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By Fire and Sword - Polish v. Brandenburg - Delay the Enemy - mid 1650s

My friend Kato and I played this game of By Fire and Sword in mid-August. 

We ran what a relatively historical situation, with a sizable Polish force (13 FSP from The Deluge) attacking a retreating Brandenburg defensive skirmish force (9 FSP from The Deluge), trying to break through the Prussian lines and/or capture two strategic hills. The scenario was Delay the Enemy.  Based on my limited imagination of the history, you can imagine this as part of the Polish push into Prussia which eventually led the Elector of Brandenburg switching sides in the war between Sweden and Poland (joining the Polish). 

Prior to the battle, the Brandenburgers received some bonus effects to make up for the point differential:
  1. The large Cossack-like squadron in the middle suffered one stand's worth of Marching Losses in the lead-up to the battle.
  2. The left flank Dragoons turned out to be insubordinate, meaning they'd take an extra order to command.
  3. The Brandenburg force might receive unexpected reinforcements, with a destroyed/fled unit potentially coming back.
  4. The Polish commander was having a bad day as it turns out, dropping him to 1 command point (apparently you can't go below 2, but too bad for the Polish!)
Meanwhile, the Polish reconnaissance enabled them to Force March a large squadron of Cossack-Like Cavalry and a unit of Dragoons toward the rear hill, putting immediate pressure on the Brandenburgers across the entire front.

Deployment is below:

There's one unit of volunteers way off to the right off camera that lost their order while they were busy pillaging the countryside (Robbers rule), and with their also being insubordinate and my Commanders being stuck on 1 CP, I just left them there the whole game

Turn one saw a general Polish advance, with the large Pancerni squadron charging the near hill and the large Cossack-Like charging the rear hill as their dragoons dismounted to take up firing positions. The unit of volunteers planned to just skirt the edge of the board and make it off the far side. 

As it turned out, the Pancerni drove the Musketeers back off the front hill, as the Musketeers missed 8 shots at close range! Just brutal! The Cossack-Like failed to reach the Musketeers on the far one and failed their skill test, leaving them disorganized and without an order just in front of a lot of guns. 

In turn 2, the Polish commander tried to re-organize the large Cossack-Like squadron and failed (!), meaning the attack on the rear hill would be stalled for at least a turn. Seeing this hesitation, the Prussian commander sent their Reiters forward on a caracole, which inflicted sizeable casualties on the Dragoons.

By the near hill, the Pancerni continued driving the Musketeers back, clearing the hill area completely. On the pursuit, they also clipped the Prussian Reiters, driving them back, although it did end up costing the Pancerni a stand.

As turn 3 began, the Polish commander realized they were likely going to lose too much time trying to reorganize and make use of the large Cossack-Like squadron, and instead sent the Elite Cossack-like with spears into the Musketeers on the hill. On the Musketeers flank, the militia Reiters sounded the charge into the Dragoons (they likely would've been much better off using a CP to elect to charge the disorganized Cossack-like, but there just weren't enough CP to go around).

The musketeers on the rear hill were driven back, while the Reiters routed the Dragoons.

On the left, the Pancerni drove the reorganized Musketeers off again, leaving them poised for a decisive clash with the Prussian Reiters.

Turn 4! The Reiters and Pancerni finally came to grips, while the Elite Cossacks w/ Spears smashed into the last Brandenburg occupants of the rear hill. Unfortunately, the militia Reiters were too far to receive the commands needed to come about and get stuck into the Cossack-Like on turn 5.

The resulting combats saw the rear hill cleared of Prussian forces, while the Pancerni and Reiters fought to a draw (really close!).

In turn 5, the inept Polish commanders somehow seized the initiative at a crucial moment, as they were able to engage the Reiters with their reserve Cossack-Like (who had been trucking up the middle the whole game) before the Prussians could slam back into the Pancerni, who, being disorganized, were basically out of the fight.

The Militia Reiters swung around to prepare to hit the large Cossack-like unit.

Unfortunately for the Brandenburgers, the Cossack-Like had an excellent round of combat, while the Reiters totally lost their nerve, fleeing off the board with the Prussian commander. At this point, we called it, as there was no-one in range to get the Militia Reiters to charge, and both hills were in the hands of the Polish.

After calculating casualties, we had a 5-0 Tactical Victory for the Polish (2 points per hill, 1 point for acceptable casualties for the Polish, 0 points for getting 3 volunteer bases off the opposing edge, as they only counted as .5 each due to Robbers). 

Aftermath - 
This was a fun battle, with a pretty aggressive cavalry force attacking a defensively-focused force with a good amount of infantry. We both felt that there were three key moments for the Brandenburgers to have swung things:
  1. They should've really just focused on the rear hill, leaving maybe 2 musketeers on the front hill instead of 4, and getting the Reiters set up further back to counterpunch the strung out, poorly commanded Polish attack on the rear hill. 
  2. The Musketeers missing all their shots on the first Pancerni charge was really tough. Elite cavalry charging as open order and the -1 from being in combat/contact pushed the to-hit to 2 or less on d10s. Tough luck. Considering they fought decent in melee, the Musketeers might've held off if they'd had any success with their fire.
  3. The Militia Reiters needed to charge the stalled Cossack-Like (or even the dragoons) rather than Caracole, as there was no support ready to counterattack. With impetus and charging fire, they likely would've inflicted significant casualties, reducing a potential Polish margin of victory. 
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the report! Please leave comments if you would like to see any changes for future notes!

Here are some bonus photos:


  1. Very cool battle report, thanks for sharing! There aren't enough BFaS reports in the world. ;)

  2. It was a pleasant read (although I prefer the term cossack style, instead of cossack-like ;) ). That said, I am not sure if the reiters were allowed a caracole. Terrain elements are not Open Ground. They were on a hill and going down slopes is Normal Terrain (hill is either considered going up a slope or down).
    Anyway, most important is that you had fun, too many rules to play perfect. And it sounds like your opponent is just as lucky with the dice as I am... 12 shots, short range, not hits. :S


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