Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Italian Wars playtest!

Roughly 5 months after starting my forced march, I put two 48-point armies on the table to try out unit profiles for my Fornovo 1495 scenario that I will run at Enfilade! in just a few weeks.  The unit profiles a mix of unit types from both Pikeman's Lament and Lion Rampant, since the Italian Wars, especially the early part of the era, does bridge both high medieval warfare and the kind of pike-and-shotte tactics and weapons best represented by the Thirty Years War and English Civil War.   I played the French, with three units of elite gendarmes heavy cavalry (mounted men-at-arms from Lion Rampant with the 'drilled' option - expensive and heavy hitting, but with the compulsory follow-up rule from Pikeman's Lament added on), three units of elite pike (as stated in Pikeman's Lament), a unit of doppelsoldners (foot sergeants from Lion Rampant with the 'offensive' option), and four units of arquebusiers (commanded shot from Pikeman's Lament).  Gabe played the Italians, with four units of Elmeti heavy cavalry (elite gallopers from Pikeman's Lament), four units of elite pike (as above), a unit of halberdiers (same as above doppelsoldners), and three units of arquebusiers (as above).

Since I was more interested in trying out profiles and the balance of unit strengths and weaknesses in relation to each other, I chose a simple "first side to lose half their points loses the game" scenario.

The basis ebb-and-flow of the game was the French gendarmes beat up on the Italian elmeti, but only succeeded in reducing most of them to half strength but not destroying them outright. Gabe was able to backpedal his elmeti to safety and not take the points loss.  The battle between the foot had the feel I wanted, with the arquebusiers being annoying but not too effective.  The pike with 'elite' added was a day-of decision and worked really well - it gave the pike blocks the effectiveness they needed in order to represent them as the 'kings of the battlefield' at the time.

The result was a terrible defeat for the French (the result of some unlucky morale checks more than anything), with the Italians only loosing a single unit or two!

P.S.  The only unit profile I was not satisfied was the doppelsoldners/halberdiers.  They lacked the punch to realistically challenge elite pike in close order (pike would have a defense value of 2+ in such an instance!) and just came off as lesser infantry.  Next playtest they will be profiled as 'fierce foot' from Lion Rampant - a lot of offensive punch but low stamina, plus a little extra range on movement so they can close with the enemy a bit closer...

P.S.S. For this playtest I didn't even use all the figures which were table-ready!  The Fornovo scenario proper will have nearly double the number of units on the table!


  1. Great looking game! It is fun mixing Lion Rampant and Pikemens Lament and coming up with your own rules - always the best way I reckon.

    1. I really like being able to use the profiles and add-ons to match a specific historical flavor. This is a particularly strong feature for Lion Rampant/Pikemans Lament/Dragon Rampant, where you can pull special abilities or units from any of the three to get what you need to capture that "period feel" for a specific games/armies.

  2. If I wasn't running games in the same time periods as you, I'd have signed up for your game. Looks like your game will be a lot of fun - looking forward to checking it out next month. I'm using LR for my WotR games, with a slight mod for early cannon (in the Tewkesbury game).