Saturday 23 December 2023

The Raiders

Well, after my success at Arezzo, my personal rating took off. The city, of course, surrendered and so I was +2 for the move, to the heady heights of PR of 9. Italy lay at my feet (sort of). Certainly, Florence, as an independent political entity had, for the moment, evaporated. Cheers all round, and I am considering inviting a certain Niccolo Machiavelli, an experienced diplomat, to run the place for me. After all, I have new worlds, or new bits of Italy at least, to conquer.

Anyway, more prosaically, I had to deal with the random event in the second half of the year. This turned up some raiders who had to be dealt with. In the original version of the game, these were Chichimec tribes, who were almost entirely psiloi. As you probably know, in DBA these are hard to beat while being difficult to lose to. Here, I envisage them being a sort of free company of deserters, disillusioned and unemployed mercenaries and bandits clubbing together.

The raiders mustered a 12 base army, of 2 mounted crossbowmen, 6 skirmishing crossbowmen and 4 bases of crossbowmen. As you can see, there were a lot of crossbows and not much else. Light raiders, as I said above, out for loot and not really for hard fighting, I hope.

Again, in the original game the raiders, as a random event, was aimed at being an easier wargame with less at stake than the attacks on cities and so on. The aim was to minimise any losses which would impede further expansion while getting a fairly easy win. It should be similar here.

My own forces, mercifully still at current full strength after the fight against Arezzo, consisted of 4 gendarmes, 1 mounted crossbows, 2 crossbows, 2 arquebusiers, 2 sword and buckler men, for a total of 11 bases. Pondering this I reckoned that the best tactics would be to get the gendarmes and the swordsmen into action as soon as possible. The gendarmes, at least, should be pretty safe against anything the enemy can throw at them.

In the picture, the raiders are on the right. Their left, nearest the camera, is held by skirmishers on a hill, with more skirmishers in the wood next to them. The centre infantry are nearly engaged with mine, while on their right the mounted crossbowmen try to hold up my gendarmes, who are shielded by mounted crossbowmen themselves. The playing cards you can see are potential ambushes. As it turned out, there were none, which was a bit of a relief.

My own plan was to get the gendarmes into action. On my right that is going ahead as you can see with half of the heavies aiming for the hill. On the far side, my gendarmes are advancing against their light horse (which are backed up by crossbowmen). In the centre my firepower is advancing, backed by the swordsmen.

It all went rather pear-shaped for the raiders, as you might expect. A bad tempo roll meant that my left wing gendarmes, with yours truly at the helm, trotted gently into the mounted crossbowmen and routed them. They then ambled into the supporting crossbowmen and routed them as well. Admitted this did take a few moves (about three, I think) but it was a bit of a crushing blow, especially as because these gendarmes had not charged I still had them in hand.

In the centre, my shot exchanged fire with the two available crossbowmen on the other side. This was pretty much a draw as not all my shot were yet in range. On the other side of the field, my gendarmes took advantage of the raider’s tempo famine and charged home up the hill. This was not exactly what I had planned – I was trying to flank the skirmishers first – but the opportunity presented itself. The skirmishers only resisted briefly (although they did not immediately flee – some good rolling saw them hold out for a turn or so) and then fled.

When the mounted crossbowmen fled the raiders went into waver mode. Then the skirmishers fled and they went to fall back. Finally, the crossbowmen ran for it, so the raiders routed.

As my right-wing gendarmes charged, they are now busy pursuing the routing enemy, but that hardly matters. It seems, using my rules, that the key factor is to keep the gendarmes under close control and only let them rip when you need to. After all, the non-charging gendarmes routed four enemy bases, the chargers only routed two. It was enough, however, and finished the battle quickly and without losses, which was part of the point.

So, now, having won the battle and dispersed the raiders, my personal rating stands at the heady heights of 10. The domination of the centre of Italy is at hand, and I am starting to wonder if I could make myself Pope, so long as my wife doesn’t mind. It is quite possible, at the moment, but the cards may have a different opinion.

I have been thinking of further developments of this campaign process, and I think it could work for some very different periods and sizes of campaigns. For example, two ECW garrisons attempting to capture and hold villages, or two North American Indians attempting to grab hunting grounds to supply the Europeans with furs. These are aside from the more obvious ones such as German states grabbing each other (oooh-errr missus) in the early Seventeenth Century, South-East Asians scrapping in what is now Myanmar and Thailand and I am sure that my noble reader can think of a few more that would work nicely, aside from the original Aztec context.

Still, as this is the blog post nearest Christmas I shall wish you all a Merry one. I usually have some sort of offering as a Christmas present but, due to circumstances which hopefully will soon become clear, I do not have anything quite yet, so you will have to anticipate...


  1. On the way to the papacy hey? Sic transit gloria mundi. It must be all downhill from such dizzy heights, haha!!!
    Regards, James

    1. Using my extensive translating experience: 'Gloria was unwell in a delivery van early in the week'? The campaign system eventually conspires against the player. The interest is exactly how....