02 April 2012

By Fire and Sword - First taste of battle (AAR)

I've been waiting for this day for a couple of months - literally. This weekend I booked a game with William from Malmö whom I got in contact with after he had seen some of my BF&S stuff on the internet. As it happened he had a bunch of Turks and a bunch of Pike & Shotte models which were ideal for this game.

The game was probably a ridiculous size for a real "first try of the rules" - but I like to play things big and I think we got as close to 3 regiment divisions on both sides as we could get. Which also gave us an idea of how the game would flow on a larger level. Now, the army lists and unit compositions were largely ad-hoc.

Armies looked like this:

Polish Dragoon regiment (8 stands)
Polish Royal cavalry regiment (6 stands of cossacks, 3 of Pancerni, 3 of Winged Husars)
Polish Mercenary Infantry regiment (12 stands)
Polish armored Reiter company with commander (3 stands)

Turkish Siphai Guards (9 Stands)
12 Stands of Gönnüllu cavalry
3 stands of Deli cavalry
4 medium artillery guns (2 okta)
Jannisary Regiment (8 stands)

No Generals, only regimental commander leading each regiment or company. William had miniatures based double depth. So we counted each of his infantry stands as double strength (as 2 regular infantry stands together). It worked out well, as did all the other ad-hoc regiment organizations, I mean the main idea was to try out the game and have fun, try to learn the basics and such. And I think we both had a great time. We also played with "open orders" since this was pretty much a testing the rules battle - and we did not have any order tokens. So you will see small crystals - the green are "move", yellow "charge" and red "defend" orders if you wonder what they mean.

The battle was just a meeting engagement near a small hamlet. I think we will need to use a bit less terrain next time - even though the table looked great it did slow down lots of units crossing obstacles and movin in difficult terrain all the time.

I think we played something like 7 turns, of which the first 2 turns were mainly moving up towards the enemy. Winged hussars and the Polish cavalry was heading towards the enemy Siphai Guards and the Janissaries guarding the left flank. Polish Dragoons and Reiters moved down to the right while the German Mercenary infantry moved up the center. The infantry came under Turkish artillery fire very early on. Dragoons moved up and dismounted completely ridding themselves of their horses and guarded the right flank from the approaching Turkish light cavalry.

My Winged hussars charged and made contact with the charging Siphai guard company - both units clashed together - the Winged hussars were able to strike first due to their longer lances and killed off a base before the Siphai could fight back - the hussars lost 1 knight but won the battle - pursued the Siphai Guards and clashed into both the company they were chasing and another Siphai Guards company nearby managing to win that fight as well. Too bad I was severely out of command range with my Elite shock troop cavalry as they would be standing idly by during next turn!

Meanwhile Dragoons started to fire at the incoming light cavalry, and took a few hails of arrows in return. Few casualties on both sides. At the same time the German infantry at the center kept moving forward at slow speed around and over fences and fields, constantly under artillery fire until they were charged by the Deli Cavalry. At that point the infantry regiment wasn't prepared with an defense order so they took quite a beating.

One Siphai Guard unit was destroyed by the Winged hussars, another ran off table, the third did charge the hussars but only scored a single kill. The hussars are really badass and tough as nails - especially in later stages of close combat when the enemy does not get armor piercing bonus to their close combat weapons. Both units ended up running separate ways for a moment before rallying again and turning around for a second charge.

My Pancerni cavalry was just out of the forest when they came under Janissary fire, took a casualty and then charged into close combat. They managed to kill a few Janissaries, but then their nerves failed and they ran! And they kept running until they ran off the table... my second best unit gone like that. So it was now up to my cossack style cavalry to break through the Janissary unit and reach the enemy guns. On their way up towards the enemy lines they came first under grapeshot fire , losing 4 guys, then lost another 2 to enemy musket fire - they did keep their cool and slammed into the Turkish infantry and hacked away at them reducing them by two stands and sent them running.

The battle was an all-round slaughter, units from both sides getting routed or annihilated. Polish dragoons tried to keep their ground - firing at the incoming Turkish cavalry which without flinching rammed one of my squadrons and reduced it in strength by a brutal display of swordsmanship. And minutes later killing my Dragoon regiment commander! The Dragoon regiment (the remaining half) did break in the end and kept running for their lives. Polish armored Reiters made their way around the enemy lines and set their eyes on the enemy cavalry which was now being surrounded by Polish cossack style cavalry.

In the center however the German mercenary regiment was falling apart fast under the pressure of both Deli and Gönnülu charges, it finally crumbled and routed with the enemy at their heels. The mayhem was complete when both Polish cossack style cavalry and armored Reiters smashed into the enemy artillery position and overwhelmed it.

We decided to break at this point, both sides had a pretty bloody nose, an agreed upon "Draw". I hope we can read up on the rules until next time, but I think we both enjoyed the game. I really like the flow of everything happening, with all the sub steps of defensive fire being followed up by charges, and then firing again with units that had moved. It makes the battles very action packed and active. And we really only played the tip of the iceberg, we still have all the reconaissance rules, scenario specific special rules, national rules for regiments and stuff like the limited ammunition rules.

I hope that his battle report will spur the guys in my gaming group, and people interested in the game elsewhere - to really start collecting armies for By Fire & Sword and eagerly await the English release in May. It's such a great period for wargaming, and it feels like this particular part of Europe during the 17th century hasn't really been covered by any other set of rules. Already looking forward to the next game. And big thanks to William for coming down to Lund and trying out the game with me - he's a very nice guy!


  1. Glad that You both enjoy game, hope to read more battle reports here :)

  2. It looks like we will have a few new player additions to BF&S from the FoW group as well after the game played this weekend :-)

    I really hope we can get up to speed in the local gaming group. There will be a lot of "Swedish army" players, but the armies will be painted and played as Brandenburgers, Danes and Swedes. All will be based on the Swedish orders of battle - but I we will try to write some fitting national rules for those other nations.

  3. There will be Brandenburgian army in 'Deluge' supplement and about Danes - well, let's just say that something hopefully can be done about them 'in Courland fashion' in future ;)

  4. Now *that's* a photo gallery! Well done.

  5. You have the Imperial army as well, veterans of the TYW looking for a rematch with the dastardly Swedes. (And well placed to fight against the "Grand Turk" as well)

    There were also Dutch troops fighting alongside the Danes in the final year of the war so there is ample opportunity to field 'western' forces other than the Swedes.

  6. Imperial corps during 'Deluge' will also have its own pdf with army lists for 'By Fire and Sword' (same as Danes, I hope) but that's of course far future, probably middle next year or so.

  7. Thanks Anatoli! Really nice AAR. I enjoyed it.

  8. Really nice report.
    Winged hussars... *drools*

  9. Super stuff and good that it looks like my FOG(N) armies will be compatible. In addition I have started to collect the Muscovites from the range (I have Poles, Cossacks and Ottomans) Cant wait for the English version. Do the Ottomans have lance?


  10. In regards to Ottoman's lances it depends. Delis same 'kopia' as Commonwealth's husaria. Guard Sipahs have 'Turkish kopia', Provincial Sipahs may have 'Turkish kopia' but You have limited number of units with them, although You might field one sanjak (equivalent of regiment) from Albania or Bosnia, where all Sipahs have 'Turkish kopia'. You may also have some elite light cavalry (elite Beshli or Gonullu) with spears.


  11. @Nick
    What Kadrinazi wrote.

    And as you might also want to know the lances are one use only weapons, discarded after the first charge. You can also lose them if you are forced to retreat. And units with lances and ranged weapons can't use ranged weapons as long as they carry their lance.


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