The battle of Fornovo – 1495

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    JW Boots

    My US based friend Rene with me and another friend based in NL played an online version of the battle of Fornovo. A truly wargames battje that, I think, is underrated… anyway. Please find the AAR here:

    Note that strictly speaking this is off period Pike & Shotte wise, but I feel P&S models the period better than HC…

    Rough Rider

    Great stuff JWB- very enjoyable read.

    Charge The Guns

    Great battle report, JW. I really enjoyed that. Very exciting finish with the King dying at the head of his Gendarmes! I think this period fits in well for P&S, although not tried in Hail Caesar.

    How did you find the game being run via video call? Any tips?

    JW Boots

    Great question. Please see my experiences below…


    First things first. The best tip is to just go do it. This is what we did. At first just Robert and me due to COVID. With the two of us not more than 26 km apart we normally visit each other for a game. But as we both regularly visit our mothers too we didn’t want to risk it. At some point the idea of doing something via FaceTime just popped in our minds and off we went.

    After a few such games we realised that it doesn’t matter if we are 26 km apart, or only 1 km, 2600 km, 26000 km or whatever. Rene moved to the US years ago and we only see him when he is back in NL. FaceTime bridges the Atlantic easily and so now its the three of us. The obvious thing we need to remember is the time difference, but with a bit of planning that works out fine.

    The setup we use is one in which the game table is at one of us. Let’s call him the facilitator. This means that the facilitator must have sufficient miniatures for two armies. We are in the fortunate position to have that in several periods. This being said, however, we do cut back on unit size a bit in order to achieve it.

    Another reason for cutting back is the game table. On-line may take a bit longer than usual, although as you get the hang of it this will improve, and it helps if you are able to pause a game and leave it standing for some time. For us that means our regular game tables don’t work and we found a solution in spare bedrooms, or similar, that can only hold smaller tables. To make things fit we cut down table and unit sizes and use centimetres for inches.

    In preparing for the game it helps that as facilitator you setup the game table well in advance and take a few pictures. Ensure to also make an all including top view straight from above, a view from heaven as probably our historic counterparts would say. This helps the players getting a good view on the starting situation. So share these in advance. Also when you pause a game make sure to take pictures and share with the players so they can contemplate their next moves. This adds to a wargaming experience. Utterly unrealistic of course, but fun to do.

    At and during the game it is best that the facilitator uses a mobile device with both a front and back camera. I use an iPad, but any modern mobile device will do the trick. Don’t worry if sometimes you have to lay down your mobile device, and so cover the camera for the players, when having to move units around. Just pick it up when you’re done, zoom in on what you’ve done… and you’re done.

    Players best use a computer or laptop of some sort as these tend to have bigger screens which ensures a good view on what is shown via FaceTime, or any other online conference App. This also means the player are likely to use a desk, which helps them keeping drinks and bites within reach… Oh, and the rules, army list, scenario, etc. of course.

    In our setup the facilitator shows the game table and moves the units around as indicated by the players. When die rolls are needed we normally have the players throw their own dice at their desk and mention, or even show, the result. This works fine. Alternatively the facilitator can roll the dice, but in our experience the facilitator does not tend to have a lucky hand…

    Finally, we only have used the Black Powder, Pike & Shotte and Hail Caesar rulesets so far, and will probably continue to do so. These support on-line gaming very well. In my opinion mostly because of the command and control mechanism. As a player you need to first clearly and concisely tell everybody out loud what your order for a unit is, and then roll the dice to see if it succeeds. This is perfect for on-line where the players’ only means of getting to move their units is telling out loud what they want them to do. A good ruleset for on-line wargaming is a set with a game mechanism that strongly supports open communication amongst players… and spectators.

    Charge The Guns

    Thanks, JWB. Very interesting to see how you managed the remote game. I will see if I can convince some of the club here to give it a go.

    invisible officer

    Thank you for sharing how you do the remote gaming.  One heart for that but you deserve many more for caring for the mothers.

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