Friday, March 31, 2017

Pikeman’s Lament – Pork on the Trotters

We finally got in a game of The Pikeman’s Lament earlier today. I’ve been planning this game for a while, but never found the time to get it on the table. The kids had a frined over for the day and so in the afternoon I set it up for them to play.

I began with reviewing some English Civil War history with the kids. I was pleased that The Girl at least remembered the kings and queens from Henry VIII to Charles I – including the relationship between Elizabeth and James I/VI (even if she couldn’t recall the events that precipitated the civil Wars… I cut her some slack, she is only 10...).

1643, Glen Dunny


It is spring of 1643 and a Royalist uprising has begun in Scotland under Marquis of Huntly who had seized Aberdeen. Earlier this year The Scottish government sent an army south – 20,000 strong - under the Earl of Leven. The uprising is largely in an effort to draw some pressure off the Royalists down south in England.

The Scottish Government is in a panic to raise some new troops to deal with the rebels until regular troops can be called back from England. A regiment is hastily being raised in an area near Glen Dunny – home of our hero Robert MacRame. Now the MacRames couldn’t give a fig who’s arse polishes the throne of England – especially young Robert – as long as their left alone and there’s money to be made…

That is until a yonng Ensign names Evan “Holy” MacErrol (a dour Covenanter and son of an even dourer Calvinist Presbyterian preacher who was murdered by Englishmen during the Bishops War backing 1638 – with a hatred for the English and anyone who would support their king) was tasked with procuring some victuals for the regiment. MacErrol Drew up a troop of horse and some foot soldiers and wandered off to a nearby village to procure some sheep and pigs… Surely the locals would understand that their cause was just and sanctioned by god himself and would gladly hand over the foodstuffs needed… and if they didn’t… well… That’s why they brought along all the pikes and muskets.

When Robert MacRame got wind that some preachy lowlander had made off with HIS prized piggy and a handful of sheep, he quickly gathered up a few of this fathers men and set off to head off the band of brigands and get back their livestock – or be well paid for them!


This is essentially Mission F: Steak on the Hoof – straight out of the The Pikeman’s Lament - except with smaller forces and with pigs and sheep instead of cows, and fewer of them – because our forces were smaller than the suggested 24 points. 


Scots Government – Ensign Evan “Holy” MacErrol (Honour: 10, Traits: Strong)

1 Unit of Trotters (with MacErrol) – 4 points

1 Unit of Pike – 4 points

1 Unit of Shot – 4 points

Rebels – Robert MacRame of Glen Dunny (Honour: 10, Traits: Sly)

Robert MacRame of Glen Dunny along with his brothers and a couple of hired thugs-
Forlorn Hope – 6 points

2 Units of Clansmen (The McRowaves and the MacRopods) - 3 points each – 6 points


(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Finnegan and The Girl sit down as I finish sorting things out.

Finnegan and The Other Boy decided to play the Scots Government Forces. The Other Boy laid claim to “Holy” MacErrol and his Horsemen and Finnegan was to play the Foot troops escorting the livestock.

The Government forces led by Evan “Holy” MacErrol.

Robert MacRame and his younger brothers and a couple of hired hard men stand in their way. MacRame hailed MacErrol and suggested that he forgot to leave payment for he livestock he made off with, but it was alright now because he could pay MacRame himself as he just happened to be right here… in their path… with loaded muskets…


The Scottish Government Forces went first.

Well… um.. no, I guess they decided not to. The boys decided the Pike should advance first… and rolled a 3 to activate them… I think they were perhaps a bit intimidated by MacRame and his thugs. I imagine MacErrol called for the Pike to advance and they looked back and said “Who, Us? Ahgeenst theem Haird men? Ah dunnae thenk soo!”

And then Aaron showed up… Whoops! I guess we’d kind of lost track of time and The Other Boy had to go… Ah well, hopefully we’ll get to see him (and maybe dad and brother) over the long weekend coming up and MacRame and MacErrol with clash again! (oh… that’s if they survive this game… NO SPOILERS!?)

So The Girl took her turn with the Highlanders – as they were just out of shot range of the enemy, they took a few steps forward so they could start shooting next turn – even if they failed to advance… again…


This time MacErrol would have none of it – he unleashed some fire and brimstone at the newly recruited footmen – promising to burn all their mothers and sisters and wives as witches if they didn’t get a move on!

So the Pike and the Shot shuffled forward… but MacErrol himself failed to move… busy yelling at the foot shouting commands and such.

On the Rebels end of the Turn both the McRowaves and the MacRopods showed up on the table and Robert’s crew unleashed a volley of musket shot and arrows at MacErrol’s Horse and took one down!


Reeling at the loss of their first comrade in this “War Without Enemie” the Horse stood again – as did the Pike. At least the Shot got a move on, but perhaps they were inspired to advance by the menacing sound of Highlanders advancing through the wood ot their rear and they were very worried about being surrounded!

Unfortunately they didn’t advance far enough – those Highanders came screaming out of the woods and charged at them!

The Scots Government Shot unleashed a volley at them at point blank range and damned near took half them down!

Both units were Stamina 2 – the Highlanders scored five hits, causing two casualties, but the Shot scored ELEVEN hits – taking out FIVE in ONE TURN!?

Strangely BOTH parties failed morale. It was understandable for the MacRopods – it was a devastating turn for them! The government shot can only claim they were green and seeing the Clansmen retreating thought it best to hurry on their way…

The Clansmen flee back into the woods.

Elsewhere the McRowaves moved up to the front edge of the woods to get a better view of the situation, and MacRame and his thugs took shots at the Government Shot and killed two more of them – causing another morale test… which they passed, somehow… but I think it was mostly because they were too confused at this point to be scared anymore…?


The Shot managed to rally, but then I remembered that when they failed morale and retreated last turn they should have left the piggies behind…

The Horse and the Pike both advanced.

On The Girl’s turn she tried to rally the MacRopods, but they’d had it – no pigs were worth losing half their family!? They called it a day and went back home to bury their dead and console their wives and mothers…

The Pike managed to advance far enough that it triggered the other Clansmen’s Wild Charge, who came tearing out of the woods!

This time the Clansmen didn’t fair QUITE so poorly; the Pike lost two and the Clansmen three…

… but both parties again fled!?


The Pikemen rallied.

The Government Shot, having seen the tail end of their assailants flee over the hills, decided to head back and gather up the piggies once more and head the far way around the hills – and out of the line of fire of those murderous bastards in kilts!

“Holy” MacErrol decided it was time his troop entered the fight – he successfully issued a Caracole order – 7+ The unit made a half move followed by a shot at MacRame and his thugs. If any casualties were caused they the failed the subsequent morale test, MacErrols Trotters would them be allowed a Free Attack – if they could cover the distance with a single move! Well MacErrols horse trotted up and unleashed a mighty volley in the faces of MacRame and his men… and when the smoke cleared… Every last one of them was still standing – burnt and blacked by a bit of burnt powder, but otherwise untouched!? Had they forgotten to load bullets?! Well… so much for THAT fancy-schmansy “special  maneuver”!?

The Clansmen rallied on The Girl’s turn.

The MacRame and his men fired back! Down went another of MacErrol’s horse – and that was just too much for his men – they turned and fled from the Highland scum.


Their flight was not long or far, MacErrol quickly got them under control and wheeled about.

The Shot continued to make their way around the hill – hoping no one would notice their absence.

The pike were indecisive – unsure whether to march forward and gather up the sheep or form up into close order to repel the coming second charge of the clansmen… they took too long deciding and in the end did nothing. (failed to activate)

The Clansmen did not fail… a second Wild Charge brought them, once again, into contact with the Pike. This time they faired slightly better, knocking out three of the Pikemen while losing only two of their own. The Pikemen, once again, lost their nerve and ran – but the Clansmen held their ground this time.

(Much to The Girl’s Chagrin they would NOT be simply collecting up the errant sheepies and making off with them… those Wild Charging maniac Clansmen…)

MacRame and his men were too busy laughing and hurling insults at MacErrol and his men to bother doing anything this turn.


The Pike failed to rally, lost another man, and continued their retreat.

The Shot continued to sneak around the hill.

I made no note of what MacErrols horse did… they had rallied the previous turn… I think perhaps they took ineffective shots at the Highlanders adjacent to them…?

Then the Highlanders charged the Horse!

In the clash, the Highlander brought down two more horsemen – including MacErrol himself! This precipitated a bit of a rout! The remaining horse and Pike fled the field. But so did McRowave’s men, they’d taken three more casualties – leaving only four of their original number and with the horse and Pike in flight, they too decided to call it a day – MacRame could bloody well collect up his own precious sheep!

But MacRame had other problems – the Government Shot that were making off with his piggies!!


The Shot continued their flight with the Piggies!

MacRame turned to fire as they poked out from behind the hill to make their way around a small wood – rather than get slowed up trying to make their way through. MacRames men scored two hits, but as the majority of the Shot were still under the cover of the hill they claimed cover increasing their Stamina to three – which meant no casualties!


The Shot ran and MacRame gave chase – lest they disappear out of sight and/or range! Luckily the Forlorn Hope move a little faster than the Shot – giving them a SLIGHT Hope of catching them.


The Shot fled, the MacRames got in a parting shot, causing one casualty – but the Shot passed their morale test.


The shot ran and the MacRames game chase hoping the shot might fail their orders the next turn, giving them a chance for one more shot at them.


The shot made it off the table with their piggies…

So Robert MacRame had to console himself with having at least recovered his sheep.


The game was a draw – both sides made off with one group of livestock scoring 2 Victory Points each. The scenario called for three groups of Livestock – which would have guaranteed a winner as the victory points would not have been able to be split evenly, but the scenario also assumed 24 points (which would have meant twice as many units) so I only had two. I also didn’t bother with Bonus Honour gaining Special Orders for this game.

Afterwards we rolled on the Recovery table for Evan MacErrol and Finnegan rolled a 12: “Escapes the enemy with mere scratches and manages to get back to [his] armies camp through a daring and honourable adventure. He will gain fame and appreciation in many folk songs still sung today (by the Dropkick Murphy’s!) +3 Honour. The Officer will recover for the next game.”

We decided he was captured after the battle with MacRame intending to ransom him back to the Government forces for a hefty sum, but he escaped in the middle of the night leaving five of MacRame’s men lying in a pool of their own blood. Also young Sally MacRame had a young daughter nine mouths later – out of wedlock! Many years later one of the survivors of the ensuing ordeal marked that youngster had a look about her that reminded them of that wretched lowlander they’d captured at the outset of hostilities…

So MacErrol gained FIVE Honour and MacRame only two – but he is also now a marked man and sought by government forces. Unlike most Highlanders who tend to head to the hills to hid when sought by Government forces, MacRame decided to spend some time in Edinburgh under an assumed identity…

Fantastic game! Can’t wait to get it back on the table again.

Tomorrow we’re going to try out High Frontier - I’d best get READING THE RULES!!

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

A Brief round up of March’s gaming shenanigans (there weren’t that many…)

Then…? More ECW stuff!


  1. Great looking game, looks like loads of fun, I do like Dan Mersey's games
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks! I do as well - they kind of remind me of DBA/HOTT - a favourite game of mine - in their elegant simplicity and flexibility. Actually I think there's probably a bit MORE flexibility in Mersey's rules - in that you can upgrade or demote some troops to have some variation in quality.

  2. Very nice report! Some interesting dice rolls along the way... :-D Pikemans Lament is a great set of rules. /Mattias

    1. Thanks Mattias - I agree - great set of rules! Dice games do produce some randomness - but inexplicable randomness happens on the field of battle! I thought it came up with a great little, totally believable narrative.

  3. Great stuff, Tim - may have to have a look at these...

    1. Thanks Monty! Definitely worth a look if it's a period you're interested in!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Michael! It is an excellent game - so that helps! Hopefully I'll have more on here soon!

  5. Fun and enjoyable report! Sounds like a great game. One of these days I'll give it a go (just need to paint more minis first).

  6. Excellent report on what sounds like a great time gaming. TPL is a fun game. I'm still ramping up on painting, although I managed to get several games in since the rules came out. I'd love to play it a lot more.