18 September 2012

By Fire & Sword: Swedish Deluge sized battle AAR

Our big By Fire & Sword game was delayed by two weeks, but we finally got to play the biggest battle to date. I faced Thomas who borrowed a couple of regiments and squadrons from Patrik and David, so the Swedish army was huge and there were a lot of new Pike&Shot regiments to give my cavalry all sorts of new trouble. I myself ran my usual army but with the added newly painted up Polish mercenary infantry painted up as Polish Royal Guards.


Our armies looked like this:

Swedish army (45 points)

General with 4 command points

2 Swedish infantry regiments (New Type) with 1 regimental gun each and officers with 3 command points

2  Mercenary infantry regiments (Old Type) with 1 regimental gun each and officers with 3 command points

1 Swedish Reiter regiment (2 full squadrons, one armoured one unarmoured) and officer with 3 command points as well as a junior officer with 1 command point.

Artillery battery with 1x regimental 3pdr, 1x 6pdr, 1x 12pdr and Artillery officer with 2 command points.


Polish army (36 points)

General with 4 command points

1 Polish Crown regiment with 1 squadron of cossack style light cavalry, 1 squadron of Pancerni medium cavalry and 2 stands of Winged Hussars. Officer 3 command points.

1 Polish Dragoon regiment upgraded to Veteran dragoons and officer with 3 command points.

1 Polish Volunteer cavalry regiment with 2 squadrons. Officer with 3 command points.

1 Polish Mercenary infantry regiment. Officer with 3 command points.

Artillery battery with 3x 3pdr Falcon guns and artillery officer with 2 command points.

2 companies of Polish-Hungarian infantry as Divisional support.


As usual the weaker player got to pick tactics. I made it a defensive battle with my defending, I could have made Thomas attack me across the long side of the table like the Swedes always had made me do - but I realized that with 4 Pike & Shot regiments they would form a wall and just advance into my positions and I would be pushed off table in the end. Instead I made my deployment zone slightly wider and used my accumulated superior reconnaissance points to make one of my regiments (The Volunteer cavalry) go for a long flanking maneuver and ordered to appear on turn 4 at the earliest.

I had some points left and I could have placed one regiment in ambush but there wasn't really any terrain that favored such a thing, and the opponent was so strong that I figured that ambushing unit would be slaughtered.

From past experiences I knew I was neck deep in trouble, my army is not particularly strong and I always have great trouble handling Pike&Shot regiments (as it should be). The only thing I could hope for was to somehow isolate and flank part of the enemy army.

I deployed my Polish Crown regiment in the bottom right corner of my deployment, flanked by Polish mercenary infantry, then extending the line with Polish-Hungarian infantry flanking my Falcon battery and having them flanked by Polish Veteran Dragoons which I started dismounted as I knew I would not be going anywhere with those guys.

The Swedes deployed 2 infantry regiments (one of each "type") at their center along with the artillery, then had 2 regiments going for the flank with my Crown Cavalry and had their large Reiter formation pointed on a flanking maneuver to take on my Dragoons.

My plan (and it was a very risky gamble but probably the only way to pull off a victory) was to somehow move my cavalry from the bottom corner, past the 2 infantry regiments on Thomas right flank and catch his center regiments advancing towards my center from the flank or behind and ride them down - hopefully by that time my Volunteers had arrived and could help out.

The battle starts - for the first time EVER - my Polish-Lithuanian army did not suffer from having problems with money. I rolled "no effect" on my national special rule that table which otherwise can greatly cripple your army. This made me really happy.

An artillery duel commenced, Swedish artillery and Polish artillery exchanging cannonballs as the Swedish infantry started their slow but menacing advance towards the thin Polish line. I knew I would not be able to flank the Swedes or escape with my Cavalry unless I knocked out those Swedish guns. The Swedish gun crews had better training but only 1 light gun that could fire 2 times per turn, while I was able to fire 3 light guns 2 times per turn. The duel ended in 3 Swedish guns destroyed, 2 guns from the artillery battery (3pdr and 6pdr) and one regimetnal gun from a nearby Swedish infantry regiment. The Poles eventually lost all of their Falcons, which left me with a single 3pdr regimental gun.

At this point my cavalry had made slow and vary progress across the fence and onto the field that would soon become a deathtrap. On the opposite flank the Swedish Reiters made good progress and now split up in two groups. One squadron turning and going to the Polish Dragoons, while the other squadron continued past with the intention to flank the village and eventually hit the Dragoons in the back. Polish Dragoons and Swedish mercenary infantry exchanged shots, the Dragoons also fired upon the enemy Reiters closing in but becoming slowed down by all the fences.

My Polish cavalry was now across the field, and moved over the fences, every battle has one moment that determines the outcome of the rest of the battle, and this became such a moment. The Swedish 12pdr turned around and unleashed a devastating case shot slaying a stand of my Pancerni cavalry, this stopped my advance and the unit became disorganized and lost their move order. This also blocked my light cavalry from going anywhere and the Swedish infantry regiments emerged from the forest and around the flank of the nearby forest and started their counter-march firing at my cavalry.

This had me back away cavalry so that the Swedes had to fire at my loose formations of cavalry at long range which would greatly reduce the accuracy - but most importantly of all keep my out of the devastating close range of those hard hitting Spanish muskets of Thomas mercenary infantry.

Meanwhile my very weak center saw some exchange of fire between my two Polish-Hungarian companies and Swedish infantry moving forwards. I was thinking about whether or not pull my units back, but then again those two companies were stalling the Swedish units in the center while my own mercenary infantry was wheeling up and moving to help out in the firefight. Those Polish-Hungarian units had a very ungrateful task and were soon dropping like flies.

The other dangerous situation was developing on my far left flank where my Dragoons were now facing a potential 3vs1 situation. Luckily my Dragoons took aim and unleashed a devastating "salvo" that killed a bunch of unarmoured Reiters and had the Swedish squadron turn around and flee in the opposite direction despite the nearby commander urging them to stay calm. This was a brief respite as the Swedish mercenary infantry moved up and kept firing their Spanish muskets killing dragoons, and soon had me at my regiment breaking point but luckily for me I passed and the regiment stayed in the fight.

My Volunteers failed to show up on turn 4, but finally arrived at turn 5 and I brought them on the enemy left flank, far back. I would have preferred to have them attack the Swedish infantry on the right flank but I could not bring in my stuff too close to the enemy. The situation was beyond repair now, my Crown Cavalry pretty much locked in place and with few sensible options decided to try their luck attacking the infantry standing just inside the nearby forest (lunatic idea). I started out with opening fire with both squadrons - which did little damage. I took some casualties in the return fire, not wasting more time I charged the infantry the following turn and ran into the wall of pikes, which killed a few riders and I lost a stand of light cavalry. However, out of 14 dice that I rolled which required 1-6 to hit on a D10, I only hit a measly 3 hits!! That was a complete disaster and ruined any kind of impetus that my cavalry charge had provided. The cavalry was beaten back by the combat resolution, the Pancerni started fleeing while the Light cavalry was disorganized and pushed back.

Naturally my Pancerni ran past my remaining artillery piece and made the crew flee in panic as well.

Swedish infantry on my right flank now moved up and shot up the light cavalry squadron which took a lot of casualties and eventually made my Crown Cavalry regiment break and leave the battlefield.

On the opposite side of the table the Swedish unarmoured Reiters also ran off the table as they failed to rally. But the Polish-Hungarian companies were completely destroyed and the surrounded Dragoons took further casualties from Swedish mercenary infantry and Swedish armoured Reiters shot their regimental commander. The Dragoons finally had enough and withdrew from the battlefield.  The Reiters continued their attack and shot my artillery commander. My Polish mercenary infantry also crumbled from getting fired upon and became disorganized.

I called the game and surrendered as there was nothing more I could do. My Volunteers at the far back of the enemy had just taken artillery hits and become disorganized, but even if they rallied I had really nothing that could stop the largely untouched Swedish host.

Pike&Shot regiments are tough as hell, and really require you to hit them from the back and flanks with at least 2 squadrons at the same time. Still a fun game and it was great to try out a huge game like this. What I really need to do is to expand my Crown Cavalry regiment to the point where I can legally include 6 stands (1 squadron) of Winged hussars. And perhaps more cheap Volunteer cavalry. They are not that bad once they get into pistol reach. What I can't do at the moment is to get involved in firefights with the Swedes, I simply don't have the firepower for it. This was also the first time that we played along the short sides of the table which would normally favor my cavalry but in this battle there were too many tough units and Thomas kept them grouped together making it hard to exploit any weakness.

Andreas at our club is very excited about the "Skirmish level" of this game, so we might try out  the "level 1" games (this was a level 2 "Division" game). It  will be fun to try out a Polish-Lithuanian skirmish force against his Ottoman raiders.

8 comments:

  1. Great battle, great AAR. I think that what Your Commonwealth division really need is another strong pułk of cavalry as 5th regiment. It seems that such additional cavalry punch would be very useful.

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  2. Great AAR, beautiful figures and the table scenery works so well to pull in the eye.

    I'd agree with the earlier post, bring in another strong cavalry unit and try out a more even sided (or have the Polish larger) for the game to see if those infantry units like to be surrounded.

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  3. Looks like a great battle. The armies look excellent.

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  4. Anatoli, based on photos it seems that You're making mistake when playing - pike and shot in regiment have to be divided in separate squadrons and You need to give them orders as per each squadrons, not as whole regiment

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    1. Isn't a squadron of infantry 12 bases?
      In all cases the Pike&Shot regiment commander got 1 instruction from the General and the regimental commander then gave orders to both the squadron of 12 stands of infantry and another order to the regimental gun.

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  5. Pikemen in Pike and Shot regiment had to be grouped in separate squadron. See description of regiment on army roster. So regiment will be normally set up as two squadrons - one of pike and one of shot.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, the way the rules were written we assumed that they formed a company of their own and then attached to the musketeers - mainly by interpreting the countermarch and Pike&Shot rule in a sloppy way. I see now that you're right. This opens up for a few new possibilities and additional formations for the Pike&Shot infantry.

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  6. That would change things up a bit! It was a great game and we are still learning how to play the game. Next time well do a slightly smaller game and play it right.

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