After the rout of the Milanese army, Mercenary General James Stockwood decided to take advantage of the Italian army's weakened state by fortifying his position near the Swiss border. After some months of relative inactivity, scouts reported that Prosciutto was heading northwest from the city, presumably with the intention of engaging the mercenary force.
Stockwood mustered the field army, headed to the outlying area of the abandoned village of Borgo Verde, and entrenched in the fields to await the arrival of the Milanese.
However, the Milanese army contained a secret weapon that had escaped the notice of the mercenary scouts and spies. The Duke of Milan, although aware of Prosciutto's value as a tactician and logistics planner, was beginning to realize that the Italian general was somewhat disappointing as as field commander. Much to Prosciutto's embarrassment and disappointment, the Duke appointed his close friend Karl Von Dertflinghan to lead the cavalry arm of Milan.
Dertflinghan and the Duke had seen action together some years before and the Austrian general was known for his ferocity, and specifically for his skill in leading cavalry on the field. Rodger of Lynn, leader of the mercenary cavalry, although capable of handling the poncey Prosciutto, was about to learn a lesson in the fine art of cavalry charge and maneuver from one of Austria's most celebrated warriors.
Chris and I were incredibly excited about this game. We both were finally prepared to play fully-painted 400-point armies, each divided into two commands.
- James Stockwood (expert general) leading dismounted men-at-arms x 3, longbowmen x 4, bombard & crew x 1, and skirmishing crossbow x 2.
- Rodger of Lynn (poor general) leading mounted men-at-arms x 3 and Breton javelinmen x 3.
- Francesco Prosciutto (fair general) leading condottieri x 1, militia foot x 2, mercenary crossbowmen x 1, skirmishing crossbowmen x 2, handgunners x 1, and cannon & crew x 1
- Karl Von Dertflinghan (expert general) leading familia ducale x 1, condottieri x 3, skirmishing crossbowmen x 2, and handgunners x 1
The cavalry faced each other on one flank over more or less open ground while the mercenary infantry were dug into the fields of Borgo Verde waiting for the advance of the Italian infantry.
Stockwood kept the mercenary line entrenched in and around the fields as the Milanese army approached. Rodger did his best (which is to say he did nothing) to keep his knights held back. Etienne held the line and waited for the right moment to counter-charge, but his annoyance at Rodger's impetuousness was obvious. The French knight noticed that the Italian horse was advancing with uncharacteristic control and precision.
The Italian foot advanced cautiously as the English archers went to work. Stockwood's line made it almost impossible for the enemy infantry to close with any confidence.
Rather than wait for the enemy to close the distance as discussed before the battle, Rodger led a valiant/stupid charge into the solid line of Italian cavalry. As he came within melee range Rodger saw the bright colours of the Familia Ducale, the Duke's household, under the masterful leadership of the infamous Karl Von Dertflinghan.
By the time the cavalry were fully engaged all of the knights on the field (with the exception of Etienne and his men) were in complete disorder and fighting in a mass combat of apocalyptic proportions.
When Stockwood noticed how scattered Prosciutto had let the infantry line become, he ordered his men ahead to deal with the unsupported skirmishers.
Etienne had kept a solid line and a cool head. Thanks to his prowess, his knights drove half of the Milanese horse from the field. Rodger was not so lucky.
Although Rodger and his men were renowned combatants, the tightly-controlled line of the Milanese elite kept pressing forward until the Lynn knights were forced to break and flee.
In fact, the entire left flank of the mercenary army was collapsing and Dertflinghan ordered the Italian knights to stay together and fold around onto the vulnerable enemy flank.
Prosciutto, ever the showmen, didn't want the men to see him holding back cautiously while Dertflinghan won the day. However, the charge faltered, and Prosciutto found himself and his men locked in combat with commoners. Oh the humanity!
When Stockwood saw the left flank folding he ordered a full retreat back to the mercenary fortifications. This Austrian was posing a problem, and in time, would need to be dealt with.
We had been waiting for so long to play 400-points at this scale and we were definitely not disappointed. The armies looked considerably threatening on the table, and I think that Chris did a bang-up job painting his Familia.
I should point out that I tried a new unit during this game, although it wouldn't have been obvious in the report. As per the Free Company list, I fielded Etienne and his knights as non-impetuous CP with discipline B. I figured it portrayed Etienne and his unit more accurately, or at least in how I have portrayed him as being more level-headed in the ongoing narrative.
The one question we were left asking at the end of the game was probably a relatively simple one; what size of a table should we use for a 15mm 400-point game? The rulebook recommends 4x3 at 300 points and 4x6 at 500 points. It felt a little cramped to me, but that may have been a deployment issue. In the meantime, I shall search for a definite answer to the question.
Thanks for reading,