Pike and Shotte

Warlord Games' Pike & Shotte variant of Black Powder/Hail Caesar is the latest set of rules to come under the spotlight.

Like Black Powder (and Hail Caesar), Pike & Shotte is described as a toolkit set of rules - there are not rules for every eventuality, players have explicit permission in the rules to tweak and adapt as they see fit (something everyone has probably been doing with every set of rules ever written since H.G. Wells was a lad).

Pike & Shotte takes the Black Powder game mechanisms and gives them a C16th and C17th flavour. These are generic rules for the period covering everything from Henrician armies, 30YW, samurai, to the wars of Louis XIV. A number of supplements give specific conflict 'flavour'.

In our case 'To Kill A King' covers the English Civil War. Of the 168 pages of the supplement, there are just 21 of 'new' rules, and of those only 4 are ECW specific rules (the other rules cover campaigns and sieges). The rest of the supplement is an introduction to the Wars, tactics, troop types, army lists and scenarios. And lots and lots of very pretty photos of toy soldiers.

But back to the core rulebook.

Everything seems very familiar - it shares some DNA strands with 1644, and Warhammer ECW, as it comes from the Nottingham leadbelt. All three rulesets share, to some extent, writers and playtesters.

Just over 200 pages of full colour hardback book. A truly lovely thing. Ruleset binding can be an issue, some really great rulebooks fail due to being softback bindings - they don't stay open at a page, or if they do you've cracked the spine and it is only a matter of time before you have to transplant the pages into a ring binder. Hardbacks and spiral bound rules for the win every time.

Approximately sixty pages of rules, which sounds really daunting - lots of illustrations of game mechanisms, and pretty pictures whittle this down considerably.

The other 140 or so pages give scenarios, history, army lists and lots and lots of pretty pictures.

Did I mention that both books are chockful of pretty pictures?

Theses are very definitely new skool bish bash bosh rules, no tedious table modifiers; these are 'get lots of figures on a very big table, do some measuring and roll some dice rules, and be home in time for tea and medals'. Fun, simple to learn.

So what's not to love about them? Well, they really struggle handling combined pike and shot units, as they are written and published. As combined pike and shot units are probably the defining military unit of the period, that is a bit of a problem. Easily overcome with a 'house rule' but quite a big hole in a pike and shot period set of rules.

Quick reference sheet included in the book, but more helpfully can be downloaded here. Warlord do run a rules forum and there are a number of Facebook groups which could help with any queries.

As Warlord's boss, John Stallard, is a massive ECW buff; coupled with Warlord's new battle system of uniquely sized 12/13mm figures, Epic Battles, surely it must only be a matter of time before Epic ECW come into existence... Whilst I won't really be looking at Epic figures to bulk out my armies I would like to see some interesting terrain 'extras'. February 2023 update Epic ECW/30YW just been announced - do I win £5 for guessing right?

Equipment needed:

  • ruler or tape measure (inches, or I use cm with 15mm figures)
  •  Lots of D6

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  1. We use P&S quite a bit with To Kill A King; the additional rules do add quite a bit.

  2. What house rules do you suggest?

    Also, is there any historical support for the idea that the soldiers armed with pikes and those with muskets formed separate bodies that operated separately but in coordination?

    1. House rule: something along the lines of the sub-units rule from Hail Caesar. There are a number available online.

      Not quite sure what your second question is... the drill manuals of the day (the best evidence that we have, and that is of course 'ideal scenario') have drill diagrams for units of combined pike and shot working together, but the individual drill for pikemen and musketeers is very different. It's fair to imagine the two as parts of a Portuguese man-of-war: separate parts that have a symbiotic relationship and function as one.


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