Monday, April 22, 2013

Solo Piquet Tutorial Part 1 : The Battle of Cross Keys

While I've always felt that Piquet was a fun ruleset for wargaming, I think one of the best products of its card-driven action and unpredictable impetus is its usefulness as a solo wargame system.

I'm going to be posting the step-by-step progress of an example solo Piquet game.  I'm using the Battle of Cross Keys scenario from the Hallowed Grounds Scenario Book 1.  The Piquet rules supplement will be Hallowed Ground.  Cross Keys was fought on June 8, 1862 as part of Jackson's campaign around Port Republic.  It is limited to around 8-9 units per side and the size should be ideal for this tutorial.  I'm less concerned with the historical accuracy of this particular scenario than I am about showcasing the Piquet system.

Cross Keys battlefield.  The play area ends where the creek at the bottom cuts off.
The Union is attacking towards the camera and down the hill.
They must cross a creek to get to the Confederates.  Wooded hills
are on either side.  A road runs up the eastern (right) side of the table.

The first step in Piquet is to establish the sequence card decks for each side.  I opened up the Hallowed Ground rule supplement and I went to the section on ACW-Eastern Theater 1861-1862.  This gave me a breakdown on the cards that each side should have in their decks.  I have no cavalry in this battle, so the deck will have no Cavalry Move In Open cards.  Per the scenario, the Confederates get an extra Move in Difficult Terrain card in their deck.  In the end, I determined that each side will have 28 sequence cards in its deck.

The decks break down as follows (Union/Confederate):
Artillery Move   3/2 ; Moves and limbers/unlimbers artillery.
Artillery Reload 3/2 ; Reloads artillery so it can fire again.
Deployment 1/2 ; Allows units to change formations.
Dress Lines 6/3 ; Wasted card.  Produces command delay.
Elites Reload 1/1 ; Elite units can reload on this card.
Heroic Moment 1/2 ; Increases the effect of the next card or can be used for a shooting bonus.
Move in Difficult Terrain 2/3 ; Allows movement through difficult terrain (woods in this scenario).
Infantry Move in Open 3/3 ; Allows infantry to move and maneuver at a higher cost.
Maneuver 2/2 ; Units can change facing.
Melee 2/3 ; Units can initiate melee against a unit they are in contact with.
Musket Reload 2/2 ; Unloaded infantry can reload.
Officer Check 2/3 ; Commanders can move, rally, and re-establish command over their units.

Examples of my cards.  I designed these cards using a POD service, but basic cards do come with the Piquet standard rules.

So, looking at the cards in the two decks. the differences between them are pretty obvious.  The Union has an advantage in artillery cards, so the Union artillery will most likely move, deploy, and fire more often than the Confederate artillery.   The Confederates have an advantage in Deployment, Difficult Terrain, Heroic Moment, Melee, and Officer Check cards.  The Confederates will most likely have more opportunities to change formations, move through tough terrain, fight in melee, and their leaders will be more active in keeping the troops rallied.

In my next post, I'll discuss how these sequence cards work in the game, how you determine unit quality, and how you use the Army Characterization deck to figure out how strong your army's morale is.

And now here are some general fluff pictures.

Confederate reinforcements for the 2nd turn.
Elzey's Brigade and a smoothbore battery.

Union reinforcements for Turn 2
Bohlen's Brigade.

The starting forces face each other.
  These are their general locations.  I might adjust positions
and formations before the game start.

Starting Confederates.
Trimble's Brigade.

Stahel's brigade.

A few extra cards that might show up in this particular
game.  There are quite a few other optional cards that can
add flavor to different scenarios.


  1. Great stuff looking forward to more

  2. Looking forward to seeing how the solo aspect works (as I have this supplement and others) but struggle to get others to play. Also the cards are gorgeous, where are they from?

  3. Thanks. Graham, I designed them through Artscow. The links should be in the Links section of the Piquet Yahoo Group, but if you're interested in a particular deck, I can email you the link.

  4. Very cool! I have done a fair amount of solo play, and Piquet is wonderful for it.