The Battle of Maisnon - Impetus Battle Report

A rare an wondrous moment occurred last Sunday as I actually was able to host some of the Spokane gaming regulars down to my end of the woods for a game of Impetus.  Present were Jon and Kevin along with a friend of theirs, Don, from much further South in Idaho.  

The scenario for the day was the first public outing for my Francis I/Charles V Renaissance project.  I have been itching to get these guys on the table since I completed my pike squares, and our last game at Jon's convinced us of a need to play more Impetus.  

Thus I decided to generate the completely fictitious Battle of Maisnon.   Occurring somewhere on frontier, I opted for a battle that would have different strengths for each side, and also highlight the different units available for the time period on the Impetus lists.   For the French that meant a powerful Cavalry contingent and Veteran Swiss pikes.  The Imperials would enjoy an artillery battery and more light cavalry.

 A hasty write-up for the players: 

Situation:  Mercenaries in the Employ of Charles V have captured a key crossroads South of the Town of Maisnon, rechristening the town "Machtsnichts".  The site is also the location of the only traffic-able ford across the Aben river capable of handling heavy supply wagons.   The local noble has assembled his Gendarmes and is leading a group of Swiss Mercenaries and local militia to re-open the road.

Scenario Special Rules:  The River is difficult terrain, units have to stop prior to crossing and then may cross in one move resulting in disorder.  Any non-skirmish/light cavalry unit moving through woods is disordered.  Units firing within the woods suffer -1 attack dice.

Order of battle

Imperial Army of Charles V

2 CP German Men At Arms (Large Unit)
2 CL Veteran light cavalry (Spanish Jinetes)
2 CL Mounted Harquebusier
2 ART A (Demi-Cannon) 
2 Infantry Squares each with
    3x FP Pike (Large Unit)
    1x S Handgunners
    1x S Doppelsoldners
1 Spanish Colunela with
    3x FP Pike (Large Unit)
    2 T    Harquebusier
    1x S Handgunners

    1x S Sword and Shield
French Army of Francois I

2  CP Gendarmes
1  CP Ordannance Archers
1 CL Mounted Handgunners
1 CL Mounted Crossbow 
2 T Crossbow A
1 Infantry Square w/  
     3x FP Pike (Large Unit)
     1x S Harquebusier
     1x S Doppelsoldners
1 Old Band w/
      3x FP Old Band Pike (Large Unit)
      1x S   Old Band Harquebusier   
1 Veteran Swiss Square w/
     3x FP Pike (Large Unit)
     1x S Harquebusier
     1x S Halberdiers

Don and Jon opted to drive the French forces.  They split the formation with the Infantry hand-railing the river and the Cavalry stacked on the right flank near the hill.  I was teamed with Kevin again (this would turn out to be fortuitous as you shall see...)  Kevin took the Spanish Colunela, two units of light cavalry, a cannon and a Landsknecht square on the right.  I took one Infantry Square, 2 light cav, a canon and the German Men-at-arms on the left.

Unfortunately the first several pictures of the battle on my SD card were corrupted, so you may have to wait for Jon to post his pics to fully visualize our deployment.  

My pictures pick up the action on turn 2:

Here on the left Jon's initial volley from the mounted crossbow manage to damage my Jinetes eliminating their Impetus bonus.  The Jinetes charge home on the Crossbowmen who opt to stand.  The loss of that Impetus bonus leaves them evenly matched resulting in a stand-off that would tie them up for most of the game.

The Imperial Cannon scored some early victories, throwing the French Gendarmes into disorder and disrupting the mounted hand gunners.  I knew my only hope against the armored juggernaut (VBU 8 +5 Impetus) was to keep them stacked up and disordered and did manage that, for the first couple of turns at least.  
The French cavalry seen on the left approaches.  The German Men-at-arms bide their time, knowing they will have one chance!

The Spanish light horse advances on the far side of the river, peppering the French Crossbows and tying them up in the process.  Imperial skirmishers advance to soften the Swiss hammer.

Here on the Imperial Right, the Spanish prepare a special welcome for the Old Bands and Swiss pike.

The constant harassment on the Imperial right cause the Old Bands to falter, the Swiss are now out ahead of the masses ready to crush the Spanish.

Halberds and Zweihanders clash as the melee skirmishers clash ahead of the main battle.  The Old Bands absorb withering gun and cannon fire.

The Imperial light cavalry screen starts to falter allowing the French heavies to advance.

Sensing an opportunity with the damaged lead Gendarmes, the German cavalry launches its attack.  The French unit is pushed back disorganizing the following units.  

Fire pours into the Swiss as they charge the hapless Spanish.  Is this the end?

The Spanish had four dice to roll versus the Swiss 11.  This was the result.  For those who have not played Impetus, this roll is about as good as it gets.

This would be Kevin's cohesion check for the Spanish..  Again, this is a good thing for him....  Please note the absence of Swiss infantry in the following picture.....

The French cavalry make their move on the right.  The German cavalry is no match and melts away under the wave of French steel.  The German Infantry manages to just hold, but the French cavalry is now in position to cause a very bad day. 
Fortunately for the Imperials, General Kevin's dicing skills would continue to confound the French and amaze his compatriot. With the French Infantry reeling, the French opted to cut their losses rather than try and force the Cavalry into the Hedgerows of Pikes.  

Overall, I had a great time with this engagement and am quite happy with how my collection is shaping us.  Facing the French Gendarmes gives me a new appreciation for the tactical problem presented by the Crusader knights in our Reconquista battles, as that CP8+5 Heavy Cavalry can dominate a Cavalry wing.

For the future I want to plus up my Pike Squares to at least four per side, and get some period appropriate light cavalry.  Harquebusiers and Zweihanders make Skirmishers a much greater force than the types we use in earlier periods and definitely create a much different feel than the Reconquista  and Punic war era Impetus games we have played in the past.

This period (1480s-1540s)is also just about perfect for the type of gaming I like.  It is still more "Pike" than "Shotte," and the colorful groups make for entertainment at the painting table.


  1. Great BatRep and very fun day of gaming. Thank you!
    Kevin was lucky to get a ride back to Spokane after his luck with the dice!

    1. Yeah, fortunately he had me as an ally to reign it in a little bit....

  2. Great AAR, the game looked really good


    1. The best part was the stress test for my Pikes and Lances. I will be completing repairs sometime this month!

  3. Great looking table - especially like the Pike blocks - "the Queens of the Battlefield" in this era, as none other than Charlie Sweet told us when Joe and I were first exposed to the Pike and Shot period via a game at his home. That started a fascination with the wars of 1500 - 1600 for both of us.

    1. I totally understand the fascination. The fact that you can paint a few specialty units and rapidly switch forces to Venice, Milan or the Papal States provides great diversity. This one game has resulted in some big plans for the future.


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