Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The push of pike

Low Countries (IV/57c) versus Later Swiss (IV/79)
At last the mighty guildsmen of the Low Countries have proved their metal defeating the Later Swiss (4-1). While this was not a historical match-up it provided a great opportunity to bring two late medieval pike armies together. I'd not won a battle with my Low Countries having faced a number of encounters with the same opponent's Early Burgundians (IV/76) with his dreaded 6 x 3Kn that can dismount to blades. His Swiss, however, I met on more even terms.

The Swiss were defending in this game and deployed their pike between a steep hill and a mighty castle (BUA) which was held by their heavy foot (6Bd). Skirmishers covered the pike's flanks, while light horse sat in reserve to the rear.

The Swiss elected not to advance beyond this defensive position (a decision exacerbated by poor PIP rolls) and waited as my pike block advanced. My artillery also advanced on the centre-right, supported by crossbows and skirmishers, taking up a key position in front of the Swiss castle.

As the impending clash of pike loomed the Swiss sent their light horse around their castle to try and neutralise (or worse) the artillery. Skirmishers passed across in front of the Flemish gunners to try and draw their fire. The Flemish knights (3Kn) under the command of my general charged to the right flank to firm up our position and contain the threat of the Swiss light horse. At this moment the Swiss heavy foot (6Bd) sallied forth from the castle but found little room to safely deploy on their constrained extreme left flank.

The Flemish general, crossbows and skirmishers fell onto the blades and skirmishers (the light horse lacking room to deploy fell back behind them). The blades were soon surrounded and destroyed under the very walls of their now undefended castle. The skirmishers were also surrounded and destroyed.

Some well-placed shot from the Flemish artillery disordered the left flank of the Swiss pike just before the guildsmen charged their pikes and pushed ahead to contact. The fighting in the centre ebbed and flowed with both sides deploying their pikes in depth and the terrain offering little opportunity to exploit an open flank to garner advantage. A second body of Flemish knights charged in to contain Swiss skirmishers on the slopes of the steep hill that threatened to flank the Flemish pike but were bettered in the bad terrain (Losses so far – Swiss 2: Low Countries 1).

The Flemish gunners then applied their art to the mighty ramparts of the castle driving off the local levy that was left to defend the walls after the untimely demise of the Swiss heavy foot. With the Swiss left flank in tatters and the walls of the castle undefended all that remained was for the Flemish knights to ride through the gates and raise the Maid of Ghent from its highest tower.

Realising that the fortification on which their left flank was anchored was now lost, the Swiss pike fell into disorder and were routed. Victory, at last!

The advance of the Flemish pikemen viewed from the Swiss lines.

NB: Please ignore the horrid flocking on the pike - they hale from a time before I knew any better. This army is on the list for some renovation - or, indeed, finishing!

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