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 W├╝rttemberg (3Kn), 1 x Louis I, Palatine-Zweibr├╝cken (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.


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.