Andy reports on a recent game, with snippets from Stephen:
At the second meeting in November Stephen and I tried out Footsore Miniature’s Barons’ War rules for the first time.
As it was our first foray with the rules, we decided to keep our armies small and set the armies at 500-points.
There are few limits on force composition, but your units do have to comply with the following limitations:
- All members of a unit must have the same weapons, equipment and grade, with the exception that in Command units the Commander can be armed and equipped differently.
- At least 10% of the points must be spent on Green troops
- No more than 50% of the points may be spent on Command units.
My force comprised:
- Command Unit of a Mounted Lord, with Pennant, and 3 Mounted Knights (Regular, 126 points)
- Command Unit of a Veteran Mounted Sergeant and 3 Mounted Sergeants (Regular, 110 points)
- Unit of 6 Spearmen (Regular, 120 points)
- Unit of 5 Crossbowmen (Regular, 90 points)
- Unit of 6 Bowmen (Green, 54 points)
So, my force had the requisite 10% of Green troops (54 points) and just under 50% of Command units (236 points).
Stephen’s force comprised:
- Command unit of a veteran foot Lord (Sir Owain of Bangor) with 6 regular foot knights (204 points)
- Unit of 6 regular spearmen (120 points)
- Unit of 6 regular archers (102 points)
- Unit of 6 green spearmen (72 points)
In these rules players take turns in activating a unit, with some conditions requiring that a unit takes a compulsory action before any unit takes a voluntary action. Most units can only take one action themselves, plus one action passed to them by an eligible command unit. Units which take more than one action become Weary, which affects combat. Command units can have 2 or 3 actions, one of which must be an action by the command unit itself, the others could be command actions passed to other units. We had some confusion about whether a Command Unit can command itself. But we worked it out and got it right in the end – they can’t because they use their actions on themselves as normal actions or reactions rather than commands.
The rules have 15 scenarios and a dozen deployment options, giving an extremely good variety of potential scenarios – well done Footsore!
We randomly chose the scenario and terrain for our games.
In our first game we played scenario 14 Stop the Messenger, in this scenario one player has to assign a message to a unit, and get that unit and message off the opposite table edge within 5 turns (a sixth turn is allowed if that would allow the messenger unit to escape). For this game we used deployment map 9:
On our table a road ran down the central length with a number of buildings and fields to one side of the road and wooded areas on the other. In Barons War mounted units are not allowed to enter area terrain such as woods.
I won the die roll and elected to be the side with the message.
Stephen deployed his archers as far forward as he could, supported by his Green Spearmen. His Dismounted Knights were deployed to the Archer’s left, in the village area, and his Regular Spearmen deployed on his right flank.
I deployed my Spearmen on the road as far forward as I could within my deployment zone, immediately in front of Stephen’s bowmen. I placed my green bowmen on the village side of the road, and the crossbowmen on the wooded side. The Knights were on the road behind the Spearmen and the Mounted Sergeants (with the message) were behind the crossbowmen.
Due to deployment restrictions Stephen was able to deduce that the message was with either the Knights, Mounted Sergeants or Crossbowmen, so he knew where to focus his efforts.
Stephen won initiative on the first turn and loosed arrows at my Spearmen to little effect. (Stephen: not that I’m getting the excuses in or anything, but the dice rolling was a bit one-sided)
On my first activation I charged my Spearmen into Stephen’s bowmen killing a couple of them and forcing them back. Stephen’s foot Knights advanced and my bowmen loosed at them initially with their own action, and then for a second time when ordered to do so by the Mounted Lord. Initially we forgot to perform the morale tests to determine whether the receiving unit acted on the order given (it was our first game, Stephen: – and we continued to forget to do this all day, even after we realised we’d forgotten to do this!). Despite being wearied by the two actions the archers did cause some casualties on Stephen’s Knights. Both of us advanced our other units.
On the second turn my Spearmen charged Stephen’s bowmen killing a couple more but suffering a loss in return. (Stephen: it’s worth pointing out that in the game a roll of 10 by the attacker can only be defended by a roll of 10. All day Andy rolled lots of 10s and I didn’t…)
The crossbows had line of sight to one of Stephen’s units of Spearmen and loosed bolts at them. Stephen moved his Green Spearmen to support his Regulars, expecting I would send the Knights or Sergeants forward with the message. (Stephen: for the life of me I can’t think why I positioned my regular spearmen right at the back when all my other troops had been deployed forward. They spent the game trying to advance, from a distance, against Andy’s crossbows and demon dice-rolling. The inevitable happened)
On the third turn Stephen advanced his Foot Knights over a wall and hedge advancing on my Green Archers, who responded with a flight of arrows despatching another Knight.
Following another round of archery, the Knights failed their subsequent morale test and decided caution was the better part of valour, heading for the nearest table edge. (Stephen: OK, OK, they were Broken and had to flee).
The Mounted Sergeants and the Lord followed up the crossbows, urging them on.
On the next round Stephen’s Green Spearmen charged my Regular Spearmen, only to be thrown back with casualties and also failing their Morale test.
My crossbowmen advanced, with the Sergeants and Knights following.
On the fourth round my Crossbows moved out of the path of the Sergeants, only for them to be charged by Stephen’s Regular Spearmen, a crossbowman fell, but they forced the Spearmen back with the Spearmen becoming Broken.
With their path now clear the Mounted Sergeants surged forwards with a run action, moving 16” towards the table edge.
At this point Stephen conceded the game. (Stephen: no point in being a damned fool about it when you know you’ve lost). Although I couldn’t quite get the Sergeants off the table in the fifth round, Stephen had nothing close enough to stop them and I could invoke the sixth round and escape the table.
For our second game Stephen decided to tweak his army, removing the unit of 6 Green Spearmen and adding a unit of 8 Green Bowmen (both worth 72 points). I kept the same army.
Our second game was Scenario 8, Take and Hold. We designated the three objectives, one near the centre of the table and the others roughly equal distances from our base edges. The victory conditions for this scenario are that at the end of each of the first four rounds a player controlling an objective accrues one victory point. At beginning of the fifth and final round control of an objective gains the holder 3 points.
We chose deployment option 3, using the long edges as our deployment zones, each having one objective immediately under our control. We left the table layout pretty much as for the first game.
Stephen deployed his green archers in the middle of his deployment zone, opposite the central objective, with his regular archers to their right. (Stephen: I knew my two archer units would be in a strong position, able to take up a defensive stance behind a hedge, and then pepper Andy’s troops as they tried to capture the central objective). His lord and retinue of Knights deployed on a side road to the left, with his Spearmen further to the left among some farm buildings.
I deployed my Spearmen on one of the objectives, with the Lord to their right and the Crossbowmen further to the right. The Mounted Sergeants were roughly in the middle of the table, behind a wood separating them from the central objective, with my Green Bowmen to their left.
On the first turn I advanced my Crossbowmen to a wall at the side of the road and gave them a second action from the Lord to shoot at Stephen’s Spearmen, causing a casualty. My Sergeants advanced round the wood, but could not get quite close enough to claim victory points for the central objective. Stephen advanced his forces across the board.
On the second turn my Sergeants reached the central objective but Stephen’s archery forced my Mounted Sergeants back, (Stephen: see – I told you), so no points for me next turn. The Crossbowmen continued to pelt Stephen’s Spearmen forcing them back, but on the other flank my Green Bowmen were losing the duel with Stephen’s archers (Stephen: again, I told you so). Stephen managed to advance his central archers to the hedge separating the field from the road, and placing them within control distance of the central objective (the Celtic Cross).
On each of the first two rounds both of us claimed 1 VP each, so going into round 3 the score was 2 all.
At the beginning of the third round Stephen claimed points for both the central objective and the one nearest his baseline, taking a 1-point lead as I only received one VP.
Stephen’s foot knights advanced up the side road, and came within line of sight and range of my Lord, so I sent him and his escort charging forwards, only to lose the melee (Stephen: good old Sir Owain!) and be pushed back into my Spearmen pushing them off the objective I controlled. My Crossbowmen took a short move to get in a position where some of them could shoot at Stephen’s Knights, Shaking them and forcing them back down the side road.
On my left flank my Sergeants and Archers succumbed to Stephen’s archery (Stephen: yay!), leaving the left flank undefended.
However, as my last action of the turn I managed to charge my Spearmen into Stephen’s Bowmen holding the central objective forcing them back and taking it back under control. (Stephen: I knew my control of the central objective was tentative – it was controlled by my weakest troops (the green archers) and wouldn’t stand up to a charge).
At the start of the fourth round, I got the extra VP for controlling the central objective tying the score at 5 all.
My Lord charged forwards again, taking advantage of Stephen’s Knights Shaken status and forcing them further back down the side road. My Crossbowmen moved back to the wall and finally sent Stephen’s Spearmen running from the table.
At the beginning of round 5 I controlled two objectives, netting 6 VP, while Stephen only had 1, gaining 3, the score was now 11-8 in my favour.
The last round was a bit of an anti-climax, Stephen had nothing he could use to retake the central objective, I couldn’t reach the objective he controlled and my Crossbowmen had no targets, so the turn ended with a final score of 13-9 to me.
I’ll leave the final words to Stephen:
I enjoyed playing Barons’ War a great deal. We used 500 point armies because it was a first game, but I think we’ll ramp it up to 1000 points next time, split between two players per side. That’ll give a game with more depth and ebb and flow.
During our game we frequently referred to the rules. It didn’t always need it, we were just being conscientious that we were doing things right from the start. We had a few rules queries that we couldn’t find answers to on the day, though I think we did it right in the end. Having time to go through the rulebook that evening we found the answers to our questions, so it’s all in there. I also pinged a couple of queries to Andy Hobday and he replied very promptly (well done Andy!) – he confirmed that what we’d done was right.
I can see future games moving along nice and quickly with minimal reference to the rules. A decent roster sheet with special abilities on it will help, and a re-worked QRF will also assist (the one that comes with the book is 4 pages long! But I reckon there’s a lot of things on it that will become second nature and wouldn’t be needed, so I am sure we can get it down to a more manageable 2 sides).
I enjoyed it a lot. It scratches my 13th century itch (and the 13th century is my favourite period and what my entire education history is focussed on).