in a single stroke, leaving the hill undefended.
The Swedes, smelling the promise of cheap Honour, rush forward. The haiduks seem to suffer from authority issues and refuse to move, while the Hussars are trying to circle the hill in order to avoid the bulk of the Swedish force.
On the left flank, Cossack dragoons lure the Swedish heavy cavalry away from the objective, successfully baiting them several times before suffering heavy losses and withdrawing.
Now the scene is looking grim for the Commonwealth; the Swedes have most of their troops on the hill and push hard towards the bridge. The Flemish sellswords still hold, but for how long? Perhaps we should have allowed them just a tidbit more of that gold…
Anyway, Rotamaster Kowalski comes to the conclusion that skulking around in the bushes is a very un-Polish tactic, and orders his Hussars to charge the hill. Suicidal? There’s no word for that in Polish!
Perhaps the Rotamaster was encouraged by the miraculous fact that reinforcements just arrived – a whole unit of fresh Krakow Militia enter the battlefield and starts a rapid advance towards their countrymen. They come under heavy fire on the way, but the nearby Cossacks soak up most of it. That’s the Commonwealth for you!
And the lads from the Wild Fields really don’t seem to mind – in fact, they are quite encouraged by the turn of events and urge everyone on in the typical Cossack manner – brandishing guns and screaming curses.
Of course, this could have something to do with the fact that the mercenaries are still holding the bridge, scoring us Honour each turn. The Polish side has the lead by several points by now.
The reinforcements are closing in on the hill, where the Hussars are getting ready for a second onslaught. Their first attack was repelled, but they did manage to cause some serious dents in the Swedish lines.
And now they’re at it again, killing off the last of the cavalry and then retreating downhill, allowing the Swedish pike to advance and then slamming into them with full force. A crazy stunt for any cavalry unit, to be sure…
…but their compatriots are cheering them on from the base of the hill, waving those fiery colors and invoking every Pole’s unconditional love for the Motherland…
…until they rout after a sudden cavalry charge. The dishonour!
Angered by this humiliating turn of events, the Hussars actually manage to break the pike unit, and then hold the hill, soaking in Honour. But the Swedish cavalry now turn around and makes a burst of a charge, hoping to drive the tired and decimated Hussars into the ground.
They should have known better. A unit that single-handedly rinsed the hill of Swedish scum and broke a whole unit of pikemen with an uphill, face-on charge obviously has no trouble disposing of yet another bunch of Protestant amateurs.
The hills is ours and Poland triumphs (the Flemish helped out of course, but only thanks to Commonwealth gold). See and learn, Adolphus!
It was a fun and crazily unpredictable game. The scenario mechanic favored aggressive tactics since holding the objectives gave points, but the Poles actually only managed to win by avoiding direct confrontation until the later stages. We were also helped by some lucky dice rolls – especially the one that provided us with reinforcements.
We’ve got another campaign game coming up soon, so stay tuned for more 17th century action!