Further thoughts on Tercio’s

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    JW Boots

    It is my impression that the 16th century tercio is not well modelled in any wargaming ruleset, including P&S. I can reshuffle three pike and shot combinations, as depicted in the rulebook. I can play around with large pikeblocks combined with small units of shot, as in the supplements. It doesn’t seem to cut it. Reading on the subject brings forward a picture of a well-oiled juggernaut. Not three pike blocks next to each other, it was a single block. Not a large block. Huge seems a better word to use.

    On top of that the pike block could also have a so-called garrison. Extra shot that would stay close/attached to the pikes instead of in the sleeves. The pike block typically would be deployed as a perfect square (being good at math was important for the officers in order to calculate the number of ranks and files needed with a given number of men), but could be broadened as well.

    My take on it is to introduce an extra formation type: the Spanish Tercio Pike Block. It is only available to Spanish armies in the 16th century. It always uses the special rule LARGE and has the optional new special rules SQUARE and SHOT GARRISON. The stats are simply two standard pike blocks added up on all relevant items. So HtH is 12 (yes, 12), morale 4+ and stamina 8 (yes, 8).

    The straightforward way of creating such a Spanish tercio pike block on the table is two pike blocks next to each other, thus acting as one.

    SQUARE: the same number of figures used for two pike blocks are deployed in a perfect square. So it will be somewhat less wide, but deeper. Deduct 2 from the HtH (so back to 10) dice. This represents the lesser frontage. In addition the unit is unaffected by the -1 in close combat when also attacked in flank or rear. Note, however, that the unit does have flanks so can be supported as normal.

    SHOT GARRISON: add 2 shooting dice to the stats. The unit may shoot with a maximum of 1 dice per side. In addition the unit may only be supported by small units of shot, from where the men would have been taken, and/or other non-shot units.

    I have yet to test this myself, but I think this will be a hefty unit (which they were) that, on the other hand, also puts a lot of eggs in a single basket.


    Interesting subject JW.

    I would create it this way – add together 1 standard pike & 2 muskets with 1 large pike and 4 small muskets. The total would be:
    4 small shot (normal profile) – mangas for +2pts they gain double-handed weapon bonus (mangas usually had a complement of halberdiers)
    2 standard shot (normal profile) – garrisons
    1 huge pike block (HTH 14, SH0, M4+, ST10)
    The 10 stamina includes the bonus for ‘Column of Pike’ found in the supplement ‘To Kill a King’ and as such the pike block would have the special rule Eager.

    To create a cuadro de gente deploy 7×7 pikemen, or 10×5 for cuadro de terreno.

    All units can act independently though they will re-roll failed order for Hedgehog. The small shot can fire 360 degrees, the garrison 1 shot front or back, full shot value exposed side of pike block, no shot facing pike (obviously)!

    Haven’t tried it, but I did try the tercio suggestion in the supplement ‘The Devil’s Playground’ – good but unwieldy.

    mark bolton

    Recently had a game using a Tercio with home made rules . Very similar . Double frontage with 10 hth , 1* shot , 4+ save and 8 stamina . The one shot was one per face and from within it’s own footprint -no shot depicted . The 8 stamina was somewhat confined by making the Tercio state at it’s turn start if it would take hits OR disorder , if hits , then the first 6 rolled was one extra casualty and any excess 6’s extra hits to be saved. Also , it’s movement was restricted in that any turn required a whole move and any movement was straight ahead only . Juggernaut would be a good term indeed.

    Charge The Guns

    Great discussion and interesting that several prople’s approaches very similar.

    When you have these ‘juggernauts’ how many regular units are allowed to fight them frontally?

    JW Boots

    In answer to Corso. I only went as far as combining 2 normal pike blocks because that already felt big. Having said that when considering that in the early days a Spanish colonel could have as much as 6000 men, at least in theory, under him and comparing that to the 1500 men Montrose had at the battle of Aberdeen… That puts stuff into perspective. So we could even go as far as combining 2 large pike blocks.

    One thing I would like to add is that I realize that I am looking with post-17th century eyes to a 16th century unit. In that period they were the guys to beat and the Dutch and later the Swedish pulled their hairs out in figuring out how. Note that Nieuwpoort was a very close call.

    I am frankly not in favor of adding special rules related to weapons if it isn’t for the main weaponry of that unit.

    Using a units of shot for the garrison may work, but one may also have the garrison move away from the pikes in mid-game, and it is my understanding that they were more integral to the pikes than that. Hence my proposal for just adding shooting dice. given the pike block 360 degree shooting capability, but with a max of 1 shot per side. For the sleeves it might even be an option to allow 2 units of large shot per tercio pike block… not sure how that plays out.

    On the control side I would allow veteran tercios to be elite 4+ and the old ones could be eager or reliable, but not when in a state of mutiny, which wasn’t uncommon.

    Reading the comments and back what I wrote I feel that the SQUARE rules is my ultimate hobby-horse in this discussion. A tercio could deploy in a number of ways but this needed to be decided before the battle. One advantage of the Dutch and Swedish system is in-battle flexibility. So giving the Spanish an either-or choice with plusses and minuses would model this.

    Finally on the frontages. I think as much as can be fitted per the rules. So a two-block tertio could be hit by 2 pike units.

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