Medieval Armies DBA Page

Later Swiss -- DBA 161b

By David Kuijt

Note: all images are thumbnails, and are clickable to see the larger original.

Swiss advancing in echelon

Composition of DBA Army #161b Later Swiss (1400-1522)

The DBA options:

3x 4Bd, 4x 4Pk, 2x 4Bd or 4Pk, 2x 2Ps, 1x 2Lh or 3Kn or Arty

Enemies

The enemies of the Later Swiss are the Later Imperialist (#167), the Italian Condotta (#169), the Medieval French (#170), Free Company (#172), and Burgundian Ordonnance (#180).

In addition, I believe a minor error exists in the Enemies list -- the Later Swiss (and incidently, also the Early Swiss) ought to have the Early Imperialist (#136) added since the Later Imperialist list only begins at 1450 AD. The Austrians were one of the major enemies of the Swiss Confederation throughout their history.

Army Notes

This is a heavy foot army, spanning the first large-scale use of pikes to the battle of Bicocca in 1522. 75% of the army is pikes or blades. Most of the rest is skirmishing crossbow or handgunners (psiloi). The option of a knights element comes from the 1476-1477 campaign where the Swiss fought for the Duke of Lorraine, with a contingent of native Lorrainer men-at-arms. The Swiss light horse are mounted crossbowmen.

Notes on Tactics

Pikemen

When you have a hammer, all you can do is treat every problem like a nail. The Swiss army is a hammer. If you can close with the enemy you can win. But if you shilly-shally around, trying to treat the Swiss as an army of maneuver, you will likely be outflanked. Historically, Swiss tactics were to charge aggressively towards the enemy. They closed as quickly as possible, and you would be well advised to use the same tactics.

The Swiss army does fairly well in rough terrain. Impassable or Bad Going is ideal to protect one flank as they advance towards the enemy, and fighting in reduced-frontage situations couldn't be better for the Swiss. Their two psiloi are excellent Bad Going troops. On those occasions when the Swiss face an enemy with more than two rough-terrain troops, they can throw their Blades into the rough also without much fear of ill effects.

When playing on a more open battlefield, the Swiss must be very concerned about the possibility of being outflanked. In that case their psiloi should be deployed as flank guards, to delay and disorder enemy flanking attempts and widen their frontage. When this is not possible, or not likely to be effective, the historical tactic of the Swiss was to advance in echelon, with one flank secure on a river or rough terrain. This can be effective in DBA as well.

There is a longer discussion about effective pike tactics, their advantages and weaknesses available as a separate document here.

Notes about Figures and Pictures

All figures shown are by Essex. Yellow/black and red/white were Swiss cantonal colours. Front-rank pikemen tended to have better armour than the back-rankers.

Three of the crossbowmen shown in the main army picture are modified from their original form -- one horse crossbowman has had a torso swapped with a standing crossbowman so each stand could have a firing and an at-ease figure; the running crossbowman on the right was modified from a running javelin-and-shield figure (also Essex).

Last Updated: July 9, 1998

The author may be contacted at kuijt@umiacs.umd.edu Please do not use any pictures or text from this page without permission.