03 July 2013

By Fire & Sword: Ambush scenario AAR

Thomas was the last guy at the club who had not yet tried out skirmish level battles for By Fire & Sword - though him and me had played a lot of Division sized battles over the past year. This helped as he was able to grasp things very quickly and realized that skirmish is basically the same thing as Division battles - but on a smaller scale.

We put together a Swedish and a Polish list which if I recall correctly looked like this:

Polish 1650-66 skirmish force: 13FSP

Colonel with 3 command points
Rotamaster with 1 command point
3 bases of Pancerni cavalry
6 bases of Pancerni cavalry with spears
6 bases of Polish dragoons
9 bases of Cossack style cavalry

Swedish detachment: 9FSP

Colonel with 3 command points
Major with 1 command point
4 bases of Mercenary Reiter’s
2 bases of Mercenary Veteran Reiter’s
6 bases of National infantry
1 regimental 3pdr artillery gun
The Swedes were defending, and after having rolled on the scenario chart they picked the "Ambush" scenario.  The Polish force started the game in a 40x40cm square deployment zone, the Swedes deployed a "bait" unit 20cm in front of the Poles and the rest of their force as they pleased anywhere on the table at least 20cm away from the enemy units.

The Swedes used 2 bases of National infantry as bait, and deployed the rest of the 4 infantry bases together with the 3pdr on the right flank near the farmhouses - the Swedish colonel being deployed nearby. Then all the Swedish cavalry was deployed in a 6 base strong squadron - led by the Major - and set up in such a way that it would be facing off against the two spear armed Pancerni units.

With the deployment done, the Poles rolled to see what unit was panicking, and it turned out to be the Cossack style cavalry banner closest to the Swedish "bait".

As the battle started both Pancerni with spears and Swedish Reiters issued a charge order and galloped at full speed towards each other. Both sides were just about to be locked in combat when the Swedish 3pdr slammed the closest banner of Pancerni with a case shot attack which sent the Poles retreating disorganized back to their starting position. This also meant that the other Pancerni banner took the full impact of the huge Reiter squadron charge by itself.

All things considering the Poles were lucky they didn't get wiped out, the unit was sent fleeing with the Reiter’s in tow - who ended up just a few yards away from the horrified Polish dragoons (who passed their morale test for panicking troops running about).

On the other edge of the battlefield Swedish infantry opened  fire with their muskets and picked off a few casualties, but it was the repeat fire from the 3pdr which sent the other company of Polish dragoons running in the opposite direction.

One turn in and the whole Polish line was crumbling, and it looked really damn bad with the huge unit of Swedish cavalry just about to slam into the soft center of the Polish deployment zone. This is when the most unlikely turn of events saved the day for the Poles. As the Swedish Reiter’s issued another charge they rode into the Polish dragoons - who fortunately had the order "Defend". Even then, hitting on 3 or lower on a D10 with 6 shots the chance of survival seemed slim. Despite the odds, the Polish dragoons blew everyone’s mind when they scored no less than 5 hits which resulted in 5 Swedish casualties!!

This was enough to disorganize the Swedish cavalry and give the Polish commanders enough time to rally their units and prepare for the following turns - the battle wasn't over yet (even though it could have been).

Knowing that the Swedish artillery/infantry mix would be dangerous if left alone the Poles sent a their squadron of Cossack style cavalry around the village. Having foreseen this turn of events the Swedes turned around and opened a salvo - hoping to shatter the charge but the Poles passed their morale check and rode through the bullets and ended up sending the Swedish infantry fleeing and destroying the 3pdr artillery piece.

The battle with the Swedish Reiter’s was still far from over, and both sides kept clashing and wearing each other down bit by bit. Ultimately the Swedes got pushed into the woods and were reduced to a single base + the Major leading the unit before the game ended.

It it worth mentioning the other unlikely "hero" unit of the game, which was the 2 base strong Swedish infantry unit acting as bait. It inflicted casualties, and managed to disorganize two Polish charge attempts before it was chased away by overwhelming odds.

The battle was quite bloody, with the Swedes having lost most of their troops - the Poles had suffered casualties in all their units. But doing a headcount the Poles came out ahead and managed to pull off a "tactical victory" of 3-0. A very tense and fun game to play, and perhaps a lesson in how units that may appear to be worthless can still save the day!


  1. Sounds fun, have not done an ambush yet.

    Have you tried the Gosiewski Foray force to get lancers on a skirmish table yet? I did, but performed very badly, but that might have been as we are still using ECW proxie figures so they were not proper lancers!!


    1. I have tried Gosiewski once, they beat the living crap out of a Swedish detachment - making a nice charge into a Reiter squadron and decimated it. But it will be a hard force to play due to its expensive points value. You can almost always bet on being the attacker, and I can't even think of the horrors you're going to suffer if you face off against something dirt cheap played on the absolute basic level - that's going to be a LOT of additional effects stacked against you!

  2. Really nice-looking game all round; skirmishing is the only way for me ;)

  3. Excellent battle report. I am definately tempted to try these rules out. Thanks for sharing.

    Tom Keegan


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