Saturday, October 14, 2017

Taking Meg (or Pike me, baby, one more time)

We played our second game of The Pikeman's Lament this Saturday at The Panzer Depot in Kirkland, WA. We'd been pretty much on haitus through the summer, but now that Fall is here, there's more time to play.

The forces

We had four players on a 6' x 8' table. Mike Lombardy and I were on one side, Troy Wold and a new player named Ralph (or Malcolm depending on when you asked Troy) were on the other. The forces were two 24-point companies per side.

Mike Lombardy had his atomic Poles:
2 x Elite Aggressive Gallopers (wingéd hussars)
3 x Aggressive Gallopers (pancerni)

I had my 16th c. Irish in their first game:
1 x Elite Forlorn Hope (redshanks)
1 x Aggressive Forlorn Hope (gallowglass with my commander)
1 x Pike
1 x Shot
1 x Commanded Shot (kern with calivers)

Troy had a 30 Years War force:
2 x Elite Pike
1 x Pike
2 x Shot

Ralph had a force using my ECW figures:
1 x Aggressive Forlorn Hope (angry pikemen plus the commander)
1 x Elite Forlorn Hope (firelocks)
2 x Commanded Shot (dismounted dragoons)
1 x Field Gun ("Murderin' Meg")

Scenario and deployment

We played the Gå På scenario, basically a free for all. No objective other than the enemy.

The field I set up had a lot of terrain. I was fearing a replay of Mike's Pancerni division coming at me and wanted enough places to hide to make a game of it. It turns out that Mike was my ally this game and so I gave good ground to Troy, who was opposite Mike with his units taking position in difficult terrain and behind stone walls and hedges.

Ralph was opposite me. He had a bit of a problem in placing his field gun, which is immovable in the game, but can command the field—if you manage to keep rolling 8s for activation.

I put my pikes and shot just left of our center with the idea of advancing them up to fight on the hill that dominated the center of the board. The kern, redshanks, and gallowglass were on the far left in the town on the other side of the river. My plan for them was to advance up the side and attack Ralph's field gun from the flank while my pikes and calivers were getting shelled from three feet away.

Kern in the bog, gallowglass and redshanks in the town
The game

Mike's aggressive Poles couldn't help but quickly pitch into Troy's pikes. Aggressive Gallopers in TPL really aren't a subtle unit type. In a broader tactical situation, you might keep them as a force de frappe to be unleashed after you've softened up a position with shooting. But with no shooters, Mike had to go pretty much straight at 'em from the get-go.

It wasn't pretty.

Mike's Pancerni division crashes into Troy's pikes
Mike managed to inflict a lot of hurt on Troy, but at a cost. Hard-hitting 6-figure units can do a lot of damage, but can't take a lot before they're in trouble. In the initial clash, Mike managed to rout one of Troy's pike units, but had to struggle against another.

Donnybrook on the right
The advance of my pike and shot in the center was harassed by "Murderin' Meg." There were enough attempts where Ralph failed to activate—rolling an 8 is on the wrong side of the odds. However, when he managed to shoot, it was Katie-bar-the-door.

The Hiberno-Polish center advances
The shot wavered and rolled back from one shot, but the pikes seemed to stand it well, even after taking losses.

Irish pike crest the hill and on to glory (and death)
Working my flanking force along the river took a while and it was several turns before I got in range.

Gallowglass and kern leaving the town to march on the flank
By then, Ralph had moved his firelocks over to protect "Murderin' Meg" and there was a brisk firefight at long range between his firelocks and my redshanks.

Redshanks engage the firelocks at long distance
My kern, however, entered in and the weight of shot soon took out the firelocks.

"Murderin' Meg" and the firelocks
In the center, my pikes managed to crest the hill and drive one of Ralph's dismounted dragoon units out from behind a hedge. That was their high-water maker, however. I couldn't get them to advance across the hedge to the green fields beyond and Ralph's other dragoon unit and Troy's shot peppered away at me until I spectacularly failed my morale test. Good-bye pikes.

The pikes take the hedge
Troy and Mike kept at it hammer and tongs on our right. It seemed bad for Mike, he lost his commander along with his unit and two of his pancerni. But he rolled the blesséd 6-6-6 activation (boxcars followed a by a 6 on the special chart), which brought 4 points of units on the table for him. He resurrected on of his pancerni and went right back to it. Troy, meanwhile, had lost his other two pike units, including his general, and had his centermost shot unit—the one that shot up my pikes—in danger of being overrun.

Ralph blasted my shot unit down to three figures and I couldn't pass the moral test to keep 'em around. That left him free to turn "Murderin' Meg" towards my flanking force. But I was able to shoot his crew away before he could unleash a whiff of grapeshot at me. My gallowglass, The O'Sullivan at its head, rushed in to take the gun position.

The O'Sullivan and his gallowglass take "Murderin' Meg"
Mike had swept away Troy's shot unit in the center, leaving Troy with just his one shot unit that was over on the other flank. Mike then started to move towards Ralph's troops, ignoring Troy's surviving shot. He caught Ralph's dragoons, who failed their evade test, and killed every figure in the unti. Being Commanded Shot in the open, the dragoons had a stamina of 1, which is not what you want to have when you struck by Polish Wingéd Hussars.

At this point, all that Ralph had left was his Aggressive Forlorn Hope. Troy only had a single, damaged shot unit. My redshanks and gallowglass were in great shape, Mike's hussars and pancerni were both at full strength. We'd been rolling for game end for a couple turns and still getting to roll to play on, but Troy and Ralph threw in the towel. They'd lost 38 out of 48 points. We'd lost 22 of our original 48, but Mike had gained 4 points in reinforcements.

This is the end
The whole game lasted about 2 hours and we all had a great time at it. I've come to love the "Rampant" series of games from Dan Mersey. The Pikeman's Lament is especially nice because there's a lot of versatility with defining unit types. For example, I used the dragoon units in our first game as Dragoons, but made them Commanded Shot to try out how they'd work in a terrain-heavy game where they could skulk and shoot. Although Ralph put them in open ground and even my kern (also Commanded Shot) spend the game in the open. It never really came up to have to put them in cover.

I'm happy that my Irish did reasonably well in their first game as a company. When I made the ECW company list, I gave it "Murderin' Meg" thinking that I'd be the one throwing thunderbolts with it. It's not a pleasant thing to be on the receiving end—but I have the delight of having captured the gun by game's end.

Dice and accoutrements

I was able to get another of my unique "Rampant" barker markers into play.

I have two of these, which I got from Warbases in the UK. They're made of MDF and assemble quickly with a bit of white glue. After they were assembled, I distressed them severely with a small knifing file to make a lot of nicks in them. Nothing looks pretty after sitting in the Irish countryside for a few centuries.

I also went back to using my beloved Viking bone dice. My game, my misshapen non-cuboid instruments of chance.

They didn't fail me. My rolls were never spectacular, but I passed nearly all of my activation tests, even getting boxcars twice—and never rolled snake-eyes. My shooting and combat dice were well enough to do the job, so I was happy with the little guys.

They didn't get in the game—but might have if I'd rolled the 6-6-6 activation—however, I wanted to show a pic of the first of my English units for the Irish Project: Pikes.

Lizzie's boys looking formidable
The Timeline/Graven Images/Hoka Hey! line makes a nice command set for the "garrison troops," so I can add some flags for color. The flags I used for them are Pete's Flags, which are available from his eBay store. He only has one sheet of Irish flags, but three for the English. It's a pity, though, that there isn't a corresponding command for Irish pikes. Even with the flags, there's no one to wave them.


  1. Great stuff. Dan Mersey seems to be about the most popular man in wargaming at the moment!

  2. Very cool game, David. All the troops look great, your new Irish guys in armor particularly. Someday I may have to pick up the rules, mainly to compare with LR, as I don't plan on building any P&S armies.

  3. Vet nice looking game and exellent aar!

    ReAlla glad that you gode for mycket 1,2,3 basing, i hope you feel it work well. Liked the bases with uneven edges.

  4. Looks like a great fun game, your new Elizabethan garrison types look good too.
    Best Iain

  5. I can never seem to remember the individual actions and thus my narration usual fails with the LR/TPL games. You did a good job of it, and your figures look very nice indeed.