For our second battle using Pike and Shotte I'm going to be ambitious. It will use quite a lot of the possible Italian Wars troop types and plenty of them. Unit characterisations might change from one scenario to the next as might the odd 'value' but that is for the future. As you will see I am very keen on the unit characterisation rules.
We will play the game using the standard rules including the Command Blunder rules. This is against my better judgement but as they seem to be so popular that there must be something to be said for them: we'll see.
Chevauleger & Stradiots
You might notice that their are no Chevauleger type cavalry units in my armies. I do have a few units of these but I hardly ever use them as separate units in a “P&S stylee”.
Following the invasion of Italy the French were introduced to light cavalry in the form of Stradiots and, having none of their own, formed units of chevauleger to fulfil the same role.
However, although they undoubtedly existed for use as scouts and so forth, I can't find them as separate units in the French order of battle for any field battle between 1495 and about 1530. There are units of Gendarmes, Stradiots, mounted crossbowmen and arquebusier but no chevauleger.
Given that the name Stradiot became the universal term for light cavalry in French service I wonder if, when we see numbers of Stradiots in an order of battle, this might also include the illusive chevauleger.
In any event they were not used as heavy cavalry as that role was fulfilled by the Gendarmes d'Ordonnance. Consequently, I don't field these lesser brands of heavy cavalry as defined in Pike & Shotte. In my armies, all heavy cavalry are classed as Gendarmes or their equivalent.
Mounted Missile Troops
My definition of Italian Wars mounted missile troops is also somewhat different to those in Pike & Shotte. I do not believe that these units were cavalry in the true sense. I think they were mounted on horses and ponies of dubious quality and were not keen on mixing it hand to hand, preferring to avoid melee and skirmish from a distance with crossbows and arquebus.
To encourage these tactics I have reduced their hand to hand value from 6 to 4 and introduced a new unit characterisation rule: Cautious. This rule is similar to the Eager rule except that it allows units to make a free movement away from the enemy if they fail to obey their order.
I am also going to reduce the range of the mounted crossbow to 12" as it would be a stirrup or lever crossbow and so lees powerful. They did not use an infantryman's arbalest loaded using a windlass.
In the future I may class some units of mounted shot, such as Giovanni's 300 mounted arquebusiers, as dragoons giving them the option to dismount. I think this might be fun.
On the subject of crossbows the special rule for Crossbows does not seem to make sense: paying more not to be able to use closing fire. So I'm going to choose to treat this as a misprint and charge 2 points less for all troops so armed.
I have pondered the definition of Landsknechts as Mercenary since first buying the rules. Basing and army lists are my first ports of call after buying a rule set.
That they were mercenaries, and could be awkward employees just like the Swiss, is not in doubt. Once on the field of battle they were, barring the Swiss, the most reliable pike infantry in the Italian Wars and they invariably fought well.
I like the Mercenary rule but I feel it has been badly applied to these troops. I will not rate my Landsknechts as Mercenary unless they are badly disaffected due to lack of pay or some other factor.
My views on the Spanish colunela are well known by followers of this blog. I believe that a colunela was a single, all arms entity. It is not a hotch-potch of individual small units that operate however they (or rather the player) might choose. The only way this formation can be effectively represented on the table is as a single unit and I have to take my hat off to Pike & Shotte as they are flexible enough to allow this.
My chosen figure scale is 1:40 which makes my 36 figure colunela 1,440 strong: historically they were 1500-ish. My colunela comprise four stands of arquebus (16 figures) backed by two stands of pike (12 figures) and two stands of sword and buckler men (8 figuress). Looking at the unit specification in my OOB below, you'll see these units (pictured above) are wondrous to behold.
Coming at the problem of colunelas from a Pike & Shotte angle I came up with exactly the solution I had before. My only worry is that I might have produced a 'super unit'. If I have, I will play about with the factors or introduce a new 'characterisation' rule in future games.
The armies for this Wednesday night's battle are detailed below.
Set Up Photos
All photos above are of the game set up. Here’s an overview with the French on the left:
The Spanish on the right: