Tuesday 21 November 2017

An Italian Wars Weekend, in Scotland.

Last weekend, my turn to stage a game for The League of Gentleman Wargamers came about. I chose to do the Italian Wars as a single 'Kingmaker style' campaign game. 

The bulk of the figures were provided by Steve Rimmer and myself with significant contingents provided by Chris Henry, Angus Konstam, Dale Smith and other members of the group. It was a good job they were. On Sunday I estimated there were over 3,500 figures in play, fighting on every table. 

The massed buildings, representing the 44 towns and cities, were brought by several players, with Peter Nicholson and Charles S. Grant providing most (I think); Steve Rimmer provided most of the walled cities. Before the game, not having enough real estate was my chief worry - I don't know where players find the room to store all this stuff - Charles S., alone, brought over 40 buildings and Fort St. Elmo!

Even with the rugged hills rising as a backdrop behind the small town of Kirriemuir in Angus, an icy Saturday November morning in Scotland didn't make it feel much like being in Rome, Florence or Venice (it was positively balmy 15C in Rome last Saturday). However, inside the hired hall it looked a little more like it.

The tables, depicting Italy from  Naples to the Alps. Angus K, pictured top is stood in front of Venice.
Italy, from Naples to the Alps, was set up on five 6' deep tables. The first three (looking north, as per the photograph above) were 12' wide and represented the interlinking localities of Naples, Rome and Florence. These tables were all split by the the spine of the Apennines, all classed as impassable rugged mountains except at three passes. Being impassable they didn't have to be as wide as they should be, allowing more space to manoeuvre troops on the 'coastal plains'. Naples is just out of shot in the lower left corner, the big church is Rome and the big city on the next table is Florence.

The next two tables, looking north, are the 16' wide table with (left to right) Genoa, Modena and Bologna on it; and lastly, the table with The French Alpine passes, Milan, Ferrara, and Venice - this last table was the biggest at 20' wide. These two tables were split by the river Po which was, by the nature of the gap, remarkably straight edged but worked quite well.

All in all,less the space taken by the mountains, that gave a remarkable 432 square feet of potential battlefield for the 14 players to wade about in.

The players were (and I'll only name each once):

Steve Rimmer (Milan) on the left and Angus Konstam (Doge of Venice) on the right. 

The walls of Milan are in the distance and the place in the sunlight is Ferrara (actually sited on the wrong side of the Po for game play purposes). 

Venice, pictured later, was represented by fort St. Elmo and is just out of shot behind the tank - which we made up rules for and featured as part of a Venetian naval invasion of Southern Italy.
In the mid-blue collar, Bill Gilchrist (King of France).

Bill's knowledge of Pike and Shotte rules (on which the rules for the game were based) helped greatly over the weekend - he was a very welcome 'rules medic' when I was occupied elsewhere.
Standing left to right, Graham Hill (Duke of Modena), Dale Smith (Seigniory of Florence), Kieron Potts (Venice's No2), Kevin Calder (Doge of Genoa). 

The three walled cities, left to right are Bologna, Modena and Genoa.
On the left, Chris Henry (Spain's representative of the King, The Grand Captain) asks Peter Nicholson (The Pope) to leave him alone but the Pope will have none of it. Spain and the Papal State will battle it out for the entire weekend and Spain will get clobbered, having only one city (Naples) and two units between its two players at the end of day 1: With a little umpire aid they recovered slightly on Sunday - I gave the the Machiavelli card which allowed recruitment at 50% cost.
On the left Peter McCarrol (France's No2) who starts the game in the Papal State east of the Apennines fights it out with Colin Jacks (Spain's No2).
Chalie Grant (The Papal State's No2) shows his thoughts on not getting another duplicity card.
Charles S. Grant (The Duke of Ferrara). Not quite master of all he surveys but, definitely looking like a man of ambition.
On the right, in burgundy, Peter Jackson (The Duke of Bologna).

The format for the game was as follows. At the start of each session, each player declared their support for Hapsburg or Valois - because the rules were a U-go-I-go mechanic based on Warlord's Pike and Shot - and this determined who was allied to whom for the session. In all, if memory serves, I think the whole game was divided into 6 playing sessions.

To this mix I added events cards that were either simply handed out to each player, or obtained by rolling a 5 or 6, at various points in the day. These cards included such things as pontoon trains to aid the crossing of rivers, duplicity cards that enabled players to change sides mid session, spies, the appearance of Savonarola, ambushes, blackmail, earthworks and various other things to stoke the pot. All cards could be played or traded at any time. All cards were always positive for the player who used them and generally bad for everyone else. 

The victory conditions were simple. By building a fiefdom by capturing towns for themselves, the players could levy taxes in 'gold' (poker chips). Gold could be used for various things (including buying new troops) and the player with most at the end of the weekend would be declared the winner. 

On Saturday we started playing just before 10 a.m. and finished at 6 p.m., on Sunday we started at the same time and finished at 3 p.m. 

Here are some shots taken of the action and more can be found on Bill Gilchrist's blog here.

As it turned out, the winner, and by some margin was the Doge of Venice (Angus). He had 375 gold. Bring up the rear, also by some margin was the Grand Captain (Chris) had least with 50 gold. 

I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the game and I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. 

I can relax now, for a year or two. Scheduled LOGW games for the next couple of years will be organised by others. The next one, in the Spring, will be themed as A Very British Civil War weekend.


Der Alte Fritz said...

Wow, what a colorful, expansive and clever looking game it must have been. The players were very lucky to have been able to participate in it. Very well done, James!

I've run some huge multi-table games before, but nothing quite as grand as your game. I'm impressed beyond words.

I'd imagine that the event cards must have contributed to the overall fun of the game, creating lots of wonderful intrigue and role playing.


fireymonkeyboy said...

You don't do things small, do you? ;)

Phil said...

Lovely table, great looking buildings and fortifications...and splendid armies!

Jonathan Freitag said...

This looks fantastic! Gaming on a grand scale, indeed!

BigRedBat said...

Looks like a cracker! What fun...

Peter Douglas said...

Absolutely fantastic in very way, the scale, the figures, the players, the terrain, the scenario. Someday before I die....
Cheers, Peter

David Sullivan said...

Wow! That's a grand enterprise. You did a great job on this. I wish I could play in a Renaissance game with 3500 minis on the table(s).

Prufrock said...

I’d seen other posts on this but had not realised the scale of the undertaking. Magnificent! Well done to you sir!

Willie Anderson said...

Great set up James well worth the effort methinks!


Independentwargamesgroup said...

If you ever get stuck for a renaissance player and a few troops, definitely give me a call. It would be very nice to lock horns with Angus again, although I will not be drinking with him.That would be too much. Well done with the whole weekend.

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...


Best Regards,


Carlo said...

What a wonderful looking series of games James and one which makes me quite envious of the magnificent looking buildings and figures on the table. Sensational looking spectacle.

Kevin said...

This truly inspires me to do this period. Would have loved to have been there and just watch. I’ve run a few less ambitious under takings for tournaments, so my hat is off to you sir for pulling this off.


rct75001 said...

Just superbly fantastic James.

Wonderful to look at - thanks for sharing the photos.


David said...

Now that is quite some sight, even by your expansive standards!

Tony Miles said...

Fantastic looking game, great figures and buildings. That must have taken some serious organising. Well done all.


Oli said...

Perhaps something a bit more ambitious next time James!

Insanity - it does look like fun though.

Gonsalvo said...

Magnificent excess! :-)
A huge commitment of troops, terrain, and time, resulting in a spectacular event!

World2Dave said...

Awesome stuff James - looks like a lot of fun. Wargaming in the grand style for sure!