Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Battle of Fornovo 1495.

Sunday 10th saw the Quorn Wargames Club host the Battle of Fornovo in 15mm (thanks to Paul for organizing it!) using our house rules ("Blood and Glory" written by Dave). The Italian army were placed on the left bank of the river, with the French forces of Charles VIII starting in the village of Fornovo itself on the same side. The main objective was to move the French over the bridge following the road on the right bank and off the board, with baggage train etc (which included all the loot from the campaign). There were 4 crossings altogether along the length of the river which could be exploited by either army (but more likely the italians once they realised the French were trying to nip past them). There were two players controlling the Italians and three for the French.

The French were allowed two free moves to push as much as they could across the river, but the convoy being so long it probably took twice that to get everything over. In the meantime the Italian forces, already awakened by the French (or specifically the Swiss) burning down the local castle, started to move on the crossings to crush the enemy in a pincer move. One element came straight at the rearguard/baggage whilst another tried to hit us in the middle of the convoy and a third prepared for a blocking move throwing itself onto the road. Expecting this eventuality the French placed their fearsome (and fanatical) Swiss pikemen at the front, then some cavalry and other troops to screen the crossings as the convoy moved down.

Early engagements for the French were successful, particularly Chris' spirited defence of the first bridge - safely ensuring everyone's passage. Likewise a combination of infantry and cavalry kept the Italians from venturing too far over the second crossing.

However, beyond this point it was to be a huge bloody slugging match as Swiss pike butted into a column of German pike which positioned itself on the road. This combat lasted several turns perhaps helped by some unlucky dice on behalf of the French. Rather than take to their heels the Germans kept rolling 6's ensuring their successful morale tests! Eventually the Germans pretty much fell where they fought and bought some much needed time for their comrades to come over the fourth and final crossing without trouble.

At this point, wanting to keep with the spirit of the period (and reflecting historical accuracy) I allowed Charles VIII to lead a mass charge of cavalry which I expected to clear away a good portion of the enemy coming around our flank. Alas (and much to everyone's amusement) a puny looking line of mounted latches decided to fire before retreating and scored a lucky shot on the king himself! Wounded, he's led from the field and causes morale tests in every unit that witnesses it, rather breaking up my glorious charge and it going in piecemeal instead. Meanwhile the Swiss pike and several thousand assorted infantry have managed to edge forwards routing several enemy units. Nevertheless, probably a bit too late!

We ended there on the conclusion that it was always going to be difficult for the Frenchies. Solid troops but moving and keeping everyone together meant you could only go as fast as your slowest men. The Italians had some good units but loads and loads of third rate militia types, however the speed and ability to use the majority of space without restrictions made big differences. A great game, which had everyone considering plenty of "what if's?" afterwards.

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