Last week we continued our Swedish-Polish War campaign for The Pikeman’s Lament at club. This time Ulf’s Swedes had fleshed out their ranks with mercenaries, most notably Jeppan’s Flemish – who defended the Polish colors last time and now switched sides for gold – but also some gents from the northern parts of the British Isles, i.e. Scottish mercenaries brought to the table by Andy.
Luckily, the Polish also had reinforcements; my lads were joined by Michael’s Lipka Tartars – rough types from the Eastern parts of the Commonwealth whose hair fashion rivals even that of the notoriously stylish Zaporothian Cossacks.
This time we did the “Patrol” scenario, in which both sides are trying to reach the opposite table corner – inevitably meeting in the middle and exchanging a bit more than passing comments in the process. Time is of the essence and only fifteen turns are allowed for crossing.
The Poles, led by hothead Rotamaster Kowalski and a Tartar guy whose name escapes this particular chronicler, focused on cavalry: no less than five Dragoon units in total plus the Winged Hussars come riding down the road this fateful morning in October 1625. In contrast, the Swedish/Flemish/Scottish forces were mainly composed of infantry, making them one imposing blob of men marching away towards that chokepoint bridge.
For a more detailed OOB, plus some historical background and lots of more pictures, head on over to Michael’s blog.
The Scots take the lead on the Swedish side, positioning themselves with Pike and Shot units huddling close together. Meanwhile, Cossacks and Tartars bravely gallop ahead, scouting the lay of the land. Seeing the enemy approaching, the Tartars rapidly decide to take up strategic positions on yonder hill…
…while the Cossacks follow the road, trying to reach the bridge. This proves to be a fateful mistake.
Why? Because of Scottish firepower, that’s why. Andy once gain proves that the Dice Force is with him as soon as he attempts to shot at something, and the resulting fusillade melts away the Cossacks like butter in the Crimean sun.
Furious at the sight of compatriot blood, the Tartars leave their strategic position and attempts a skirmish move against the Scottish line. Meanwhile, the Cossacks sneak away across the bridge. Cowardly? not at all – the scenario objective is to get your troops to the table edge, not to die honorably.
The Commonwealth still holds the hill, but the Swedish Forlorn Hope is now advancing from the North. It’s time to get a move on while the main bulk of the enemy’s forces are still relatively distant, and occupied with skirmish fire.
But embarrassingly, Tartar bows are not making much of an impact here. And those nasty Scottish dice rolls keep happening, quickly reducing our steppe warriors’ willingness to keep fighting.
Meanwhile, the Swedish Forlorn Hope are advancing over the hills, wading through the river and exchanging shots with the Cossacks on the bridge. This means that both sides have reached the halfway mark.
But back at the crossroads, things take a turn for the worse for the Commonwealth. Flemish Cuirassiers are pushing their way through the ranks, pistols at the ready and visors down. These units are treated as Trotters in the Pikeman’s Lament rules, giving them the Caracole rule – basically, they are allowed a move and fire, followed by a rapid advance should the target unit retreat. This has proven to be a deadly tactics in the past, especially against squishy Dragoons.
This time is no different; the Tartars are swiftly swept aside, shattering before the Flemish assault and leaving the West side of the river almost totally in Swedish hands.
But only almost – the Winged Hussars are still holding the hill. Rotamaster Kowalski decides that the “now or never” moment has arrived, and makes a desperate charge downhill. The Hussars clash into the Cuirassiers with full force, but being heavily armoured, the latter hold. Desperate times, indeed…
The Hussars are pushed back uphill, where they come under heavy Scottish fire and suffer severe losses. Retreating across the fields together with the remains of the Tartar forces, they realize that the West river bank is indeed lost.
Confident after this turn of events, the Flemish turncoats advance towards the bridge…
…where the Cossacks fire a last salvo before quickly advancing through the village, heading for that beckoning table edge.
But they are being constantly harried by the Swedish Forlorn Hope, who cross the river and enter the village, trampling the tender orchards and kitchen gardens with their crude boots. Such vandalism – typical Westernized hooligan behaviour!
And here comes the rest of them; the pompous Cuirassiers lead the way across the bridge, followed by Flemish infantry and endless hordes of Scotsmen, who flood the landscape in an avalanche of blue berets. They run up the hill in pursuit of the fleeing Rotamaster Kowalski…
…but end up clashing with a suicide squad of Tartars, who willingly lay down their lives so that their Leader can escape (at least according to the official version).
And escape he does, albeit momentarily. Accompanied by his trusted flag bearer, he crosses the river and heads for the table edge.
The Cossacks are now leaving the village, but the Swedish fire is taking its toll. Only one single rider manages to escape; the rest are mercilessly shot down and their corpses are trampled into the mud by advancing Flemish forces.
While this now means that Poland only has one remaining unit on the table, the situation is not looking entirely good for the Scots either. Their wild goose-chase made them forget the time, and they are now unable to leave the table before the last turn. No haggis for you, McAndy!
On the East riverbank, Kowalski is intercepted by those pesky Cuirassiers, who are backed up by Swedish skirmishers and a whole horde of infantry. The situation is hopeless. But surrender is not an option for a Polish Officer. “Remember Kokenhausen!” Kowalski screams as he charges head-on into the Flemish ranks.
Obviously, the result is the depressing image shown above. Kowalski himself barely cheats death and miraculously escapes capture. Riding through the woods he vows to take his revenge on the Swedes as soon as possible.
Nothing now stops the Swedes and their Flemish lapdogs from marching towards the table edge, scoring plenty of Honour points in the process. The Scots lag behind and miss out on the scoring, but still find some comfort in the sight of the Polish flag being used as a napkin during the great victory feast back in camp.
A humiliating loss for the Commonwealth, to be sure. But from here things can only get better, so stay tuned for more Pikeman’s Lament AARs in the near future!