25mm ADLG in Devizes 2016
Condotta Italian vs Condotta Italian
Its BIG TOYS TIME! Yes, you've seen the thousands of plastic Perry Miniatures being painted for no apparent reason, you've read the match reports of the tiny teeny ADLG soldiers all over Western Europe... but this is the hybrid event that the world has been waiting for - and, to top it off it also has lashings of additional butter and some fine local ales to boot.
That's because this is the first trip to Devizes since the TYW French landed in the West Country back in the distant mists of 2011, and this time it's 28mm L'Art de la Guerre.
The competition was a simple 200 point open event, which was perfect for me as I only had one set of troops - the generic medieval 100YW-type heavy metal late Medieval Perry army, made up from a bring and buy purchase at Warfare 2015 plus another 3-4 (OK< I admit it, 5) boxes of Perry plastics. Oh, and some metals. With LBMS shield transfers. And some Fireforge knights too. But don't tell the bank manager.
For this event I had used one of my standard ways of deciding which specific Late Medieval army to choose - looking through my collection of figures and seeing which ones I most wanted to get on table. The clear winner was the Paviser units, mainly on the basis of the insane investment in LBMS transfers, so that alone narrowed the choice down to a couple of armies, of which the Florentine Condotta came out on top on the basis that it also included a few longbowmen - and I had 12 of them...
The lists for the Florentine Condotta Italian and other Condotta Italian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Devizes can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Florentine Condotta - A proper toolbox of a Medieval army, with a bit of everything to choose from but, because it's split into multiple city state factions, it's not one where you can pick all of them in the same army. In many ways the defining factor of the list is the lack of Elite Knights, as the rather more pragmatic Condotta mercenary troops lack the brilliance of the Nobles for many other armies. The foot is built around a core of halberdiers, spearmen and not-so-good pikemen, with the full range of shooters found in other Medieval armies. My Florentine army had a Free Company ally, which gave 2 more mercenary English Longbowmen and some dismounted knights and more halberdiers.
The rest of the armies in the competition were a mix of Classical and Medieval, with the first one up being another Condotta army - but from a different City State, one with a Swiss ally.
The table was a full 6x4, scaling up nicely for the 60x60 / 60x40 basing of the 25/28mm figures. I had a plantation on my left that either gave me a secure flank, or would give me a hanging flank if I had to advance past it. I deployed with the knights on the right, planning to sweep round into the open space, whilst Hawksmoor and his allied heavy infantry command marched - or maybe munched - forward slowly on the left. The enemy had put their expensive Swiss in the centre of the line of what was a smaller (17EE!) army, with Knights facing off against mine, and more knights on their right, facing the Free Company. Whilst they had the Swiss, they also had very little shooting capability, as opposed to the 6 bases of Longbows and Crossbows in my larger 21 EE force.
L'Art de la Guerre (ADLG) hint - the rules suggest that 25mm figures are based on 60mm frontages and 28mm can be based on 80mm frontage, but everyone bases either normal or massive 25/28mm figures on the 60mm frontage. With the extra depth that a 60x60 base gives there is also plenty of scope for fitting figures into little diorama-type basing settings - like a min-version of Impetus bases. Basing Knights on 60x60 is also perfectly fine
The right flank of my Florentine army was 4 Average Knights, and facing off against 4 other Average Knights the stage would have been set for a total luck-off - but with 4 shooting bases my central command was ideally placed to help give my 4 Knights a real advantage - the two commands moved swiftly forwards with some decent initial pip dice and began to point out to the enemy that a 21 EE army was wider than a 17EE army by almost a foot....
As the central command drifted to the right, Hawksmoor and the Free Company ally started to get disconnected from the rest of the army as he ordered his men to hang grimly onto the edge of the plantation. The mercenaries were unkeen to die, and they knew that the mounted troops they were facing would be better than the halberdiers in the Free Company army. Hawksmoor's 2 Longbowmen were a powerful deterrent - but, with one of them sent on a mission to outflank the enemy through the plantation, on balance this still looked like a flank to delay on. With this in mind the skirmishers ran out in front to keep the enemy Knights away.
How to pronounce Condottieri
The enemy knights had spotted that they were in trouble, and immediately tried to sneak away. A turn to the left and the sound of hooves clattering filled the air - contesting the sky with the first ever shots from the Perry Longbowmen, who started to slam arrows into the buttocks of the retreating enemy Gendarmes.
As the Free Company gave up to their environmental side and hugged the trees, their skirmishers were being given something of an Italian schooling about how easily LF can be run down by enemy LH (this is a 1-horse-per-base LH) if they are caught in the open.
L'Art de la Guerre (ADLG) hint - LF who are caught in the open by proper troops (ie after an evade) they are simply removed, in a neat and clean mechanic that forces you to pull your skirmishers out of the front line, especially as they count as full elements towards your break point. Being caught by LH is not instant death, but the LH do get a big advantage in combat.
The Swiss were watching this all unfold rather carefully, and were even considering a referendum about whether this was a war they were going to participate in or sit out with neutrality, as they were initially unreliable, and hence uncommitted to battle.
L'Art de la Guerre (ADLG) hint - allied commands who's first pip roll is a 1 are Uncommitted and cannot get close to the enemy. This is until they roll a 6, or enemy come close to them. Whilst unreliable, your CinC can "lend" them one of his pips to give them a +1 to subsequent command rolls..
Money changed hands in some secret Florentine back room, and the Swiss machinery moved steadily like clichťd clockwork and ground into action. Suddenly the Poor quality Italian Pikemen started to look weak at the knees as a red-clad wall of pre-Biacocca confident pikemen slid across the terrain towards them.
With the Swiss now committed their ability to predict a future in which they would run down and run over the centre of my army was pretty obvious to everyone on all sides of the table - it was only the distance between the two lines that was saving my infantry from removal. With the Swiss clock now ticking it became much more important to get into combat on the flanks where my men had an advantage.
How to fight like Condottieri
The two lines of knights clashed as lances levelled, horses snorted in fear and excitement and men tried to forget the risks they faced in combat - especially for my Gendarmes, who were far more brittle plastic compared to the more heavyweight metal enemy. This was all or nothing and both sides threw in Generals (well, my General was embedded so he was in anyway) and so this was an identical combat apart from the wound on the enemy Gendarme at the left side of the combat, which meant I had 1 file with a +1 out of 4 otherwise identical matchups.
In the first round a fantastic result - I was able to get two of my new medieval 28mm hit markers onto the table! Oops!
How to fight more like a Condottieri
On the left Hawksmoor inched forward cautiously, weighing up the possibility of earning a win bonus against the likelihood of being too dead to actually collect on it, as the enemy Gendarmes considered whether to launch an attack or to keep out of range of the mercenary English Longbowmen. Skirmishing javelinmen aided the shooting of the longbowmen from close distance.
With no shooting of their own, the enemy mounted force were being eroded slowly, picking up markers from the ongoing drip drip of bowfire and javelins. With no prospect of scaring off Hawksmoor's infantry by the stench of their sweat and a string of Italian curses, they decided that their best bet was to do what Knights and Cavalry did best, and charge forward and try and lance the arrow-spitting festering boil that was my longbowmen.
The enemy attack was going to be swift and sudden, and it meant that they would have committed themselves to combat long before Hawkswood's second unit of Longbowmen had managed to inch its' way through the woodlands to start to press the flanks of the advancing enemy. Shooting had damaged many of the enemy as they crept forward and so the combats that would soon be taking place were now not as favourable to the enemy horsemen as once they would have been.
The knight combat on the other flank was totally in the balance - now the axes, swords and cudgels of both sides were dealing damage at ranges so close that the ornate Florentine Italianate armour of the opposing warriors was almost prone to lock together. I had taken more hits and more markers in place, but had also removed one enemy unit to give my Gendarmes an overlap on one end of the line. Unfortunately killing the enemy in their turn meant that the winning knight had not advanced into a position to turn a flank.
The Free Company were now also fully committed - the enemy knights had steamed in, and whilst Hawksmoor and his men now needed to hold off a mounted charge, at least it meant that they were not now going to come into contact with any Swiss until they had - hopefully - beaten off the enemy horse-borne charge.
Ouch! A few swings of the Condottieri mace and the combat on the right was suddenly swinging wildly in favour of the enemy - my General was dead, and there was a huge 2-base hole in the middle of what had started as a 4-base line which had now become 2 isolated elements.
The enemy Condotta Gendarmes had proved that their manliness exceeded that of the neighbouring city state where my men had started their day, and were even now sweeping up what should have been a decisive flank for my forces... the surviving Gendarme on my team had decided that this was not a place that it needed to be, and had snuck off-screen to the left to go and try and find something nasty and Swiss-shaped to charge into the back of.
Whilst the Gendarmes were struggling, Hawksmoor and his halberdiers were dealing some proper choppery and cuttery out on the enemy mounted - the softening up of shooting and some bravery on the front line had not managed to prevent a mounted Impact charge creating a hole in the middle of my line, but there were also a couple of dead bases on the outsides of the enemy line. This looked good for the Free Company.
Hawksmoor cheered, and his men took heart! The rest of the English had finally made their way through the woodlands, and suddenly as they appeared out of the treeline it became immediately apparent that overlaps were now ganging up on all sides of the remaining elements of mounted enemy.
The slow-moving Swiss had now gotten up to speed, and with cowbells ringing out loudly and the scent of chocolate filling the air they crashed into the infantry on my side. Whilst the Swiss bases had to be somewhat embarrassingly turned around to fit their pikes together in combat with my infantry, they were ideally lined up, going headfirst into the Poor Quality Italian pikemen with an overlap.
Both sets of fighting men drew a deep breath, gripped their pike and halberd-shafts and took the final few paces that brought the two lines of heavy infantry colliding together in a cataclysmic impact. Quality, weaponry, overlaps and base factors all added up, but, as always, dice ultimately were the ones who chose this moment to reassert their primacy in the outcome of the game. The Swiss were supposed to be great, but with some terrible dice they picked up a slew of pink markers in the initial couple of rounds of combat - with -1's now inflicting much of the Swiss line, the overall combat was evened up considerably.
L'Art de la Guerre (ADLG) hint- the Halberdier/Pikemen interaction is interesting - Pike are +1 up in combat on core factors, but the Halberdiers will "win" on an evens overall result, and do an extra hit when they win as well. If the Pikemen can keep momentum they will grind down the Halberds steadily, but any victory for the Halberdiers along the line can knock a nasty hole in the Pikemen as the halberdiers get under the enemy pikes and start to cause mayhem in the tight enemy ranks.
As the shock of the initial impact, the reality of a surprising first round advantage for the Italians seeped through to the fighting men on both sides of the line. Swiss pikemen started to experience doubt in their abilities for the first time in their careers, and some even checked their expensive wristwatches nervously as they looked behind themselves to see a disturbing quantity of pink markers that were, in some cases, already pushing them closer towards potential removal back to the alpine pastures they had started from...
And, with that decisive sprouting of markers, leaving 5 VPs in the line of Swiss alone, and added to a smattering of deaths elsewhere along the frontage, the 17EE enemy army slipped over the threshold into total defeat! A quick victory for the Condottieri!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Condotta Italian Commander
Gordon's Alive! What a tremendous crescendo of bravery and tactical spectacularismic success this was - the victory was so deep and so comprehensive that I feel like I should not just celebrate it, I should dive headfirst into a bath full of the very juices of triumph and slather them all over my manly chest and torso in a Poldark-ian celebration of conquest and fortitude!
The sheer brilliance of my list selection dazzled not only the enemy - especially the cowardly Swiss - but practically every other player of games present in the entire room was forced to don dark glasses by the end of this first sparkling triumph as my genius shone like a light which no bushel could even hope to cover.
From this high point atop the tallest mountain of conquesting creativity I shall surely take many leaps and bounds towards the very heavens in what I now feel sure will be not just a weekend of 4 games, but a swift ascent to the very foothills of heaven itself where I shall be crowned alongside the Saints and the Holy Trinity as a Master of War!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You lucky, lucky dog. In fact, no dog can ever have been so lucky as you here to face an army that was by dint of one dice roll bereft of its most potent weapons, the Swiss, for such a long portion of the battle that it is hard to see how you did not win far sooner. In fact, were you a dog, and I speak as one who fears that your scurvy black heart may indicate your canine provenance, to be this lucky you would need to have been born in a blind butchers meat locker, next to a tennis ball factory and in the middle of a year-long barking amnesty.
To face an army with its attacking troops neutered was fortunate, to face an army smaller than your insubstantial thin efforts was even more so - with less bases, and with less fighters opposing you, even you still managed to go into a dice-fest lottery of Knights on Knights (which I think you in fact lost) and it was only the good fortune of the dice of your halberdiers, against the doubly-unlucky Swiss that counted in the end for a victory where you did little more than trade hit for hit against a smaller enemy until one of you dropped, punch-drunk to the floor in defeat.
I feel here the appearance of the Perry Plastics on the table was in reality the only proper highlight, and what a tasteful scene they represented on their 60mm wide basing. The genius here lies with Herve, El Kreator, who has spotted - for the first time, but once it is said, so obviously - that the future of 25mm gaming is 60mmx60mm based units. This format simultaneously gives the feeling of a proper unit, with space for an element of diorama but without overdoing the width to the extent that the number of moving pieces on the table is reduced below that at which there is a game to be played. .
Yet, if ADLG is perhaps the ideal 25mm game for a 6x4 table, there is no doubt that you are nowhere near its leading exponent, despite this sudden and surprising unearned victory. It will not be long I fear before your skills are unfrocked in the next game.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition