Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Pikeman's Lament - Rescue Mission

These photos were taken at a recent demo game of The Pikeman's Lament (TPL) held at my friendly little game store, [Asgard Games Uk] in sunny Walsall. 

We were both had, more or less identical, companies: two units of pike, two shot, two units of mounted troops. Sam chose to try a units of dragoons and Gallopers whilst I had two units of Gallopers.

As I happened to have a spare figure I decided to play out the 'Rescue Mission' scenario. I rolled the higher die thus becoming the attacker in this game.

The scenario was to rescue Sir Marmaduke Quondam, the daring garrison commander of Bescot Hall, who has somehow managed to get himself captured. Sir Marmaduke was being held in the local priory ruins awaiting transfer to higher authorities and is being guarded by ruthless units of pike and shot under the command of equally ruthless Lady Samantha de Bermingham (a.k.a. Sam who was playing her first game of any of the Lion Rampant variants).

As this was Sam's first ever game I didn't want to overwhelm her with the full version and so agreed to just concentrate on the gaming principles and mechanics. Therefore we didn't create the commanding officer's character nor background or use the Honour Special Orders (the equivalent of Boast points in the original game).

Being the best defensive troops Sam (units marked blue) set up two units of pike and one of shot amongst the ruins to guard Sir Marmaduke (circled in yellow). 

My tactic was to simply try and dash in with a single cavalry and use the rest of the company (marked red) to try and block or hinder Sam's defending units.

The scenario dictates that the defender (Lady Sam in this case) had to have half her company guarding the prisoner while the other half were off patrolling the area to the north. These units could try to move onto the table at Turn 2. 
Charging in to engage the enemy.
"Hang on Sir Marmaduke, we're coming!"
The gallant forces of continental dandy Lieutenant-Colonel Eduard Van Verloren Wapen, (a.k.a. me) supported by his loyal Scottish infantry, coming to the rescue. These came charging in across the river from the south-east. His task was to make contact with Sir Marmaduke and ride off into the sunset together (these continental types are very...well... continental).

Sam was fortunate that she activated her other forces quite quickly. Her dragoons came in blazing over the bridge to bolster the guards. She was less lucky when she rolled a double one during her activation phase followed by another equally low die. This resulted in her losing a whole unit of infantry just after they had entered the field. This is a new concept in the Lion Rampant family rule set where double six rolls equals a reward and double one means you suffer a penalty to various degrees. This new feature is probably my favourite addition to the rules if only because it creates the funniest reactions - either good or bad depending on the results and how it affects the game. 
Congestion - 17th century style
My right wing cavalry unit charged in early and were lucky and managed to push the defending pike unit back. This pike block were forced to retreat and I initially thought this game would be over pretty quickly. How wrong was I!.

My other, left wing, unit of cavalry got completed battered by first Sam's unit of shot and then by the dragoons. They eventually somehow managing to scarper back out of range. Equally my two units of shot got decimated with one breaking and leaving the field. Fortunately both of my pike units held. 
"Don't panic men, we can still retreat..oh dear..cavalry."
Sam sent a unit of Gallopers (regular cavalry) sweeping around the back of my forces which was quite sneaky, I thought. This would force me to engage them in order to succeed in the mission. 
"Charge boys, they're gaining on us!"
Having repeatedly charging pike units (not the best tactic) my cavalry unit made contact with Sir Marmaduke, turned tail and tried to make their escape. Again I thought the game would soon be over as I left the pike units to try and block and delay Sam's company from trying to recapture Sir Marmaduke. Sam's units quickly began their aggressive counter-attack.
Sir Marmaduke (circled in yellow) sees his chance for freedom as my brave pike blocks try and fend of Sam's attack.
What I hadn't taken into account was how tough and deadly Sam's remaining units would be. The Gallopers that had swept round the back of my company slammed into the rescue party and wiped themselves and my unit out leaving Sir Marmaduke sucking his thumb on the edge of the field. Sam was unlucky again as she failed to activate her units thus prevented them from closing in on their prey.

I just about managed to get a unit of pike to contact Sir Marmaduke before Sam did, meaning he could finally escape.

Technically it was a victory for my company but a Pyrrhic one at that. At least we both had fun (I hope) playing the game. Sam played a good game and used clever tactics (better than mine) but she was let down by her unlucky dice rolls which prevented her being able to activate units when she needed them.

It is pretty typical of the kind of games Pikeman's Lament generates. The units are balanced, without one particular type being unbeatable. The tide of battle swings back and forth so we are never quite sure what is going to happen even towards the very end of a game.
Sir Marmaduke rides into the sunset.
"Thanks lads, I'm off."
As usual I was having too much fun playing that I forgot to take enough photographs but hopefully the images will give you a favour of the action.

Regular readers will know that I've never produced a batrep for this blog before (I didn't even know what AAR meant until I looking it up). I don't want to give away too much info about the rules and spoil the fun for anyone in the future, so I've deliberately left the game mechanics vague. Plus I think it would seriously annoy the writers and the game isn't due for release until early 2017 anyway. Nearer to release I may discuss more games and detail a few more of the new aspects of the rules but I'll see what the reactions are like to this post first.