Sunday, 22 April 2012

Salute 2012: Part 1 - Pike and Shotte & other purchases

So Salute has come and gone again this year. It's only my second trip, but I have to say it has already become the gaming highlight of the year, if not so much for purchases (although I made far too many, I can get most things over the web), then for the sheer range interests that the hobby inspires. I have heard a few people saying that perhaps it wasn't as good as last year's show, but it didn't seem that way to me. Lots of good demo and participation games and plenty of traders, all of whom seemed to be doing some brisk business. To me it seemed that wargaming was most definitely alive and well.

I got to the queue quite early, so was within the first 100 or so from the door. Yes, I had to wait but I was up and about anyway and it gave me a good chance to read through the guide, goodie bags having been handed out early. Then there came the inevitable stream of flyers and special offers (yes, the golden tickets did exist - a guy just behind me in the queue had one), all of which I tried not to read too closely. At about 9.45 the doors were opened and the first of us allowed in.

I headed straight for the Warlord stand to get my copy of Pike and Shotte:

I know this is not one of my "projects for this year" but I still wanted to grab a copy and grab a place in the participation game to see if it played all that differently from Black Powder. I was given the Royalist centre to play with, and I have to say I had a lot of fun with it.

I have a feeling someone with Parliamentarian sympathies painted these figures, 
just look at the colours on Gerard's Regiment...

This was my battalia - 3 pike blocks and 6 musketeer units. In the rules these are treated as separate units but all musket units within the battalia can be protected by any pike block within 6" (provided it is not already giving protection to 2 other musketeer units). I also had a cannon off to my right, and the good fortune to have the C-i-C, who was a good commander with a leadership value of 9.

I only played for about an hour or so - not enough to give the rules a review, but first impressions were good. I was faced by only 2 "regiments" of Parliamentarian foot, but they did also have a gun and some cavalry support.

I was also able to keep a bit of an eye on what was going on on my flanks so I got some of the flavour of cavalry combat, too. At first all seemed to be going quite well for the Royalist cause; the cavalry opposite me was redirected to the left flank and if anything I was the one was was bogged down a bit in the attack.

The foot to my immediate right move forward

 Royalist cavalry charge on the far right

Things not looking too good for Parliament on the left either.

But after wailing on each other for a while, the Roundhead horse on the left broke the Cavaliers due to a lack of support for the Royalists and the same happened on the other flank due to woeful die rolling on one side and inspired dice on the other. In the meantime, thanks to a Parliamentarian blunder, I had very luckily  managed to catch one of their pike blocks with flanking fire, removing it and effectively putting its "attached" musketeers out of the game by shaking them. But despite the centre holding, it would have been all up for the Royalists had we played to a conclusion, as by this time both flanks had collapsed.

So what did I think? The game is very quick to pick up. All of us were pretty much up and running within 10 minutes. Basing seems to be the standard 20mm frontage per foot figure, 25mm for horse, and although some people have mentioned being concerned that the rules mention 2 rank and 3+ rank foot, I can see no reason at all why I can't continue to use my shot mounted in 4 ranks as well; it's not as if a unit's combat values are based too closely on the number of figures - it's the usual small, standard or large. It's perfectly possible to "model" the Swedish and Dutch systems without getting too precious about it, too.

From what I could tell with the horse, the options there seem to be right as well. Some cavalry can counter-charge, some can't according to doctrine, and they can even charge pikes - but at such suicidal disadvantages that you'd have to be mad, desperate or both unless the pikes are really disordered. Morale and break tests are similar to BP and HC so if you are familiar with those rules these will be exceptionally easy to pick up. There are a few "advanced" rules: Hedgehog formation,Fighting from buildings, Dragoons, and then the list of unit characteristics (or "Useful Rules") that we have come to expect. I suspect that much like BP and HC, how much you get out of these rules is going to very much depend on what you are prepared to put in in the way of preparation.

Conclusion? Well, I admit it's still early doors, but I like them. The ethos of a gentleman's game very much comes through, both reading the rules and in the way the demo game was put on, for which I must say a big thank you to the Warlord guys, whose names I have all promptly (and shamefully) forgotten. They seem to be designed to be used from the beginning of the 16th (in fact the first example period is the Italian Wars of 1494 - 1559) right through to the end of the 17th century (with rules for plug bayonettes for example), so you can get plenty of mileage out of them. Are they sufficiently different from Black Powder and Hail Caesar to justify buying them? Sure, you could work out all the factors and so on yourself, and come up with rules for musket taking cover with the pike, but why re-invent the wheel. Bottom line, they are fun, and for me that's the best recommendation of all.

So what else did I see at Salute? The first thing I noticed was the number of laser etched kits on sale. Battle Flag had some mightily impressive buildings on sale, and I will be making a few bespoke orders when my Blackwater Gulch sets come through. They had a particularly nice funeral director's, which I was told would be out in the next couple of weeks. I also saw some amazing stuff at the Sarissa stand; the new System Infinity looked great as did the Old West stuff. I did buy some tokens and the stable block and outhouse from Warbases, as well as picking up 3 kits from (a water cart and  wagon, which will both do generic 19th century duty, and a mediaeval house) from 4Ground. As you can see, I couldn't resist starting the dry fit on the stable block...

4Ground had the stall next to Renedra, from whom I bought some Saxon tents, some wattle fencing and some palisade. I also managed to pick up some more tufts from Antenociti's Workshop.

This really is a golden age as far as terrain is concerned, and had I not had to fly back with such a small bag and  a 15kg weight allowance, I'm sure I'd have picked up far more. There was some fantastic looking scenery from The Last Valley for example, and S&A Scenics. I wish I'd taken more photos, but I was using a new camera and didn't really know what I was doing!,m 

I've already mentioned Pike and Shotte, but I also wanted to pick up Northern Fury. The Gripping Beast stall was as busy as last year, but I didn't feel quite the same buzz as last year. They did have a very tempting box of Skraelings for £50, which I only just managed to resist, but more interesting for me was the battle board that I saw by the demo game, which was mocked up for Byzantines...

The lovely Skraeling figures (not my photo)

Since I have decided to move ahead with my TSaTF project, I needed a few more d20s.

All this and no miniatures? I did pick up some figures as well, if not too many. 4 packs of unmarried zulu from Empress, as well as 2 packs of unmarried heads. I actually went to Salute with the intention of suggesting unmarried heads for conversions, and there they were, ready and waiting! And I'd thought I'd had such a clever idea... I also grabbed 5 loose Foundry zulu from Dave Thomas's stand for just a bit more variation.

Finally, I also grabbed a Prince Rupert and Hopton from Bicorne. I think I may have been inspired a bit by my game. These, along with the new Eureka French field bakery and cantiniere made up the last of my purchases, to which must be added the two freebies I got: the Salute Maya chief (an absolutely amazing figure!) and the Warlord ensign.

Although it doesn't feel like I bought all that much, I still managed to spend far more than I wanted to - and that was without the Victrix hoplites I wanted (not out yet). 

The complete Salute haul
(the Foundry box back right was picked up from my brother's)

Another great day out and a whole lot of fun. My only regret was having to leave before the blogger meet up, as my father was in town for a meeting and so it was off to the RAF club I needed to go. Even cut short, it was worth it, and I'll definitely be flying in again next year.


  1. Wow! that's a great haul you picked up Chris, gotta agree it was an excellent show!!

  2. It's great to read your thoughts on the 'Pike and Shotte' rules. I have just received my copy and really want to get playing. I've got two quite large English Civil War Armies but no previous rules of this period really did it for me, so my armies have been little used over the years. I love playing Hail Caesar so I think I have found my ultimate ECW set now...I hope so! :-)

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