The Age of Mary Stuart, The Pikeman’s Lament, 28mm
This was a strange week. First, we’d planned to play an English Civil War game, but then the Royalist commander couldn’t make it. So, we planned an Ancients game instead, and that fell through when the Roman player crashed his car. So, at very short notice we opted for something quick and simple – a Border Reiver game. Sure, I call this the Age of Mary Stuart, and she died five years earlier, but news travels slowly in Redesdale! The premise was that those troublesome Kerrs had crossed the border and stolen cattle from the Fenwicks, somewhere in Redesdale. They were on their way back when they found their way blocked my some Fenwick footmen at the hamlet of Byrness. So, the scene was set – the Kerrs had to get past the village, and off the table to the north. The garrison had to block their way until the Fenwick hot trod arrived – three units of veteran Reiver cavalry. For this game the Kerrs had four units of 6 mounted Reivers, and one of 12 footmen, who were herding the stolen cattle. Peter and I divided up this force between us. The Byrness garrison had a unit of 12 arquebusiers, and another of 12 pikes. Coming to their aid were three units of 6 mounted Reivers.They appeared on turn 2 on either the long eastern or western table edges. Dougie took charge of the garrison, while Michael ran the force of pursuing cavalry. This game was played on a 6×4 foot table. Our first problem was the garrison. Should we break left or right around the village? Well, in true chaotic Reiver fashion I took my horsemen round to the left, or west, while Peter sent the cattle after them, while his own two mounted units tried to encircle the village. On Turn 2 Michael came on at the western side, neatly blocking my way up the valley. We really needed to concentrate against him. However, Peter had other ideas. By this stage the arquebusiers in the hamlet were peppering us with shot, and riders were falling. So, Peter charged them, slamming one mounted unit into the pikes and the other into the arquebusiers. Both attacking units got chopped to pieces, and the survivors pulled back to lick their wounds. Meanwhile Michael and I were squaring up to charge each other. We did exactly that, and I was wiped out. Undeterred, I sent my second unit in, and the same thing happened. Not good. All I had to show for it was the destruction of one of his mounted units, and the loss of two men from another one. So, effectively, in two turns we’d lost almost all our cavalry.That meant the game was lost, unless we could somehow get our stolen cattle off the table. The garrison was pretty much out of the picture, as the cattle herders were now halfway along the table, where a stone wall protected them from arquebus fire. That though, still left Michael’s mounted Reivers. The unit of cattle rustlers crept along the table, shadowed by Michael’s one and a half units of horsemen. The larger one of the two charged in, and caused a few casualties. Still, the halbardiers managed to fight them off. They were now almost down to half strength though, and things weren’t looking good. At that point Dougie’s arquebusiers found the range again, and caused another couple of casualties., Now below half strength, the Kerrs were particularly vulnerable, as you get to roll a lot less dice in a melee. So, the remaining unit of Fenwick riders charged in. The result was a slaughter. the last of the Kerrs were wiped out, and the Fenwicxks were reduced to just two horsemen. Still, that charge had done it. the cattle had been recaptured, and the Kerrs slaughtered. To add insult to injury the Fenwicks garnered three “honour points”, while we didn’t get any. So, the game was a clear and emphatic win for the Fenwicks! It was a fun little game though, and while the rules are fairly simplistic, things move along very quickly. I can see myself painting up more Reivers to expand this fun little period.