Saturday, 29 April 2017

Marlborough's Wars using 'The Pikeman's Lament'

Like most of the 'Horse & Musket' gamers at my club (Trumpeter's Gaming Society) I, too, have been bitten by the Lion Rampant bug and its various iterations.

I wasn't going to purchase Daniel Mersey's The Pikeman's Lament initially, since I don't have any appropriate figures in my collection to game with (apart from my 2mm nano-scale ECW collection, which are based for DBA/M and really wouldn't work).

I was, however, instantly seduced by the rules, and they're pretty cheap... so what the heck? Maybe there'll be some useful ideas in there, I thought.

After a good look at the rules, however, and having run through my collections in my mind, it occurred to me that it would be pretty simple -- with a few minor modifications -- to game Marlborough's Wars using my 6mm War of the Spanish Succession collection. In fact, it's extensive enough to provide units for a big 64 point per side fight!

So what follows is an example of using the Osprey rule set to re-fight actions from The War of the Spanish Succession (early 18th century).


I had to make two main modifications: 1) Cutting some troop types to suit the early 1700s, and 2) changes in scale for my 6mm collection.  I'll deal with the scale issue first.



The rules are written for 28mm figures, using inches for the ground scale. They do allow for smaller figure scales, and suggest using centimetres for 15mm and under. I've found that in cases like this, however, it's better to deal in 'half-inches' rather than centimetres, as this gives a bit more 'elbow room' when maneuvering on the table. To do this I made a custom half-scale ruler (the back & white rod in the picture below) marked off in three, four, five & six inch lengths. These are actually read as six, eight, ten & twelve inch lengths when playing. That way, there is no need to convert the tables or engage in clumsy 'halving' in the middle of a game; just read the tables as written, and let the custom ruler do the work.

The 28mm figures in the picture below represent a 12 fig. unit of Shot. As you can see, when formed up in a line they occupy a frontage of 12 inches. Since the scale is halved, the trick is to have the 6mm unit occupy a 6 inch frontage when deployed in the same formation. As long is the frontage being represented is about the same when adjusted for scale, all will be well.

My 6mm unit of Shot occupies a frontage of 5 1/4 inches (close enough), and is composed of six stands. In order to stay internally consistent with the rules these must represent 12 stands/figs., and so I count each stand double, and use a 'dead guy' stand as a marker when necessary to note the odd hit.

I did consider simply using 12 stands of 6mm to represent units of Shot, but decided against that, since 1) the units in my collection aren't painted up in such a way as to accommodate that -- it just wouldn't look right, and 2) it would cut the number of units that I could field, and take away from the 'big battle' feel that I like.

Six stand 6mm unit of Shot. The pikes in the command stands are just decoration, and are used to give the unit a late-17th/early-18th century feel. One benefit of this scale is that this unit consists of 72 figures, providing a perfect 'one figure equals one man' representation of a slightly understrength company of Foot.

Troop Types

I had to cut a few troop types to suit the early 1700s. Units of Pikes are gone, as are Clubmen. Units of plug or socket bayonet-armed Shot are able to form Close Order (as per the rules). Independent units of grenadiers are Forlorn Hope; skirmishers are Commanded Shot. Larger units of converged grenadiers are simply improved units of Shot. I also allow Battalion and Field Guns to be mobile, needing an activation roll to limber/unlimber.


In order to keep things simple I'm only using one Officer in this scenario (all other Officers will be 'generic'): Ensign Archibald "Archie" Cunningham, unacknowledged bastard son of the 4th Marquess of Montrose (from the film Rob Roy). Since Rob Roy is set in 1713 I'm following Archie's earlier military career on the continent.

Here's Archie's ratings. I didn't roll for these -- just chose them to fit his character:
  • Starting Rank: Ensign
  • Honour: 10 (well, that's what he starts with, anyway!)
  • Background: Sly (may refuse challenges with no morale test)
  • Initial Trait: Fencing Master (hits on a 4-6 in challenges)

Archie will command 'Cunningham's Company' (more like a small ad hoc battalion of about 400 men).

Cunningham's Company (26 pts)

  • Cunningham's Own Heroes (Unit of Shot). As per the rules I'm allowing all Shot units, which are bayonet armed, to form Close Order.
  • Converged Grenadiers (Unit of Shot) As above, but with improved Shoot value.
  • Montrose's Highlanders (Clan Unit) I decided to use a Clan unit for these, but I'm giving them conventional Shoot factors.
  • Highland Dragoons (Gallopers)
  • Montrose's Light Dragoons (Trotters)
  • Field Gun (limbered)

Dutch Allies (26 pts)

Archie's command will be reinforced by a 'company' of allied Dutch troops, consisting of:
  • One Dutch Officer
  • Two Regular units of Shot (as per above)
  • One unit of Grenadiers (as per above)
  • One unit of Dragoons (Gallopers, as per above)
  • One unit of Light Dragoons (Trotters, as per above)
  • Field Gun (limbered)


I'll use the initial 'Ga Pa!' scenario provided in the rulebook, which involves two enemy forces going at each other. The background for this is taken from a 'Passage of the Lines of Brabant' (1705) game that I ran some time ago (this was a larger scale battle using the Black Powder rules). 

Archie's command forms the vanguard of Marlborough's army, and is ordered forward to seize a vital crossroad. He runs into some French bent on preventing him from doing same.

There are two 'companies' of French opposing Archie:


French Forces


Left Company (26 pts)

  • One French Officer
  • Three French Regular Units of Shot (as per above)
  • One unit of Dragoons (Gallopers, as per above)
  • One unit of Light Dragoons (Trotters, as per above)
  • Field Gun (limbered)


Right Company (26 pts)

  • One Bavarian Officer
  • One French Regular Unit of Shot (as per above)
  • One Converged Unit of Regular Bavarians & O'Doul's Wild Geese (as per above)
  • One Converged Unit of Bavarian Grenadiers (as per above)
  • One unit of Bavarian Dragoons (Gallopers, as per above)
  • One unit of Bavarian Light Dragoons (Trotters, as per above)
  • Field Gun (limbered)

Next time: Part II, the battle as it unfolded.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent idea and start! Your idea of a 'dead guy' for a half hit is a good one. I have used a 'grave' (simply a mound of earth complete with gravestone!) for the same purpose.
    If you want to use 'flanks' for a period 'linear' effect, the outflanked unit could be reduced by one stamina as the negative effect should you wish.
    Can't say I will be cheering for Archie though... ;-)