Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Pikeman's Lament - an Early Copy of the New Rules from Osprey

An Early Look at the New Pike and Shot Wargaming Rules from Osprey

Its here! Well almost.
Having played a few testgames as the rules were developed I was very happy to recieve an early copy of the soon to be released The Pikeman's Lament ruleset from Osprey, written by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck. Daniel is well known for the successful medieval wargaming rules Lion Rampant and Michael is a very inspiring blogger over at his Dalauppror blog and - for anyone who had the luck to be invited for a gaming session - a great gaming host with alot of great scenarios and an excellent grasp of game mechanics and what works for a balanced and entertaining game. That, and a deep knowledge of the pike and shot period.

I'd though I'd give a glimpse and somewhat simplified view of what they are about. The Pikeman's Lament are intended for the pike and shot period The Thirty Year's War, the English Civil War and the Great Northern War and beyond. The rules are divided into four main sections: Raising your company, Battle rules, Missions and Sample companies.

Raising Your Company
In the first section you create your officer and chose his men. As a guideline each side can select a force of 24 points. This is no strict rule however and less or more points works fine. Units are normally composed of six or twelve miniatures. As six men of real quality (like six Elite Gallopers or a small Veteran Storming party of six men) costs 6 points you can get away with as few as two dozens of miniatures a side (or even less if you play a smaller game). On the other hand, close to useless clubmen will only cost you 1 point for twelve men... With the cost being 4 points for six standard cavalry or twelve standard infantry its easy to understand that you have great freedom in composing your force to what suits your collection, scenario and/or historical context.

And what about basing? The ever present question. :-) The rules are very flexible in that regard. Measuring is done between the closest model in each unit and facing isn't an issue so it doesn't matter really how you base your models or what scale you use. Single based, four or six men based together or Dalauppror's 1-2-3 basing all work fine. Its in my view mostly a matter of helping keep track of casualties and if the unit is below half strength or not.

Samples of basing. Anything goes really.
Battle Rules
The Pikeman's Lament takes its core mechanics from the Lion (and Dragon) Rampant rules. You roll for activating one unit after another, ordering it to Attack, Move or Shot - or for some troop types special activations like Caracole or Skirmish. Each troop type is differentiated so that its easier to get them to do what they are trained to do. If you fail an activation before all your units are activated its your opponent's turn to begin activating his troops. This causes some fog of war and demands tactical thinking and making priorities. One modification that I really enjoy is that activation is a touch easier to succeed with in The Pikeman's Lament than in the earlier Lion Rampant. A simple move activation is often passed on 5+ on two dice, with a further +1 on the roll if your Officer is close enough. Still, Attacking and Shooting are for most troops a bit more complex activations. In my view this somewhat easier activation over all gives a smoother game but still keeps the possibility of a failed activation at a very wrong moment. The mechanics for shooting and close combat is fast and simple but takes matters of troop quality, cover and other things into effect. And there are simple yet effective Morale rules in there as well.

The rules are primarily intended to portray small scale warfare. That is raids, ambushes and escort missions. The rules presents ten different such scenarios with victory conditions, special rules etc. One is a straightforward fight and others are more complex. All to give a varied game. 

Sample Companies
In order to give examples on how to compose historical selections of troops and what can be portrayed by using different troop types.  

An example of the many photographs and paintings in the rules.

And Beyond?
What I really like about the rules are the freedom it provides. It has a very solid game mechanic at its core that provides great games. And naturally it works very well for say a Thirty Year's War foraging raid or an escort mission during the Great Northern Wars. But it also works fine for other scenes. Like conquistadors in the Americas in the 16th century with the rules for "Clansmen" to represent Inca warriors for example. It could also be used to represent warfare in late feudal Japan. Also it is possible to "scale up" to larger engagements with say a four man base "counting as" one man in the rules, i e that a 12 man unit by the rules is represented by 48 miniatures on the table. Maybe then with the addition of a rule on facing and flanks/rear.

I'd happily recommend them as I think they are a great set of rules.

1 comment:

  1. Waiting for my copy like a kid at Christmas. From the play-test blogs, they sound a really well thought out set of rules.