Monday, March 12, 2018

Somewhere Else to Be

Last week my friend John came over and we played a game of The Pikeman's Lament. It's been too long since John and I last rolled dice in anger...

May 1644, Yorkshire

The Siege of York has been dragging on and our hero, Ensign Evan "Holy" MacErrol, has been galloping about the countryside "extinguishing pockets of Royalist resistance" (This mostly involved torturing and hanging English farmers he suspected of Royalist sympathies). While leading his men back from one such excursion, he ran into a small force of Englishmen he took to be Royalists going somewhere else entirely in a hurry. Violence ensued!

(We last saw "Holy"MacErrol when he met some Royalists at a river crossing, and earlier when he was "gathering supplies" for the Scottish government's army).


We played the "Patrol" scenario straight out of the Pikeman's Lament rulebook. Forces are drawn up in corners and gain victory points based on how many units (or the point value of units) they exit off the opposite corner of the table in a set number of turns. I may have miscalculated the number of turns we were allowed....? The example in the book is a bit confusing... I somehow calculated it should be 23 turns, but the example in the book - on a 6' table - suggests they should only have 15...?


Scottish Covenanteers under Ensign Evan "Holy" MacErrol (15 Honour, Strong)
2x Gallopers
2x Pike
2x Shot

English Royalists under Ensign Johann Strudel (15 Honour, Foreigner)
2x Gallopers
2x Pike
2x Shot

I decided to roll up a new officer for John. Originally I was going to call him Sir Jonathan Finch-Fletchly... but when we rolled up the background it turned out he was a foreign mercenary commander...


All set up and ready to roll!

Look! Englishmen! Must be Royalist scum if they're on THIS side of the river!



Johann managed to move his horse. Then the shot failed to activate.... off to a good start.


Tried to activate some pike to get them moving and out of the way so my shot could start taking pot shots at the approaching English...

...and I rolled a command blunder!?

Some overenthusiastic pikemen decided to charge (or full advance) towards the nearest enemy unit charging right across the front of the rest of my force... ugh...

Is it going to bed THAT kind of game...



A bit more movement this turn.

John got to move his horse again and two units of shot one unit of pike before the other unit of pike failed to activate....


I moved two units of pike...

Things getting off to a really slow start here...



The Cavalry crossed the river and a pair of other units moved...


Everyone got moving... except that one last unit of cavalry.

I expect all this was because of some confusion having bumped into a force they weren't really expecting to encounter and, despite "Holy" MacErrol's certainty that they were Royalists, the rest of the Scots probably wanted to make sure of that before committing to violence...



Everyone moved

and the unit of English horse that has crossed the river in front of the Scots wheeled about and charged the closest unit of Pike! Well that settled it; these were clearly Royalists.

It turns out that cavalry charging pike - even unformed pike - maybe isn't the best idea. The pikemen lost one, the Gallopers two, both passed morale and so the Horse were obliged to retire!


"Holy" MacErrol saw an opportunity to kill some Englishmen and charged! The English horse counter-charged!

Two of the Scots went down, but the English lost three and the surviving English horseman galloped off in relatively good order, all things considered.



Another Command Blunder - one of the units was called away (John chose the unit of horse with only one guy left in it!)


Drunk with success, but failing to learn from the English failure against his own pike, MacErrol led his remaining men across the river and...

 into a unit of English Pike.

The Scots cut down three pikemen, but lost three of their own in the process, leaving only MacErrol still on his horse. Both parties were rattled by the confrontation and retreated, their morale wavering!



The retreating pike failed to rally, lost another man to desertion and continued to fall back away from the creek and the Scots on the other side of it. This conveniently cleared the way for the shot behind them to fire on MacErrol as he beat his hasty retreat across the creek. Down he went in the middle of the stream! All the Scots had to take a morale test - which they all passed. Most were at fill strength and... really... "Holy" MacErrol was a bit of an belligerent, humourless thug. No one would be terribly sad at his passing... or maybe in all the confusion and noise and smoke they just didn't notice that their fire-eating leader had been shot down.


The Scots all advanced with vigour!


The Horse actually rolled a double six and gained an agitator, priest or hero. I suppose I could have just said the leader of the unit was feeling inspired to take over - like maybe with MacErrol gone this was his time to shine! But how often do I get to use this priest on horseback wielding a sword and a really big book of gospels!? Huzzah!!

I can just imagine the surprise of the Scots to find a priest riding amongst them "Aye, weer'd thes feller coom fram? An' weer'd Davie goo!?"



The Pike in blue managed to rally, but then John rolled ANOTHER command blunder and his cavalry  he was trying to activate did a retreat at the double - straight into the woods! Perhaps they were fearful the Scottish Shot might try and avenge the loss of their own leader by firing upon them and made a panicked dash for the shelter of the woods!

The rest of the English were in a bit of an unorganized mess...


Everybody moved!

One unit of Pike was almost across the rive, a unit of shot was finally drawn up in a position to give fire on the English.

And the Horse, spurred on by the fiery Calvinist preacher, galloped around the wood, hoping to block the path of any English trying to escape!



The Pike in red managed to march down off the hill and drew up next to one of the units of English Shot to support them.

Ensign Johann Strudel rallied his men and galloped out of the woods.

But then the Pike in blue failed to activate - which really saved my butt as I was sure the two units of Scots that had just crossed the river were going to get a volley off point blank shot!


One unit of pike formed up, the Horse and a unit of shot moved a bit, and then the Shot across the creek fired upon the English Shot across from them causing a couple of casualties and setting them to flight up the hill!



The retreating English shot rallied.

The Pike in Red charged the Scottish Shot! The English lost two, but passed morale. The Scots only lost one, but didn't like being at the pointy end of all those pikes and retired into the creek.

 The English Shot in red fired on the Scottish Pike on their side of the river, killing one.

Johann Strudel led his cavalry down off the hill and towards the river hoping to escaped with the, only to find some fierce looking Scottish Cavalrymen, led by a fiery Calvinist Preacher blocking their way...


The Scottish Shot rallied and regrouped in the stream!

Annoyed by the English shooting at them, the Scots Pike Charged! They killed three Englishmen and lost only one of their own, but panicked, thinking themselves to be outflanked by English Pike on either side and retired from the fight.

Another failed activation meant no one else moved...



The English Pike charged the Scottish Shot Regrouping at the edge of the creek, taking out two more and obliging them to retire further across the water.

The English Red Shot fired on the retreating Scottish Pike wounding another.


The Pike failed to rally, losing another and continued retreating across the creek. The Shot, however, did manage to rally once again.

The Scots Horse charged and the English counter-charged and they met in the middle of the creek and it was a sodden mess! They killed one of the English but lost two of their own - due to horses slipping and falling on the slippery rocks in the stream!

They decided to retire to more solid ground!

The rest failed to activate...



The English Pike continued their pursuit of the Scottish shot - the Scots lost noter two and were routed! The Pike lost some as well and their morale wavered and they retired back across the creek.


the Scots pike failed to rally... again... losing another and continuing their retreat. The Shot failed to activate... and that was their turn.



The English had a moment of confusion and failed to do anything this turn.


The Pike FINALLY rallied.

The Remaining unit of shot fired on... some unit of Englishmen, killing three, and causing them to lose hope in the cause and retreat. I think it was the shot...?

The Scots once more charged the English who had not pursued them to there solid ground and just stood in the stream!? This time they took out three of the Englishmen, but lost another of their own... and failed morale!?

A unit of Scottish Pike began to make their way across the river.



The retreating English Pikemen rallied. The retreating English Shot routed! The really did lose faith in their cause! Probably turned up at Fairfax's camp the next day and presented themselves to the recruiter - they'd had enough serving under foreign mercenaries!

Not wanting to give them a chance to form up, the English Pike in blue charged the Scottish pike that was traversing the stream. both lost two in the ensuing melee and both lost their stomach for it and retreated!

Sensing this was a little more than a retirement to more solid ground the English Horse led by Ensign Strudel pursued the fleeing Scottish horse.

They took out one, and then the Scots Horse failed morale, which caused them to lose another - the final trooper decided he'd had enough of the preacher and his fire and brimstone, doom and gloom preachifying and rode off to a nearby farm to hide and wait and see how it all turned out...

This left the Preacher all alone...


The Scottish Shot fired on the retreating English Pike, killing another, forcing them to fail another morale check - which meant they lost another and retreated further from the stream.

Things are looking grim at the end of Turn Thirteen - I was starting to wonder if ANY unit might make it off or if they might kill each other to the last man!



The English Pike failed to rally, losing another and retreating further away from where they needed to be.

The English Horse charged the Preacher.


That's the preacher's dice with ONE PIP SHORT of taking them all with him!! The Preacher went down, the Coronet when down. The only one left on a horse at the end of it was Johann Strudel... and the exit point was in view... Perhaps he could just ride off on his own and say he "lost" his force of Englishmen and could he please have another..? Johann did get +1 Honour for killing the Preacher (as  one does for killing any Heroes, Preachers of Agitators in enemy units...).


The three remaining units of Scots all advanced across the river.



English pike fail to rally again, losing another, retreating further into the woods.

The English Pike in Red charged the Scots Pike closest to them, they both lost one and both failed morale and retreated.

The English Shot in blue then rolled a Command Blunder (I think this was John's third...?) - the result was their officer acted without panache and lost 1 Honour. I guess word got out that he'd killed a Scottish Preacher and the men didn't think to highly of that - even if he was a Calvinist... Or perhaps it was because he was just continuing on back to their billets leaving them at the mercy of these savage Scotsmen...?


the Pike routed and the rest failed to activate!?



John rolled ANOTHER Command Blunder for his Leader - the result was to retreat at the double from the nearest enemy unit - which actually carried him CLOSER to the exit point!


The Scots fired on the English Shot killing one and the unit routed...



The retreating English Pike finally routed. I think they were down to four...? The they could only have successfully rallied on a 12.

The English Pike in Red failed to charge ending their turn.


The Pike moved and the Shot fired on the remaining English Shot. They lost two and failed moral and retired back over the hill.



Ensign Johann Strudel galloped off the table - the first "unit" to do so in this game...

The English Pike routed.


The Scottish Pike marched off the table.

The only unit left on the table at this point was the unit of Scottish Shot. They were exactly five turns of moving from the edge of the exit zone, and had exactly five turns to do so (assuming 23 turns...?) so I just rolled to see if they could manage five activations in a row... they could not. So it was a draw - one "unit" each. Both sides gain 3 Honour.

Oh, and Evan "Holy" MacErrol survived. The remnants of his force staggered back into camp and informed their regimental commander that MacErrol was lost. Later that evening MacErrol wandered into camp cold, sodden, cranky and sporting more than a few nicks and scratches. Apparently his horse took most of the shots and collapsed on top of him, pinning him for some time on the bank of the creek.

(I had rolled 10 on the Officer Casualty table - Lightly Wounded - getting back to the army's camp by himself, with and impressive scar and a good story to tell. +1 Honour. The officer will recover in time for the next game).

Good fun!

Hopefully we shall see more of Johann.

I need to finish up some more Highlanders and bring back Robert MacRame!

Coming Soon to Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Tallarn! I have two squads of infantry I'm currently working on and hoping to have complete by the end of the week. Then I only have two oOfficers, a Command Squad, and a pair of Roughriders I need to finish up the following week.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Phil! If you haven't already, check out the other game reports for The Pikeman's Lament - and stay tuned for me as I had a lot of fun playing the game and writing the report, so I'm sure I'll be doing more soon!

  2. Good stuff Tim, glad to see you get your ECW guys on the table! I've only played the rules the once, but enjoyed them!

  3. Great report!

    Almost an ignominious victory, eh? ha ha

    1. Thanks!

      Can't really say it was much of a victory at all for either party!

  4. Great fun messy engagement, kind of rings true for the period!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks, Iain. It was a bit chaotic, which a skirmish between two forces who just stumble upon each other really should be (in any period, really).