In the Service of the Jesuit King

An After-Action Report for While the Devil Rules


    This game was based on a raid into Swedish Pomerania which Stefan Czarnieki proposed to John Casimir II, during the Swedish Deluge in 1656. The raid was not approved, and never took place, but it serves as a jumping-off point for an interesting "what-if" scenario. The scenario write-up can be found here.

    The game was played remotely, over Zoom (which accounts for the low resolution of the pictures), and took 2-3 hours to play to completion with 4 players. Figures are from Old Glory, The Assault Group, Perry, and Bohemia Miniatures (now Empress). The game was a playtest for While the Devil Rules, an app-driven game system being developed by Bloody Scotsmen for their Application of Force site.

    Swedish dragoons man their primitive frontier outpost - none of your fancy Vauban construction here!

    The Polish force entered from one long table edge at a point unknown to the Swedish player. The Swedes have hidden several stores markers in the town, the fort, and the church, as they wish. Victory conditions are simple: the game is played until one army or the other breaks. You get one point for having the majority of the stores, and one point for breaking your opponent's army. In the case of a tie, the Poles can win by burning the church (it is a Reformist establishment), otherwise they lose.

    The Battle

    The Swedish forces prior to deployment.

    The Polish raiding force rides onto the table. They are in considerable strength, and outnumber the Swedish defenders badly.

    The Swedish forces around the church fare poorly: their reiters have already been defeated in a failed charge against the advancing pancierni on the flank (not in picture) and the New Blue regiment is thrown into disorder by the Polish artillery and haiduken.

    On the opposite flank, the Smaaland regiment plays a game of chicken with the cossacks, dragoons, and Wallachians - first they advance, and then they fall back. It turns into a stand-off until the very end of the game. By the time the Old Blues and the reiters get into action, it is already too late to matter.

    A strong force of pancierni cossacks and winged hussars drives around the Swedish flank, aiming to get behind the Swedish infantry, still in a state of disorder. A strange and wondrous apparition appears in the sky near to the church, and the Swedes think that it may be their Lord come to protect them, but it's actually just a cloud of drifiting smoke. Damn!

    The New Blues disperse under Polish fire, and the now-undefended church is sacked by the cossacks. The haiduken have taken some enemy fire in the last exchange, but the disorder is only temporary.

    With all those Reformist bibles and hymnals in there, and emptied of all the valuable metal, the church lights right up! The haiduken advance toward the village, now defended only by the local militia.

    The Polish banners ride around the burning church and the haiduken assault frontally. Incrtedibly, the militia manage to stop the haiduken, but the pancierni on their flank jump the wall and end their resistance. The Swedish dragoons make a desperate charge into the haiduken's flank, but it turns into a chaotic melee...

    With their social inferiors having done all the hard work, the winged hussar banner rides into combat, wiping out the dragoons and capturing one of the Swedish generals. The Swedish force has broken, but not before they have removed more than half the stores (the ones hidden in the fort).

    A closer look at the final assault.

    In game terms, it is a Polish victory - but only because they burned the church.

    Well played by both sides, and the Swedes were able to make a bit of a come-back at the end, but it was a case of too little, too late. It was a very dramatic finish, too. (I am starting to have my doubts about the Reformed Church, however, given how poor the Swedish dice-luck was!)

    This was the first time the GM's Poles had ever taken the field, and he cannot complain about their performance!