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  • Pike and Shot

    Iím a longtime student of firearms through the ages, but the larger employment of the matchlock musket and its marriage to the pike are something Iíve never really understood. Iíve read a couple books on the subject, but like too many works they wrote with an assumption of knowledge on the part of the reader and they gloss over too many points.

    I finally picked up Slithertineís Pike and Shot after reading reviews that say it captures the spirit of the period.

    Hereís links:

    Pike and Shot
    http://www.matrixgames.com/products/537/details/Pike.&.Shot

    An expansion that massively expand the armies lists. 49 armies are laid out, plus ten more battles. This provides the opportunities to mix forces of different periods, or set nations against each other that never did battle in RL.
    http://www.matrixgames.com/products/563/details/Pike.and.Shot.-.Tercio.to.Salvo.

    Now, some nuts and bolts: the game is not devoted to eye candy; its intended for war gamers, and while its not ugly, donít expect much graphics. The maps are clean and pretty enough; the units (battalions. squadrons, and batteries) appeared based upon their type. While smoke billows when units fire, there are no heaped dead to mark the battle; red numbers float up from receiving units when losses are taken, and red arrows link units in melee.

    The turns go as follows: Player One actions; Residual fire phase, in which any unit on either side which could fire but did not, will; Melee phase, in which melee is resolved; then Player Two actions, and so forth.

    Controlling your units is handled with left & right mouse clicks, and are simple, even stark. Click on a unit gives you general stats, control-left on a unit gives detail stats and a description of its nature.

    After the first tutorial scenario youíre an expert in the mechanics, and you are convinced that you have just dropped $50 on a phone app. But like the early stages of a relationship with a psycho girlfriend, your initial impressions are utterly deceiving.

    The devil is in the details. With the exception of tercios and keils, your formations are very vulnerable to flank and rear attacks. Infantry units are slow, clumsy, and cannot cross many types of terrain, and did I mention slow? Theyíre slow.Really slow.

    Cavalry is mostly melee (including pistol armed, as they get within melee range to fire). They tend to be clumsier than cavalry units you may be used to as well, but compared to the infantry they are quite speedy.

    Artillery is not yet the king of battle, and guess what? Its really slow. The guns are very big and heavy compared to shot size, and it shows.

    You quickly learn that numbers are much less important than discipline and morale. Units of veterans will soak up amazing damage while fighting, whereas green troops are wildly unpredictable. Morale breakdown is done in stages, and units can rally, so the combat resolution is far from simplistic.

    When a unit breaks those fighting it may pursue, including leaving the map. When a cavalry unit breaks an enemy it may make additional charges to units it passes who are at a disadvantage; I saw a single squadron of Hungarian hussars roll up my entire right cavalry wing because it hit squadron after squadron in line, mainly because I had stupidly left it in my rear.

    To have a chance at winning, you have to critically examine the equipment and doctrine of both your units and those of the enemy. If you donít, you will be cut to pieces because the AI certainly understands the differences.

    The AI is solid and plays well. Battles often degenerate into wild slugfests that remind me of WW1 surface engagements.

    Despite the ponderous nature of the formations and the resultant slow rates of march, battles can change with terrible swiftness as units hare off after broken enemy leaving your flank wide open. One turn you are hammering forward and the next you have hussars rampaging behind your line and everything is utter chaos.

    This is a game with massive replay value, especially with the ability to set up maps and armies at will. Its strictly a battle game, no campaign aspect at all, but if you want to get in there with pikes and arquebuses and really have it out, this is your game.

    One aspect of it that I really enjoy, and which you donít see often enough in war games, is the opportunity to kill Swedes. You can really stick it to the IKEA-loving basta*ds.

    I may post an AAR of a battle later; currently Iím still absorbing the nuances of the differences in units (ie, Iím still losing a lot).
    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

  • #2
    Thanks for the review.

    I was just looking at this at Matrix Games about 5 minutes ago lol.
    "The blade itself incites to deeds of violence".

    Homer


    BoRG

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    • #3
      Oh! The temptation I have resisted since its release but you write so well and now I got the bug bite again. The only thing I am upset about is that they were too lazy to give us a large complex campaign war game that could have been the Thirty Year War or the English Civil War or the French Civil War. I love massive complex campaign. I almost get goose bumps thinking of working with Cromwell's cavalry units or the Swede cavalry units. Now I check your link and the game is now around twenty dollars which is hard to resist that!

      I have presently WW2 East and Revolution Under Siege Golden Edition am playing both off and on now. I am big fan of Matrix website.

      The description of the warfare you cite is highly historical of a typical battle of that time. I have lightly studied the above cited civil wars. Massive artillery appearance and improve firearms put an end to those ponderous units crawling around in heavy armor. It was wonderful while it lasted.

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      • #4
        Just saw where Pike and Shot: Campaigns is being released.

        Has four strategic campaign scenarios where the tactical battles are linked. Also includes Pike and Shot and the Tercio expansion.
        "The blade itself incites to deeds of violence".

        Homer


        BoRG

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Captain General View Post
          Just saw where Pike and Shot: Campaigns is being released.

          Has four strategic campaign scenarios where the tactical battles are linked. Also includes Pike and Shot and the Tercio expansion.
          That's good to know-I won't buy the expansion.

          I think a campaign game could really be great if they allow building up of units and battle outcomes affecting follow-on engagements.
          Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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          • #6
            The real reason to get the latest iteration of Pike and Shot is not for the Campaigns, but for the late seventeenth century army lists.

            Pike and Shot is about battles, and it's a lot of fun to look at and play. It also has AI that can mount a tremendous challenge so you don't need to play PBEM to be humiliated (you might actually have an easier time of it with a human opponent, so maybe you should play PBEM).

            People really need to understand that warfare back then was NOT about battles. It was about skirmishes and sieges. Armies gained most of their experience from training, and a bit less from sieges and stomping around in the countryside waging the petite guerre. If anything armies LOST experience from battles, and when you combine that with the erratic range of outcomes, it's no wonder that a thirty years war had no more than a dozen big battles (one every two years or so). The Hundred Years War was even worse in that respect, with half a dozen big battles fought in over a century.

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            • #7
              I've been having fun with this game. I haven't really gone beyond basic with it. I've been having fun running battles in skirmish mode with small forces while I figure it out.

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              • #8
                Very good game, as is the follow up, Sengoku Jidai. I've played both quite a bit, and the only reason I play them less now is that I've focused more on board games recently. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd still be playing these daily. So much content: lots of scenarios, tons of player-made ones, huge number of armies, random map generator--never gets old.

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