Sunday, 29 November 2015

Alarme, Monsieurs! Argulets are coming!

A couple of month ago I purchased the Perry Renaissance light cavalry pack, mainly to get another shot at my French Archers And a the pack provides for 12  horses, I had a go at a small unit of Argulets, mounted arquebusiers this time, as I already got one with crossbows. Somewhere hidden in the deepest parts of my hobby boxes were some spare parts from another Perry plastic box and so ....

I have to apologise for the crappy photo quality, my camera blitz seems to have given up today...

Sunday, 22 November 2015

More Swiss and Philosophy

What I like about "early" Renaissance the most is, that it is not written in stone, how exactly the men were fighting. I like to think, the French Archer enigma set aside, the very term Tercio, as a fighting formation, was "evolving" out of the French-Italian wars itself. 

It was certainly also not like the Spanish suddenly had a clear idea: Ole, enough of oblong, let us form squares, but with the various formations names differences, clearly indicating generals were trying to find new ways of dealing with the pike phalanx, and the "new thing", the Shotte. One can argue this was  were even ongoing into the end of the century and beyond. 

Just 70 years ago, the Swiss revolution (ups, pike block!) made the Burgundian Knights look very over-rated and now here comes "Shotte", the black powder thing. How does one fit this together? How to group this? What are you going to to with this powerful phalanx, only strong, if not disordered? Weak in the flanks, if occupied elsewhere. And the "shooters" themselves, rarely overpowering on their own, weak in melee. Stone, paper, scissor, you might think, but how do you develop a strategy with this?

I'd like to think, naturally, we as late "20 century-table-top-creatures", are in a similar position, we have to find out how to effectively combine these different troop types and formations together to fight a successful battle.
Newly added Swiss heavy Halberdiers (Kanton Schwyz)
Secondly, the very linear ware fare (in war-games) has influenced me to a certain approach of tabletop warfare. Two armies with a dozen or or so number of units were meeting on a place and off goes the lucy! Even to the understanding of unit. OK, the romans / antiquity had them; conveniently the retainers of or another liege formed into some sort of units, but most of the time formation happened shortly before the battle. We can see this happening  for example with combining Grenadiers even into the Napoleonics.

I believe that even after the Swiss pike invention, the pike blocks were divided into Vorhut, Gewalthaufen and Nachhut, but that was about it, on differentiations; only "the more the merrier!" counted. Even the different Kantons are sometimes stuck into the same blocks. It might sound silly, but the tercios might be even the first "regiments", as in single units, developing into the checkered battle formations of the later period, we know from paintings of the 30YW.

I'd like to think as the late medieval way of waging war was: sieges, sieges and sieges, getting the fortresses!, avoid the open battle, as it was bloody and can rid of your men power quicker than you want, the renaissance men HAD to come up with something else.

Then comes along the Swiss "spider", with the pike men, cheap as chips, hurray, we can buy lots of men lets have open battles, but still the logistics are far away from late Rokoko escapades moving complete armies around the land. 

... and some more Swiss ("Schwyz") Pikes
Even in the Thirty years war Gustav's Swedes cut a mile long swath through the country reaching Bavaria (look up the depopulation and plague maps of the topic and you get the approximate extend one army's forage area and you might get an idea of the logistic horror of moving such an leviathan). When the French kings invaded Italy, that sounds so easy, but there were only battles maybe once in a year the rest must been skirmishes and sieges, slow progress and lots of camps!

And that is, what I want from the table top experience in this period. I believe that you can structure the  armies into units with lots of differentiations and your possible combinations are endless. But still its somehow siege themed, in the sense that the location IS important. Its not just two sides turn up in the open. For example a "blockhouse" at a river bridge suddenly can become important! (Maximilian's the "Weiss Koenig" come to my mind). You need the Swordsmen and Halberdiers because, they can fight in the woods, along the bridge and in a small Toll bridge house. But you need also the heavy gun to blow it apart, but "Sch§$%&" there comes the enemy's men-at-arms …

I'm still (re-)searching. :)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Poco Pavia - matti Imperiale!

I promised you Swiss so, ...

This time it was Pavia, or a smaller version of it. So we scrapped the whole park and exchanged the castle Mirabello for a Landsknecht camp protected by gabbions. The French Cavalieri on the left of the light woods (pike blocks could pass them), the Bande Neri coming up from "south" and the Berner and Schwyzer from the left. The Imperials are just through the breached wall and the fog has lifted. Donald played the French (because he was late and deserved it) and me and Angus played the Imperials.

The first two turns were rather shameful for both commanders, as a lot of failures and blunders kept the armies mere stumbling fowards. Some Argulets bashed heads with Stradioti rather uneventful. The Imperials finally pushed out of their bottle neck and attacked the Swiss - and were hacked to death. The French King had to rather a troublesome time to get his Knights on the table again after blunder and blunder again. 

Suddenly the French Halberdiers entered the camp and claimed it - where as the Spanish Swordsmen jumped over the fence (sorry gabbions) and eradicated the French and claimed the camp for the Kaiser Karl V, hurrah!

Meanwhile the second gigantic Landsknecht block managed to charge the menacing Swiss with their Spanish allies. An very Bad War (hack and slay!) ensued and the Swiss were splattered round the field.

The Black Bande entered the camp and the badly wounded Spanish could only retreat - little "Mirabello" was again in French hands! At this point the French cavalry with the guns made a rather unwelcome appearance at the "southern" table edge - the French were back! The guns in front of the Imperial Men-at-arms! Attack,  Freunde der Nachtmusik! But they stopped just within grapeshot range ... hm.

... and at this point Donald had to pull the plug and we hide the surely ensuing massacre, turning the German noblesse into an heap of "Blech"(tin) and blood, behind a noble curtain of gentleness.

The French lost more men, but got kept the objective (the camp - our 3rd rate "Castle Mirabello") so even if Angus claimed the morale victory over the Swiss, we surly can say it was a well deserved French victory.

A wonderful "Gemetzel" a la carte.

Miniatures by me and Donald and scenario by accident.

Angus view on this:

The initial set up, French to the left, down and right.

View from the Black Band

View from north of the French Cavalry line

The imperial bottle neck left of the woods

The Spanish are supporting the Imperial advance

A half pint of IPA  featuring as Torre del Gallo

The French are coming!!!

The initial clash of the pikes
First skirmishers in the camp
The Imperial push forward and enter the camp and slaughter the "Halberdiers" (played here by Doppelsöldner)
The initial Imperials attack against the ever victorious Swiss!

Mayhem in the camp 
But the Swiss sent one large pike block of Landsknechte into the ground -  dead.

Th Black Band enters the camp
The French "Scharfmetzen" make piece meal out of the Imperial Light Cavalry 
The united Imperials charge the Swiss!

The Landsknechte suffer a Bad War indeed!

... But sent the Swiss home or better into the mud! The battlefield is ours

but the "Bande Neri" has got the camp.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Midi Crossbow company

I know I promised to finish two of my Swiss pike blocks, but somehow, always something more exciting comes in between and scrambles my production plan (if there is one). 

This time, in the form of a small collected force of diverse southern French town militia, lend to his Majesty Francis I, heading for Italy; As Crossbowmen aiming behind their pavises. Even though the Italians (and the Spanish) had already begun to discard the Pavises, I found, it gives these Midi hot heads a bit of a rustic old fashioned flair. Still two are missing ... The miniatures are Perrys metal and the Pavises are form the Perry plastics.

Next time it must be Swiss!

f. l.t.r. Narbonne, "St Michael", Gascogne, Armagnac, Savoy, "Agnus Dei", Savoy again, Marseille, St Remy de Provence, Toulon (on the back)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Somewhere at 1511 on the plains of the Italian hinterland ...

We met all for little Renaissance sparring game, Bill and Donald and Tim picked up the lances for the Kaiser (Maximillian, the last knight), while Campbell and Bart were fighting for the French Crown, eerm crowns and shillings - so I did the umpire.

Donald held the centre and the supreme command of the Germans, Tim got the right flank with the Men-at-arms, while Bill got the other flank with the German gendarmes and the light Cavalry.

Bart was the CinC of the French and Campbell got the right flank, each a block and some Horse.

First the German came and swung the heavy left in form of their Gendarmes, which pretty much annihilated Campbells Cavalry on the entire right flank. Then the two huge Landsknecht Pike block were storming forward and it looked bleak for the French Henry, indeed. Even the Swiss got beaten! What a shame! But then somehow the weakened German Pikes got shot away by the French Artillery train. Next the Doppelsöldner (in Swiss pay) were going in for the kill on the rest of the Landsknechts Pikes - Bad War!

After a final clash with the German Men-at-arms, which ended in a brutal but victorious melee, the French had turned the tide of the Battle. The Kaiser could go home.

I never came across such a terrific and bloody Renaissance battle! The casualties were mounting at such a neck breaking speed, I had trouble to keep up to pack away "fallen" into my suitcases!

We all agreed that this was a beautiful game, that we might shall repeat some time.

The initial set up

The large Landsknechts block on the march

The Empire strikes forward (unusual!!)

The German Cavalry supporting their blocks

The Imperial left comes nearer!!

Die Kaiserlichen kommen! Panik!

The Swiss got wiped away by the Landsknechts! Merde!

In revenge the Landsknechts Doppelsöldner (in Swiss pay) finish the badly beaten block

Finally the German Men-at-Arms crash with the French Gendarmes!

... and got annihilated.

On the Left the German Cavalry flank waits for the killing strike

meanwhile there is nothing between the French Gendarmes and the German center

The French Gendarmes sweeping up the hinterland

The Emperor retreating with his Spanish lifeguard

The Imperial stats

the French stats

My Pike&Shotte usefuls rules