The Blue Baron back again with another installment of And Now for Something Completely Different. This time its Pike and Shotte, by Warlord Games. Pike and Shotte covers the 17th century, focusing on Europe. Pike and Shotte follows a lot of the same rules as Warlord Games’ Black powder, but switches up enough to get a real feel for the period.
This era is defined by Blocks of pikes and the introduction of larger numbers of matchlocks (shotte), hence the name. Easy right? Tactics in the era followed the Rock-Paper-Scissors mentality. Cavalry would be decimated if they charged a pike block, but could wreak havoc on shot. Shot could pepper the pike blocks at range without fear of reprisal. In the English Civil war A block of pike would be accompanied by two “sleeves” of shotte, one on each side. This eventually gave rise to the hedgehog. When threatened by cavalry the shot would retreat into the block of pike and make a formation similar to a Napoleonic square, with pikes facing outward. This would repulse the cavalry.
Onto an overview of the rules themselves! An army consists of an Army General and a number or batalia. A batalia contains a batalia commander and a number of units. In our game we had a batalia consisting of a commander and three units of cavalry. Another batalia had a commander, three units of pike and 6 units of shot. The rule book contains point costs for different types of units and a table to make your own units as needed with all the special rules available at a cost. Our game started out as roughly equal in points, but looking at the table Montrose’s position seemed a bit undermanned. So we threw a unit of Highlanders to give us more troops to push around. During the game of course, we found that Montrose’s Irish, being veterans of the 30 Years War, were tough buggers.
The game is divided into the usual 3 phases, move, shot assault. The usually movement phase involves giving orders to your units. This is similar to Warmaster if you’ve ever played that. you start with a commander, declare who is doing what and roll to see how well they carry out the order. Here’s an example! Lord Bailey wants a unit of pike to advance to the top of a hill 14″ away. His command is an 8. So the player then rolls 2D6. for every number lower than his command the unit gets a move, up to 3 moves. If he ties the number he gets a move as well. So on a 7 or 8 the infantry gets one 6″ move towards the hill. on a 6, they move 12″, on a 5 or less they move 14″ and stop. They could go farther but the order issued told them to stop at the top of the hill. If the roll was a 9 or above the order is failed. They do nothing, and Lord Bailey cannot give any more orders. There is an option to give a batalia order so you can tell a whole line of troops to advance rather than have to issue five different orders.
The shooting phase is pretty standard. All units have a shooting value that determines how many dice they get to shoot. Pike don’t have any, whereas a unit of shotte will have 3. You check if the unit is in range and you roll needing a 4+ adjusted by modifies such as if the target is in the woods or behind a wall, etc. A roll of a 6 will disorder a unit (which I’ll talk about later) in addition to causing a hit. The unit hit then takes morale saves for every hit it took. Moral saves are basically armor saves. They are also modified by things like getting hit by artillery. Unlike most games, wounds do not remove models. They are just noted by the unit. In my pictures they’re blood drops from GF9 with the number of wounds.
All units have a stamina value. This says how many wounds they can take before they become less effective and more prone to run from the field of battle. A normal block of pike will have a stamina of 3. Once it takes three wounds it becomes shaken (blue chips in my game). They take a penalty to shooting and hand to hand combat. In addition ever additional time they take a wound they take a break check and may run from the table. The whole unit is removed at once, letting you keep your painted minis on the table for longer.
Close combat is again a pretty normal affair. To get into combat you have to make a charge order during the Movement phase. There are the usual charge reactions, stand, closing fire, counter charge for cavalry, evade for skirmishers and cavalry. Once you get to the fighting phase every unit has a hand to hand value. Pike blocks have around 6 while shotte units have 3. The number needed is a gain a 4+ modified by things like charging or shaken. Each side then takes their morale saves. The side that took more wounds loses, modified again with things like getting charged in the flank, supporting units, etc. the loser takes a moral check and can stand, fall back, or break.
A quick section on being disordered and army moral. Being disordered means you take a penalty to shooting and hand to hand. Additionally, you cannot receive orders while disordered. Disordered goes away at the end of your turn. When half a batalia is shaken or destroyed the batalia is considered broken. This means that disordered no longer goes away and the units in the batalia will retreat to outside of 12″ of the enemy if able. When over half of the batalias are broken the army is then broken. This is usually the end of the game.
I’ll finish up with some quick information on the English Civil War game we played. We re-fought the Battle of Alford. Oddly enough the battle contained no Englanders. We had the Montrose Irish on one side and the Scottish Covenanters on the other side. The Covenanters needed to take the Montrose position. The Montrose eventually repulse the Scots, but it was a lot of fun as we all learned the rules for the first time. Pictures are above.
As always, I’m open to any and all questions about historical gaming as well as topics for further installments.