Monday, 7 January 2008

A Scenario For Ravenna, 11th April 1512

By way of a diversion from the campaign here's a historical scenario for Ravenna based on Piquet's Band of Brothers rules.

It's been played a few times and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Please leave your comments and play test feedback. If it proves popular I will post other scenarios.

General Briefing
Louis XII of France placed his army of Italy under the command of Gaston de Foix. This very young but capable commander drove away the Spanish and Papal forces besieging Bologna, and then turned on the Venetians, inflicting a severe defeat upon them, and then successfully stormed Brescia.

Whilst Gaston de Foix was occupied against the Venetians, Ramon de Cordona the Spanish Viceroy of Naples and his Papal allies reoccupied much of Romagna. Gaston, realising that he could not pursue a campaign in two places at once, decided to force the allies into a decisive open battle, defeat them, and free himself to pursue any course of strategy he wished. To force Ramon's hand Gaston marched on the most important city held by the allies, Ravenna. He set up his camp and sighted his artillery on the left bank of the River Ronco.

Ramon determined that Ravenna was in serious danger and marched to relieve the siege by threatening Gaston's lines of communication without risking an open battle. But the celebrated engineer Pedro Navarro showed Ramon a position on the right bank of the Ronco, within two miles of the city, which given time to throw up a ditch and earthwork, he guaranteed impregnable.

Whilst the Spanish spent the night digging the French spent the night constructing a bridge of boats over the Ronco. Everyone knew that a fight would take place next day and the respective commanders issued formal defiances by trumpet.

French Briefing
To win the battle you must destroy or rout 8 units of the enemy (artillery sections and skirmish units count as half units) within 8 turns. Anything else will be considered a loss. Your morale deck draw, not including 5 cards of morale chips only, has yielded the following:

1. Reinforcements: from the first appearance of your Stratgem Card, you may bring up reserves via the bridge of boats. These consist of 1 unit of skirmish shot and one battle mass of pike - all Italians, and one unit of French gendarmes. If the reserves are called you must destroy an extra unit of the enemy to win. These troops are from the (off table) rear guard that Gaston ordered to prevent a sally from the city. They are commanded by D'Alegres.

2. Hidden Battery: from the second appearance of your Stratgem Card, and providing D'Algres is present, you may put a section of artillery from La Palice's artillery anywhere on the left bank of the river. This represents D'Alegres' moving some artillery to fire into the flank of the allied cavalry. If this option is taken the rest of D'Algres' division will go out of command.

Spanish Briefing
To win the battle you must defend your earthworks in anyway you see fit until the end of move 8 and lose less than 8 units (artillery sections and skirmish units count as half a unit each) doing so. Your morale deck draw, not including 4 cards of morale chips only, has yielded the following:

1. Hidden obstacles: two of your Spanish infantry units have 20 or so small man handled carts equipped with heavy arquebus and various fixed spears and blades. These carts give the units a superior position frontally in melee and fire until the unit is pushed back in melee, when the carts are deemed destroyed. These carts, designed by Pedro Navarro, had two functions, firstly to break up infantry or cavalry formations, and secondly to provide a platform for heavy infantry firearms previously incapable of being deployed in a field battle.

2. Dead Ground: on the appearance of the Stratagem card, and providing the French have not yet moved, you may redeploy any infantry units into the dead ground area. Whilst here troops count as being in Type III cover Vs artillery on the right bank and are not subject to flank fire modifiers or bounce through unless they subsequently move or fire. This represents Navarro's orders for the infantry to lie down in the low ground to prevent artillery casualties before the French assault. Any infantry initially deployed in this area always count as prone.

3. Extra Opportunity: you have four opportunity chips rather than three.

Special Rules
Special Initiative: Gaston de Foix was an astute commander; unlike many of his medieval predecessors he decided to use his superiority in artillery to weaken his opponent with a long artillery barrage before launching his assault. Ramon de Cordona had complete faith in his fortifications and, being outnumbered, had no intention of leaving them. Consequently, the French may insist that the Spanish roll a d12 initiative dice until the French wish to move anything. At that point all remaining initiative pips in the phase are lost. On the next roll the Allies will roll d20 vs. a French d12, thereafter both sides will roll d20s for initiative as standard.

Spanish Colunella: this is a new formation. It comprises 8 stands. Four front row stands of arquebus backed by two stands of sword and buckler men and two stands of pike (the latter placed centrally). The formation counts as a battle-mass for morale, melee and target. It counts as a line for movement and fire. It may take one free stand of losses as per a pike blocks. They have three hits per stand.

The Armies & Troop Types

To make things easier the tables for the army composition and unit types are presented as an image. Click on the image below to get the large scale, printable version.

Useful Links
The Battle of Ravenna.
War of the League of Cambrai.

Written, painted and photographed by James Roach.

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