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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Maisnon- Italian Wars BatRep 4

Once more to the battlefield of Maisnon!  In this clash, I face off against Kevin but on the opposite side of the table.  In this battle, I fight as Charles V against Francois I.  Rules in use: To The Strongest!.

The battle opens with a familiar sight of the two armies deployed as shown below.  In the role of Charles V, battlefield photos will be from the perspective of Charles V taken from behind the Imperial battle line.  The battlefield constrained by woods on both flanks and a river, the battle plans remain much the same as before.  That is, frontal assaults will be the means for breaking the opposition.  Not much room for tactical trickery or finesse.  Brute force and a lot of luck will likely win the day. 
The two armies advance
Both armies push their troops forward quickly to come to grips with their foe.  As the distance closes, missile fire begins.  At this range, casualties are few and the armies plod forward.
Distance between the armies contracts
Charles, acting impetuously, pushes his right forward so quickly the gun on the hill has its fire blocked by its own troops almost straightaway.  Did it even manage more than a single shot?  I think not.  Charles nullifies one of his advantages in this battle right from the start.  While the cavalry on the Spanish left is slow to move up, the Spanish light cavalry on the right, quickly engages the French mounted crossbow to drive them off.  
Early stage of the battle
As the massive pike blocks in the center of the battlefield lumber forward, the first clash of heavy cavalry is witnessed on the Spanish left.  The German Men-at-Arms crash into the French Gendarmes.  The clash can be heard above the din of battle. 
The heavy cavalry clash
While the Germans and Gendarmes are locked into a continuing melee, Francois pushes his mounted arquebusiers and a second group of Gendarmes into the gap between the cavalry melee and his advancing pike formations. 
Reserve cavalry move up to plug a gap
Pushing the mounted arquebusiers out in front to screen the Gendarmes from artillery bombardment, the Gendarmes wheel to bring themselves onto the flank of the German Men-at-Arms.  In the center, Zweihanders advance out of the Imperial pike block and begin hacking the ends off of pikes to whittle down the enemy's resolve.  Along the river, crossbow and arquebus units trade volleys.  The only noticeable effect is that firing quickly subsides as all units begin running low on ammo.  Very little damage sustained from these firefights.    
German's flank is exposed
View down the length of battle line
The Imperial Zweihanders, having softened up the pike block to their front, retire to allow their own pikemen to attack.  The attack goes in but both maintain their position locked in combat.  Having maneuvered themselves into a flanking position on the Men-at-Arms, French Gendarmes hit the Germans in flank.
Men-at-Arms flanked!
Battle view from east
With two against one in the cavalry melee, the Germans fall back in disorder escaping with their lives.  The Gendarmes to their front follow up to take the vacated ground.  In the pike scrum, the Swiss have had enough and make the best of a lull in activity to withdraw from the engagement.  Having suffered three hits, they are likely done for the day.  The Swiss' task now is to keep from being scattered by a pursuit. 
There is no such respite for the German Men-at-Arms.  Maintaining pressure on the disordered Germans, the French Gendarmes charge once again.  This time, the Germans are scattered.  Back in the center of the battlefield, two of the three opposing pike blocks are engaged in a heated contest of push of pike. Gaining an upper hand is difficult as combat in these close quarters is stymied by numerous misses and successful saves.
Clash of pike in the center
Finally, the to-and-fro log-jam in the pike clashes breaks and the Spanish destroy two of the three French pike blocks in rapid succession.  Added to the light troops lost earlier in the engagement, the French Army reaches its Break Point and hands over the last Victory Medal.  Victory to Charles V!  
French pike blocks destroyed
While the Spanish claimed victory in this edition of the battle, it was a near run thing.  Victory could have fallen either way up until the last card.  With each army holding 11 Victory Medals, the first to lose two pike blocks (4 VMs each) would likely see defeat.  That is what happened in this contest.

Of the battles before, Game 4 seemed to produce the most plausible clash of man and horse in a battle staged during the Italian Wars.  The game actually took on the look and feel of a Renaissance battle in my mind.  Of particular note was the lengthy pike scrums as neither could gain an advantage.  The attacker repeatedly drew misses while the defender repeatedly saved those few hits drawn.  A lot of drama and anticipation in what the next card may hold.  It was good fun that saw a decisive conclusion fought in about 90 minutes.

With a half-dozen battles fought using TtS!, play in the last two games has been conducted almost exclusively using a QRS as reference.  In this battle, I do not recall needing to take a time-out to thumb though the rule book at all.  Notice in a few of the photos, the QRS is shown in the photo.  The QRS has been condensed into one 5x7 inch, two-sided card.

55 comments:

  1. I wake this morning to my top two posts in my reader lists being the grid based FK&P (Jon’s ‘1642 and all that’ blog and your own with TtS rules from the same stable. Surely a sign that grids are becoming increasingly mainstream in the figure world.

    Both post have playability, functionality and player engagement, with the right dose of ‘feeling right’ as being central to the design and perhaps this more than anything underpinning their growing success. Getting blocks of pike to have the right feel would be a feather in the cap for any rules designer.

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    1. The introduction, acceptance, and continued popularity of Commands & Colors among many miniatures wargamers may have led to the resurgence in grid-based table gaming. Add in simple game mechanisms and quick play pushes the momentum in the pendulum seemingly swinging towards grids. Of course, this is my view only.

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  2. Another great AAR and you can't beat the Italian Wars for pure eye candy. I think it's a sign of a good ruleset when after a few games you can just use the QRS sheet, which is pretty much what I do with BKCII. Also a fun and hard fought game in 90 minutes, what's not to like?

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    1. Thank you, Steve!
      Conducting play only from a QRS is a good sign, indeed. I needed to customize my QRS to include items that I had trouble remembering not on the original. Not needing to lookup up rules during play speeds the game and continuity of play considerably. With limited play time, a conclusion in 90 minutes is a welcome result.

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  3. Another inspiring report on a TtS game Jonathan and the troops of course look lovely! As you know, my group has used these rules for Dark Ages/Medieval for about a year and I agree with Norm, they do seem to be turning up on a lot of blogs at the moment. I really like them as a game but I am not convinced they add much to "realism" - the 90 degree set angles caused by the grid squares mean you always have exposed flanks and the chess like movement and attack angles add to the "gameyness" but at least with the victory medals, you always get a result!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the battle report, Keith!

      TtS! definitely settles into the "Game" end of the Game vs Simulation continuum. That is ok. Sometimes I feel like a "Game" is sufficient; sometimes I seek more realism. I have room for both in my toolbox.

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  4. Good report, thanks very much. I must have a proper look at TtS.

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    1. You are welcome! If this looks interesting, give TtS! a look.

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  5. A nice report with most beautiful and impressive units, looks wonderful!

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    1. Thank you, Phil! Your last BatRep was a good one!

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  6. Lovely looking game! What a treat to see your Italian wars troops on the table again! I'm with you,that by it's nature Tts is a bit gamey, it's also undeniably fast, I'll keep playing it but it won't be my exclusive rule set,we seem to be swinging back to Warlords pike and shot at least for a bit!
    Best Iain

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    1. Iain, it has been a real treat to get these armies out on the gaming table for a series of battles using a new set of rules.

      TtS! certainly seems to slot into the "Game" end of the spectrum but that is ok. I may seek rules with a more historical flavor for when I prefer more of a simulation.

      Keep us posted on your Warlords P&S exploits.

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  7. A beautiful looking game Jonathan!

    Christopher

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  8. Lovely game Jonathan well done. There can be nothing better than a day using ones wargames figures, well done again.

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    1. Gaming with a friend is a perfect way to spend a day although this game was but two hours in duration.

      Glad you like the presentation!

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  9. It looks like a fun time, Jon! Yes, TTS is definitely more toward the "game" extreme, but I do not mind that for ancients.

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    1. Yes, it was! I think Kevin enjoyed the session even in defeat.

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  10. Great looking game and batrep. Nice!

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  11. A pleasure to see your collection on the table top Jonathan.

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    1. Thank you, Oli! Your latest BatRep was chock full of beautifully painted figures.

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  12. Interesting report, it looks like TtS! is taking over as a go-to ruleset for the time period. I think we should try out impetus again sometime to see if we still prefer it. It has been about 4 years if memory serves me correctly.

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    1. We should give Impetvs another try. I recall our Italian Wars game fondly and think it did a good job of illustrating the tactics. To me, Impetvs had more flavor and less luck than TtS.

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    2. Agreed, I have been trying TtS out with my Imjin War collection as well. It plays quickly, but lacks a unique touch that identifies the forces involved.

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    3. I wouldn't be surprised if a few tweaks are needed for this conflict, with its technological and cultural differences. Regardless, they are different sets with different design objectives, which is perfectly reasonable and OK.

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    4. Peter, for these Italian Wars’ games, we were using the period specific amendments presented on your blog.

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    5. yes, I know, and those may or may not be similar to what winds up in TTS version 2; I was referring more to Jake's comment on the Imjin Wars.

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  13. It certainly appears as though you have mastered TtS as my impression from reading the AAR the action appeared to flow quickly and seamlessly.

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    1. With the help of a good, comprehensive QRS and a little practice, the game flows quickly, for sure. It was a fun game.

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  14. Certainly Simon himself would be the first to agree that TTS definitely comes down more on the Game side than simulation, and very intentionally so. There is much to be said for the way that the grid speeds up game play. My first rules were based upon Frappe!, and used the same 3" hex grid boards. Charlie Sweet's games were all played on a gridded board as well. Those inspired my own gridded Ancient rules, based upon Legion!, and here I am back with grids for Ancients and ECW. I am not sure I am ready to return to a grid for Napoleonics, though. :-)

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    1. Peter, gridded games have a lot to offer including speed of maneuver and reduced precision with respect to measurements. Measuring and adjudicating angles of attack and range make gridded games much faster to play and easier to resolve. Nothing wrong with having a "game" mentality or bent. Commands & Colors is one of my favorite gridded games.

      I don't remember Frappe! being gridded but that was a long time ago.

      As for gridded Napoleonics, Commands & Colors: Napoleonics would be a solid framework from which to start.

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    2. I believe Glenn's rules are themselves based upon C&C Napoleonics. Frappe! used 3" hexes for movement and firing rages, howitzer template, etc, but it wan't a "one unit (or sometimes 2, like TTS) unit per hex kind of thing in that sense of a gridded game.

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  15. On the other hand, Glenn Drover's gridded Quatre Bras game ( see Scott's Little Wars post) sure looks great, so...

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    1. Glenn's game sure looked splendid, didn't it? I have yet to talk to Scott about his impression of the Quatre Bras game. I bet he was thrilled to see all of his fine troops in action.

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  16. A great looking game. The TtS system does seem to allow a speedy run through. Will have to give it a try.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, a game can be played to conclusion very quickly.

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  17. What a great game, well played out!

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  18. Great table and game. I just played with "To the strongest" but never using it for this period.

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    1. Thanks, Marco! What are your first impressions of TtS?

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  19. Impressive game, as usual, Jonathan!
    Will you try a different battlefield layout?

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    1. Thanks, Dmitry! Yes, it is time to move on to another battlefield.

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  20. Great batrep. Never tire of admiring those Swiss pikes.

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    1. Thanks! I never tire of seeing the Swiss pike either.

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  21. Looks very good. I have a couple of Italian Wars armies so interested in seeing TtS played. One thing that's put me off about TtS in the past is it seems to be a very messy game. The table ended up covered in playing cards behind - or worse - on top of - units. It was more cards than figures by the end. You seem to have avoided this somehow. Did you religiously tidy up every turn or some other kind of system?

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    1. Hi Jonathan!

      Each player has a double deck of cards to use. To keep the table from being inundated with playing cards, all cards (for both players) are removed from the playing area after each brigade command failure and placed to the side. When a player's turn is finished, each player gathers up all of his cards, shuffles the deck, and then the two decks are exchanged. This way, a player is always using a deck that his opponent has shuffled.

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    1. Thank you, Ray! A colorful period such as this helps.

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  23. Great looking game Jonathan , lovely armies from a period I don’t really know.........but TtS just doesn’t do it for me, sadly I think grid systems are never going to be my thing. But I understand the concept...😀

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    1. Thank you, Matt. I understand your position wrt TtS. I am not sold on it either. Needing to return to Impetvs to refresh my memory and make some decisions. TtS certainly plays fast with little muss and fuss.

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  24. Hmmm all those pikes and flags. I am getting tempted by the Italian Wars.

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