Monday, April 4, 2011

WI Artillery Issue: Medieval Guns

Cover of WI 281
Picking up from the last review of Wargames Illustrated's Artillery Issue (#281), we move onto the late medieval period. While I have a general notion of artillery's growing role in military and social trends of the era preceding the dawn of the nation states (and some of that might very well be oversimplified myth by now...), I had no real idea of how it all really got started - nor how complicated and interesting it truly was.

Jim Graham's "Extensive Knowledge of Powder" really does the trick. He gives us a good look at the mercenary nature of the early gunsmiths and how they plied their trade between the Ottoman Empire and Scotland. The reader gets a treat of sidebars on the gunsmith, his patron, and the weapons he creates.

Jim gives us right-sized bits on the scientific, tactical, and political applications (and ramifications) of medieval gunnery.  The article finishes with a 'Siege of Orleans, 1428' scenario.

Right off I see that the article should give sneaky scenario designers some ideas on the iffy nature of medieval guns.  You know, things like increasing the chance for a catastrophic failure for attempting to fire at (or possibly exceed?) long range. Then there's the problem with the gunsmiths offering their services to the highest bidders - easily something worked into a campaign game. It also makes me think that in a campaign game that it might not be easy to replace lost artillery.

Anyway, I've come away with a lot of cool ideas that embrace the dicey nature of the medieval artillery game. Anyone who regularly plays with medieval guns in their tabletop games will get their money's worth out of Jim's insights and have every excuse to make their miniature artillery and even more exciting prospect.

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