Saturday 16 December 2023

Siena Expands

After my not-quite-a-victory at Piombino in the new Italian Wars campaign, I still had my own 1501 move to effect, even though my army was down three bases and my personal rating was at four. Many more setbacks and my nobility would recall their manners an assassinate me. Still, I had to do something and so, Piombino being inaccessible to me at present, I invited Perugia, in the Papal States, to join my republic. Unfortunately, they declined, leaving my personal rating at three, and the Siennese nobles wheting their knives and attempting to source poisons.

In the firm belief that things could turn around, I entered 1502 as full of optimism as a rat in a maze with poison down every turn. The good news was that a unit of gendarmes rejoined my army, making good a little of the damage inflicted by the dastardly Piombinese. Careful consideration of the strategic situation led me to advance to Pisa (Florentine territory) and invite that august tower to lean in my direction. To my slight surprise, they did.

Having gained one city, the surrounding ones can be invited to yield as well. Lucca declined but Pistoia (also Florentine) surrendered. My personal rating soared again to the heady heights of 5. Florence then decided that my form of republicanism was better than her own, but Piombino continued to defy my benevolent rule. I really will have to go and sort that lot out properly soon.

So, my rating was now 6, and further glory awaited, especially as there was no random event this year. In 1503 my move was first, and so I decided to complete my conquest of Florence by taking Arezzo. Not that I come as a conqueror, of course. It really is in the best interests of these cities that they join with me for our mutual benefit.

Still, my forces further augmented by the return of a unit of crossbowmen, I advanced in great humility to Arezzo and invited them to join their brethren from the rest of the former Florentine territories in the shiny new super-soar-away republic of Siena. They declined, meaning that I had to crush them in battle instead. So much for humility.

For this action the Florentines, for I suspect that the resistance was orchestrated by renegades from Florence itself, obtained an allied contingent of 3 shot bases, in addition to the normal Florentine army of 4 gendarmes, 2 mounted crossbowmen, 2 shot, 2 crossbows, 1 sword and buckler men, 1 skirmisher base and 2 pike.

My own contingent was not of 4 gendarmes, 1 mounted crossbow, 2 shot, 2 crossbows, 2 sword and bucker men, and, in order not to be totally outnumbered, 3 shot from my new allies in Pisa. I was still outnumbered by 17 bases to 14, but I find that as the solo player, being outnumbered evens up the pitch a little, as it were.

A few moves in and you can see my cunning plan evolving. The Sienese are to the left and the Florentines to the right. The infantry and Florentine light cavalry on on a hill, and my plan was to attack them in force while holding the rest of the army back, ready to strike once the Florentines were wobbling. You can see in the right foreground that half the Florentine gendarmes have just arrived as reinforcement for this flank.

On the far side, my left has started to advance, although at this point I was concerned that I would not be able to stop the gendarmes in time. I have also advanced my centre to cover the flank of the forces aiming for the hill, and they have hit the pesky Florentine mounted crossbows and stopped them from annoying everyone.

My plan worked, just about. I had to divert my gendarmes to try to march across the battlefield to threaten the Florentine gendarmes who had just arrived on my right. This failed as my gendarmes were threatened by the rest of the Florentine heavies, who were also looking dangerously at my central infantry.

As it turned out, my mounted crossbowmen on my right performed heroically (or luckily, if you want to be prosaic) preventing the gendarmes from interfering in the fight on the hill. My sword and buckler men made short work of the enemy mounted crossbowmen. The rightmost Florentine crossbowmen on the hill resisted for a while but were heavily outnumbered and wilted and ran eventually.

The end of the game is above. Nearest the camera my brave troops have captured the hill on my right, while the mounted crossbowmen are leading the Florentine gendarmes a merry dance. On the far side, my left, the second line of gendarmes, noting the battle going in my favour, charged the Florentine infantry and routed them – the action is still in process, but the second Florentine base is looking dodgy. This, together with the losses on the Florentine left (who can be seen fleeing bottom right) caused the army to go into withdraw mode.

A victory!

A lot of the glory has to go to my right-wing mounted crossbowmen who disrupted two bases of Florentine and kept them occupied while the infantry stormed the hill. As in the previous battle, my sword and buckler men performed magnificently, and the gendarmes did a good job of blocking the Florentine heavies in the centre and then administering the coup-de-grace on my left. Medals all round, I think.

I have yet to work out the implications of this action on the campaign. My personal rating will increase by 2, and Perugia and Umbria are in line to be tested for surrendering. Florence has also been wiped off the map (snigger), although there is still the possibility of a random event disrupting everything in the second half of the turn.

I think I learned quite a bit about how to handle the army after the last outing. The sword and buckler men can be quite devastating if they get into combat, but gendarmes need careful husbanding if they are to have a positive impact. For the Florentines, I think I rather messed up their deployment. The pikes and two bases of shot never got a sniff of action; nor did their sword and buckler men. Still, I am not complaining.


  1. Aha! A splendid victory for the Siennese. All seems to be going well this campaigning season.
    Chris/ Nundanket

    1. Indeed. My megalomania is starting to build; I am considering my own candidate for Pope...

    2. So great is your fame that 300 years later the good burghers of Grimsby built a replica of the Torre del Mangia.

    3. Good heavens. Next you'll be telling me that the good burghers of Grimsby took over Scunthorpe in the 14th Century.