Friday, March 15, 2024

Playtest of Liber Militum Tercios

I plan to refight the battle of Fleurus (1622) from the Thirty Years War with my gaming buddy Alex sometime in the next couple of weeks. The rules will be Liber Militum's Tercios, and while I've read through them a few times, I have never actually played them. I decided tonight would be a quick run-through of the mechanics using a few infantry units a side. 

Here's the setup: three protestant classic squadrons (left) versus two Spanish tercios (right). This is about 50% of the infantry that will be fielded in the proper battle. To keep it simple, the units are plain with no veteran, mercenary or raw status. 

One of the major components of the game mechanics are hidden order cards that are turned over alternately. The order has an action and a reaction option. The cards have less impact since I'm playing solo. For my playtest, both sides will advance initially but the tercios plan to move into melee and the protestants will stop and fire salvoes. 

The protestants (blue dice) won initiative over the Spanish (yellow ) with a score of  4-1. The protestants can choose to activate first or second. They chose first. 

At the beginning of the 2nd turn the left flank unit of the Protestants turned over a fire card, since the distance was less than 8 inches, both arqubues and muskets were in range giving them 3 dice which needed to match or exceed the tercio's defense against salvoes (which was a 4), they rolled three 6s! The tercio rolled to save the hits, using their courage rating (a 4) which meant they had 4 dice in which they needed a 4+. They only got one successful save, two hits (those red puffs) were inflicted in the tercio. Had the tercio not made any successful saves, they also would have been disordered ( a reduction in their discipline). I inadvertently gave them a white puff to denote disorder but I quickly removed it when I reread the rules. 

The other tercio surged forward to try and close into melee. The protestant middle squadron revealed their "fire" order card as a reaction. The advantage of this card is that there is no penalty for reactive fire. The protestant squadron inflicted a few hits as the tercio closed into melee. During the subsequent push of pike, the protestants got the better of it and the tercio was pushed back with a total of 4 wear markers (i.e. hits). 

The tercio with two wear markers used a resist card to remove one of them (one always stays) and the other tercio with four wear markers was able to remove one as well. Unfortunately they were charged by a protestant unit and suffered badly with 3 more hits (or wear markers) while only inflicting one on their enemy. The tercio had more hits than they had stamina and had to take.a break check. They passed this time. 

At this point, the protestant squadron decided to declare a "bad war" which can be called by either side in a melee of both units are armed with pikes. In the event of a "bad war", melee is continued for another round. This happened a few more times until the tercio failed a break check and was broken. At this point, I called the playtest complete. 

I did some things wrong but I got a good idea of how the basic mechanics work. I imagine there will be more to learn with cavalry, artillery and terrain on the tabletop (especially all of it present at the same time). The Spanish performed poorly because of bad dice rolls and my assumption that tercios would be significantly more devastating in melee. They aren't. The tercios benefit from being more resilient and harder to flank but that is about it. I enjoyed the rules and look forward to more playtest and a proper game. 


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