I keep thinking about a multi-player Campaign for the Thirty Years War. Two of the big questions is how many factions and what are they? I take a quick look at board games for inspiration before taking a view. There are quite a few board games for the Thirty Years War. Many focus on simulating the entire war so I thought I have a look at what factions they have.
Richard (doctorphalanx) has been encouraging me to introduce baggage camps into Tilly’s Very Bad Day. I like painting up camps for DBA and I already have a camp for my Dutch army of the Thirty years War. My question is, was looting the baggage train/camp a significant event in any battles of the Thirty years War or English Civil War?
Joe Collins has highlighted a number of problems with DBA 3.0 and suggested ways to address these problems. Collin’s was part of the group that developed DBA 3.0 so he is both a fan and on the inside team. I really like Collin’s attempt to tackle some big problems with DBA. It would be great if more people did this, starting with Phil Barker. Unfortunately, Collin’s particular suggestions mostly leave the problems unsolved. I do like his solution for Bow but even that needs more.
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.
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?
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 up. But here we go.
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 entirely, fought in late November or December 1502, but at Seminara like the other two. In fact, I just had to turn the page and Mallet and Shaw explicitly called this encounter the “second Battle of Seminara” and a later battle the third. Other sources table about a similar encounter about this time but at Terranova (Prescott, 1962, 2016b) and the two may be the same battle. In fact the encounter at Terranova is more plausible as an account given it just involves reinforcements not the “combined Spanish forces”.
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.
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.
I quite like Brzezinski’s (1993) analysis of cavalry in the Thirty Years War. He believes there were three types of horse (Arquebusier, Horsemen, Cuirassier) and I think unit quality can simulate these types in Tilly’s Very Bad Day. All three types could shoot or charge but typically a unit did one or the other; I leave this choice to the player.
Adam, Chris, and Jamie came over for a play test of Tilly’s Very Bad Day. It was a good quick game, with considerable spectacle. There were lots of troops, and, yay. I’ve finally got my Thirty Years War forces on table. Although it was a reasonable game, we did come up with quite a long list of observations, suggestions, and tweaks to the rules. By the way, the Swedes beat the Imperialists.