How did the swiss do at Leeds?

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moncholee
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How did the swiss do at Leeds?

Post by moncholee » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:19 am

Hello Hammy, I would be very interested in knowing the composition of your swiss army, the feel of it and how it did at Leeds.

Regards,
Javier.

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Post by hammy » Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:39 pm

OK, why not.

I took Swiss in the end to Leeds to make sure that there was a pike army represented at the competition. Based on my experiences at Usk I was confident in the pike but realised that without good support from crossbow and handgunners that the army would really struggle against mobile opponents.

My final army was roughly

Inspired commander, 2 troop commanders
1 BG of 4 light horse crossbow
6 BG's of 8 pikemen
3 BG's of 4 halberdiers
3 BG's of 6 light foot crossbow
1 BG of 6 light foot handgun

In my first game I faced an Alexandrian Macedonian army. The Alexandrian mounted, some Indian bowmen and elephants attacked hard on my left against one of the pike BG's and one halberd BG plus some of my skirmishers. My main pike formation advanced on the Macedonian phalanx and the remaining halberds and some more skirmishers covered my right flank. The inital Alexandrian attack on my left made progress with one BG of crossbow being routed when it failed to evade out of reach of some light horse. The Alexandrian companions hit the halberdiers and clipped a pike formation. The pike won easily but the high morale of the companions meant that they held their ground and fairly quickly defeated my halberdiers. The victorious companions were then trapped between two groups of pike and broken. The bowmen and elephants were advancing but unable to really contribute till late in the game and my main pike made contact with the Alexandrian centre. My right caught and defeated a BG of Thracians in the open and then pushed past the flank of the Phalanx but never contributed to the main event. The central pike battle went quickly in favour of the Swiss (luck of the dice as it was nearly an even combat) so my victories either side of the phalanx were unimportant. Somewhere along the line I think I lost the mounted crossbowmen but eventually the Alexandrian army crumbled when the elephants hit the pike and failed theit death roll reducing them to 50% and forcing an autobreak.

On the scroring system being used I won 28-4

My second game was against Ottoman turk. This is a terrible matchup for a Swiss army as the vast bulk of the ottoman army can shoot and if used correctly can evade charges. The game ended up with all the pike BG's in isolated possitions with halberdiers or crossbows supporting them. Some unfortunate dice saw one of the halberd BG's broken by the shooting of some poor quality foot archers (very good dice for the archers). As this BG was at full strength and superior I sent my inspired commander to rally it but it contiunally refused to rally. I made the mistake of leaving my IC with this BG which meant he was getting further and further from the action. Eventually Ottoman shooting which was harder for me to resist without the benefit of an inspired leader neaby gradually told and one of the pike formations was shot to fragmented then ridden down by Ottoman cavalry. The Ottomans also had two BG's of Serbian knights which both ended up mano-a-mano with a BG of pike. The Serb knights led by the Serb general charged, and were repulsed then charged again ansd were repulsed with significant losses (they were down to 50% so very nearly autobroken). The other Serbs, charged, did nothing then charged again and lucked out disrupting the pike and eventually (because I was unable to support or bolster the pike) they broke that pike formation and swept through into the flank of another pike formation.

When time ran out I had taken 8 attrition points and Bruce had taken 2 (I broke a BG of light horse that was silly enough to charge a pike formation in the flank) by the scoring system this meant I had lost 4-28.

Next game was against Simon Hall and his Classical Indians. All the troops in the Indian army that I could easily kill were hiding well away from the pike or standing in broken ground. I tried to fight in three separate places when I really should have only fought in two. Again I sent my IC off chasing a broken BG at the wrong time and once he was away my isolated troops lot out to shooting. Two BG's of elephants eventually beat up a pike formation that had pushed too far forward. A BG of halberdiers were overwhelmed by a larger BG of Indian javelinmen and eventually the whole thing just fell appart. I managed to do some damage to the Indians and the final score was 4-28 to Simon.

My last game was against a new kingdom Egyptian army. there was a large orchard in the middle of the battlefield and I had to force my main pike formation through a narrow gap between this and some other terrain. The Egyptian left was covered by two BG's of chariots which occupied several of my BG's for the whole game. I did break one of the chariot BG's when it rolled a poor evade move but it was rallied before it could flee off table. The remainder of my army targeted the Egyptian foot and eventually I managed to get three pike formations fighting against three Egyptian BGs'. I was giving up a lot of overlaps and some of the fights went on for a while. I did however eventually win two of the three. I lost a BG of halberds but managed to pick up a few attrition points elsewhere and the eventuall score was similar to game 2 but in my favor so I won 28-4 leaving me on 64 out of 128 for the fourn games.

Overall the Swiss performed historically. They struggled against mobile armies with lots of misile power but when they could get their pike to fight infantry they tended to win. I fear that Swiss are not an ideal force in a open (any army against any army) tournament but against historical opponents they will fare well.

There were no significant rules issues and if was was to refight the battles I lost I would play them differently and perhaps not end up loosing.

Yours

Hammy

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Post by moncholee » Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:02 pm

Thank you very much Hammy.

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Post by vsolfronk » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:38 pm

Can you brieflt explain how pikes work in this system?

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Post by hammy » Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:45 pm

Pikes in Art of War really need to be in a deep formation to get full benefit of their power. Stringing a Swiss army out in one rank of bases ala DBM is not going to be a particularly sound plan against anything tougher than light horse or skirmishers and even then it will make you very vulnerable to missile fire as the target is very large.

I used BG's of 8 pike which had an interesting and unxepected bonus (I had not used Swiss in AoW prior to the comp) that when a 2 wide 4 deep block of pike turns 90 degrees it is still a 2 wide 4 deep block. This had the effect of making isolated blocks of pike feel like squares that with a good maneuver roll could turn 90 and then move off to a side. All in all it made me think of all those renaissance woodcuts of battle with clumps of pike dotted around.

If several files of pike hit next to each other assuming they retain their order they should beat anything (OK, there are exceptions, pike don't like charging lancers but if the lancers charge the pike this is the case). Roman legionaries will lose unless they disrupt the pikes either at impact which is an even fight or in melee which will require luck. Disrupted pike are in trouble against legionaries and once fragmented pike are really on the way out.

Keep pike together in good going and support their flanks and they will beat pretty much anything. Let them get isolated, shot at and dissordered and they are far from stuning.

Hope that helps

Hammy

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Post by moncholee » Fri Mar 16, 2007 8:51 am

Hello Hammy, were halberdiers effective support troops for the pikes? Also, what are the diferences between light foot crosbows and light foot handgun?

Regards,
Javier.

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Post by hammy » Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:39 am

I ran the halberds in smaller groups and used them to provide moral support to the pikes or to cover gaps between pike blocks once my pikes were split up. They are also usefull to reduce overlaps on pikes by extending the line. They are OK against most things in melee but not so hot at impact.

Crossbows have a much longer range than handgunners. Both have a similar effectiveness when the do shoot but if a taget is shot by handguns it suffers a penalty in any cohesion test it needs to take as a result.

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Post by larrydunn » Sat Mar 17, 2007 5:52 pm

hammy wrote:Overall the Swiss performed historically. They struggled against mobile armies with lots of misile power
Not necessarily historical -- the Swiss never faced a mobile army with lots of missile power. They did, however, face opponents more mobile than they were, and which had lots of firepower, and defeated them each time -- unless the opponent put field fortifications in the way.

I doubt any wargame will ever adequately represent the Swiss at war -- they make unit movement far too responsive to the wishes of the player.

By the way, the Swiss halberdiers in the later (pike-predominant) period would either be the entire block of close fighters in the command, or, far more likely, would be the rear ranks of the pike block. It was most common to have a block made up of pikes with halberds behind. If the block got into a messy melee the halberdiers would pass through the ranks and assist the pikemen. If there was a continual, organized push of pike, they would break out of the flanks to attack the enemy unit's flanks. Is there any way to represent their presence in AoW so that they are part of the BG but give tactical advantages in certain circumstances?
Larry

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Post by hammy » Sat Mar 17, 2007 8:53 pm

larrydunn wrote:
hammy wrote:Overall the Swiss performed historically. They struggled against mobile armies with lots of misile power
Not necessarily historical -- the Swiss never faced a mobile army with lots of missile power. They did, however, face opponents more mobile than they were, and which had lots of firepower, and defeated them each time -- unless the opponent put field fortifications in the way.
A fair point, I should have said that what happened 'felt' historical. It certainly felt like what might happen when a bunch of chaps with long pikes try to get hold of and hurt another bunch of chaps on horses with bows and arrows. Where my opponents had something I could hit generally speaking I beat them.
I doubt any wargame will ever adequately represent the Swiss at war -- they make unit movement far too responsive to the wishes of the player.
It depends on how you feel they should be represented. The pikes were very mobile , just not as fast as someone on a horse.

[/quote]
By the way, the Swiss halberdiers in the later (pike-predominant) period would either be the entire block of close fighters in the command, or, far more likely, would be the rear ranks of the pike block. It was most common to have a block made up of pikes with halberds behind. If the block got into a messy melee the halberdiers would pass through the ranks and assist the pikemen. If there was a continual, organized push of pike, they would break out of the flanks to attack the enemy unit's flanks. Is there any way to represent their presence in AoW so that they are part of the BG but give tactical advantages in certain circumstances?[/quote]

The halberds are either considered part of the pike formation or can be fielded as a separate battle group. As a separate group they can provide rear support and / or move to provide overlaps or reduce overlaps where they occur. Probably not totally right but it felt reasonable based on my limited reading relating to the Swiss.

Hammy

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Post by stalins_organ » Sun Mar 18, 2007 12:31 am

What armies did the Swiss face that were more mobile than they were?

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Post by whitehorses » Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:11 am

stalins_organ wrote:What armies did the Swiss face that were more mobile than they were?

Charles the Rash & the Burgundians?



Cheers,
Jer

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Post by rbodleyscott » Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:42 am

whitehorses wrote:
stalins_organ wrote:What armies did the Swiss face that were more mobile than they were?

Charles the Rash & the Burgundians?
Not quite what was meant by mobility, methinks. Hammy was talking about horse archers. A different order of mobility from Charles le Temeraire/s army. (Which did not show any great mobility anyway - far less than the Swiss!).

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Post by killerhobbit » Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:41 pm

larrydunn wrote:
I doubt any wargame will ever adequately represent the Swiss at war -- they make unit movement far too responsive to the wishes of the player.

By the way, the Swiss halberdiers in the later (pike-predominant) period would either be the entire block of close fighters in the command, or, far more likely, would be the rear ranks of the pike block. It was most common to have a block made up of pikes with halberds behind. If the block got into a messy melee the halberdiers would pass through the ranks and assist the pikemen. If there was a continual, organized push of pike, they would break out of the flanks to attack the enemy unit's flanks. Is there any way to represent their presence in AoW so that they are part of the BG but give tactical advantages in certain circumstances?
I have played Later Swiss with DBM and I used the historical tactic very often.

I played these mixed units of pikemen and halberdiers you discribe above
by using 3 blocks (each of 2 columns of pikemen on the sides and one colum of billmen in the centre).
In fact historically the pikemen made just a small percentage of the swiss blocks. They were normally just in the front and side ranks of a "Haufen". Most of the fighters were still armed as billmen as they have been in the early swiss times.
There is one battle discribed when all swiss blocks decided to move through a wood to avoid a frontal attack on enemy artillery. Without this large percentage of Billmen this manouver couldn`t have been sucessful.
Pikes were introduced by the Swiss after they found out that this weapon is better against dismounted knight armed with spears (lances)


Handguns were good against armoured troops. Handgunner shot at attacking mounted Knight and then run to a safe place near the pikemen block. (normally under the pikes)

In addition I would like to remind you on a historical battle of the Swiss

The first Swiss "Haufen" (Haufen is the german word for Block) arrived on the battlefield, stopped and waited for almost 1 hour. This while beeing fired on by enemy Crowbowmen on foot. After firing didn??t show any effect on the Swiss, Burgundians decided to attack with mounted knight and lost, because the hit they corner of the Block.
So I would suggest that Swiss have not been especially vulnerable to missle attacks, (frontranks often wore looted plate armour of recently killed knights and of course a block could be made up of up to 15.000 men. 1000 deads by enemy firing would still be lesser then 10 percent

In DBM there was just one problem with the Swiss.
After rules chanced and cavalry could not be killed by pikemen anymore, my opponents attack my flanks with skirmisher or cavalry and the Swiss Blocks became stationary from that point on.

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Post by stalins_organ » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:52 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
whitehorses wrote:
stalins_organ wrote:What armies did the Swiss face that were more mobile than they were?

Charles the Rash & the Burgundians?
Not quite what was meant by mobility, methinks. Hammy was talking about horse archers. A different order of mobility from Charles le Temeraire/s army. (Which did not show any great mobility anyway - far less than the Swiss!).
Quite.

and since the Swiss never fought any horse archer based armies it's kind of pointless to base anything around that interaction - the Swiss jsut have to accept whatever result is thrown up by inference from other armies fighting against horse archers.

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Post by killerhobbit » Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:27 pm

hammy wrote: I used BG's of 8 pike which had an interesting and unxepected bonus (I had not used Swiss in AoW prior to the comp) that when a 2 wide 4 deep block of pike turns 90 degrees it is still a 2 wide 4 deep block. This had the effect of making isolated blocks of pike feel like squares that with a good maneuver roll could turn 90 and then move off to a side.
Hammy
I think the "turn to flank and move on" manouver isn??t quite the way how swiss might have moved historically.
I believe they have moved more like an infantry wegde, similar to a cuneus in ancient times.
Imagine a block of 12000 men might just have been 150 ranks wide and 80 ranks deep.
Swiss blocks were made up of several "Rotten". (squadron)
Each of it had a veteran standard bearer in the front, so the low trained swiss fighter in the rear rank just needed to follow the direction of their "Kanton" (regional) flag.

I guess if a swiss army would have to contacted a mobile enemy with high fire power (e.g Huns, Mongols etc.)
they would build up in square and move to the next fortress or oasis outside the tabletop. (Probably to poison the water after leaving, so mongol horses will die soon after) This is the typical behaviour of all infantry armies against mobile enemies. (early Greeks in Persia; romans against phartians etc.) Infantry armies just need to to get to a place they want in a given time. This kind of battle is a "fighting on the march scenario" and it lasts over several days.

There might be just one exception. Huns are attackers and Swiss defend a bridge or moutain pass.

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Post by simonthewineman » Fri Apr 06, 2007 2:20 pm

Hammy you mention in your report about the fact that when your 2wide 4 deep pike columns turned 90 degrees they stayed in that formation, could you explain how this is the case as I thought they would become 4wide 2 deep or at best 3 wide as I thought the ruling was that the new formation was as wide as previously it was deep in terms of ranks upto 1 rank less down to a minimum of 1.
Hope this question makes sense.
cheers.

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Post by hammy » Fri Apr 06, 2007 3:08 pm

The turning 90 thing is related to the way the rules manage 90 degree turns. A 2 wide 4 deep pike block (in 15mm scale) is 80mm wide and 60mm deep. When a formation turns 90 degrees it ends up with a frontage of one base for every part base deep the formation is so a 30mm deep line ends up 40mm wide, a 40 mm deep formation ends up 40mm wide but a 45mm to 80mm deep formation ends up 80mm wide.

For the Swiss this felt very much like I would imagine those squares of pikes you see on renaissance wood cuts.

Hammy

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