Cavalry, Sieges and Campaigns OH MY!

Siege Campaigns Without the Headache!

The Siege of Gradara, nor any late medieval siege, would not be complete without a system that appropriately captures the dilemmas faced by besieger and besieged. While the defenders are bottled up, the attackers still need to ration their supplies and rely on local resources for aid, as their logistical lines are open to harassment from whoever might want to interfere with the siege. The attacker enjoys a numerical superiority (otherwise they would never have attacked), but has many mouths to feed, whereas the defender has to keep the few combat-ready troops they have alive for as long as possible. Finally, neither supplies nor troops are worth anything if they have no reason to fight. Many sieges ended because support waned and some faction of the besieged decided to open the gates rather than continue fighting!

Mechanically, this led us to opt for three resources to track: Supplies, Troops, and Support. These are tracked over Theatres, for example in the Gradara Siege Scenario that comes with the new rulebook, there are three: Town, Siege Camp, and Hinterlands. Should any resource reach 0 in a Theatre, then there are consequences! As resources are hidden, you don’t quite know how close your opponent is to capitulation, at least not until their Supply runs out and Troops begin to desert enmasse!

Both players use operatives in each Theatre, for example, the Attacker might have an Agent spying in the Town and order them to sabotage the defender’s supplies. The defender then has the choice to Oppose that character’s action or let it happen without a fight. If Opposed, the attacker has to put their Agent on the field and risk losing them in the ensuing scenario, potentially losing them their informant!

Of course, you can’t Oppose every action your opponent takes. Which actions are the most important for you to react to is the key for both sides to keep their resources high and force the enemy to capitulate. 

Siege Deck 

Alongside the Siege Campaign is the Siege Deck. Much like regular Force of Virtue, we opted to organise the preparations, tactics, and capabilities available to you via cards that you can pick to bring them to the battlefield. The level of walls can be adjusted to the terrain available in your collection, or you can create your own defensive line based on what you pick. Even when playing one-off games, it is easy to create scenarios straight out of history!

For example at the Siege of Padua, the conflict ended suddenly after a cart became stuck in the city’s gate as they brought in supplies. A quick exploitation by waiting Venetian cavalry allowed them to rush the defenders, seize the gatehouse, and let in the rest of the besieging army. Although unclear, the extremely efficient Venetian spy networks might have had a hand in it…

On the other hand, if you prefer to play an assault on field fortifications, like at Bicocca or Marignano, you can do that too! A Barrier with Hoarding to represent a blockhouse makes a perfect target for a Petard to destroy, and forge a path for the rest of the army!

For a different approach, you can use cunning rather than explosive power to overcome the walls. Meeting with a Defector and Bribing your way in for a small vanguard to hold the walls is pricey, but can mean the difference between success and remaining stuck outside under fire. As the Defender, a Virtuous commander might still be able to overcome their soldiers’ tendency to shirk guard duty!

A Cavalry System with Teeth!

Design Goals

As people who enjoy fencing, shooting and doing various mad things on horseback we wanted a cavalry system that really gives the feel of being a cavalryman. Cavalry combat is a neurotic combination of a highly detailed puzzle of momentum and angle akin to an aerial dog fight, at the same time being reliant on communicating your intentions to a 400+ Kilo creature with the cognitive capacity of a toddler. 

Whereas skilled rider-horse teams are lightning death on the battlefield, less skilled pairs can turn into comedic farces as the rider ineptly wrestles with their mount. In Force of Virtue, as in real life, the difference between the two comes mainly down to how much training you invest in them and of course Dame Fortuna.

We have built the cavalry rules to the point that by mastering them you will have understood most of the actual intricacies of real-life cavalry combat. Even using your horse’s personality and the environment to your advantage.

If you want a high-risk high-reward game of positioning and planning or a zany comedy of hi-jinks, then cavalry may be for you! Choose which ones by the cards you take!

Renaissance Cavalry

Renaissance cavalry is at a fascinating crossing point from the mixed light and heavy cavalry lances of the late Middle Ages and the separated light and heavy cavalry divisions of later centuries. Will you choose to run your majestic knights, agile light lancers and deadly mounted crossbows together in combined arms units to cover each other’s weaknesses? Or separately to maximise their strengths?


Fighters on foot can easily pivot to meet threats, something that is far more complex on horseback. It’s partly due to communication difficulties and partly due to cavalry combat’s high-speed nature. The angle at which a rider attacks or is attacked from is of vital importance to the fight. The speed at which the horse is moving will make all the manoeuvres more difficult, but will also make the rider harder to hit and their attacks more powerful. Shooting a moving rider galloping straight at you is also very different to one moving sidelong to you! Similarly crashing into another horse head-on is different compared to T-Boning them from the side. For this reason, cavalry in Force of Virtue have facings and use movement templates to restrict their movement at higher speeds. This makes cavalry gameplay strongly positional and highly tactical, good manoeuvre is devastating and bad manoeuvre brutally punishing, plan well!

Horse Temperament

Horses like humans have their own personalities that affect how they behave under pressure and when a 400-kilo animal decides it wants to do something it can be tricky to prevent it! Historical accounts of cavalry combat are full of horses bolting madly across the battlefield, charging into enemy troops with blood lust, or just getting bored and eating grass at a safe distance. In Force of Virtue each horse has a temperament according to one of the 4 virtues, which affect how they behave. Victory will depend on your rider’s ability to work with their mount’s personality and how it reacts to the environment rather than against it.

Scenario Deck

We have created a scenario deck to go along with the siege deck to add-in a few elements that stand out in Gradara’s long history of sieges, intrigues and violence! Hidden tunnels that connect to Etruscan tomb systems, mobs of frightened or violent civilians, civilians helping to reload guns and crossbows (remember the family that kills Montefeltri together, stays together) and more!

Side Objectives – Your Wish is our Command!

Our Rise of the Borgia deck went shy of adding a lot of cards that provide objectives or substantially change the dynamics of the scenario, we were unsure how much players would want. Feedback however was for BIGGER and BOLDER.

Unruly Mobs and Little Helpers

Whereas the residents of Rome are experienced enough in the great game to lock their doors and stay out of things. The civilians of Gradara are not to be cowed! They were instrumental in the siege of 1446, supporting the defence in numerous ways. Gradara was also sacked in 1424 when mercenaries tricked their way into the city leading to bitter street fighting. Even later in 1472 when Montefeltri agents attempted to stage a coup to depose the Malatesta governor. To help with this we’ve added a bunch of options for including civilians in your games, both as helps and hindrances. 

If you haven’t yet, check out the Kickstarter for more news on how the campaign fares, stretch goals that have been unlocked, and follow future developments!

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