An opportunity arose last night to give my DBA Early Swiss an outing against some historical foes, so I went for it. At last, a chance to find out if the army is a dog, or not.
In the first game they defended against a Medieval German army under Peter. My reckoning is that the biggest danger for the Swiss are enemy knights, since they have a decent chance of riding down the blades in the open. I tried to close down the battlefield with plenty of difficult hills, but two of the three ended up being discarded. The one that wasn't was large enough to hamper the German deployment, though. In addition I opted for a hamlet; this doesn't slow movement, or seriously hinder combat, but does prevent the Swiss infantry from being ridden down.
The hill had left the Germans somewhat caught out in terms of deployment, so I went for what seemed to be the obvious Swiss tactic - a full charge. This was mostly aimed at the enemy units deployed on the hill, where no-one would be at any particular advantage.
This started well, destroying a couple of German elements, but the Swiss crossbows on the flank were lost to their enemy counterparts, leaving the army in a precarious position. The blades in a Swiss army are double-depth, which means that the first one lost counts as two elements. With two elements lost already, the first casualty would see a Swiss defeat. and the battle was bogging down, with the German knights ready to counterattack.
They did, and the Swiss held them, even killing one. They kept fighting and picked up the fourth kill to secure a win.
We played a second game with the same armies. This time the battlefield was split by a river. Again I hurled the Swiss forward into a wild charge, against the opposing infantry at least. The troops facing the German knights held back. I ended up with a few command issues, since a lot of my stuff was on the wrong side of the hill from my general. But they moved forward as best they could.
Again the battle was centered around the hamlet. I think rough going is a big asset to this particular Swiss army, but a hamlet is the only terrain of that type they have on offer when they defend. Expect to see a lot of games featuring hamlets when the Swiss fight.
The Swiss quickly got the upper hand in the hamlet ...
... but the German knights charged the other half of the army, which rapidly collapsed, giving the Germans a narrow win.
For the third game Dave took over the Swiss, and switched to the first Late Swiss list, which swaps some of the blades for pikes. Peter switched to a not quite historical foe - the Free Company, and opted for lots of foot.
I reckon lots of foot isn't the way to fight the Swiss, who are optimised against infantry. This seemed to be the case in the game. The Swiss defended again, and pretty much steamrollered the Free Company. Their archers suffered particularly badly, as the Swiss move fast enough to avoid a sustained volley of arrows, and can easily slaughter the bows once they get into close combat.
A counter-attack by the knights ended up with them skewered on pikes. Another Swiss win.
For the final game Dave took the Free Company, opting to put more of them on horses. I took the Swiss. For the first time the Swiss were fighting on enemy territory, and Dave sensibly made it as open as possible.
I went for the same tactics as before - attack. And, despite the Swiss losing a couple of their elements and putting them one kill from defeat, they prevailed, sweeping away their Free Company foes in a pretty much straight head-to-head fight.
I was surprised at how effective the Swiss were, so long as they could attack quickly and get to set the order of combats. A lot of their troops pursue after combat, which quickly led to broken lines, but their blades are fairly tough so this isn't too much of an issue. On their own territory they did pretty well, especially if they could force the enemy into cramped deployments. Ad they seemed to be able to hold the knights better than I thought they would just looking at the factors. Obviously having the choice of combats, and aiming to get overlaps, helped there.
So, the Swiss - they seem to be all about attack.