06 May 2013

By Fire & Sword: Capture the crossing AAR

Played two skirmish games of By Fire & Sword this weekend with Patrik, I played the Polish skirmish list while he played the Swedish detachment. Both Skirmish lists were maxed out in units and points.

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

Since my army was two points stronger Patrik ended up being the defender, and rolled on the scenario list and picked the scenario "Capture the crossing", which is about controlling the bridge.

Patrik still was 1 point short of making the battlefield conditions equal in points, he received 1 "additional effect" roll and got "Delayed" which meant one randomly determined unit in my Skirmish force would get lost on its way to the battle and be placed as a reserve (requiring a successful skill test to enter the table starting on turn 2)As it turned out my Dragoon unit ended up in reserve.

I won the Reconnaissance massively, having a huge cavalry based force with Dragoons and Skirmishers on top of that, which meant that I got several tactical advantages. I was allowed to make one normal move with one of my units before the game began, one unit could be placed in Ambush and one unit could be sent on a Long Flanking maneuver. I moved up my cossack cavalry squadron (6 bases strong), and sent the Pancerni squadron (6 bases strong) to make the Flanking maneuver. I had intended for the Dragoons to Ambush but since they were Delayed I opted not to Ambush with anything at all.

As a final step both sides rolled for 1 additional effect. I received "Good day/Bad Day" and decided to reduce the command rating of the Swedish Colonel by 1 command point, giving him a "Bad day".
Patrik in turn received an effect which meant that his force had already scouted the area and picked the site for the battle, and as such he could manipulate the terrain on the table - in our case he removed 1 small forest on the right edge of the table. In truth this was a tired mistake on my part and we should not have rolled for this additional effect, in this particular scenario as you only roll effects for both sides if they are equal after the scenario has been picked, otherwise only the still weaker player rolls for additional effects.


The Swedes on the opposite side of the river deployed in such a way that they prevented ambushes and any Long Flanking maneuver to appear on the left side of the table, they also locked down the bridge with a unit of infantry which would with a high probability mess up any Polish unit trying to cross it.

The Polish force was as such forced to take the right flank, over a shallow crossing and try to take the Swedes from the flank.

To win the scenario a unit had to be within 20cm from the center of the bridge and preferably have the order "Defend". If one side held the bridge that side would get 6 victory points. If both players held the bridge they would each get 2 victory points.


The battle  began, rather uneventful, the main bulk of the Polish cavalry moved to the right and began fording the river at the shallow spot, a slot task. Fortunately the Pancerni squadron sent on a long flanking maneuver managed to arrive by the end of turn 1!

The Polish Volunteer cavalry just moved up and tested the Swedish infantry which fired at the Poles inflicting just 1 wound, the Poles fired back half heartedly before withdrawing back. Maybe they would have made it across the bridge with a charge order next turn, but since my Dragoons were delayed and not yet on the table I really wanted to have at least 1 unit as a "reserve" near the bridge in case my attack from the right side didn't pan out.

The Swedes seeing that the Volunteers were locked down with artillery and infantry units began moving their Reiters towards the Polish force which was making relatively good progress in column formations across the shallow waters of the river.

Veteran Reiters rode up to meet the Polish cossack style cavalry, both units still had the order "Move" which meant no one would make contact, but both units stopped short of each other and fired pistols, carbines and bows at each other. The Poles took 1 wound; the Reiters didn't take any casualties at all.

As the turn ended, the Polish Dragoons found their way to the battle after having been delayed. Appearing at the Polish table edge they began moving up towards the bridge.

The real action on the other side of the river was just about to unfold.

Reiters and cossack style cavalry charged each other at short range, neither side getting the impetus (cavalry shock) bonus. They hacked away with swords and firing pistols at short range, the Polish light cavalry found themselves mastered by the Veteran Reiters, the combat was a slaughter. 3 bases of Polish cavalry lost, but only a single Reiter killed! The Poles backed away but kept their cool, which just led to another round of close combat where they were finally pushed back even further and ended up being disorganized.

Luckily for them the Polish commander was nearby and rallied them at the end of the turn.

Meanwhile the large Pancerni squadron charged full speed  ahead at the small Swedish unit of musketeers who were desperately trying to break the mass of cavalry by firing Salvo. The Pancerni shook off the damage and crashed into close combat. Oddly enough the musketeer unit survived the onslaught, and initially just lost a single base, it was pushed back and lost another base - last two musketeer bases fled off table.

This put the spent Polish cavalry just yards away from the Mercenary Reiter regiment protecting the 3pdr cannon.

Back on the Polish side of the river, the Volunteers kept out of range from the Swedish muskets, still waiting for the Dragoons to arrive and set up a defensive position. It was hard to restrain the urge to charge across the bridge, but common sense prevailed this time. Especially since the Swedes now had reloaded all their guns and were ready to fire another Salvo.

Back on the Swedish side, the Pancerni squadron was far outside of the Polish commander range, forcing him to spend 3 points to give them another order, the Pancerni squadron and the regular Reiter company smashed into each other. This combat was brutal and the Reiters lost decisively and began fleeing. They were rallied just short of the table edge but remained disorganized. Unfortunately for the Polish Pancerni they were now left standing in front of the 3pdr artillery. The Swedish artillerymen wasted no time and fired off a case shot, completely disrupting the Polish formation and having the Pancerni become disorganized and useless!

Just a few hundred yards back the Veteran Reiters, sure of victory, decided to charge the Polish commander which would have ended up a disaster if not for the Polish cossack style cavalry, now in good order, which performed a counter charge of sorts. Both units and the Polish commanding officer ended up in one large fight.in which the Poles nearly annihalated the Reiters while taking no losses themselves!

This sudden turn of events was most welcome for the Polish side, a remaining base of Reiter Veterans withdrew and became disorganized, while the two Swedish commander became surrounded by Polish troops. The Swedish Major valiantly rode up to shield the Colonel, and was killed by carbien and bow fire from the Polish pancerni unit with spears.

The Swedish artillery fired off their last rounds of ammunition killing some dragoons, but failing to kill any more Pancerni with case shot.  As the battle was coming to an end, the Polish dragoons managed to arrive near the bridge, dismount and lock it down with the "Defend" order. Both sides held one end of the bridge.

The scenario victory points ended up being 2-2 in victory points. Now both sides had to check their casualty ratio. The Polish side ended up having "Acceptable losses", meaning they had lost less than 25% of their men, this awarded the Poles with +1 Victory point.

Swedish casualties were rated as "Heavy losses", meaning they had lost more than 25% but less than 50% of their troops. As such they received 0 additional victory points.

As all victory points are summed up the battle ended 3-2 to the Poles, but due to the minimal difference of just 1 victory point the battle was a "Draw". And truth to be told, the situation on the battlefield could not have been explained in any other way so it was a very true result. Nevertheless a good game!


  1. Why, why the guns were so far away from the river?! Maybe in English rules the scenario is changed a bit (different deployment zones) but if not the guns should be close enough to fire grape-shots!

    Still a great battle!

    1. Had Patrik deployed his guns closer I would have shot them up with my cavalry as a first priority, now one gun and one of his musketeer companies kept me from crossing the bridge, and the other artillery was guarding the flank.

      The other reason was that I had a unit that would appear from the flank due to my Reconnaissance advantages, and Patrik didn't want anything to come up behind his troops which is also why he deployed along one corner.

  2. A couple of other things were played wrong in this scenario, ultimately my fault since Patrik had never played Skirmish games before and did not have the rulebook and this was but my second skirmish game and I had actually not played BFaS for a couple of months prior to last week since we all waited to the English translation.

    In any case, some clarifications:

    1) Ambushes cannot be placed in enemy deployment zones. Luckily circumstances and tactical common sense prevented this from happening in either of our two games.

    2) At Skirmish level, the Ambush, pre-game move and Flanking Maneuver can only be performed by a "Unit", which is a single company and not a squadron. I had it confused with division sized games where squadrons and whole regiments can do all those things.

    3) Only "Units" can be Delayed, which would mean that we should have rolled for the Delayed effect prior to combining Units into Squadrons.

  3. Patrik "Saaywhu" FriedlandMay 6, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I told you I would win the moral battle..=D
    But great fun yesterday. I rather play cool and make awesome manuvers then play "right".
    And this was a Blast, Im just not going to play swedes. As all play swedes. And I really hope the Brandenburgers will suit me well as I can trase my hartridge back to the town of Friedland in Brandenburg

  4. Everyone plays Swedes in Sweden and like 65%+ Poles play PLC. :D

    If You like reiters and musketeers get Danzig skirmish.

    1. Fortunately it looks like some of the guys who joined the Kickstarter at our club are going for the Muscovites, Ottomans and Crimean Khanate so there will be a bit more variation after the summer :-D

  5. The armies are they out of the box skirmish sets or do you have to use extra figures?


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