Saturday, 12 May 2018

Thoughts on cavalry for Pikeman's Lament

My current painting project is Russian dragoons for Peter the Great's army, for which I plan to use Pikeman's Lament (aka TPL).  I've been reviewing the rules and while overall they seem great (as with the related titles in the Lion Rampant family of games), I'm concerned about the profiles for the cavalry units, especially dragoons.

Dragoons in the 17th Century (e.g., English Civil War) are generally described as being pretty much like mounted infantry:  they would ride on ahead to where they expected to fight, then dismounted and fought like musket-armed infantry.  From the descriptions I've found, ECW dragoons were not as good horsemen as proper 'horse' (cavalry), and seldom fought mounted, but were good for tasks such moving ahead and securing a key terrain feature and holding it until the main body of the army could arrive.

By the early 18th Century, including conflicts like the Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia, dragoons seem to have taken on more of a battle cavalry role, although they were still not as potent as 'proper' cavalry, so dragoons would be expected to fare poorly if they ran up against actual horse.

The profile given for dragoons in TPL, however, seems to miss my understanding of dragoons for either period.  They move at 12", which makes them better horsemen than any other cavalry on the battlefield, but they also have quite poor ratings for attack and defence.  Combined with the 'evade' and 'skirmish' rules, I think this profile would be great for irregular light cavalry such as Cossacks.  I would change the range of the missile weapons to 6" to reflect the pistols and other light firearms used from the saddle (as for the Trotters).  This would match Lion Rampant Mounted Yeomen with Javelins, so to match they should have -1 points cost, and there are your skirmish cavalry!  

The profile is wrong for dragoons, though.  

For mid-17th Century dragoons (i.e., ECW), I'd use similar rules as found in The Men Who Would be Kings for Mounted Infantry.  Use the profile for Shot, but movement 8", cannot form close order, and range 12".  Almost like Commanded Shot, I suppose!  As I'm not gaming this time period, I'm not giving it any further comment.

For early 18th Century (GNW and WSS), dragoons should be able to fight like battle cavalry, but not as well as Gallopers.  TPL Gallopers are a lot like LR Mounted Sergeants (if they are aggressive, they're a bit more like Men at Arms!), so perhaps rate the dragoons similarly to crossbow armed Sergeants.  Let them move 10", take away counter charge, reduce Attack Value to 5+, add Shoot 7+/shoot value 5+/range 12".  And leave all that skirmishing and evading to the Cossacks.  The profile would be:

Early 18th Century Dragoon Points 4
Attack 5+      Attack Value 5+
Move  5+      Defence Value 5+
Shoot 7+      Shoot Value 5+/12"
Morale 4+     Maximum Movement 10"
Stamina 3     Special Rules:  First Salvo
Models per unit: 6

Upgrades (or downgrades!):
Raw @ -1 point per unit.  Stamina becomes 2
Veteran @ 2 points.  Shoot value 4+.

Cossacks (and other skirmish or irregular cavalry) generally don't want to get into melee unless they have a clear advantage (such as when their opponent is wavering).  For them, the TPL Dragoon profile is mostly good, but modify it slightly to show their preference for using pistols and similar short range weapons from the saddle:

Irregular (skirmish) cavalry (Cossacks)  Points 3
Attack 7+    Attack value 5+
Move 5+     Defence value 6
Shoot 6+    Shoot value 5+/6"
Morale 5+   Maximum movement 12"
Stamina 3   Special Rules:  Skirmish, Evade
Models per unit: 6

Veteran @ 2 points/unit.  Skirmish at 6+ and no penalty for shooting.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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