Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Marignano Trial Refight

Everyone out there in bloggy-land loves a good campaign. I am one of that number for certain and have taken part in several over the years and enjoyed taking part in them all.

One thing that puts many people off campaigns is the fact that they often run out of steam and many do not get to a conclusion, satisfactory or otherwise. One campaign that I have been involved in with friend Dave Knight was a mini-campaign based around the battle of Marignano in 1515 and the events leading up to this famous conflict, and Dave and myself started this campaign about five years ago and for one reason or another the campaign did the fizzle just before getting the final event played. Before you know it a couple of years have passed and beyond the 'we must get that game played to finish the campaign', it just hadn't happened.

So, after talking about other campaigns, Dave suggested to get the battle played, if only for rounding off the series and for a sense of 'completeness', and this was duly agreed to.

The campaign had been played out using a multitude of rules; WRG 2nd Edition Renaissance, Tercio, Bad War and the skirmish set 'Sword & Pistol' and all these had produced a fun game for the various scenario's leading up to the final match. With the current favourite at the club being Impetus, we decided to go with that rule set for battle refight.

A trial game was decided upon to test out the deployment and ruleset before the final conclusion. Our army lists were drawn up and the amendments from the previous scenario's dragged out of the depths and battle lines drawn for the pretty simple battlefield layout. 

As a tester for the battle I was pretty up for the event and was keen to try out the tactics employed by the French on the day with light cavalry out front to delay the Swiss pike blocks and give me more time to fire the artillery, crossbow etc and soften them up before the inivitable clash, and to see how the troops fared in a pretty French type 'en avant' style showing lot's of elan and perhaps foolhardiness which I could then temper this strategy for the main event next week, possibly altering the troop types and strategy based on the results.

Pretty quickly we noticed a few issues with the rules, the main one being the range of the artillery was only 30U or about 2', I also discovered that my archer cavalry under Impetus is very un-manoeuvrable and they're attempt at delaying the pike blocks an almost impossible task but the skirmish screen of crossbow and mounted arquebus did work quite well. The up shot was the heavier archer cavalry got cut to bits and shot to hell with only a couple of minor casualties inflicted in return but the lighter troops inflicted a greater degree of damage while avoiding contact. What was successful was the break up of the Swiss advance to the pikes arrived in a piecemeal fashion, though I paid a hefty 6 Victory Point price (for the loss of the archer cavalry) to do it.

As the Swiss got closer Dave picked up speed with his pike blocks (managing to get the initiative every move until contact) and allowed only one real attack on the pike blocks from the artillery and crossbow units before the crunch.

The general melle over the ditch ensued with a glimmer of hope at first for the French with the centre and right melees at first going the French way but this was just a tantalising 'what might be' before it was cruelly taken away and the Swiss surged forward and pushed back the Landsknecht and Gascon Pike (though the Gascns lasted a lot longer than expected). With a couple of pretty hefty prolonged combats the back was broken of the Fench line and pushed the army over it's break point and thus a victory for the Swiss.

We did make a few mistake's while playing, forgetting about the zone of control a couple of times resulting in some easy kills for the Swiss against artillery and crossbow, and the effect of difficult terrain (the ditch) on the Pike Blocks dice but I don't think there would have been much difference in the result if we had remembered.

We both felt a bit disappointed after the trial game and felt the Impetus rules didn't really give a good renaissance feel to the event, and decided to call that the final match in the campaign rather than revisit what was a bit of a flat experience gaming wise next week.

I feel the problem is that I the rules dictated the flow of the game. I like to play a game where you feel there is a narrative with points in it which tell a story of the event and get the imagination going. Impetus is too intrusive a game system to let you do that. Great rules for having a game and doing this fairly quickly but more of a feel of monopoly rather than re-fighting a moment of history on the table top.

It could be that we both didn't know the rules sufficiently well that the fluidity of playing would allow the narrative of what transpired on the table top to come to the fore, but I'm guessing that this is not the case and the mechanics are too abstract to allow that kind of interaction.

Oh well, a campaign completed at least, so a +1 for tidiness and back to the drawing board for finding a rule set we like for the Italian Wars - so far my favourite 'feel' wise is Bad War even though it's torture to decifer, but definitely gives a good story.


  1. Well done! It's not everything that can complete a full campaign as you say.

  2. It was nice to get a sense of completeness :-) It only took us five years!


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