English Civil Wars, Pike & Shotte

Berwick 1649 a Pike & Shotte Battle Report

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Last Thursday evening, the gallant and noble Customer Service team travelled to the outskirts of Berwick in 1649 (conveniently located in John’s games room) to defend the town for King and God against the Parliamentarian hordes in a game of Pike & Shotte, masterfully run by Steve Morgan. What follows is a completely unbiased and perfectly truthful version of the events that unfolded…

Commanding the mixed Scots/Irish Royalists were Robin (on the left), Lorenzo (the centre, and overall commander), and myself (Marcus!) (on the right). As sides were drawn, we quickly realised a conspiracy was afoot when the Parliamentarian commanders (Gabrio, Wojtek, and Darren) were ushered into a “private briefing” by Steve, exiling us to the kitchen.

When the dastardly Roundheads were done plotting and scheming, we were in turn called in for our brief. It was revealed to us that the Parliamentarians were out to capture our winter supplies, without which we could not hope to hold Berwick – no small task, given that we would be outnumbered! We were also informed that the enemy commander had in his possession certain incriminating papers, which would prove damaging to their cause if captured. We set up our forces to defend our supplies and awaited the arrival of the English (only slightly delayed by sausage sandwiches) with bated breath. Would the valiant Customer Service team prevail, or would we be undone by our erstwhile colleagues?

As the Parliamentary forces deployed, we swiftly realised that we weren’t just outnumbered – we had been outflanked to boot! On the left, Wojtek’s Cuirassiers menaced Robin’s infantry, while Gabrio and Lorenzo stared each other down in the centre. On the right, Darren and I engaged in a friendly conversation and decided that perhaps some form of temporary truce (enforced by some truly awful dice rolling on our part) was in order. The situation looked grim, but we steeled ourselves for a scrap, and got stuck in!

The left flank quickly descended into chaos, with Wojtek and Robin’s forces becoming embroiled in a swirling melee of bloodshed and questionable tactical decisions. With the certainty of victory in his heart, Robin piled in, so sure of his skill that even terrain pieces were made to march to his orders! Wojtek, for his part, responded with no less fury, and the battle seemed to rage for hours (at least until Steve told Robin to get on with it and stop rolling so slowly!). Eventually, Lorenzo, tiring of the stalemate, waded in with his Irish Brigade, laying waste to all in his path, before Steve called a halt to the slaughter. With all parties having a lot of fun butchering each other’s forces, our attention turned to the centre.

For some reason, Gabrio’s forces seemed unwilling to advance en masse, and he contented himself with sending his dragoons forward to harry Lorenzo’s impetuous Highlanders. The General, with his carriage full of salacious pamphlets, skulked at the back, unwilling to face the Royalist defenders. Stung by the audacious dragoons, the Highlanders launched a ferocious charge. Seemingly caught between whether to run away or stand and shoot, the dragoons did neither, and were struck by the full force of the Scottish onslaught – surely, they would be swept away like grains of sand before a mighty wave… or perhaps not. Somewhat improbably, the Roundheads stood, and with Gabrio displaying some hitherto-unknown dice rolling wizardry, they even managed to survive, stalling Lorenzo’s Highlanders advance.

On the right, having failed to issue any orders worth following, Darren and I continued to engage in polite conversation. Our forces eyeballed each other, but the fighting was limited to sporadic musketry and ill-advised manoeuvring. Fortunately, this gave us both the opportunity to heckle Robin (who was still rolling dice from his first turn) and record the events for posterity. As the fighting wore on, we did eventually manage to cajole our forces into something resembling a scrap, but by this point, we were running out of time to do much damage.

With the forces exhausted and spent (or, in the case of the right flank, well-rested and cheerful), Steve called a halt to tot up the points. While we had failed to capture the Parliamentarian commander, due to his strange unwillingness to charge our lines in his carriage, we had clearly and indisputably held at least some of our supplies. While a mathematician might throw words such as “less than the enemy” around, I think our clear military superiority speaks for itself. While I haven’t confirmed this with Steve, I can confidently proclaim a crushing victory for Customer Service and the Royalists, and most importantly, a great time had by all!


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