Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Folly of the Earl Of Essex - Pike & Shotte Battle Report

Another week and another opportunity for Aidan’s alter ego; the Earl of Essex, to prove he’s the best man for the job of crushing the King’s hopes for regional domination.  With Prince Rupert (Red) dropping out, and Michael and Dave unavailable, it fell to an unlikely alliance of the Royalist Lord Flasheart (me) and the gallant pro-parliamentarian (but very confused) troops of Luke to defeat the upstart Aidan, aided this time by that master of the charge; Sir Chris Fazey!

Deployment and Scenario:

With the Pike & Shotte rules not wonderfully fresh in our minds we went for a simple pitched battle.  Aidan set up the scenery on an 8ft by 6ft board, and declared we would fight across the width (6ft) stretch, with control of the road being the main objective for both armies, hoping to encourage aggressive tactics.  Chris obviously needed no encouragement to adopt an aggressive footing, and was handed control of the right half of the Parliamentarian army; a mixture of foote and horse (he looked quite confused by the men walking on their own feet), while Aidan and his prized winged lancers were leading a similar mixture on the left.  The Royalists, keen to get going, were set up long before the rebels, with Luke taking the left, and me the right, both with similar numbers of foote and horse.  A gentleman’s agreement seemed to be in place, as the traditional deployment of a foote centre and horse wings was in effect for both armies, with the Royalists outnumbering the Parliamentarians by enough to give them an advantage.

The battlefield, Royalists nearest by the village.

The Parliamentarian troops, with Aidans command being the nearer.

Chris' horse division on the Roundhead right.

The Battle:

The cavaliers won the roll to go first with an ominous ‘6’, and both sides began an advance.  The Royalists were first to act dramatically, sending their horse flooding forwards on each flank in a bold and aggressive charge.  Chris’ parliamentarian horse, facing Lukes cuirassiers and their heavy armour, were rolled backwards into their own infantry, with the cavalier horse in hot pursuit.  The infantry failed to form hedgehog but survived despite taking a number of casualties before their horse recovered enough to counter charge.  A substantial melee, which would last the length of the battle, began.  On the Royalist right my horse suffered a reverse against Aidans, with the winged lancers slicing their way through two of my four regiments before they would even think of retreating!  The remainder were pushed back in disorder.

The Royalists begin their advance, my horse and infantry divisions being the nearest in this picture.

The winged lancers carve up my horse in short order!

Atmospheric shot of the Royalist pike advance.

In the centre Chris was on the verge of declaring that the enemy foote were too numerous, and his current positioning within the hedgerows was the best tactical location, when Aidan shouted ‘Advance!’ in a loud voice.  And so they did.  The Royalists foote, also advancing but more swiftly, suffered from a lack of manoeuvring space.  I had hoped to expand my three regiments into a terico formation of a pike centre with musketeer wings, but was prevented from doing so by a pinch point between some woods on the right, and Lukes advancing troops on my left.  Aidan, spotting an advantage to be had, sent his musketeers charging in, where they impacted on the front of my formation.  The rest of his Parliamentarian foote advanced more slowly, denying his men support for the first couple of rounds, but their impetus, and my inept dice rolling, kept the musketeers in the fight, and prevented me from bringing my larger numbers to bear.  Lukes foote division, advancing to the left of mine, was also unable to assist due to Chris’ foote which was now moving down the road to challenge them.  Again due to the lack of manoeuvring space Luke was forced to take this attack on with even numbers, despite his greater strength.  The centre settled down to a brutal fight which threatened to see huge numbers of units flee each turn, but somehow they never quite did.

Aidan throws in his foote for a cramped melee.

 Back to the horse, and on the Royalist left Lukes division was taking a toll of the rebel horse, with most now shaken, but they were also fighting against some of Chris’ foote and artillery which had joined in, and even the Earl of Essex (the army CO) had headed over to shore up the line.  The battle there see-sawed as each looked for an advantage.  On the right I had brought my reserve third division into play, deploying a foote regiment and storming party to cover the gap left by my disintegrating horse division.  I scored a significant victory when my mortar, with its first and second hits of the day, drove the already shaken and disordered winged lancers from the field, while my last horse regiment broke itself as it chased the last of Aidans horse away.
The mess that was Luke and Chris' attempts to get the upper hand on the Rebel right.

 It was now an infantry battle on the right, and my troops swiftly gained the advantage through superior numbers, particularly of pike, and wiped out several musketeer units there, breaking that flank.  At the same time in the centre more of the long-suffering rebel musketeers finally gave up the ghost to much Royalist cheering, while the pike block of the King’s Guard did the same for me under heavy cannon fire.  A breathing point had been reached, and we took stock of each army.  For the Royalists my horse division was broken and a spent force, with Lukes nearly at the same point, however our foote divisions were all still strong.  However the rebels were in much worse shape, with both horse wings broken, as well as Aiden’s foote division, only Chris’ infantry were still unbroken.  With time almost up and their army about to disintegrate the Parliamentarian CO threw in the towel – Royalist Victory.

Chris' infantry on their way to support Aidan in the centre, with Lukes leading elements just in sight at the top right.

Post Battle Thoughts:

Overall a good game, in which the Royalists were always favourites due to their greater numbers.  However the parliamentarians used the battlefields width to good effect, denying them this advantage for the large part and stemming the tide.  The horse divisions on both wings acted very much in character; breaking themselves in the process of driving away the enemy horse, and it was left to the foote to push on.  Lukes cuirassiers stood out in this with their armour making them more resilient and causing Chris all kinds of problems which his superior numbers (foote and horse against just horse) should have solved but couldn’t.  Chris’ luck and reputation with horse suffered a few blows early on, but returned with a vengeance later.  Aidans winged lancers were fearsome, and after the initial exchanges I was actually avoiding them and hoping for a few lucky artillery shots!  Fortunately (for me) they were worn out from singlehandedly decimating my horse division, and a couple of lucky mortar shells did for them when they were already retreating.

In the centre the parliamentarian musketeers charge initially looked foolhardy, but the Royalists couldn’t bring their numbers to bear, and it was a slugging match which took much longer to force the rebels back, some very poor performances from the Royalist pike blocks.  Victory to the Royalists, but full tactical marks to the Roundheads.

Final note; almost every model was fully painted, and the game attracted note even from the fantasy players, my favourite comment being one about 'how many days ago did we start playing' from a 40k player, good stuff.  

1 comment:

  1. Excellent report - sounds like a really fun game.