04 July 2012

Poland-Lithuania vs Sweden 1/7/2012 (BF&S) AAR

Played another division sized game against David this weekend. David was unable to participate in the divisional battle last time I played against Thomas and Patrik - but the guys borrowed him their regiments so he too could try it out on full scale.

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

Divisional support:
2 companies of Polish-Hungarian infantry
3x 3pdr Falcon artillery

Swedish Garrison Division:
2x Swedish National infantry regiments
1x Veteran Reiter regiment (fully armored)

The Swedes were 12 points weaker than the Polish army so they got to choose tactics. Choosing to be the defender, the Swedish army made the short edges the zones of deployment, made one of their flanks a “secure flank” and placed 2 large obstacles in their deployment to make it harder for enemy units to move anywhere but directly at their regiments of infantry and awaiting guns.

The Polish army won the reconnaissance by having huge numbers of cavalry units. This time the Poles did not send away a regiment to make a reconnaissance run which would risk companies like in the last battle. Instead the Polish army sent the Dragoon regiment on a long flanking maneuver – set to appear on turn  5+. The Crown cavalry regiment and the Volunteers started near the Polish deployment, so did the divisional support units. The Polish army, short on cash as always, rolled for negative effects due to troubles with their treasury and had once again the Crown regiment start the battle disorganized and unprepared.

The Swedish army was holed up at the far edge of the table, utilizing thecover of a small hamlet and the deployed obstacles to protect their flanks. Both the infantry regiments were in close proximity of each other with both regimental guns positioned at the center. The Reiter companies guarded the flanks.

Once the Polish army started moving the Volunteers got a head start along the left flank, their goal was to move along the left table edge and connect with the Dragoons once that regiment appeared on the table and perform a flanking action on the Swedish infantry in the hamlet. At the center of the Polish lines the artillery commander ordered his divisional support units to start hauling the 3pdr Falcon guns closer to the enemy lines, and the Polish-Hungarian infantry started their slow march towards the enemy lines. On the right flank the Polish crown cavalry regiment started their trot towards the enemy right flank.

Soon enough the Polish artillery was within range of the Swedish artillery and started bombarding their positions. The Swedish artillery in turn started shelling the Polish Volunteer cavalry managing to inflict casualties which caused the undisciplined formation to panic and start falling back. The battle had just started but it looked as if the entire Volunteer regiment would rout off the table already! Luckily enough one of the squadrons made halt, although disorganized – and the second squadron was halted soon after. In a way this allowed the rest of the Polish units to catch up to the level of the Volunteers before the advance was resumed.

The artillery exchange continued, having learned their lesson from the last battle, the crown cavalry was not keen on attacking both artillery firing canister shots and infantry firing concentrated salvo. The Crown cavalry thus made halt a safe distance outside of canister shot range and while still getting fired at – the Swedish roundshots posed little threat at this distance and against cavalry in loose formation.

Finally the Polish guns managed to destroy both Swedish guns, and the advance resumed, the large mass of cavalry closed in on the small Swedish army stoically awaiting the onslaught. The Swedish Reiters decided to form a squadron and plug the hole on the right flank by moving out and engaging the Polish cossack style cavalry so that it could not get around the backs of the nearby infantry regiment. Swedish reiters and the Polish light cavalry thus clashed in a wild melee on the far right flank. Reiters charged head on firing pistols, inflicting some casualties, before crashing into the enemy. The melee that followed had both sides lose a couple of riders, in the end it was the Swedish Reiters and their improved discipline that won the fight. The Polish cavalry failed to make an organized withdrawal and ended up fleeing – with the Swedes at their back.

In the meantime the Pancerni and Winged Hussar cavalry began their charge towards the Swedish infantry regiment that managed to fire a salvo which hit the Pancerni but failed to break the charge. The musketeers withdrew behind the pikemen who took their place and braced themselves. The Winged hussars and Pancerni cavalry smashed into the defending infantry, pikes and lances skewered opponents on both sides, and those that made it past the pikes slashed with their swords. The Swedish pikemen took heavy casualties but the Swedish numbers and and improved tactical discipline saved them from breaking. The Pancerni fell back in a organized fashion while the Winged hussars decided to start fleeing instead.

While the Crown cavalry regiment was in a disarray at the right flank and busy regrouping and evading the pursuing Swedish reiters the overdue Dragoon reinforcements arrived from their long flanking maneuver. Immediately the dragoons moved up their maximum speed and dismounted, sending their horses to the rear. Their role would solely be infantry support so the horses were not needed any longer.

The Volunteers and Dragoons closed in on the left flank Swedish infantry regiment which greeted the Polish cavalry with fire from their muskets, killing a few riders at long range. The situation looked grim for the Swedes however as the sheer number of Polish units in this area was overwhelming. The Polish-Hungarian infantry was also closing in on the Swedish position.

The Reiters kept charging and caught up with the Polish cossack style cavalry and another melee was fought, the Polish light cavalry was broken and continued their flight – they were now outside of the command range and kept running towards the friendly table edge. Nearby Polish artillery swung around and managed to bring one gun within line of sight and fired a case shot at the Reiters, killing one rider and sending the squadron back the way it had come, saving the Polish right flank from being overrun.

The Volunteers and Dragoons now got into a heavy firefight with the Swedish infantry at the hamlet. Polish Dragoons advanced slowly performing counter-march while the Swedes at first held their ground but then moved out to face the enemy. The Volunteer cavalry bided their time for a turn, but then got impatient and moved up in force within pistol range – the pistol fire proved devastating and the flanking fire from the Polish dragoons combined killed many Swedish infantrymen. The Swedes fired at the Volunteer cavalry and slew a fair share of the enemy riders at close range where the muskets were completely unforgiving and allowed no save rolls. The Volunteers broke away, and as usual managed to spread panic in their own lines – so both squadrons started fleeing. One Squadron outran the regimental commander , the other squadron was halted.

The Swedish regiment was bloodied, but kept their ground, and got some time to breathe before the return of any cavalry support. The Polish however kept firing at the Swedes with their Dragoons and Polish-Hungarian infantry inflicting a steady amount of losses. Finally the Swedish infantry regiment passed their breaking point and failed their morale check which ended in the remnants withdrawing from the battle. This left a huge gap and a severely exposed flank of the second Swedish infantry regiment. Polish infantry units and the rallied squadron of Volunteers turned their attention to the second Swedish infantry regiment, while the Polish crown cavalry that remained clashed with the Reiters.

The cavalry melee was largely ineffective, both sides were heavily armored, and the Winged Hussars had no lances to fight with anymore. This led to few casualties and the exhausted opponents broke away from the stalemate as it ended a draw. The Swedish Reiters started panicking and fleeing however. Polish artillery which now had an opening fired round shot after them killing enough of the squadron to reduce the Reiters to breaking point.

While the Reiters were busy fleeing the remaining Swedish infantry came under heavy fire once again from Dragoons, Polish-Hungarian infantry and Volunteers riding up to them and firing their pistols point blank. The Swedish infantry reduced to below half strength finally broke and fled – and the Reiters too failed to stay in the battle and fled as well.

The Polish-Lithuanian army had won. It was a close victory since a large chunk of the Volunteers and Polish crown cavalry had been running towards the Polish table edge and would run off table the very next turn. This would result in a impossible Polish morale check that would see the withdrawal of both cavalry regiments, leaving the Dragoons and Polish divisional support to fend for themselves! The Crown cavalry also passed their regimental morale check 3 turns in a row. It was really a battle to the very end for both armies.

The Swedish casualties numbered

2 regimental guns
3 stands of Reiters
11 stands of musketeers
3 stands of Pikemen

The Polish casualties numbered

1 stand of Polish Hungarian infantry
2 stands of Polish dragoons
2 stands of Pancerni cavalry
6 stands of cossack style cavalry
4 stands of Volunteer cavalry

The lessons learned from the last divisional battle was to delay the arrival of the flanking Dragoons until at least turn 5. The Dragoons arrived at turn 7 at which point the battle was well underway and their flanking arrival was just the extra firepower needed to start rolling up the enemy Pike&Shot formations.

Having artillery around to destroy the Swedish regimental guns was also crucial to reduce the otherwise impossible odds of attacking the Pike&shot regiments with cavalry. This battle I also managed to use the Pancerni cavalry in the role of fire support, and dared close in within Pistol range with the Volunteers. The Volunteers provided me with a devastating casualty count on the Swedish infantry, mostly due to luck with my shooting rolls and the enemy being unlucky in their own shooting – however is is apparent that the Volunteers can be used as a last ditch “crazy attack”  on Pike&Shot units where they are able to cause more casualties with their shooting than they would have done in close combat.

The Polish-Hungarian infantry also provided some welcome infantry support. And  I already look forward to fielding a German mercenary infantry regiment to face the growing mass of Swedish Pike&Shot regiments that my opponents have ordered.

It’s also important, but in the heat of the battle difficult, to keep troops from overlapping each other in the case of a rout. Too often one unit that starts fleeing causes the spread of panic and drags other units with them and either leave them disorganized or fleeing.

We are still learning the rules, this was but our second large scale battle and there were a few new rules learned during and after the game which we will have in mind next time we play. This game is awesome. I figure that once all of the guys here at the club have a full sized army of their own we will try to make some kind of campaign/scenario driven battles set during the "Deluge"/Swedish invasion of Poland by Charles X of Sweden.


  1. Another great AAR Anatoli! Well written and the rules seem to give games that are both tense and fast paced. I'm waiting eagerly for the English translation and hope the rules will become popular here in Sweden

  2. AAR as always very interesting. Bit surprised though, how good Polish artillery was :)

  3. Brought the 3 light artillery guns to have a gun duel with the Swedish artillery - then noticed I had Falcon 3pdr's that had longer range and I was able to outshoot David. It took me a couple of turns to first push the guns 5cm at a time up to position and then shoot and destroy the Swedish guns. After that I had so many units that I ended up blocking LoS to my own artillery for most of the remainder of the battle.

    It will be interesting to see how things turn out once the Swedish players start fielding 12 and 24pdr divisional support guns (which they have just received and started painting).

  4. According to rules they will be only able to field 12 pdr, not 24 ;)

  5. Ah yes, 6pdr and 12pdr is what I meant. Though those guns will outshoot my Falcon's.

    The small addition of Polish-Hungarian infantry was a welcome support in this battle as well - making me look forward to fielding my own German Mercenary regiment.

    Hopefully, sometime later this summer the Swedish army will be large enough to allow me to defend in which case I will be able to use my large number reconnaissance points to pull off ambushes and other fun stuff.

  6. It looks real nice live! Alot of colorful miniatures and many kind of markers, me like! :)
    Sadly though I have to many other projects at the moment, so I dont think I will join you at the moment.

    1. Maybe you will have finished some of them once the English language version of the rules is released :-D

  7. Excellent report for a properly dramatic and bloody battle.

    By the way, when the English translation does get released, you'll mention it here on your blog, right?

    1. Thanks :-)

      And yes of course I will mention the release of the rules in English!

  8. Very well done! I also think that By fire and Sword is great wargame, with simple rules and large dose of "battlefield reality". I work for Wargamer, so I often play big battles, sometimes commanding Polish forces, sometimes Swedish, and I like both armies (I still have to paint my own Polish and Swedish divisions). You're right that Pike & Shot regiments are very tough, so there is one in my Polish division. I also use Light Cavalry Regiment, as they are great in binding and weakening enemy forces while rest of my army prepares the deadly blow. I'm glad you like the rules and that your friends also liked them. Good luck in painting and fighting;]

  9. Damn that's pretty! Great report and beautiful minis. Just love your whole setup.

  10. "It will be interesting to see how things turn out once the Swedish players start fielding 12 pdr...".

    Swedish 12 pd with an artilery officer allowing re-rolls is a powerful weapon to fight against!

    Great battle report! I love Your battlefield.

  11. It is an epic event to read and view. It must have been even more so to play and photograph!

  12. I have 2 questions first is Polish Hungarian regiment did you make them from Dragoons ? I can't find models for that ;( Second where did you get Rilles for this game did somebody translate them for you ?

    1. Anatoli's haiduks are from different company, as they were still not released for BFaS. Anatoli have Polish rulebook that he is using.

    2. As Kadrinazi says the Polish-Hungarians are from another manufacturer - "Legio Heroica".

      And I've had the rules in Polish since early this year. Chunks of it have been translated into English and I've been making unit stat translations for my friends for the units we are using. It's been working out OK but everyone is of course waiting for the rules to be released in English.

  13. Thanks Anatoli for that info i got just two Starters for this game mostly because of you're battle reports 1 Polish Skirmish set and 1 for Sweden i got the book to but i cant understand the rulles for set up my Polish army what it is all that PS4 PS5 PS6 ? Can you maybe make Battle report and explain base on that Battle report all rulles ?

    1. Damian, do you mean the PS value in the army list or in the scenario pages?

      In the scenario the PS are the points value for your troops, the army lists are designed in such as way that the first line at the top of the page are the core troops of your regiment. Then you have additional lines below with a PS value on the side of the column, each additional line allows you to pick one more company/banner/unit.

      Often you get the choice between several units, like the Poles being able to pick one additional company of Cossack style cavalry OR Pancerni.

      When playing a scenario or just a battle, both players count the PS total of their army to see who is the stronger player (the most expensive army). The weaker player than uses the difference in points to buy such things as choice of scenario, scenario and army effects. In the end both armies will be "equal" in points, though the weaker player has points invested in the battlefield itself.

      Both players also count reconnaissance points which add additional options of ambush and sending a regiment on a flanking action to appear from the side of the enemy deployment and such.

      I have been planning on making a tutorial series on these rules covering all aspects, it's a LOT of information to work through though - but I hope to show the basics. Not sure when I will start with that series of articles though, maybe next week.

  14. Thanks Anatoil i was not sure of the PS on army Lists but now i think i understand. Once again thanks for you're blog and i will be waiting for more staff from you about this game .

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