Sunday, 9 July 2017

Italian Wars Unit Characterisation for Pike and Shotte

I have recently tweaked my master table for characterising units for Pike and Shotte games set in the earlier part of Italian Wars - between Charles VIII's 1494 invasion of Italy and the Sack of Rome in 1527. It only provides a rule of thumb list for my games and is by no means exhaustive. It has several similarities with the classifications in the master rules but, I have added and changed several definitions and statistics, and I have even altered one or two master rules. This will be especially noticeable in the following:
  • my creation of the colunela as a single combined unit - mine being two stands of pike (12 figs), two stands of Sword and Bucklermen (6 - 8 figs) and four stands of shot (16 figs). 
  • the downgrading of light horse melee factors.
  • the increase of movement rates and ranges.
  • the change in the master rule for crossbows and javelins - they get closing fire in my games but do not get the close range to hit bonus.
  • artillery is far less mobile than in the master rules.


I'm posting it here because I think it might be of use, especially for newcomers to the period. Though it only reflects my personal opinion about unit ability I think I can argue the case for the entries. 

If anyone would like a MS Word doc. version of these tables, so they can tinker for themselves, or to lose the dropped letters (due to blog post compression of the table width), drop me an email at the address in the side bar.

Pike and Shotte unit characterisation table for:
The Great Italian Wars

CAVALRY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
French Gendarmes
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
3+
4
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: add D3 melee result bonus.
French Argulets
Light Horse
[16”]
3
1
[16”]
5+
3
Cautious: may use free move to retire.
Crossbow: no close range
Evade: can evade
Spanish Knights
Heavy Horse [12”]
9
-
3+
4
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: add D3 melee result bonus.
Spanish Genitors
Light Horse [12”]
5
1
[8”]
5+
3
Javelin: no close range.
Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Skirmish: Freely change formation; shoot at full effect.
Fire & Evade: can evade, or give closing fire & evade.
Italian Casa / Famiglia
Heavy Horse [12”]
9
-
3+
4
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: add 1 melee result bonus.
Imperial
Men-at-arms
Heavy Horse [12”]
9
-
3+
4
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Heavy Cavalry Charge: add 1 melee result bonus.
Wedge: large unit only; free move to charge; re-roll misses when charging; cannot fight to flank.
Condottiere
Heavy Horse [12”]
9
-
4+
4
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Lance Spezzate
Heavy Horse [12”]
9
-
4+
4
Heavy Cavalry Charge: add 1 melee result bonus.

Mounted Crossbows
Light Horse
[16”]
3
1
[16”]
5+
3
Cautious: may use free move to retire.
Crossbow: no close range.
Evade: can evade
Mounted Arquebus
Light Horse
[16”]
3
1
[16”]
5+
3
Cautious: may use free move to retire.
Evade: can evade
Stradiots
Light Horse
[16”]
5
1
[8”]
5+
3
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Javelin: no close range.
Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Skirmish: Freely change formation; shoot at full effect.
Fire & Evade: can evade, or give closing fire & evade.

ARTILLERY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Light Artillery
Artillery
[4”, 8” limbered]
1
1 - 2 - 3
[32” - 16” – 6”]
6+
2

Medium Artillery
Artillery
[0”, 8” limbered]
1
1 - 2 - 3
[48” - 24” – 6”]
6+
2
May be ordered to turn on the spot.
Heavy Artillery
Artillery
[0”, 8” limbered]
1
1 - 2 - 3
[64” - 32” – 6”]
6+
2
May not move at all once unlimbered.





Pike and Shotte unit characterisation table for:
The Great Italian Wars

INFANTRY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
French Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
5
-
6+
5
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
French Crossbows
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
6+
3
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Crossbow: no close range.
Swiss Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
7
-
4+
5
Elite: 4+ (5+ post 1522) to rally disorder.
Ferocious: re-roll misses when charging.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter 1 shot; static only.
Swiss Halberdiers
Battle Line
[8”]
6
-
4+
3
Elite: 4+ (5+ post 1522) to rally disorder.
2 Handed Weapons: -1 to enemy saves.
Ferocious: re-roll misses when charging.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Swiss Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
4+
3
Elite: 4+ (5+ post 1522) to rally disorder.
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Pre-Bicocca Swiss
-
-
-
-
-
Add: Pre-Bicocca: Ignore shaken battalia rules until all Swiss pike & halberdiers are shaken or destroyed.
Spanish Colunela
Battle Line
[8”]
5
3
[16”]
5+
5
Pike company: cavalry count as pike armed.
Colunela: add 1 melee result bonus Vs infantry.
Volley Fire: add 1 dice to ‘closing fire’ shooting value.
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter integral shot; static.
Spanish Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
7
-
5+
5
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter 1 shot; static only.

Spanish Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
3
[16”]
5+
3
Volley Fire: Add 1 dice to closing fire shooting value.
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Spanish Sword & Bucklermen
Battle Line
[8”]
5
-
5+
3
S&B: +D3 melee res’ bonus Vs pike, +1 Vs other infantry.
Close fighters: re-roll melee misses in town fighting.
Elite Spanish
v
v
v
v
v
Add: Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Landsknecht Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
7
-
4+
5
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter 1 shot; static only.
Landsknecht Halberdiers
Battle Line
[8”]
6
-
4+
3
2 Handed Weapons: -1 to enemy saves.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Landsknecht Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
4+
3
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.

Elite Landsknecht
v
v
v
v
v
Add: Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Italian Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
6
-
6+
5
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter 1 shot; static only.
Italian Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
6+
3
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Veteran Italian Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
5+
3
Skirmish: freely change formation; shoot at full effect.
Volley Fire: add 1 dice to ‘closing fire’ shooting value.
Italian Crossbows
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
6+
3
Crossbow: no close range.
Hedgehog: shelter with pike; static only.
Italian Sword & Bucklermen
Battle Line
[8”]
4
-
6+
3
S&B: +D3 melee res’ bonus Vs pike, +1 Vs other infantry.
Close fighters: re-roll melee misses in town fighting.
Venetian Schiavonni
Battle Line
[8”]
4
1
[16”]
Arquebus
6+
3
S&B: +D3 melee res’ bonus Vs pike, +1 Vs other infantry.
Close fighters: re-roll melee misses in town fighting.
Marauders: do not count command distance.
Skirmish: freely change formation; shoot at full effect.
Italian Infantry
Battle Line
[8”]
4
-
6+
3
2 Handed Weapons: -1 to enemy saves.

Italian City Militia
Battle Line
[8”]
4
-
6+
3
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.



5 comments:

Michael said...

Fantastic! I presume the Wedge rule is taken from Hail Caesar? I can see that somebody in our club will like the Schiavonni rule...
Even though I got a different (just personal) preference for the "colunelas", your list is very much inspiring ... talking of town fighting .. did anybody ever tried Brescia as a battle set up btw?

JAMES ROACH said...

Thank Michael,

The wedge is probably a bit 'out there' as I'm not sure about Imperial men-at-arms actually using the formations described in some of the manuals, however, having just looked at Hail Caesar I've just changed my definition to this:

Wedge: large unit only; free move to charge; re-roll misses when charging; cannot fight to flank."

I actually changed the Schiavonni rule yesterday - because it's actually two other things (skirmiah and marauders) combined so I've split them. It now reads:

S&B: +D3 melee res’ bonus Vs pike, +1 Vs other infantry.
Close fighters: re-roll melee misses in town fighting.
Marauders: do not count command distance.
Skirmish: freely change formation; shoot at full effect.

I'm still enjoying P&S very much, particularly the bolt on unit characterisation element. I'm still finding the proximity rule a bit clunky, and it doesn't mention the effect of screening troops and terrain though presumably these would have an effect (and we play it so).


Michael said...

I think the movement rules can be open to a very strict interpretation (and most people do sadly), but in Black Powder for example a friend of mine pointed out that they are quite relaxed actually. The centre of the unit (flag bearer, captain) moves the rest follows. full stop. And if that involves turn face, or a couple of minis move more or less the distance that is within the tolerance of the rules. The proximity just points out that this movement has to be either in the front or back "field" of the unit. then again a 90 degree turn would be also possible, theoretically, just no movement to the side fields (left or right) is possible. Similar applies to retire or retreat, as long as it happens in the rear "field" of the unit its permissable, i.e. it doesn't have to be in a straight line for example.

JAMES ROACH said...

Hi Michael,

That is exactly how we play movement except that we say that no figure can move further than the max rate - so, we just measure from the figure which has to move farthest - which (as you say) is what it says in the rules. Your method of measuring from the front centre is probably easier and we may well adopt that approach in future. We rather like games with built in 'elasticity'.

Your point about proximity is well made. As well as the unit characterisation list, I have also written my own quick reference sheet (mainly because I've changed the distances and the terrain rules - though I've kept to the simple spirit of the latter) with the combat tables and much more besides. In the movement section, on proximity, it simply reads:

"• Proximity: when within 16” of the enemy a unit must move entirely in its front or rear quarter. It cannot shuffle sideways."

I dropped the 'straight forwards or backwards' bit because the word 'straight' confuses the issue no end, IMHO.

Initially I confused the 'proximity rule' with a rule to prevent things charging using multiple moves to swerve onto a flank. Somehow I missed the rule that deals with this - on P.60 'Position the Charging Unit', 3rd paragraph (between the diagrams). It was Bill G. who pointed out the relevant rule to me and from that point on the proximity rule made sense. Common sense resolves any other issues with the rule, such as troops technically within proximity being allowed to move sideways behind screening troops or terrain.

Best Regards,

James

Warren said...

Hi James,

Great and inspiring work as always.

I have emailed you about the Army stats and QRS.

Thanks and I look forward to more great posts

Warren