September has been a busy month, with work ramping up again, the kids back to school, and much scurrying about getting the house ready for the 8 months of inclement weather we enjoy here in sunny Nova Scotia. That said, I have been puttering away at the Bolt Action soviets when I can scratch together a few moments, and am getting close to 500 points of painted figures. Once they're done, I'll throw up a post showing them off, along with a starter game I managed to cram in.
More recently, I was able to take advantage of a rare day of decent weather to get in a backyard game against Jura, once again taking the Covenanters and Royalists out for a spin with Pikeman's Lament. Covenanters had two shot, and a unit apiece of trotters, dragoons, pike, and a regimental gun. Royalists had two shot and a pike, and elite or veteran gallopers and dragoons.
|Pictures courtesy of Jura, so from his side of the table. Covenanters to the top, Royalists at the bottom.|
This was one of those games where the activation mechanic of PL was visible. For those of you unfamiliar with the system, units activate on a two-dice roll, different actions have different degrees of difficulty, and failure on a roll ends one's turn.
Early in the game, Jura couldn't get his boys moving for love nor money (in point of fact, his gallopers opened things up with a blunder that sent them running away from the battle for a turn), but this evened out later in the game, when I had the same problem - I couldn't get my guys to attack on a couple of turns where it was critical for them to do so.
|Festivities opened up on the right, with a clash of horse. The Royalist elite gallopers had an advantage over the Covenanter trotters, who were sent packing on a bad morale roll.|
As it happens, I quite like both PL and the "Rampant" series of sister games, in part because of this command friction mechanic. That said, it can be mind-bogglingly frustrating at times, when your opponent presents you with a perfect opportunity, and your units Just. Won't. Act. ;)
I imaging this kind of hair-pulling frustration isn't entirely unknown to actual field commanders. What I like about the PL system is it's much more about managing a force, rather than controlling it. You are constantly reacting to events and frictions in game, while still actively trying to implement a plan; there's an adaptive process throughout that keeps one thoroughly engaged.
|Infantry begins to close. Royalists have already sent packing one of the Covenanter shot wings.|
We've been playing infrequently enough that we're still sticking to pretty basic scenarios, and haven't really brought in the more campaign-focused mechanics (like commander traits and experience). I'd love to do that at some point, but as it goes right now, we often struggle to remember the point of the scenario. The one we played, Patrol, was supposed to have us trying to get across the table, with a time limit. We pretty much forgot about the latter element, and aside from Jura's dragoons, generally abandoned the "moving across" bit in favour of a slugfest.
|Covenanters have some success in the middle, as they push back and rout the Royalist pike, but they're now flanked by a unit of Shotte.|
By the end of the game, we were down to a couple of damaged units apiece, with everything else either routed or otherwise off the board. Not to worry, however. It was great to actually get minis on the table, including a couple of units that hadn't seen action yet (the dragoons on both sides, for eg.).
|End game. For a scenario that was supposed to be a running battle, it turned out to be a meatgrinder.|
I'm more or less satisfied with the Royalist opposition force for now, so I think my ECW efforts will refocus on the Covenanters, with an eye to grow them to something closer to small Pike and Shotte scale games. With the Bolt Action Soviets close to playable, ECW will likely return to the painting queue, along with the victrix vikings I picked up a while back. There's a few folks in town with vikings, and the Cub has inherited both my old Wargames Factory stuff, and added to them some fantasy elements for use in Dragon Rampant. Vikings and Scots will likely see me busy through Christmas, at which point, no doubt, Santa will be the Magpie enabler he so often is. Normans in Italy is something I've thought about for a while (and those new Victrix normans are looking AWFULLY nice), and there's always the prospect of some other craziness. Victrix adding Persians to it's range is making it harder to resist the idea of an Antigonid force, for example . . . .