Friday 12 October 2018

When sources don't agree, is it a good thing?

This year Fiasco will be held on Sunday 28th October at The Royal Armouries in Leeds. In memory of Brian Hicks, who died in February, a long standing member of, and benefactor to, Leeds Wargames Club, entry will be free this year. Instead of entry fee, voluntary donations to charity are the order of the day - charity buckets at the door (?).

This year The Ilkley Lads are going to do a demo-game of Ravenna 1512. We will use our home grown rules, Hell Broke Loose, to re-fight the battle.

At the moment I'm not going to do the potted history or a full OOB for this demo-game but, I will do so before Fiasco. As per usual, we will not be giving out information flyers (a waste of ink and paper); we will have a stack of blog address slips at table side so that people can find the information on line if they want it. 

I've used the usual contradictory sources for this battle and chosen the most useful bits from each. To my mind, contradictory sources are very useful. They allow us to tailor things to suit our ends without trampling over concrete fact. My sources for Ravenna differ greatly, both in troop numbers (for example, the Landsknechts number from 5,000 to 9,500) and their general deployment. I've used Taylor, Oman, Sides and Arnold - none of whom are in total agreement with one another.

Until my full post comes out, probably this post edited, here is a taster. 

I've set up the game on a 10' x 6' table (the length of wood in the shot below marks the 'table end'). We have a 12' x 6' table at Fiasco so this will give us some room for the usual gaming paraphernalia, drinks and other gubbins to be kept 'off table'. 

The terrain is about as simple as it comes. The embanked river Ronco and causeway form one boundary edge to the set up (impassable terrain always being useful for such things) and it being as straight as a canal is a dream. Then it is a flat treeless (almost treeless) plain cut up by field boundary drainage ditches (which will not be a hindrance to movement); these help break up what would otherwise be a 'barren wilderness' of a war game table. The road behind the French deployment might have existed but was probably further back and is useful for Ferrara's artillery to move along; the farm is purely decorative. There is a large area of boggy undrained land at the far end of the Spanish line - this secured their deployment. The Spanish, as was their want, had dug an earthwork to protect their deployment and camp. This earthwork is described by some sources as extending from the river at right angles and bending back at it's far end. At either end there were gaps from which the defenders could sally. 

Figure scale is about 1:50. 

The full table - about 700 foot and 220 cavalry figure plus guns -ish.

The Spanish deployment.
Note in the foreground, on the other side of the river, a sneaky French gun has taken position to enfilade the Spanish cavalry.
A Spanish colunela. For this game they are 46 figures strong - each representing four combined 'colunelas' of about 500 - 600 men each - 20 shot, 18 pike, 8 sword and buckler.
Papal and Spanish cavalry in three commands (Two with 2 x 12 figs, one with 20 figs, representing about 3,500 heavy cavalry - 1,720 lances).
The command to the left rear (20 figures) represents the rearguard. In reality this command should probably be behind the other two commands but there wasn't the table space to place it there.

Papal foot. The standard with the gold tangled tree on blue background is the crest of the Rovere family - kin of Pope Julius II who was pope in 1512. Sources vary but to even the odds I 4000 represented by 78 figures.

(Note that I don't have war carts so we'll use light artillery to represent them - it's a long story, ask me about my travails at the show).

Behind Cardona, the Spanish C-in-C, are the 1500 light cavalry. I've already changed the structure of this group - it now has two units of 16 figures, one Genitors the other mounted arquebus.

The French under Gaston de Foix. Zulus, thousands of 'em.

The French Van and Main Battle comprising French and Italian heavy cavalry.
To get numbers I chose to count each lance as two heavy cavalry - the absolute minimum: at 1:50 the French get 68 Gendarme figures.

French and Italian infantry. There were 8000 Gascon crossbowmen and Picardy pikemen.
There were 3,900 Italians.

As mentioned earlier, the number of Landsknechts present varies from one source to another. I'm fielding them at 9,300, including their shot. This block of pike, 162 of them, will probably move and fight as a single unit.

Ferrara's guns trundling down the road to get into a position behind the Spanish flank.
Behind them (or in front of them, depending on your point of view) are the 2,000 French light horse. Again I've already changed their make up. They will now be fielded as two units of 12 Stradiots and one unit of 16 mounted crossbowmen.

So there you have it in a nut shell. I've still to do the commander's name tags and such, plus the all important potted history and OOB, but it's almost there. Life is so much easier when everything is already painted.

I hope to see you all in Leeds. Free entry war games show; fantastic (and also free entry) military museum on site; what's stopping you?


CelticCurmudgeon said...

The layout and figures will cause wide spread waves of envy by the on-lookers. Have great fun with he game and please tell us what happens when the two sides finally clash.

BigRedBat said...

Looks terrific, James!

Peter Douglas said...

Stunning looking table and troops!

Yarkshire Gamer said...

Shame I won't be there to see it James, hope it all goes well.

Regards Ken

Oli said...

That is going to be a hell of a game James, a superb set up! Weren't you working on some Spanish "warcarts" for this a while ago?

Broeders said...

Great table and beautiful figures

caveadsum1471 said...

Great looking game,so a return to your Hell breaks lose rules,are you giving up on pike and shot or is a change as good as a rest? Didn't you make a mould for the carts a while ago? Looking forward to more Italian wars posts.
Best Iain


I made the master ages ago. I was making the mould the day Ken came round. For some reason the mould didn't work as others have in the past. The master survived so I'll try again at some point, perhaps after a little more work on the master to make the moulding process easier - I'll also buy some better rubber.

Friends of General Haig said...

A fabulous looking set up. Looking forward to seeing more about the battle.

Herkybird said...

Stunning game! Good luck at FIASCO! I really love the paint jobs on your figures!

Archduke Piccolo said...

Most impressive martial array. Magnificent!

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

A wonderful game!

Best Regards,


David said...

A splendid and inspirational set up there!

Gonsalvo said...

Superb looking layout, James!

Prufrock said...


nicchaber said...

nice game, is this at Edinburgh war gamming club? was Angus at this game?


No, the game (as pictured) was set up at my place in Yorkshire. The game went to Fiasco in Leeds last month. Angus wasn't there, but I will see Angus this coming weekend for a 1066 multiplayer mini-campaign, two day game, with The League of Gentlemen Wargamers.

Bedford said...

to be fair, when it comes to Late Medieval and Early Renaissance warfare, can you think of an instance where the primary sources have ever agreed?

Bedford said...

To be fair, when it comes to Late Medieval/Early Renaissance warfare can you think of one instance where the primary sources gave ever agreed?