Monday 29 October 2018

Ravenna at Fiasco 2018 - fought to a conclusion

As the clocks changed from BST on Saturday, most of us got an extra hour in bed so the early start, for a Sunday, didn't feel quite so harsh. The day was bright, cold, but rain-free, which is always a bonus when you are loading open topped boxes of soldiers in and out of cars. Furthermore, although the Ravenna game employed 999 toy soldiers (exactly) it is relatively 'terrain-less' so it all fitted into six large tomato boxes and a carrier bag (plus cloths) - small in comparison to some games, where a removals van would be handier than a car. 

We arrived at the venue at 8.45 and were set up by 9.45, 15 minutes before the doors officially opened. I was suffering with a bad head cold, that I've had for a week, so I was pleased that everything had gone so smoothly. Members of the Leeds club were as helpful and welcoming as always - which is always nice - and we had a volunteer gamer to help push the troops about - so things were boding well.

From behind the left of the allied line - commanded by the 'Holy League' of Graham and guest player 'dice chucker' Bob, or 'Chuckie' as we will call him from now on.
From behind the French left, looking north to the Ronco. The French commanded, on the day, by Peter. 
  Following the artillery bombardment the League, as historically happened, were forced to send their cavalry out before it was destroyed without purpose to French gunnery. They didn't fair well and soon the French army was launching itself, en masse, towards the League's entrenchments.  
  At this point Chuckie, possibly working out a trajectory to lose another dice, is looking rather worried by the Landsknechts who have struggled across the 'hidden ditch' under heavy fire. 
 It's an awesome sight, and what's more the League's cavalry is now streaming to the rear in rout.
 The Landsknechts have been badly mauled in their approach but their commander, Jacob Empser, has managed to rally and inspire them to further effort. They breach the Spanish infantry line.
 Everywhere the The Spanish and their Papal allies are close to breaking point. The French cavalry are behind the earthworks at both ends of the line.
 The French are moving to exploit the breach made by the (now almost spent) Landsknechts with the Italian and French infantry following in their wake. The Spanish are at zero morale points, the French have seven. The game is called - a French win, and fairly historical in every respect.

Aside from the bad lighting (for a modern venue the lighting is awful) , and my head cold, the show was a good one for me. I was pleased by how busy it was, certainly much busier than the last couple of years, and how many people dropped by to say hello, and stopped to watch the game. One chap, yes, that's you Robbie, said he only came down from Newcastle to see the Ravenna game - the silly sod (and I told him so). There was even a photographer, who apparently sold her photos on to one of the national papers (Telegraph), who took a fancy to the game, so it might appear UK wide this week - that would be a first.

The game, as convention games go went extraordinarily well, though I was wilting by 2 pm. The scenario worked, and the rules worked. A historical result was achieved. Everyone said they liked the whole set up - job done. 

I got see a lot of the usual suspects, and some suspects who had obviously just been recently released. Good to see all of you.


Broeders said...

The battle looks incredible. Well done to all concerned.

Peter Douglas said...

It looks absolutely amazing, you played it out to a realistic conclusion and the punters' comments I've seen were all positive. Well done lads! Di you sell Chuckie on gaming the Italian Wars?


Der Alte Fritz said...

Another beautiful game James. It shows the hobby at its best so it's no wonder that the press would be interested in the pictures.


steve said...

Looked fantastic as always James. Great game!

Independentwargamesgroup said...

James it was worth the journey, the set up was as good as I expected. Well done.

Jeremy Ramsey said...

I thought it was the best looking game of the whole Show - the figures were stunning.

Don M said...

James, another outstanding offering, a real visual masterpiece, well done sir!

John said...

Your games are just simply outstanding- wargames of the very highest quality!

Oli said...

Amazing looking game James. One day I am determined to get to a show where you are putting on an Italian Wars game as your collection was a great inspiration to get me started all those years ago.

Neil Scott said...

Great looking game

caveadsum1471 said...

Lovely looking game,great to see your Italian wars figures out and about,does this mean Hell broke lose is good to go now,will we be seeing it anywhere,it sounds an interesting system.
Best Iain

Anonymous said...

Second and third all of the above . . . If you are able to manage such a presentation with a bad head cold, God help us when you're feeling well. Oh wait, there's already evidence of that work.

Looking forward to your next post, project, and photos.


Anonymous said...

Second and third all of the above . . . If you are able to manage such a presentation with a bad head cold, God help us when you're feeling well. Oh wait, there's already evidence of that work.

Looking forward to your next post, project, and photos.


Chris Helm said...

Hi James, I'd just like to add two things. Firstly, this was indeed a great looking game and I'm glad to hear that you all had so much fun playing it. I certainly enjoyed watching it for a while. Then secondly, that it was nice to chat with you at the game and very nice of you to share your method for producing that beautiful paper tent! I was definitely inspired, so I'm off to give it a go myself when (if) I get some spare time this weekend. Best regards, Chris Helm

Gonsalvo said...

Great job all around, James!

Chris said...

Stunning looking game. I have followed your blog for years and draw much inspiration from your painting, modelling and conceptualizations concerning war-game rules. I wonder how much you have thought about mounted arquebusier and crossbow? I am hitting the books and am having a very difficult time ascertaining how these troops operated in battle. They certainly were useful on campaign, but how they operated in combat, whether they actually dismounted to fight, how they manipulated their weapons in this early (pre-wheel-lock/carbine period) is all left vague at best. For example, Machiavelli recommends that 50% of the cavalry could be of this type, and yet admits their battlefield use was limited. Delbruck notes their existence, but also claims they were of limited use - dismounting usually. Modern historians tend avoid any definitive analysis. All of this is to say, it is frustrating. And yet, war-game rules and figure manufacturers all include these troops in their rosters.

So, any thoughts you could share and scholarly sources that might shed light on this would be gratefully accepted.


Hi Chris,

One thing for sure, they were not true cavalry so rules that have then melee as such are wrong. They were basically foot soldiers riding nags. My belief is that, like their crossbow armed cousins, they were similar to later dragoons but capable of shooting whilst mounted to limited effect. As 'wargame counters' I give them a similar fire effect to dismounted skirmishers (mounted or not) because they are relatively few in numbers anyway and it makes them worth having.

They should not be confused with 'archer cavalry' which, by this time, had dropped the crossbow and were well armed and armoured lancers.

My two penneth worth.

Chris said...

Thanks for the feedback. I certainly agree that they should not be "cavalry"(and typically players will want to use them in that fashion). And I agree that they should act as skirmishers. But I don't believe they should have anywhere near the capacity to skirmish as true light cavalry and, as you note, their firepower (whether mounted or not) should be limited. So, it begs the historical question of why (or if) they existed on a battlefield (or even, if they did, as mounted units) and whether they should be represented as war-game units at all or simply as foot skirmishers.

Tricky stuff. Thanks again.



I upgrade them merely for the purposes of making them worthwhile 'counters' in a game. Otherwise, as you say, why would gamers choose to field them. Their game influence is pretty limited because of their small numbers but, they should be fielded in most armies.

My 'game narrative' would be that although 'mounted shot' are always fielded as mounted figures, they represent 'dragoon style' skirmishers (picked to ride horses, over others, because of their better than average skill with crossbow / arquebus). They are dismounting to give fire. Their horses are held close by to enable a hasty advance / retreat when required. Because they are skilled in this operation, they do not need to pay a formation change penalty for dismounting or mounting - so dismounted figures are simply not required. Unlike other 'cavalry' they can operate (as mounted figures) in buildings.

Chris said...

Interesting. I like the approach and it seems reasonable given that we know these fellows existed. What still bothers me is the lack of contemporary evidence. Of course, these fellows are not the first to confound us. No one really knows how the line relief worked with the Romans! Still going to look for evidence, but your solution seems workable. Thanks again.