04 April 2014

By Fire & Sword Warsaw 2014 tournament AAR

This will be a quick rundown of my By Fire & Sword tournament games ( I realized that I had not taken as many pictures as I would have wanted and many of the "game in progress" pictures turned out badly...).

Andreas and I arrived in Poland on Friday and did some sightseeing at the Polish army museum and Warsaw Uprising museum after which we hooked up with Roland of Stafford Games and some of the Wargamer.pl crew in the Warsaw Wargamer store where we played a practice game before the tournament.

Going to the Wargamer store was a really good idea, since there were lots of questions answered that both Andreas and I had, I also got an enjoyable game against Roland's Cossack skirmish force. Our game was my Lithuanians vs his Cossacks and the "Patrols" scenario where we both captured all 3 objectives. Winged hussar skirmish list at 11 FSP against Roland's Cossacks at 8FSP. The scenario was "Capture the village" and Roland was defending. If memory serves me right (and it probably doesn't) we played a draw. Cossack wagons area pretty scary, and them being able to move sideways with the Defend maneuvers, slowly advancing while providing cover is really good.

Tournament games

What follows is a short summary of each game that I played, sadly I don't remember the exact point level of my opponents and I was pretty tired both days due to how warm it was in the tournament hall so the amount of detail in this summary is very limited.

My army lists were the Gosiewski foray at 11FSP, and two Lithuanian 1650-72 skirmish forces that looked like this:

8FSP = Command with 3CP, 5 elite cossacks, 3 dragoons, 4 Reiters, 2 cossacks

15FSP = Command with 4CP, Rotamaster, 6 elite cossacks, 6 cossacks, 6 reiters, 3 dragoons, 3 elite dragoons and 6 volunteers.

I can't say that I was very happy with the lists, I would have loved to field armored Reiters but had no time to paint up any. The only unit that really worked wonders were the Elite cossack style cavalry with their great basic skill of 5, they are great for shooting and attacking in HtH.

Game 1 was vs "PNZR" and his Cossack force, I remember that I played with my Winged Hussar list and that we played attack on the village. I got my ass kicked so badly that I took my Winged Hussar bases and entered them into the painting competition right after the battle and didn't play the Gosiewski list for the remainder of the tournament!
An interesting aspect of this game was that it was the first time I encountered "Forest" terrain pieces, as we usually only play with "Groves" back home. Roland deployed his Register Cossacks inside the village to hold it from turn 1. I made the stupid decision to send my Winged Hussars to flank ( I should just have kept them on the table). I also wasted away my Dragoons to walk through the thick forest from which they never emerged or did anything to contribute to the ongoing battle. Most of the fighting was as such done by my Reiter's and Cossack style cavalry, the latter did most of the attacking on the village itself and ultimately managed to breach the defense and chase off some Cossack units and disorganize others. Around this time my Winged Hussars also arrived on the battlefield and started moving towards the village, this was the point during the battle where I thought I could pull off a victory, but this feeling went away quickly when I realized my commander was out of command range to issue orders to my Winged Hussars and the isolated Cossack style cavalry became attacked by several Cossack units.

What followed was a humiliating charge by Moloitsy infantry against my Winged Hussars, a charge that saw a base of my cavalry killed due to abysmal saves, and then the overwhelming combat resolution saw my elite unit break and flee - off the table....

The units in the village were killed, and my commander barely escaped with his life into the woods where the confused dragoons were still walking around aimlessly. The battle ended a tactical victory to the Cossacks.

Game 2 was against "Fensir" and his Muscovite Zasieczna Guard, I ran the 8FSP Lithuanian list and we rolled River Crossing. My opponent deployed quite a lot of infantry on my side of the river, and shielded the approach with two large forests. I knew the battle was pretty much over already upon deployment with that terrain configuration as my troops had but a very narrow tunnel to move
through if they wanted to reach the bridge. A lot of time was wasted trying to move around one of the forests and across the river with some of my troops, but at this point, the Muscovite infantry had moved (with defensive maneuvers) into the forest and it proved impossible to dislodge them from their position. I had low amount of losses but the brigdge was completely in Muscovite hands so I got my ass kicked once again.

Game 3 was against "Kruzyd" and his Ottoman force, this was the
first time I had played against Ottomans so it was very exciting. I ran my 15FSP Lithuanian list, my opponent had a large 12-13 FSP Ottoman army packed with Cavalry and some Deli riders. The scenario was River Crossing again. With huge cavalry forces on both sides it looked as if it would turn into a Draw from the start. There was no Reconnaissance advantage to any army involved and so we both probed each other's armies on the flanks, my opponent sent his Deli across the river while I set up a gunline of Dragoons and Reiters firing across the bridge. The Deli made a mad charge against my Elite cossack style cavalry, which fired defensive fire and with combat resolution killed the Deli unit. I myself lost some Cossack, Reiter and Dragoon bases to Ottoman arrows and the battle ended indeed a close Draw due to both of us contesting the river and having acceptable losses.

Game 4 was against "Komisarz" and his Polish Crown skirmish force against my 8FSP list, which was packed to the brim with spear armed cossacks and Pancerni banners. I really fucked up in this battle when I was picking scenario as I was so tired in my head that I picked "Ambush" and we started to deploy the terrain and troops - after about 50 minutes my opponent double checks something in the rulebook and realizes that the scenario is 1 point too expensive for me to pick - so we have to play "Foraging" instead. Once everything was deployed I attempted to focus all of my troops on a single flank hoping to burn one of the objectives and then pull away for the remainder of the battle. The setup would perhaps have been in my favor if I had not rolled extremely poorly during my first attack on my opponents units inside the rightmost farmstead, instead of pushing him out of the village the first fight ended a draw and both sides moved away. A second attack was mounted with better result and I managed to kill the enemy Rotamaster and most of the bases inside the farm, but at this point the remainder of my opponents army arrived and began slaughtering my units with flanking and rear charges. My army got pretty much wiped out, I had my Rotamaster and three bases of cavalry left when turn 6 started and no way of winning so I surrendered.


Though I got so completely beaten up during the tournament in pretty much all my games I learned more about the game and the rules during my two days than I had for the past year of playing casually. However, I found the victory point system to be confusing and not all my opponents knew fully how to calculate the victories either. Some of the rules are also so complex that even veteran players and judges at times had a hard time to give a ruling. It is also a bit sad that the Polish "meta" of By Fire & Sword is to play the game on low points as I prefer to play medium-large skirmish forces. The players I talked to seemed to want to play larger skirmish forces as well but said it would be impossible to win as you get so many favors from being the weaker player and so many penalties from being the attacker. I hope that the addition of 5 new scenarios with the upcoming "Deluge" expansion book will mix things up to make both high and low end builds viable in a competitive environment.

I ended my first BF&S tournament with a fiasco placement almost at the very end out of 50 players. Worth mentioning is that this was my third tournament ever, previously only played a WHFB and a Flames of War tournament. So I'm not really experienced in tournament environments.

My buddy Andreas did really good with his Courland force and he played most of his battles with a 5FSP list, he ended up at place 14/50 despite having the same rule difficulties as I had. Though I think he owes much of his placement to tournament experience and lots of competitive gaming more than the army itself which is tricky to play.

The bottom line is that I had a good time despite my crap gaming result, it was very nice to meet the Polish players and everyone was very friendly, I was also happy to meet a surprising amount of Polish players that followed my blog so that was really nice as well!

I will be posting more pictures from my trip to Poland and the museums in a day or two so stay tuned!


  1. One of the best tournaments ill ever been to. I hope to go next year as well! As for my courland list, it's allways eaisier to play a defensive force when you dob't know all of the rules. If you are attacking it take much more of you as a player to line up you units to get that perfect charge. But my lack of rule knowlege cost me atleast one win. But a 13 place is more than I hope for.
    // Andreas

  2. First tournament picture.forest is to close to river. It should be at least 10cm. I see 6cm...

    Great games! I hope we will see you next year!

    Andreas. You did great!

  3. About small FPS meta... Roland used 15FPS Cossacs with great effect!

    I look at the picture with all those woods in front of a bridge and must say that this set up is strange. All woods should start at least 20cm away from a river. Then only 1 could be moved/added and no closer then 10cm from a river. I guess that there was a set up mistake and Plc mistake as well. One big crop field near bridge should solve the problem of blocking the bridge. Still. One forest is to close. You should be able to attack with 2 bases in the open.

  4. Great report, can´t wait for the rest. To have fun is much more important then to win :)

  5. Haven't tried the rules yet, but looks interesting. I like the sizes of the units and basing. Best, Dean

  6. I happen to have the rules at home and a dtarter force. The rulesbook is an absolute tome of a book. I really love the look of it and all the pretty illustrations and pictures. Unfortunately it sits in my shelve for month now, minis detto. While I know that some other gamers in Austria have bought it too, there is not much to see by now....At the moment I am more interested in Dystopian Wars 2.0 than in painting up my BFAS force. But keep the good blog up! I really like it. Personally I do not like tournaments anymore and less so in a historical setting. But I can see the benefit of comin together in force and get new ideas, have some chitchat and meet a lot of guys from all over the country and maybe even from abroad! cheers

  7. thanks for the report and pics. great site.

  8. Can you think of examples of the complex rules that veterans and judges had trouble with... I'm just starting with this and I want to have a heads up on things that I can look up in the forums..

    1. Can't remember in detail, but there is a lot of important stuff regarding the two missions River Crossing and the Village - both have specific terrain placement regulations. If those regulation aren't followed the scenarios can become impossible to win for the attacker.


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