OUTREMER: Upon Yon Crossroads

I decided to have another game of Outremer, having really enjoyed the first one.

The game was set during the Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort. Rebels loyal to de Montfort were scouting ahead, unaware that men loyal to King Henry were doing the same. Ahead was a road junction – the winner would be the side that could control the junction after 8 turns (this was scenario #3 from the book).

The rebels were led by Sir Maddox Melior. Amongst his retinue he had two skilled crossbowmen – Beric Morris and ‘Big’ Eddie. This duo would prove invaluable.

Sir Maddox, Tankard, Beric, and Eddie

In charge of the king’s men was Sir Guy de Ferris. With him were a trio of archers and a motley selection of men-at-arms.

Sir Guy with Louis and Guy Cartwright

Sir Maddox, being a bit of a loner, sent his crossbowmen rushing forward along the edge of a wheat field. The two took up position behind a hedge overlooking the junction. Sir Maddox sent his spearmen down a lane, with a French sellsword (Roul Allaire) and a young archer (Gamal) making their way through the wheat.

Meanwhile, Sir Guy had ordered his archers forward, to skirt around the edge of a pond. Sir Guy led two of his men through the woods whilst the others made for the lane that ran alongside a travellers inn and down to the junction.

It was the two archers, Rowan Windrush and Derek the Eel, who opened hostilities. Seeing Sir Maddox’s spearmen coming down the lane they let fly. But no one was hit. Beric and Eddie saw the two archers and so loaded up their crossbows and shot back. Down went Rowan! This left Derek with a dilemma – whether to shoot back at Beric and Eddie or try to stop the spearmen.

Rowan goes down and Derek draws his bow

Quite unexpectedly it was Tankard Jenkins, a Welsh spearman and bondsman of Sir Maddox, who clambered over a hedge and plonked himself defiantly in the middle of the junction – more of a fingers-up at Sir Guy and his men than anything else.

Tankard Jenkins stands defiant

Sir Guy and the rest of his men met up on the road beside the inn. They couldn’t let the rebels hold on to the junction, but Beric and Eddie were in a strong position, and both were skilled with their crossbows. If they tried to rush the junction they may get cut down. So Jean Paul, a young and impressionable Frenchmen, climbed over a wall and made his way around the back of the inn to outflank the rebels. Guy Cartwright, with his whooping great two-handed sword, did similar, but made for the gate that led on to the junction.

Sir Guy’s men surround Sir Maddox at the junction

Sir Maddox’s spearmen had now come down to the junction. Hallet Adkin decided to distract Big Eddie by charging him. But Eddie was quick with his bow and as Hallet came across the field he was felled by an arrow.

Hallet Adkin foolishly runs forward

If the royalists were to win the day then they had to act quickly. Guy Cartwright climbed over the stone wall and waved his massive sword menacingly at Sir Maddox. But it was just bravado, since he lacked the courage to actually charge.

So it was down to Sir Guy to draw his sword and lunge forward for Sir Maddox!

Sir Maddox managed to fend the English knight off and with a flurry of blows Sir Guy was beaten. Just in time, Roul Allaire came to Sir Maddox’s defence to engage Guy Cartwright before he could attack Sir Maddox from behind.

Sir Maddox wounds Sir Guy

And down went Guy Cartwright as well and with it, the end of the game.

The rebels had won.

In Outremer, just because a figure is taken out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are dead. An end of game roll is made to see what happened. Fortunately, Hallet Adkin only sustained a flesh wound and would live to fight again. The same could be said for Rowan and Will (another of Sir Guy’s men).Sir Guy himself had taken a bad wound to his leg which would mean that in future games he’d be at a disadvantage. Some of Sir Guy’s other men had also taken bad wounds and would also be hampered. Guy Cartwright, however, had been killed in the melee.

Down goes Sir Guy and Roul lays into Guy Cartwright

Outremer: Faith & Blood

Stephen gives us his views on the Osprey rulebook and follows up with a battle report.

I am a big fan of the Osprey ‘blue book’ rules. They’re the right physical size and just the right price that they’re worth taking a punt on. I bought Outremer: Faith And Blood when it came out but it just sat on the bookshelf for ages. This weekend I finally managed to have a game of it. What follows are my thoughts and a battle report.

Like all the blue books the rules can be a bit patchy in places. That’s no bad thing, but it is something to be aware of and you have to realise that player input may be needed. Some are patchier than others, and I’m pleased to say that Outremer was less patchy than some. Though some bits were unclear and did need a bit of improvisation (mainly terrain – but I’ll come to that below).

The game is designed so that each player controls about 6-12 figures. Activation is done by drawing cards. Since each figure is likely to have slightly different stats and a few extra traits I decided to cobble up some character cards. I made them business card size so they could be put in a plastic wallet. The rules suggest using a pack of regular playing cards and you assign a card to each figure. What I did was knock up a bespoke card with the character name and picture for this.

Character Cards

I did a simple game – seven a side with the French versus the English. It’s worth saying here that though Outremer is set during the crusades it is really just a generic set of medieval skirmish rules. So that’s how I’ve used them.

View from the English side

It seems to me the key to these mini-games (‘mini’ because they don’t have many figures) is to ensure there’s LOT’S of terrain. So I had a large ruin in the middle, all of which counted as rough terrain and hard cover, and some wood – which also counted as rough terrain and soft cover. This is where I had to do some improvisation. The rules say nothing about shooting into and out of terrain. So I adopted a Saga approach – you can fire into and out of terrain but you cannot shoot through terrain. Since there were a lot of ruins I had to think about how that would affect the game. The rules don’t really help. The choice is either count the terrain as a piece of rough terrain and is symbolic only (so if there are high walls then you can still move through that, etc) OR figures can only move around the ruins through gaps or climb over walls and high walls block line of sight. I can see pros and cons with either approach. In the end I adopted the former.

The game started with both sides either side of the ruins. The French were led by Sir William le Bon with his squire Luc Brecon. The English were led by Sir Walter de Marsh and his young squire Henry Wilton. Luc took up place with the French crossbowmen in some woods overlooking the ruins whilst Sir William took charge of the spearmen and moved up to the ruins.

The English longbowmen advanced to the ruins, with Walter Fletcher taking a particularly advantageous position behind a wall.

With all that rough terrain movement was slowed down. When a model’s card is drawn it can make two actions. Most actions cost 1 point but some cost 2 points. A model completes all actions before the next card is drawn.

French Crossbowmen led by Luc

The French crossbows let fly nice and early as the English tried to cross the ruins. But the combination of long range and hard cover meant the English took no casualties. Models have a series of stats and, depending on how good they are, the better the die type they roll. I like that game mechanic. It’s nice and simple and does the job well. Thierry, a French crossbowman, had the ‘corrective shooting’ trait, which meant once per game he could re-roll a failed shoot roll. He took a pot shot at Sir Walter, missed, and decided to re-roll. Fortunately he missed again.

Luc spots the English archers

Sir William and one of his spearmen, Louis, moved into the ruined chancel. By now Henry Wilton and Adam (an English spearman) had also made their way into the ruins. The two sides faced off against each other. However, an English longbowman, Peter Ashdown, had also moved in to the ruins and decided to see if he could bring it all to a quick end by taking out Sir William. He missed.

Sir William with Louis and Jean

Realising they couldn’t afford to wait, both Sir William and Louis advanced against their adversaries as soon as they could. In the game it’s not just a matter of moving models in to combat. They have to make a Faith Test to summon the courage to go in. The charger rolls his die and he has to beat his opponent’s Presence score. If he fails then he stays where he is. If he passes then in he goes!

Walter takes position

Walter Fletcher’s sniping position was paying off. The French crossbowmen had to advance to shorten the range so they could get a good shot in and as they did so Walter started picking them off. Squire Luc could see the only way out of this was to cut Walter down – he had no choice but to charge the Englishman. Not this time though. He dithered and before he could summon the courage he was taken down by Walter’s bow skills.

William and Louis in the ruins

In the chancel the fight was coming to a conclusion – Sir William and Louis had defeated both Henry and Adam. Sir Walter had now advanced through the ruins toward the chancel. There was only one way to sort the matter out – the two knights would have to square off.

William takes on Henry and Adam

It wasn’t to be though. Walter Fletcher drew his bow, took aim, and…there went Sir William.

Carnage!

Game over.

I enjoyed that game. I wasn’t sure what it would be like with such a limited number of models on the table. I think it works best with a bit of role-playing and players investing a bit of character into the models.

There’s also a campaign system in the game whereby after each encounter the models gain experience and can improve. Oh, it’s also worth saying that models that are ‘killed’ in the game aren’t necessarily dead. Being ‘taken down’ merely means they are out of the game. At game end you make a roll and see what’s happened – they could be dead, could be a slight scar, or something more inhibiting.

A Modelling Miscellany

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks.

First up is a tower.

Actually, I did this earlier in the year. It’s made from two tubs of healthy snacks – cheeselets (the wider, shorter, tube) and a Pringle tube (smokey bacon flavour – lovely!). The stairway is made from balsa that was skinned with miliput and then scribed to make it look like stonework. Then a few barrels and sacks were added to make it looked lived in.

Next up are some wall bits. I bought these at Cavalier from Debris of War. I already had some walls, bought many moons ago, so I had to paint these to fit with what I already had. Either that or re-paint the whole lot. I’m not a big fan of stark grey stone. It looks artificial and most stone is actually a brown colour of one sort another. Certainly the stone someone builds a wall out of, anyway. Back when I did the first walls grey is all I knew. So these had to be done like that as well.

Another purchase at Cavalier (this time from Scotia/Grendel) was a dragon. I ummed and ahhed for quite a while about what colour to paint it – I prefer to steer clear of bright red or green fantasy dragons. My preference is for a more believable colour (given it’s a dragon). I already have a brown dragon so I couldn’t do that again. Instead, I decided to go with green but a more drab variety like you see in nature. Once done, though, it looked too green, so I decided to add some patternation to the scales – some brown stripes. I’m not entirely happy with the result, to be honest. I think it may get a re-paint at some point.

And yet another purchase at Cavalier, and another from Debris of War – a ruined…thing. Church? Building? Something.

The tiles were a print out of a medieval tile texture I found on the internet. This ruin is going with other ruin bits that can be put together to form a ruined church or abbey complex.

Last up is a scratch build. I’ve tentatively called it a ‘Templar Hostel’ because that’s what it was made for. I don’t know what they would have really looked like, so it’s quite speculative. It was built for this year’s Open Day (presuming that still goes ahead).

Forward To The Thirteenth Century

Stephen goes time travelling.

I decided to update my medievals. Actually, down-date might be a better way to think of it.

When I started collecting medievals I decided to go with early 14th century. If I’m honest, I really wanted to do 13th century (think Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort), because that’s where my interests lay. But there were few miniatures available for that and the ones there were I didn’t really like.

So I chose early 14th century (think Crecy and Poitiers). However, I recently made the choice to go with my heart rather than mind.

I’ve taken out the later figures that wouldn’t look right in the 13th century and they’ve gone into the ‘fantasy human army’ box. And I replaced them with figures more suited to the 13th century.

I asked around the club if anyone had some of the Fireforge plastics to have a look at. Andy did. And he kindly let me have a sprue to have a play with. I thought the details were good and the style of armour, clothing and equipment is right for the period.

Problem is, every time I see how people have put them together (and this is a general fault I find with plastics) they always have that crouching need-a-sh*t pose, head at 90° to body, and arms doing a double fist-pump. They just look like child’s toys.

Since they were plastic I decided I’d give them a bit of a chop. I thought I may cut the legs off and re-pose them. In the end I didn’t. In fact, in the end the surgery was quite minor. Generally, I replaced the weapons with better-proportioned spares from the spares box. One or two arms I cut at elbow and wrist. I also cut some hands off at the wrist to have them at different angles (due to the casting process I find that the arms on plastics tend to be ‘flat’, and it looks more pronounced once the arm is stuck to the body).

I think the key to the Fireforge figures (and, again, plastics in general) is to think about the pose rather than just stick them together. Maybe even stand in front of a mirror and pose yourself to see how they should go together (make sure you don’t get seen by the family or they’ll think you’re and even bigger bell end). It means you will have to do a bit of cutting here and there to make the pose fluid and as if that the limbs and head belong on the body. But plastic is easy to cut and easy to glue, so it’s really not that difficult.

In the end, I was rather happy with what I came up with. It made me re-think my opinion on them. Just minor surgery, and thinking about the pose, makes a great deal of difference.

Now I have what I wanted in the first place – 13th century medieval.

War of the Roses Battle – Neville Takes the Field

Sir Thomas Neville deep in the action

With both of our Wars of the Roses armies completed Stephen and I assembled on an unremarkable field somewhere in England for our first clash. Stephen took the role of the Lancastrians and recruited Andy to act as a lesser lord of the realm in control of his right flank. I’d gone for the Yorkists and ended up with the flags of the Earl of Salisbury and his son Sir Thomas Neville. In similar fashion I recruited Tony to the role of Thomas Neville also taking command of the right flank.

The Lancastrian Billmen and Men at Arms

The Lancastrian army formed up in a neat row extending across the battlefield with their archers on the flanks and their billmen and men at arms in the centre. The Lancastrians had no cavalry or artillery, however they had more archers and had brought some mercenary pikemen.

The Yorkist Army Advances

Across the field the Yorkists took a different approach forming up with their archers and artillery out front with the billmen and men at arms close behind. The Yorkists also had mounted men at arms as well as some light cavalry units positioned out on the flanks.

Lancastrian Archers take the High Ground

The first move of the battle saw Andy move his archers to a commanding position on the only high ground available.

The Yorkists Cavalry Moves to Outflank the Lancastrians

This move prompted me to move my cavalry out past the archers flank screened by a nearby wood. My intention was not to attack the flank but to try and get Andy to weaken his archers on the hill by dispatching them to deal with the now threatened flank.

Yorkists Under Thomas Neville Attempt to Maneuver in to Position

Meanwhile on the Yorkist right Tony had found himself squashed between my artillery unit and some woods. This would cause a number of problems for Tony during the battle as he was unable to line up his units to best effect.

Lancastrian Archers Move to Outflank

Seeing the difficulty the Yorkist right flank was in Steve moved his archers in range to pour missiles into the floundering Yorkists.

The Yorkist Artillery Starts to Bombard the Lancastrian Billmen

Apart from Steve’s flaking move and Andy moving his archers onto the hill, the Lancastrians refused to give battle. Seeing the danger on the flank and with the Cavalry feint having drawn some of Andy’s archers away, I push the artillery forward and began firing on the Lancastrian Billmen. The attack did not cause any damage but it had the desired effect, soon the Lancastrian billmen would be on the advance.

Yorkist Archers Gain the Upper Hand

Seeing the Lancastrian billmen on the advance I pushed my archers forward and engaged the archers on the hill. The dice definitely favoured the Yorkists destroying a unit of archers outright but taking some damage in return.

Battle Rages on the Yorkist Right Flank

As I prepared to receive the advancing billmen, Tony had managed to engage Steve’s archers on the Yorkist right flank. Unfortunately the Lancastrian archers stood their ground against attacks from the Yorkist billmen.

The Centre Units Close in for an Intense Fight

My archers managed to get a volley off against the Lancastrian’s before the two battle lines crashed together. Unable to move the archers had to join the melee and soon succumbed to the billmen, but I had billmen in reserve ready to fill the gap.

The Battle Lines Clash

The clash was pretty even with both sides taking hits. Out on the Yorkist right flank Tony’s archers had taken a beating but he was still determined to get his billmen into the fight. In the centre Steve still had his men-at-arms directly in front of my artillery and so had no choice than to advance into the oncoming fire.

The Lancastrian Men-at-Arms Charges the Yorkist Artillery

Although the Men-at-Arms had taken some damage they quickly overwhelmed the artillery leaving them to rampage behind the Yorkist line. Tony still had his cavalry in reserve but didn’t get the activation dice required to charge in and so the Men-at-Arms got the chance to destroy them in a subsequent charge. However Tony was more successful with his Mounted Men-at-Arms.

The Yorkist Mounted Men-at-Arms Destroy the Lancastrian Archers

Charging in against the Lancastrian archers Tony was successful in gaining some momentum on the right flank. But the Yorkists would then throw away a strong position with a number of cavalry blunders. First came my charge with my light cavalry against the archers I had drawn out on Andy’s flank. The charge saw the cavalry wiped out with no damage to the defending archers. Tony then charged his Mounted Men-at-Arms against the Lancastrian pikemen and suffered the same fate!

Return of the Yorkist Mounted Men-at-Arms from the Left Flank

With the main battle in the centre going the Yorkists way and following the cavalry blunders, I turned my Mounted Men-at-Arms around and galloped back to the centre. The battle was nearing an end with both armies at breaking point.

The Yorkist Right Flank was to Decide the Battle

With the help of my cavalry the Lancastrian centre was destroyed, and with Andy’s remaining units too far away on the Lancastrian right flank, it was up to Tony on the Yorkist right flank to carry the day. The Lancastrian’s still had some strong infantry units but Steve had failed to get the activations he needed to get them into the fight. Needing just a point before breaking completely the battle came down to the long drawn out melee between Steve’s archers and Tony’s billmen.

The Last Melee Between the Yorkists and Lancastrians

But the dice finally favoured Tony and the archers were utterly destroyed, handing victory to the Yorkists by the narrow margin of 29-32!

Battle Aftermath
This turned out to be a really good battle. Three of the players had only played 3 or 4 games of Sword and Spear before and for Tony this was his first ever play of the rules.
From the Yorkist point of view, the good parts were managing to draw out some of the Lancastrian forces with a cavalry feint, and a lucky result in winning the archery duel in the centre. Having the artillery also turned out to be a good move as it forced the Lancastrians to advance when they had planned to sit tight. The bad points for the Yorkists though were the poor deployment between the artillery and the woods allowing the Lancastrians to out flank the right hand side, and the poorly executed cavalry charges late in the battle.

From the Lancastrians point of view, the good parts were exploiting the poor enemy deployment and out flanking with archers. But the bad points were reacting to the feint and being unlucky with the activation dice later in the battle preventing them from getting more of their infantry committed against the poorly deployed Yorkists.

The war will no doubt continue with the Lancastrians out for revenge!

 

 

 

 

Wars of the Roses Army

At the start of my posts about doing a Wars of the Roses 15mm army I mentioned this was actually the first time in 35 years of Wargaming, that I have put together a complete historical army. Yes I’ve painted a force of 40 odd Dark Age warriors for Saga, but this was the first full army. While collecting and painting up this army I have been watching and listening to various Wars of the Roses documentaries and reading a number of books about the period.
It’s easy to see the appeal of doing historical gaming but I know when to stop over accuracy and just get on with a good game.

Earl of Salisbury’s Forces

For the game to come we will have two players per side, so I have the larger part of my army under the Earl of Sailsbury with a slightly smaller force under his son  Sir Thomas Neville.

Sir Thomas Neville’s Forces

On to the game, we are going to be using Sword and Spear. So stay tuned for the battle report that will hopefully be reporting a victory for the Yorkist cause.

Wars of the Roses Archers

Finally got the last of my Wars of the Roses units completed. This time it was the archers. As with the other units I did buy a number of different brands but ended up just going with Essex miniatures and Peter Pig for the unit commanders. Like the other units I wanted to avoid the uniform two rows of miniatures on a base and so for the fist units of archers (the Retinue archers), I created a clear front line with a archers milling around on the second row.

Essex Retinue Archers

I wanted a mix of archer types and did a couple of militia archer units again using Essex miniatures.

Essex Miniatures Militia Archers

When painting the militia archers I realised that all but one of the miniatures was in a shooting stance, I could not therefore have a second line, but I wanted the militia archers to look undisciplined, so put them in irregular lines on the base to look more like a mob.

With the archers done so was I, but my would be opponent for the planned Wars of the Roses game mentioned having some artillery. Entering in to the arms race I also put a unit of guns together.

Essex Miniatures Wars of the Roses Artillery

I do have plans to do some other Wars of the Roses units like spearmen, some Welsh and other mercenaries. But this will do for the first battle.

Wars of the Roses Cavlary

I finally got my Wars of the Roses Cavalry painted. Unlike the infantry I decided to stick to one manufacturer. When I started the project I got some old cavalry figures from a fellow club member and picked up some samples. What I found was a big difference in the scale of the cavalry. With mass infantry you can get away with differences in sizes, not everyone is the same size and so it doesn’t matter as much. But it was so obvious mixing different manufacturers for 6 mounted miniatures on a base.

15mm Wars of the Roses Cavalry from Peter Pig

I like the slightly chunky style of the Peter Pig miniatures and so was happy to go with them for my cavalry. I do like a bit of cavalry and so wanted to maximise my armies compliment. In Sword and Spear the army can only have two units of knights and so I also did a couple of units of Northern Boarder Horse. I’m really looking forward to getting these into battle.

Now all I have left to do is finish the archers and my Wars of the Roses army is complete. Unless I want more than two command units … hmmm

Wars of the Roses Camp

I was supposed to be working on my Cavalry and Archers for my Wars of the Roses army, but while attending SELWG last October I remembered I needed a camp for my army. You have to remember I don’t normally dabble in the types of wargame requiring a camp for the army. But the intention is to use the Sword and Spear rules and so I needed a camp.

A Suitable Camp for my Wars of the Roses Army

At the show some resin pieces from Baueda caught my eye. Normally I would probably have scratchbuilt the camp but I really like the scenery pieces and they were not that expensive. I went for a cooking set and a tent that would fit the period. To that I added a spare infantryman and a horse.

The base is MDF and I spread bathroom sealant mixed with brown paint on it to create the muddy road and to cover up the figure bases. After painting the figures I flocked the base and added a few tufts of grass and the odd rock. Painting the camp made a nice change as it was like a mini diorama and a good distraction from line after line of the rank and file.

Wars of the Roses Infantry

I’ve finally made progress on my 15mm Wars of the Roses army. This is the first time since getting into Miniature Wargaming some 30 plus years ago that I have put together an historical army.
As I mentioned in my previous post showing the Men at Arms I did not want this army to look like a set number of figures stuck on a base. I wanted an irregular rabble look to the units.

15mm Wars of the Roses Billmen from Multiple Manufacturers

For my armies main infantry I looked at suitable 15mm miniatures from Lancashire Games, Irregular Miniatures, Museum Miniatures, Tin Soldier, Magister Militarium, Donnington, Miniature Figurines, Essex and Peter Pig.
For the life of me I cannot remember all of the companies I finally settled on, I know for a fact I bought Peter Pig, Lancashire Games and Essex. But there are other manufacturers figures in the units.
I’m really pleased with how they came out and think I got the rabble aspect quite well.
Another bonus was cleaning up the figures and thinking I’d only done enough for 4 bases of 16 figures per base. But when it came to undercoating them I found I had enough for 6 bases, result!

Now onto the Cavalry and Archers.