It was time once again to summon the armies or the Swiss and French in a bitter conflict over at Ian's house today for a POW renaissance game.
The stakes were high, the Swiss came into this being unbeaten after their last five battles only narrowly victors in the previous encounter and coming a close second against Mark's Burgundian army. Could Ian and the French finally stop the "machine"?
We rolled and the French where on the attack so I got to place the terrain....
I was careful to ensure that whatever side the French decided to come on from I would not be at a loss. I had 5 ft of stream to play with and some woods plus a few areas of fields and a BUA.
Ian elected to attack from the North table side which suited me fine. Before we wrote orders and I deployed my army it was time to decide if I was going with the Milanese option. I dropped this in favour of a full Swiss army of pike split into 3 commands.
Here is the first turn about to commence..... My C in C has the centre command whilst on the left & right I chose to attach my commanders to pike units.....
Ian and the French make their first moves..... I made mine and had written attack orders to take the hill with my left and centre commands, whilst the right was to take the crossroads.
I quickly sent an order change to this command and sent them off to attack Ian's main command by the woods...
On to the next turn..... Ian has managed to take the hill and you can see that a unit of retainers has charged my 2 pike units. This was a compulsary move as the cavalry are class 4 hand combat troops so behave like elite units and have to charge unless you spend 2 pips to hold them.
The retainers take a kicking against 3 pike units and suffer 6 casualties. they retire shaken.
Over on the hill on turn 3 Ian sends in his Gendarmes but they end up shaken. The elite French units had to charge and this was not working out well as the Swiss literally munched through them causing horrendous casualties whilst not taking much damage themselves.
This pike unit pursued forward and I knew that in the next turn would be attacked on all fronts.
The downside of Elite troops would shortly be my nemesis!
Over in the centre I was very quick to close on Ian's command and he was unable to bring his heavy guns into play quick enough. I knew I would get in but would have to take a volley of grapeshot on the way in.....
Ian's weakest command and I knew it which is why I pressed for the attack. The woods proved impassible to cavalry so I had a good anchor point to work on with this command.
Over on the left Ian get's mobile with his cavalry. My pike are vulnerable when shaken on the flank.
Ian was keen to exploit anything he could at this stage as several French units had retired with heavy losses. The Swiss looked menacing at this stage and we decided to break for lunch at this point.
Back after the break...... Principles of war has an uncanny knack of slapping you in the face. I have this theory that in most games, winning or losing at some stage of the battle the demons rise up and play havoc causing chaos on the table.
Before we had lunch this battle was looking like a walk over for the Swiss. Ian was in a very bad position because he was only able to attack piece meal which we know from experience against he Swiss is fatal and it showed. I was hitting with 5- 6 casualties per melee V 1 or 2 back. The pike had started to dominate like never before and it became scary. Ian kept his head up and played on even though the French had lost two units already by now.
As a general would do Ian took his chances after lunch, hats off.
He attacked where he could, things were desperate now, this was looking like a walkover for the Swiss but with some luck and well timed opportunist attacks Ian hit a winning streak
Flank attack after flank attack came in and I failed morale test after morale test, needing only to roll less than 17 and 18 on the D20 but failing by 1!
The pike are ordinary in these circumstances and by turn 6 I had lost 4 pike units in succession.
What a come back by Ian! He had managed to even things out with 4 units each lost.
Our armies had suffered that much that we both were now on hold due to lost units. It would now be a matter of resolve, brilliant generalship and skill to win this battle....
Ian threw everything he had at me and at one point had sandwiched my C in C between two cavalry units. I needed to roll less than 5 to survive. I rolled a 4! The French would of won here as my C in C was attached to the unit and would of surrendered to the French causing an instant victory.
My dice saved me when really Ian should of won.
Ian also had 6 chances to kill either my generals / C in C but never managed to roll higher than 3 on the D6 each time. I can't believe how I got off with this, shocking stuff!
We reached turn 9 out of 18 and somehow I managed to get in another counter attack which saw off another unit of Gendarmes. Over in the centre I lost my general and the pike unit he was with but it was not enough and the French main command started to melt away quickly.
At the end of the turn Ian declared that his army was now on retreat from the table after a crushing round of combat.
The day was done and the Swiss stole victory once again from Ian's French army.
This was a great game and could of easily gone in favour of the French. Ian was on a roll after lunch and I was deeply worried that a combination of great play by Ian and some shit dice rolling by me would spell the end and the first loss for my Swiss army.
It never happened in the end and the Swiss claimed their 6th consecutive win.
The battle was a real boxing match with both sides dealing brutal blows to each other.
Ian's heavy guns performed poorly and I do wonder if this was a factor in my victory.
The Swiss move so fast they are on you before you know it. I was on the attack from go 1 as it's my go to tactic with this army. Get them in fast and make it count....
Another POW roller-coaster ride with massive swings on each side during the battle.
The game was played in good spirit and in good company which is what it' all about.
We both enjoyed the game, the outcome was second guest.
Who is next for the Swiss to take on?