Friday, July 11, 2014

First blood is drawn in the Battleroom

One of the conditions of moving into our new house last year was that I got my own gaming room. Okay it wasn't quite like that, it was more like, "Honey, you know that media room in the new house, that would make a real neato gaming room for me and a few chums to while away a few hours of an evening or weekend playing with our toy soldiers and downing a few bevvies, what d'ya think?"
My wife didn't exactly say no so that was good enough for me and so the Battleroom was born!

Currently the room is a work in progress as we settle into the new house and my time is mostly devoted to getting the gardens sorted out so that "She who must be obeyed" is content but I have been able to set up a nice painting desk, get all my historical books in place and even a couple of display cases for showing off some of my armies. Unfortunately I have to share the room with my son's piano but that should be moved into the front room soon to give me more room.

Eventually I will have enough room for a 8' x 5' gaming table which is more than enough for 99% of all my gaming and if I ever ran a big game I have plans afoot for that out side in the new decking area.
I will build a dedicated gaming table but for now I get by with some plastic trestle tables which work fine.

So finally I was able to christen the new Battleroom by inviting over fellow club members, Tom Brake , Jon Bunce, Richard Bradley and Ian Hemmings for a big ECW game. We decided to play a scenario instead of a pitched battle and I chose the "Blood on the Danube" game from the Black Powder Pike and Shotte rule book. In this battle Jon, Richard and myself were Scots defending the armies' pay chest which was hidden in one of the three buildings while the Royalists commanded by Tom and Ian attempted to capture it.

I cannot remember everything about the battle but in a huge turnaround in form Tom's Curaissiers were able to smash through the Scot left flank held by Richard and attack the centre while Ian doggedly pushed ahead against the centre and right flank eventually breaking both Jon's and my brigades and sealing an decisive Royalist victory.

A great afternoon of gaming with generous opponents and a good hard game played in good spirits I am looking forward to our next outing.

And now for the pictures....

The battle lines are drawn. Scots on the left defending the war chest (hidden in the windmill) and the royalists on the right. The Scots have a battery of guns placed ahead of the main battle line on a small hill. The game length was fixed at 8 turns and the Scots were hoping to play for time and delay a major action while the Royalist pressed forward to get stuck in.

Massed Royalist cavalry on their right flank including the dreaded Curaissiers. Normally they are terrible but today they justly earned their title of heavy cavalry as they smashed the opposing Scot horse.

I commanded the centre and took up a defensive position behind the wall. I hoped my forward battery of artillery would break up any attack to my front.

The Royalists advance and first blood is struck by my artillery as the lead regiment of commanded Shotte is smashed by grapeshot. Meanwhile on the left the Royalist commander Tom orders the local farmer to get his cattle off the battlefield!

Royalists close in ready to charge the artillery and clear it from the hill.

The Royalist left flank advances on the Inn faced by some Scottish horse and mad highlanders. My infantry look on from the centre behind our wall.

The Scottish left flank as the Royalists advance. The brigade commander Richard attempted a delaying action by not offering battle besides a small force that occupied the farm house.

The highlanders give a rousing yell and charge the royalist Shotte who respond with a volley. Unfortunately the highlander's fighting prowess doesn't match their enthusiasm and they are routed from the field.

The artillery on the hill is overwhelmed and the Scots that are sent forward to offer support soon suffer the same fate.

The Scots in the farmhouse hold on doggedly but the royalist swarm past the building to engage the left flank at push of pike and force the Scots back.

The Scottish cavalry finally charges the opposing horse but are swept from the field.

With all three Scot brigades breaking in quick succession the army calls it a day and abandons the field to the Royalists who get to divide up the loot. The battle was over in around 6 six turns and a bit over 2 hours of playing time. I love the Blackpowder rules, they give a quick fun game without losing historical feel and are perfect for group play.

To finish Richard Bradley has performed some magical photo manipulation to give this great shot of the armies at push of pike.

Bye for now.



  1. A quick way to get a 5'x8' table is to get two of those 30"x8' "banquet tables" with folding legs and bungee cord their legs together. You can then also extend it to 5'x10.5' by adding a 30"x5' table at the end. One of the nice things about this approach is that you can easily break the table down . . . and even use the banquet tables for other events.

    Furthermore, another trick you can do is to get a couple of 4'x8' sheets of very thin (1/8") MDF (medium density fiberboard) at your local building supply store and have them cut three feet off of the end of each. This gives you two 4'x5' sheets (plus the cut-offs). You can now paint them different colors on the opposite sides so that you can create a very lightweight surface that can be placed on top of your banquet tables to create whatever you want (grass, desert, space, water, etc.). These are also very easy to store away.

    Your ECW game looks great, by the way. I am currently busy painting ECW troops and am reading the "Pike and Shotte" rules (among others) to see if they might work for our games -- so I appreciate your thoughts on them (or are you using the "Black Powder" rules themselves?).

    -- Jeff

  2. G'Day Jeff,

    I currently use three plastic trestle tables that give pretty close to an 8' x5' table. I would love to build a dedicated table but it does need to be broken down for storage when not in use. I may end up doing as you suggest and having a board that sits on top of the trestles.

    We use Black Powder Pike and Shotte for all our games. The quick movement and large musket ranges does seem strange at first but you get used to it pretty quickly and it does help you get stuck in. We have played big games with four players per side each commanding a brigade and played to a conclusion inside four hours. I don't know of many rulesets that could make that claim.

    The important point to remember in P&S Is to remember to use your commanders to rally your units and remove fatigue markers otherwise your brigade will break pretty quickly.

    Keep me posted on your own ECW project


  3. Jeff also take note of our unit sizes. 12-16 men for a pike block and 8 men per Shotte sleeve. This still looks good but you can fit more units on the table. We are also thinking of changing our horse units to 8 horse instead of 12 as a second rank has no bearing on the game and that way we get three units out of two Warlord games boxes.

  4. Neil,

    Thank you for the replies and information. My opponent and I have and are building our units one 2" square bases. Our P&S units are 6 bases with 2 pike bases with 5 pikes each (think 5-spot on a d6) and 4 shot bases with a staggered 3 shot per base (nominally 4 figures) in order to get the denser pike block / looser shot formation appearance.

    Our mounted are also based on 2" square bases with two figures on each of six bases per unit. You can see what this looks like on my opponent's blog:

    Would such basing be workable for "Pike and Shotte"?

    -- Jeff

  5. Yes that should be fine. The number of figures in a unit and basing is irrelevant as you are working with "units" , no figure removal and the basing should be sufficient to allow the normal formations. As long as both of you are roughly following the same plan you should be okay. I have settled on a Shotte unit being two bases of four figures because they roll two dice in shooting. A commanded Shotte unit rolls 3 dice so I make that unit three bases. Simple.