Bicocca 27th April 1522 Scenario. Part 1

The first part of this scenario lays out the strategic situation leading to the Battle of Bicocca, the dispositions, the orders of battle and the terrain. The second will detail the scenario specific rules, what ifs, and umpire notes.

Strategic Situation
In the summer of 1521 the French were sitting pretty. Their possession of the Milanese was secure, their alliance with the Venetians was preventing Landsknechts from the north joining the Spanish forces of Naples, and the Emperor Charles was tied down fighting two disastrous ‘civil wars’ in Spain and the Low Countries.

Then late in 1521 a large body of Landsknechts managed, by making forced marches across a narrow strip of Venetian territory, to slip into Italy. These troops shifted the balance of power. In November the French, who had gone into winter quarters too early, were forced out of Milan. Later Alessandria, Pavia, and Como also fell into Imperial hands.

The loss of the greater part of the Milanese was more than King Francis I could stand. He immediately ordered the raising of a new army for its recovery. The new army, under the command of Lautrec the Viceroy of Milan, was one of the largest raised by France during the Italian Wars. It was much larger than the force in opposition, commanded by the old condottieri captain Prosper Colonna, and this gave rise to the manner of the campaign that followed.

The French first moved to besiege Pavia, hoping that an attempt on such an important place might force Colonna into the field and offer battle. Prosper Colonna did come out – as far as the monastery of Certosa (10 miles from Milan) on the Pavia Milan road. Lautrec sent out scouts to reconnoitre his position but they reported that the position Colonna had taken up was all but impregnable. Lautrec, cautious by nature, was unwilling to attack. He instead decided to move north and cut off Colonna’s lines of communication with Milan in the hope that he would move. Colonna withdrew to the Park of Bicocca, 4 miles from Milan, and established himself in another naturally strong position which he then fortified with earthworks.

Naturally, Lautrec was willing to play the long game. Eventually, by manoeuvre, he would force Colonna into a less favourable position. But then Lautrec found himself facing a problem he did not expect. His Swiss mercenaries, the back bone of his army, went on strike for lack of pay. The Swiss wanted a quick campaign and prompt payment, and the surest way of getting it was to beat Colonna in the field and reap the benefit of the cities and towns that would surely fall without resistance afterwards. If Lautrec did not attack the next day, they would, to a man, march back to the Alps. However, to show good faith, the Swiss volunteered to take position at the sharp point of any attack. Lautrec reluctantly agreed.

The scene was set for one of the bloodiest affairs of The Great Italian Wars: A frontal attack against a naturally strong and heavily fortified position. The deployment map below shows the dispositions of the forces involved.

The Field
Colonna had positioned himself at the Park of Bicocca; gardens and fields surrounding a manor house four miles outside Milan. The ground, as with all the ground around Milan, was dead flat and cut up with drainage ditches; the ditches around the park being particularly deep and wet. The land immediately to the west of Colonna’s position was especially boggy and unfit for the movements of troops. Directly in front of his position was a sunken road. Colonna had ordered that the hollow should be deepened and the earth piled into an earth rampart at its rim. At various points along the sunken road, Colonna’s engineers had sited raised platforms on which to place his artillery. By the time they had finished, an almost shear earth wall, 18 foot high had been constructed. The only immediate way into the park was via a narrow bridge, off the Milan road, and to Colonna’s rear.

Orders of Battle:
For this game I will be using a figure ratio of 1 to 50. Although the overall figures are accurate, I have had to make an educated guess as to the composition of each contingent. I have taken the liberty of calling all the heavy cavalry Gendarmes – so that there is no misunderstanding of their arms. I have also had to make some small compromises because of my 'stand / basing' sizes.

Lautrec and the French:
1000 Gendarmes: In three units of 7. Those on the left are commanded by Lautrec and Lescun. Those on the right could be under the command of Bayard.
6000 French Foot: One unit of 72 pike, four units of 10 - 12 crossbows. I have given command of the foot to Marshal de Foix.
8000 Swiss: Two units of 72 pike, two units of 10 - 12 arquebus. The left hand column is commanded by Von Stein, the right by Winkelried.
6000 Venetian foot: One unit of 72 pike, four units of 10 - 12 arquebus. They fall under the command of Urbino (see below).
400 Venetian Gendarmes: One unit of 7. They are under the command of the Duke of Urbino.
3300 Giovanni dei Medici’s Black Bands: Six units of 10 - 12 arquebus, one unit of 6 mounted arquebus.
French Artillery: An unknown number of guns represented by two batteries of 2 guns each.

Colonna and the Imperialists:
200 Spanish Gendarmes: Generously, one unit of 7. Commanded by Colonna.
2000 Spanish arquebus: In four units of ten to twelve.
2000 Spanish pike: In one unit of 36 pike and 9 sword and buckler. I have put these under the command De Leyva.
1000 Spanish Genitors: In three units of 6.
8000 Landsknechts: two units of 72 pike. One column is commanded by Von Frundsberg.
Spanish artillery: an unknown number of guns represented by two batteries of 2 guns.
2000 Milanese foot: The vanguard of the 6000 Milanese Militia called to arms on the previous day. Four units of 10 – 12 crossbow.
400 Milanese Gendarmes: One unit of 7. Commanded by Sforza, the newly re-established Duke of Milan.

Portable madness with Tekken 6 & Soul Calibur B.D.

Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny

Unlike Tekken 6, which is essentially a port of the home console versions, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny will be a PSP original. It will feature a roster of more than 20 characters, including mainstays Voldo, Mitsurugi, Ivy, and Cassandra along with a new character called Dampierre. That's him looking campy up top. No Yoda though. Same with Darth Vader.

One cool feature in particular is a lighting system that lets stages have different times of day. An enhanced character creation system will also be included along with local ad-hoc multiplayer. There's also a single-player campaign that's designed to teach players the intricacies of the game. Think of it as a long, detailed tutorial, if you will.

Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny will be officially unveiled at E3 09. You know, with all these new ad-hoc games coming out Sony really should start setting up the Ad-hoc Party service outside Japan. Just a thought. Maybe they'll have something for us at E3.

Tekken 6

PlayStation Portable users will be getting an iron fist straight up their you-know-whats when Tekken 6 hits the PSP, which will be right alongside the game's PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. Namco Bandai is shooting for a Q4 launch for the home console versions but we don't have a clear-cut release date yet.

The PSP version will feature additional content, stages, and items as well as an ad-hoc multiplayer mode using "original" and "fan favorite" characters. It'll also have a "Ghost" infrastructure mode that will let players upload their characters' data and download that of others.

Here are a few screenshots.

Dead Rising 2 Trailer

Captivate 09: Checklist Trailer
Amidst the chaos, a new hero will rise to the challenge.

2 new gameplay videos of FUEL

Free Roam Gameplay

Race Gameplay

Release Date: May 30, 2009

It looks awesome so far. It's something different that makes it special.

I can't wait for it..

Harran 1104 Battle Report - Part 3 (the conclusion)

We left the action with the Saracens, having won the next initiative roll, about to play their 10 initiative pips:

The Saracens drew two melee cards in quick succession and had to resolve the ongoing melees. In the fight between Jekermish’s Seljuk horse archers and Baldwin’s foot sergeants the horsemen forced the infantry to give ground (the Franks were low on morale chips and were unable to risk spending them to prop up stubborn troops). The fight between Soqman’s unit of Ghulams and Bohemond’s Knights (neither body guard units) was an unequal affair in which the Knights were pushed back with loss then routed.

Jekermish (using march and manoeuvre cards) changed the direction of his attack to concentrate on destroying Joscelin’s command. But even though Joscelin was surrounded and outnumbered he was holding out quite well.

In the Franks responding initiative: A unit of Tancred’s knights charged a bunched mass of Turcomans who had got into the rear of Tancred and his bodyguard, and dispersed them (evaded off table). Meanwhile Bohemond, seeing that it was going to be up to Antiochenes to reverse what was looking like a dire situation advanced as best he could, throwing a unit of his foot sergeants at Soqman and his bodyguard; the sergeants advanced covered by their integral bowmen and, by chance, a shaft struck Soqman and felled him from his horse: Huzzah! In the following melee, however, the foot sergeants were thrown back onto Bohemond and his Knights.

The continuing melee between Baldwin’s sergeants and the Seljuk horse archers was slowly grinding its way to a conclusion. It was only by shear luck that they were managing to trade space without breaking. They fell back through one of Bohemond’s foot units and were temporarily relieved from the pressure. But the relief was short lived as the horse archers threw Bohemond’s sergeants back with loss and they found themselves in confrontation with their ‘old foe’ again.

Bohemond, himself, was faring better. His knights, now in the front rank of the melee with Soqman’s bodyguard, fell on them with such ferocity that they were routed from the field. Indeed, in this part of the field he and Tancred were now, with most of Soqmans cavalry scattered or routed (off table), feeling quite secure.
The next initiate rolls gave a swing of 2,3 and 6, and the Saracens took first bite each time. Most of the combat cards had passed so this was not a time of much action.

Baldwin’s foot sergeants gave way and were sent scuttling to the rear causing more disorder to their support.

On the other side of the field Jekermish’s cavalry came to grips with Joscelin’s Armenian guard, but low and behold, were shockingly pushed back (d10 Vs d4 and they rolled – 1 Vs 2). But his cavalry, supported by Turcomans, were faring much better with the bow; Joscelin’s infantry taking severe loss but just about holding on.

Turn 3.
The first initiative roll gave a swing of 6, and again the Saracen took first bite. The cards they turned were fatal – March, Missilery, Missilery, Melee, Manoeuvre and March - and at this stage of any game this combination is capable of swinging a battle; with the Saracens already on top, and as the cards gradually unfolded, any doubt in my mind over who the winner was going to be faded: This was game over.

First it was Joscelin who took the brunt. One by one his units fell (destroyed completely) to sustained missilery then he and his bodyguard were routed by Jekermish’s heavy cavalry who followed up in its wake. What remained of Joscelin's infantry, now severely weakened by archery, were set upon by Turcoman horse archers and utterly destroyed. The Antiochenes were now alone, and all of their units were suffering disorder, loss, or both. What was more, the Franks were out of morale chips and handing them over to the Saracens at an alarming rate.

The last two cards were used by Jekermish to wheel and advance in order to cut off any hope of the Antiochenes retreat; their fate was being sealed.

It, with things going badly, came as no great surprise, when two of the first four cards the Franks turned over were Army Morale (is this not always the way of luck) – and they failed both of them. The remnants of Baldwin’s command (a unit of Armenian archers) ran for the hills. Tancred was forced to withdraw twice and this forced one of his units of Knights to break on the first occasion and he and his bodyguard to leave the withdraw from the table on the second. Bohemond passed his first check but withdrew on the second causing much disorder throughout what remained of his army. He was in such dire straights that I decided, that the Franks should concede the battle – EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!

So ended my solo re-fight of The Battle of Harran 1104. Although the passage had been different the result was near to history. The Edessans had been slaughtered almost to a man, whilst Bohemond, Tancred and the Antiochenes, with a bit of luck and a kind flow of cards (due to them after the debacle of the last draws and with only one enemy march card still in play), would see most of them (the Knights at least) off table to safety.

In all, the game spanned two and a bit turns and perhaps two and a half hours of play. Not bad considering the game was solo and involved 31 units.

2 NEW Demos are now available trough XboxLive and PSN

UFC 2009 Undisputed Demo

THQ today announced that the UFC 2009 Undisputed playable demo is now available for free download via Xbox LIVE Marketplace and PlayStationNetwork. In celebration of UFC 97, held last weekend in Montreal, Quebec, the playable demo will allow consumers to sample an exhibition bout with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The demo will also include a portion of the game’s Tutorial Mode.

UFC 2009 Undisputed is set for release this May.

Red Faction: Guerrilla Demo

THQ today announced the single-player demo for Red Faction: Guerrilla is now available for free download on Xbox LIVE Marketplace and PlayStationNetwork. Developed by THQ internal studio Volition, Inc., Red Faction: Guerrilla is a 3rd person, open-world shooter featuring real physics-based destruction, a story-driven single-player campaign and robust multiplayer options. The demo features an action-packed single-player mission introducing the groundbreaking GeoMod 2.0 Destruction Engine, and comes just weeks before the June 4th launch of Red Faction: Guerrilla.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is set for release on June 4th, 2009.

Saints Row 2 DLC Now Available

THQ today announced the Saints Row 2 downloadable content pack, Ultor Exposed, is now available for Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3. Ultor Exposed features an all-new mission arc starring adult film star Tera Patrick, as well as new vehicles, multiplayer maps, customization options and a new co-op activity. Saints Row 2: Ultor Exposed is available now on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft points and PlayStation Network for $14.54 AUD.

In Ultor Exposed, the first downloadable content for Saints Row 2, gamers return to Stilwater to expose the Ultor Corporation’s latest plans while trying to bring down the evil company once and for all. Players can battle through three all new co-op enabled missions starring adult film star Tera Patrick, while commandeering new air and ground vehicles such as an attack aircraft and a luxury sports car. Ultor Exposed offers all new customization options, including new hairstyles, clothing and costumes, along with new multiplayer maps for the Strong Arm and Gangsta Brawl multiplayer modes.

Ultor Exposed also includes Australian content - in the form of moustaches. The Men of Movember, winners of Men’s Charity Movember 2008 have had their facial hair immortalised in Saints Row 2 as part of THQ Australia’s partnership with the Men’s Charity. Chose from a wide variety of lip-curling face fungus that some bloke was brave enough to wear in the real world, you can wear it in the virtual world of Stilwater.

Sales of Saints Row 2 and donations made on behalf of members of the Australian Gaming Industry helped raise funds in 2008 in the search for a cure for prostate cancer and male depression.

Ultor Exposed is now available. About Saints Row 2: Ultor Exposed Ultor Exposed is now available on Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network.

Harran 1104 Battle Report - Part 2

This battle report describes the first eleven sequence cards of turn 2. The action took about 45 minutes to play.

It was the Franks who took the initiative first by bringing the Antiochenes into the fight. Seeing Baldwin in such dire trouble and in imminent danger of being killed or captured by the enemy, some of Bohemond's knights rode, like the 7th cavalry, to his rescue. They almost extricated him completely but, failing to rout the Ghulams facing him, they only managed to prevent the Ghulams from pursuing Baldwin to his sure demise. He rode to the rear, where miraculously he not only succeeded in rallying the small cluster of Knights around him (the unit had 0 Unit integrity), he also managed to rally his foot who had fallen into uncontrolled advance. It was his last act before falling to marauding Turcoman tribesmen.

Jekermish, who had held his cavalry back to await events now rode into the fray, thundering into the Flank of Baldwin's foot sergeants and positioning themselves to take on Joscelin at the same time. The foot sergeants, like Baldwin's Knights had done previously, held.

With support coming up from their rear, the Turcoman command facing Joscelin (rolling a triple move on the same 'March' card) changed position - from Joscelin's front to Joscelin's rear. They took a lot of casualties to archery as they did so, but Joscelin looked doomed, for once in that position they launched such a barrage into the rear of his Armenian guard that they almost ceased to exist. Joscelin had no option but to advance his battered cavalry through to the front of his infantry (a forced 'push back' advance) and to form his infantry into pitched defence (back to back) formation.

Whilst Bohemond sorted out his lines, it was now time for Tancred to go on a ride to clear some space to manoeuvre by scattering the Turcomans who, seemingly everywhere, were threatening to get behind the Antiochenes lines. This mad charge (a 30" triple move) succeeded but left him alone and exposed in the rear of the enemy.

The photos above show the positions at the end of the session. The 11 points (per side) of initiative came out in dribs and drabs, in 1s 2s and 3s, with one 5 point initiative. The roll for the next initiative decided the end time of the session for me - both sides will get 10 initiative and the Saracen will chose to go first!

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