(virtual) wargame session of Knyghte, Pyke & Sworde scenario in the Iron Age

Having successfully recovered my non work related computer I managed to get Tabletop Simulator running and finally play a scenario I setup long ago.

Knyghte, Pyke & Sworde is a rules set published by Nordic Weasel Games and is as seamlessly fluid as it is fun without resorting to minutiae to describe different types of troops and how they perform. It may seem bland to some, without any particular defined “national” doctrines and training incorporated but it does what it is meant to do. Skirmish level combat during the “age of sword and board and spear and pointy stabby stuff” in which each game element represents one individual and operate in groups of three or more combatants ( and wannabes ) and individual if renowned fighters and special characters.

I did acquire my copy of the rules book through Wargames Vault in digital format.
I did print it myself and ring bind it for best layout flat on the table. In addition it is easier to handle when playing in front of the computer using Tabletop Simulator.

While the rules refer to medieval skirmish I came to immediately want to test something non medieval but sharing the traits. That means – sword, spear, shield, javelin, sling, arrows, and everything else that is not related to gunpowder or elephants and chariots and big battle formations.

I just threw a simple scenario of the Iron Age. Republican Rome and Alpine Celts in a punitive raid perpetrated by the Romans.

The roman expedition features 18 soldiers in 3 troops led by a Captain, Canus Titius Major.
( may have a clue of what that means but was randomly generated ).
Accordingly the troops are Skirmishers, Polearm and Charger, respectively for the Velites, Italiotes and Hastati.

The alpine tribesmen are represented by social status representation ( how modern ).
The non warrior caste presented as Levy, totalling a force of 6 elements. Lights, 3 elements, and Missile, also of 3 elements, basically the farmers and shepherds but being hardy uncivilised folk ( by Roman standards ) they all can handle themselves in a fight.

For the warrior class the selection was very “heroic tradition” as it befits such wonderful warrior cultures. A group of 6 Charger and the Chieftain, Eppo Perrus, and 2 Fighters as the sworn sword retainers. ( note: Fighters are individual heroes )

This is where our gaming culture comes to life. Albeit we did participate in a couple tournaments back in the day, we aren’t suited for that type of wargaming aspect. There must be a story driving the forces in the table and at this zoomed in scale anything would be suitable but what better than the cheesy story of having Eppo Perrus double crossing some deal with the Romans and the Governor being pissed and pulling influence strings and crying to a friend in higher standings, having the nearby dispatch a troop to exact discipline on these “hairy, smelly, unwashed and overall scary barbarians” and slay their herds.

( I swear this would make for a better film script than many nowadays… or at least as good… and without any need to replace intermissions with copula scenes. Anyway, I digress… )

Contact of 2+ individuals with any animal herds slays it automatically. When all herds are slain the scenario ends with an automatic Roman victory.

We made up a rule for herds movements on the fly.

During the Time Phase all herds move D4+2 in random direction as dictated by a D6

1-2 towards friendlies

3-4, towards enemy

5-6, away from both

( this actually resulted in funny moments of very domesticated animal nature )

Initial setup points and number of units favour the Alpine tribe and give them flexibility while the Romans are more contained with only three units, very inflexible.
To balance it we decided to always give the Initiative to the Romans, which makes sense as they are soldiers by trade and surprise the tribesmen with their attack.

Turn 1 was, as expected, just moving forward.

Romans cross the bridge and the alarmed barbarians start to assemble and a straight forward turn as both sides resolve to Exhaust their units ( 1.5x move ). The goat shepherds are classed as Light so do not exhaust and they take position atop the rough rocky goat grounds without suffering any ill effects ( complicated ground can complicate things, is a nice touch in the rules ).

In Turn 2 both forces start making decisions of where to focus the attention.
The Gauls intend to commit the warriors as soon as possible as it is their duty while keeping the farmers and shepherds in reserve. The Romans are warriors to man.

The Velites decide not to throw any javelins at the enemies atop the rocks given only 3 elements out of 6 could safely aim at enemy. This would invariably cost the unit 1 point of ammunition ( each troop capable of shooting has 3 ammo points ).

Turn 3 sees the forces getting closer and then on Turn 4 the Romans initiate with the Velites throw of their javelins and half are true.

In their running and getting winded the Celtic warriors are hit hard. Two are knocked out and one wounded !!! Resulting in their “fame of being brave” ( Bravery ) being tested…

…and they fail. What best way to say “Good morning! Rome loves you all!” than a devastating hail of javelins.

The Celtic Charger group is removed entirely.

The Pig herd finds its way out of the village walls as is on the loose !!!

It is important to refer that in anyone’s wargaming imaginary the action happens real time like a movie, so the sequence of events, even if in a sequence and turn based, is naturally understood.

In the same turn that the Velites greet the warrior with their volley of roman joy one of the Fighters ( hero! ) engages one of the Italian spearmen. These are Rome’s allies, very efficient fighters and used to spear and shield in their particular style and not like the eastern hoplite.

So it went like this…

Celt Hero versus Italiote melee… white die versus red die…
( Are you f……. kidding me !?!? )
The 6 is a Critical to add literal injury to the offense. It is like the Hero just impaled himself into the spear during the engage sprint… Critical hit equals an additional die for Hit result roll that ends up in a Wound. Nasty. These Romans are no piece of cake.

“Tribute to Rome. In kind or in blood. Rome accepts and loves your sacrifice. Ave !”

Turn 5 is a circus of violence as the summit of bloodshed is quickly upon both Romans and Celts, while the pigs, the chickens, the goat and the sheep run around happy and delighted at the spectacle ! ( oh no the horror, how can you play those games of death and people doing bad things to one another… )

The sheep shepherds use their slings to throw pellet rocks Hastati but are ineffective which serves to turn their attention to themselves…The farmers Levy, exhausted still, engages the Velites, maybe trying to prove themselves worthier than the warriors that just got cut by the javelins… the poor sods.

The Romans, as said before, are all fighters and the dice seem to confirm this resulting in utter carnage and the farmers lose heart and Retreat.

One of the aspects I enjoy a lot in this rules set is that no individual will ever be trapped in combat, which makes sense at this level. The melee is a sequence of clashes and move away, regain space and footing and try again, sometimes even against a different opponent.

The fighting is intense and it flows as opponents push each other back. Engaging again the Roman spearman the wounded champion is once again bested by the spear wielder soldier. This time fatally. ( additional wound means death ) and his sword brother makes a rather skilful kill !

Eppo Perrus himself attacks, enraged, that “stinking dog of a roman” that killed one of his trusted sworn swords BUT again, in a spectacular show of spearmanship, the Italiote wounds the enemy !

If this would be part of narrative campaign, this spearman would deserve to be elevated to Fighter class…

Turn 6.

The Hastati enter the fray to make sure the Slingers do not harass them any longer but no spectacular rolls result in the loss of a trooper in exchange for a wounded shepherd.
The goat shepherds have been spying an opening and see that the Roman commander is somewhat isolated and engage.

Canus Major is not a commander of “reprisal” expeditions for being a puss. He Critical strikes one of the offenders and slays him with no trouble whatsoever.

The Italian spears continue to fend off the enemy Chieftain and the sworn sword but despite a great sequence no kills are scored.

The seemingly awesome spearman got wounded by the Celts captain though. The sword champion on the other end got struck but miraculously nothing happened, to the confusion of both combatants, but then fighters often describe combat as a blurred sequence so who’s to say what hit and what appeared to hit ? Only blood speaks out and there’s no blood in the blade.

The Velites slaughter the pigs ( bacon is back on the menu boyz !!!! ).

The farmers rage in tears at the loss of their friends and charge like mad. The result is more losses for both sides but destiny for the battle is practically reached.

At this point we called it game end and a Roman victory.
The Celtic captain is wounded and his tribe is being slaughtered piecemeal. Even if he and his sworn sword brother can face off the Italiot spearmen that’s as much as it can be done as there’s nothing else left to really put up a resistance.

The end result victory points is just a meter, we usually don’t pay much attention to it and try to make the narrative flow naturally.

All in all a pleasant return to Tabletop Simulator and the ability to share wargaming with buddies from all across the planet.

Thank you for reading and you can reach me if you ever want to get a game going.

Tabletop Simulator – https://store.steampowered.com/app/286160/Tabletop_Simulator/

Nordic Weasel Games – https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games

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