Combat – Zweihänder vs Pike

August 27th, 2011

This article is a reworking of pike combat. Pike combat has been a bit of a tricky one to sort out due to my preconceptions. It’s not like regular skilled combat. I have classified pike formations as ‘mobile fortifications’ (obstacle) – I see the ‘skill’ in using the pike as maintaining formation and presenting a mass of points toward the enemy. The defence is in the structure not in the skill of the individual pikeman to defend through binds, parries, etc. The concept of Pike = ‘mobile fortifications’ ties in with the other concept Shield = ‘mobile cover’.

Pikes are unwieldy, and while they can be used in single combat (with enough space), they are restricted when in a block formation. The only rank that can do any kind of defence work is the front rank, but even they are hindered by all the other pikes from deep ranks getting in the way, and they cannot move about.

The second and deeper ranks have limited view, and cannot really move their pike about in defence.

The core concept of the pike block is to present an impassible obstacle, a mass of pike points so dense that it is hard to move through. Cavalry cannot move through pike, but highly skilled swordsman can. Sword and shield has a chance, but the best is the Zweihänder (a very long 2-Handed sword) which can catch a long of pike is the bind.

Zweihänder vs Pike

The basics of taking on pike is very similar to the basic prototype rules except it starts out with an MA test instead of an auto-hit. In the following an attacker (Zweihänder = 2-Handed sword) takes on a multi-rank pike formation.

Note: Those who wield Zweihänder (Landsknecht) are highly skilled ‘Doppelsöldner’ (double pay).

A pike formation is made up of a number of ranks, and the Zweihänders must overcome each rank before they can attack the pikemen.

  1. Zweihänders – first rank: The Zweihänders seek to bind a pike in the first rank with an MA test.
    > Each roll over the Zweihänders MA is a failure to bind and they back off (repelled). They have to wait until the next turn to reattempt this.
    > Each roll equal to or under the Zweihänders MA is a strong bind and can move in; on to the next rank. The Pikeman does not get the opportunity to defend themselves – the defence is in the number of pike ranks presented.
    > Go to step 2 .
  2. Zweihänders – second and subsequent ranks: Having pushed past the first ranks of points the Zweihänders seek to bind a pike in the second, and subsequent, ranks with an MA test. Each rank requires an MA test.
    > Each roll over the Zweihänders MA is a failure to bind and they back off (repelled). They have to back off completely. They have to wait until the next turn to reattempt from rank one.
    > Each roll equal to or under the Zweihänders MA is a strong bind and can move in: on to the next rank.
    > Repeat step 2 for each rank.
    > When there are no more ranks, move on to step 3.
  3. Get stuck in: When the last rank is defeated, all the Zweihänders who made it past all the ranks can now attack the pikemen direct. Pike are useless this close, and have to draw secondary weapons. This is resolved as a Zweihänder vs 1-H weapon combat loop.

To summarise, you need a string of successful MA tests, one for each rank, to overcome a pike block.

Example: 10 Zweihänders attack a pike block of 200 pike, with 20 men in the front rank. The pike block has long pikes and presents 4 ranks for pike points toward the Zweihänders. Each rank of points must be overcome in order before the Zweihänders can attack the pikemen directly. The Zweihänders make an MA test for their opening binds, the Zweihänders have MA:8, and the Player rolls 9 successes! The Player then rolls the 9 dice for the second rank and get 6 successes. Then he rolls 6 dice for the third rank and gets 4 successes. For the last rank he rolls 4 dice, and gets 3 successes. 3 Zweihänders have managed to bind and hack their way through the pike points and now attack the pikemen direct. The pike block is compromised. Next turn the Zweihänders start hacking away at the pikemen, the pikemen will draw secondary 1-H weapons to defend themselves.

So to get an idea of speed: Roll 10 dice, 9 hits. Roll 9 dice, 6 hits. Roll 6 dice, 4 hits. Roll 4 dice, 3 hits and the pike block is compromised.

It simply a string of MA tests. The pike are too unwieldy to defend directly against the Zweihänders, and instead rely on their numbers to make a defensive structure.

A compromised pike block has to make a Mentality check or break. If the pike block breaks then the Zweihänders can hack down many pikemen as they try to flee, made easier as the block opens up allowing hewing strikes to. If the pike block holds, the pikemen engaged in close combat with the Zweihänders may triumph (if they know how to bind and fight close). If a pikeman dies the Zweihänders will open up space, killing, barging about, and generally causing mayhem.

Pike vs Zweihänder

Pike can’t really attack Zweihänder (or other formations) in the usual sense. A Pike block can advance on a Zweihänder unit and force them to give ground or engage. If the Zweihänder engage and fail: they will have to give ground. This allows the pike block to push enemy units back. If an enemy unit breaks, or is more than one rank and fails to get through the pike points, then new rules for the pike block to ‘steamroller’ the enemy kick in (I haven’t written them up yet).

Categories: Concepts, Rules |

Leave a Comment

If you would like to comment on this post please use the comment form below. All comments are moderated by me, so once you post your comment will disappear! Until I OK it ;) Please be patient as it can take a few days for your comment to show up. Rest assured that I do read all comments.