Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pikeman's Lament - The Battle of the Blackdunny Water

After playing the Shadow War: Armageddon Campaign Friday and Saturday, Paul and I sat down on Sunday to play a game of The Pikeman's Lament - a game I do not get on the table nearly enough! I was so excited when I read of it's impending release a year and a half ago. It was published last January and my pre-ordered copy showed up within days.... and then I didn't get around to actually PLAYING it until... March...!? (Pork on the Trotters) I got in another game in April with Other Tim (River Crossing). And then...? Nothing...

Granted, I was pretty busy with the Vimy Project for the first few months of last year, and since abandoning that I've been pretty obsessed with 40K... But I liked it enough I put it on our 5x5 Miniature games list - along with Dragon Rampant (Though I could have easily put Lion Rampant or Men Who Would Be Kings - which I also have yet to try out - on that list...).

So I was really excited when Paul acquiesced to my suggestion start our Sunday of gaming with some Pikeman's Lament.

I mustered up two identical 24 point armies - one English, one Scottish - just to try the game out and get a sense of how it works. Each face contained:

2x Pike @4 = 8
2x Shot @4 = 8
2x Gallopers @4 = 8
24 points total.

Paul took the English and I took the Scots, which should surprise no one who knows us at all...

Rolling for a background for my Officer (Ensign Euan Mclaughlan) I got "You were born with a silver spoon and lack initiative. The Men don't seem to listen to you" and for a basic trait I got: "Ineffectual: Allows units within 12" no Activation bonus". So I decided that while born in Scotland and of Scottish heritage, young Euan was raised and educated down south in England and had only recently returned. He keeps making statements to motivate those under his command like; "After all, We're SCOTTISH!" to which they all mumble to themselves; "You're not..."

Paul's Officer (Ensign Wildsmith Astbury) was a little more useful. Being the son of a priest and seemingly also blessed in someway, as he always seems to escape danger. His basic trait was; " Blessed: Invulnerable to Lucky Blows!"

Though there are loads of really exciting and interesting missions with a variety of objectives other than simply annihilation the enemy, we decided to play the Gå På - a standard meeting engagement with no special rules other than to destroy the enemy opposite.

The battle took place across the Blackdunny Water - a brackish creek that runs the length of Glen Dunny.

The two forces assembled on opposite sides of the water.

The near side are the Scots under Ensign Mclaughlan, opposite them are the English under Ensign Astbury.

 On the first turn the English all advanced... well.. all except one of the Pike units. Paul rolled for them last and rolled Double Ones - requiring a check on the Double 1 table and They decided to retreat at the double - making a full move away from the nearest enemy... which marched them clear off the table... and inauspicious start for the English indeed...


The Scots also all advanced on their firs turn - though without any cowardly retreats before the first shot was fired in anger - the Scottish are made of sterner stuff than that!


 The Cavlary on the Scottish left made a dash for the creek hoping to get across and harry the English flank before they made it to the river themselves.

Meanwhile Ensign McLaughlan and his unit of horse trotted up to the top of a nearby hill so as to get a good view of things...

[imagine sound of thundering hoofbeats!] Hussah!

Paul wondering what to do about these wild Scottish yobs that've got their knickers all in a twist about a ruddy little prayer book!? It's just a prayer book - we're all christians, aren't we...?

Paul started off turn two with rolling another Double 1 - the result on the table was "Your officer acts without panache and loses 1 Honour form his total score this mission.

The Scots took advantage of this brief pause in the English Advance and galloped for the creek!

Ensign McLaughlan, enjoying his view from the top of the hill enquired if anyone felt so inclined to brew up a nice pot of tea...? His inquiries were met with sharp stares and low grumbles...

The following turn the Scottish Cavalry made it across the river - just in time! the Horse lead by Ensign Astbury wheeled around the wood and, spotting the Scots Horse, CHARGED! The Scottish counter-charged and they met halfway in between the small wood and the creek!

(other Scots had still been moving forward to the creek to set up a defensive line on it's banks)

(Well... all the other Scots but Ensign McLaughlan's horse...)

[more thundering hoofbeats and the sound of metal clashing against metal, cutting through flesh and crushing bone!]

Both sides lost two riders, but it was the Scots that failed morale... doh...

and so the Scots retired...

Only to be charged again later in the turn by the OTHER English Horse.

Again the Scots lost two more and obliged to retire once more, and back into the creek they galloped!

During this turn some of the English shot starting taking long range pot-shots at their opposites on the Scottish right flank. The first unit fired and knocked off two of the Scots, the second unit fired and knocked off two more. Rolling for morale I roll 3... -4 from the Scots lost in that unit for a total of -1 - negative numbers = routed. The Scottish shot on the right broke and ran... Both sides were now down one unit - AT LEAST THE SCOTTISH TOOK CASUALTIES BEFORE FLEEING!!

On the Scots turn the Cavalry rallied. One unit of Scots formed up. The unit of Scottish Shot near all the cavalry action tried to fire upon the English officer's cavalry directly to their front, but failed to activate, ending the Scots turn.

So the English Horse charged into the creek - after the Dwindling Scottish Horse.

 The English cut down one of them and the remaining horseman fled out of the creek and into the nearby wood!

 Ensign Astbury then led his horse across the creek and into the unit of Scottish shot waiting there... with their freshly loaded muskets.

The Scots let off a thunderous volley which carried away two more of the English horsemen.

The Horse did make it to the Scottish line an cut down a few of the musketeers, but it was the Horse that retired back across the river!

The other unit of English horse then had their try at the Scottish Shot.

 AS their muskets were fouled and still being reloaded, their fire was not nearly so effective. A lucky shot unhorsed one of the riders, but it was not enough to take the shock out of their impact.

They lost a further three musketeers (for a total of 6 - half their number) and they broke and ran...

That same turn the red-coated English shot rolled Double Sixes for their activation and gained an agitator amongst their ranks (conferring a +1 to morale checks!)

Things were looking poorly for the Scots...

From upon his hilltop Ensign McLaughlan called to his fellow horsemen: "I say chaps, I think it's time we joined this fray!"

His challenge was met with reluctant grumbles...

 The English Horse charged into the wood concerned there were more Scots horse rallying in the woods - there was only one there... He was cut down...

So that's the Scots down three units...

 Eventually Ensign McLaughlan charged off on his own determined to salvage the situation. His Horseman looked at each other and then followed - mostly because his father was powerful barrister and would likely see them all hanged if they let his son get injured or killed.

Their initial contact with the English Horse unfortunately left them two short and retreating...

Their charge did cover the flank of the Scottish Pike as it started across the river. There was no sense in them staying on their own side getting shot at by the English. it was time to take the fight to the Enemy!

Once on the other side of the river, however, the English fire began to intensify...

The Horse rallied and charged again.

This time it was the English turn to lose a few of their own and retire - the Scots were getting dangerous as their situation got more desperate!

One of the Scots Pike taking shots had broken and began to retire back across the river, though.

The Cavalry had one more clash - The English lost another and the remaining horseman retired. The Scots lost two and also retired. At the beginning of the Scots turn they attempted to rally, but instead routed off the table - causing the remaining Pike to check morale - both passed!

The Scottish pike on the right took a few more shots and gave up, routing back across the creek.

The last Scottish Pike unit then charged the closest English Shot.

While they took out twice as many as they lost, the loss of so many of their comrades in the rest of the company weighed heavily upon them and they retired from the melee.

For a brief moment they rallied and were determined to charge again...

But the withering fire from the two units of English shot eventually compelled them to give up the field.


I love this game. Expect more game reports in the not-too-distant future.

I need to get working on my Irish and Highlanders... and a few more English units so I can have Parliamentarian versus Royalist battles...

I am really looking forward to Rebels and Patriots - another set from the same authors ostensibly for the American War of Independence - but useable from the Seven Years War to the Napoleonic Era. I just acquired a number of Seven Years War/French and Indian Wars and Napoleonic minis from Paul - who has been clearing out his lead closet...

Coming Soon to Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Back to work on the Tallarn... I've actually signed up for a local tournament on the 24th of March. It's a small tournament - only 1000 points - which seems doable. I actually HAVE 1000 points of Tallarn (heck, I've got 1500 points of Guiacan Commandoes/Catachans) but the current mix of things wouldn't work together as a force (I have five Special Weapon Squads, but only three Infantry Squads...).

But then, maybe I'll finish up some of those ECW forces...?

If I were a sensible person I'd focus on figuring out what I wanted to use in the tournament and get anything not yet painted finished up first and THEN take a break from the Tallarn and paint up a few more ECW units to finish up either the Scots or a second English Army... But no one has ever accused me of being "Sensible"...


  1. Epic! Sounds like an intense and beautiful game...with spectacular pictures!

  2. Very nice AAR Tim!

    Glad you like the rules, appreciated:)

    Rebels and Patriots Will cover 1754 -1865 ish so not only AWI.

    Best regards Michael

    1. Thanks Michael!

      Really enjoy these rules - especially the Officer rules that work perfectly for a little narrative campaign. So elegant.

      I'm really looking forward to Rebels and Patriots!

  3. This looks like a lot of fun, although I'm a little disappointed that the Scots lost - if only because I briefly envisioned the saga of a bunch of scrappy Scots who keep winning despite their abysmal and hated Captain.

    Sorry I couldn't come in and take part in this one!

    1. That would have been fun, but it's hard to keep morale up and troops motivated when their commander is a complete wanker....

      No worries. Lets' see if we can't find a time to get in a game before you move away!

  4. Sounds great, if I painted another unit of horse I'd probably have enough English, it's a pity I've based my covenanters on big bases for pike and shot, don't think I can face rebasing them! Looks lovely too!
    Best Iain

    1. Cheers!

      You can always use markers to track wounds on bigger multifigure bases. I've done that in some games of Dragon Rampant and even in our first game of Pikeman's Lament - I still didn't have enough individually based stuff so I used two stands of ECW guys I'd based for DBA-X.

      I've been considering giving up on ever playing DBA-X again and was thinking of re-basing all the stuff I have for that on individual bases for use in Pikeman's Lament, but then I reminded myself that if I needed more stuff for PL I could just use the multifigure bases and wound trackers... for now... I may still re-base the whole mess at some point..

  5. A great game report. The Stern Men of Caledonia tried their best, but with that sap in charge... ho hum.

    1. Thanks AJ!

      I should have brought back Ensign Evan “Holy” MacErrol - who we used in the previous two games last year. THAT guy was a real bible-quoting, fire-and-brimstone-type leader!

      I need to finish up some Highlanders....

  6. Another fun report! Looks like fortunes went back and forth a bit (those double ones!), but when the leader is so feckless it's hard to prevail.

    1. Thanks!

      His actual trait wasn't that big of a deal - I'm not sure if the lack of a +1 to morale or activation roles would have made a difference in this particular game. It probably had more to do with the fact that on Turn One I galloped him and his horse guard up onto a hill to get a good view of the battle (which he thus took no active part in until halfway through the battle) because.... NARRATIVE!!! Narrative is always more important to me that actually doing well in a game. If I'd had him follow the other horse across the river things might have turned out quite different, but I tried to play him like the ineffectual twit that the background indicated he was.

      The Trait Paul's fellow had was really cool - not having to ever test for lucky blows! Mind you that doesn't help if your entire unit is wiped out or routes... Like my guy did...

      I was really tired when I was finished writing up this report so I didn't do much post game analysis... but it just occurred me that the ONLY unit the English lost in the game was due to the Double 1 that made that pike unit run off the table on the first turn!!! Too funny!

      Ensign Evan “Holy” MacErrol will whip those Scots Covanenteers back into shape!!

  7. great looking game. I have the rules but not played them yet as I'm still building my New Model Army and Covenant or forces. Nice to have some inspiration

  8. Super battle report and pictures!