Monday, 27 April 2015

Plassey Update

That's Mark leading from the front.  "Don't worry lads I've got them surrounded!"

I thought it would be a good idea to list where I'm up to with the Joy of Six game and the plan for the coming months.

First of all; the game is ready!  Basic terrain and figures are done all I am doing now is gilding the lilly.  I have to keep telling myself that so that I don't go into a cold sweat at the thought of everything I still want to do.

However, I am just putting the finishing touches to HMS Kingfisher, sloop of war.  I will post a blog showing this as soon as I've found some brown thread to complete the rigging.  This should be joined by a small flotilla of landing craft to simulate the very important naval support that enabled Clive to win.

Over the weekend I got hold of a jar of liquitex and ordered more terrain from TSS.  The plan is to create a more realistic water effect whilst keeping the versatility of the coastal terrain so that I can use it for coastlines and large rivers.

Phil, would you be able to dig out the jetty you made for Tarawa?  It might be suitable as part of the British landing stage.

The jungle, I am confident, will look great; all of you have done a brilliant job experimenting with the trees that Jon sourced - I'm looking forward to seeing what Russ will do with Phil's lichen.  The mass trees dressed the game last year and I think we will do it again this year.

I still need to improve the mango grove.  Jon is bringing along spare ply bases which I will use to individually base the trees allowing free movement for the initial British deployment.  I have some further ideas but I may need a base board similar to the ones Mark made for the woodland bases.

I may paint up some extra units if time allows.  I was hoping to use this project as an excuse to increase my Indian armies for future games for us.  I did note that Mark's ancients Indian army had skirmishing bow that could be used in this period and I think a couple of units would add to the horde.

I still need to create the ox driven artillery and I need more tents and ancillary bits and pieces to dress the battlefield.  So, if any one is placing an order with Baccus, Leven or irregular miniatures can you let me add a few items to your order?

Lastly, I would like to put the full game on later this month or early June.  It might not be fully finished but I would welcome feed back and constructive criticism.  I will play it in full to ensure that the simplified version keeps all the main ingredients.  This would allow another 4 to six weeks to hone or improve the game for its ultimate outing.  Let me know what dates are best for everyone as I would appreciate all your input.

Spanish armies for the Italian Wars

Not the most inspiring picture ever...
Primed and ready to paint, the components of two Spanish Renaissance armies - one the Spanish in Italy up to 1518, the other the Imperial Army covering 1518 to 1535.  I decided to bolster them with Landsnechts (German mercenary pike) and some Swiss pike as well (so the Spanish commander can add some beef to an otherwise frail army if caught in the open).

The shooty troops will certainly help address the issue of pike-armed opposition (as will the artillery options) as long as they are safely behind barricades or similar.  Otherwise, the chances of sword-and-buckler troops lasting long against Swiss mercenary pike are low at best.

I do need to order some genitors (which I somehow missed off the original order) and will probably need some additional pike to make up the collenas of the Imperial army (precursors to the tercio - a unit of pike and shot).  I will probably use ECW pike for these to differentiate from the more colourful Swiss and landschnects.

Anyway, once the painting begins you'll see the army develop....

Killer Katanas 2 - playtesting

The lads were up for trying out Killer Katanas on Thursday.  Except for Jon who - unlike Mark - wasn't prepared to lie to his spouse that he was popping out to Tescos and would be back 'soon' - then sneaked off to wargame for the next 4 hours.  Even worse, she was laid up on the coffee table with a bad back. 

I set up with a limited number of units per side and sort of evenly matched.  The Black team (Russ and Ian) had a larger unit of ronin, but sans armour and a unit with long lance (essentially pike) alongside the expected samurai and ashigaru.  The Red team (Mark and me) had some sohei warrior monks - which let me tell you now are crap against cavalry!

Reds below, Black above.  The Black cavalry get to move next

As with all new rule sets there was a bit of flicking through the rule book initially but, to be fair, once we got into the swing of things it seemed to move along quite nicely.  Very soon - especially as combat began - we were all hanging on the next card with hope (or trepidation) that we or the opposition would get their licks in first.

The card system works well.  Each card represents cavalry or infantry of either side.  If a Black Infantry card is pulled, all Black's infantry units (including commanders on foot) get to move.  There are 4 cards of each type (cavalry and infantry of both sides) - so a turn last 16 cards.  Some units like ashigaru with arquebuses need 2 cards to fire (reload then shoot) and as we found it is easy to get stuck waiting for your infantry cards to turn up to let you reload as the enemy bears down on you.

The Blacks plot their next move - onto the hill

Terrain played its part.  Movement is not speedy and being stuck on terrain (such as hills and paddy fields) severely restricts movement.  The Black ronin in particualar were picked on as they would be slow to come down the hill and our ashigaru arquebusiers certainly took their toll on them.

Interestingly, bow units are quite effective compared to other rule sets (they don't need to reload like arquebusiers) but to keep it balanced all shooting units can only shoot twice per turn.  I made up some counters to keep track of who had done what and we felt we needed a Reload counter for the arquebusiers.

Movement is randomish - you know your units will move but the distance is not fixed which can make charging slightly more of a lottery if you stop 1/2 inch short!

Counters a plenty as the shooting takes place.  

It was quite funny how we all seemed to get into it.  I forgot to take many photos as I was a) usually flicking through the rule book when an event came up or b) engrossed in the action.  All results seemed fair and there was certainly no shout of "These Rules Are Shit" as has been heard in the past.

We certainly didn't scratch too deep into the potential depth of the rules - there are loads of optional items we can introduce over time but we'll need some time to get acquainted with the nuances of these (such as historic battle formations and command and control distances).

One element that certainly had us going was the personal challenges.  Basically a unit commander, the main commander or unattached commanders can issue personal challenges to their opposite numbers.  We soon found that with the right leader, this could be devastating.  You roll for the commander ability on 2d6 - low is bad, high very good.  If you can get double 6 (as I managed for one of ours) he becomes a +3 unstoppable killing machine who takes out enemy unit commanders which then forces morale checks on the unit they were commanding (if you kill him, make him run away or if he refuses to fight). 

Our super duper +3 guy managed to scare off a flanking samurai unit and an ashigaru unit on the hill.  Similarly a Black commander opened up a significant hole in our ranks doing the same thing.

Carnage as a single samurai causes consternation and confusion to his enemies.  Run Away!
However, such units (if they engage in single combat) can suffer wounds and even be killed by an inferior opponent - and the wounds are cumulative.  In this way a crafty commander can send in his crappy -1 commanders in the hope of a) inflicting some wounds on the superior hero and b) getting his own crappy commander killed and replace him with a shiny, new higher rank commander!

I definitely need to spring for some small movement trays to keep units together and work on the paperwork needed to keep track of damage to units and individual commanders (especially noting the 20% and subsequent 10% damage which results in increasingly lower morale status and hence crucial in marking down).

At the end of the evening, both sides had reasons to be pleased.  Cavalry are not numerous but are highly effective and certainly the Blacks won the battle of the flanks while the Reds could claim victory in the centre.  Combat had been bloody and you can see why some historical formations allowed for rapid switching of troops to let those that had been battered retire to the rear before being wiped out or routing.

Feedback was positive.  Everyone had a good word to say about them and generally a thumbs up for Killer Katanas 2!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Heroics and Ros stuff arrived!

Not bad at all.  Two Spanish Renaissance armies plus WW2 Germans in winter uniforms.  I missed off a couple of packs of genitors (light cavalry) so will be putting a new H&R order in soon if anyones interested.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Killer Katanas 2

It was my birthday last week so I decided to splash out on a few goodies (which will be covered by other posts).

One of the 'goodies' was a copy of Killer Katanas 2 - a rule set by Brian Bradford covering the Sengoku period in Japan (The Age of The Country At War) - in other words the 16th and 17th century combat involving samurai and ashigaru as competing clans vied with each other to control Japan.

I've tried a number of rule sets to simulate combat in Japan during this period.

Renaissance Principles of War does quite a good job but doesn't hit the mark in some respects (such as reflecting how armaments and their use dramatically changed during this time - such as mounted samurai changing from mobile shooting platforms into lance-armed cavalry, foot samurai moving from bow and sword to arquebus and spear and of course the rise of the ashigaru (fast foot) who made up the bulk of the armies in the later period - armed with yari, teppu and yumi (spear, arquebus and bow).  However, it does not lend itself to using the specific battle formations used at the time.

Age of the Country At War is a simplistic rule set based squarely on DBA.  It has some novel elements (such as use of heroes to engage in heroic actions) and some useful elements (such as being able to manouvre while outside of tactical range of the enemy) allowing for fast deployment and changing formations which is closer to the nature of combat at the time.

DBR is another rule set I've briefly tried (to be honest, only once) and I'm sure with a tweak or two would be ideal.

However, I've read that Killer Katanas is highly regarded by people who've played it so I have sprung for a copy.  I've briefly scanned through it and although it looks a bit complicated (and also does not lend itself easily to 6mm scale that I use), initial impressions are good.

The rules are written for 15mm although it can lend itself to 6mm scale by reducing scales from inches to cm (although base sizes I assume stay the same - it doesn't say so in the rules).  There are three classifications for troop type, armour type and weapon type.  Players can choose clans with different percentages of troop classification (e.g. some are cavalry heavy, some ashigaru heavy) and then equip units accordingly.  Basically better armour and weapons cost more but are more effective.  Cavalry are powerful but costly.  I like this idea as it allows players a lot of customisation based on points and reflects the challenges facing clan leaders (daimyos) at the time. Lots of troops with poor weapons and armour or less troops much better armed and protected?

Turns are card based.  Each turn consists of 16 cards (8 cards per side - 4 cavalry and 4 infantry) being turned over and then allowing actions for those troop types only. There are some good ideas here - arquebus units need to load and shoot (essentially requiring 2 infantry cards to be played) so if you get two cavalry cards before your opponent gets two infantry cards you can ride own his arquebusiers before they can shoot.  However, the opposite can happen and your cavalry can find itself in front of an arquebus unit that has had time to move and reload.

In addition, infantry card movements are non-standard (2.5" or 3") so your infantry charge may stop short of contact.

So when an infantry card for the Red team is turned over, all the Red infantry can move (or conduct an action such as reloading) - including individual leaders who can challenge their opposite numbers.  A declined challenge results in a morale check for the leader challenged and the unit he is attached too (in face of such cowardice, how can hey respect him as a leader?).  Similarly if a general is challenged and refuses all units under his command check for morale!  Which is why most battle formations have the general far away from the conflict!  Challanges are fought out using 2D6 and a reference table wiht outcomes such as wounds (it takes 5 wounds to kill), and outright kill, no effect or run away.  In any event, losing a challenge is not good but better quality leaders have a much better chance of winning.

General combat involves shooting or melee.  Firing can be done in one rank or two (the latter is much more effective) but requires troops to be stationary to do so - and hence at risk of being charged before they are ready to unleash!  Moving your missile troops reduces their effectiveness.  Sticking them behind a pallisade and keeping them still improves their effectiveness.  Nagashino, anyone?

However, opponents can opt for bullet-tested armour which reduces the effect of arquebus fire and allows your pointy and slashy troops to get in for the kill.  But it is expensive.

Melee combat involves lining units up and counting how many are able to fight (based on bases, ranks and weapons used).  For example a unit of 16 samurai armed with yari attack a unit of 24 ashigaru armed with katanas.  The samurai get a charge bonus as they contacted first and get some second rank support as they are using long weapons (spears).  The ashigaru only have short weapons and so only the front rank can get involved.  The samurai get 12 units 'in' against the ashigaru's 8.  The samurai have better armour (+1) and they throw their leader in to the fray (as do the ashigaru).  The samurai have a base factor of 4, +1 for charge, +1 for leader, +1 for armour.  You then reference the combat table (factor 7 and 12 troops) to get a result of 2.3 : 2 kills and another kill if the attacker rolls 3+ on a d6.  The ashigaru are base 3, +1 for leader giving them 4 and 8 troops which yields 1:0 - 1 kill and a 6 required for another kill.  They both roll 4 - the samurai get another kill, the ashigaru don't.  The result is 3 - 1 (both leaders survive the melee) and the ashigaru are pushed back and the samurai will get an additional +1 next time for winning the prior round of melee (but the more numerous ashigaru will get more troops in next time as they now flank the samurai).

Casualties are taken off units furthest from the fighting (i.e. rear or flanking units) to simulate filling on the gaps in the line of combat.  These should be marked off on sheets to denote total unit strength.  As units lose strength, they lose combat effectiveness and may soon fail morale checks as a result.

Morale checks come all the way through a battle - when unit leaders die, when a unit loses 20% casualties (with a -1 for every 10% thereafter), when they see a friendly unit rout etc.  Bad rolls cause units to retire or rout which can trigger a general retreat.  But morale can be regained on a 7+ but only if the unit has a card in play or a leader contacts the unit in question.

There are optional rules for artillery, sieges, fanatical troops, inspirational icons (such as standards which give a +1 to morale), rotational fire, loyalty (opposing players can choose units to defect and then roll to see if they do - if successful the unit turns to face their previous allies and engages them!) and good/bad karma (an additional coloured dice is rolled during combat - on a 1 the combat effect is reduced by 1, on a 6 it is increased by 1 - in the combat scenario above it could have been a drawn combat if the ashigaru got a good karma and the samurai a bad one).

The key attraction of Killer Katanas 2 though is the use of battle formations.  There were at least 22 formal battle formations available to samurai generals and using these rules you can replicate the formations themselves.  Each unit is designated as a Vanguard, a Division, Support, Flanker, Bodyguard etc. and therefore takes its place in the formation (and direction) as required by the formation.  On the table, this may require that more space is required (so 6mm is certainly a better scale to think about) as each formation takes up 24" x 24" in 15mm.  On a 6 x 4 table that means they would be practically touching each other so scale is a factor to consider here.  However, both formations start 24" apart (24cm for 6mm).

Both sides choose their formation (in secret) and then both roll a d6 and add their sotaisho (main leader) bonus - if any.  The high score gets to choose to accept the formations as they are (e.g. he sees that his formation is better than his opponents) or to change his.  If the formation is changed then the process is repeated and both sides dice again.  The process is completed when the high scorer decides to begin.  The high scorer then chooses the position of his army (the 24" square), followed by the loser.  The initiative player can choose to set up first or last.

However historical formations do not have to be used.  In such circumstances both players write down the formation of the army in secret and are revealed at the same time but deployment must be within 24".

Proof of the pudding will be in the eating - or rather the playing.  The rules themselves look fairly straightforward although a lot of bookkeeping may be required to keep track of casualties. The formations, use of leaders and choosing of armour, weapons etc. can make for many and varied battles.  The rules have a comprehensive list of leaders (with bonuses) and also clan composition - to make army selection easier.  There are also a number of scenarios to try (with maps and army lists).  If it plays half as good as it looks, we could be onto a winner!  

Monday, 13 April 2015

Total Battle Miniatures painting guide

As Total Battle Miniatures don't do a painting service anymore, they have put together a painting guide, enjoy!
Painting Masonry Buildings
Give the buildings a wash in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Then undercoat the Buildings with a white undercoat (I use a white primer spray). Allow to dry thoroughly.
Mix a warm mid grey colour that’s thinned to single cream consistency (I use household emulsion matchpots and acrylics and mix in good size proportions and then thin in a sealable pot/jar for usage over a period of time). Paint the building all over in a very slap dash fashion. You want it to be uneven as this will give depth to the model and create natural unevenness in the finished model. Allow to dry. Taking a terracotta paint (I use a Burnt Sienna) thinned to single cream paint on terracotta tile roofs chimney pots and red brickwork. Don’t worry if you leave mortar seems unpainted or painted. Paint a thinned to milk black on tile roofs. Allow to dry. Mixing the terracotta colour with white and a dirty yellow to personal taste. Liberally dry brush the terracotta tiles and chimney pots, not the brickwork. Lighten still a little further and lightly dry brush. For slates paint them a dark grey then when dry dry brush a mid brown and then lighten with white and lightly dry brush again. Mixing a very mid warm grey/yellow brown thinned to the consistency of milk wash over stonework and rendered masonry you want to look unpainted so think stained rather than paint lines. If this doesn’t go into all seams of stonework then all the better. Mortar seems of a certain age have light and dark areas, allow to dry. Then using a deep cream colour (I use Buff Titanium) dry brush over all stone and masonry areas including tiles. Do this in a random fashion heavier and lighter in different parts to give a more random natural look. Then do the same, but lighter with white. If brickwork is flat then using a slightly thinned white paint over brickwork and lightly rub off with either a finger or old brush in areas you can’t get your finger in so the white settles mainly in the seems. If the dried colour of the brick is a little too for your taste then lightly dry brush with a slightly thinned terracotta only touching the brickwork and not the seems. If brickwork is rough then do the same except with a thinner white and follow same process thereafter. Now thin a dark brown down to milk consistency and wash into areas where weathering would happen smearing this in with a finger if necessary. This would happen with damp rising from the ground and falling from roof eaves especially where there aren’t gutters or where you think gutters would struggle in heavy rain. This could also be used in patches on brick and stone work to show that weathering on seems and the brick/stone. It can also be used over the whole of a grey slate tile roof to take out any sharp contrast in the grey to buff/white highlight.
Paint lead or copper roofs in either a mid grey or verdigris green (I use Vallejo green sky). Highlighting with the cream at the same time as the windows below.
The next stage shows a split in procedure depending on scale. Small scale building (6 to 10mm) paint all the window openings black then paint the window frames and doors the desired colour. This can be a multitude of colours. In the past shades of green were the most evident colour with white being reserved for more grander buildings or to impress, but blues, drab reds and yellows were all used. Larger scales are done in reverse order  with the window frames and doors painted the desired colour and then paint in the glass areas in black. You can if you wish to show weathered doors to give a very light wash of the dark brown before lightly dry brushing the cream colour over the windows and doors doing this heavier at the base of a door to show rising dirt. Paint door furniture in a colour way that suits you.
Go out for a walk and really look at how the elements and nature work to put diverse colour in everything. If you want to paint ground cover in my style please read the scenic tiles section.
Painting Wooden Buildings
Give the buildings a wash in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Then undercoat the Buildings with a grey undercoat (I use a grey primer spray). Allow to dry thoroughly.
Paint all the buildings a mid drab brown, this can be either an household emulsion matchpot from a diy store or an acrylic model paint such as Vallejo US Field Drab is similar but would prove pricey if painting lots of buildings). Allow to dry and then paint a black wash liberally over the entire building. Allow to dry again and then dry brush with the original brown quite heavily and then lighter with a cream (I use Buff Titanium) and then very lightly dry brush with a white. Paint the ground cover in line with how I paint the tiles in the Painting Scenic Tiles section. Taking a terracotta paint (I use a Burnt Sienna) thinned to single cream, paint the brick chimney stacks. Don’t worry if you leave mortar seems unpainted or painted. Then using a slightly thinned white paint over the chimney brickwork and lightly rub off with either a finger or old brush in areas you can’t get your finger in so the white settles mainly in the seems. If the dried colour of the brick is a little too for your taste then lightly dry brush with a slightly thinned terracotta only touching the brickwork and not the seems. Finally using a yellow drab green (I use Citadel Camo Green) dry brush patches of mould where this would build up on the roof and possibly on parts of the wall.
The next stage shows a split in procedure depending on scale. Small scale building (6 to 10mm) paint all the window openings black then paint the window frames and doors the desired colour. This can be a multitude of colours. In the past shades of green were the most evident colour with white being reserved for more grander buildings or to impress, but blues, drab reds and yellows were all used. Larger scales are done in reverse order  with the window frames and doors painted the desired colour and then paint in the glass areas in black. You can if you wish to show weathered doors to give a very light wash of the dark brown before lightly dry brushing the cream colour over the windows and doors doing this heavier at the base of a door to show rising dirt.
Painting Scenic Tiles and Roads
Give them a wash in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Flexible resin doesn’t want any sort of undercoat, if it’s hard resin tile or part of a building then undercoat in line with Wooden or Masonry Buildings.
Metalled or Cobbled areas (Grey Flexible Resin) 
Heavily dry brush a sandstone colour (I use B&Q Sandstone Textured Masonry Paint) all over. If you are painting the Wide Metalled 15mm - 28mm roads then paint the verge a mid brown before the sandstone. Then dry brush white lighter than the sandstone. If painting cobbles then if you want a variance in the seems paint white patches and immediately wipe your finger over so the paint just remains in the seems.
Dirt Track (Cream Flexible Resin and Hard Resin Ground Cover)
Paint the surface with a thin, but covering coat of the sandstone colour described above. Allow to dry. Paint patches of the mid brown into areas where there is little traffic or to emphasise ruts in the track. Then dry brush a white.
Walls etc should be painted in line with the other guides and bushes can be painted dark green and highlighted with a light green or be painted dark green and be flocked with a darker scatter than the grass in line with the paragraph below.
To achieve grassy areas water down pva to milk consistency and paint in desired areas. Sprinkle a grass static grass or flock or mix your own blend (That’s what I do for a more natural colour). Pat it down lightly with hand and shake excess off. Allow to dry.
Painting Rivers
Give them a wash in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Flexible resin doesn’t want any sort of undercoat.
Paint the textured edges with a darker than desired colour with a thin, but covering coat of paint (Don't try and paint the water area, it should be left the cast colour and paint will not adhere to the shiny surface). Allow to dry. Dry brush with a lighter colour and on the rocks lighten these up to stone colour.
Any acrylic paint is fine so Vallejo or GW are perfect as well as tube acrylics. You can also use household emulsion from match pots. Do not use Aerosols or paint that's designed for airbrush use even airbrush acrylics. These all contain a chemical that helps them flow through the nossel, but when dry has no flexibility to it. So it will crack off the resin. Acrylics have flexibility after drying so flex with the river.
To achieve grassy edge water down pva to milk consistency and paint in desired areas. Sprinkle a grass, static grass or flock or mix your own blend (That’s what I do for a more natural colour). Pat it down lightly with hand and shake excess off. Allow to dry. Take a damp lint free cloth and wipe any excess grass that's still clinging to the water area. This can be done whenever there gets to be a build up over time and it will return it to brand new.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

An interesting website

Someone else who plays 6mm and in lots of the periods we do as well.  Some nice photos - well worth a quick browse...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Spanish 'Imperial' forces ordered

You'll be happy to know that the Spanish Imperial armies for 1518-1535 and Spanish in Italy upto 1518 have been ordered from Heroics and Ros (as well as German WW2 winter uniform troops for the Eastern Front winter battles later in the year).

God knows when they'll turn up though!

On my holidays next week and I will be painting my Byzantines and Seljuks for the Crusades - if Mrs B doesn't mind.

Italian Wars battle report

No Italians were harmed in the making of this battle....

The scenario - the French (Ian and me) vs the Milanese and assorted mercenaries (Russ and Mark).  Ian decided to take either Swiss pike OR more gendarmes (depending on which mercenaries the Milanese took).  Luckily Mark had a cunning plan which involved lots of Landsneckts.  We got to place the terrain (a castle, hills, fields and trees) and the Milanese could decide where they came on. And we chose the unbeatable Swiss pike as our mercenary arm.

Which was the side with the hills on.  Which suited us as we could use the castle as an anchor point on which to create a defence.  We had to lay our troops out first so put the main force on the left, the Swiss next to them and the cavalry (gendarmes and retainers) on the right.

The Milanese plan appeared to be to keep the Milanese out of harms way and let their German mercenary pike to take on the brunt of the fighting.  The plan was also to attack the French cavalry with the pike.  

Seeing the layout, we decided to send most of the main body to attack the Milanese baggage, keep the Swiss close to the middle to help out where needed and for the cavalry to attack the pike (but from the flanks).

French main force and Swiss pike.
Wider view of initial setup with the staggered Milanese and their pike on their left.  

Click here to find out more about the Italian Wars! 

The Milanese (or rather their mercenaries) attacked as the Milanese cavalry manouvered and their mounted crossbow moved up to prevent the Swiss moving too far up.  The Duke of Milan in the centre didn't move (probably having his portrait painted and eating dinner or just surveying the battlefield).

The French cavalry moved to take the hill on its right as the main body pike go to try and take the Milanese baggage.  Swiss skirmishers find the fields in front of the French camp is easy going - so no barrier to the Milanese cavalry in the middle but the Swiss pike choose to stand still.

German pike and French cavalry clash - two German cavalry units are smashed but some Gendarmes find themselves miles from their commander - shaken in the very middle of the battlefield.
The German pie move up again with their cavalry trying to outflank the French cavalry.  Still the Milanese don't move! Is it a cautious commander - or is he praying for divine guidance?

The Swiss don't move again (have they been paid off by the Milanese?) but the main French body move towards the baggage - albeit slowly, having to skirt around their own artillery.  The artillery had been placed to protect from a flank attack that clearly wasn't coming this day.

The main action is the French cavalry chomping into the German mounted units on the hill on the far right. The French Cavalry hit home as the German Pike countercharge.  The French mash the cavalry on the hill who retire shaken - their battle is over already - and the gendarmes ride into the flank of the nearest band of pike. 

Battle Royale as the Gendarmes and pike clash

Both are Shaken as a result of a close fight.  On the other side of the pike blocks, the German cavalry are slapped hard by the Gendarmes and so rout!  The Gendarmes go after them and find themselves Shaken and in the middle of the battlefield.  This would prove crucial later... .

The German pike move forward to attack but this takes them away from the French baggage.  However, their cavalry is in disarray as a result of furious French charges.  The Milanese move their cavalry to the front of the hill with a thought to charging the Shaken gendarmes who are also showing their flank directly at the Duke of Milan.

The Swiss pike at least finally decide to move and get into position as the main French arm moves steadily towards the Milanese baggage.  The Milanese don't seem too interested in stopping them - although the French are moving very slowly...

The Gendarmes don't do much except for continuing chomping into the the pike flank as both sides slowly whittle each other down.   The Germans manage to unshake themselves and get their remaining cavalry to charge into the French.  One unit of pike charge and catch some French retainers with another pike block in support.

True to form, the Milanese don't do much again (willingly sacrificing German mercenaries as it keeps bringing the cost down).  The Gendarmes are charged in the flank by German cavalry while engaging the pike flank - but stay steady despite this.

But its looking bleaker for the French.  The German pike munch into the retainers who evade backwards.  The Gendarmes are good quality and stay in the fight - but the pike do really well!   The bright spot for the French is a a charge into the German cavalry attacking the Gendarmes (which routs them) and the Gendarmes somehow stay in the fight with the pike.

The Swiss pike point in the way of the Milanese as the main force move up on the Milanese baggage once more.  The Milanese begin to move up with the obvious intention of charging the Shaken Gendarmes in front of them then reaching the French baggage before the Swiss pike can react.

Then a crucial part of the battle - the French C in C decides whether to bring the Shaken Gendarmes back to aid on the scrap with the German pike OR to charge the Milanese cavalry in their turn. After a debate, the decision is made (and a crucial one as it turned out).  The Gendarme charged the Milanese cavalry and the Duke of Milan - two of which go shaken as a result.  The charge does a bit of damage.

The Gendarmes charge the entire Milanese cavalry - including the Duke himself.

The German Pike get to move around and even charge the French C in C (this could go badly for the French). The charge fails so the French leader is safe... for now.   The gendarmes on the hill still stay in the fight with the pike - a scrap that has lasted the full period of the battle.

The Milanese cavalry take another whupping - the Duke goes shaken and another Milanese cavalry unit is pushed back.  The Milanese cavalry are all over the place as a result.

The French commander judiciously moves out of the way of the German pike while his main body plod on towards the Milanese baggage (still unopposed) and one of the Swiss pike blocks units is tempted away by Milanese crossbow.  This doesn't work out too well for them as the Swiss catch them and kill half their number in one attack!

Milanese mounted crossbow meet the awesome Swiss. Only one outcome here!

The gendarmes on the hill mash into the German pike once more and they finally rout.  The gendarmes then pursue joined by the incredible Fighting Gendarmes who stay in the fight once again and jump into another fight straight away into another unit of german pike, shake them get unshaken themselves at the same time.  By this time there aren't many of them left though!

The Milanese cavalry take another twatting on the hill just to add to the fun.  The Duke's plan appears to be to allow his baggage to be nicked as he fails to order anyone to defend it!  

The main French body (top left) move down the road to take the Milanese baggage and no-one appears to want to stop them.

The German pike get a bit muddled trying to comply with their orders and it looks a bit complex as they appear to be pointing in all directions.  The Milanese on their right finally turn to engage the main body attacking the baggage (but only to shoot at them) but the centre looks a mess for the Italians.  However, the Duke of Milan pushes the gendarmes away in the centre to free himself up to issue some orders...

The heroic Gendarmes finally succumb to the German pike - and it starts to look ropey for the French on their right,  Units are dying left and centre and there is less and less to stop the Germans turning towards the French baggage.

More German pike than French cavalry
The Duke of Milan manages to see off the Gendarmes in the centre - pushing them back.

The main French body still ploughed towards the Duke of Milan's goodies as the Swiss reform to cause mischief. The French cavalry gamely carry on trying to engage the german pike but are now fighting a losing battle.

Both pike and gendarmes get into contact with each other.  A drawn combat is the result but the gendarmes are shaken as a result.  On the other side the retainers hump into the pike flank which is shaken in turn.  The pike (as a result) bursts through its friends and shakes most of them as the retainers hit the German general's pike unit in the flank.  Its starting to look a bit better for the French!

However, the Duke of Milan changes orders as the german pike get back in the fight.  The Duke then charges the gendarmes in the fields and they rout as a result.  The Milanese burst through towards the baggage and the Swiss go shaken as a result.

The Duke of Milan sees off the Gendarmes and one of his Milanese cavalry makes a run for the French baggage.
The battle is reaching a crisis point.  The French main are slowly moving towards the Milanese baggage - still unopposed.  But now the Milanese cavalry can reach the French baggage quicker.  It now is down to the Swiss to get a change of order and to react to save the French baggage.  Whoever loses their baggage sees their chances of winning pretty much removed so the race is crucial.

The gendarmes charged by the german pike rout (all Gendarmes were lost through rolling 20's at the wrong time). and so putting the French cavalry on hold as all gendarmes had died or routed.  

The Milanese crossbowmen try shooting the French pike in the rear (claiming that the pike are only armoured from the front). They then realise that a) the Pike are not Swiss pike and so are not even armoured and then b) that they missed anyway. The French pike grind on with the glint of Milanese gold in their eyes.

Another unit of French retainers rout after fighting the german pike - the Germans have done well but the French morale rolls were critical to their failure...

The French main body now have the Milanese baggage in their sights - and the Milanese just shoot a few crossbow bolts at them

The Swiss pike massacre the Milanese cavalry threatening their payday

To drive home the point, the French main body's crossbows kill the Milanese skirmish cavalry - just as the remaining French etainers charge the German general's pike unit (which is shaken) to try to hold them up.  The French main get ever nearer the enemy baggage in the longest unchallenged march in history as the Swiss pike receive their crucial order and get just close enough to hit the Milanese cavalry attempting to take the French baggage (and their pay!).  They charge in the flank and absolutely pillage the Milanese cavalry and drive them off immediately.

As a result the Duke of Milan finds himself leading from the front and therefore raids the French baggage on his own as he leaves his command far back behind him.  As he rifles through the French commander's smalls,  the Swiss pike get ready to smack him on the flank and save the baggage.

A stunning victory for the German pike - if only their Milanese employers had performed do well!
The Swiss come to the baggages' rescue again!  The Duke of Milan is given a nasty surprise and is forced to fight for his life.

The French main body get within touching distance of the Milanese camp and the Swiss try to jump into the 
Duke of Milan - which they proceed to do!  

The remaining French retainers stay in combat with the pike but they have taken a horrendous battering.  The French commander decides to stay out of the way to preserve a measure of command and control while his retainers just try to keep the Germans engaged.

The Swiss don't quite manage to kill the Duke of Milan (though they get awfully close!) but keep him pinned in the camp meaning that the entire Milanese army is struggling to move (and hence save their own Duke's baggage).  The Duke of Milan is in desperate states - as is his baggage.

Still, the Germans do their bit as the  last remaining retainers are routed or shaken, leaving the French commander to return to the baggage.

The French main finally get there.  The Milanese baggage is claimed!
The Duke of Milan survives (just) and tries to get back to the hill he started the battle from.  His messengers gets to the German pike with an order to attack the French baggage but its to no avail as the French main take the Milan baggage.  The Milanese army  therefore goes on hold - keeping them in place and handing France the victory.  The route into Italy is opened up and the French are suddenly much richer (and the Duke of Milan considerably poorer - especially with a hefty band of German pike to pay off...).

A great battle - nerve shredding and as usual with PoW rules, down to the wire again.  Still, you can't lose with the Swiss!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Liable case quashed

I would like to bring to the courts attention, page 5 of said rules particularly the section on armour.
This proves that my client, "The Count, Up to three, Duke of Milan" was not "making up the rules to suit himself", and that any such accusations were wholly unjustified.
My client will not be pressing charges as long as his baggage is returned along with his pet monkey (alive).

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Good Friday Itinery

9.00 Breakfast

9.30 Overview and introduction to the Italian Wars

9.45 Explanation of troop types with reference to PoW.

Choose sides and armies.
Roll for initiative and type of battle.
Loser decides on make-up of their army.  Winner decides on make-up of their army.
Roll for terrain - loser lays out terrain and winner decides on which side they enter.
Roll for number of turns - 12 + D4.

10.15  Formulate plan of battle.

10.30 Commence battle.

The Italian Wars

The politics of Italy and the condottieri


The Pope





Sequence of events

1495 and the French Invasion of Italy

Spain aids Naples

1500 and the French Invasion of Milan

The Holy Roman Empire lays claim to Milan

1519 and the accession of Charles V King of Spain, Duke of Burgundy and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire