So I started my campaign over, again, in With Fire and Sword. After playing a pre-release version which had a different unit leveling system than what was in the actual game, it was necessary to basically start over. I’ll have a full review on GameShark shortly.
Enter Niklas V. Long lost son of Niklas I –who died. Often.
Niklas V has the benefit of learning the mistakes made by Niklas I-IV.
I’m not going to talk about what’s not in With Fire and Sword compared to Warband because while that’s certainly a discussion worth having…this is Niklas’ story.
June 4th, 1655.
I am a loyal servant to King Jan Kasimir of the Polish Republic. I have battled bandits, rebels, deserters, looters, and most recently, the Kingdom of Sweden all in an attempt to further my own glory and to catch the eye of the King.
My journey began many months ago, as a lone mercenary for hire, placed in the middle of an exploding Eastern Europe. I have since traveled many miles, fought many battles and my retinue has expanded. I now have many men under my command. From devastating Winged Hussars to veteran sharpshooters , I have taken good care of my men by buying new weapons and armor at every turn. My army is a hodgepodge of men – from Lithuanian Musketeers and German rebels to Scottish Pikemen and Moscow Reiters, heavily armored horsemen.
We have looted villages of Sweden and of the Cossacks, burned crops, murdered peasants and ransomed prisoners. I have robbed from the poor, the rich, and everyone in between. I have lost followers because they’re will is weak to do what is necessary to survive in this harsh landscape.
Today, Sweden looks to pay me back for my sins. I have heard they call me The Scourge. They have no idea. I look across the field and see several hundred Swedish soldiers from heavily armored Swedish reiters, pikemen, marksman, and light cavalry. At my side are dozens of Polish scouts who will aid me in this battle, swelling my ranks. My drunken ally Colonel Zagloba sits next to me, cursing the Swedes under his breath. He has killed more men than I care to count. He particularly hates the Swedish.
There is a large hill in the center of the field, and it will be key to claim it first and allow us to fight at the height advantage. I order my pikemen and other infantry to race to the hill and I take the Polish Scouts, Hussars, Moscow Reiters and Dragoons around the hill to the right, hopefully out of sight.
As we ride east, the sound of musket fire can be heard ringing across the battlefield. The infantry have reached the hill and are preparing for a likely cavalry charge – if we can circle around the enemy we can chase down the marksmen and chew them to pieces.
As we clear the hill, it’s obvious that while we have the ground advantage, the Swedes are fielding elite infantry and our pikemen are holding on for dear life.
I issue the order to charge; I fire off a shot with my Wheelock Carbine and take out a marksman in the head – I have grown quite adept at blasting enemies from horseback, but one shot is all I have time for as we launch ourselves into the back line of the Swedes, smacking the musket carrying marksmen right in the flank.
The ranged units scatter like flies as sabers rattle through the units in a cacophony of blood and violence. After the initial shock of the charge wears off, and as many marksman lay dead at our feet, I take note of our pikemen and spearmen back on the hill – the Swedes have driven them off that precious ground as the cavalry successfully flanked them.
At this point all hell breaks loose.
I try to rally my cavalry – telling them to follow me back up the hill to try and catch the enemy reiters in the back, but before we can make the charge, enemy reinforcements appear in a company of fresh pikemen and pistol wielding light cavalry. Orders collapse and it’s now a mass of men, swords, pikes, sabers, and musket balls whizzing around. I’m sitting on my trusty steed when an enemy musket ball kills an allied Dragoon sitting on his horse no less than five feet from me.
It’s time to ride.
Drawing my saber and circling the battlefield looking for any enemy to slice open, I have no idea how my infantry has fared. They are on the other side of the hill. I’m injured, being shot at every few seconds by the enemy pistol cavalry. I reload my carbine to try and fend off the ranged attacks, taking out an enemy horseman with one shot.
I get a moment to breathe and rally the remaining cavalry. Nine horsemen remain. Myself, Zagloba, two Moscow Reiters, one Hussar and four veteran Dragoons. We form a line and race up the hill, unsure what we’re going to see.
We find a few remaining pikemen, about to be run down by Swedish reiters; we make a last mad dash and smack the enemy heavy cavalry right in the back, unseating riders and chopping them to bits.
At this, the rest of the Swedes break and run.
We have captured many men this day and will sell them off at the next opportunity. My army is battered, bruised, and about half strength. Colonel Zagloba is injured. Most of my infantry decimated. But the Swedes have fled.
It’s time to go see the King…