Friday, 19 December 2014

Marignano 1515 - First Day Scenario.

The following scenario is an attempt to re-fight this battle using my collection of figures and terrain. Consequently, there are one or two fudges here and there and, in the interests of balance, some stretching of numbers and topography. Some of these have been detailed in previous posts on the subject. The scenario was written for use with my Hell Broke Loose rules. Figure scale is approximately 1:50.

War game nights fall awkwardly over this year's holiday season. So, over the Christmas period, so I don't suffer withdrawal (and I hate cold turkey), I intend to play this scenario as a solo game and, all being well, report accordingly.

Brief Historical Background

Louis XII of France lost Milan after the Battle of Novara in the summer of 1513. Here, Maximilian Sforza, self styled Duke of Milan, and his army of mercenary Swiss gave the French a good licking by making a surprise attack on the ill prepared French camp. Almost at once Louis XII began working for the recapture of Milan but, whatever his plans, he did not to see it come to fruition: He died, suffering from severe gout, at the end of 1514.

His successor, Francis I, did not take long to pick up the dynastic gauntlet. Within a few months the nineteen year old king had raised an army and renewed alliances that would enable him to invade across the Alps.

In June 1515 Francis left Paris at the head of an army mustering 30,000 combatants. The army was particularly strong in cavalry - perhaps 10,000 of them - including 2,500 lances of the compagnies d'ordonnance. There were 20,000 infantry: 10,000 native French and 10,000 Landsknechts. In the style of most Royal French armies it was very well provided with artillery. This army would link up with Venetian army with over a further 10,000 men for the final reduction of the Milanese.

Crossing the Alps via the Col d'Argetier pass the French emerged into Italy outflanking the Swiss who had been sent to oppose him. The Swiss withdrew to Milan and the French followed up until they came to Marignano (10 miles from Milan), where they encamped. The French then entered into negotiations with the Swiss to sell Milan to Francis. Whilst negotiations went on, and so as not to have a repeat of Novara two years previously, the French entrenched their camp. Many of the Swiss were easily swayed with ready cash and the promise of more and 12,000 shamefully took the money and departed back to their Cantons.

Francis was convinced that Milan would now fall, without resistance, for a little more time and money. So it would have done but for the extraordinary efforts of Cardinal Matthias Schinner. Engineering a skirmish with French pickets he manipulated the news, delivered a rousing speech from the steps of the cathedral in Milan, and convinced the Swiss who remained that, rather than negotiating, the French were attacking. Late in the afternoon, leading an army of less than 18,000 Swiss and several hundred Milanese horse Schinner launched an attack on the French camp, arriving there sometime around 5pm.

Orders of Battle and Scenario Notes

French Army (Four divisions):

[1] Cavalry Screen under Flouranges
1 commander, 40 cavalry:
  • 1 unit of 8 Gendarmes (B class, fierce)
  • 2 units of 8 Mounted Crossbows (C class)
  • 2 units of 8 Stradiots (C class, swift)


Flouranges' cavalry screen in front of the ditch and earthworks manned by the French crossbowmen and artillery of Bourbon's vanguard; Bourbon's cavalry and French pike are held in reserve in before the village of Zuido.

[2] Vanguard under Bourbon
2 commanders, 32 cavalry, 136 infantry, 5 artillery:
  • 4 units of 16 Gascon Crossbowmen (D class)
  • 1 unit of 72 French Pike (D class)
  • 4 units of 8 Gendarmes (2 x A class, fierce; 2 x B class, fierce)
  • 3 heavy artillery pieces (C class)
  • 2 ultra light artillery pieces (D class)


The village of Zuido and the mainward under Francis I (positioned at the far left of the line) behind a screen of artillery.

[3] Mainward under Francis I
3 commanders including C-in-C, 72 cavalry, 212 infantry, 3 artillery:
  • 6 units of 8 Gendarmes (3 x A class, fierce; 3 x B class fierce)
  • 2 units of 8 Mounted Crossbowmen (C class)
  • 1 unit of 8 Mounted Arquebus (C class)
  • 2 units of 90 Landsknecht Pike (B class, fierce, swift, murderous vs Swiss)
  • 2 units of 16 Landsknecht Arquebus (C class, swift, murderous vs Swiss)
  • 3 heavy artillery pieces (C class)


The French camps and, behind them at Santa Brigida, D'Alencon's rearguard. The small town of Marignano, top right, will feature little in the scenario.

[4] Rearward under D'Alencon
2 commanders, 56 cavalry, 48 infantry:
  • 3 units of 8 Gendarmes (B class, fierce)
  • 3 units of 8 Archer Cavalry (C class)
  • 1 unit of 8 Mounted Crossbows (C class)
  • 1 unit of 8 Mounted Arquebus (C class)
  • 3 units of 16 Gascon Crossbowmen (D class)
French Notes:

Francis I and Bourbon are D12 commanders. All other commanders are D10. The French will use a D10* army die and sequence deck. The French will start the game with 75 morale points plus the following characterisation cards:
  • 2 Stratagem cards - see below. Extra cards.
  • 1 Command 'Deft Cavalry' card - automatically rally 1 cavalry unit from pursuit or vexation. Replaces Command card.
  • 1 Artillery Action 'Artillery Bounce Through' card - artillery may target two units in the line of fire at normal effect. Replaces Artillery Action card.
Stratagem definition:
  • The mainward and rearward are activated by contact with the enemy or on a successful Stratagem card check. Until activated units may shoot but take no other action. The mainward must activate before the rearward.
  • On turn one neither Stratagem card is valid and they are ignored. On turn two Stratagem 1 is valid. From turn three both Stratagem cards are valid.
  • On the appearance of a valid Stratagem the French player rolls D10 AGAINST D8 to activate a command (mainward or rearward). If successful the whole command activates and the card is removed from the deck.
  • Only one command can be activated on each card.
Milanese Army (Two divisions)

[1] The Swiss under Schinner
2 commanders, 384 infantry, 2 artillery:
  • 3 units of 96 Swiss Pike (A class, fierce, swift, grizzled, murderous vs Landsknechts)
  • 4 units of 16 Swiss Arquebus (B class, grizzled, swift)
  • 2 units of 16 Swiss Halberd (A class, fierce, swift, grizzled, murderous vs Landsknechts)
  • 2 light artillery pieces (D class)


The Swiss, formed up in three pike squares and a vanguard, are supported by a small Milanese cavalry contingent under Sforza.

[2] The Milanese under Sforza, Duke of Milan
1 commander, 16 cavalry:
  • 1 unit of 8 Gendarmes (B class, fierce)
  • 1 unit of 8 Mounted Arquebus (C class)
Milanese Notes:

Schinner is a D12 C-in-C, the Swiss commander is D10, and Sforza is a D8 commander.

The Swiss will use a D10 army die and sequence deck. The Swiss start the game with 50 Morale points plus the following Sequence card: 1 Ciao Bella card (Wild card - replaces 1 Lull card).

The Swiss can add to their morale point count by destroying French heavy artillery pieces. For each heavy artillery piece destroyed the Swiss will add three morale points to their total.

The Swiss win the battle if they are in contact with one of the French camps at the end of turn six.

3 comments:

  1. James, how do you consider the "ultra ligt artillery"? in HBL there is only one kind of guns, classed generically as "Artillery"...

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  2. Having recently played this at Derby, I thought the bigger guns at C class brittle DD, and the lighter guns at D class brittle DD worked quite well. This meant that both types had a D4 DD but the lighter guns were only CD6 as opposed to the C class at D8.

    I think the thing is counting numbers in a game. There were 300+ pieces of this lesser artillery at Marignano - some of which would be classed as 'musket' later.

    In my scenario I have tried to balance history with a good game. The Swiss will find it a fluke to actually win, but 'good sport' in a scenario must be maintained - no one comes to play a game, with happy heart, knowing a dismal conclusion.

    As it happens, at Derby, I also added two units of formed arquebus in the French first line. It made little difference, but opinion of 'Gascons' is changing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, James,
    I tried to change Ultra light artillery range (short 6", effective 12", long 24"), allowing them to act with normal cards (not "Artillery actions"). To give them a lower CD is a good idea.

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