Monday, December 27, 2010

Pike and Shot Tournament: Poles Vs Turks Summary

It's great to be fighting battles again!

I haven't done much of it in recent years, due to the lack of sufficient free hours to really work on these battles. But my resolution for 2011 is to change that, and put my 10,000 figures to as much use as possible! Which hopefully, in turn, will mean the regular posts that I originally set this blog up to accomodate.

Last Sunday's battle was my first with both these armies, which I assembled over the course of the past year. Neither army is completely finished, but they are ready enough to take the field. (In fact, I haven't done much fighting in the Pike and Shot era at all previously, so this tournament will be a great learning experience for me.)

I was definitely pleased with the look of both armies. They made for a really colorful display, and once I plug the gaps in their ranks that currently exist, I think both will be very formidable - hopefully both in look and deed.

The Turks had a great day. Pretty much everything fell into their lap, and indeed the only bad dice throw I can remember them getting was the one that killed Kazazian Beg. Everything else went their way - the Poles arrival was delayed long enough to allow them to take the village and relatively freely deploy for its defense. Their outflanking force showed up at just the right time to provide re-enforcements for the main battle, and if the Poles had arrived earlier, its arrival would have been perfect to hit the Poles in the flank as planned. The Turks even managed to string together a series of good throws in the final melee against the Winged Hussars.

The Poles on the other hand, had to struggle for everything they got. They arrived late. When they did arrive, the Zaporozhians found the going tough against a lone unit of Tartars - that should have been a comfortable match for the Zaporozhians. Their German allies played no meaningful role. And then the Winged Hussars had to make a hurried assault, with very limited support, against a formed-and-ready Turkish defense force.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army seems to be one that needs to take its time to accomplish things, and they just didn't have it in this fight. Had they been able to use their artillery to soften up the Turks for a few rounds before sending the Winged Hussars in, the result might have been quite different.

There will be other days however, and I'm sure this Polish army will have its share of glory in the future. Its second round clash against the Japanese will be do-or-die as far as this year's tournament is concerned though.

The Turks next assignment is against the Swedes, and we'll know more about them next week, after they take on the Muscovites in our New Year's Day (or the day after!) battle! For now though, the Turks are sitting comfortably at the top of the table.

Pike and Shot: Poles Vs Turks - #3 of 3

Hetman Nowak knew there was insufficient time for his infantry to clear the path to the village, and the artillery at his disposal was not particularly powerful. Accordingly, he resolved to make the thrust for victory with his mighty Winged Hussars!

As the hussars advanced, the Tartars attempted to clip their wings with another arrow storm. The armor of the hussars however provided better protection than the cossacks had enjoyed, and the arrows did little damage. Realizing his own light cavalry couldn't stand up to the Polish elite, Kazazian Beg led his own bodyguard against them.

The thunderous clash was followed by an intense do-or-die struggle. Surprisingly, (actually, luckily - some great dice throws!) the Turks didn't just held their own; they actually gave better than they took. But, just as the Poles could not break them, they could not break the Poles!

The fight continued, with the Polish and German infantry closing in, hoping yet to play a role in the victorious push, should the Turks give way. Kazazian Beg himself fell in the struggle, but still, his men got the better of the overall contest.

The hussars had now sustained heavy losses, and their line was showing signs of strain. Hetman Nowak recognized there was no way through, and called for his men to fall back, relying on his supporting infantry and the proximity of darkness to deter any pursuit.

With nightfall approaching, the Turks were content, for now at least, to hold the field, and gather up the body of their fallen leader.

Pike and Shot: Poles Vs Turks - #2 of 3

The forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth received a nasty shock as they approached Bratworst village - the road ahead was blocked by Tartar and Turkish cavalry.

The Zaporozhian Cossacks at the head of the column hastened to deploy for battle, the Tartars began to pepper them with arrows. In an effort to clear some space, a small group of Cossack horsemen rode out to challenge the Tartars. Outnumbered, they were driven back, with the Tartars in hot pursuit. After a brief but desparate struggle, the full cossack contingent was able to see off the Tartars, but they themselves had taken such heavy losses that they were forced to withdraw from the field.

The Cossack's struggle however had brought time for the Poles (right flank) and their German allies (left flank) to enter the field. As the Tartars regrouped at a safe distance, closely supported by Kazazian Beg and his sipahi, the Poles and their allies deployed for a final rush on the village.

At this time, the Turkish outflanking force also arrived, further boosting Turkish numbers north of the stream.

Time was running out for Hetman Nowak! (To be continued........)

Pike and Shot: Poles Vs Turks - #1 of 3

The opening battle of this year's Pike and Shot Tournament saw forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth under the command of Hetman Wlodzislow Nowak collide with Ottoman Turks under the command of Kazazian Beg, as both endeavored to occupy and secure Bratworst Village as a base for their future operations.

Blessed by his superiority in light cavalry, and some successful espionage, Kazazian Beg had learned that a Polish force was on its way to secure the village, and was aware of the possibility that he might have a fight on his hands. Hetman Nowak had no such knowledge, which showed in the lack of urgency in his progress.

Kazazian Beg proceeded northwards towards the village at the head of his main column, dispatching a sizable force of light cavalry - his akinji - as an outflanking force to the west, with instructions to circle north of the village, and potentially catch any approaching enemy in the flank. Somewhat to his surprise, Kazazian Beg was able to enter the village unopposed (see the photos above), and with no enemy yet in sight, led his bodyguard, screened by Tartar scouts, across the narrow stream on the northern outskirts of the village, with the intention of providing a blocking force, protecting his janissaries as they put the village on lock down.

So far so good for the Turks - one-way traffic in fact!

Where were the Poles? (To be continued........)

2011 Pike and Shot Tournament Underway!

Boxing Day saw the opening salvos in my 2011 Pike and Shot Tournament fired - yes, I know it was a week early, but I had three days off work and wanted to make use of the time!

Five armies will be contesting the tournament - Japanese Samurai, Muscovite, Ottoman Turkish, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Swedish.

Boxing Day action saw the Poles and Turks square off. Full report, with some action pics, to follow.

Pictured above, before the battle, are the Polish Hetman, Wlodzisaw Nowak (top) and Turkish commander, Kazazian Beg.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ottoman Turk Janissaries

The Janissaries were the main core of infantry that fought for the Ottoman Empire from the 14th Century on. They also reputedly provided "the model" for Ivan "The Terrible" when he created his own Streltsi regiments for the Duchy of Muscovy, as gunpowder-powered firearms became increasingly prevalent on the battle field.

The Janissaries provided a form of "elite" unit for the Ottoman army, which was mainly a cavalry force. Light cavalry would initially harass the enemy, with the heavier cavalry then adding some muscle. If an enemy provided stubborn, or the terrain wasn't suitable for cavalry, the Janissaries would be brought in.

The strong point of the Janissaries was their firepower. Also gunpowder weapons were still relatively ineffective in the early years of their existence, the numbers of troops firing could still provide a devastating effect. Jannisary regiments were led by an agha, and the Sultan himself, if he was present, would command the Jannisary corps in battle.

As with the Austrians/Poles, I have provided two pics - one of the front on view and enemy would have as the Janissaries closed for battle, and the other a slightly overhead view, so you can see the full unit, including back ranks. My front rank is kneeling and firing, the secoond rank is mostly standing and firing (this rank also includes my agha, a standard bearer and musician) and the back rank is mostly reloading its guns for use next round.

This is just my first Janissary unit. I plan to add two more in 2011 as I bulk my Ottoman Turk army up to enable it to compete with the Muscovites, should they field their full strength army.