Renaissance of Infantry is a 2-player (grand) tactical game, which depicts conflicts of medieval forces. Scenario-based, the game models a very wide range of battles and settings, from the Roman/Goth battle of Adrianople in 378 to the battle of Pavia in 1525. It even includes a few fantasy scenarios. There are rules for primitive firearms (arquebuses) and artillery.
Though it was released as a boxed game, my version is the magazine edition, and it was therefore a DTP product. The pieces are pretty and oversized, but the map is generic for all of the scenarios. Instead, I use a Chessex wet-erase map. It’s about 50% larger, the hexes are bigger, and I can put scenario-appropriate terrain on it.
There are lots of charts; like its cousin, Panzerblitz, it has rock-paper-scissors effectiveness.
As usual, Lorelei did the box art.
Renaissance of Infantry plays like a tactical game, which means supply is not a consideration, but facing is. The units are large, though, representing 500 men apiece. This puts it firmly in the realm of the operational games. Perhaps medieval battles were more tactical in feel? Or perhaps the game only makes sense if you think of the units as containing smaller groups.
Each scenario is won on points. The slaughter of an enemy gives you points, enemy leaders giving you the most points. Victory level is determined by the ratio of losses. The scenarios are not all balanced.
Renaissance of Infantry plays very differently from its contemporary operational/strategic games. Each turn, each player moves and then attacks. Every unit type has a different movement rate. Stacking is limited to three units (command units can stack on top). Terrain affects offense/defense and movement cost.
Units can engage in missile or melee combat, and melee combat can only be conducted from a hex by similar units (so mixed stacks cannot all melee attack the same enemy hex on the same turn). Missile units generally have extended range, and they are devastating. Units stacked with missile units get a free missile defense against an attacking unit.
There are no ZOCs, and there are few adverse effects to attacking, per se (no Attacker Eliminated results). On the other hand, position is everything–as a tactical game, facing is important. Units generally are weaker to flank attacks than frontal attacks (the back three vs. the front three hexes).
Different units have different special capabilities: Cavalry must charge straight ahead to get full attack strength; pikemen can turn into immobile squares and get a higher defense strength as well as stack four-deep. Longbowmen and artillery can shoot *over* units.
Combat results in disruption or elimination. Disrupted units cannot move/attack next turn, and their combat strength is reduced to “1.” Disrupted units are eliminated if disrupted again. It is therefore important to attack with combined arms to win a decisive victory.
There are optional rules for castles, panic and a few color rules for various national forces. They don’t add too much to the basic game.
Renaissance of Infantry is very fast-playing. Turns take 5-10 minutes, and an engagement is done in an hour. There’s a lot of chart consulting, but you memorize the values for a given scenario pretty quickly. It is very important to coordinate your attacks such that enemy units are effectively destroyed. This means clever usage of archers and ground troops. Cavalry are especially tricky to employ to full advantage. Since the game is won on proportion of losses, there are few overwhelming victories, and a losing force, through clever withdrawing, can turn a bad situation into a draw.
As I’ve only played the Battle of Adrianople scenario (three times), I am reserving judgment. It’s a fun little game, and I suspect the model only gets better with time (although I understand the consolidation of tactical games, PRESTAGS, is generic and boring), so I anticipate taking the basic game and adding elements as appropriate. I like the idea of a flexible system to run tactical battles on, though the scale (a five hundred troops per unit) seems odd for tactical fighting.
I am looking forward to building my own scenarios, and I’d love to hear from others who have done so.