Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Venetian(ish) vs Spanish on the fields of Italy. Around 1501.

Ian invited me for a game on Monday to try out the Spanish Italian Wars army.  As you can tell from the PoW list, they are not strong out in the open as any pike army will munch through their infantry (although the cavalry are actually not too bad).  However, the Spanish are allowed to dig entrenchments to hide behind and that's what I did.

We rolled for terrain and got lost of steep hills and fortified towns.  Unluckily Ian got to choose which side he was coming in on - had I the choice I could have created an impassible redoubt between hills and BUA's that his cavalry heavy army would have struggled to work against.

As it was, I had an open area to let my cavalry out of leading onto fields that also proved hard to cross and had I placed my troops slightly better I could have given Ian a much closer run for his money.  As it was though I basically strung them out in a line but this meant that mutual support was lacking and also my own troops couldn't jump out to exploit a shaken opponent.

I need to consider deeper entrenchments on a narrower front.  With the rule amendments mentioned by Ian and with a better disposition, the Spanish should be a tough nut to crack - as long as they don't move.  They are essentially the Renaissance version of Romans...pick a spot, defend it then come out once the damage is done.

The layout.  I wanted to be on the right but ended up on the left.  Damn!

As you can see, a strong position but once over the trench you're in.  

With hindsight, I should have shortened the lines of communication and left gaps in the line to allow my troops to jump out.

The terrain causes Ian loads of problems
If I had my cavalry out in the open before the start, Ian would have had major problems.  The hills and BUA's narrowed his frontage of all his troops to one-base columns.  The skirmishers and light cavalry could have chipped away and then let the lance-armed infantry smash into them.  Imagine a 'Retire Shaken' result on this lot!

Again, cavalry roaming around would have had some fun here!  Instead we wait patiently for the opposition to set up.

I move the troops from our right as dispositions become clear,
As Ian came on, I decided that the centre looked a bit weak and so moved the troops on the right to hold the hill in our centre (a gentle one) knowing that any troops that tried to get through the fortified town would take ages to get through as the hill next to it was impassable to cavalry.

All the action is on the left

Ian saw my left as the most obvious point of attack and sent most of his cavalry that way.  I benefited slightly from the fields being hard to cross and some early successes for my Genitors were scored.  But sheer weight of numbers and me rolling 2 or 1 for pips each turn saw them take the upper hand eventually.

Tit-for-tat as we trade units around the open fields.

The Venetians push through and are charged in their turn

The whole battle seemed to be played out in the lower left quarter.  As Ian's cavalry pushed through they were hit in turn by our own cavalry and it led to a confused clash as units routed on either side.

I get Ian on the front and flank and still he survives!

A couple of times I had to charge units in with little hope of success just to try to hold the line - with varied results.  Often I just bounced or Ian got a good morale roll but he had the numbers on his side on that flank.

On the right, Ian threatened to come to grips but a few crossbow bolts made up his mind for him and he retired to the rear and allowed his mercenaries to do the dirty work.  The Landschnects piled forward but the entrenchments meant that his charge bonuses were lost and for a short time the crossbow and skirmishers held up 4 units of pike and inflicted a few shakens on them.  If only the sword and bucklers could have got into the flanks - it would have been murder.  But as the entrenchments protected my troops they also acted as a barrier to them as well.  Definitely a rethink required!

I move to the centre as the Landschnects start threatening the line.

Aside from that, the main issue was the Landschnects rumping up the middle which proved to be the main problem I had to face.  My artillery had been badly placed - they should have been either on the left or the right.  Ian's own artillery placement was 'suspect' - being 12.5" out and therefore not very effective (he needed the Shakespeare wavy ruler).

The Landscnects didn't have it their own way and the shooting did do some damage but not enough to deter them.  It took lucky rolls from me to stay on the barricades.  However, it also took them a long time to get over and there may be ways in which the pesky Swiss could be held up this way.

Some good, some bad

As the fighting intensified, my musketeers were charged from behind - and forced into the open (but Ian's cavalry too were getting worn down by my Men at Arms.  However, I started losing units for routing rolls which was taking its toll.  The Landschnects though (see above) found it hard going despite just facing off some skirmishers and crossbows (the latter of which stayed in the fight far longer than they should have!).

Once over the barricade it would have been hard to stop them.  We only had a couple of turns to go and it would have taken more than that to get the Landschnects over the barricades but my left was crumbling fast.  I called it for a narrow Venetian victory and the honours to Ian.  But food for thought for both armies.  If the trenchworks had been narrower and deeper, it could have swung the other way as the horses would have foundered.

Great fun and thanks for Ian for putting it on.

1 comment:

  1. A very good write up on the issues of using an entrenched army in general and the Spanish in particular. Defence in depth is always the way to go but you have to ensure your flanks are well guarded. The big problem with using an entrenched army is that you automatically give the initiative to your opponent so they will always pick the weakest point in your line; the trick is to anticipate this, give them a golden point for them to attack but have a good plan or disposition that will deal with an attack at this point! It was a good game and I had to be very careful with my dodgy Italian army.