Richie Pays a visit

John reports on A Border Reiver Skirmish using En Garde Rules…

Introduction

I’d always been interested in this period since before I started wargaming. Picking up  George MacDonald Fraser’s book ‘The Steel Bonnets’ fired my enthusiasm , I started with modified Redoubt figures and scratch built some buildings and it became a club game for 2002. I sold off figures and buildings to purchase a collection of Outpost figures which promptly gathered dust. The advent of Osprey En Garde rules and finding I have links to two Border Reiver families sparked the flame again.

The Border Reivers occupy a unique position in British history. Before the Union of England and Scotland, the area between the nations was effectively a buffer state with it’s own set of rules. Over population and depredations from either nation took its toll. Cattle rustling, kidnap and blackmail ( in its original sense a protection racket) became commonplace. Fortified buildings, the simplest being a two storey Bastle house, of which there are more than 900, provided some shelter from Reivers who became very skilled in their craft and earned them the reputation of being the finest light horsemen in Europe.

En Garde is an Osprey blue book set of rules for small scale swashbuckling skirmish games for about 20 figures maximum. Each figure has a stat line which provides its rank which can range from peasant to Headman. The higher the rank, the more capable the figure. Each figure has a combat pool (cp) for hand to hand combat. When this takes place, the figure is allocated a number of chits for either attack or defence, which allow the figure to use ploys such as riposte and feint to give a sword fight feel. The higher the cp value, the more attack or defence options for the figure. Each figure has an initiative value which is a dice roll modifier to determine which gets the first hit in. Fight and Shoot stats give modifiers to the attack and AR is an armour protection value. Finally, higher ranked figures can add attributes for example beguiling means that an opponent is less likely to attack the figure, afraid of the consequences. All these features allow the player to develop the character of a figure. A bit like role playing.

The Game

Set up

This scenario is set in the late 16th century Border between Scotland and England about 8 miles east of Carlisle. Richie Graham of Brackenhill (Brackenhill Tower still stands and is a successful self-catering holiday retreat) runs a successful blackmail business. The Bells of Gilsland have failed to make payment and Richie and the blackmailers decide to teach them a lesson. Richie sits in the top three all-time Border bad guys and he’s accompanied by Thomas ‘The Merchant’ Hetherington (possible distant relative of the author) who collected blackmail payments on his behalf.

Forces

 

Terrain

Bastle house with Barnkin wall containing cattle in the centre of a 3’ square board. One boulder close to the bastle, two patches of Heather in the corners and a Long house with fencing containing sheep.

Time and Weather

Weather – a 6 is rolled which is wind and rain. Line of sight reduced to 24” and all shooting has a -1 modifier

Time of day – a 3 is rolled which is dusk. Line of sight reduced to 18”

Typical conditions for a border raid!

The Bell reivers, Willie Red Cloak’s wife and young son (both classed as peasant) are in the Bastle. Two peasants are in the Long House

Move 1

The Bells win initiative and Jamie fires through the window at the leading Graham. He rolls 4 and 2. +1 for skill, – 1 for weather, – 1 >12” away. Gives a score of 5. He needs more than 6 to cause a wound so it’s a fail. Willie runs to take cover behind the Barnkin wall. There is not enough room for all the gang so Richie does an ordered run into the cover provided by the heather.

Move 2

The Bells win initiative. Jamie concentrates his aim on the Barnkin gate. Bell’s son is sent to light the warning beacon beside the bastle. Richie orders a group move and the Grahams run around the Barnkin wall.

Move 3

The Grahams win the initiative and continue to run around the Barnkin wall. As they pass the gate, Jamie Bell fires at Wat. He rolls a 9 +1 for aimed shot, +1 for skill – 1 for weather -1 for the gate – 2 for distance gives a score of 7 A hit is scored but the armour saves Wat.

Move 4

The son is in serious danger but the Bells win the initiative. The boy gets back inside the Bastle and the drawbar is slammed shut behind the door. The Grahams prepare “Fire to the Door”. They are going to smoke out the Bells, this tactic was known as “scum fishing”.

Move 5

The Bells win initiative and a group move is ordered for the armed Bells to descend the ladder into the Barnkin and take on the Grahams directly. This is overheard by the Grahams and a group move is ordered to the gate with Jock of the Peartree (crack shot) in the lead. He waits by the gate looking for a target. Thomas (The Merchant Hetherington) waits by the ground floor door to make sure the smoke builds up. Screams from inside the Bastle alert the two peasants in the long house who move, just out of view towards Thomas.

Move 6

The Bells win initiative and move towards the Barnkin gate. Its slippery, the cows are in the way so only a short move is possible. Jock of the Peartree fires his latch and rolls a double 1! The latch bolt is stuck and Jock will have to spend a move clearing the latch to fire again. Wat attempts to climb over the wall but fails his dexterity roll and falls, grazing his shins.

Move 7

The Grahams win initiative. Archie fires at Davy. He rolls 6 and 6  = 12 – 1 for weather = 11 – 6 = 5 a hit has been scored. Davy’s armour is 1 plus 1 for the shield = 2. Final wound score = 3. A light wound. Willie Bell opens the gate and moves into combat with Wat.  Willie’s combat pool is DDDA (where D is defence, A is attack) in Case Richie attacks. He rolls 8 + 4 for his fight ability = 12. Wat defends his combat pool is DD. He rolls 6 + 2 for his fight ability. A wound is caused to Wat but his armour saves 2 and it’s a light wound. Richie attacks Willie with a combat pool of ADDD He rolls 10 + 4 fight ability gives a total score of 14. Willie rolls a 5 from 2 dice attempting a parry and using one of his remaining defence chits,  +4 for fight ability = 9. A difference of 5. Willie has an armour of 3 giving a wound score of 2 a light wound. There are no more attack chits available so combat ends for the turn.

Move 8

The Grahams win initiative. Jock fires at Davy. He rolls 11 + 2 for sharpshooter -1 for weather -6 = 6. A wound has been caused. Davy has an armour of 2 which gives a final score of 4 a Grievous wound. When this is combined with the light wound he is killed. Because Willie has a light wound, Richie has the initiative and launches an attack and goes for the subdue option. If he can kidnap Willie Bell, He could get a ransom and the outstanding blackmail payments. Willie uses his Weapon Master attribute to attempt a riposte.

On two dice Richie rolls 7, not great. Willie only rolls 1, a difference of 6. Willie already has a light wound so his combat factor is reduced to 3 a difference of 7. A subdue attack is a -1 modifier and Willies armour is 3. A final score of 3 another light wound. Two light wounds become one grievous wound and Willie is subdued.

It looks grim for the Bells now. Ritchie has his dagger at Willie’s throat and a retreat would be covered by the two latchmen. Meanwhile at the Bastle door, Thomas the Merchant is fighting off the two farm hands. His combat pool is ADD He attacks one of the farm hands whose combat pool is D. He rolls 8 with two dice plus a combat factor of 3 = 11. The Farmhand rolls 10 with two dice but with no armour, a hit is scored. The farmhand is stunned. The second farmhand attacks He rolls 5 from two dice but Thomas only manages 2 from two dice. His fight skill of 3 saves the day and as there are no attack chits left combat ends for the turn.

The Bells now need to take a morale test they need to roll under 7 on a modified roll of two dice. They roll 3 and pass.

Move 9

The initiative roll is tied but the Grahams have a higher initiative leader now so win the initiative. Thomas goes on the offensive with AAA in his combat pool against the farmhands. He attacks the unwounded farmhand and rolls 11 The Farmhand Combat pool D rolls 4 from two dice and dies. Thomas then attacks the remaining farmhand who is already wounded. Thomas rolls 5 + 3 for fight = 8. The farmhand rolls 6 – 1 fight value for already wounded. It’s a second light wound and this now becomes grievous.

It’s all over and the Grahams win the day. It’s going to be a long hard winter for the Bells!

We’ve played a few games at the club and it’s a game I’m keen to bring back once we are allowed to meet again. I’m keen to run a mini campaign involving two feuding families a group of outlaws known as ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ and the Hebburn garrison (complete with sleuth hounds).

The Bear

Stephen gives us the breakdown (and pictures) of a flexible medieval force he’s been working on.

I’ve used lockdown to finish off and round out my armies rather than start new ones.

One of those is a collection that performs two functions – it can be an early Hundred Years War force or it can be a fantasy human army.

I thought I’d present it here in its fantasy form because over lockdown it’s the fantasy elements that I have finished off.

It’s in Dragon Rampant sized units and I’ve included details from those rules.

Sir Artos FitzUrsus

Sir Artos is the leader and a unit in his own right. There’s a foot and mounted version (with his mastiffs – Brutus, Cassius, and Victor). On foot I have him as an Elite Foot unit. Mounted he’s Elite Rider with the Level Headed upgrade.

Sir Artos

Knightly Retainers

Surrounding Sir Artos are his loyal knights. Some are household knights, some are lords of local manors, but all are loyal to their lord. I have two units of these – both foot and mounted versions. The mounted knights are Elite Riders and the foot knights are Elite Foot.

Knights 1
Knights 2

Hobilars and Currours

These are full time sergeants riding mounts given to them by their lords. In normal duties they patrol the borders and marches and are amongst the best horsemen around. They carry a mix of weapons – spears, swords, and crossbows. There’s two units of them and they are Heavy Riders with the mounted missiles upgrade.

Hobilars 1
Hobilars 2

The Cult of Flagellants

This band of religious fanatics are led by Brother Crowley. They are easily whipped into a frenzy, convert the unbelievers with their blades, and fight to the death. Always. They are a Bellicose Foot unit. Very bellicose.

Cult of Flagellants

The Yeomanry of the Shires

Independent landowners and wealthy farmers who are proud of their status and independence but also loyal to Sir Artos as tenant-in-chief. They carry longbows and all have some form of armour, whether a leather jack, a quilt gambeson or an old chain shirt. They are rated as Heavy Missiles.

Yeomanry

The Company of St Mercure

These are actually mercenaries from the continent. They are professionals and all equipped with crossbows. As professional mercenaries they are well equipped and have a good level of armour protection as well. Such is their experience at scouting that they can be used as an advance party to check on enemy positions. They are classified as Heavy Missile troops but can be split up to form Scouts.

Company of St Mercure

Retainers

The back bone of the army! These troops form the main portion of the infantry and are always first in the fight or found holding the bridgehead against the savage hordes. The captains are the younger sons of noble families, and the rank and file are fit and strong men from the countryside willing to fight for their lord. They are Heavy Foot with the Offensive upgrade.

Retainers 1
Retainers 2

The Guild of Mages

Within Sir Artos’ lands is a prefectory of the Guild of Mages. The building is in free-hold but the surrounding lands and farms that support the prefectory are rented from Sir Artos. The order is run by Maxwell Crochety who goes everywhere mounted on a beaten old nag.

They are a unit of Light Foot with the Short Range Missile upgrade (to represent firebolt type spells) and also the full Spellcaster upgrade (it is a guild of mages after all!).

Guild of Mages

So that’s Sir Artos FitzUrsus and his troops. There’s quite a lot. I can either pick and choose specific units for a small battle or they can all come out for a bigger rumble.

Declare Sir Artos your liege lord and you shall live!

 

 

The Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – 3rd Feb 1461

Stephen has fought another battle in the War of the Roses campaign…

So this is the next one in my Wars of the Roses battles.

Like all the others, the intent is that anyone should be able to game it. This was played on a 3’x2’ table using Basic Impetus.

This battle was the famous one where the atmospheric phenomenon known as a parhelion was witnessed and was interpreted by Edward of York as the Holy Trinity and was, therefore, an omen for victory. In recognition of this he took the Sun In Splendour as his personal emblem.

But a victory for who?

Order of Battle

From a gaming point of view there is one important thing to take into account – the Yorkists deployed some of their archers and cavalry hidden in the woods on the Lancastrian left. I decided that the Lancastrians could not move against these hidden troops unless they either moved or shot their arrows to revel their presence.

The battlefield itself is a rather simple affair. The river Lugg on the east border, and a ridge and woodland on the west. Other than that, it’s all open – these two terrain features dictated the deployment of troops.

Deployment

How did it go then?

Historically, the Yorkist ambush opened the battle. This had the desired effect on the Lancastrian line. Although the Lancastrians had a slight numerical superiority the Yorkist ambush did the trick and Edward of York sealed the victory.

This is how my re-fight went.

The key was obviously going to be when to spring the ambush. Since both sides were up for a fight there was no postponement of initiative rolls like in previous games – initiative was rolled for from the start. This can frequently mean that one side gets a double go – last to move in one turn and then first to move in the next turn. Would this affect the ambush?

Yes, it would.

Edward leads his knights

The Yorkist plan was to let the Lancastrian knights advance past the hidden cavalry and then be peppered by the archers and Edward of York leading his knights in a charge on the weakened cavalry. Meanwhile, the hidden cavalry would rush out and slam into the Lancastrian infantry line. At least, that was the plan.

The ambush is finally sprung

Sure enough, forward went the Lancastrian knights. This put them in range of a bow attack from the archers and a follow up charge by the cavalry. This was tempting and would probably rout them. But if things went the Yorkist way (i.e. they won initiative next turn) they could then have their cake and eat it and their plan would go the way they wanted. Had Edward of York’s omen of the parhelion been true – was it a blessing from the Holy Trinity?

Well, if it was, it wasn’t just yet. The Lancastrians took the initiative which meant the Lancastrian knights not only galloped past the archers but they also managed to take the charge into the Yorkist knights (who were being led by Edward).

The knights clash

Meanwhile the rest of the Lancastrian line trudged forward. The Yorkists, kicking their heels at missing out, nevertheless managed to spring part of their ambush and the cavalry charged into the Lancastrian billmen.

Over on the Lancastrian right flank, where they had their currours and hobilars, they decided to spur their cavalry and take the charge to the Yorkist longbows. Otherwise they’d just find themselves turning into pin cushions.

The currours advance

Although the Lancastrian knights had cleared the ambush they were still far from safe. Their charge had taken them past the York battle line, and into the Yorkist knights. They needed to pull this off or they would be in a dire situation. And pull it off they did – they pushed Edward and his knights back and followed up with a pursuit.

The two infantry lines had started sending arrows over at each other, but these long shots had little effect. However, as they closed, casualties started mounting, particularly amongst the Lancastrians. Despite the less than auspicious ambush, it could be the day would still go the Yorkist way.

The centre battleline

The Lancastrian levies took firm hold of their spears and went for the Yorkist archers who had despatched the currours. They dropped their bows and took up hatchets and swords and, supported by billmen, gave melee. The result was indecisive – all units suffered hits and stayed locked in combat.

Over in the ambush area things were starting to get dirty. The Lancastrian billmen had stood firm against the cavalry and routed them! But that wasn’t all. The struggle between the Yorkist and Lancastrian knights also came to a conclusion – the Lancastrian knights had won the fight and not only routed the Yorkist knights but had also killed Edward as well!

So much for the Holy Trinity!

Edward is gone

This still wasn’t the end for York, far from it. On the eastern flank, by the banks of the Lugg, the Yorkist infantry had routed the Lancastrian levies. In the middle it was still a mix – the two lines had yet to come to blows, preferring to exchange bowfire. This had affected both sides with no absolute winner.

In go the levies

In the west, by the woods, the ambush had come to nothing. The cavalry had been beaten, the Lancastrian knights had slipped through and killed Edward of York, and it just left the archers, feeling all alone and surrounded.

It wouldn’t go on for much longer. The Yorkist archers inevitably fell. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough was enough, and the army of York had reached its break point. Victory would go to Lancaster!

Not looking good for the archers

It had been a slight victory. Had the Lancastrians lost one more unit it would have been a York victory.

The undoing had been the poorly executed ambush. It had been a gamble on whether to wait for ideal conditions, and a gamble that didn’t pay off. It didn’t help that dice rolls had been poor all game, poor for both sides, meaning that fights drew on. Any winners in combat had generally taken such a pummelling that though they may have won they had also been left spent.

Next up is a return to St Albans…

Carters and Herders

Andy reports on the next instalment of the Dark Ages figures recently completed…

First up (above) is a 4Ground Oxcart, with Oxen and the carter’s family from Colonel Bill’s Depot Battalion.

The figures were cleaned of any mould lines and washed in soapy water to remove any residual mould release agent and dried. The oxen, cart driver and boy were fixed to temporary bases for painting, the others were fixed to 2p pieces and the bases built up with 4Ground base render. All were then primed with grey car primer.

The oxen were given a couple of coats of Vallejo Pale Sand, then the upper parts of the body were painted Dark Sand and heavily washed with Army Painter Light Tone Wash. Eyes were painted German Camouflage Black Brown, and the horns Deck Tan.

The figures skin was painted with a base coat of Vallejo Brown Sand and then Medium Flesh with a selection of browns, greys and beiges for the clothes, one of the women has a Golden Yellow dress, the other English Uniform Brown. Both have Silver and/or Bronze necklaces. Finally the figure’s bases were given a coat of green Basetex.

Once assembled the cart was painted Green Brown and washed with AP Dark Tone.

The cart, oxen and the boy were fixed to a 60mm wide by 120mm deep carboard base and the area around the oxen’s bases built up with 4Ground base render followed by a coat of green Basetex over the entire base. I then used some brown cotton to add harness ropes to the cart.

The second part of this instalment is a pack of 4 Gripping Beast Shepherds & Stockmen painted in the same way as the cart crew.

Frostgrave: Dark Alchemy campaign

Stephen recounts a solo adventure, using some of his recent terrain builds.

I’ve always liked Frostgrave.

It is a very terrain intensive game and, if you go with the game setting, very game-specific terrain at that.

So I decided that I wouldn’t use the Felstad setting, preferring to make use of miniatures and terrain I already have to get some extra mileage out of them.

That means I use models and buildings from my large dark age/early medieval collection. So let’s call it ‘Darkgrave’, shall we?

For lockdown Osprey offered the Dark Alchemy campaign as a free download. (Ed: available as a pdf or e-book for £1.49 from Osprey at date of posting).

So this weekend I finally got around to playing it.

Dark Alchemy is a 3-scenario campaign based around a raid on a large alchemical factory. Or, in my Darkgrave setting, a raid on the ruins of a large alchemical commune.

The burning ruins

My warband is led by a druid (Witch, under Frostgrave options) called Rollo Magwitch and his apprentice, Eadberht Blackthorn.

I played the first two scenarios but forgot to take any pictures. Suffice to say that after a bit of plunder the group had grown familiar with each other, and identify any short comings. They’d made enough to pay the landlord of the Puking Pig Inn for permanent rooms as their home base.

So what follows is a report on the last of the campaign scenarios – The Spreading Flame, where they have to escape the ruins before they go up in flames!

A golden chalice up for grabs

The board was set up with ruins and undergrowth. Then the treasure tokens were placed. Then three fire tokens were placed, and then four fire-flingers – constructs that can move around shooting flames at interlopers. The warband has 10 rounds to collect as much treasure as possible and get off the board. After 10 rounds the place explodes in fire with anyone left onboard having to make a casualty roll.

For this scenario you are only allowed to take four warband members. I chose Rollo Magwitch, who teamed up Wilfred (a fyrd man), and then Edward (a slightly wealthier thane with great axe) teamed with Alfred (an archer) – meaning that each pair had a melee fighter and missile/spell user.

Edward and Alfred skirted around a ruined chapel where ahead they could see the glint of gold. However, they could also see the flickering of flames, so Alfred notched an arrow and let fly into a fire-flinger. Edward chose to duck into the ruins, hoping this would make it difficult for the fire-flinger – two targets instead of one – and maybe a chance to get around the side to either destroy the construct or make a nab for the treasure.

Rollo and Wilfred sneak up

Rollo and Wilfred had made their way around the other side of the same ruined chapel. In front of them were the ruins of a large building, possibly a chapter house or something. Same thing – gold (a chalice) could be seen, but so could a fire-flinger. Trying the same tactics as Alfred and Edward, Rollo decided to see if he could hit the fire-flinger from distance by casting a Bone Dart spell. The spell didn’t go off, so Wilfred stepped forward to block the fire-flinger in case it moved up.

Edward gets ready for a fight

Alfred let off another arrow, scoring a hit, but doing little damage. Edward continued through the building, but had miscalculated how far away he was and found himself struck by a lick of flame from the fire-flinger. If he stayed where he was it would come to no good, so he pulled out his axe and charged into the construct.

The fire-flinger didn’t last long.

Rollo also had another go with his Bone Dart spell. This time he was more successful and a flurry of small shards of bone spewed from his hand and riddled the fire-flinger. A good hit, but not good enough. Wilfred then went forward, hoping that the damaged construct could easily be dispatched. Not so – the fire-flinger gave him a good burning!

Wilfred engages a fire flinger with Rollo giving support

Having destroyed the first fire-flinger, Edward then moved forward to grab the treasure, but lo and behold, another fire-flinger had come up. The blade of his axe had warmed up nicely now, and so emboldened he decided not to wait for Alfred’s bow fire and just waded in. This wouldn’t go so well – it didn’t take long for Edward to fall under the searing lashings of the fire-flinger and burnt and smouldering, down he went.

Down goes Edward

It is hard to say whether Rollo then showed wisdom or, perhaps, opportunism. With Wilfred engaged with the fire-flinger, this left the treasure – a large gold cross – free. Rollo cast his Leap spell, bounded the ruined walls, and grabbed the cross! As Wilfred continued his fight with the fire-flinger (a fight he would go on to win), Rollo (holding the treasure firmly) fled the ruins to safety.

Rollo loots the altar cross

Alfred, having seen Edward go down, drew his arrows and proceeded to pepper the second fire-flinger with arrows. When that did for the construct, he ran forward to see what state Edward was in. There was no movement. Time was of the essence. Maybe now Edward’s soul resided with God. The only honour he could was grab the treasure and make off with it, to make Edward’s sacrifice mean something (well, that’s what he would later claim).

Alfred runs to Edward’s rescue

Now it left Wilfred all on his own, with time ticking down. There were no fire-flingers around that he could see, so he was left with a dilemma – leave now and be safe, or go further into the ruins and see what he could find.

Curiosity got the better of him.

Forward he went, where he could see a gold chalice lying in the rubble of the ruins. Unfortunately, this also drew the attention of another fire flinger. If he was quick, though, he should be able to make it to the treasure and be off before the fire-flinger got near him. There would be no room for mistakes though.

And fortunately for Wilfred no mistakes were made. He got the treasure and then sped off after Rollo, with the fire-flinger’s flames shooting out after him.

Wilfred makes off with the chalice pursued by flames

Game over.

Edward would count as still being in the ruins on turn 10, meaning that he would have to make a roll to see what happens – would he be killed or would he survive? I’m pleased to say he lived to tell the tale, but he had been badly wounded by the flames, and would have to miss a game, holed up in bed in the Puking Pig Inn until he had recovered (in game terms – he has to miss a game).

Rollo is now a level 7 witch (that may sound impressive, but levels are easy to gain in Frostgrave and you get small increases with each level. Level 7 is still very low in game terms). With the money he’s made he has managed to recruit a huscarl: Godwin. This should provide some good back bone to the warband.

Oh Brother!*

The short lesson today is read by Andy…

I’ve recently finished a couple of dozen Dark Ages figures. Here’s the first instalment: eight Gripping Beast monks from two packs SSC03 Monks Parading Cross and SSC10 Pious Monks

One of the Dark Ages rulesets I use (Dux Bellorum) allows some armies to have a unit of Monks to provide spiritual support to the rank and file. They may also be used as the less combatant targets of Viking raids under other rules.

All paints are Vallejo unless stated otherwise. The monks’ habits are English Uniform, with an Army Painter Mid Brown Wash. The under tunics (where relevant) are Khaki Grey and the Scapular White. Black and various shades of brown were used for their hair (what’s left of it).

The rope on the cross and monks belts are German Camouflage Beige.

The Abbott gets a nice AP Crystal Blue waistband and has some silver metalwork on his crook (Vikings may like those). The preaching monk’s bible has a Chocolate Brown cover and Pale Sand pages.

Here endeth the lesson.

* Anyone old enough to remember the TV series?

An urban battle mat, for less than £10!

Society member John describes how he made a Zona Alfa battle mat. This was written up after the mat had been made, so there aren’t many WIP shots.

I wanted a battle mat for Zona Alfa so decided to make my own following the Sea mat I made for Galleys and Galleons using the same techniques. Here’s what I used:-

As much weed control fabric for as many mats as I’m ever likely to use for £3.99 from Poundstretcher. 4 x decorators caulk from Wickes £4.00. The Wickes caulk appears to be the best. I’ve found lumps of dried caulk within the tube in other brands

Construction

The fabric appears to be polythene with paper fibre bonded to it in a small waffle pattern. If possible I wanted this to show through in on the finished mat so decided to start on the reverse of the mat with a thin layer over all of it, using a caulking gun without nozzle fitted to the caulk tube.

Firstly, I taped the material down to hardboard with masking tape, smoothing out any creases, before applying the first coat. I applied a thin layer of the caulk and smoothed with a trowel. Here I hit upon a snag. Some of the mastic seeped through the fabric and bonded to the hardboard I was using, I ended with a number of tears which were easily patched with packing tape – they would be covered with caulk later. I’ve tried using greaseproof paper under the fabric when applying the first layer and this seems to prevent the problem.

When the first layer was dried, I flipped the mat over and applied a thin coat on the second side. When this had dried, I decided which surface was going to be the playing area and applied a second coat to the reverse side. After this dried, I checked any areas with packing tape patching showing and gave these another coat of mastic, I dabbed the surface with a sponge to provide some texture.

Finishing

When fully dry, I cut the mat to shape (3 foot square) with a Stanley knife and straight edge and painted the playing area with grey match pots, blending the colours in. Now it was time to get creative with washes to get some variation in the colours. I used burnt umber and black acrylic tube paint. I started by applying blobs of paint on the mat and taking a jar of water, diluted the paint outwards. You can see that here.

I always use fairy liquid in the water when using acrylic paints to break surface tension. This created bubbles on the mat. See detail near base of photo.

I then placed cans under the mat to let the washes flow across the mat. You can see this near the top corner of this photo. Accidently, I spilt drips of wash on the mat and decided to leave them, see below.

When the mat was fully dried, I then dry brushed any raised detail with pale grey and then white acrylic, before applying some light green wash to indicate moss or alga growth.

The finished mat ready for use.

Storage and Transport.

For the two mats I’ve made, I store them in the garage on top of other items, I haven’t tried storing them rolled up and I wouldn’t stack mats on top of each other (I had a problem with two pieces of marsh terrain I made which permanently bonded together when stacked). Any creases disappear if the mat is rolled and unrolled. From the above photo you can see it unrolls flat.

Further Ideas

I’m thinking of making some 2 x 2ft mats for Perilous tales – a desert area, a swamp, desolate moorland as the techniques are quite versatile.

MWS Quiz 24th February 2021 – Answers

Here are the answers to Peter’s latest quiz…

Q1a: “Green Grow The Rushes Oh” was widely sung by American troops in which war?

Answer: 1846 War with Mexico

Q1b: What nickname did the Spanish/Mexican population give these troops?

Answer: “Gringos”

Q2a: What TV series usually ends with a rendition of ‘Over The Hills & Far Away’?

Answer: Sharpe

Q2b: In which century was it first regularly sung by British troops?

Answer: 18th – it was a folk tune in the 17th (at least), but ‘army lyrics’ were 1706.

Q3a: Many regiments in the 19th Century had a band. Apart from signalling & boosting morale, what other key function did they often perform in combat?

Answer: Helping with the wounded.

Q3b: How did the Romans employ musicians in actual combat with Carthage?

Answer: Used to help scare the Carthaginian elephants.

Q4a: For a full orchestral staging, what unusual instruments do you need for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture?

Answer: Cannon!

Q4b: What was the WW2 ‘Red Orchestra’?

Answer: German intelligence name for a loose network of Soviet spy rings across Germany & Europe.

Q5a: The song ‘Lili Marlene’ was already very popular among German troops before WW2. Where did the British army first start to take it up?

Answer: North Africa.

Q5b: “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn is sung during the closing credits of which famous Cold War film?

Answer: Dr Strangelove.

Q6a: Why did Beethoven’s 5th Symphony have such massed appeal in Britain during WW2?

Answer: The opening 4 beats formed the morse letter V (for Victory).

Q6b: Which award-winning Sci-Fi film used five notes as its main theme/signature?

Answer: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Q7a: A special version of ‘Men of Harlech’ is sung in a famous scene from which film?

Answer: Zulu.

Q7b: What is the full title of the British army unit primarily depicted in the film?

Answer: 24th Regt of Foot (2nd Warwickshires). Note – they only became South Wales Borderers in 1881.

Q8a: Hollywood notwithstanding, the song ‘Garryowen’ was most famously adopted by which unit?

Answer: U.S. 7th cavalry

Q8b: ‘The British Grenadiers’ was introduced to the UK by William III, but actually first adopted by which British army unit in 1716?

Answer: Royal Artillery.

Q9a: Hail The Conquering Hero’ was played in the film ‘Waterloo’ on what occasion?

Answer: Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels (entry of the Duke of Wellington)

Q9b: For which victorious British Commander was it originally devised/dedicated?

Answer: Duke of Cumberland, post-Culloden

Q10a: General Grant famously said he could only remember two tunes. Which was his favourite?

Answer: Dixie (he couldn’t remember the name of the other one!)

Q10b: ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ has been the national anthem of the USA since 1931. Which war was it written to commemorate?

Answer: The War of 1812

Q11a: Music has often been used to intimidate the enemy. Which track was played by the 1st / 9th (Air Cavalry) in their Hollywood debut?

Answer: ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ by Wagner; during the air-assault in the film ‘Apocalypse Now’

Q11b: Where was ‘rock music’ actually first used officially as a psyops weapon?

Answer: 1989 assault on Panama (attack on General Noriega’s palace)

Q12a: Which BBC series was one of the first ever to use all-electronic theme music?

Answer: Dr Who

Q12b: Why was ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ banned by the BBC in 1942?

Answer: Because it was thought that the clapping chorus caused too much production loss by factory workers!

 

MWS Quiz 24th February 2021

Peter sets the latest quiz with a musical theme. Answers on Sunday.

All together now…

Q1a: “Green Grow The Rushes Oh” was widely sung by American troops in which war?

Q1b: What nickname did the Spanish/Mexican population give these troops?

Q2a: What TV series usually ends with a rendition of ‘Over The Hills & Far Away’?

Q2b: In which century was it first regularly sung by British troops?

Q3a: Many regiments in the 19th Century had a band. Apart from signalling & boosting morale, what other key function did they often perform in combat?

Q3b: How did the Romans employ musicians in actual combat with Carthage?

Q4a: For a full orchestral staging, what unusual instruments do you need for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture?

Q4b: What was the WW2 ‘Red Orchestra’?

Q5a: The song ‘Lili Marlene’ was already very popular among German troops before WW2. Where did the British army first start to take it up?

Q5b: “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn is sung during the closing credits of which famous Cold War film?

Q6a: Why did Beethoven’s 5th Symphony have such massed appeal in Britain during WW2?

Q6b: Which award-winning Sci-Fi film used five notes as its main theme/signature?

Q7a: A special version of ‘Men of Harlech’ is sung in a famous scene from which film?

Q7b: What is the full title of the British army unit primarily depicted in the film?

Q8a: Hollywood notwithstanding, the song ‘Garryowen’ was most famously adopted by which unit?

Q8b: ‘The British Grenadiers’ was introduced to the UK by William III, but actually first adopted by which British army unit in 1716?

Q9a: Hail The Conquering Hero’ was played in the film ‘Waterloo’ on what occasion?

Q9b: For which victorious British Commander was it originally devised/dedicated?

Q10a: General Grant famously said he could only remember two tunes. Which was his favourite?

Q10b: ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ has been the national anthem of the USA since 1931. Which war was it written to commemorate?

Q11a: Music has often been used to intimidate the enemy. Which track was played by the 1st / 9th (Air Cavalry) in their Hollywood debut?

Q11b: Where was ‘rock music’ actually first used officially as a psyops weapon?

Q12a: Which BBC series was one of the first ever to use all-electronic theme music?

Q12b: Why was ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ banned by the BBC in 1942?

The Battle of Northampton – 10th July 1460

Stephen continues his refight of the War of the Roses…

This one was never going to go well for the Lancastrians.

This is the third battle in my plan to re-fight all major encounters of the War of the Roses. Like previous games I am using the Basic Impetus rules. There were a couple of important aspects to this battle that had to be reflected if it were to be a faithful re-fight.

Firstly, due to the rain (typical British summer) the Lancastrian artillery could not fire due to wet powder. They were in the line but totally ineffective. That was easily dealt with.

The Lancastrian Battle Line

The second, and most important thing, was Lord Grey’s betrayal of King Henry. As Warwick and the Yorkist army marched north they entered into secret talks with Grey and promised they would not harm him in return for his help. What happened in the actual battle was that the Earl of March (on the Yorkist left flank) advanced against Grey (on the Lancastrian right). As March’s retinue crossed the ditch and bank Grey’s men gave way and allowed them to roll up the Lancastrian line and capture King Henry.

This would have to be reflected. I was in two minds about how to deal with this. It didn’t help that this would be a solo game so I could hardly spring a surprise on myself. In the end, I decided that if March’s troops neither fired nor attacked Grey’s troops then Grey would give way when contacted (effectively counting as loses against the Lancastrian army). This, of course, would have a major impact on the Lancastrian army, but then that’s exactly what it had in reality!

Order of Battle

OK, so let’s get on with the battle.

The Lancastrian army had ensconced themselves in a bend in the river Nene on the opposite bank from Northampton. They had put a ditch and defences in front of their position. King Henry VI was with them but the army was led by the Duke of Buckingham.

The Yorkist forces were led by the Earl of Warwick with Lord Fauconberg on the right and the Earl of March on the left. With Warwick’s skullduggery and plotting with Grey, the advance of the Yorkist forces was led by March.

Armies Deployed

Like the previous two battles, this was little more than an attack on a prepared position. Therefore, I gave the Yorkists the initiative until things got within bow range.

The last thing the Lancastrians wanted was poor dice rolling. Being in a stationary position meant their fire should be more effective. But no. The God of Battles (the dice) were against them. Warwick’s troops in the centre got within bow range of the artillery and they soon sent the gunners packing.

Warwick Urges His Men Forward

March’s men started moving up. Now, it may seem like it would be a done deal – why would I engage the Lancastrian line with March’s men? However, I did decide that if the Lancastrians gave a good account and their bowfire proved effective, and the Yorkist looked like they would take a beating, that this would prove enough motivation for Grey to reconsider and then engage March’s troops. However, the poor rolls by the Lancastrians made that look unlikely.

Fauconberg also started exchanging bowfire with the Earl of Shrewsbury.

A couple more turns, and it still wasn’t looking good for Buckingham and his men. In truth, neither side was rolling that well for their archers, but the Yorkists had the edge. March’s men carried on with their advance, still holding back from loosing their arrows.

The First Casualties

Buckingham moved up his plate armoured men at arms and his billmen, hoping the Yorkists would have the decency to engage in melee rather then sit back and keep shooting.

March’s Troops Contact Grey’s

Finally, March’s men started clambering over the Lancastrian defences. No casualties had been caused to Grey’s men and so Grey dutifully pulled back and allowed March into the Lancastrian defences!

Across The Line They Go

It was now only a matter of time. It wasn’t a case of if the Lancastrians would lose but how much damage they could cause the Yorkists before they did.

March Engages Buckingham

Buckingham swung his billmen around to try and put something in the way of March’s assault. However, the levy spearmen in March’s retinue got stuck in and charged the Lancastrian archers. After a brief melee the archers fell to the spearmen.

And that was that!

The Battle Is Over

A Yorkist win. It had been a convincing win at that – Warwick’s troops hadn’t taken a single casualty. Exactly how it happened historically. The real battle lasted less than an hour and my re-fight took only a bit longer.

Next up then, is the battle of Wakefield. Unfortunately I will have to bypass that one – Wakefield was a large cavalry engagement and I don’t have anywhere near enough cavalry bases. Shame, because the castle would make a great backdrop to the battle. This one would make a good club game when we can get back together.

Therefore, I’ll move on to Mortimer’s Cross…