20 June 2012

Polish-Lithuanian vs Swedish division battle

The day I have been waiting for so long finally arrived. My compiling the Swedish national infantry that Patrik and Thomas had, together with the Reiters David had painted up I managed to set up a full Level 2 "Division sized" game of By Fire & Sword.

This was the first time we actually used Generals, hidden orders, scenario and reconnaissance special rules. It was too awesome to describe it in words!

I love this game, and we had already started to form tactics and "do's / don'ts"  by the end of the day from the experience.

The armies were made up of:

Poland-Lithuanian Crown Division
Crown cavalry regiment
Volunteer regiment
Dragoon regiment

Swedish Garrison Division
2x Swedish National infantry regiments
1x Veteran Reiter regiment

The Swedish army was smaller, so it got to choose if it wanted to be defending, attacking or make a pitched battle. The Swedes chose to "defend". They also used their weaker status to buy "Tactics".
The tactical points spent by the Swedes were:

1) Playing along the long side of the table, deployment zones at the short edges.
2) Secure 1 flank, meaning the Left flank was locked from any kind of threats I could throw at the enemy army.
3) Move 1 terrain feature, they moved 1 hill.

The Polish-Lithuanian army wanted to receive an edge over the well positioned Swedish army so the Volunteer cavalry was sent on a reconnaissance mission. The reconnaissance advantage the Poles got made them able to send 1 regiment on a flanking maneuver (Dragoons would flank the Swedish army from the right flank).

The reconnaissance mission wasn't without problems though, 2 of the Volunteer cavalry companies ran into trouble with the enemy, and both lost 1 stand each - and had to deploy near the enemy army. The remaining 2 companies and the Volunteer regimental commander made it back to the main army and deployed outside of the Polish deployment zone.

The Dragoons sent off table to flank the enemy were set to appear around turn 3 (I would start to roll a skill test each turn from turn 3, if passed they would arrive at the end of the turn).


Battle begins

Polish roll on their "Problems with the treasury" chart and rolls a "1 random regiment starts disorganized". Of course the Crown cavalry regiment becomes this random regiment - so they do nothing during first turn.

The Swedes are comfortly awaiting the Polish cavalry along the short table edge, one regiment on a hill to add further advantage. A Swedish regimental gun starts to fire grapeshot after the Volunteer cavalry which is trying to get back to friendly lines after their reconnaissance mission, killing riders and sending one company fleeing - which makes the other company panic and start fleeing as well.

The Polish cavalry finally starts to move, the Volunteers on the left Polish flank head towards their fleeing comrades with the intent of rallying them. The Crown cavalry regiment makes their way towards the enemy along the right Polish flank.

Having thought the Polish main army would be much further up the table by now, and not really anticipating that the Dragoons would show up this early - the Dragoons enter the battlefield on turn 3. Alone and without any Divisional general to provide further instructions. Their only hope to do something is to abort their supposed attack on the enemy flank and make a wide maneuver around the enemy and back towards friendly lines. They are threathened by Swedish reiters and regimental guns shower them with grapeshot and roundshot killing several soldiersbut failing to cause panic among the Poles.

The Volulnteers are rallied by the Volunteer commander, and the Crown regiment is now riding into long range of enemy roundshot. All companies and squadrons in the Crown regiment spend a special maneuver to continue to approach in "Loose formation" making them harder to hit.

Dragoons and Volunteer cavalry meet up halfways on the table and wheel up, Dragoons dismount and send away their horses while the Crown regiment starts to take casualties from cannonballs flying through their ranks. The approach continues at a steady pace. Regimental commanders ride back and forth on the Swedish side yelling orders to the troops. Formations move around to get better defensive angles and to get closer to enemy units so that they can open fire at them.

One Dragoon company takes another shower of grapeshot and starts to flee but is soon rallied by the nearby commander.

The idea now was that the Polish Crown cavalry would ride up towards the right flank Swedish national infantry and open fire at the regimental gun - destroying it - and then charge like mad with 3 units against a single Pike&Shot regiment. However the defensive fire showering the Polish Pancerni cavalry sent them running - which caused panic amongst the Winged Hussars that followed the fleeing Pancerni despite my Regimental commander spending additional command points to improve their morale roll! This was pretty bad since the Hussars lost their lances due to the flight.

The Swedes could breathe out in relief - for now. The Swedish infantry opened fire and caused a couple kills but the Polish Crown cavalry was still bunched up nearby and gathering their forces after having been rallied. Soon the Polish cavalry was on the move back - through hails of bullets and grapeshot projectiles which kept shredding the light and medium cavalry to pieces.

At the back the Volunteers were making their way towards the ongoing mayhem, doing their best to avoid the Reiters and second Pike&Shot regiment - leaving it to the Dragoons to delay the enemy infantry. The enemy managed to inflict further losses towards the Dragoons which finally had enough and what remained of the regiment fled the battle - exposing the Polish left flank.

The Swedes now started to wheel up to create a killing ground of musket and artillery crossfire on the two remaining regiments.

Time and again the Polish cavalry rallied and mounted charges on the hill - time and again they were repulsed by grapeshot and muskets firing Salvo fire. Badly battered they finally managed to charge and eliminate the regimental gun -time was already running out as the Swedes were closing on the left flank. Things looked pretty bad. In one last ditch attempt to break the regiment on the hill both Both cossack style cavalry, Pancerni and Volunteer mounted one final charge. The cossack style cavalry was once again shaken by defensive fire while the battered squadrons of Pancerni and Volunteers crashed into the appearing pikemen formation. The melee was won by the Swedish infantry and their Pikes, remnants of the cossack style cavalry were charged by Swedish Reiters and destroyed. The remaining Crown cavalry companies decided it was best to just leave the battle and fled. This left the Volunteers in an awkward spot locked between 2 Pike&Shot formations and approaching Reiter companies. They too fled.

The day ended a crushing defeat for the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.

Some thoughts on the game now that I have played vs Pike&Shot formations and a proper divisional battle. I love this game, and Patrik and Thomas enjoyed the hell out of it as well.
We like the way the orders work, and having you actively use your commanders to ride around and issue instructions, orders, rally stuff etc.

I also think the Reconnaissance rules add a lot of flavor and character to the game. And I also think that the balance system of allowing the weaker player to pick battle plan and then tactics works extremely well. The Swedish army in this battle won a lot by first making my approach a lot more awkward and tight by playing the long side. Had they not picked this table approach I would have had a lot more room for maneuver and flanking. The Swedes also made a good choice of locking one flank, which mean they knew from which flank I would arrive when I arrived with my Dragoons - minimizing the risk to their army.

We also learned a lot about possible tactics, and how to use units and how to not use units. We did a few things just to “check out the effects” and to see how things worked instead of playing it “just to win”. I think it was a lot more important for us to learn and check out as many aspects of the game, and I would say that we accomplished that quite well. The Pike&Shot formation is tough as hell, and the regimental guns are worth their weight in cold firing demoralizing grapeshot projectiles. To break the Pike&Shot regiments you really have either throw everything you have at them - or try to swarm them from the flanks and rear. Making a frontal attack is dangerous and pretty impossible to win.

It's just such a great game, lots of flavor rules that make the battles feel chaotic for the troops without making it difficult for the players.

The English language version of this rules cannot be released soon enough!


  1. Great AAR Anatoli (as always!). Glad that You and Your friends enjoy game :)

  2. Thanks Kadrinazi, we had a great time. Really looking forward to the next battle already, hopefully sometime next week :-)

  3. I think that P-L division here need another 'pułk' of cavalry, as volunteers are just not good enough for normal fight. Having two 'pułks' of proper cavalry division gives You much better tactical options

  4. Yep, the Volunteers aren't bad and they are great for sending out on Reconnaissance missions before the battle. But they are not a main battle unit. I really messed up a bit with my Dragoons though, I thought I would be closer to the enemy by turn 3 which was the turn I had declared I would start rolling for my Deep Flanking regiment. To my surprise they appeared on my first attempt and ended up on the enemy flank without support - and had to run back like crazy not to get instantly wiped out haha.

    I think the deep flanking should have been saved to turn 5-7 when the battle was at its highest - and really help out the cavalry by attacking enemy Pike&Shot regiments from the rear or side with volleys of musket fire.

    I also left home my 3 Light artillery guns and Polish-Hungarian divisional support. i will include them in the next battle just to see how they work in a Division sized setting. I have also ordered 1 box of Mercenary “Old Type” infantry since my opponents are all going for the “Swedish Garrison division” with lots of infantry and artillery support of their own. Might need a solid block of infantry to help out my cavalry formations :-)

  5. Nice AAR, rules sound realy interesting.

  6. Looks superb, echo you on the rules, the English translation can't come soon enough.

  7. Looks and sounds great. Neat table you got there!


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