Battle Report: The Winter of Discontent

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The Customer Service team finds itself outside of Berwick once again, ready to give the Royalist Scots another drubbing and secure the town for the winter!

In our last game of Pike & Shotte, the Parliamentarian forces had been unable to completely
dislodge the Royalists from the town of Berwick, thanks to the masterful defensive strategy of the
Customer Service team. Last Thursday, we descended once more upon John’s house to settle our
unfinished business in a second game, once again masterminded by Steve Morgan…

With 1649 coming to an end, and winter closing in, the Royalist Scottish forces had withdrawn to
their camp on the outskirts of Berwick. Mindful of raiders looking to carry off their supplies, they had
gathered them all into a single heavily-defended barn – a target too tempting for the English to
ignore! The Parliamentarians had a simple objective – storm the barn and detonate an explosive
petard to destroy the supplies. The Royalists had to prevent this to have any hope of holding Berwick
over the winter.

Prince Darren of the Rhine leads his cavalry into battle!

Perhaps eager to prevent the Customer Service team forming an unstoppable power block again,
Steve decreed that we would be assigned our commands by a random dice roll. To my horror, I found
myself in the Parliamentarian centre, alongside my doughty colleague Robin, Ozzy Pete from the
casting room, our marketing guru and resident horsemaster Darren, and another Pete (henceforth
New Pete) from production, with Colin as our iron-handed field marshal. Arrayed against us were
studio’s Wojtek, Dispatch Tom, and Alfie from production, all under the watchful eye of Lorenzo.

Eagle-eyed readers may note that the sides were not exactly even – we had the Royalists
outnumbered, and with our confidence buoyed by our superior numbers, we prepared to attack. On
the right, Darren’s Cuirassiers surged forwards, his eagerness to engage earning him the nickname
“Prince Darren of the Rhine”. Against him, Tom’s line looked a little thin, and we waited to see how
the Cavalier commander (and first-time Pike & Shotte player) would react. Surely, his forces would
try and manoeuvre away from the enemy, or stand and give fire… or instead, blunder horribly on a
double 6! As we celebrated our stroke of good fortune, Tom calmly rolled to see what calamity
would befall his troops – naturally, they advanced straight at Darren’s Cuirassiers, and gave them a
staggering volley of musketry! Darren piled in, and the fight was on. Casualties piled up on both
sides, and there was no sign of a clear winner, although we began to suspect that Darren’s Horse
might be getting the worst of it, as Tom seemed unable to roll any result but a six!

MacColla leads the Royalist charge!

In the centre, our forces (including the vital petard-carrying Storming Party) decided to sit down and
have a few drinks. I was able to move up a little in support of the left flank, with a view to crushing
Wojtek’s defiant brigade, but Ozzy Pete’s forces refused to move, despite much Antipodean cajoling.
Across the field, Alfie’s units calmly stared us down, unwilling (understandably) to leave the safety of
their walls, while cannonballs roared back and forth on both sides. Unless we could get our advance
started, we would have no hope of blowing up the Royalist supplies. Our hopes lay pinned on our
left-hand brigade, who were poised to sweep aside Wojtek’s forces and turn the enemy flank…

Wojtek, however, had other ideas. The sculptor we all thought we knew revealed himself as a latter-
day Alexander (aided by some excellent dice-rolling) and held the line against all assaults. Robin’s
forces steamed in and routed his cannon and Horse, but Wojtek’s Foot stood firm. Next, New Pete
mounted a determined infantry assault but was unable to dislodge the doughty Royalists from their
positions. His failure drew the ire of Colin, who exercised his lordly powers and ordered New Pete
shot for dereliction of duty. Keen to avoid a similar fate, I got my brigade moving, but my advance quickly foundered amid a storm of musket and cannon fire from Wojtek and Alfie. A last-ditch attempt at a charge from my Pike was swept contemptuously aside, and with that, the left flank’s failure was complete.

Wojtek’s foot make their stand!

In the centre, Ozzy Pete finally got his forces moving, and advanced on the centre-right, aiming to
relieve Darren’s battered Horse and threaten Alfie’s position in one fell swoop. Unfortunately for us,
Lorenzo chose that exact moment to spring a deadly trap. With glittering eagerness in his eyes and
malice aforethought, he unleashed his Highlanders, commanded by the fearsome (and apparently
resurrected) Alasdair Mac Colla upon Ozzy Pete’s line. This had predictably bloody results and led to
many howls of “that’s not fair, he’s supposed to be dead!” from our beleaguered troops. This Gaelic
whirlwind of death swiftly turned our central advance into a slaughter, and with absolutely no hope
of a Parliamentarian victory, the game was mercifully ended.

As the smoke of battle cleared, a scene of utter devastation was revealed. Dead and dying
Roundheads littered the field, while the victorious Cavaliers celebrated with food and drink taken
from their now-secure supplies. They will be able to last the winter in some comfort, and the north
of England trembles at the thought of a spring advance! A wonderful evening was had, and the next
battle is eagerly awaited by all!

Huzzah!

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