Monday, October 22, 2012

A little game using Swedes and Poles, the Set up

I made my way over to my friend Thomas' house for a pike and shot era game two Fridays back.  We decided to go for an action just prior to the 30 Years War, when Poland and Sweden had a series of campaigns ending in the 1620's. 

We used the Piquet games variant "Anchor of Faith" which I enjoy and Thomas was willing to try, even though he's a bit more familiar with the Black Powder series games.  Thomas was happy to try a fraction of his TYW figures out, and facing the Poles was a novelty, since the organization and system of fighting was different.

We went for a smaller sized game, under twenty units on a side, including three sections of artillery each.  Thomas' force included nine infantry units, and three (or was it four?) cavalry units. The infantry were his strength, not only in numbers but in quality, the nine units being equally divided into a good quality militia, regulars and elite regiments. His cavalry were regular, two units armed with sword and pistol, one of arquebusiers, a type of skirmishing fire arm equipped cavalry. Come to think of it, there were only three cavalry units on his side of the table.

Thomas set up with his infantry in the center in two lines with his elites in the front; his cavalry was on one wing with the two pistol and sword units, the other flank had the Arquebuiers; his artillery had all three sections on his rightflank, suported by the two units of horse.   We did not use the Swedish Brigade as the action is set before the Swedes adopted.

Swedish right center

Swedish center infantry

Swedish command

Swedish left flank

Swedish cavalry and artillery on right flank

It's probably good to go over the way Anchor of Faith handles pike and shot units.  The units are categorized as a ratio of shot to pike, ie, 1 to 1, 2 to 1, 3 to 1.  You don't actually have to model the mix by having the figures as such, I usually just show two stands each of pike and shot and keep track by roster.  Even having a low ratio of pikes lets you watch the opponent's non pike infantry deduct die type in melee with pike units, and cavalry suffer a 'down two die types' penalty.  Swedish Brigades and Imperial Tercios for the TYW are basically just bigger units of the same types. The troop quality, militia, regular or elite, also play a factor in how well a unit will be rated to fight.

The Poles looked completely different.  The artillery was the same amount but suffered one section as militia, the infantry could boast only four units, only two of which were regular, the others militia. In fact, one unit had no pike at all!  The artillery were spread across the center, the infantry formed two lines with cavalry flanking both sides.  A third line held the reserves.
 The Poles set up in three lines. Cavalry, infantry and artillery.
 The left flank cavalry, the Rajtar and Pancerni support the Cossacks.
 A look down the Polish front.
 The Cossacks in skirmish ride forward.
 Another look down the Polish line, this time from the right.
 Dragoons anchor the Polish right flank.

The cavalry on the other hand was more copious and did intimidate Thomas at first.  I did nothing to relieve his anxiety, knowing the pike and shot units he had would be a nightmare for most of my units, mounted or not.   A unit each of Cossacks and Dragoons one to each flank started my deployment. Each flank also had one unit of Reiter style cavalry and one unit of pancerni (a type of cavalry with chain mail, sword, pistol, sometimes lance, a real mix of weaponry and a range of ability from militia to elite!) near the infantry units.

Finally, the rear rank of the Poles sported two units of the iconic winged hussars. these fellows have pretty much everything going for them that cavalry can...armament includes lance, pistols, other melee weapons, great skill training, usually a morale so high as to dominate their opponents.  They are so aggressive they are prone to uncontrolled charges.  Which aren't always a bad thing. They are that good.

So eight units of Polish cavalry and four of Polish infantry stood against nine Swedish foot regiments and three Swedish cavalry regiments. So the battle was at about the 8000 man level as we were playing the 'standard' game.

So the stage was set, and the game began.  More on that next time.


  1. Great looking game, Joe. In your follow up, I'd love to see some close up photos of the winged Hussars. And Thomas did a spectacular painting job with that Swedish command stand, didn't he?

    Peter C

  2. Thomas' TYW troops are a great lookin' bunch.

  3. The detail on those figures is very impressive.

  4. Looks great. Not your standard symmetrical match up by any means, which should make for an interesting game!

  5. Joe with 8 units of cavalry? Thomas could be in trouble...