Friday 5 April 2024

An Italian Wars scenario for Pike and Shotte

 What follows is a short report on a recent game at Steve's.  It is over two years since an Italian Wars game featured on the blog, so a reappearance was long overdue.  Once again those doughty campaigners the Duc de Merlot and the Duke of Barbera are facing each other on the field of battle.  Both armies have cavalry on the wings and infantry in the centre; the armies are fairly well matched, the French Gendarmes have a slight edge over their Imperialist rivals, but the Imperialists have arquebus armed troops to take on the French crossbows.  The main grudge match is likely to be between the Swiss and Landsknecht pikemen commanded by Lord Landroter and the Graf von Spatburgunder repectively.  The objective for both commanders is to defeat the enemy and continue their advance.

A view along the battlefield with the Imperialist forces on the left

The battle opened with the Imperial left wing cavalry, commanded by the Count of Trebbiano moving slowly forward, the stradiots towards a low ridge and the gendarmes to cover a gap between the ridge and a wood.  Opposite them, the Comte de Carignan responded by ordering his gendarmes to charge the Imperial gendarmes and his mounted arquebusiers to drive back the stradiots.  The French prevailed in both combats, the stradiots streaming from the field and the gendarmes being pushed back in disorder.

The clash of gendarmes on the French right

In the centre, the French seized the initiative and moved their crossbowmen into the farm and a unit of Swiss pikes down the road to support a second unit of crossbowmen.  Barbera responded by sending a unit of arquebusiers to drive the French crossbowmen from the farm  and requested Spatburgunder to drive off the  troops on the road.  The Graf, seeking an easy victory launched his Swiss pikemen against a second unit of crossbowmen who were supporting the Swiss. 

The French push forward in the centre

Spatsburgunder responds

On the Imperial right the opposing cavalry wings seemed content to merely observe each other, while the fighting was being done elsewhere.  In the centre, the arquebusiers had managed to inflict heavy casualties on the crossbowmen and abandoned their up to now successful tactics, decided to charge.  This ended in failure as the crossbowmen put up a stout defence and sent the Imperial troops back in rout.  Worse was to follow as the landsknechts were defeated by the crossbowmen.  Although the pikemen charged home with minimal casualties, they could not push back the determined crossbowmen.  After losing two rounds of melee the pikemen routed, to much jeering from the French.

On the Imperial left the cavalry had been decisively defeated.  All the units had been driven from the field, allowing the Comte de Carignan to redress the ranks before wheeling towards the centre.

The French right outflanks the Imperialist centre

With Trebbiano's command having been driven from the field, The Duke of Barbera ordered von Spatburgunder to swing one of his pike blocks to the left to try and keep open a line of retreat.   A small Swiss pike block charged and captured the Imperialist light artillery.  This was followed by the French crossbowmen shooting at the landsknechts and inflicting significant casualties.  The 'coup de grace' was performed by the French gendarmes, whose charge shattered the pike block and opened the way for the envelopment of the Imperial army.

Count Tempranillo manged to extract his cavalry and rejoin The Duke of Barbera and von Spatburgunder with the pitiful remnants of the Imperial army.  He found the two men in a rather acrimonious 'discussion' as to the performance of the much vaunted landsknechts.  The Graf was putting forward his view that the feeble performance of Trebbiano's cavalry contributed significantly to the defeat and it was his men who had died trying to save the day.  One thing is certain, that when the  report was submitted to the Emperor, it would make interesting reading.

Many thanks to Steve for devising the scenario and to Bob for commanding the French forces.


  1. Lovely looking Italian wars game, sounds like great fun!
    Best Iain caveadsum1471

    1. Thank you very much Iain. It was good fun. A textbook example of the wargaming fact that you can plan all you like, but if the dice are not with you, they are not with you.


  2. With the Palouse blog too, it looks like the Italian Wars are the place to be. Thanks for this report and the photo montage. It looks like someone had fun naming the commanders.

    1. Thank you Stephen. The Italian Wars benefits from very colourful costumes and a fascinating blend of different troop types. Steve did indeed have some fun naming the commanders.