'See you in September' - The Battle of Lezhe


About three years ago I tried Bob Jones' Piquet rules, first Les Grognardsfor Napoleonics, and then the Medieval/Renaissance module, Band of Brothers (BoB). I've played several other Piquet modules since then, and although I like them all, BoB is my favorite. I've been collecting rules for the Renaissance era for over 20 years, and for my tastes, these rules really capture the flavor of the period and are exciting to play as well. Because of the transitional nature of warfare in this era BoB is the most complex module for Piquet released so far, but once you get the hang of the rules, they play very smoothly.

BoB shares a number of elements with all Piquet modules. Each army has its own Sequence Deck. The Sequence deck contains a different mix of cards for each army modeled, and indeed, the make up can be modified to reflect scenario specific conditions. This was indeed done for this battle. The Sequence Deck contains cards that allow (but do not require) Movement by Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery in their turn, "Reloading" of firearms and canons, Changes of Facing, change of Formation, Leadership activities by commanders, Melee, and many others. It may also contain cards requiring uncontrolled charges, morale checks, and special Stratagems. The players roll 20-sided dice and compare the scores to determine who has the impetus to act and also how many impetus points they have to spend. The player with the impetus turns cards from his deck (which costs a point each), and may spend impetus carrying out the actions allowed by each card, or pass on a card he can't or doesn't want to use, and turn another card. The draw of the cards and the unpredictable swings of impetus create a "fog of war" that I find much more like the confusion of battle than most wargame rules. Some players may find the rules seem to "random" for their tastes, but Piquet is really about managing that uncertainty in such a fashion as to maintain as much control of the flow of events as possible, while forcing your opponent to react to your moves. The combat rules also emphasize less predictable results than most sets. Rarely is it a sure thing that one unit will defeat another in melee, or cause significant effect on a target unit if firing, although the odds are heavily influenced by the tactical situation. Finally, Piquet gives each side a pool of "Morale Chips" which, in an abstract but very effective and elegant way, represent the armies will to fight. Morale chips are lost each time a stand of troops has to be removed, and each time a unit is disordered, routed, or loses a melee, and each time a commander tries to rally a unit. Although the battle isn't lost when one side runs out of morale chips, if the tide doesn't turn shortly thereafter, things start to get ugly fast for the "chipless" side! If these concepts interest you, give Piquet a try!

This battle was the sixth in a "pseudo-campaign" set in Renaissance Italy circa 1500 that Joe Fish and myself have been playing, based upon the ideas of Ken Baggaley. The overall campaign acts as a backdrop for our battles. In this action, Joe Fish, assisted by Roger Downie, has the Ottoman Turks, and I played the Venetians. We used 25mm troops from an assortment of manufacturers spanning the past 15 years, including Essex, Hinchliffe, Foundry, Redoubt, Minifigs, and others. In this particular action, many of the units were recently painted, and seeing their first battle. I don't know about you, but we usually expect "raw" troops to give a poor account of themselves in their first tabletop battle, and we half expected the same here. It didn't happen that way - most of the units performed admirably.

In Piquet, all units except artillery generally have 4 stands. As a battle report convention, when the loss of one or more officers is cited, this equates to the loss of an equivalent number of stands from the unit. The report is written in a narrative style that I hope you will find entertaining, with "editor's notes" explaining how some of the events relate to the game and it's mechanics. Thanks to Joe are in order for his contribution to parts of the narrative.


It all started with the Sultan's sons. Three rather dissimilar brothers, this brood of the Sultan's. The most dangerous at dinner was the most reliable on the field, the most reliable in court the biggest problem in camp! Someone, whose identity Mohammed would love to discover, suggested to the Sultan that the time was ripe to pull treasures from the remaining isolated Byzantine principality and the over extended Venetian holdings. What better way to blood his three young princes than to raid the area around the Adriatic?

Small numbers of seized merchant wagons from poorly escorted convoys had convinced Hassan al Rancid, a man difficult beyond his twenty five years, that he was a tactical genius. His brother, Mustafa, only slightly older, actually was a better tactician who did manage to torch a small Byzantine village and destroy a unit of their once proud cavalry. Mustafa piously gave the credit to Allah, but the battle plan had actually been Farad's, his oldest brother.

Raids on weak knee'd merchants and unprepared villages were all very exciting. Laying siege the port of Durazzo required the Sultan's cannon and elite troops as well as the typical fanatic looters employed in the Balkans. A seasoned commander was also needed, so Mohammed Farouk found himself now hurrying to stop an army of Venetians from lifting the siege. Scouts had reported the slow progress of the would be saviors of Durazzo down the coastal road from around Trieste.

Near the mouth of the Drin River there was the small fishing village of Lezhe. The ground was open and favored cavalry as much as the encroaching foothills to the east would allow. The Venetians had marched faster than expected, but then Mohammed had brought along some of the Sultan's heavy artillery for the event. With a sigh, Mohammed Farouk mused that the life of an Ottoman general, and in his case, also the Caliph of Baghdad, was never dull. Fail your master, and strangulation in the Sultan's tent is likely to follow swiftly. At the same time, too many victories were known to make Kalliman paranoid about palace coups and could be equally dangerous to one's health. More than one successful general had died prematurely, rumored to be courtesy of his Magnificence's skilled poisoners.

Mohammed considered the field as the forces deployed. The infidel Venetian commander had placed his best troops - the pikes and arquebusiers of the elite citizen guards of Venice, supported by heavily armored pistoliers and lancers, across from Mohammed's artillery and Janissaries. The local orchards provided succulent peaches, and slaves had recently arrived with a gift of ice packed in straw from the Sultan. The juice of the fruit and the ice will make an excellent mixture to delight the palate as we watch the infidels die under our guns while they try to cross the river!

Hassan al Rancid snorted at the idea of the guns and muskets alone stopping the Venetian pikemen. Being placed in charge of the Ottoman center, with its huge numbers of local rabble and looters from the hills to the east and south had enraged him. So, disgusted with his post, and convinced that his two brothers would snatch the glory with the cavalry they commanded, he had wrapped himself in his pavilion the night before the battle in a fog of blue smoke and, some say, forbidden drink. The morning found him a very disoriented man, and his orders confused rather than guided his officers and men. (Ed Note: He rolled up as a "Poor" Commander)

Farrad al Rancid commanded the Rumelian Sipahi and their retainers; Mustafa the Anatolian Sipahi and all the light horse that went along with the command. The detachment of the Sultan's Household Cavalry stayed near at Mohammed's hand. The plan was the Ottoman's favorite, letting the enemy come to be weakened with successive waves of light trooops before the cannon, Janissairies and heavier cavalry finished them off. Mohammed indulged in another mixture of peach juices and ices as the battle unfolded. (Ed Note: Peach Daquiris, courtesy of my wife!)

For his part, the Venetian commander, Niccolo Urlife, was happy to take the field again. A famous Condotiere, he'd never the less found himself unemployed after his last tour of duty with the Serene Republic, which had culminated in a hard won victory at the Battle of the Bolla. Thus, he was delighted when the herald arrived from the Venetian Senate, confirming the Dodge's nomination of him to command the field forces the Republic had mustered to lift the Ottoman siege of Durazzo. An experienced soldier, Urlife had expected some more substantial move on the part of the ambitious Sultan Kalliman al Rancid would follow upon the many Ottoman raids in the Balkan's this year, but even he was surprised that the target was Durazzo, one of the chief centers of Venetian power in the Adriatic for centuries. The Dodge had sent an ultimatum to the Porte, requiring them to withdraw from around the city by the autumnal equinox, but the only response from the court of the Sultan had been the return of the herald minus his tongue, but with a brief note pinned to his coat reading, "See You in September!" Thus the tempo of events had accelerated.

Unfortunately, he was not delighted that the Dodge had reserved the right to appoint and dismiss his principal subcommanders, but what's a mercenary to do, especially with a paymaster as reliable as Venice? So off he went to join his army. It turned out that the Dodge had appointed two men he'd worked with before, and one unknown quantity. First was Leonardo Orso Da Caprio, the 30 year old son of the Dodge himself. From his past experience at the Bolla, Niccolo knew him to be cunning ambitious, and very loyal to his father. Unfortunately, he also knew him to be somewhat unreliable and overly susceptible to pretty women Next was Paolo Vitale Loredan, also known to him from the battle of the Bolla. Proud but of an inherently good nature, Niccolo cinched up his codpiece nervously as he recalled the 19 year old's fondness for his cavalrymen. Lastly, the Dodge had appointed one Izzo Morano to command the troops drawn from Venice's Dalmatian territories. The arquebus and sword armed Schiavonni troops seemed tough enough, but Morano was another matter. He was inexperienced at war and seemed a bit dull, but coming from their territories himself, he did have the support of his colonial troops. Overall, one could certainly do worse for subordinates.

After inspecting his troops, Count Urlife lost no time marching down the coast of the Adriatic towards the besieged city of Durazzo. Fortunately, the Venetian senate had also sent a powerful naval detachment to support his advance, and therefore Urlife kept to the coastal road. By mid September, the Venetian army had drawn within a week's march of Durazzo, and the Ottoman scouts and pickets had grown from a handful to dense clouds. It seemed that the Ottomans would offer battle along the banks of the shallow, brackish river Drin near its mouth. When scouts reported Turkish artillery and the feared Jannisaries deploying along the road, a battle on the morrow seemed a certainty. After reviewing the terrain, Niccolo assigned Leonardo Da Caprio to the main center command, including his elite Venetian city Pikemen (would that he had more of these!), the elite Venetian city Arquebusiers, as well as his (somewhat) mobile artillery, and his musket armed scouts. Their right flank would be anchored by the Adriatic itself, with support from the water available from a Venetian galleass and Galley detailed to cooperate with him. His far left flank Urlife assigned to Paolo Loredan, his command including most of the Venetian cavalry. Niccolo still had a headache from the whining Paolo had done when he found that, instead of his beloved Venetian pistoliers, he would instead have a body of overly swarthy and ill mannered German mercenary Reiters as his heaviest cavalry. The Reiters also seemed a bit unsettled by their new commander, with further codpiece checks taking place in their ranks at the news. He admonished Loredan strictly to keep his cavalry in control, and avoid exposing his flanks to the more mobile Turkish cavalry. With a twinkle in his eye, the young man gaily proclaimed that while he might enjoy exposing himself to the Turks, exposing the flanks of his troops was another matter altogether! Linking the two commands were the Schiavonni, with their paisano Morano leading them. The splendidly trained and fully armored Venetian Reiters, as well as his personal band of armored lance armed Cavalleria Leggeria, Urlife kept as a reserve under his personal command. They were deployed to the right rear of the main body, in order to counter any attempt by the swarms of Ottoman cavalry to gain the vulnerable flanks of the pikemen or arquebusiers.

The Scenario And Deployment

Serene Republic of Venice

Center, Leonardo Orso Da Caprio (Average)

  • Phalanx of 2 units of elite Venetian heavy infantry pikemen, deployed just East of the peach orchard
  • 2 units of elite Venetian medium infantry arquebusiers, deployed in line to either side of the phalanx; Verdi's to the East and Scarlati's to the west
  • 1 battery medium militia gunnes, deployed astride the road to Durazzo
  • 2 units of musket armed light infantry militia skirmishers, screening the command

Left Center, Izzo Morano (Average)

  • 3 units of Schiavonni drawn from Scutari, Ragusa, and Zara respectively - close order lightly equipped arquebusiers/swordsmen, deployed in battlemass formations, with their left flank refused, in order to support Loredan's cavalry.

Left Flank, Paolo Loredan (Average)

  • 2 units of Stradiots, Albanian native medium cavalry with spear and mace, deployed in deep (battlemass) formation, intended to counter the expected hordes of Ottoman light and medium cavalry.
  • 1 unit of mercenary Reiters, regular heavy cavalry with pistols and swords, trained to caracole, deployed in support of the left flank of the Stradiots
  • 1 unit of Mounted Arquebusiers, militia light cavalry with arquebuses, screening the front of the Stradiots.

Reserve, under Commander-in-Chief, Niccolo Urlife (Skilled)

  • Venetian City Pistoliers, elite extra heavy cavalry, pistols and swords
  • Cavalleria Leggeria, regular heavy cavalry with lances.

Venetian Navy, detached

  • Galleass "San Marco", captained by Loren Polo
  • Galley "Lido", captained by Albanian merchant Boss Schakz

Ships move only on a Naval Phase Card (1 added to main sequence deck), 6" for Galleass, 8" for Galley. Can not come any closer than 6 inches to the shore, fire with effect and range of a medium battery (any direction from any point) for the Galleass, light battery (only off of the front, plus or minus 45 degrees) for the Galley.

The Ottoman Empire

Center, Hassan al Rancid (Abysmal)

  • Four units of bow armed Azabs, LI with no armor
  • One unit of Tufcengi, MI , armed with arquebus
  • One unit Arnaughts, LI, armed with arquebus
  • One unit Thracian mountaineers, LI, armed with arquebus

Raider Command, Mustafa al Rancid (Superior)

  • Three units of LC Akinjis, two armed with bow (Anatolia, Arab Faithful), and one unit with spears (Genitors of Thrace)
  • One unit Dellis, LC, unique, armed with lance
  • One Tartar unit, armed with bows
  • One unit Rumelian Feudal Sipahi

Left Command, Farad al Rancid (Skilled)

  • Two units Anatolian Sipahi

Reserve, Commander in Chief Mohammed Farouk (Superior)

  • Household Sipahi
  • Topjidis, Artillery battery of two heavy gun models
  • Janissary Orta of the Kettle
  • Janissary Orta of the Spoon

The battle will last no longer than to dusk (end of turn 8).

The Battle

As the September mists lifted from the coasts of the Bay of Drinit, the armies found themselves deployed in order of battle, separated by the shallow and readily fordable River Drin. All along the line, the Venetian army began a controlled advance under the watchful eye of their commander, Niccolo Urlife. The Count winced as he saw the heavy Ottoman guns belch forth fire, smoke, and death again and again at his advancing pike phalanx and their screening musketeers. The musketeers were severely damaged, and three of their captains killed. The fine Venetian pikes also lost captain Hal Bardini, whose body was shattered by one of the heavy projectiles. The Venetian musketeers to the far west of the line used their superior range to draw the fire of opposing Ottoman bow armed rabble units, exchanging a singularly ineffective fire.

The Venetian naval attachment arrived off the coast and began rowing slowly Southwards. The flagship of the squadron was the Galley "Lido", appropriately named for the sandy barrier islands that protected Venice and its lagoon from the ravages of the sea, as the lagoon protected the city from invaders. She was captained by Albanian merchant and leader of the Venetian dockworkers, "Boss" Schakz. Accompanying the vanguard of the Venetian navy was one of the new Galleasses, the "San Marco", named for the patron saint of "La Serenissima", with Loren Polo as her captain. Under sails or oars, the ship was slow and ponderous, and had been towed to the site of the battle by the Lido. However, the tow rope had been detached so that the Galleas and Galley could both operate independent of one another. Unlike the galleys, which mounted a few heavy cannon in the bow and depended mainly upon the soldiers they carried for their effectiveness, the heavily constructed Galleasses mounted cannon in a turret in the bow, along the sides, and also in a castle in the stern, giving them far greater long range firepower. Polo hoped to give an effective demonstration of this against the mass of Turkish troops he could see deployed along the coast. It would however, be some time before either ship would be able to maneuver into range.

Then, as the Venetian troops began to ford the Drin, disaster struck the Venetian cause. One of the Ottoman cannons, it's muzzle set for too high an elevation to hit the Pikes as they forded the river, sent it's projectile sailing well over the heads of the phalanx, and into the largely open ground beyond. However, as the ball bounced, it struck a rock, and a large fragment of granite flew up and struck Leonardo Da Caprio hard in the anterior iliac crest area, causing a severe bone contusion. Pale faced and sweaty, he mumbled "although I may be grievously wounded, I have yet the heart to go on!" However, he instead fainted, and was borne from the field. (Ed Note: Each time a Leader Check card is turned, the commanders must check for injury - the more units under their command that have taken hits, the more likely it is their commander will be hit also. Here, I rolled a "1" on a D20!) It was not until after the battle that it was found that the injuries of the Dodge's son were fortunately not serious after all. The sudden loss of command severely disrupted the advance of the Venetian center, greatly slowing it's advance. (Ed Note: with their commander killed, all of the units in his command are now leaderless, and lose the efficiencies of impetus utilization allowed to units that stay "in command".) Meantime, Mustafa led the light cavalry of his Raider command forward across the Drin to begin harassing the Eastern flank of the Venetian army.

Deprived of higher command, the Venetian center stalled for over 90 minutes to the delight of the Ottoman gunners, who had difficulty adjusting their guns to bear on the pikemen as they held their position along the brushy banks of the Drin. (Ed. Note: I won very little impetus, and several turns ended early. In Piquet, this happens if both players roll the same number on their D20 impetus rolls) The Venetian ships continued to row slowly southwards, still far out of range of the Ottoman rabble deployed near the coasts. Thus, the only real action during this time took place on the Eastern end of the battlefield, in the foothills of the mountains. Mustafa al Rancid led his cloud of light cavalry forwards to draw out and harass the Venetian troopers. Having heard of the grossly ineffective archery displayed by the Ottoman mounted troops in raids over the past year, Paolo Loredan ordered his light cavalry mounted arquebusier screen to trot forwards into range with the heathen raiders, and slow them with their fire. This, however, proved completely ineffective. With a sneer, Mustafa in turn ordered the Akinjis of Anatolia to charge home upon the impudent infidels. Caught in dispersed formation and unloaded, the issue was never seriously in doubt, and the Arquebusiers were soon streaming towards the rear in full rout, losing captain Di Tulio in the action. The day was almost half done, and the Venetians had made no progress whatsoever in clearing the way to lift the siege of Durazzo!

The eastern end of the battlefield erupted into whirlwind of light cavalry action as Loredan thrust his sword in the direction of the victorious but disorganized Akinjis, and called upon the Stradiots Di Oro to "slam their charge home" upon the heathens. The tide of the melee swung back and forth before the Stradiots finally gained the upper hand, putting the opposing Akinjis to rout. Losses were surprisingly light for such an evenly matched conflict. Not to be outdone, Mustafa flung forwards his fanatic Dellis to sweep away the still jumbled up Stradiots Di Oro. With all the swiftness their winged shields promised, the Dellis slammed into the ill-prepared Stradiots, putting them to flight with heavy losses. Their charge was supported by deadly fire from the Tartars of Crimea, all expert marksmen. In all, 3 of the 4 Stradiot captains were killed or severely injured. (Ed. Note: In Piquet, cavalry are disordered after a melee, even if they win. This makes them very vulnerable until they can rally) Flushed with pride at the exploits of his troops, Mustafa al Rancid allowed himself a contented belch. He'd been disgusted with the complete lack of marksmanship by his light cavalry during the summer's raids, and had instituted weekly archery competitions between the units of his command. It seemed that the prizes he'd distributed, as well as the abundant supplies of arrows he'd provided for practice had had the desired effect of greatly improving the firepower of his cavalry! And those local peaches tasted so good! (Ed Note: In Piquet, before the battle each unit rolls for a "Base Die Value" varying from a D4 up to a D10, which is then further modified based upon the unit's training and weapons. This yields final die types for Fire, Melee, and Morale. Joe rolled really well for the BDV's of his light cavalry this game, especially the Tartars!) In the center, there continued to be little significant action. The pikemen stayed hunkered down along the river banks, and the Topjidis of the Sultan's artillery remained unable to effectively target them. Along the coast however, the superior weapons of the Venetian musketeers began to tell, as a total of 3 Guardians of the Koran in the Azabs were felled by their accurate fire.

As the sun's golden chariot continued on its path across the clear fall sky, things began to look grim for the Venetians of Niccolo Urlife. The Ottoman artillery finally brought effective fire onto the pikemen, captains Cremonese and Puglia falling to their fire. Infuriated rather than intimidated, the phalanx finally moved free of the river banks.... and straight towards the Ottoman gunners! On their flanks, while the City Arquebusiers of Verdi and Scarlati also moved forwards to or across the river Drin, another captain in the covering musketeers of Tintorello fell to the Thracian Mountaineers, and Count Urlife ordered the remnants to fall back into reserve, out of the fight for the rest of the day. Back on the battle's Eastern end, Mustafa al Rancid sensed that his Moment of Greatness had at last arrived. Standing straight up in his stirrups, he seized the Banner of the Prophet, and shouted forth with all his might, "ALLAH AKBAR!!!!" Soon, all over the battlefield, the Faithful took up the chant, intoxicated with religious zeal. (Ed Note: An optional "Allah Akbar" card had been added to the deck for the Ottomans. This makes all their troops fight better after it's turned, until the first Arab unit loses a melee) The sharpshooting Tartars of Crimea let loose their deluge of arrows upon the unfortunate remaining unit of light cavalry in Venetian employ, the Stradiots of Titian. Armed only with spears and maces, the tough Albanians were thoroughly fenestrated with Turkish shafts, 3 of their leaders falling in the space of half an hour. With the Glory of Allah, the words of Mohammed, and, it may be confessed, thoughts of plunder to come, Mustafa al Rancid cantered over to the recently victorious but still somewhat disordered Dellis, and, boldly, or perhaps some might say, rashly, flung them in a disordered hell for leather charge at the last viable cavalry unit on the Eastern end of the field, the mercenary Reiters of hauptman Von Kleibern. Coolly disdaining their famed Caracole tactics, Van Kleibern's troops held their pistol fire until the tide of the fanatic horsemen broke upon their superior order and armor, and then each of the men rapidly discharged all of their three loaded pistols into the faces of their adversaries. The carnage was terrible to behold, as only a small handful of the Dellis were left to flee in utter rout, not stopping before they reached the camp outside the walls of Durazzo the following day. The defeat of these fanatics caused an almost palpable sigh in the ranks of the Ottoman host, like the wind departing the sails of a great ship. At the same time, a horrid sucking noise was heard coming from the entourage surrounding Mustafa al Rancid! They had been following up behind the Dellis, fanning the flames of their zeal, when Mustafa was struck in the chest by a stray pistol shot from the melee with the Reiters. As luck would have it, the ball slipped between the ribs and into the chest of the unfortunate prince. Most veterans knew that awful sound, and were aware that few survived such a terrible injury. The Sultan's surgeon's, however, were skilled and there was still some small chance that Mustafa's life might be saved by prompt action, and thus his escort galloped off with the unconscious prince flung across the saddle of his fine charger, leaving the entire wing without any higher command. On their own initiative, the feudal Sipahis began crossing the Drin to support their light cavalry brethren. Despite the tragic turn of events, there were now no cavalry remaining in good order on the Venetian flank, and the prospect of annihilating the infidel was still within their grasp!

Paolo Loredan saw things in much the same way. With the Feudal Sipahis continuing to advance upon him, it was vital that he restore order to his remaining cavalry as soon as possible. He gaily sauntered over towards the weakened but still potentially useful Stradioti di Oro, and, making use of his long relationship with its troopers, succeeded in rallying them. In so doing, a Tartar arrow passed through one of the puffed sleeves of his doublet without injuring him. (Ed Note: He had to check for casulaties, needing a 2 or better on a D20, and rolled a 2!) He had no success with the dour Reiters, who were as unimpressed with his exhortions to reform as they were with his personal life. As the Crimean Tartars moved in for a closer shot at the helpless pistoliers, Loredan flung the newly rallied Stradioti Di Oro upon them. In return, the Tartar commander, Yuraslav Imaslav, slashed his arms and face as a sign of frenzy and called upon his men to fight with the fury of demons! Inspired, the Tartars countercharged. (Ed. Note: Joe turned two "Heroic Moment" cards in a row, followed by a "Light cavalry Move" card!) Arab arrows and sword contested against Christian mace and spear in a swirling, see-saw melee. A ragged volley of point blank bowfire disordered the Stradiots, but thereafter the more heavily armed if understrength Albanians slowly gained the upper hand. The Tartars of Crimea were thrown first into disorder in their turn, and then finally broke into a cloud of fugitives. Actual casualties on each side were slight despite the long action.

Seeing the advance of the Feudal Sipahis, Izzo Morano began to swing his wild Schiavonni forwards to support the dwindling cavalry of Loredan. Nobody's fool, he'd waited until his troops might have the situation turn to his favor. He knew that his men were indifferent shots, but fine swordsmen, and when deployed in deep formations for fire by rotation, Morano believed that they would likely be able to stand up to all but the cream of the Ottoman horse - as long as their flanks were secure. In the event, the opportunity to test his hypothesis soon arose - The Schiavonni drawn from nearby Scutari were put to the test by the Sipahis of Thrace. Seeing the arquebus armed troops without any support from more heavily equipped infantry, their commander seized the apparent opportunity and attacked the Scutarians head on. The Schiavonni coolly emptied their arquebuses into the Sipahis and drew their swords. Nobles Brente of Oman and Jian of Mombasa went down in the hail of fire, along with many of their vassals. The Sipahis' charge wavered, and then broke, the survivors hastening for the safety of the Drin. Shortly thereafter, the routing Tartars fleeing across their front, the Schiavonni of Ragusa also fired with unexpectedly deadly effect, downing many of the survivors and 2 chieftains. (Ed. Note: Hot dice here!)

Well satisfied with events on his flank, Paolo Loredan attempted to restore order to his Stradiots and the recalcitrant Reiters, but to no avail. As he capered around in extravagant caprices, he narrowly missed being thrown from his horse when it's leg caught in a burrow. (Ed: Rolled another "2" needing a 2 or better to avoid injury!) The Stradiots were exhausted, and the Reiters merely laughed at him while their formation remained more an incohesive mass than anything else.

In the center, the Pikes of the City of Venice charged home upon the Ottoman's guns, and to no one's surprise, swept them away. The supporting City Arquebusiers of Verdi demonstrated how they had earned their reputation as crack shots, as 2 devastating volleys killed 3 leaders in the Bosnian Arquebusiers. Their morale shattered, the Turkish light infantry fled for the camp outside of Durazzo. Things were looking much better for the Venetian cause!

The fighting had been so intense, that it was only now that both Niccolo Urlife and Mohammed Farouk noticed the failing light of an autumn day fast ending. Urlife hoped to turn his advantage to crushing victory, whilst Farouk hoped to bloody the Venetian's noses some more and then withdraw after dusk to a new defensive position along the coastal road to Durazzo. Although they had played no concrete role in the action, the Venetian ships advancing up the bay would soon be able to dominate the coast with their fire, and the Ottoman Naval support he had asked for had failed to materialize. Farouk later found out that the ships had arrived outside of Durazzo, but were so short of all supplies that they were not yet fit for action.

And so it was that Hassan al Rancid was looking at the Venetian Pikes striking at the center of his line and the road to Durazzo itself. His usual bad temper was certainly not improved by the aftermath of the prior evening's debauchery, but even he could figure out how to handle this crisis! With a few minor adjustments to the dispositions of his troops, he brought the Pikes under fire from no less than 3 units; the Tufcengi, the Jannisaries of the Spoon, and the Thracian musketeers. A volcano of fire and dark, acrid smoke erupted in the center of the Ottoman line, and when it had cleared, almost half the pikemen had been cut down, their bodies piled in neatly ordered ranks as they had stood. They had had their vengeance upon the Sultan's artillery, but at what price?

Back on the Eastern flank, yet another fanatic leader arose among the cavalry of the faithful, as Walid Undat screamed to his Arab Faithful of a Jihad against the infidel, and he and his frenzied men surged forwards to engage the more heavily equipped but outnumbered and still disarrayed Stradiots Di Oro. (Ed: Another "Heroic Moment" for the Turks) The Stradiots, now in their third melee of the day, had no heart for further combat and were routed with heavy losses, losing their Standard of St. John to the heathen. Perhaps the opportunity to gain the flank of the Venetian Tanzirs (pigs) had not passed after all!

In the center, as the Ottoman troops struggled to reload their cumbersome firearms, the command of the rapidly diminishing Pike phalanx had devolved upon one of the few remaining officers, the elder son of a Venetian glass merchant, Gona Casta de Dice. Things didn't look good from his perspective. If they pikes held their ground, there would probably be little left of them after another deadly hail of Ottoman lead. If they retreated, the road to Durazzo would remain blocked, and they would still likely suffer from the fire of the long ranged muskets of the enemy. Therefore, de Dice resolved to fling his ragtag but still disciplined force at the Thracian musketeers. He reasoned that if he could break them, the resolve of the whole Ottoman army might well start to crumble, and he and his pikes would be spared further massacre at the hands of the Turkish firearms. "For Honor and Glory!", he harangued his troops, as they charged hard upon the astonished Thracians. In the ensuing combat, the tired but desperate pikes succeeded in skewering half of the heathen, but yet the followers of the Koran held firm. Did not Allah promise a place in his paradise to those who fell in battle while serving his cause?

Dusk descended upon the battlefield with all of its usual autumnal suddenness, and the long days fighting at last took its toll upon the combatants of both sides. Their courage failing them at last, both the Venetian Pikes in the center and the Arab Faithful on the Eastern flank retreated. (Ed. Note: They both failed a special kind of morale check triggered by "Courage Check" cards) This left no opposing troops within in combat range, and with the setting of the sun, the din of fighting died out all across the battlefield, to be replaced by the pitiful cries of the many wounded. The hard fought battle of Lezhe was over.


Mustafa Al Rancid did not survive the day. The Sultan's physicians cleansed his wounds with spirits and sealed the open wound in his chest with aromatic gums, but they held out little hope for his recovery, and shortly thereafter he began coughing up blood and passed into the hands of Allah before midnight. The Sultan's grief was great, but his rage was controlled. Not a single physician was beheaded or strangled, although he did have them all tortured mildly in order that the palace intriguers not get the idea that he was going soft! It may be imagined that the grief of Mustafa's brothers was somewhat less than that of their father.

As the night thickened, the artillery pieces were recovered by the Topjidis and their laborers pressed into service from the ranks of the Azab foot. Mohammed Farouk was pleased to blunt the Venetian thrust so cheaply, almost all the losses for the Turks coming from light foot and cavalry units, while the Ventian pikes recovered from the field would allow hundreds of tents to be pitched quickly. The next battle would most likely see these remaining Ventians behind the walls of Durazzo, along with those already manning the walls. The loss of Mustafa was tragic, now the Sultan had but two sons, and perhaps would rethink the need for the Venetian city. But that my friends, is another story.........

In the Venetian camp, Niccolo Urlife was also well satisfied with the day's fighting. At one point, it had seemed to him that the morale of the Ottomans must soon break, and send the levies fleeing from the field. (Ed Note: I kept waiting for the "Major Morale Check" card to show up in Joe's deck as Joe's Turks by then had many more units in rout or off the table, and he was out of morale chips! The MMC is especially nasty if there are no remaining chips, and the difference in the number of units on each side that have been routed, eliminated, or retreated off the board determines how hard it is for each unit to pass the check.) It did not seem God's will that this should come to pass, so what sense was there in dwelling upon it? From the standpoint of a Condotiere, a victory that left his personal retainers untouched, and required his continued services was the best kind of all. Rubbing his hands, he contemplated the terms of his contract. La Serenissima was a harsh but generous and dependable paymaster. After a well deserved bottle of passable Dalmatian wine, he began to plan his further advance upon the besieged city of Durazzo.

At sea, Loren Polo was frustrated that he had not had a chance to demonstrate the firepower of his cumbersome but heavily armed San Marco. Aboard his flagship, the Lido, "Boss" Schakz had similar regrets, but he figured that it wouldn't be long before there was another battle. With no guarantee that the Ottoman navy wouldn't appear in the Adriatic any day, things were likely to get more interesting soon. To pass the time, he composed the "Ballad of the Lido", which became very popular among the Venetian rowers:

The Lido left the dock that day and its pitiful shacks,
Durazzo bound, and she isn't turning back,
Cruised down the Bay of Drinit, saw the battle, made the stop,
Just long enough to take the sail down off the top
Next stop Durazzo town,
the Lido put her oars down,
pulling San Marco by the rope.

One last fight ought to do it
Get our shots in, nothing to it
Once more on Durazzo road!
One more time ought to get it
One more fight, don't forget it
Once more on Durazzo Road!

Page Last Updated On: 18 Aug 2007