Saturday, 9 May 2015

'Where the Iron Crosses Grow...' - gaming with Sgt. Steiner

Now the history to this one is pretty straightforward. Realising that the venerable Sgt. Steiner lived within 30 minutes of my house, a game was in the offing...and who could pass up the chance of playing something new.

Piquet Field of Battle has all the traits of more modern appreciations of the difficulties of managing troops on the eighteenth century battlefield, where those damned subalterns don't always do as they're bloody well told. Being card driven however, there is a real tension in the air too, where luck plays a part, but what you do with that luck is what counts. Brent Oman's famous take on these aspects with the Piquet rules are a real joy to behold (and Sgt. Steiner's excellent grasp of the concepts meant that the game rolled along with real ease).

There's also a WWII version which I've now got. That Bastogne campaign that I've always wanted to do could be on!

I really like these rules. Main highlights were:
  • A nice 'pre-game' where deployment, reconnaissance and relative strength can be determined. The 'prologue' to the battle if you like.
  • Limited maneuverability, where you watch troops move forward, but find them unable to perform any more complex maneuvers (as you gnash your teeth in consternation). If only Potokovski had listened to my damned order!!!
  • Nailbiting melees, which because of the dice spread, have outlying results which can make your position fold with very little provocation from the enemy, if your troops are having a 'bad day'. We had a few of these 'less than average' rolls, but it works.
  • If everything goes to plan, you can perhaps make the battle follow your aims, but you encounter the same issues as in Maurice, where management of crisis points becomes your focus, and being card driven, you have to make your card match what you need to do as closely as possible.
You get a real sense for wanting to ride over to the brigade commander who ain't doing what he's told, grabbing him by the lapels, and giving him a damned good shake!

 The battle was Seven Years War...a little Russian vs Prussian clash...

The Russian right, where I'm sure these two cavalry brigades will just sit and watch each other ...uhhh, perhaps not.

The Russian drive in the centre. Everything seemed to go right for them here.

Clearly, the Russian brigade commander on the left flank was convinced of the wisdom of staying in column...*sigh*

Early Prussian moves in the centre... the situation develops on the left flank. The Russian left became a real meatgrinder, with cavalry charge and countercharge. (I don't think I have any fingernails left!)

 Though the centre stays reasonably manageable.

Nope...the right flank disintegrates into mayhem too. He who controls the flanks, controls the battle. There was carnage on the right.

Some real tension in the centre and left too in the latter stages. 

Some shots of the table at game end. Just look at the scope and number of units here, and that excellent terrain, and all completed within 2-3 hours. 

I've also been convinced of the wisdom of 15mm scale with those excellent figures and painting.

And finally, thanks to Milord Steiner, for hospitality and great gaming. Next time, he's coming chez Le Duc.


  1. Glad you enjoyed and looking forward already to next encounter

  2. Looks like fun! I must check out Piquet in all its forms!