I had a free day and decided to revisit the Piquet variant Din of Battle rules in combination with my 15mm US cavalry and Lakota native American armies. I played a simple encounter battle with 5 US cavalry units with some Crow scouts attacking 8 Lakota units, half mounted and half on foot. The battlefield was fairly open with gentle low hills and a scattering of woods. The game was played lengthwise on the 6 foot table. As there were less than 18 units in total, the initiative dicing used opposed D12 rather than D20 dice.
The US cavalry activated first and came rapidly on to the table in columns, and then they advanced a second time to almost the half-way point. Now the initiative changed and the Lakota side won a succession of opposed rolls. They very rapidly advanced, both cavalry and foot, in ‘mass’ formation. The US cavalry were now in a very precarious position, still in column, and were desperate to both win back the initiative and draw ‘deployment’ cards.
The Indians charged in to the cavalry columns, firing as they came, and now hoped to draw ‘melee’ cards from their deck. Fortunately on the Indian right flank the Lakota firing disordered the US Crow scouts allowing immediate melee combat. The scouts were routed and the supporting cavalry were engaged. In the centre the US cavalry did draw 2 ‘deployment’ cards in quick succession allowing them to get into line and then dismount. They now poured carbine fire into the Indians, routing a couple of units. Unfortunately this was not enough, the Lakota drew the required ‘melee’ cards and another couple of cavalry units were routed and the US cavalry right flank was totally destroyed. Both sides were now struggling due to a lack of morale chits, but it was clear that the Lakota had won. They had a couple of mounted units working around the open flank behind the diminished US cavalry force and the army commander would have no choice but to get the hell out of there with what was left of his forces.
The game moved at a rapid pace. The prime error by the US cavalry was to remain in column too long. They needed to deploy into line well away from the on rushing Indians, then dismount and use their firepower to win the game. The widely fluctuating initiative system employed by the rules allowed the Lakota to get the jump on the government forces and gain the win. Din of Battle (and the other Piquet variants) are excellent solo rules but the luck element, which is integral to the rules, would I feel make the game frustrating in a 2-player situation.I have ‘found’ on my computer a variant set of Pony War rules produced by The Perfect Captain and I hope to try these out as an alternative to Din of Battle.