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Horde vs. Hetman: A Raid on the Crown Lands

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

A large horde of marauding Cossacks, Tartars, and Turks, undertook a raid on the Polish borderlands last night, in a game inspired by Hetman Jan Sobieski’s victory at the Battle of Podhajce (1667).

Each invading faction had its own objectives: to burn and loot (Cossacks), to capture peasants for ransom or Ottoman service (Tartars), and to occupy the convent (Turks).

The Poles, led by Hetman Sobieski, had to devise a defensive plan, evacuate peasants, and defeat the invasion with inferior numbers. Doug and Theo played as the Poles, with Richard and Phil in charge of the Horde.

During the game, played using my Gangs of Ruś rules, the table was divided into three sections by two fordable rivers, with five villages and numerous fields represented, and a convent at the rear. Religious foundations were often fortified and served as rallying points for resistance on the volatile southeastern frontier of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Doug duly deployed blinds masking his units' positions, with cavalry on the wings, infantry and artillery in the centre further back, and most of the peasant levies in the rear.

Meanwhile, Richard’s Cossacks made good progress with burning the crops and a village, with some pushing on in support of the Turkish infantry. Phil’s Tartars also made good progress, but were eventually repulsed by Doug’s winged Hussars.

By end of play the invaders were close to breaching the final Polish defensive position with an assault by four units of Janissaries. Nevertheless, the Poles had managed to save two-thirds of the peasants and destroyed more units while keeping hold of three out of five villages as well as the convent.

Considering that the marauders had 12 cavalry units to the Poles’ four, Doug and Theo had done rather well. All in all, an enjoyable game to play and umpire.



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