Aut Cesar, Aut Nihil, Wargaming the Borgias.

Aut Cesar, Aut Nihil, Wargaming the Borgias.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Venetian Archers.

 Christmas was a busy time for me with my grandchildren descending on us, so wargaming naturally took a back seat. In between all my duties I managed to paint up a couple of figures including these Venetian archers.They had been sat in a box for well over a year and I nearly didnt bother painting them up. But the Perry twins do make some exceedingly good figures, so what the hell.
 I think its sometimes forgotten that the renaissance period is not just about pike and arqubusier units and did also include more exotic types such as these. Now if I can just crack off another unit of heavy cavalry before the New Year.

Monday, 11 December 2017

French Landsknects.

 I think its fair to say that the last thing I need are more pike blocks, and certainly no more landsknects. However in my defence three things conspired against me which caused me to paint up another block. Firstly I saw Steel Fist miniatures had produced some dismounted gendarmes and men at arms. I had to have these figures and bugger the expense. Secondly Warlord finally released their plastic landsknects or should I say they released the ex Pro Gloria ones. Thirdly Pete Smith of Pete's Flags produded a new set of French Landsknect standards. So it was a given that I had to join these things together to paint up another block.
 The Steel Fist figures are beautiful if a little fiddly to glue together and drill, but they look great once they are painted.
 The plastic landsknects may be only in one pose as regards the common soldier but they are very nice with some characterful heads to mess about with. Of course the flags Pete created are lovely, as is everything he releases.So an unneeded pike block, but it was enjoyable to paint them so no complaints there.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Another command group for my Italian Wars Armies.

 In between painting ACW figures and preparing the new Warlord plastic landsknects for painting I completed these two likely lads. They are doing what they do best and just standing around looking pretty.I was a bit concerned about the plastic landsknects as they look a bit wooden, but now I've put a few together, they are growing on me.Hopefully I will have a unit completed fairly soon.I just wish Warlord would release the plastic gendarmes that they also bought from Pro Gloria although I dont really need any more.They were great looking figures.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Lost in Italy?

 During the time I was building my replacement Renaissance armies I squirreled  away various figures that invariably I forgot about and never painted. Now that I am between projects and thinking about what I will do next I dug out a few of these figures to paint. As is usually the case I am now painting up a new pike block using a combination of Steel Fist figures and the ex Pro Gloria plastics. That is if they are compatible. If they don't look right together, I will end up buying some more metal from Warlord. These two gentleman that I found are a sort of tester for the unit. I was never any good at woodwork but somehow cobbled together the table. The maps are made from some Japanese paper that I had laid around to make a couple of flags once.

Friday, 17 November 2017

A Turkish Delight.

Well its been a long while since my last renaissance post, but obviously I have been a regular poster on my other blog. However after John and I fought a Pike and Shot battle yesterday  I thought it appropriate that it be recorded on here.
I took command of the Spanish while John was in command of the Turks. We used Pike and shot rules and based the battle around a points based set of opponents. I managed to buy back the Turks that John had originally owned and painted which was great. They were sold back in 1988 so it was really nice when I managed to get them. They are still a beautiful army that has stood the test of time.
We did dice for commanders to see how good they were, or in my case just how bad they could be.
The Turks unusually fluked a level 9 General while my Spanish managed an average 8 general.
However when it came to my sub commanders the Spanish had clearly been out on the drink and three out of the four were just 7's. If one doesnt use Pike and Shotte, effectively what it means is that in order to move your troops you need to throw under the command rating to get cracking. Now with two dice you would think it would be fairly easy but I can tell you its not.
Luckily John had a very dodgy cavalry commander who wasn't keen to get to grips with the infidel and held up the advance of a lot of Akinji and tartars.
I will admit that I had a lot of confidence in my three colunellas and thought they would soon see the Turks off.However between faulty/cowardly generals and every Turk having a bow or arquebus they were peppered.When the commanders did get the blocks moving I found that the incessant firepower of the Turks made short work of my two main commands. 
I also found that the three Turkish primitive guns were effective and kept hitting anything they fired at.I knew I was in trouble when I charged with my Spanish noble cavaly against a bunch of Turkish foot archers. Somehow, the damned troops although beaten refused to rout and actually rallied after a couple of moves. John did manage to throw a double six to test their morale state. Anything less would have taken them off the field of battle.

This block was commanded by the worst of my sub commanders and spent all day attempting to move forward.

Not a good thing, jannisaries, spahis and akinnji with turkish bowmen still peppering my Spanish.

A very common sight for my Spanish, a shaken and disordered marker on the same unit.Never good.

I mentioned Johns judicious dice throwing of a double six. Well this was my riposte.......the Spanish pike legged it back to safety.It was fair to say that John gave me a lesson in how to use the Turks. Three of my commands were classed as spent and my cavalry were in no fit state to help. Contrary to this report it was a great game and I did enjoy using my renaissance armies.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

One wargamers good news,.............

 Great news for some Renaissance wargamers, but clearly an issue for me, as I will HAVE to buy some, even though I really dont need anymore [well maybe I do ] These were some of the original figures that I hoped to have when Pro Gloria were on the go. I only hope Warlord actually release the whole range, because they were simply tremendous. Of course it would be even better news if Warlord released the plastic gendarmes that were made at the same time by Pro Gloria. Not that I need anymore gendarmes either.

Warlord Games: Hard Plastic Landsknecht Miniatures Inbound

Warlord Games will be releasing some cool hard plastic landsknecht miniatures designed and sculpted by Michael Anderson of Games Workshop' Warhammer Empire Fame!

Many will remember these cool plastic Landsknecht miniatures as they were designed by Pro Gloria Miniatures when they tried to crowdfund their creation on Indiegogo. The crowdfunding didn't succeed and the range both metal and plastic miniatures were bought by Warlord Games for their growing Black Powder miniature ranges. 

Now they have finally resurfaced and according to Warlord Games' CEO John Stallard these miniatures will become available in about 6 months. The original owner of the range Stefan over at Pro Gloria Miniatures commissioned loads of cool bodies, weapons and other options from Michael Anderson. But according to the online source not all of these parts will be produced as there were simply too much parts to be feasible. Shame as they all looked excellent but the sprue will eventually contain sufficient parts to make 10 miniatures allowing you to assemble 8-10 pikemen and/ or 1-2 handgunners.

Below you can find pictures of these sculptures when they were being funded by Pro Gloria Miniatures so note that not all of these bodies and parts will eventually be available. We can only hope all the cool poses and weapons will be on the sprue but that said, I haven't seen any official Warlord Games news about these splendid miniatures so we can't be sure yet.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Battle of Novara 1513.

It must be well over thirty years since John [Reidy] and I fought all the main battles of the Italian Wars. At that time we were using George Gush's Wargames Research Group rules which to be honest I really liked, although I wouldnt want to use them now.
 Anyway for a change I thought we would re fight the Battle of Novara 1513, which is a decent battle for a day game.This time we would use With Pike and Shotte, a Blackpowder derivative, and an easy set of rules for a refight.

 Scenario, The Battle of Novara 1513;

In 1512 Maximilian Sforza and a force of Swiss mercenaries had seized Milan from the French who were struggling to deal with an invasion of France by Henry VIII and Maximillian.
  Sforza, the heir to the Duchy was placed on the throne but was by no means universally popular, due to the rapacious Swiss, who effectively were n charge of the duchy.
 Ignoring any logic the French disregarded the invasion of their lands and sent a  sizable French army under Louis, La Tremouille to recapture the Duchy.
 The the city of Milan was betrayed from within and given to the French. 
 Duke Sforza surprised by events was with 4,000 Swiss foot at Novara, from where the Swiss captains sent an urgent request for reinforcements as they were not strong enough to challenge the French. 
  Most cities in the duchy surrendered fairly quickly and La Tremouille set about investing Novara to complete the re conquest. While this was in progress about 6,000 Swiss had been raised and were marching to relieve the city. They arrived literally in the nick of time. The French artillery had breached the walls in several places and La Tremouille had made plans to assault the place.    On June the 5th 1513 La Tremouille received warning of the approaching Swiss and withdrew to the small town of Trecate, two miles away. There the French camped for the night. What happened next was a total surprise to them, because when the Swiss reinforcements reached Novara they did not stop to rest for the night. Instead they chose to make an immediate attack on the French in typical Swiss style.    Whilst scouts determined the disposition of the sleeping French army the Swiss stopped for a brief rest. The relieving troops plus a contingent from the garrison then formed into three columns which, with the help of local guides, moved into position to attack the French. Allowing for the time required for all this, the attack must have come near dawn. The first warning that La Tremouille had of all this was when Swiss skirmishers attacked the guards around his lodgings. He just had time to escape, partly armed, from the back door. The French began to form up, in great confusion, expecting an attack on Trecate.    Once again the Swiss wrong footed the French, and instead sent one weak column supported by 200 Milanese horse to make a holding attack against the camp to the north of the town. 
 In fact they were strong enough to drive off the few troops there, and went on to loot the baggage. A centre column, slightly stronger, made a demonstration against the town (the cause of La Tremouille's rude awakening) before attacking the French and Italian infantry south of Trecate. These were totally surprised and routed immediately. The largest Swiss column, 6,000 men, was detailed to attack the artillery park where the landsknechts were encamped in isolation. These had managed to form up in some sort of order and bring a few guns into action. The Swiss took heavy casualties as they charged in. Nevertheless when they reached the landsknechts the fighting was vigorous but brief. The Germans broke, taking heavy casualties as they ran.    La Tremouille was able to escape with his cavalry, but he had lost his army and the Duchy of Milan. The Swiss followed up their victory by invading France, but were quite happy to make peace in return for a substantial payment from Louis XII.

Points to note 
1. The success of the Swiss relied on surprise, speed and determination, as a consequence they move first.I gave them two sub generals with a steady 8 factor, and Duke Sforza their nominal C in C an 8 factor. The French were allowed three generals, all on an 8 factor, that included the unfortunate La Tremouille.

2. The French should suffer surprise and to represent this all their generals suffer a minus two to their command in move one, followed by a minus one in move two. 3. The two woods are difficult terrain and no formed pike, cavalry or artillery can move through them. 4. There was a swamp to the right of the town of Trecate which is passable at half speed.

3. I decided that the French landsnects should have ' Bad War' which means they are on a par with the Swiss pike. This was to reflect the fact they fought well on the day.

4. All the stradiots were allowed crossbows and light bows.

5. If the Swiss/ Milanese enter the French camp, they should throw a dice to see whether they stop to plunder the place, AFTER they have disposed of the small camp guard. I thought there would be a good chance, so a 3+ on a six sided dice should throw a spanner in the works.

6. The French in the town could only react when the Swiss arqubusiers came with range [12''] of the town. That did not mean the remaining French couldn't attempt to form up and move in their turn.I placed Tremouille and a unit of gendarmes in the town to reflect the fact he was nearly captured early in the battle.

7. The Milanese/Swiss must capture the French camp, Trecate and drive the French from the field in order to win.

8. The French, if they can hold onto both the town and camp and halt the attack qualify for a win.

I have provided two maps, one from the Edinburgh Wargames Club, and the second simpler one from an original article by Andrew Murdin, who funnily enough was the inspiration for our original re fight way back in the 1980's.

     Image result for battle of novara 1513


   So onto the actual refight.
John won the toss and opted to lead the Milanese/Swiss. On his first move he was able to send the largest Swiss contingent forward three moves, towards the sleeping Landsnects. In the centre he again [!] was able to send his arquebusiers 3 moves Forwards. In BP based rules the lower one's dice score is in comparison to the command level then it allows the respective units to make up to three moves. When he managed to do the same on the right wind I knew I was in for a bad time. Surprisingly I was able to activate my stradiots but then naturally failed all my other command rolls.

 Part of the initial French position, I allowed a French camp guard of 'wavering' classed guards, about as good as a chocolate fireguard.

                                                  The camp scene.
                  La Tremouille, and command, asleep in the village, in the background one can see the advancing Swiss.
                                             The main Swiss pike block 72 figures strong, with two light guns and a smaller 36 figure pike block, just to help the attack along!
       The Swiss arqubusier units coming down the road to pepper my Gendarmes.
             I had to include an image of this chap, a Games Workshop figure, in the French camp.
                      I think my French had other concerns than the advancing Swiss.
                      The Milanese cavalry with Swiss support advance into the French camp, I forgot to insist on a dice for looting?
                                  The beginning of the end, French Stradiots legging it.
 As the main Swiss attack developed against my landsnects, I managed to inflict six hits on the main block which would have been sufficient to stop their advance. That was until John threw SIX yes SIX sixes to save all the hits.Talk about a fluke, except he kept doing that throughout the battle.
 Poor Tremouille, minus any command watching as a the smaller and weaker attack turned the French flank.The French Gendarmes performed as poorly as their historical counterparts.
  The final blow, the Swiss hitting the flank of my poor Gascon pike who folded like a hanky.

Not satisfied with routing my Gascon pike, the Swiss then swept through some Gascon crossbowmen. 

This failed charge by some French gendarmes summed up the battle really, they fell short in their charge and took a volley at close range.

 To be honest the battle wasnt as one sided as appears, my Landsnects halted the main French attack before finally succumbing to the pressure and my Gascon crossbowmen gave a very good account of themselves and were the last units to disappear from the table.
It is a big ask for the French to win the battle, however nothing is certain in a wargame and any delay by the Swiss attacks would have allowed the French to maneuver into a better position. Although the Swiss were slower than their historical counterparts and suffered causalities accordingly, the French just couldnt co ordinate any counter attacks. By the end although the main Swiss attack had stalled the Swiss right wing had turned the French position to crush all opposition. A clear Milanese/Swiss victory as in history.

Honour Guard of Cesare Borgia.

Honour Guard of Cesare Borgia.