I've read the rules twice. Now, time to give them a test drive.
I suspended all preconceived notions and played the game as is. As I don't have hordes of figs painted up for this (which is odd since its my favorite period), so I made some paper armies using the foot print/stand sizes in the book. P&S doesn't tell you what size stands or how many figs in a unit, but the pictures pretty much show a 40mm x 40mm base for infantry, 3 stands for shotte and 4 for pikes.
We had 6 players controlling a Battalia a piece except for the horse who got two Battalia. The infantry commanders had 3 units/regiments/brigades each of 2 shotte units and and a pike. Using the convention that the pike and shotte operate as distinct units, that meant each commander had 9 units. That meant a grand total of 31 UNITS ON EACH SIDE. Sound extreme for a first go?
We were done in 2 hours. Two.
By turn three I had to tell some players to slow down because they had picked up the mechanics and were essentially fighting their own battles in the middle while the rest of us were still moving around.
My biggest objection to the rules had been the pike and shot elements acting independently. In practice, no one seemed to care. As thing became jumbled up, it did seem weird some shot was wandering about without the protection of the pike. This was my fault, running the Horse. Mostly likely, still smarting from an earlier sound defeat from my opponent, I was rather rash with the horse. We both went careening headlong into each other. In two turns we were both combat ineffective. Both our Battalias were broken. So, the foot was allowed to run around blissfully free of danger from marauding horsemen. In fact, only one unit the entire game had to form "hedge hog".
A good game. A close game. Next round I'd like to try something with more mixed forces, and also let players mix up the battalias.
Pros: We did a huge battle in a decent amount of time, and the battle "felt right".
Cons: Space. Below is diagram of how big the units are vs how I've got a few units based up for Victory Without Quarter. A thirteen inch frontage is huge for pike and shot formation. Especially on my 6x 8 foot table, which is a little bigger than most people's 6 x 4. Even devoid of terrai for this playtest, things were really cramped. No room to manuever. This has been a complaint about the Warlord games before. Most people don't have the huge tables of the developers. After showing the boys my how my other units are based, they agreed not a lot of playability is lost with the larger bases but fewer. In fact, the only loss of have a one base unit is that of showing a unit in column. They also brought up the paim of moving the 4 pike bases as opposed to one.
I must ponder this.
From a purely esthetic point of view, the Foundry and Perry mins I have in abundance look too spaced out on a 40mm square. The newer, bigger miniatures, not so much.