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Battle Scenarios

Battle of Nancy (January 1477 AD)
(A Big Battle DBA Scenario)

By Ken Blackley

Things had gone from bad to worse for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. His once-powerful political and military position had been much weakened following his defeats to the Swiss at Morat and Grandson. And the supporters of Rene, Duke of Lorraine, had retaken most of the towns Charles had captured in Lorraine. However, despite these setbacks, Charles was never one to give up.

The cold winter of 1476 saw the Duke and his small army laying siege to the city of Nancy, capital of Lorraine, following its recent successful recapture by the Duke of Lorraine's forces earlier in the year. Charles' hopes that Nancy would quickly surrender were fruitless as the siege dragged on through the brutally cold winter of 1476. But despite the freezing temperatures, his army's deteriorating condition, and the danger of Rene appearing with a relieving army, Charles refused to lift the siege.

By Christmas Eve the weather was so bad that 400 Burgundians froze to death on that day alone. But did this cause our Chuck to pack it in and go home like a sensible soul? Hah! Not bloody likely...

Meanwhile, Duke Rene had gathered an allied army of some 10-12,000 men from Lorraine and the Lower Union (of the Rhine) as well as 10,000 Confederation Swiss mercenaries. They reached Nancy on January 5, 1477, where they were joined by Charles ally, the Compte de Campabasso, who had seen the writing on the wall and had decided to switch sides.

Charles drew up his small army (probably only 4,000-5,000 men) in a valley to the south of Nancy, positioning it behind a small stream (the Ruisseau de Jarville) with the river Meurthe protecting his left flank and thick woods on his right. He deployed his artillery to his front along with his infantry, flanked on both sides by his mounted gendarmes.

Advancing through driving snow, the Allied army decided against a straight frontal assault. Instead, the vanguard (Vorhut) of 7,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry wheeled to its left and made its way through the thick woods to outflank Charles' right.

At around noon the Vorhut appeared behind Charles right flank. Blowing their alpenhorns three times, the van attacked while the main body (Gewalthut), and Nachhut (rear guard,) who had been waiting for this signal, moved to assault Charles' front.

The battle was a complete rout. The Burgundians, outnumbered 4-1, in poor physical condition, and attacked on two sides, disintegrated.

Three days later the body of Charles the Bold was recovered from the ruins of his broken army, bringing a final and decisive end to his dreams of Burgundian glory.

The Armies

Burgundians: The Burgundians are all one command, and roll 1d6 for PIPs.

1x3Kn (Gen), 5x3Kn/4Bd, 2xArt, 3x8Bw, 1x4Bd (foot knights), 1x4Bd (household Infantry), 3x4Lb. 1x2Ps, 1x4Cb

Allied Army: The Allied army consists of three commands, each rolling 1d6 for PIPs.

Vorhut (advance guard) ? 10x4Pk, 3x4Bl, 2x4Cv
Gewalthut (main body) - 10x4Pk, 6x4Bl, 2x4Cv
Nachhut (rear guard) 5 Ps

Terrain and Deployment

The Burgundians are placed on the table first. They should be placed behind a small stream (the Ruisseau de Jarville) with the river Meurthe to their left flank and thick woods about 600 paces to their right. The river is impassable, while the stream and the woods are treated as bad going. The Burgundian artillery is deployed in the middle with the infantry, while the heavy cavalry is positioned on the wings.

Place the Swiss Vorhut at the edge of the woods on the Burgundian right flank; the Gewalthut is positioned 600 paces to the Burgundian front with the Nachhut behind it. The Swiss take the first turn.

Scenario Rules

A glance at the elements totals for this scenario give a good indication of how one-sided this scenario really is. To make it worse, since the Burgundians were in such poor condition they should be given a -1 on all combat rolls!

If you really want to give poor Charles the shaft, reduce the range for all bow and gunfire to 100 paces to represent the effect of the swirling snow on visibility.

What?!? This will be a slaughter!!!

Sure will. As such this scenario is really only for a quick solo game. Just leave the Burgundians in their starting position and roll over them with the Swiss.

For face-to-face play, here are a few "what-ifs" you can try ...

What if the Compte de Campabasso hadn't changed sides? Add another Knight element to the Burgundian line-up.

What if the Allies had attacked frontally? Deploy the entire allied army to the Burgundian front.

What if Charles had a strong army at Nancy? Give Charles a regular 36-element BBDBA army.

What if the weather had been better? Drop the -1 penalty to Burgundian combat rolls and allow shooting at regular ranges.

What if Charles hadn't been so stubborn? Play another scenario [grin].

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Last Update: Dec. 12, 2001

My thanks to Ken Blackley for this scenario. Gamer feedback is welcome. Send comments to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.