Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Pike And Shot Campaigns - Just like a game with miniatures!

A scene from a game of White Mountain.
Whilst I await return of the impetus to finish and the opportunity to use my 6mm armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day, I've been satisfying my enthusiasm for pike-and-shot warfare with my second PC game purchase - Pike and Shot Campaigns (Byzantine Games). Given the prevalence of ACW and WW2 games, it's good to see an historical PC game covering the 16th and 17th Centuries.

The game uses chess-like alternate turns but with some interaction like reactive shooting. There is also an AI-controlled 'residual' shooting phase.

I understand the game is essentially a PC version of Richard Bodley Scott's Field of Glory and it's very like playing a tabletop miniatures game but with the advantages that computers can provide, e.g. hidden units and painless calculations. I would also say that it looks a great deal simpler than FoG, though to be fair I have never actually played it. I was brought up on WRG-style rules but can no longer tolerate the contortions of Barkerese and its derivatives.

Once engaged in melee, units remain committed unless the program decides otherwise and victors always pursue. Some players object to these features but they simplify play and IMO capture the flavour of P&S warfare more accurately than those rules which allow micro-management of 'break-offs' etc. Outcomes can be frustrating, but that's war.

The game is extremely well-designed and presented with excellent tutorial support and very clear on-screen 'signage'. The author undoubtedly knows his stuff.

I've worked through the historical ECW and French-Italian Wars battles and am currently playing the Thirty Years War ones. Community contributions have provided many more scenarios in and out of the core period. You can also fight infinite pickup games with varying degrees of player input or pot luck, but I haven't tried these yet as reliving historical battles at grand tactical level is more my thing.

The game allows both orthogonal and diagonal facing and movement on a grid of squares. It works well and has made me think again about square grids which are easier to implement than hexes unless you have something like Hexon.

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