Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Marignano 1515 - Next Week's Game

Next Wednesday night's game will be a first run through of my Marignano 1515 game. I've based the scenario on the map in Marignano 1515 by Moraitis, Pacou and Erskine-Riddel published by The Lance and Longbow Society, and Oman's The Art of War in the Sixteenth Century. I've used some information from other books, but these are the main sources for the scenario.

I've also used Google Earth for topography - it is a very flat place and all slopes are very slight and low. You can find the field at approx 45 22 32N 9 20 13E. Marignano is now Melegnano. I still have to decide on how the French will come to action. Setting up the battle will help this because real wargaming distances can be measured.

In fact, setting up the battle has thrown up a bit of a surprise. I had been convinced that I would have to use my full table's length (15') but it comfortably fits on a 12' x 6': having to put up the drop leaf restricts movement around the room, so I'm rather pleased with this.

Getting the French activation timings right will probably be the key to making this scenario work as a game. Too soon will mean the Swiss will never gain the ditch; too late and the Swiss will sweep up the table, all the way to Marignano, like a steam roller. Setting up the game has also put the task awaiting the Swiss into stark focus - I know they are good but, how many French! As I laid the French out on the table, going repeatedly back and forth to the cabinet, I began to think blimey this is a lot of troops. Most especially, the amount of cavalry is astounding. I had to use almost my full stock of cavalry, and as the Swiss only have two units, there are an awful lot of them pointing in one direction.

Anyway, I'm loathe to put too much detail in writing up this scenario yet. A play through of a few ideas will give me a much better idea of how the scenario can be made to work. I'm more interested in a tight game than anything else. A tight game should make the battle feel like its historical counterpart.

Marignano, on the first day, was a very hard fought, close run, thing. It was so close that only nightfall brought about a lull in the fighting without a victor. Unusually for the period, both armies stayed in the field and reformed on the following morning for round two! I have added no 'aesthetic terrain' at present to enable distances to be measured and to allow things to be moved about during set up more easily. The area was very heavily cultivated and fertile so I'll be adding quite a few terrain pieces to clutter it up. They might not actually count in game terms. I'm convinced there will be several changes before Wednesday.

I thought you might to see what the game looks like at its simplest:

The Swiss in echelon and crossing the Santa Giuliano - Carpianello road. In the foreground, the Duke of Milan and his condottieri.

The Swiss advance guard, including a unit of halberdiers (which will please Mr. Puster no end), are thrown forward. I suppose they should be more advanced than this but, if they advance too far they will get swamped by Floranges' cavalry screen before the main bodies come up. As a compromise I think this might work better.

Swiss in three blocks of 96 pike each with a unit of arquebusier. The Swiss also have two light guns (total) they can drag into action.

The French. The cavalry screen under Flouranges is ahead of the ditch. Historically they charged and were defeated in short order. Then it is Bourbon, Francis I and finally D'Alencon.

There are far too many cavalry under Flouranges for the Swiss advance guard to cope with alone. This is one of those "wargamey things": sometimes historical accuracy looks impossible!

Bourbon's vanguard: French infantry, artillery and Gendarmerie. They are in two lines behind their entrenchments. Note the very light artillery with some of the Gascon crossbowmen. These entrenchments will not be too formidable - they should slow, not stop, the Swiss.

The French mainward under Francis: Landsknechts, in two blocks of 90 (this might change) and cavalry. The Guns entrenched in front of the village of Zuido also belong to Francis. In the background, Marignano is the multi-building place with the church.

Finally, D'Alencon's rearguard at Santa Brigida: French crossbowmen and mixed cavalry. As if they needed more.

Francis has a lot of cavalry. He has 72 mounted figures including 48 Gendarmes. The French have 208 cavalry figures (26 units) in total. I still have a unit of heavy cavalry to paint (only 25 units are present), but I doubt they'll miss it.

And his Landsknecht pike might also be very useful.

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