Friday, September 17, 2010

Pike and Shotte Anticipations

As an American historical wargamer, there are times when one can't help but feel frustratingly envious of our UK gaming friends.  This week is just such an occasion for me.  Field of Glory Renaissance (FoG-R) is already available across the pond, but cannot yet be purchased here in the USA, and my pre-release order from is not scheduled to be delivered until September 24 next week.  As a regular player of the Ancient and Medieval version of these rules, I am very much anticipating the Renaissance version, most particularly for the chance to play some 17th Century, European, Pike and Shotte armies.

I first got interested in the Thirty Years War, due to stories told to me by a charismatic high school German teacher with a broad knowledge of historical events.  Later, it was viewing the musket and pike battle scenes from the epic 1970's movie, "Cromwell" that sparked an additional interest in the English Civil War.  At that time, I was only a RPG player and board gamer who had not yet started using miniatures, so wanting to indulge my gaming desire for some pike and shotte, I took up playing for awhile the SPI Tactical Series game, "Musket and Pike".  Eventually, I gave this game up, but I always continued to harbor a desire to some day eventually getting around to playing miniature games set in this period.  Unfortunately, I've never been satisfied with the available rulesets.  DBR seemed okay for 16th Century games, but I don't think it modeled the complex nature of 17th Century warfare correctly. Gush's rules are overly complex, and not really commonly played any longer.  I don't like the individually mounted figures and morale rules for Forlorn Hope, and WAB English Civil War (just like WAB for Ancients and Medievals), always seemed too much like a skirmish level game to me instead of a big battle one - regardless of the fact that these games are really only designed for English Civil War battles and not suitable for the Continental warfare of the period without significant modifications.  The closest thing that I have seen for a tactical level wargame modeling Pike and Shotte warfare published in the last decade or so, hasn't even been a miniatures game, but the series of "Musket and Pike" boardgames published by GMT Games, including "This Accursed Civil War" and "Gustav Adolf the Great".

So, it has been that my desire for playing miniature battles in the 17th Century has pretty much gone unfulfilled for the last several decades.  Now, though, I am very optimistic about how the FoG-R rules can be used for these kind of games.  I've seen some advanced copies of the Beta rules, and in my opinion, this is the first set of rules that I've read that does what I consider a reasonable job of handling all the complex infantry formations of the period, along with the multitude of cavalry types from Croat raiders to knightly Cuirassiers.  And from what I can tell, if one is already familiar with the mechanics of the standard FoG rules, then the learning curve for these rules will be minimal.  I will certainly be checking my mailbox all next week in the hopes each day of finding that the rules, along with the first army list supplement covering warfare in the 17th Century, have been delivered to me.

Complementing the Musket and Pike theme of this post, below are a pair of videos of the battle scenes from "Cromwell".  My recollection of this movie is that it was okay - at least I enjoyed the combat segments - but most of the rest, what with endless arguing over the divine rights of kings, and the religious fanaticism of the Puritan Roundheads, was just a bit too tedious for my taste.

For something a bit more Thirty Years War, here is the trailer for the movie, "Alatriste".  A Spanish film that supposedly is not that good, but it does show some clips from the last stand of a Spanish Tercio at the pivotal battle of Rocroi.  And try to find another film showing a battle scene from the Thirty Years War.


  1. I have Field of Glory Renaissance. I will get up some shots if you are interested.


  2. Sure, I'd love to see some pictures. At least something to see until my books arrive.