|Modon c.1486 from Bernhard von Breydenbach's "Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam"|
|Vittore Carpaccio "Young Knight in a Landscape", this may well be one of the Venetian captains from the siege, Marco Gabriel, with Modon in the background although I have also seen suggestions the Knight is Franceso Maria della Rovere.|
As the actual assault took place at night we did consider adding night time rules and halving the ranges of the missile weapons or making it harder to roll a "hit" but in the end we left this out.
For the Ottoman units entering Modon the ditch did not hinder movement but the walls facing the ditch took a turn to cross via ladders or through the breach. Access in and out of the harbour was only through the main harbour gate or the sally port. The small walls in the town gave cover and counted as difficult terrain to fight over. The whole of the walled orchard was difficult terrain and gave cover.
|The other end of the table showing the Ottoman besiegers about to storm the walls.|
Each army was divided into two separate retinues for the game. Tom took command of the Venetian defenders in the game whilst I took command of Bayezid II's besieging Ottomans.
As always the captions under the photos are a good way to follow the action but a brief summary follows.
|The Ottoman army of Bayezid II|
|The Ottoman attackers. The janissaries will form the first wave of the attack supported by the azabs.|
|Venetian reinforcements disembarking in the harbour.|
|The Venetian troops form up in the harbour ready to enter the town and defend it against the Ottomans.|
|Venetian arquebusiers and crossbowmen, supported by an organ gun, lie in wait within the orchard.|
|The assault begins and the zirhli nefer, the armoured janissary assault troops, lead the storming of the breach.|
|The janissaries begin to scale the walls of Modon.|
|The Venetian defenders under Antonio Zantani take up position around the orchard.|
The assault on Modon looked to start well for the Ottomans with an initial wave of janissaries quickly getting over the walls or through the breach and into the streets. Whilst the Ottomans scaled the walls the Venetians around the harbour moved into the town to add support to their countrymen who were already inside and had taken up defensive positions. This first line of Venetian defence proved key as they were immediately able to pour shot and crossbow bolts into the janissaries forcing them to charge forward and attack whilst a large part of the Ottoman force was still outside Modon's walls.
The zirhli nefer assault troops and the janissary arquebusiers and archers accompanying them took heavy casualties as they pushed on and tried to gain control of the walled orchard just beyond the walls. The Venetians had hidden an organ gun behind the orchard gates which fired with deadly effect into the oncoming janissaries. The Ottomans needed to use their strength of numbers to sweep away the defenders in the orchard but the delay caused by clambering over the walls of Modon gave the Venetian defenders enough time to deal with the oncoming janissaries without being totally overwhelmed.
|With barely any Venetians left manning the breached walls the Ottomans are quickly into the beleaguered town.|
|Venetian crossbowmen supported by infantry armed with polearms await the attack.|
|The azabs storm the walls.|
|The Ottoman flag is already flying from one of the gun towers but this is not one of the three objectives.|
|The zirhli nefer charge the orchard. They come under a hail of shot from the organ gun and defending arquebusiers.|
|A view from above the walls as the Ottoman assault spills into the town.|
|The zirhli nefer supported by janissary arquebusiers|
|Janissaries charge into the town but they are already taking heavy casualties.|
|Venetian troops enter Modon via the harbour gate.|
|The walls have fallen but the Venetian defenders still hold the town.|
|Venetian crossbowmen face the attacking Ottomans.|
|A view across the town as the Ottomans charge into Modon.|
|As the Ottomans surge into Modon many of them are still outside the town and yet to scale the walls or climb through the breach.|
|A unit of armoured janissaries crashes into some Venetian skirmishers. The Venetian light infantry are sent back in disarray.|
|A bloody battle has developed around the orchard. Facing a storm of bolts and arquebus shot from the Venetians the janissaries seek temporary respite behind the orchard wall.|
|Marco Gabriel's men rush into the town to support Antonio Zantani's embattled infantry.|
|Having pushed back the venetian skirmishers the armoured janissaries are now coming under heavy fire. They are soon brought down and the attack falters.|
|The Venetians give ground in the orchard as more janissaries join the fray.|
Mortar shots launched from Bayezid's siege lines came crashing into the Venetian colony. They did considerable damage to the forces of the Serene Republic but also managed to kill some Ottomans as shots landed around the orchard which had become the epicentre of the fighting. The Venetians and janissaries sent attacks back and forth as each side attempted to gain the advantage. The orchard walls were valuable cover for both sides with the orchard itself proving difficult to fight in.
In front of the town's main church, on the Ottoman right flank it seemed as if progress was being made by the attackers. This was where the main weight of the assault fell as here the janissaries were backed up by swarms of azabs. They pushed forward and it looked as if they would reach the church on numerous occasions but the Venetian defences were too strong and although bitter melees broke out in the streets as the Venetians clashed with the janissaries and azabs the Ottoman attack was always just staggered enough to prevent a breakthrough.
|The town house and orchard is the centre of a bitter struggle.|
|Azabs and janissaries enter the orchard.|
|Antonio Zantani and what is left of his retinue form up around the church.|
|Azabs and crossbowmen clash in a fierce melee right in front of Modon's church.|
|Stradiot reinforcement's have managed to get into the town to support the Venetian defenders. Together with a unit of Venetian swordsmen they defeat the Janissary Agha, the morale of the attackers plummets.|
|The azab captain attempts to rally the attackers urging them to press on with the assault.|
The constant rain of shot and arrows on the Ottomans began to take its toll. During the fight a unit of Stradiots had made it through the Turkish siege lines and into the beleaguered town. They skirmished with the janissaries until the janissary Agha attacked them and drove them back. The Agha was then attacked by Venetian swordsmen and slain in the street. This had a terrible effect on the Ottoman morale and caused many of the janissary units to flee back over the walls.
Antonio Zantani commanded the Venetians from the front and stood defiantly guarding the church doors. The captain of the azabs attempted to take up the reins and rally the faltering Ottoman army by leading an attack on Zantani but he was quickly slain in the attempt and the Turkish morale crumbled further. The damned orchard, or what was left of it, was finally in Ottoman hands but Modon most certainly wasn't and the assault had failed.
|The church tower looks to be within reach, the Ottomans throw unit after unit at it in an attempt to raise the crescent flag over the town...|
|...but casualties are mounting and, reinforced by the men from the harbour, the Venetian defence is too formidable.|
|The azab captain is slain in a clash with Antonio Zantani.|
|Having suffered horrendous casualties the Ottomans have taken the orchard but Modon remains firmly in the hands of its Venetian defenders!|
This game should have been titled "The Battle of the Orchard" as it became an endless back and forth over this small walled area! In command of the Ottomans it was as if I could never bring enough troops to bear at the right moment and instead just drip fed units into endless fighting around the walled garden. Tom did a great job of preventing his troops from getting too drawn into melees with the janissaries and instead held back just enough to keep them from overwhelming his troops.
The mortar rules were a lot of fun and when combining them with the urban nature of the fighting and the endless arrow and arquebus shooting it felt more like a World War Two game at some points! If we replayed the game I think we would certainly change the terrain set up so the orchard would not effectively block the main attack and force the Ottomans up narrow channels. It would also be interesting to make it more specifically a "night attack" and have rules reducing the effectiveness of ranged attacks due to the darkness.
The Ottomans may have failed to take even one of the three target towers but we had a lot of laughs ( and maybe a few moans on my part!) about the endless orchard fighting and it certainly made for an absorbing wargame. Being able to finally set the table up with the harbour, carrack and town walls was fantastic, it really felt as if I was leading the miniatures in a full scale storming of the walls. We already have some ideas for our next game, let's just hope it doesn't feature a walled orchard!