Category: Gunpowder Warfare

Black powder guns from arquebus to flintlock musket. I have chosen to start this period with the discovery of the New World (1492) and end it with the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855).
Sub-categories: New World, Italian Wars, Eighty Years’ War, Thirty Wars’ War, War of Spanish Succession, Napoleonic Wars, Liberators, Liberal Wars, Carlist Wars, New Zealand Wars.


Lutzen – A Big Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

Table - Lutzen - Tillys Very Bad Day

This is a big Tilly’s Very Bad Day scenario for the Battle of Lutzen (16 November 1632). An outnumbered Imperialist army must hold a strong defensive position until reinforcements arrive. Historically this battle is where King Gustavus died, so was a key moment in the Thirty Years War. In game terms this is a big game on a big table with big armies.

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Imperialists beat Swedes – 2 Player Game of Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly-105 Locked in melee

Adam and Chris played an Imperialist versus Swedish match up of Tilly’s Very Bad Day. Adam and Chris have a very different play style to Jamie and I so this game played out in an interesting way. Very gritty with one giant scrimmage forming. Eventually Adam’s Imperialists took the day. We were playing several draft rules for a major revision.

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Making dragoons more effective in Tilly’s Very Bad Day

30YW-800 - Catholic - Dragoons

In my lost post on making under represented unit types more effective in Tilly’s Very Bad Day, I have a look at dragoons in the Thirty Years War. Under the rules their main competition is shot and light horse, both under represented troop types. Based on my previous thinking on those troop types I propose some ways to modify the rules to make dragoons more valuable/useful/effective.

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Making light horse more effective in Tilly’s Very Bad Day

30YW-797 - Catholic - Croat

In my week of musing on unit types in Tilly’s Very Bad Day, I thought I’d outline what light horse represent and contrast them to (heavy) horse in the Thirty Years War. I also consider some ways to modify the rules to make light horse more valuable/useful/effective.

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Making (commanded) shot more effective in Tilly’s Very Bad Day

30YW-805 - Catholic - Shot

We’ve been playing Tilly’s Very Bad Day for a while and it clear some unit types don’t make the grade compared to Pike+Shot and horse. Shot, dragoons, light horse and even cannons are all unpopular. So I’m going to run a short series of posts this week with the theme of making these unit types more effective. Not surprisingly I’m starting to form ideas for a major new version of the rules.

I start with Shot because I was just musing on types of (commanded) shot in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.

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Musing on types of (commanded) shot in Tilly’s Very Bad Day

30YW-802 - Catholic - Shot

Tilly’s Very Bad Day has a “Shot” troop type. I thought I’d explain my thinking behind this troop type including how it simulates “commanded shot”.

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1529 French v Spanish – A 24 Element DBA-RRR Battle Report

DBA-RRR-503 Messy melee on French centre-right

Chris, Adam, Jamie and I had another DBA RRR game, with 24 Elements, set in the Italian Wars. I think everybody enjoyed it. Chris and I won as the French. I found it a bit odd that pikes avoid fighting shot, in fact everybody avoids fighting shot, and shot don’t really need support by pikes against anything. My conclusion is that shot is a DBA-RRR super troop.

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Musing on Large Pike+shot in Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Swedish Yellow Brigade

In Tilly’s Very Bad Day all pike+shot are the same. But Tilly, after whom the rules are name, was fond of the older style big tercios and Richard (doctorphalanx) has been encouraging me to do something about this.

And Tilly wasn’t alone in the appreciation of big brigades. Gustavus Adophus invented the Swedish Brigade of the Thirty Years War and this was as big as Tilly’s tercios although the interior configuration differed.

What to do with the large pike+shot units in Tilly’s Very Bad Day?

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William Guthrie on Tilly’s Big Tercios

Guthrie - 2000 man Catholic League Tercio - Square

Tilly (Field Marshal Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly) was fond of the older style big tercios. William Guthrie describes these unit in his book “Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen, 1618-1635” (Guthrie, 2002). I thought I’d have a look.

There is a health warning. Guthrie’s books contain a lot of great detail. But they do get a bit a a thrashing from European experts on the Thirty Years War. That means some of the below might be open to challenge. Even with my limited insight I’ve spotted a couple of things that don’t add

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Spanish beat Swedes – 2 player game of Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly-474 See-saw infantry battle - Left

Jamie and I played a Spanish versus Swedes match up of Tilly’s Very Bad Day. In a very exciting game my Spanish eventually prevailed. We introduced a house rule to make chequerboard more effective and both focused on this aspect of the game with some interesting conclusions.

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Painting Generals of the Thirty Years War

Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand - Adam Frans van der Meulen

Since I’ve published Tilly’s Very Bad Day I figure I should update my painting guide for the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). This is the guide for the Generals throughout the war, of whatever nationality.

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Second Battle of Seminara December 1502

Bernard Stewart, Lord d'Aubigny

During the Italian Wars, there were three battles at Seminara, in toe of the Calabrian peninsula. Most sources talk about the two Battles of Seminara on 28 June 1495 (Spanish loss) and 21 April 1503 (Spanish victory). Mallet and Shaw (2014) have an account of the battle of Seminara in late 1502 where the Spanish lose disastrously to the French. The Mallet and Shaw account mentioned Spanish reinforcements, like the 21 April 1503 battle, so I got terribly confused and thought this was an alternative version where the Spanish lose. Eventually I realised Mallet and Show are describing another battle

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Terrain Cards – Random terrain placement for pick up wargames

Terrain cards - Example - Real Cards

In our recent game of Tilly’s Very Bad Day Chris observed that, as the defender, he could exploit the terrain placement rules to his advantage. This is my proposal to address Chris’s concern. These rules allow randomised terrain for pick up battles in any period.

The terrain placement rules described here borrow heavily from Terrain Cards for a ECW Campaign.

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Spanish draw Swedes – 4 player game of Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly-899 Swedish foot blaze away

In a very exciting game the Spanish (Jamie and Steven) just barely managed to deny the Swedes (Chris and Adam) the victory they thought well in hand. We really enjoyed our first game of Tilly’s Very Bad Day following publication. Again the rules proved themselves able to provide a fast and exciting game, with lots of flavour. We are still struggling to break deeply ingrained habits from DBA, e.g. bunching up, and the more we do this, the more we enjoy Tilly. And we still need to iron out the problem with chequerboard formations.

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First Battle of Seminara 28 June 1495

Ferdinand II (Ferrandino) of Naples

During the Italian Wars, there were three battles at Seminara, in toe of the Calabrian peninsula. This is the first one (28 June 1495), where Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, known to history as the Great Captain (El Gran Capitán), suffered his only defeat. This battle was also the first field battle in the Italian Wars. The French gendarmes drove off Gonsalvo’s genitors, the Calabrian Militia panicked, and the Swiss pikemen (apparently) rolled over the lightly equipped Spanish infantry. This defeat forced Gonsalvo to rethink Spanish arms and tactics. Decisions that subsequently lead to the successes that made his name.

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