The first historical wargames army I ever bought was a Crusader army. It’s always been a period of great interest to me, especially the later crusades of the thirteenth century.
I resisted buying a crusades army in 28mm because that meant I’d also have to get some Saracens and I just didn’t want to paint all that patterned cloth.
Then a while ago I was given a box of plastic Gripping Beast Arab infantry. They sat in a cupboard for a couple of months because I still didn’t have the will to paint all that fabric. Then I saw some pictures of other’s Saracen armies and I saw how they’d done them in plain white material. ‘That’s a good idea’, I thought. So that’s what I did, and decided I’d make the Ghulams a bit more colourful – representing wealthier troops able to buy expensive fabrics.
Being motivated to get these done, I motored through them. And this weekend I decided to have a game. I was going to play Saga, but it doesn’t play solo so well. So instead I went with Lion Rampant…
The two sides lined up opposite each other. Both had 24 points a side.
The Crusaders had two units of Templar knights (LR: Mounted Men at Arms), two units of Mounted Sergeants, and one of foot Crossbows.
I gave the Saracens two units of Ghulams (LR: Foot Men at Arms), two units of Ghazis (LR: Foot Yeomen, armed with short range missiles – javelins), and two units of Ahdath (LR: Bidowers).
I did a simple meeting scenario – both sides hacking at each other until one is gone.
I rolled for leader traits and got Vulnerable for the Crusaders (leader killed on a Lucky Blow of 2 or 3) and Lionheart (ironically) for the Saracen leader (meaning his unit could re-roll 2 failed hit dice).
The Saracens went first and they were lucky enough to activate all their units – moving up to occupy favourable terrain that would hamper the mounted crusaders. The Ahdath would be well placed in these areas of bad terrain, where they could lodge themselves in and shoot at the Crusader cavalry. The only solution to this would be the Crusader crossbows, so it would be worth the Saracens taking out the Crossbows as soon as possible.
The Crusaders were equally lucky, activating all their units. The Sergeants on the right went galloping past the village, the Crossbows moved up to get into range of the Ahdath hiding in the scrub, and the Knights also moved up.
One thing became obvious – there was a natural funnel to the battlefield between two areas of rough terrain. The Ghulams had moved up to block this gap, with the Ahdath either side with their bows to shoot at anything coming between them. The only thing the Crusaders could do was to advance as quickly as possible to minimise their exposure to the enemy arrows.
The Saracen Ghazis kept moving up to the Crossbows, desperate to engage and eliminate them – if they could it would make a Crusader victory difficult. The other unit of Ghazis, over by the village, decided to hurl their javelins at the approaching Sergeants, scoring enough hits to take one of them out. When it came to the Crusader’s turn they were more than ready to return the gesture. Although the Ghazis were approaching the Crossbows, it was obvious the Crossbows had to take a shot at the Ahdath in the scrub. Spanning their bows, they took aim, and…a devastating volley! The unit of Saracen skirmishers were devastated and routed off the table! Both units of Sergeants advanced – those on the left moved into the middle of the funnel to threaten the Ghulams, whilst those on the right put in their spurs and charged the other Ghazi unit.
Casualties were taken on both sides and the Ghazis were bounced back. But the Sergeants were now down to half strength which meant their combat effectiveness was also halved.
It was then over to the Saracens to go on the attack. On their activation they sent the Ghazis in to charge the crossbows.
Improbably, the Crossbows prevailed! They didn’t take a single casualty and pushed back the Ghazis who failed their courage roll and were now battered. The other unit of Ghazis managed to rally, ready to block the Sergeants. The remaining unit of Ahdath drew their bows, trying to decide who to shoot at – the unit of Sergeants leading the attack through the funnel, or the unit of Knights who were coming in behind to mop up any remnants the Sergeants left behind.
Deciding that the Ghulams should be able to resist an attack by the Sergeants, the Ahdath took aim at the Knights and let fly. No effect this time.
Now it was over to the Crusaders. The Sergeants were in charge range of the Saracen leader, so decided to go for it and see if they could get a lucky hit. And they did! OK, so the Saracen leader didn’t go down, but a couple of his Ghulam bodyguards did and had to retreat. The Crossbows, knowing how lucky they’d just been in repelling the Ghazi charge, took aim and let rip. A good shot that took out a couple of the Ghazis. However, best of all, the Ghazis then failed their courage test. It was such a bad fail that they routed off the table.
The Saracens had to go on the counter-charge. The Saracen leader ordered his men to charge and in they went against the Sergeants. But it happened again – the Sergeants came out on top. Sort of – no casualties on either side, but since the Saracens had charged and failed they had to retreat. The Ahdath had another go at the Knights, this time scoring a kill. And the Ghazi unit by the village threw more of their javelins at the Sergeants, taking another rider out and leaving them battered.
Things were coming to a head. The Sergeants, not believing their luck, charged the Saracen leader again. Not such a good result this time – the Sergeants took heavy loses and were pushed back, under half strength and battered! The first unit of Crusader Knights went in and charged the Ghulams. A fairly even result, meaning the Crusaders had to retreat. Had the Saracens managed to turn things around?
Back to the Saracens, and they spent most of their turn rallying units. The Ahdath once again took a shot and once again took out one of the Knights. They were starting to become a real pain.
So on the Crusader turn the Crossbows moved up so they could get in range of the other unit of Saracen skirmishers. The Crusader leader also decided to take part (remember, his leader trait would make him more susceptible to a lucky blow, so he’d been wise to keep out of it until needed). So the Crusader leader took command of his Knights and they charged one of the Ghulam units. Casualties were taken on both sides, and a Lucky Blow roll was made against the Crusader leader: double 6 – nowhere near!
On the Saracen turn I noticed the two leaders were near each other. There was only one thing for it – Leaders Challenge! The Crusader leader accepted. Into the middle they went and rolled for it.
No hits for the Saracen leader, but the Crusader leader scored a hit, meaning the Saracen leader had been killed in personal combat! All the Saracen units now had to make courage rolls. Only the ex-leader’s unit failed, leaving them battered, but all the others passed. There were still enough Saracens left to make it worth fighting on, so I kept the battle going – despite losing their leader, could the Saracens still manage to win?
Well, maybe. But on the Crusaders’ turn the crossbows took a shot at the remaining unit of Ahdath in the rocks. Despite the extra protection, they still lost half their unit and fled. It was now looking extremely unlikely that the Saracens could win this one. All they really had left was a single unit of Ghazis. Well, there were the Ghulams, but both of those units were down to just two models each, so they’d lost their punch.
Ultimately and inevitably, it would be a Crusader victory. The Crusader leader, emboldened by his victory with the Saracen leader in single combat, led his knights in repeated charges on the final unit of Ghazis. The Ghazis were steadily whittled down until they finally failed their courage test.
John puts the 3D printed galleys supplied by fellow club member Colin into battle. This is a solo battle report using the Galleys and Galleons rules.
Rum Baba, an infamous Barbary pirate had been driven eastwards by the Christian warships but was still a thorn in the side of Venice. It was decided to despatch one of the newly built Galleass to their base at Chania in Crete to rid the Mediterranean of this menace for ever. En route, the Galleass and it’s escort were ambushed by Rum Baba and his pirate crews.
The Opposing Squadrons (details in Appendix)
The Venetian Squadron comprised the Lanterna Flagship commanded by Linguine, the new Galleass and a small Galliot to act as scout and draw the attention of the Ottomans. The Ottomans comprised Rum Baba in the Lanterna and three swift but lightly armed Galliots.
The Ottomans win the initiative roll and will move first each move. At the start of each move every vessel has to roll up to three D6 and roll equal or above its Q value to gain a successful action
The Galliots rush towards the Venetian Galliot intent on its destruction. Meanwhile, the Venetians move up cautiously and the Galleass takes in sail to maintain formation.
The Ottomans move up and use their final action to open fire at long range. One point of damage is inflicted on the Venetian Galliot from this fusillade.
The Venetians move into close range and fire back
Two Galliots and the Ottoman Lanterna close in on the outnumbered Venetian flagship and the two Galliots who have locked in combat fight to a standstill. The Galliots have the Derring Do special rule and attack with reckless ferocity. In the first round, all base combats are reduced to zero.
With the Venetian Flagship on 3 damage points, the Ottoman Lanterna moves in to deliver the Coup de Grace and Linguine Strikes his colours
With the Galleass now a dot on the horizon, Rum Baba takes Linguine’s surrender and collects his prizes. He hoped for a profitable ransom for Linguine and whilst He would sleep well tonight in the company of concubines, that Galleass worried him. His captains had been reckless, they would need to be more savvy next time.
Appendix – Data sheets for vessels involved in the conflict
The club is definitely slowing down production as we approach the Christmas Holidays. And quite right given this year, although I suspect a few hobby related presents might see a resurgence in the new year.
First up Mark has made more progress with his Panzers.
And out of the blue mark also mentioned starting to slap some paint on a hundred years war project.
Steve shared this picture of a dwarven force on the painting table, but there was no mention of last weeks 6mm sci-fi force. After saying he had nothing to paint it seems Steve is queuing the projects up.
Stephen reports on a rare lockdown game, suitably socially distanced and held in Phil’s back garden in the September sunshine.
The year is 1263AD and the barons, led by Simon de Montfort, are in revolt against Henry III.
During the chaos, the lord of Nether Dunny has been killed, leaving the manor up for grabs. Taking advantage of the confusion, four chancers have made their way to the village to take ownership for themselves.
Sir Jeremey of Claridge – the scourge of London city. Noted for his drinking, wenching, and gambling. He’s left the city to let the heat cool off.
Sir Andrew le Roi – the youngest son of a French knight out for loot and plunder and to take advantage of the civil war.
Sir Phillip fitz Richard – from a respectable shire family, this wayward son was thrown out for getting up to no good and squandering the family inheritance.
Sir Antoine le Franc – of mysterious, and doubtless dubious, background this French knight goes everywhere with his loyal squire, Luc Brecon, and everywhere they go they leave their bills unpaid.
The first game was a simple all-vs-all so everyone could get familiar with the rules (we were playing Osprey’s ‘Outremer’).
The objective was simple – the one with the most left standing after 8 turns would be winner.
Sir Jeremey boldly stepped forth calling his men forward and getting them to advance down the road. Rowan Windrush sneakily made off through the woods.
Sir Phillip and his men stomped through the vegetable patch of the local farmer, unconcerned for the poor family’s livelihood. Others skulked around the back of the farmhouse.
Meanwhile Sir Andrew made his way through the woods and sent his crossbowmen forward to use the cover of the stone wall surrounding the farm and take up position where they could take pot shots at Sir Phillip’s men.
Sir Antoine led his men down another road with the woods hiding him and his men from Sir Andrew and Sir Jeremey.
Poor Sir Antoine was to have a tough game – his men didn’t seem to know how to use their crossbows properly and Sir Antoine himself had clearly forgotten to sharpen his sword.
Sir Andrew gave the order to let fly their quarrels, and Pasquier and Remon took aim at Sir Phillip’s men. They caused no damage. Sir Jeremey and his men still carried on sauntering down the road, seemingly in no rush to get to where the action was. Peter Ashdown, a young serf from Sir Phillip’s household, climbed up the walls of the farmhouse to take position on an upstairs balcony where he would have a good view across the field with his bow.
Finally, Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew’s forces came to blows.
The road junction outside the farm would be the focus for the combat. Both Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew steadily fed troops in with crossbowmen trying to pick off stragglers. Sir Phillip continued to lead his men around the back of the farm and they would soon be in the fight as well. Meanwhile, Sir Jeremey and his men continued their casual stroll along the lanes, happy to let the others fight it out. Although Sir Jeremey claimed it was Peter Ashdown’s advantageous position overlooking the lane with his bow that was the source of his caution. Peter was finally taken down by Jean Paul using the cover of the stone wall to pick him off.
In the end the only knight left standing was Sir Phillip. All the others had taken wounds. For this reason Sir Phillip was declared winner and took control as lord of Nether Dunny manor.
Sir Antoine had a difficult game. At some point all the others had taken a pop at him and this coupled with some lacklustre dice rolling meant all his men were taken down and took wounds.
Game 2 was a team game. Sir Jeremey had thrown in his lot with Sir Phillip in return for free board and lodging for himself and his retinue. This left the two Frenchmen, Sir Andrew and Sir Antoine, to join forces. The erstwhile opponents had formed an uneasy alliance, evident by the fact they deployed away from each other – allies only in name.
Now that Sir Phillip had taken control of the manor he had to keep hold of the manor’s wealth and assets. The previous lord had left his goods under the safeguarding of the parish priest. Six objectives were placed in and around the church. The defenders (Sir Phillip and Sir Jeremey) had to protect them and the attackers (Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew) had to loot them!
Full credit to Sir Antoine. Though bedevilled by bad luck he led from the front and never shirked his knightly obligations. He led his men on an assault of the church yard walls and soon made a breach and got into the church compound. Sir Andrew was more cautious – moving up through the woods and using the cover of the trees to snipe with his crossbowmen.
Sir Jeremey was down in the lower yard, by the church barn, organising his troops for the attack of the Frenchmen.
Sir Phillip took a more lordly position, up on the church hill, with his squire, Henry Wilton, and his archers. Once the French crossbow bolts started whizzing around (one of which felled Henry and another couple embedded themselves in Sir Phillip’s shield) Sir Phillip tactfully came off the hill and down into the lower yard where the French had got over the wall and were engaged in melee with the English defenders.
Once more, Sir Antoine would have a difficult time, on this occasion falling under the blows of Simon Miller’s weighty plancon. Even Sir Phillip dirtied his hands and got involved in the fighting this time! Truly the lord of the manor.
Sir Andrew and Sir Jeremey also exchanged blows – with Sir Jeremey finally going down (not without help from Rogier).
By the end of the game, the Frenchmen had managed to loot two of the six objectives. This meant that Sir Phillip kept hold of the manor and most of its wealth, though those wily Frenchmen would not go home empty handed.
In Outremer when someone is Taken Down they are not necessarily dead. Taken Down means they have taken enough wounds that they are out of the game. Once the game is over a roll is made to see what wound they have suffered. After the first game most wounds were little more than flesh wounds (though several of Sir Andrew’s retinue went into the second game with a limp, and Sir Antoine and some of his men had taken serious wounds). Evrart Courtier was the only one actually killed.
During game 2 young Henry Wilton, Sir Phillip’s loyal squire, had taken a bad wound from a crossbow bolt. He would need constant, and expensive, medical attention – money that would be difficult to find in Sir Phillip’s depleted coffers. But Sir Phillip was a good man and kept his squire on. Although it did happen that two days later Henry was found face down in the village pond. Drowned. It was assumed a terrible accident had taken place, although the priest who prepared his body did notice a wound to the back of Henry’s head. But as Sir Phillip explained, this probably happened when he slipped and fell, banging his head, before rolling into the pond…
Andy also took some photos, which we’ve added as a gallery below.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
It wasn’t to be though. Walter Fletcher drew his bow, took aim, and…there went Sir William.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
The first move of the battle saw Andy move his archers to a commanding position on the only high ground available.
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.
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.
Seeing the difficulty the Yorkist right flank was in Steve moved his archers in range to pour missiles into the floundering Yorkists.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
But the dice finally favoured Tony and the archers were utterly destroyed, handing victory to the Yorkists by the narrow margin of 29-32!
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!