Friday, 14 October 2016

Pike & Shotte

"Fashion wears out more apparel than the man" - William Shakespeare

And so it is with wargames rules; new ones displacing old more perhaps because they are new than because they are better. One set that has definitely been fashionable for a while is Black Powder, but I personally hadn't played any of the family of rules before this week. We actually used the period specific Pike & Shotte supplement that James had picked up at Derby, with his Italian wars figures as pictured here.

As a first game we obviously got things wrong, especially the best tactics to use, but I enjoyed the game and was left with a positive impression. They contain a number of elements familiar from other newish rulesets that we have tried such as To the Strongest! and Lion Rampant. We shall have another crack next week and hopefully will have a better grip on things thereafter. In the meantime:

Good points:
  • They are a toolbox. They will stand up to the inevitable tinkering which we (for which read James) will inflict on them.
  • They were definitely quick play; we finished a sizeable enough game with a completely new set of rules in less than three hours.
  • The movement rules definitely appealed to me. There isn't much measurement and manoeuvering is treated - in most circumstances - in a very broad brush fashion.
  • I quite like the fact that you can't ever rally stuff back to full strength.
Bad points:
  • The rulebook is not well written or proofread. The reference sheet and the rulebook are not always in agreement with each other.
  • The rules for the restricted movement of units in close proximity to each other are difficult to understand; or at least they were difficult for me to understand. 
Sort-of-in-the-middle-there points:
  • There doesn't seem to be scope for the sort of fire, cause morale downgrade and then charge type of tactic to which I am used. It's probably that I just haven't worked out the correct combination of actions.
  • There are a variety of special rules (skirmish, elite etc etc) and we didn't really get to grips with these. One must assume that they add to the game.
  • One of James' criteria for judging rules is whether they allow - or indeed demand - that one 'wangle the angle'. These don't when opposing units are far apart, but seem nothing but angle wangling when they are close together. Once again, it may just be that I haven't got my head round it yet.
I won the game, as the Imperialists. I had a plan based on the rules for breaking command groups, and which didn't work at all. In the end my victory came because of rather good luck both in a cavalry melee where I got charged both in the back and the front and still came off best and in the final clash of pike blocks. I prefer games which are unpredictable, but hope that the way this game turned on a few dice rolls isn't what always happens. I should also mention that I lost a Gendarme vs Stradiot melee by rolling five dice and getting five ones, a less than 7,500 to 1 chance; I'm prepared to write that one off as a fluke.

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