Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Beating Up Quarters

My friend Bob from Edmonton was in town last night so I set up a little game of The Pikeman's Lament for us to play...

June 1644, Glenn Dunny

When first we met our hero Robert MacRame, he was living in his families ancestral lands in Glenn Dunny. He made a stand against some Government troops who were out foraging and attempted to make off with some of this livestock. This battle was documented elsewhere on this blog:

Pork on the Trotters

He (more or less) successfully defended his lands and recovered (most of) his livestock, but gained the eternal enmity of Evan “Holy” MacErrol, and found himself a wanted man. Unlike most Highlanders who tend to head to the hills to hide when sought by Government forces, MacRame decided to spend the balance of the year in Edinburgh under an assumed identity. This didn’t last long, however, as Evan MacErrol is a relentless adversary and eventually discovered his whereabouts and Robert was forced to flee overseas. MacErrol wasn’t able to pursue his quarry further as he was called upon to march south with Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, to intervene in the civil war in England.

Some of the other actions “Holy” MacErrol were involved in at Yorkshire are also documented elsewhere:

The River Crossing 

Somewhere Else To Be

Robert MacRame spent the remainder of winter and spring of 1644 abroad, “raising funds” for the catholic cause back home. He found he could make a pretty good living “raising funds” and had hoped he could continue to do so until the bad business back home ended. Eventually some of his patrons cottoned on to his reluctance and MacRame was forced to flee again (with the remaining funds he has raised) – this time back to Scotland. And so it was in the summer of 1644 that he arrived back in Glenn Dunny with a handful of Irish Mercenaries – just a month before the Irish under Mac Colla landed at Ardnamurchan.

Hearing a rumour that MacRame had returned to Scotland, Ensign MacErrol marched his company back north to hunt him down. He was still languishing in Glenn Dunny meeting out revenge on all that had wronged his family in the year since he had fled…


I thought it would be fun to try out the Beating up Quarters scenario with one of our antagonists raiding the others quarters in a dawn raid. This is straight out of the Pikeman's Lament rulebook (pages 54-55). Basically the Attacker gets points for setting fire to tents buildings the defender is sleeping in. Most of the defender's forces start in the buildings and tents and have to be awakened by passing an ordered move action at -1. The Defenders get points for each building or tent not burned by the end of the scenario. The game ends when all the buildings/tents are on fire or when the Attacker has lost half of his force.

Who would get the the drop on whom?


Scottish Government forces under Ensign Evan "Holy" MacErrol (19 Honour, Strong)
2x Gallopers
2x Pike
2x Shot

Scotts Royalist forces under Robert MacRame (12 Honour, Sly)
1x Forlorn Hope
1x Shot
1x Pike
3x Clansmen
1x Clubmen


I didn't take a lot of notes (as I often do) so there won't be a turn-by-turn breakdown as I'm going from my (not always clear) memory here...

Bob decided to take the Scots Government forces as they seemed the most straightforward to play. He also decided to be the attacker - as having troops burn in their billets or tents didn't sound fun...?

Initial Dispositions.

In the darkness of night the forces of "Holy" MacErrol approached the roadside inn where MacRame's men has camped for the night. There had been much carousing through the night, but as dawn approached all was quiet...

At a predetermined signal that was both silent and visible only to governement forces in the darkness so as not to alert the sentries in the camp (not sure what that would have been...?) MacErrol's forces close on the camp.

At the end of Bob's first turn I was already thinking things looked pretty dire... I had gotten used to playing against John - by this point he would have rolled a command blunder and lost one of his units!

On my first turn, my dice were determined to outdo Bob's, however. I rolled the first of at least a half dozen double sixes I rolled throughout the game. As this was on an ordered activation I got to roll on the command bonus table and rolled a five - allowing the unit I just tried to active to gain a agitator, Priest or Hero... I chose a Priest - as I had a handy figure I could add to the unit! He would give me +1 to all morale rolls, but if he was killed give the enemy +1 Honour...

Every Single Unit deployed out of their quarters on the first turn - even the clubmen (local villagers armed with rakes and scythes and the occasional blunderbuss...). It was starting to look as though the ambushers were being ambushed (That MacRame is a sly devil!).

And then it was Bob's turn again and Ensign MacErrol charged a group of Highland Clansmen emerging from their tents... Cavalry, unfortunately, are the Clansmen's nemesis... Clansmen are great on the offence - hit on 3+ - and they can countercharge against Infantry - so they are almost always on the offence versus infantry... on the defence (as they are when cavalry charges) they only hit on sixes... This first contact carried away 2-3 clansmen... I rolled one six, not enough to wound the Gallopers!

So the clansmen fell back, the horse followed up and we did it again!

The Clansmen lost a few more, fabulously failed morale and were routed! One unit gone...

Then the second cavalry charged another unit of clansmen! It went equally badly - even with the Preacher present! Two units down, not a single casualty caused. Things were back to looking dire for the Highlanders...

Luckily Bob failed to activate his next unit so I had a chance to do some damage!

The remaining unit of clansmen charged out of the Inn and attacked a unit of Shot!


and saw them off at a loss of only one or two of their own!

I failed to activate my own shot so it was back to Bob. Bob then failed to set fire to the house that his cavalry was adjacent to and it was back to me.

As a unit of pike was within range of the Highland clansmen, they charged! Pike are not quite so slightly as shot, however and they did some damage to the clansmen. This time both parties failed morale and broke away from each other.

I think my shot fired on the other unit of pike next, causing a single wound, which caused them to fail morale as well and retire back towards the hill they had just came down from (perhaps they were already rattled by the sounds of their comrades in arms being savaged by the clansmen off to their right... in the dark... although I think the sun has come up on this turn...?)

My Irish Pike had previously formed up and so tried to charge Ensign MacErrol's unit of Horse. The Horse countercharged.

The pike took out two of the horsemen and lost one of their own, so the horse had to retire from the fight. But apparently losing one of their own was enough for the cowardly Irish mercenaries morale to waver...

On Bob's next turn, his cavalry wheeled around and charged the wavering pikemen... It was a disaster. The unit was nearly rode down to a man. The few survivors fled the field of battle, the county, and probably all the way back to Ireland! (or perhaps they met up with Mac Colla's forces who were landing on the west coast of Scotland shortly after this engagement?)

On my previous turn I'd rolled another double six to activate one of my units, which had allowed my wavering Highlanders to automatically rally. So at the beginning of my next turn they once more charged the government pike - and saw them off!

Clansmen - great against infantry, but keep them away from enemy cavalry!

So this put the attackers down two units. I only needed to force one more off the field to end the game. So it was time for MacRame to do his bit...

MacRame's unit had taken shots at one of the units of Horse earlier (and might have taken one out...?) but otherwise has just sat in the middle of the encampment where they had started the game. Where they were was close enough to charge MacErrol's Horse - who had just ridden down his Irish Mercenaries. MacRame led the charge out of the encampment. MacErrol, hearing the wild cries of charging clansmen wheeled around and countercharged meeting the clansmen at the edge of the camp (I should point out these "clansmen" were actually a "Forlorn Hope" in the game, not "clansmen" like the ones that were swept aside in the first turns). Both lost two in the initial clash, neither failed morale, so the attacker (the Highlanders) were obliged to retire.

The Horse followed up and we did it all again... I think MacRame had intact lured them into some sort of cunning trap because both the remaining Horse were taken down (including MacErrol himself!) and with three of the attackers units gone, that was the end of the game!

So as the attackers had failed to set fire to any of the buildings the defending highlanders scored 8 Honour (2 for each building/tent not burning at the end of the game) plus two more for the "Show No Mercy" special order I had selected. ("Show No Mercy" requires that half of the enemies total number of units be routed or destroyed - I figured that was the only way I could possibly win the game anyway, so I selected it to get some bonus points if I did). This brought Robert MacRame's Honour to 22 - thus catapulting him to Lieutenant. Rolling for his new trait, I got "Favoured"... which had no in game effect, it just gave him +5 Honour - so he is now at 27...

The government troops failed to set fire to any buildings and failed in their own special order (Which, I think, was "Beat the Butchers Bill" - rout/destroy more enemy units than your own) which would have netted Evan MacErrol -1 Honour, but his other horse had ridden down that annoying preacher for +1 honour which netted him zero honour... still one shy of being promoted to Lieutenant!

As MacErrol was injured (AGAIN! Seriously, has there been a battle where he DIDN'T end up a casualty!?) we had to roll for his survival - He was just wounded - carried off by loyal soldiers and will recover in time for the next battle... He'll get that dastardly MacRame!

I think we ended up being done in just under and hour and a half...? I love this game and Bob is always a totally enjoyable person to play games with so, despite the cold, I had a pretty fabulous evening! Thanks Bob!

Coming Soon to Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Amanda and The Girl got home just as bob was leaving and wanted to watch a DVD, so instead of writing up the battle report last night, I went downstairs and did some painting while they watched TV. As I'd had so much fun playing this game I worked on some more Scotsmen - a unit of "Commanded Shot" - I had a few spare guys with muskets and bows so I thought I'd throw together one of these units. They are only 2 points and depending on how I arranged the Scots Royalists I figured would sometimes end up with 2 points to spare and these could fill in that spot nicely. I just have some finishing touches to do on those and then I'll be posting pics of them in the next day or so.

After that...? April Games Round up..? Actually that might come before the pics of the highlanders...

Then we're into June... What to do...

I was reading about the new Imperial Knights: Renegade which will be released on 9 June. It is rumoured to be retailing for $235CAD... it includes two Knights (one Imperial, one Renegade) that normally retail for $180 each, and a bit of terrain (Sector Mechanicus Galvanic Magnavent) that can be picked up separately for $90... So... $450 worth of stuff... in a boxed game set for $235... I've been resisting the urge to pick up a knight for a while now - I have loads of stuff to paint... I don't really NEED one... but DAMN... at half price!? I am a sucker for a "good deal"... 


  1. Hurrah for MacRame and his forces! They didn't get taken much by surprise did they? Maybe the government forces' signal wasn't as stealthy as they thought? Looks like a great game setup, too, with fairly compact terrain for the encampment and all.

    Yikes, those GW prices are something else, even if that is in Canadian dollars. ha ha

    1. MacRame is a sly fellow - I like to imagine he was on to them for days in advance and on the day in question, everyone was just hiding in their tents full-dressed dressed, muskets loaded, and ready to ambush their should be ambushers! Still, it was a bit of a nail-biter. After those first two charges of the horse that carried off two units of highlanders without a single casualty amongst the cavalry I thought I was DOOMED!

      When I think about the money other people I know spend on bicycle components, of fancy golf clubs or wine or computer games or whatever sort of paraphernalia they need for their hobbies, GWs prices seem... a little less insane. I mean, if I want to take my entire family out to a movie these days and buy some popcorn or other snacks, that's $80 right there - for two hours of entertainment. Miniatures give me many, many more hours of entertainment. Even if I don't get to play with them all that often, I actually really enjoy the hours I spend painting them... so...

    2. That's a good way to look at it. :)

  2. Lovely looking and great fun game,nice to see your Scots out again , when has need really counted in wargame purchases? Especially when it's a bargain!
    Best Iain

    1. My sister (a social worker) would call you an "enabler"...

      I love all my enablers!