Monday, December 1, 2014

Battle of La Bicocca: April 22, 1522

    I had originally planned to run the Battle of Marignano at Historicon 2015 for its 500th anniversary; however, on researching it, the battle seemed just too one dimensional for my taste, so I decided to switch it up a bit and try out La Bicocca, another Swiss defeat, which following on that at Marignano, shattered the legend of Swiss invincibility. James Roach, on his OlicanaLad blog, gives an excellent account of the background of the battle, the forces involved, and how he developed  his version of the scenario. I strongly recommend reading the two posts linked to above for this information, as well as drooling over James' beautiful troops and table! I have appropriated James' fine map from his blog post, and set up my table more or less similarly, 6 x 8 feet. I adjusted the OOB  (which follows) a bit to fit my own collection.







Scenario Special Rules:

Point d'argent, point de Suisse: 
Add two ‘uncontrolled advance’ cards and use an opposed D6 vs D6 roll - the Swiss must win or they must immediately advance and continue on to assault the ramparts. Do NOT remove the cards if they pass the test, but do remove them if they fail.

Potential French Flanking attack:  The entire body of French infantry and cavalry may attack the Right Flank of the position, but the Swiss and Black Bands may not. They must stay in front of the ramparts. 

Sunken Road: Class IV Terrain, Difficulty roll to Cross.
Ramparts: Class III Terrain, Superior Position for Fire and Melee
Artillery Platforms: Class IV Terrain, Difficulty Roll to cross, Superior Position for Fire and Melee, Artillery in them may change facing up to 90 degrees on any Engines of War Move, Infantry Maneuver or Deployment Card, This allows enfilading fire at attackers in the Sunken Road
Boggy Ground: The boggy ground is ‘probably impassable’. When the first Venetian unit contacts it roll a D6. On a result of 1 - 2 it is impassable (Class V); 3 – 5 it is very difficult terrain (Class IV); 6 it is ‘much drier than it looked’ – it is only difficult terrain (Class III).


Battle of La Bicocca, April 22 1522  - French Order of Battle


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Gendarmes #1
Elite Household EHC; Hvy Lance
N/A
Up 5
Up 2
metal bard; +2 BDV Fearsome!
Gendarmes #2
Elite Household EHC; Hvy Lance
N/A
Up 5
Up 2
metal bard; +2 BDV Fearsome!


COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Lautrec



NC  to Quality roll; Army C-in-C
(Left Flank Gendarmes)
C-in-C
Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D6;  “Other” D6



UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Gendarmes #3
Elite Household EHC; Hvy Lance
N/A
Up 5
Up 2
metal bard; +2 BDV Fearsome!
COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Chevalier Bayard



+2 to Quality roll
(Right Flank Gendarmes)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D6;  “Other” D6


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Mtd Aquebusiers
Merc LC; Arq, Imp weapons
Up 1
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
Sk. Arquebusiers #1
Merc LI, Arq, Imp weapons
Up2
NC
NC
Skirmish only!
Sk. Arquebusiers #2
Merc LI, Arq, Imp weapons
Up2
NC
NC
Skirmish only!
Sk. Arquebusiers #
Merc LI, Arq, Imp weapons
Up2
NC
NC
Skirmish only!
Arquebusiers - A
Merc MI, Arq, Imp weapons
Up 2
NC
NC

Arquebusiers - B
Merc MI, Arq, Imp weapons
Up 2
NC
NC

Arquebusiers - C
Merc MI, Arq, Imp weapons
Up 2
NC
NC


COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Giovanni di Medici



+2 to Quality roll
(Black Band)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D8


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Sk. Crossbows #1
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
Sk. Crossbows #2
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
Sk. Crossbows #3
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
Sk. Crossbows #4
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
French Pikes
Militia MI; Pike
NA
up1
Dn 1
36 - Pike Block
Hvy Artillery C
Militia Artillery; Heavy Guns
Up 2
Dn 2
Dn 1

Hvy Artillery D
Militia Artillery; Heavy Guns
Up 2
Dn 2
Dn 1


COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Marshal de Foix



NC to Quality roll
(French Infantry)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D6;  “Other” D6


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Swiss Pikes #1
Elite Merc HI/MI; Pike
N/A
Up 3
Up 1
36-Pike Block;   +2 BDV
NO Auto-Rally; Fearsome!
Swiss Pikes #2
Elite Merc HI/MI; Pike
N/A
Up 3
Up 1
36-Pike Block;   +2 BDV
NO Auto-Rally; Fearsome!
Swiss Pikes #3
Elite Merc HI/MI; Pike
N/A
Up 3
Up 1
36-Pike Block;   +2 BDV
NO Auto-Rally; Fearsome!
Swiss Arq.  A
Merc. LI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
NC
Skirmish only!
Swiss Arq.  B
Merc. LI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
NC
Skirmish only!

COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Winkelried



NC to Quality roll
(Swiss Infantry)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D6;  “Other” D8


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Venetian Pikes
Merc HI/MI; Pike
N/A
Up 2
NC
36-Pike Block
Sk Arquebusiers
Merc. LI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
NC
Skirmish only!
Arquebusiers #1
Merc. MI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
NC

Arquebusiers #2
Merc. MI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
NC

Arquebusiers #3
Merc. MI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
NC

Lanze Spezati
Merc HC; Lance
NA
Up 4
NC


COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Duke of Urbino



-1 to Quality Roll
(Venetians)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D6

French Sequence Deck: Cavalry Move 2, Cavalry Maneuver 1, Infantry Move 2, Infantry Maneuver 1, Inf/Cav Move in III/IV 2, Engines of War Move 1. Engines Reload 1, Missile Reload 2, Elites Reload 1, Deployment 1, Heroic Moment 2, Melee Resolution 4, Leader Check 3, Courage 1, Milling Around 3, 2 Uncontrolled Advance (affects only Swiss), 1 Uncontrolled Charge (affects only Swiss and French Gendarmes)

French Morale Points: (count as 37 units for Army Characterization, Divisor 3)

French Specials (from Army Characterization):




Battle of La Bicocca, April 22 1522  - Imperialist Order of Battle

UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Milanese Famiglia
Elite Household EHC; Hvy Lance
N/A
Up 5
Up 2
+1 BDV Fearsome!
Sk. Crossbows - A
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
Sk. Crossbows - B
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1
Skirmish only!
Crossbows #1
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1

Crossbows #2
Militia LI, X-bow. Imp weapons
Up 2
Dn 1
Dn 1


COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Maximillian Sforza



+1 to Quality Roll
(Milanese)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D8


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Spanish Knights
Elite Household EHC, Hvy Lance
N/A
Up 5
Up 2
NC to BDV (understrength)

COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Prosper Colonna



Up 2 to Quality Roll
(Spanish Knights)
C-in-C
Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D6


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Spanish Pikes
Regular HI/MI; Pike
N/A
Up 2
Up 1
36-Pike Block;  
Spanish Arq #1
Regular (M) MI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
Up 1
+1 BDV; Elite Reload
Spanish Arq #1
Regular (M) MI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
Up 1
+1 BDV; Elite Reload
Spanish Arq #1
Regular (M) MI; Arq, Imp wpn
Up 2
NC
Up 1
+1 BDV; Elite Reload
Spanish Musketeers
Regular(M) LI; Musk, Imp wpn
Up 3
Dn 1
Up `1
+1 BDV
Spanish Sword/Buckler
Regular HI; Tr. swords, shld
N/A
Up 2
Up 1
+1 BDV; Up 1 vs Pks

COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
de Leyva



+1 to Quality Roll
(Spanish Infantry)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D6


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Landsknecht Pike #1
Merc MI, Pike
N/A
Up 2
NC
36- Pike Block
Landsknecht Pike #2
Merc MI, Pike
N/A
Up 2
NC
36 - Pike Block
Heavy Gun  - A
Militia Artillery; Heavy Guns
Up 2
Dn 2
Dn 1

Heavy Gun  - B
Militia Artillery; Heavy Guns
Up 2
Dn 2
Dn 1


COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Georg v.Frundsberg



NC to Quality Roll
(Landsknechts)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D6


UNIT/description
RATING
FIRE
MELEE
MORALE
NOTES
Spanish Genitors
Merc MC; Jav, Tr Swds, Shld
NC
Up 2
NC
+1 BDV
Spanish Genitors
Merc MC; Jav, Tr Sws, Shld
NC
Up 2
NC
+1 BDV

COMMANDER
description
LEADERSHIP
RADIUS
Notes
Pescara



+1 to Quality Roll
(Spanish Genitors)

Difficulty Die:

Class II/IV D8;  “Other” D6



Imperial Sequence Deck: Cavalry Move 2, Cavalry Maneuver 1,  Infantry Move 2, Infantry Maneuver 1, Inf/Cav Move in III/IV 2, Native Mobility 1 (affects only Genitors), Engines of War Move 1. Engines Reload 1, Missile Reload 2, Elites Reload 1, Deployment 1, Heroic Moment 2, Melee Resolution 3, Leader Check 2, Courage 1, Milling Around 5

Imperial Morale Points: (count as 28 units for Army Characterization, Divisor 4)

Imperial Specials (from Army Characterization):


Jared was over to my house for a game the first time on Sunday to give this scenario a try. He is now quite familiar with Field of Battle, but as it would just be a one on one game I felt it was a good time to introduce him to Classic Piquet, using Band of Brothers 2nd edition. This scenario is a tough nut for the French player to crack,. even with the allowances above, so I had Jared play the defending Imperialists, while I took the French. We didn't roll up any troops or Leaders until we needed to know their ratings. Both of Our C-in-C's rolled up as Average. In the Army Characterization process the French wound up with 1 each extra Move in Difficult Terrain, Heroic Moment, and Brilliant Leader cards, and 42 Morale Points. The Imperialists wound up with one extra Heroic Moment card and 25 Morale points.



Setup: The  open Imperialist right flank, with the Milanese reinforcements having arrived just prior to the commencement of the battle to reinforce it. 


View from the Ramparts, with Spanish Genitors looking a bit outnumbered facing Giovanni di Medici's Black Band Arquebusiers in front, behind them the Swiss, and behind them the French!


Set up - view from the French right, with their unenthusiastic Venetian allies in the near ground.  Gotta love the bold heraldic banners of this era!


View of the fortified Bicocca manor House, and the boggy ground it overlooks.


Close up view of the French center.


Close up of the center of the Imperialist defenses.


The Manor House and one of the two the Artillery platforms.


The French Left flank forces.


The game got off to a fast start, with the Swiss almost immediately turning the Uncontrolled Advance card, and failing to pass their test to stand. The arrogant mountaineers shouldered their way through the Italian arquebusiers to their front, and on a second MOVE card, closed with the surprised Genitors. Being Medium cavalry, they could not evade the Swiss, but did manage to send not one but two rounds of their oft despised Javelins raining down upon the immense Swiss Pike blocks. This was surprisingly effective, with some added fire from the defending artillery. However, the Swiss shrugged off the Challenge to their morale, and seized the next available opportunity to engage in Melee. The outcome of this unequal action was never in any serious doubt, and both units of Genitors were routed with considerable losses. The Swiss were able to Move again, catching the routers seen above, and served them en brochette to a man!  This brought the the Swiss Pike columns to the edge of the deep, steep ditch. 


The hardy mountaineers, their blood up, proceeded to cross the deep ditch, shrugging off the considerable Difficulty of traversing it in good formation like the veterans that they were. 


Not surprisingly, they were met with a veritable hailstorm of arquebus fire from the well drilled Spanish Arquebusiers manning the  ramparts above them. Hundreds of Pikemen were mowed down, their blood seeping into the freshly excavated dirt of the ditch. Among the fallen was their commander, Winkelried. He had been furious that he missed the spoils of the Swiss victory over the French at Novarra, and had been the loudest voice insisting that the Swiss must either attack immediately, or depart for the Cantons due to the lack of their promised pay. Irony is so often handmaiden of Justice!


Shrugging off the loss of their Leader, the Swiss then charged up the ramparts. They were met with point blank fire from the defending Arquebusiers, and this time the left most column was not up to the Challenge, falling back in Disorder.


Sulfurous clouds o black smoke then belched forth from the Imperial guns, and the Disorder was of the left hand column was converted into Rout! Despite the heavy losses it had incurred on the approach, the central column beat back the Determined Arquebusiers opposing them, driving them from the ramparts, but the their Courage failed them at a critical moment, and they tumbled back down the escarpment in Disorder. The right most Swiss Pike block, however, routed the Spanish Arquebusier unit opposing it, and nimbly scaled the parapet. The ramparts had been breached! Heluetios ad Portas!


Alas, it was to be the high water mark of the recklessly brave pikemen of the cantons. They were counter charged by the opposing veteran Landsknecht pike block, their sworn and hated enemies. By push of pike and slash of Halberd, the Swiss were forced back in disorder. The Germans charged home once again and then routed their traditional foes, inflicting heavy losses! Meanwhile, the Spanish Arquebsuiers gave proof of their unequaled skill with their firearms, pouring another volley of lead into the middle column. Not surprisingly, when put to the Test, they routed as well!  The entire Swiss attack had been decisively defeated, a fate they had not suffered in over 200 years of warfare. Despite feeling sure that any hope of victory on this day was past, Lautrec ordered the Venetians of the right flank and the French on the left flank to move forward, while the Black Band arquebusiers moved forward in the center, more to cover the retreat of the Swiss than to seriously hope to contest the fortified bulwarks of the Imperialists. 


The rout of the Swiss continued, and the Black band now began to feel the sting of the Spanish firearms as well. 


The French Gendarmes made some progress with their flanking move, being careful to stay out of Arquebus range!.


Prospero Colonna's view from the defensive position and Giovanni di Medici's opposing Italians late in the day. The French efforts on the flanks were too little, too late, and after suffering more casualties from the artillery and Arquebusiers manning the earthworks, Lautrec decided to cut his losses, and commence an orderly retreat while he still could!


Maximillian Sforza, just lately reinstated as Duke of Milan, seen here at the end of the battle, stationed at the head of his Famiglia (Extra Heavy cavalry). The Duke was quite happy to have spent the day without firing a shot, moving an inch, and especially, without losing a man. After all, in the topsy turvy, cut throat politics of Machiavelli's Italy, your ally one month was likely to be your enemy the next! 


Commentators writing after fact observed that Lautrec's forces never fired a shot or a crossbow bolt the entire day. The rapid Swiss assault swiftly masked their powerful artillery, and left the supporting troops behind. For their part, the heavy losses suffered by the Imperialists in the few melees the Swiss were able to engage in were enough to convince the cautious Colonna not top attempt pursuit. 

Game notes: 
At he end of the battle, the French had lost 27 out of 42 morale points, while the imperialists had lost 23 out of 35. I am going to rework the scenario to work  Hostile Realms so as to make it more viable for a convention setting, and adjust the French deployments and defensive position slightly. I think I will also allow the French player to expend morale points to increase his odds of passing the Undisciplined Advance, but not allow removal of the card if they pass - I am thinking 3 Morale points per die type. base test is D6 vs D6, so if the French player spent 9 MP, they could bring it to a D12 vs D6 - not guaranteed, but better odds. obviously. the next card would still start at D6 vs D6 unless additional Morale points are spent. This may allow increased chances of delaying the Swiss attack to allow the French guns to shoot, the flank attacks to develop, etc., but with no guarantee, and at a cost (the Swiss are becoming progressively ore annoyed with the delaying tactics). The FoB like MOVE mechanics of Hostile Realms will also make it easier for other troops/commands to get into the action. Jared has already volunteered himself for a second playtest, and with Hostile Realms, up to three players a side would be viable. 

24 comments:

  1. Looks like a great game. Would love to play in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you decided to make the trip to Fredericksburg this year, Victor? If Dave makes it out from LA, I might have this none run twoce, PM one evening, AM the following day, with Dave GM-ing one or the other - assuming he's up for it, of course!

      Delete
  2. Reports like this are why I love the Piquet series of rules. Pulling my Hostile Realms book out for another read tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You flatterer. My mother warned me about Yanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI James,

      When "borrowing" another's work, I certainly want to give credit where credit is very much due!

      Aside from that, with the Atlantic between us, it's a bit far to ask you out on a date, so your mother can probably rest easy, LOL!

      Delete
  4. HUGE battle with very colorful armies. Really a great looking fight. Very impressive Renaissance collection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jon. Easily my 2nd favorite Wargames period, after Napoleonics.

      Oh, you were talking about *Jame's* version.... :-)

      Delete
    2. No, Peter, I am referring to YOUR excellent collection!

      Delete
    3. Thanks again.

      As you can see, James and I (who go way back, at least 10 years from the Piquet mailing list) have been giving each other the business!

      Delete
  5. That is a great looking game, plenty of colorful troops on really nice terrain. I liked the picture of the Gendarmes moving around the flank, out of fire range.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike. It was colorful and fun to play, despite the very tough position to assault!

      Delete
  6. Good game, fine report, pretty pictures. Just what I like to see!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks like another tough day for the canton(s) crew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, they were pretty much Swiss cheese by the time the action was over!

      Delete
  8. Wonderful looking game. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. impressive game and colorful painted figures/units! marvelous battle report plus the photos too!

    cheers,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Phil!

      Must be some weird Blogger thing going on to have 4 comments in 24 hrs on a nearly 60 day old post, though! :-)

      I do plan a re-fight with some changes to the scenario...

      Delete
  10. Excellent game and exciting report. I used to be so into this period but never bought the figures I wanted (Connoisseur ) due to lack of funds....I think they are still available.....

    BTW, blogger listed this as a new post in my dashboard but I see it is from December!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. It is a great period for wargaming, IMHO.

    IIRC, for some reason Blogger did NOT tag this post as new originally; it must just be catching up now!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am so sorry I missed this when it posted. Your game looks outstanding. I just tried my first Impetus game from this era and wish I would have had this scenario to 'borrow' instead. Your colorful array of forces are what make this period so appealing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mix of troop types plus the Landsknecht costumes and the bold flags make it a treat. The number of actual battles was fairly small, but almost ball of them had a "Moral of the story"!

      Delete