10 May 2013

By Fire & Sword: Capture the crossing, 9/5/13 AAR

After the last couple of battles a bunch of errors were pointed out in the way we had played. I took the opportunity to read through the rules, carefully and twice, before the next game took place. I hadn't actually had the time to do that since I bought the English version at Salute, and there were some things in the English version that are a bit different and also better explained. I also double checked with "Kadrinazi" and "MiSiO" of the By Fire & Sword forum on a few things so that I was fully prepared.

So - since there was a holiday here in Sweden this Thursday, Andreas , Fredric and I went down to the club to play some more by Fire & Sword. This time Fredric was trying out the game for the first time, using Swedes, I kept to the Polish force.

Armies were again the same as in previous games since I figured we could play with them one last time before changing configuration, so:

The Polish 14 point Skirmish force was:

Colonel with 4 command points
Rotamaster with 1 command point

6 bases of Pancerni
3 bases of Pancerni with spears
9 bases cossack style cavalry
4 bases Volunteers
6 bases Polish dragoons

The Swedish 12 point Skirmish force was:

Colonel with 4 command points
Major with 1 command point

4 Bases of Mercenary Reiters
4 Bases of Mercenary Reiter Veterans (armored reiter models but played without armor)
8 Bases of New Type Infantry
2 Light regimental guns

 The scenario ended up being River Crossing (I really need to build some nice obstacles which the weaker player can fortify the bridge with btw). We rolled a single additional affect, and one of my cossack style banners ended up Delayed.

I put my Pancerni cavalry with spears on the task of making a Flanking Maneuver and to appear on turn 3 at the earliest. Since last time we played I was notified that I had missed the "Swimming" special rules for my Polish force, which means that any cavalry with armor of 3 or less could ford rivers and treat it as difficult terrain. That actually made my force a lot more flexible in the way I could approach the enemy.

I had also been corrected about the way Polish cavalry is handled in the field, so as you will see a lot of units will ride around in Open Order as they approach the enemy and close ranks as they charge into contact.


Fredric was briefed on how all units worked prior to the battle, and he chose the following setup. Both Reiters and Veteran Reiters were grouped into squadrons of 4 bases each. The infantry was also grouped into 4 base strong squadrons so that he could fire salvo and counter march. The light artillery was placed at the center of the Swedish deployment, flanked by the infantry and overlooking the river crossing at the far right side of the table. Reiter squadrons were placed near the bridge.

The Polish deployment was two Pancerni banners deployed in column formation and the Volunteers deployed on the right flank under supervision of the Colonel. Polish Dragoons and a squadron of cossack style cavalry were placed on the left flank under supervision of the junior officer, the Rotamaster.
1 banner of cossack cavalry was delayed, and 1 banner of Pancerni were flanking the enemy positions.

The battle

All Polish units moved out towards the casually waiting Swedish lines. Just as the Pancerni columns closed in on the ford on the right flank both Swedish artillery guns began firing at them and hitting them in the flank which was really bad news for the Poles. Roundshot began clipping riders, and a base of Pancerni was lost as they entered the water where they became disorganized.

The other still intact Pancerni banner soon received the same treatment, and too lost a whole base. Swedish artillerymen were doing a great job so far.

At the other end of the battlefield, Polish dragoons and cossack cavalry approached the bridge and the awaiting Swedes. The Polish cossack cavalry opened up fire across the river at the Swedish reiters but failed to inflict any casualties. Upon entering the river the Poles came under fire from the Swedish infantry, firing a salvo, but the hail of bullets failed to hit any of the Polish riders mainly thanks to their dispersed formation.

Polish units began now crossing the river, and also charged wildly out of the waters at the enemy formations. Pancerni at the right flank rode into the musketeers who were in the middle of reloading their muskets and only fired at limited efficiency and their fire was even less accurate in the chaotic close combat that followed. The Pancerni broke  the musketeers who began fleeing. This moment of triumph was overshadowed by the fact that the Pancerni banner was standing out in the middle of the field - exhausted - and within case shot range of the Swedish artillery!

In the meantime the cossack style cavalry crashed out of the river and smashed into the Reiters. The combat ended up a draw despite a favorable Polish situation and both units broke off and withdrew , the Poles with their backs to the river, the Swedes with their backs to the forest.

Polish dragoons tried to pick off some enemy Veteran Reiters but the distance made the fire widely inaccurate and they enemy saved those few hits that reached them.

Swedish artillery opened up a case shot barrage at the nearby Pancerni and killed a base and broke the remaining men into a rout which the Polish commander was unable to stop. The Poles also failed to receive any Delayed reserves, neither did their spear armed Pancerni banner show up on the enemy flank despite the Polish commander spending 2 command points to increase the probability of the unit showing up...

Things got a lot more interesting the following turn. On one flank it looked as if the Polish cossack style cavalry was going to get massacred as they themselves and both enemy Reiter squadrons charged in a death or glory assault and crashed in the middle. The fight however was miraculously won by the Polish light cavalry which managed to kill several Reiters in close combat after having landed 7 out of 9 attacks on the enemy units! Swedish tactical discipline and numbers had the fight end a Draw and both sides withdrew once again to gather their breath!

On the other flank, the beaten up Pancerni banner had just fled the field, while the remaining Pancerni cavalry charged the Swedish guns who had by this time ran out of ammunition due to their rapid and consistent firing. The gun crews were no match for the Polish medium cavalry and both guns were wiped out. At the same time the Polish Volunteers charged the Swedish musketeer unit which had been fleeing but which was now rallied and in good order - although still lacking a command order. The fight saw the Swedish musketeers lose another base and the remaining two bases flee off table.

Once more the left flank saw a clash of cavalry, this time the cossack style cavalry lost the battle and suffered serious casualties, and fled across the river, the Reiters had held their ground - but as they had won over one Polish unit another appeared behind their backs as the Polish Pancerni with spears appeared at the eleventh hour.

The nearby Swedes rolled for morale but passed the test without problem, obviously not minding to fight this unexpected enemy reinforcement.

A weird close combat went down towards the end of the battle as the Polish Pancerni on the left flank charged the musketeers that were left on the table. The enemy unit was disorganized and thus easy pickings, however one weakened Reiter squadron and the enemy junior commander counter charged and hit the Pancerni from one flank and supported the musketeers from the front. The fight saw the Swedish combined effort prevail and had the Pancerni break off and flee. However the Swedish junior commander had been killed in the close combat and his retinue had failed to protect his life,  this also mean that all Swedish units within 20cm had to take a morale test - the musketeers passed, while the Reiters failed and became disorganized.

Not being able to charge the enemy due to not having a commander in range or even command points to change the order, the Polish Pancerni cavalry with spears simply had to move towards the enemy Veteran Reiters which had taken up position near the bridge and now had a Defend order. Their formation had reformed so that they did not expose their flanks to the Polish dragoons firing across the river.

As the Pancerni moved towards the enemy, out of nowhere, the Swedish commanding officer charged the flank of the Polish unit! The crazy move saw a Swedish pistol shot hit but not wound anyone and then the officer fought with a base of spear armed Pancerni, a fight which the Swedish commander lost as he was hit and wounded, but his retinue passed the skill check and saved his life - and then dodged out of the combat in disarray.

The battle had been a bloody affair, the bridge was held by both sides at this point so it came down to counting the dead to see who would win. The Swedish casualties had piled up during the second half of the game, and the Poles who had lost a bunch of men were still fortunate enough to have a couple of fleeing units that had not yet been able to make it off the table.

As it turned out the Swedish force suffered heavy losses, the Polish side suffered acceptable losses. This meant that both sides got 2 points for contesting the bridge, the Poles got 1 additional point for keeping their losses down. In the end however the difference of a single victory point still meant that the scenario was a Draw.
I think the Swedes were saved by the Pancerni banner showing up way too late into the game (they could have broken the last pocked of resistance given 1 more turn!), and my delayed cossack style cavalry arrived at the battle very late in the game as well and was unable to actively take part in the fight. The final turn also saw some good rolls on the Swedish part, the musketeers in particular saved all hits they received by the Pancerni! I thought I was playing it safe by dividing my efforts between two damaged units at the end, but I should have focused on crushing one of them completely to cash in more victory points. One more destroyed enemy base would have given me 1 additional victory point and made the fight a Tactical Victory.

In any case, it was a great game and I think Fredric enjoyed it, and even though this was his first time he played very well and picked up on the rules quickly imo. He was also suckered into the ongoing Kickstarter by Andreas. This is great as we will then actually have 6 people playing the game at the club after the Kickstarter (possibly more). I think 6 people is the bare minimum for running a tournament, and I really want to organize a Skirmish level tournament down at the club. Who knows, maybe some other guys who are also getting into the game here in Sweden would be able to travel down to southern Sweden and participate.


  1. Great report!

    12PS Sweden is hard to command vs Poles but well used is a fearsome force. 8 bases of musketeers shooting salvo at enemy's flank gives a healthy 24 dice. :) Same story with guns. +1 dice for flank fire is great! REmember that 4 reiter bases can be given arkebus!

    Sweden should use a peasant informer to prevent Flanking Maneuvers. :)

    1. I have the peasant informer miniature, just waiting for an official translation of the rules for that mini :-)

  2. Great game!
    I've got two points though.
    Commanders can't charge by themselves only, they must be attached to unit to be able to.
    Fleeing units that are still on the table at the end of the game, are still counted towards victory points as if they where off table.

    1. In the English version you only get points for units that fled off the table ("Fled the field").

      I can't find anything about commanders not being able to charge on their own?

  3. Oh, I can't find the first one, but it could be in FAQ, i will look into it.

    Second one - In polish rulebook it is in 23 Chapter - Commanders on battlefield (I don't know real translation, I'm translating from polish rulebook). In Attaching commanders to Units part - second paragraph from end.

  4. Well the Polish FAQ was included in the English version according to the Wargamer staff - so I don't think you are supposed to get points for units that are fleeing but still on the table. Imo that’s better, else you could cash in a lot of points on units that are forced to flee in the last turn of games without actually having any of them leaving the table.

    This also ties in with the Swedish special rule Bellum se Ipset Allet, “bases that fled the field”

    In the English version there is nothing that says a commander cannot charge on his own as they are an independent team. The rules only list how lonely commanders react to enemy charges and shooting, and how they work if they join units.

    1. Yeap, it isn't in FAQ in polish rulebook there is only "bases that fled.". I also believe, that it is better counting only absent bases, but there was some discussion on that subject on wargamer forum and we played like I said.

      I am surprised, that there isn't anything about charging with lone commander.

      I hope you don't mind my posts about rules, I am really enjoying your AAR's.

    2. Always feel free to point something out that looks strange or is played wrong. It helps us catch errors quicker and correct them for the next game.

  5. @Pietras404
    Ah! Found the rule for the commander, he may indeed not charge on his own. It was a single line of text at the very end of the Commanders on the Battlefield chapter.

  6. You can attach a commmander even to a charging unit. This way he can take part in a combat.

    1. Thanks MiSiO, I think we will definitely see more attachment of commanders in future Skirmish games, (at least attachment of the Junior officer with only 1 command point unless we play the Gosiewski Foray list).


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