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"...

Shadow War: Brind's World Campaign Weekend (Part Three)

This is the third and final instalment of my report on the Shadow War: Armageddon campaign I hosted last weekend. If you missed the first two, you can find them here:

Shadow War: Brind's World Campaign Weekend (Part One)
Shadow War: Brind's World Campaign Weekend (Part Two)

After lunch John and Christian were back and we continued play...


My next game was against Other Tim's Orks..

It seemed only hours after Kassab and the others made it back to friendly lines that they were once more thrown into the fray! This city wasn't going to clear itself. Once again 2nd Platoon was tasked with Sector 43B and once again Sergeant Kassab's squad found itself on the right flank clearing the exact same block... 

(Because we apparently couldn't be bothered to switch up the buildings...).

AGAIN we rolled Kill Team Fight for our scenario and I rolled a "Hidden Cache" (winner gets a bonus 100 points to spend for recruitment or rearming during the resupply phase) and Other Tim rolled "Vital Mission" (winner can re-roll number of caches received for winning).

This felt a little like deja vu... 


Auspex readings indicated Orks approaching up the same avenues... but this time a much LARGER hoard! They were cunning Orks, though, advancing unseen and under cover.

ROUND ONE - Astra Militarum

Corporal Talal lead the left flank again and ran forward with Private Hamid, taking cover behind a building. 

Sergeant Kassab moved up the centre with Lance Corporal Nazim and his Plasmagun. 

Grenadier Yakub and Private Wajdi clambered through the rubble of a destroyed building while Privates Muktar and Nassar ran for cover behind the well - which was now riddled with pockmarks from the previous firefight. 


The Orks moved up... mostly behind cover... mostly...

ROUND TWO - Astra Militarum

A terrifyingly HUGE Ork with a giant claw grafted onto it's arm lumbered into sight.

"BACK!" Shouted Talal to Hamid, "I'll Cover you!"

Hamid dashed back and flung himself over the stone wall while Talal fired on the huge Ork. Hamid also joined in firing upon the Ork. The shots seemed to annoy it and slowed it's advance, but were utterly useless at causing it harm! All were starting to wonder if the information about the Orks in the Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer was accurate at all!?


The Orks continued their sneaky advance... Except the Warboss, he was pinned.

ROUND THREE - Astra Militarum

More Orks came rushing around the corner! They were getting too close for Cpl Talal's liking so he fell back to join Hamid behind the low wall, tossing a grenade to cover his retreat. The blast sent the Orks sprawling to the ground - but only temporarily. 

Sergeant Kassab and Nazim had maneuvered to the left flank to help Cpl Talal. Nazim was pinned by fire and grenades hurled by the Orks. Sergeant Kassab returned fire pinning a few of the Orks. 

Wajdi, form his position of cover in the ruined building on the right flank, could also see the Orks firing on Kassab and Nazim and as no Orks were advancing down the street he was covering decided to help out. 

Unfortunately his shot hit the Sergeant in the back sending him sprawling into the dirt!?



The Orks seized the opportunity to rush Nazim and Kassab! 

The great Ork lumbered forward, seemingly impervious to lasguns and grenades!

Kassab and Nazim fought desperately for the lives! 

Muktar and Nassar found themselves receiving fire from Orks in two different directions. 

Bullets whizzed by and they hugged the little cover they had... 

but were eventually cut down in the crossfire... 


Nazim was taken out of action by the Orks, but Sergeant Kassab held on... 

ROUND FOUR - Astra Militarum

The writing was on the wall - Sergeant Kassab decided to pull his men out before their position was again completely overrun. 


Thanks to the glorious advanced technology of the Medicae, all recovered swiftly from their injuries - and Nassar learned a thing or two in the action about laying down down effective covering fire (rolled "What Doesn't Kill You" on the Serious Injury Table and gained the Fast Fire skill)

The Squad managed to secure another cache as they retreated. The Orks were already at nine caches so they gained their tenth, putting them in a position to win the campaign.

Sergeant Kassab gained the Survivor skill (may re-roll results on the Serious Injury Table) and Wajdi finally finished his third game without injuries and became a full-fledged Veteran Trooper!

Elsewhere on Brind's World During Round Five... 

Paul's Grey Knights fought Finnegan's Orks and Amanda's Tau fought Christian's Eldar in the twisting caverns below the surface of Brind's World.

Amanda and christian played another Kill Team Fight.

Despite rushing to finish all those Guardians, Christian never used one of them. I think he played the entire campaign with four or five Dire Avengers...

Tau moving up to flank the Eldar.

Despite their superior numbers, the Tau faced yet another defeat...

Seriously, the Tau are pretty weak. The Strength 5 Pulse carbines are useless if you can't HIT anything. All the penalties for cover make it nearly impossible for the Tau - with their Weapon Skill of 3 to hit anything. They can take marker lights - which means they can ignore the cover penalties, but one Tau has to not fire to use the marker light and they can only light up one target (per tau not firing and lighting up targets)... which then means they now have a 50% chance of hitting - worse even than the Veterans of the Astra Militarum. I'd be curious to know if anyone else out there has played Tau in this game with any amount of success and how exactly they did that!?

Paul and Finnegan played the Scavengers scenario.


Racing to secure loot counters.

Is that the Terminator again!?


I'm not sure what I was taking a picture of here - I think it was a particularly bad dice roll for... something...? Can't have been THAT bad, I see a 4 there which probably caused on hit or wound for those Grey Knights...

More Action shots of the Bad Ass Grey Knights.

I can't remember if this was a Psycannon or a Psilencer, but it was Brutal. 2-3 sustained fire dice at 4 or 7 strength... Ugh...

The Grey Knights won in the end.

John's Skitarii faced the undefeated Harlequins in the jungle ruins.

They played the Scavengers scenario.

...and the harlequins remained undefeated...

...and the Skitarri remained unable to win...

The standings after Round Five were:

The Girl - Harlequins - 10 Caches - 5-0
Other Tim - Moar Orks - 10 Caches - 3-2
Paul - Grey Knights - 6 Caches - 3-1
Finnegan - Orks - 6 Caches - 2-2
Amanda - 5 Caches - 1-4
Myself - Tallarn - 5 Caches - 1-3
John - Skitarii - 4 Caches - 0-3
Christian - Eldar - 3 Cache - 1-1


My final game of the weekend was against Paul and his Grey Knights. This was pretty much a "for fun" game as The Girl's Harlequins and Other Tim's Moar Orks both had 10 caches and were facing each other to determine the winner of the campaign.

Paul blew there caches to bring all three of his Special Operatives - just to try them out. Not that he needed them. I'm quite certain the Grey Knights would have beat down my Tallarn all on their own.

I decided to try out a couple Special Operatives myself - TWO commissars! I suppose I could have brought in an Ogryn or two (or three!?) but I figured that would just drag out the game...

The scenario... can you guess...? yup, ANOTHER Kill Team Fight!

I rolled "Vital Mission" for my subplot (winner may re-roll the number of caches they receive) and Paul rolled "Lighting Strike" (which allowed him to voluntarily Bottle on any turn after a single enemy has been taken out of action).

After weeks of fighting in the deserted desert city, the higher-ups decided it was untenable. The Ork infestation was too extensive and the 5th Company was pulled out and the entire site was obliterated from orbit.

As the 415th Tallarn regiment pushed south in the following weeks they eventually came to the edges of the equatorial jungle region. This was an entirely unfamiliar environment for the Tallarn. 

Scout Sentinels returned from a reconnaissance mission with vital information about a new enemy encountered in the jungle. Intelligence cogitators determined this to be some new form of Necron with psychic abilities. The 5th Company was ordered forward to make contact with this new threat. 2nd platoon spearheaded the advance. Out front of the platoon was Sergeant Kassab's squad of veteran troopers. 

A pair of commissars were assigned to the squad to steady their morale in the face of this new, terrifying enemy. 

Commissar Brighton accompanied Sergeant Kassab into the deep jungle. The Tallarn used to fighting in vast open spaces (or caverns... or built up areas...) found the dense jungle where, at times, they could see only a metre in front of them, claustrophobic. The sounds and colours were so intense it was utterly overwhelming. 

Commissar Lawrence accompanied Corporal Talal. They were the first to encounter the vast ruins of the ancient civilization that lived here millennia ago. 

ROUND ONE - Grey Knights

Amid the sounds of the assorted fauna, which never ceased, the squad heard faint hints of mechanical movements. Through gaps in the jungle they occasionally spotted flashes of light, as though reflected of a highly polished metallic surface - the enemy was on the move! 

ROUND ONE - Astra Militarum

Commissar Lawrence lead Talal and his men through the overgrown ruins. 

Kassab and his men struggled through the dense jungle. 

The enemy was out there somewhere, but they couldn't quite get a fix on their location... 

ROUND TWO - Grey Knights

Kassab and his men were startled when the jungle erupted with sudden extreme violence - they started taking fire from up ahead, but could not directly see their assailants!

ROUND TWO - Astra Militarum

The Sergeants team blindly returned fire at the Xenos Psyker scum! 

ROUND THREE - Grey Knights

Huge mechanical beasts were briefly spotted in the jungle ahead. An unearthly blue fire erupted from the enemy's position, roasting the commissar and scorching the Sergeant! 

Private Daoud broke and ran - there was no surviving against such an enemy that could unleash the powers of the warp and kill a Commissar!

ROUND THREE - Astra Militarum

Commissar Lawrence had been leading Talals team through the ruins. HE broke from cover to make a dash for the cover of the trees in an overgrown courtyard... 

...and was gunned down by some devious enemy that laying in wait for them. 

It had been a carefully constructed ambush prepared by a calculating and malicious foe. 

Others were pinned as they tried to take cover. 

Nazin found cover behind a wall and let loose a torrent of supercharged energy particles from his plasma gun at one of the ambushers - taking it down!

Elsewhere Yakub, who had held firm as the sergeant and commissar had been laid low, loaded Krak Grenades and fired on one of the shiny metallic monsters that were emerging from the jungle. His shot was true and the sharp blast knocked the hulking brute down. 

ROUND FOUR - Grey Knights

The metallic monsters swarmed the sergeants position! Another gout of unclean fire took down Wajdi. Yakub and Nassar both suffered grievous injuries to their body and soul at the hands of the warp-corrupted psykers. 

ROUND FOUR - Astra Militarum

Talal's team continued to exchange fire with their ambushers - still secreted in their covered positions. 

Sergeant Kassab reigned his feet, if not his wits, and charged one of the hulking automatons. His blow struck true, but the teeth of his chainsword only showered the jungle with sparks - barely scoring the heavy armour of the vile psyker-droid. 

ROUND FIVE - Grey Knights

An even larger mechanical monstrosity joined the melee. The Sergeant deftly dodged their attacks and landed blow after blow on them - and even managed to damage the larger one as it roared out in pain! 

Wait... pain...? 

ROUND FIVE - Astra Militarum

Then one of his attackers said something to him; "Seargeant! Stand down!" 

It was then that Kassab first took notice of his foes profile... it was not that of a necron, but of warrior of the Adeptus Astartes! An elite Space Marine of the Grey Knight chapter! Kassab had read of them - and seen vids of them in training!

He threw down his weapons and called out to the surviving member of his squad to do this same - they had made a terrible mistake! 

(I saw it not-so-much as "bottling", as a sudden dawning upon them that they weren't really fighting the enemy... ).


Luckily the members of Kassab's squad all lived to tell the tale... Yakub seemed to grow even tougher through the experience (rolled another "What Doesn't Kill You" on the Serious Injury Table and Yakub gained +1 Toughness - which would have been handier earlier in the campaign!). I decided to give Lance Corporal Nazim - who had taken down one of the Grey Knight with his plasmagun - and advance and he gained the Ambush skill.

Elsewhere on Brind's World During Round Six... 

John's Skitarii and Christian's Eldar had it out in a deserted desert city.

They played ANOTHER Scavengers scenario.

I think Christian's Eldar won - finally dragging enough token back to his side, under withering fire from the Skitarii.

Amanda and Finnegan decided to sit this round out - they'd had enough. Finnegan was happy to just move between games and watch the action.

Finally, Other Tim's Moar Orks faced The Girl's Harlequins for a second time this weekend to determine the winner of the campaign!

They played a straight up Kill Team Fight scenario.

there was an initial exchange of fire as they Harlequins advanced.

But with their Priamatic Blur ability the Harlequins are as hard to hit when running in the open as they are to hit in cover.

And with the 4+ invulnerable save, they are nigh impossible to take out, show the lucky hit actually wound them.

Then the Harlequins fell upon the Orks and the engagement turned into a protracted vicious melee.

It was a bit of a slog - the Orks swarmed the Harlequins, who would slice and dice them in melee - taking one or two out, here and there - which caused other to panic and flee (temporarily) before they recovered their wits and charged back in.

Broken Orks cowering from the terrifying Harlequins.

The Warboss faced off against the Troupe Master.

spectators gathering as other games finished.

Eventually the Harlequins whittled the Orks down enough that they finally bottled and The Girl was proclaimed league champion!

Afterwards we all went out for supper at Nosh Eatery and Tap.

I had a pretty fun time playing in the campaign - weaving a bit of a narrative for my squad of grunts. I think everyone else had a pretty good time as well.

Do I LOVE Shadow War: Armageddon? Well... I wouldn't say "love"... it's okay.

Would I run another weekend campaign of it. No, but I should clarify - It's largely because there are SO MANY other games I would love to run as a weekend campaign, and I only seem to get to do these once year (or every other year...?). If I didn't have other campaigns I wanted to play I'd probably run it again, but I might do some things differently.

Would I play in an extended campaign with local people?  Maybe... If Amanda and the kids were interested and we could rope in Aaron and his boys and we could find the time to get together one afternoon a week... I could get behind that. But considering how busy we all are with so many other things, I can't imagine it happening any time soon.

It seemed a lot of Kill Team Fights and Scavengers scenarios were played (along with a couple of Ambushes and one Hit and Tun). If I were to do it all over again, rather than rolling for scenarios I could have assigned specific scenarios for each round. I had thought of that before, but then was concerned that I wouldn't have enough specific counters or terrain bits for scenarios requiring loot tokens or similar. Perhaps I would come up with a couple of other scenarios where the focus isn't just annihilating the other team.

I found the whole system a little... unbalanced. The Tau were awful - and I felt really sorry for Amanda having to play them (though it was her choice - she chose without knowing anything about the game or what was available to the team - her choice was used purely on 40K background fluff...). I'm not complaining about not winning games here, but I think the Astra Militarum have a pretty hard go of it as well. Harlequins and Grey Knights were pretty bad ass.

I'm not sure why Orks get to have 20 where most others only get 10. I get that the teams are somewhat based on the standard squad size in 40K and that Orks generally are fielded in larger mobs. And when trying to balance them against marines who have a higher Ballistic Skill and Strength 4 (or higher weapons) you probably do need more numbers than the marines so you can survive their fire long enough to get into melee... but the Guard? Why do they only have 10? Sure standard squad size in 40K and all that... but in 40K the guard will have MORE SQUADS in a "balanced" game...

Some forces definitely had better Special Operatives. Some Special operatives... seem pretty weak. I did have an Etherial the Tau could have used... but WHY? It has the same crap stats as the rest of the Tau, if your opponent kills it they get a bonus "Bounty" and the only effect it has is to allow all pathfinders in line-of-sight to automatically recover from being pinned...?

Not that anyone seemed to use any Special Operatives them in our campaign. Playing a short campaign is a bit of a rush to collect 10 caches. Those caches are precious... Paul was the only one that used Special Operatives. I'm not entirely sure he needed to as the Grey Knights seemed pretty bad ass as they were - and I wonder if perhaps it might have been him battling The Girl for the championship if he hadn't...?

Coming Soon to Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog: 

One more battle report from the weekend to finish up - my game of The Pikeman's Lament with Paul on Sunday...

After that...? not really sure. I've been so focused on this game weekend for so long I haven't really considered what was next...? Back to work on the Tallarn, I guess...? maybe some stuff for the Rogue Trader campaign...?