The English Civil War, Pike & Shotte, 28mm
This little clash set in the Second English Civil War (1648) was a test-bed for Pike & Shotte, the Renaissance version of Black Powder. Bill Gilchrist supplied the small force of Covenanters and Royalists, who were pitted against my New Model Army. The game was a small one – around a dozen units a side – as the aim was to try out the rules, rather than to give all our toys an airing. The two rules sets are very similar, but P&S contains several useful little mechanisms which you don’t find in BP – some of them might even work well if incorporated into the earlier set.Anyway, this clash involved three horse battalia a side, supported by foot – three regiments for Parliament, and two and some commanded shot for the Royalist-Scots alliance. Both sides also had a token gun – a medium field piece. the foot regiments consisted of a pike block, and two sleeves or units of shot.The battle got off to a hesitant start – the New Model regiments planned to line the hedges of the lane, but poor command dice meant that it took several turns to get there. Over on the Parliamentarian right a regiment passed through the village, but steadfastly refused to go any further. Instead the Scots regiment facing them marched up to the edge of the village enclosures and blazed away. Having taken casualties the Parliamentarians lost a sleeve of shot after failing a break test, and the survivors fell back to the village church. They then held out there for the remainder of the game, supported by the pike block which lurked at the edge of the village, waiting to counter-charge any Scots who came too close.Across the river on the main part of the battlefield the New Model regiments finally reached the hedge, as repeatedly bad command rolls left the Covenanters standing exposed in the middle of an open field. In the ensuing firefight both sides traded musketry, with the Scots slowly getting the worst of the exchange. The decisive move then took place over on the Parliamentarian left. The Parliamentarian horse moved forward, ready to charge their Scots opponents, and in response the Scots tried to charge the approaching enemy.Instead Bill rolled a “blunder”, and his three mounted battalia veered off to the left – one unit even riding off the table. So, when the New Model horse finally charged home, the Scots cavalry was in a bit of a muddle. The first Scots battalia was driven off the table, and the Parliamentarians then took advantage of an exploitation move to charge into the next enemy unit, which was broken and fled the field. This prompted the third Scots unit to take a morale test, and it retired off the table in disorder.Honour was restored slightly when a sleeve of Scots musketeers moved up and blasted the victorious Parliamentarian horse at close range. This prompted another morale check, and the unit broke. However, the blood of the Parliamentarians was now up, and while one cavalry unit screened the table edge, to prevent the Scots horse from returning, the other one tried to ride down the Scots musketeers. They ran for cover to the pike block, who formed a hedgehog. Then, when a second sleeve of Scots shot tired to fire on them, the Parliamentarian troopers rode that unit down – it failed to run away in time – and then continued on to overrun the Royalist gun.By then things were looking pretty dire for the Scots and Royalists. The hedgehog made a great target for the Parliamentarian artillerymen and musketeers – even the cavalry unit joined in, firing at it with their pistols. As the Parliamentarians closed in for the kill Bill conceded defeat. He still had one Scots regiment left, over by the village, and a unit of commanded shot hiding in a wood. Still, with his right wing smashed, and his centre surrounded, the end result was inevitable. The rules worked smoothly, although as this was their first outing there was a certain amount of rules checking as the game progressed. Fortunately Bill had produced a sheet listing the differences between Pike & Shotte and the much more familiar Black Powder, and this proved really useful in keeping us on track. We’ll certainly try another P&S game soon, and this time we’ll put more toys onto the table!