Sunday, 5 April 2015

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.  

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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!


  1. Nicely written AAR Phil and well played.

    Although the Swiss never actually got stuck into any of the main action, they ended up securing your baggage which was the game winner. I doubt we had much chance to beat those 3 pike blocks with any of our troops, perhaps the Landskechts would of give them a run for their money but would of needed to be at full strength.

    I did like our army choice but think it lacked some shooty troops which would of helped to soften up the Swiss.

  2. Good points Russ. The Landsknechts were very tough and I think they would have balanced off the Swiss quite well. But then the Milanese cavalry would then have been pulverised by the Gendarmes. I've ordered the Spanish which is a much more shooty army but needs a bit of stability from its mercenary options. More pike, vicar?

  3. Great AAR Phil. I am pleased that you cleared up the Swiss armour to the front scandal.

  4. Nice report Phil, yet another good game, thanks Ian