Wargame of the Year 2015: Pike and Shot

By Zac Belado 22 Dec 2015 0
I choose potluck. I'll bring the potato casserole. I choose potluck. I'll bring the potato casserole.

Pocket Tactics is a member of the Wargamer Limited Group, which is owned by Slitherine Software.

I don't know about you but I am growing a bit tired of the relentless wave of World War II games that appear in print and computer markets with such regularity. I am sure that many of them are good games, Maybe even great games. Sadly though they all start to blur together after a while and not even the iOS release of Panzer Tactics, a remake of my favourite Nintento DS title, caused much more than a brief flicker of interest. So, when Slitherine announced that they were releasing an iOS port of the successful Pike and Shot game I took notice, not just because of the game's reputation, but because it offered a glimpse into a historical era that is almost untouched in modern computer games.

If you are not familiar with it, Pike and Shot portrays the wars of the Late Renaissance period, a time filled with the marauding armies of Catholic and Protestant Europe. An era in which the mounted knight of the Middle Ages had been replaced with blocks of pike and gun wielding infantry and mounted troops wielding pistols and carbines. The game does a wonderful job of portraying the differences in those troops and also makes you use them intelligently. Throwing troops into a fight in which they are not adept invariably leads to those men being slaughtered or breaking and fleeing.

Pike and Shot is perhaps the epitome of what a computer wargame should be. Games often come down to a small number of critical combats which are given an added tension by the game's morale system. While many wargames pay lip service to the idea of unit morale, Pike and Shot makes it a core feature of the game and it is often the retreat, and bloody pursuit, of broken units that can win a game or cast your careful plans into the maw of defeat. It is the crucible on which you have to lean in order to win battles in Pike and Shot. Loose enough fire at an enemy unit and it will become demoralized and suddenly a potential target for your more poorly trained mounted troops. Anchor your line with a less capable unit and you will spend the game sweating their casualty figures and élan hoping that they stay in combat for another turn.

It introduces the player to a fresh era with a variety of different units, nationalities and conflicts. It also not only provides three campaigns but also one of the best skirmish game modes on the market. The computer can be tasked to create a game using troops from one of the three available campaigns letting you pick the size of the map, number of units and the scenario type. Combined with a very competent AI this skirmish mode provides more gameplay options than most of the competing games on the market.

Pike and Shot isn't just a game for fans of the English Civil War or Italian Wars, it is a game that can be enjoyed by anyone who is a fan of great strategic wargames.

To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.
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