Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Mounted Infantry in DBA3

Mounted infantry was not a troop type that I was familiar with, despite my long experience with DBA. It was not until the refurbishment and subsequent regrouping the late medieval collection into armies that I discovered just how many armies listed them. Their only mention, in the rule book, comes at page 5 detailing the composition and base size; 3-4 foot plus a vehicle, led mount or mounted figure are placed on a 40mm x 40mm base for 15mm size figures.

Gleaning through the army lists, here is an overview of mounted infantry types. Note, these are all bow armed, fast or solid, infantry.

Book I             Neo-Elamite,  kallapani carrying 3 archers (Mtd-3Bw).

Book III          Central Asian Turkish, archers on Bactrian camels (Mtd-3Bw)

Book IV           Anglo-Norman, mounted archers (Mtd-3Bw)

Book IV           Scots Common, mounted archers (Mtd-3Bw)

Book IV           Khwarizmian, archers on camels (Mtd-3Bw)

Book IV           Later Hungarian, Crusader crossbowmen (Mtd-4Cb)

Book IV           100 Year’s’ War English, mounted archers (Mtd-4Lb)

Book IV           Free Company, English archers (Mtd-4Lb)

Book IV           French Ordonnance, mounted archers (Mtd-4Lb)

Book IV           Burgundian Ordonnance, mounted archers (Mtd-4Lb).    

 

The following advantages-disadvantages come to mind and apologies if any have been missed.

Disadvantages

Can be destroyed by any mounted in close combat with a better than score.

Base depth may pose a problem when recoiling.

In close combat with solid foot, bows will recoil on an even score.

 

Advantages

Can make a second and subsequent move in good going.

Solid bows add +1 if supported by solid blade.

Knights are destroyed in close combat on an even score with Lb or Cb 

Fast troop types recoil from solid on an even score.   

 

If the above list of armies seems lean, the opposite is true if reading the DBMM army lists. I do not play DBMM, but do find the army list books a useful research tool. The revised edition was published two years after DBA3 and does benefit from the latest research or translations.

DBMM Book IV has been illuminating as the mounted infantry types are greatly expanded and the number of armies using them has increased; as an example, you will find more Mtd-4Cb, but also Mtd-4Bd, Mtd-Sp and Mtd-Ps. Plans are made to add these to the collection as there are a number of scenarios that would require them. And so, the hobby marches forward.


 Mounted longbow holding the English right at Castillon. 

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Demoralisation

DBA24, a compromise between the standard DBA game and the big battle option, has been our preferred choice for the past two years. Increasing the number of elements to 24 has not only improved the look of the game, but forces can include reserves, simulate historical deployment and use seldom selected options without any substantial increase in game time. The recent number of late medieval historical scenarios posted here do make use of the double-sized command and the latest, Montlhéry (1465), is what prompted me to explore the use of a demoralisation rule.  

Players familiar with DBA are aware that demoralisation of a command is a feature found only in the big battle option. Basically, demoralisation is reached when it suffers a certain level of losses precipitating the flight of elements to an army’s base edge. The rule is particularly useful if unwilling allies or treacherous nobles play a role in an army’s formation. For the scenario of Montlhéry, French and Burgundian forces were organised as the vanguard, main battle and rear guard, facilitating the use of a demoralisation rule for the 24-element game.

To determine the ‘demoralisation’ for each division, calculate this as a third of the division’s original elements, excluding horde and camp followers. Reaching demoralisation, flight would take place on the player’s next turn. Expending pips, a player can hold elements or groups in place with the process repeating each turn. Victory is reached when 8 elements are lost or (new) if two of the three divisions (vanguard, main battle or rear guard) are demoralised. (see page 13, paragraph 7).

Key points to consider

Historically, the composition of individual divisions and their commanders would be made days prior to the actual battle. Based on historical examples from the late 15th century, an army’s vanguard should be strong enough to engage with the enemy, if required, while waiting for the arrival of the main body. Do note, this would differ greatly from the vanguard of an army on the march in friendly territory, whose primary task would involve logistical issues and the location of a camp.

Next, the largest division or ‘main battle’, led by the CinC, would contain the elite of the army and support troops taking its position in the centre if the army were formed into line. This may also contain the army’s reserve positioned behind the centre forming a second line.  

The smallest of the three divisions, the rear guard, protected the baggage train while on the march, but on the day of battle, it could form an army’s reserve or protect the army’s flank. If the army formed a line, the rear guard was positioned on the left.

When assigning troops to a division, anticipate your army will have at least one demoralised group before battle’s end. With experience, a demoralised group held in place can become an effective obstacle or a lure, catching an enemy off guard. The reduced combat efficiency (-2 CF) of a demoralised group can lure overconfident enemy cavalry.

The French, vanguard, main and rear guard from lower left to centre of photo.

The Imperial forces mirror the French deployment.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Battle of Montlhéry – scenario tests

Contemporary sources describe the terrain as open and covered with fields of wheat, yet the available space allowed only two of the three divisions to be deployed in line with the third deployed behind the main battle. One source has the Burgundian rear division to the right of Saint-Pol, placing the main battle behind in reserve and not in the first line. During the course of the battle, the right flank of both sides successfully routed their opposition which explains why the battlefield is deeper than it is wide. 

The tributary (paltry) emptying into L’ Orge functions as the centreline from which both deployments are placed 3BW distance. The two BUA on the board, Montlhéry and Chapelle-Villiers are rough ground for troops moving through them. The area east of Chapelle-Villiers to the banks of the L’ Orge is described as marsh and this was kept to a small area where the tributary and L’ Orge meet. 

All Burgundian knights are dismounted following their general practice at the time. For this scenario, however, they are allowed to remount (see below). 

The artillery exchange which opened the battle lasted two hours with the Burgundian inflicting more casualties than the French. The French guns were later re-positioned becoming more effective later on in the battle. The French, expecting the arrival of Marshal Rouault with 200 lances, held their position, giving the Burgundians the initiative to attack and prohibit Louis XI from reaching Paris.     

The battle starts at 1400 hours. An artillery barrage of two hours has taken place, but neither side have scored significant casualties to remove an element. Sunset is between 21.00 and 2200 hrs and players using weather rules should account for sun dazzle affecting the Burgundians.

The Royal Army:

Vanguard division: 1 x Seneschal de Brézé (3Kn), 3 x men-at-arms (3Kn), 1 x coutilliers (Cv), 1 x ordonnance archers (Mtd-4Lb), 2 x franc-archers (3Bw) = 8 elements.

Battle division: 1 x Louis XI (3Kn), 5 x men-at-arms (3Kn), 2 x coutilliers (Cv), 1 x ordonnance archers (Mtd-4Lb), 1 x couleuvrines (Art) = 10 elements

Rear division: (Comte du Maine), 2 x men-at-arms (3Kn), 2 x coutilliers (Cv), 2 x franc-archers (3Bw) = 6 elements

The Burgundian Army:

Vanguard division: 1 x Saint-Pol (4Bd), 2 x men-at-arms (4Bd), 3 x Picard archers (4Lb), 1 x English archers (4Lb), 1 x couleuvrines (Art) = 8 elements.

Battle division: 1 x Comte du Charolais (3Kn), 3 x knights (3Kn), 1 x mounted crossbowmen (Cv), 4 x Picard crossbowmen (4Cb), 1 x couleuvrines (Art) = 10 elements.

Rear division (Antoine of Burgundy), 2 x Low Country crossbowmen (4Cb), 4 x Low Country pikemen (4Pk) = 6 elements.

Remounting.

Historically, the Burgundian knights remounted at the start of battle. This was easily done by knights of the main division, but confusion reigned throughout the vanguard. To simulate the confusion and discord among the knights of Saint-Pol’s division, remounting costs two pips and one for knights of the main division. The positioning of the main division further back might explain why remounting was less problematic. 

Determining a winner.

This test uses DBA24, that is one single command of 24 elements. and one side scoring 8 casualties is declared the winner. For this scenario however, both sides reaching an even score of 7 or 8 will mean both sides to break off battle. 

The tests

The first two full scale battles produced two convincing victories for the French; 8-2, 9-5 and in neither engagement, did the rear division of du Maine to stir from its position at Montlhéry. Further adjustments would be needed to make game take a historical course. 

The requirement for the Burgundian knights to remount was the first item to change. Knights of the main division were mounted, leaving the knights of Saint-Pol’s division on foot. The cost, however, was reduced to +1. 

Further reading the description of the battle, the Burgundians forced the French left back which offered the moment for Charles to launch the attack with his knights. To allow for this to develop meant a repositioning of the Burgundian rear and main division. 

Chapelle-Villiers remained a hornet’s nest in both games and would most likely remain so for test number three. Implementing the above changes would mean both sides must be careful as heavy losses by either Saint-Pol or Pierre de Brézé would mean an early demise for their side.   


Test game three proved a much tighter game and ended in a victory for the Burgundian, 8-6. The Burgundian main division launched an early assault on the French left, but their success was cut short by French archers and timely counter charges by French cavalry. Chapelle-Villiers developed differently with Saint-Pol and knights founding their mounts in time to dim French hopes of success on that flank. The battle remained hotly contested up to turn 6 with both sides even at 6-6. The margin of victory was enough for Charles to hold the field. but Louis XI still reached Paris.   


Satisfied that a balance has been found, there remained one final piece of the Montlhéry puzzle to solve – the treachery of Charles IV du Anjou, comte du Maine. His flight took with him the entire rear division and in game terms would account for heavy losses against the French. Yet, his flight was hotly pursued by Charles du Charolais, leaving in game terms, the Burgundians without a leader. 

It was not until the following year that treachery was proven that Charles, comte du Maine fell in disgrace. Linked by blood and friendship to the rebel princes might explain his less than energetic charge to contain Francis II of Brittany at the opening of the campaign, but his flight off the battlefield remains the final item that needs fixing.

More later.


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

The Battle of Montlhéry – 1465

 Montlhéry was the only pitched battle fought during the civil war of 1465, known in English as the League of Public Weal. The rebellion, led by Charles, Duke of Berry, quickly gathered support from like-minded feudal nobles, who felt threatened by the centralisation of authority by Louis XI. Finding themselves separated geographically, a date of 4 March was set for the call to arms with an agreed rendezvous point. Francis II, Duke of Brittany, would lead the forces from the west and John II, Duke of Bourbon, would bring those forces assembled in the south. Across the northern frontier of France, Charles, Count of Charolais, would bring the Burgundian army and march to the agreed meeting point at St. Denis, north of Paris. 

Aware of rebel intentions, Louis XI would plan to eliminate the weakest of the three armies, John II of Bourbon. To delay the other threats, a large force under the command of the Comte du Maine would hold the Bretons at bay and at the northern frontier, Marshal Joachim Rouault was given the task of strengthening the defenses in Picardy, in anticipation of the Burgundians. 

Crossing the frontier on May 29, Charles and the Burgundians encountered little resistance and therefore continued their march to reach St. Denis on the 5th of July. Learning that the Breton advance through the Loire would delay their arrival as agreed, Charles decided to move the Burgundian army to the outskirts of Paris. This proved a critical turn of events as the Burgundians threatened Paris and the Count du Maine had let the Bretons slip his grasp. With haste, Louis retraced his steps northward and issued new orders for the Comte du Maine to reach Chartres by the 13th. 

However, the winds of war can turn and Louis XI reached Beaugency on the 14th, placing at least four armies within easy march of one another. Determined to rendezvous with the Bretons, Charles chose Étampes to bring their forces together and on the morning of the 15th, the Burgundian vanguard, under the command of Comte de Saint-Pol was ordered to reach Étampes. Nearing Montlhéry, Saint-Pol encountered the Royal Army, Charles realising the threat recalled Saint-Pol to return to Longjumeau. He was to be disappointed, as St-Pol would deem it a point of honour that he remain in Montlhéry. 

During the night of the 14th to 15th, Louis XI reached Étampes to be joined with the Count of Maine. At his war council, Louis XI informed them of the decision to attack the Burgundians at Longjumeau and orders were despatched to Marshal Joachim to take the garrison at Paris and attack the Burgundian rear. Learning that the Burgundians were at Montlhéry, the Royal Army marched north to do battle.   

The battlefield.

Actual maps of the battlefield are rare, but what can be pieced together, the town of Montlhéry played a part as did the chateau of Montlhéry in the battle. The undulating ground still offers a wide open plain covered which is covered with fields of wheat. The road from Étampes to Longjumeau passes through Montlhéry and from primary sources is un-walled as the town was passed through a number of times by English and French armies during the Hundred Years War. Heavy woods lay to the west of the town making encirclement difficult. The Burgundian vanguard encampment north of the village, was ideally protected by enclosures and irrigation ditches. North of the village of Montlhéry is a ridge and here, Louis XI deployed his main battle. Across from the French position is a spur that would serve Charles as a vantage point. Despite it being a relative open field, it was broad enough to allow only two of the three divisions to deploy, leaving the third division of each army to take its position behind the first. The battle took place on a hot summer day with the Burgundians facing south. 

The Opposing Forces

At the opening of the campaign, Louis XI gathered 25,000 of which half (Count of Maine) were sent west to delay the army of Breton. At Montlhéry, Louis XI had 12,000 mounted, these included coutilliers, archers and mounted infantry, and were supplemented with an extra 3,000 infantry, franc-archers from Orleans. 

Confronting the Royal Army, Charles had fewer mounted troops, sources quote 5,000, but fielded 14,000 infantry and a little more than 60 guns, assorted serpentines and culverines.

Outgunned, Louis XI had the misfortune to place such that they played little part at the start of the battle.


Next post, Army composition, deployment, game conditions and the re-fight.

Sources:

La Bataille de Montlhéry – 1465, par Michel Rimboud, University of Paris – Sarbonne.

La Bataille de Montlhéry, Wiki (French)

Blog, The Freelance History Writer, the Battle of Montlhéry.

Illustration: the Battle of Montlhéry, Par Auteur inconnu — [1], Domaine public, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87099766

Montlhéry on the Internet, Montlhéry.com – Historie.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

DBA3 tests

Following the discussion of wedge formations (6Kn) listed for the Medieval German Army at the DBA Fanaticus Forum, a suggestion was tabled to allow such knights to ignore enemy corner-to-corner overlaps in melee combat. At the moment, this applies only for psiloi (Ps) and scythed chariots (SCh).

To test its impact, four late medieval armies were paired for the tests, these were the Medieval German (IV/13c, the Later Polish (IV/66), the Teutonic Order (IV/30) and the Lithuanian (IV/18), producing nine battles. 

Poland vs. Medieval German

After a number of spirited actions, I can report the following on mounted actions. Knights ignoring a corner-to-corner contact, are less likely to hold position while calculating optimal conditions, but now readily engage enemy troops, especially cavalry. In a few cases, this helped the German knight reach a “twice as many” outcome for a few combats.


Light cavalry battles lasted longer forcing an opponent either to expend pips to improve the combat odds or historically, fall back to supporting troops. The changes also reduced the need of wide flanking manoeuvres, as LH could skirmish longer. Reliance of the LH column to gain the +1 for support was replaced by two LH forming a line in a number of combat situations.    

IV/13c Medieval German 1440-1493 AD

1 x General & guard (6Kn), 2 x knights (6Kn), 1 x crossbow cavalry (Cv), 1 x crossbowmen (4Cb), 2 x mercenary pikemen (4Pk), 2 x mercenary crossbowmen (4Cb), 1 x feudal retainers (7Hd), 1 x archers (Ps), 1 x bombard (Art) 

IV/66 Later Polish 1335-1515 AD

1 x General (3Kn), 3 x rycerz or hussars (3Kn), 3 x czeladz (Cv), 2 x Hungarian or Cuman horse archers (LH), 1 x murderous rustics (3Bd), 2 x town militia (8Cb).


Teutonic Order vs. Later Polish

The Teutonic Order, having a greater number of knights, formed its mounted in two divisions, with a third comprised of foot troops. Knightly combat generally resulted with sides moving back and forth with the advantage of an overlap becoming decisive on the following bound of melee.

In general, the number of turns needed to reach a decision was increased, but became a positive twist as it built more tension in the game. On average games lasted 5 or 6 turns for the first two games and the last took much less.



IV/30 Teutonic Order (Livonian) 1201-1525 AD

1 x General (6Kn), 1 x ritterbruder (6Kn), 1 x knechte with crossbow (Cv), 3 x crusader knights (3Kn), 1 x Old Prussian (3Wb), 1 x turcopole (LH), 1 x spearmen (Sp), 2 x crossbowmen (4Cb), 1 x Livonian levy (3Ax)

IV/66 Later Polish 1335-1515 AD

1 x General (3Kn), 3 x rycerz or hussars (3Kn), 3 x czeladz (Cv), 2 x Hungarian or Cuman horse archers (LH), 1 x murderous rustics (3Bd) or czeladz (Cv), 2 x town militia (8Cb) or czeladz (Cv).


Teutonic Order vs. Lithuanian

The last series of three games, matched the Teutonic Order against an old nemesis, the Lithuanian. The first two games demonstrated the lethal accuracy of the German crossbow, yet despite the defeats, there were a few melees underscoring the advantage of LH in line over elements in column. 

Game three, the Lithuanians remained in the saddle to flat-foot the Teutons. Operating in pairs, the Lithuanian LH gained the upper advantage to turn the Teutonic left flank. In desperation, the Teutonic charged the Lithuanian centre only to send them back on their heels. inflicting no casualties. This was the only Lithuanian victory and one needing the fewest number of turns, three.  




IV/18 Lithuanian 1132-1515 AD

1 x General (Cv), 3 x horsemen (Cv//3Bw), 5 x horse (LH//3Bw), 2 x horse (LH//3Bw), 1 x horse (LH//3Bw).

IV/30 Teutonic Order (Livonian) 1201-1525 AD

1 x General (6Kn), 1 x ritterbruder (6Kn), 1 x knechte with crossbow (Cv), 3 x crusader knights (3Kn), 1 x Old Prussian (3Wb), 1 x turcopole (LH), 1 x spearmen (Sp), 2 x crossbowmen (4Cb), 1 x Livonian levy (3Ax).


To recapitulate:

Ignoring corner-to-corner contact of overlapping enemy elements.

-      Worked well for both knights in wedge formation and light cavalry.

-      Some melees did take longer to reach a result.

-      Games generally took an extra turn or two to resolve.

-      The extra time brought more tension to the game, which was good.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Battle of Seckenheim 1462 – the refight

Play-testing the Battle of Seckenheim produced three lively cavalry fights resulting with victories for both Frederick I and the coalition led by Charles I of Baden-Baden. Initially, the battle began as a cavalry fight but according to German sources, Frederick I sealed his victory with the help of Swiss mercenaries and local farmers. The Medieval German list (IV/13c) has been adjusted for this scenario. 

Prince Elector of Palatine

1 x Frederick I (3Kn), 1 x Hans von Gemmingen (3Kn), 1 x Archbishop of Mainz (3Kn), 3 x crossbow cavalry (Cv), hidden in the woods {2 x archers (Ps), 1 x angry farmers (7Hd)}.

Coalition Forces

1 x Charles I, Baden-Baden (3Kn), 1 x Ulrich V, Count of Württemberg (3Kn), 1 x Louis I, Palatine-Zweibrücken (3Kn), 1 x George of Baden, Bishop of Metz (3Kn), 4 x crossbow cavalry (Cv).

From the photo, you will note terrain features deviate some from the standard DBA as Dossenwald forms a continuous line of trees along two sides of the battlefield. Grain fields dotted the landscape but count as good going on this hot summer day. Neither side need position any camps as historically both were four or five kilometres distance and out of sight. Two minor changes were made for this scenario; the handling of Frederick’s hidden troops and taking of prisoners. 


Frederick’s hidden troops

To simplify and avoid the use of maps, we recommend the HOTT rule for ‘Lurkers’. Hidden troops may appear at any forest edge for the cost of 2 pips and on the player’s subsequent bound elements may make tactical moves. Unlike the HOTT rule, elements remain on the board enabling them to engage in combat elsewhere. 

Taking prisoners.

The wealth garnered by capturing nobles may best describe medieval warfare as financial venture and historically, Frederick I did reap financial benefit from his victory at Seckenheim. Knights may be taken prisoner if a recoil outcome is hindered by enemy frontal contact on its flank or rear. In the rare instance of single combat between two knights, the defeated may elect to yield or die a poetic death. Captured nobles count as elements lost when determining the winner of the game.

 

The Battle of Seckenheim 1462

The morning of 30 June promised to become a hot day as Frederick’s forces deployed in echelon with the Dossenwald protecting their rear. The view of the Neckar River in the distance however was obstructed by the gathering of coalition cavalry arriving from different directions, jostling one another for position. Frederick allowed them time to gather under their banners and despite their numerical superiority, Frederick was confident his troops would perform well including those hidden in the wood. 

Game one and two were nearly identical in their development and result. Coalition forces took several bounds to reach their enemy as Frederick remain stationary. In both cases, the cavalry action produced more dust as troops moved back and forth. Both sides becoming totally committed to combat was the moment Frederick’s troops now moved out of cover to attack exposed enemy flanks. In both games, Charles of Baden-Baden was captured sending confusion among the coalition troops and garnering two victories for Frederick I, (4g-3) and (5g-1). 



In both tests, I tried to imagine the moment of surprise to Charles I as Frederick formed his line offering battle. After a moment of panic, Charles would dispatch messengers to gather raiding parties while sounding the ‘recall’ to gather nearby cavalry. To simulate this, I randomly place knights and crossbow armed elements resulting in two different deployments as can be seen above. However, for game three, I gave Charles the benefit of a text book deployment generating a slightly different battle.  

Game three

Charles deployed four divisions with three forming the first line the fourth positioned behind the centre as a reserve. As before, Frederick awaited the coalition onslaught so as to benefit from the surprise ambush. This time as the cavalry of both sides were heavily engaged, the reserve cavalry was ideally placed to deal with the farmers coming out of hiding. This was followed later by the appearance of Swiss mercenaries joining nearby melees. Events turned differently however as the archbishop of Mainz was captured leaving Frederick’s centre in a precarious state, as enemy cavalry began seeking richer pickings. On two occasions, Frederick’s own conroi was surrounded and luckily repelled each assault. However, seeing the battle taking a sour turn, Frederick called for a retreat and returned to his castle and prepare for a siege. A coalition victory, 4(+Hd)-2.      





Thursday, 4 March 2021

Refighting Castillon 1453

 

Game 1

Jean Bureau’s artillery supported by franc-archers easily repulsed repeated attempts to storm the camp. French few losses were those unlucky to be picked off by English longbowmen. France 4-2.


Game 2

Two changes were made which levelled the game; artillery fire was reduced as pieces were considered dispersed along the palisade similar when behind a city or fortress wall and secondly, the loss of the franc-archers at St. Laurent were counted against France, giving England a 1-0 score to start.

This had the immediate effect of the English making a mad dash toward the French camp bringing the longbowmen well in range of the franc-archers. The English line did buckle but men-at-arms were able to reach the palisades to begin scaling its defenses. Both sides tenaciously fought in the ensuing moment with casualties mounting as both sides reached an even 4-4 score. French skirmishers fell under the blows of English hammers and swords to tip the balance and give England a well-earned victory after eleven turns. England 5-4.


Game 3

Game conditions remained the same as per game 2 and Fortuna blessed both sides with an abundance of pips for the at the start of battle. Archers on both sides found their mark, but poor communication among the English (low pip scores) meant the majority of the troops were hesitant to advance. The few men-at-arms that did scale the palisades created havoc among the French. Then disaster struck, as the desperate fighting among the French artillery, Talbot fell dead. Seeing his banner fall, the English fled the field. France 5g-4.






Comments.

Very enjoyable and the adjustments made in game two and three build more tension in the battle. There were a number of subtilties learned in storming a fortified position, but these I shall keep in my breast-pocket as ‘technical-tactical-tips’. Enjoy the game.