18 October 2012

By Fire & Sword 3 vs 3 regiment battle

This weekend me and Thomas played By Fire & Sword again. By that time I had already painted up all the 17th century Wargamer terrain and I was eager to play with it on the battlefield, indeed it made things look really good.

We decided to play a relatively small battle, 3 vs 3 regiments and no divisional support. The reason for this was to flex our brains and keep track of additional rules which we had not been using until now, such as the rules for limited ammunition (which I think are a must, as they enhance the experience greatly).

I'm still having a steep learning curve on how to play the Polish-Lithuanian army I own in a proper way. I received a lot of valuable tips over at the By Fire & Sword forum after my battle which I'm very keen on trying out next time I play this game. I also formed a few new ideas of my own which I also want to experiment with.

(You can check out the By Fire and Sword forum HERE it has an English language section as well).

The battle was 27 points per side, first time we ever had an even number, so we rolled to see who got to defend, and the Swedes won that roll.

The Swedish army was made up of:
General with 4 command points, all regiment commanders had 3 command points
Reiter regiment 12 bases, 6 of them armoured
German Pike & Shot regiment 12 bases + regimental gun Old type
Swedish Pike & Shot regiment New type 12 bases + regimental gun

Polish army was made up of:

General with 4 command points, all regiment commanders had 3 command points
Crown regiment, 6 bases Pancerni, 6 bases cossack style cavalry, 2 bases Winged hussars
Volunteer regiment, 12 bases
Mercenary Pike & shot regiment, 12 bases

The Swedes would once again prove the value of the Pike & Shot regiments and deployed them together with embedded regimental gun support to keep any Polish cavalry at bay. The Swedish reiters deployed on the far flank, grouped in 2 squadrons.

The Polish army deployed their Pike & Shot regiment facing the Swedish Reiters on the far flank, then deployed the remainder of their army on the opposite flank facing the Swedish Pike & Shot. The actual idea was to lure the enemy Reiters towards the hole in my deployment and then turn my Crown regiment and catch the enemy cavalry between my cavalry and my infantry.

The Volunteers were meant to act as a distraction until the enemy reiters were taken care of, if they could ride at a threatening distance it would keep the enemy infantry locked down and firing artillery at long range. Hopefully the rest of my army would work its way around both flanks and eventually crush them.

I made one crazy error in my deployment which came to haunt me later in the battle, I deployed the Winged hussars on the extreme far flank. The idea here was that they would ride around the woods and then turn around and ride along the table edge to support the combined charge during the "endgame". As it turned out I would have had more use of them to break the enemy Reiters. A mistake of detaching them from the rest of the proper cavalry that I will not make again.

The battle

At the start of the battle I rolled for "Trouble with treasury", the Polish-Lithuanian special rule (which I just have been told and now realize can be bought away for 2 extra points). The effect was "Confederation", 1 random regiment would pretty much create a mutiny and all orders and instruction cost 1 additional order point, additionally and most crippling was the fact that officers could not raise morale or help out reorganizing the units which is a critically important feature of your officers. Naturally (as always happens) my best regiment, the Crown cavalry decided that they wanted to create the confederation.

The Swedish Reiters started moving forwards towards the Inn at the center of the table, Polish infantry moved forwards, Volunteers rode towards the enemy Pike & shot line while the rest of the Polish cavalry swung around and began riding to meet the enemy cavalry.

Artillery projectiles clipped a couple of Polish cavalrymen but not enough to cause any panic in their lines. Opening fire at long range the Polish infantry failed to hit with their first salvo, the second salvo hit home and killed a couple of riders - but not enough to force any test.

Both regiments of cavalry being in range they decided to charge, the armoured reiters and cossack style cavalry charged each other, the unarmoured reiters however took a defensive stance, and the Pancerni failed to reach them with their charge - but fortunately passed their test and kept the charge order instead of becoming disorganized for failing to making contact with the enemy.

The cossack style cavalry charging the armoured reiters was a crazy gamble, the heavily armoured enemy would shrug of many hits in close combat. However I hoped that my impetus of the cavalry charge would score enough hits for me to win that fight by at least 1 in combat resolution. As it turned out I rolled 7 dice and hit with 2.... (needed to roll 1-6 on a D10). The enemy failed to save those hits, but in turn scored 6 out of 6 possible hits and killed 2 bases which made my unit flee. The only thing that saved them was that they were able to outrun the slower Reiter cavalry.

The ideal situation would have been my Pancerni against the armoured reiters and cossack style cavalry against the unarmoured reiters. My Pancerni tore up the enemy unarmoured reiters and forced them to flee, I pursued and ended up killing half of the squadron. Unfortunately this brough me in front of an emey regimental gun - which fired a case shot and disorganized my Pancerni which withdrew. The only comforting thing was that at least I could shoot the enemy artillery with my infantry regiment - and I managed to remove that threat.

On the other flank things did not go well, after having waited patiently, the initial plan was obiviously falling to pieces, the Volunteers moved forwards hoping to ride within range and do something about the enemy artillery. They took musket and case shot fire which killed several bases and forces both squadrons to fall back disorganized and at a breaking point - but the officer managed to keep them on the battlefield.

The armoured reiters now renewed their charge and hunted down the cossack style cavalry which fled off table. This brought the armoured reiters completely out of command range and created an opportunity for the Polish forces to encircle and destroy them. The Volunteers thus turned back and the Polish infantry started moving in the direction of the cut off enemy cavalry. Sadly the Crown regiment broke from the battlefield due to the sustained losses and fleeing units, and with the Pancerni gone (and with them the Winged hussars) I was left with a badly beaten up Volunteer regiment and the infantry which would be able to do little on its own against 2 enemy infantry regiments with artillery support.

So I conceded the battle. It was a painful defeat, but as mentioned earlier in this post I got a few tips on how to improve my play style with the units I currently own and I hope the new information will offer a different end result in the next battle.


  1. Swedish (native) infantry do not have 'old' and 'new' type, there's just one type of such regiment so not sure why You wrote about Swedish 'new' type?

  2. We just keep referring to Pike and Shot regiments that have regular muskets and can fire Salvo as New Type to make a differentiation between the Old Type with Spanish Muskets. The name just stuck with us and its why I keep referring to it.

    Some of the guys at the club also use the German Mercenary Old Type and refer to them as being Swedish (there is some fluff) so that also adds to it.

  3. Great report, keep it up! Seems like your army performed qite well for a while. Intresting to follow you improving your skills.

  4. Great report. New terrain makes the gaming board stand out!

    Still I do not understand how You use pike&shote formation. Pikes behind muskets can not protect them. In addition there is a high risk that Charged muskets are going to be forced to fall back through pikes.

    My english is terrible. My pad correct all words to Polish... Brr...

    1. Don't worry about the English MiSiO :-)
      Re-reading the Pike&Shot formation rule (with picture examples it appears as if you can only do the withdrawal of musketeers in a specific way. Up until now we had played so that muskets and pikes swapped places when standing in lines behind each other.

      It has a bit to do with the rough draft of the English rules I got from Konrad to get us started lacked any pictures to show examples. This has made interpreting some of the text a bit funky - though it has been the best option for the group rather than be bringing my Polish rulebook and alone sit and check everything and have the others rely on my word.

      As you can imagine we are all bursting with eagerness to see the release of the rules in English.

  5. Few more tips:

    1. Use skirmish formation againt swedish muskets and guns (6p and 12p guns with artilery major can cause serious damage againt You best units before You make use of them) especialy if You use optional rules that we use in all our games (tournament as well). Skirmish also improves manoeuvrability and vision.
    2. Charge in skirmish formation If there are guns on Your flank. Your units will get only +1 to hit bonus and a Slaba Dyscyplina Taktyczna but Swedish guns will get -2 when shooting into combat. 6p gun can throw 6 dice at Your flank in a single turn. If no guns, tighten formation during charge move
    3. Use march move To boost your flanking units. 30cm move is impressive
    4. Use husaria units of 4 or attach a commander to a unit of 3. You will get best use of Zaciag Towarzyski rule (11attacks with a commander attached from 4 base unit).
    5. Play more games and share the reports with Us!

  6. Great tips MiSiO, especially the idea with the Hussars joined by a commander to get 4 bases with "Companions" rule.

    We are still slightly confused about the musket fire during defense. Let's say that the musketeers have "Defend", and a cavalry unit makes contact during the first step of the charge (using their normal move) in the movement step. Does the "Defend" order apply as normal or is it required to have a "delayed fire" order to shoot as a reaction in close combat.

    It doesn't appear that way. In which case I assume delayed fire is used to allow opening fire on charging units at a more favorable distance (short)from other sources than the charge target.

  7. Musketeers with Defend order can shoot during Defensive Fire. They can fire even if in contact with enemy. remember to use to hit modifiers. Check turn sequence. Move, defencive fire, Additional Move, hth...

    Delayed shooting (You have to give 1 order point up to do so) is perfect with Salvo rule. Shooting is delayd to combat phase (check turn sequence). You can use it if in combat. Every hit caused during volley couses Morale test (just like grape-shot from artillery). You can also delay fire to get better to hit modifires.

    If using P&SF You can shoot in Defensive Fire, fall back and move pikes from side to cover musketeers. Pikes have to be up to 2cm.

    Another tip. Place regimental guns in front of Your infantry. They can shoot when charged, slow the impact down before chagre get in contact with pikes or musketeers. Afterwards You can re occupy the guns.

    I hope it helps a bit.


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