Open Day 2024

Our 2024 Open Day is just over a month away and there has been lots of  progress on this years games. The Open Day is on the 22th June this year. We’re open to the public from 11am – 4pm on the day.

This is a great day to come and see the society in action and maybe throw some dice at one of the various games we will have on the day.

This year we have a good selection of games, which might just be the incentive you need to either get back into the hobby or to find a new home for your own armies and games.

We will have a game of Barons War complete with scratchbuilt castle.

There will be a game of Project Z for some post-apocalypse fun!

The Elephants will be on the rampage in a battle between Romans and Carthaginians

The Soviet/Afghan war will also be covered this year

Along with a big World War 2 battle somewhere in Europe

And last but not least the magical treefolk will be fighting their ancient enemy the rock warriors in an entirely scratchbuilt fantasy game.

Details of where the club meets and location of the Open Day can be found on our About the Society page.

Lion Rampant Five Battles, Day 1

Andy reports on the first part of a short campaign.

Stephen and I started the year with the Five Battles Campaign from Lion Rampant Version 2. We decided to set the campaign as part of the Crusades, and allow the use of the additional rules and forces from Lion Rampant: The Crusader States.

Stephen would take the Muslim forces and I would take the Christian forces.

The campaign comprises of five battles, the participants prepare 5 Warbands and they allocate each of these Warbands to one of the battles. In the book these are of 20, 24, 24, 24 and 30 points, we decided that we would go large, and would use Warbands of 24, 24, 30, 30 and 48 points.

We gave leaders the free skill to allow a single reroll for a failed Move Shoot or Attack order, and allowed an extra point to each of the warbands (2 to the 48-point warband) to be used solely on additional leader skills (up to 2 skills per leader), so the warbands would effectively be 25, 25, 31, 31 and 50 points. Any points spent on leader skills in excess of the one or two extra points would be taken from the point value of the Warband.

The 48+2-point warband would be used in the last game, and would be split into 2 contingents, players choice if this warband contains contingents of equal or unequal points values.

Throughout the campaign Stephen would be the Red player, and I would be the Blue player.

For each battle the roll of a D6 would determine which scenario would be used, with the basic Bloodbath scenario being a 1 in 6 chance for each battle.

The five battles in the campaign, and the possible scenarios and attackers are:

Battle Die Roll 1-3 Die Roll 4-5 Die Roll 6
Scenario Attacker Scenario Attacker Scenario
The River Valley 6: A Gentle Stroll (p146) Blue (Andy) 16: Bloodfeud (p166) Red (Stephen) 1: Bloodbath (p137)


Roll D6. Highest is Attacker

The Hills 3: Defending the Indefensible (p140) Red (Stephen) 7: Hold on Tight (p148)


Blue (Andy)
The Road 13: The Convoy (p160) Blue (Andy) 14: Meeting the Neighbours (p163) Red (Stephen)
The Meadows 11: The Messenger (p154) Red (Stephen) 4: The Fugitive (p142) Blue (Andy)
The Village 8: Sausages with Mustard (p149) Red (Stephen) 12: The Taxman Cometh (p156) Blue (Andy)

To determine the first battle of the campaign we rolled a d10, subsequently the winner of a battle would choose which battle came next.

Battle 1.

The d10 result was 2, leading us to fight the battle in the River Valley, for this battle one long edge, the south edge, is a deep, impassable river, and we placed a stream, counting as bad going, just over halfway across the table, just to the east of the middle of the table.

The subsequent d6 roll resulted in scenario 6, A Gentle Stroll (p146). This made me the attacker and Stephen the defender. I had chosen a 31-point warband for this scenario, Stephen had a 25-point warband.

Andy (Frankish Settlers (Pullani))  Total 31 points

        • 1 x Knights (Elite Cavalry, Drilled), Leader Braveheart (In challenges only hit on a 6) @ 8 points
        • 2 x Sergeants (Heavy Cavalry) @ 4 points each
        • 1 x Foot Sergeants (Heavy Infantry) @ 4 points
        • 1 x Foot Yeomen (Light Infantry) @ 3 points
        • 1 x Crossbowmen @ 4 points
        • 2 x Skirmishers @ 2 points each

I should have had a unit of Light Cavalry, instead of one of the Heavy Cavalry units, but these are still on the painting table.

Stephen (Ayyubid Egyptian)  Total 24 points

        • 2 x Mounted Mamluk (Heavy Cavalry with Bows) @ 5 points each
        • 3 x Mounted Turcomen (Light Cavalry) @ 4 points each
        • 1 x Ahdath (Skirmishers) @ 2 points

Yes, Stephen should have had a 25-point warband, but he forgot to add a Leader skill!

Stephen deployed his forces in the North West Corner, with the objective of getting his warband off the South East corner. He had to leave one of his units of Turcomen off table initially, as they wouldn’t all fit into the deployment area.

I had to deploy in the North East and South West corners, with at least one unit in each area. My objective was to prevent Stephen from exiting the board. My plan was to deploy most of my force in the North East corner, including my Skirmishers and Crossbows, with the intention of moving them as quickly as possible to the South East corner to block Stephen’s exit.

Positions after turn 1. Sorry it’s a bit blurred.

I had to deploy at least one unit in the South West corner, I decided to use one of the Heavy Cavalry units and the Light Infantry, I wanted units that could move fairly quickly, but that would also be a threat to Stephen’s flank.

Andy’s “Forlorn Hope”

Stephen sent one of his units of Mamluks and his unit of Ahdath to counter my force in the South West, while the rest of his mounted units headed for the South East corner and safety.

Stephen’s Ayyubid Egyptians spread out

I Sent my Skirmishers forward, headed for the rocky ground to the east of the stream, hoping to be able to shoot at any of Stephen’s troops trying to cross the stream while taking advantage of the rocky ground as cover. I sent my second unit of Heavy Cavalry toward the Northern part of the stream to guard against a unit of Turcomen getting behind me, while I tried to keep my Leader’s unit of Elite Cavalry centrally positioned to enable him to use his failed activation re-roll should my heavier foot fail in a move activation.

Andy’s main force making all speed

On the West of the table my Yeomen made it to the hill only to receive an arrow storm from the Mamluks and Ahdath, sending them battered back off the hill.

Some of Stephen’s main force reached the stream, and came within range of my Skirmishers, fortunately I came out on top of the duel, and a couple of his Turcomen were forced back from the stream with heavy losses. He did get one unit of Turcomen across the stream and headed for the exit point, but by this time my Crossbows were in range and their quarrels took their toll.

Stephen’s Emir crosses the stream

In the West my Yeomen spectacularly failed their Rally attempt and fled the field, leaving the Mounted Sergeants a bit isolated. I decided to move these into the lee of the hill to take them out of sight of the Ayyubids, Stephen moved his Mamluks in parallel, and they eventually came to blows, both units being reduced to below half strength, with my Mounted Sergeants eventually routing.

Meanwhile Stephen’s Emir bravely pressed on crossing the stream, but by this time I had brought my second unit of Mounted Sergeants and my Knights further to the south.

The Mounted Sergeants were able to charge the Emir’s unit, reducing the unit to Emir himself. He must have been blessed with luck as he survived all the Leader casualty rolls he had to take, but did fail a Courage test, forcing him back across the stream.

I failed in an attempt to shoot him down with my Skirmishers, and we then came to a critical point. The Emir had to take a Rally test, if he failed, he would rout as he was the only figure left in the unit, and if that happened then all of Stephen’s remaining units would also have to take courage tests. Of course he passed, and I was unable to inflict a further casualty with archery before Stephen moved him out of range of my Skirmishers.

Stephen’s only full-strength unit now was his Ahdath, who were still well to the west of the stream, he had one unit of Turcomen just over half strength, but the remainder of his units were below half strength.

Stephen’s remnants

On the other hand, I had lost my Heavy Cavalry and the Light Infantry west of the stream, but all my other units were at over half strength and my Crossbows and Heavy Infantry were now blocking the Ayyubid’s exit point, with the latter in Wall of Spears.

At this point Stephen conceded that he could not win the battle, he did not think he could get enough of his troops off the exit point to win the scenario, so he conceded.

At the start of the game, I had made three boasts, ‘I shall slay their leader’ (3), ‘I will destroy more units than I lose’ (2) and ‘They will tremble before me’ (2). I failed to achieve the first two, but I did succeed with the last one, so I netted out at 0 Glory for the boasts (failed boasts cost you 1 Glory, irrespective of their value if you win), but took 5 Glory for the win.

Stephen made three boasts as well, ‘My arrows are deadlier than my spears’ (2), ‘Their arrows shall be lost like tears in the rain’ (1) and ‘They will tremble before me’ (2). He succeeded with the first two boasts, but failed the last for a total of 2 Glory for the boasts.

So, after the first battle it was 1-0 to me, I had 5 Glory and Stephen had 2 Glory.

Battle 2

For this battle I had selected a 25-point warband and Stephen had selected a 30-point warband (he forgot the additional point for a leader skill again).

Having won the first battle, I chose “The Meadows” as the second battle, and the d6 rolls resulted in the Bloodbath scenario with me as the attacker.

Andy (Frankish Settlers (Pullani))  Total 25 points

          • 1 x Knights (Elite Cavalry, Drilled), Leader Braveheart (In challenges only hit on a 6) @ 8 points
          • 1 x Sergeants (Heavy Cavalry) @ 4 points
          • 1 x Foot Sergeants (Heavy Infantry) @ 4 points
          • 1 x Foot Yeomen (Light Infantry) @ 3 points
          • 1 x Crossbowmen @ 4 points
          • 1 x Skirmishers @ 2 points

Stephen (Ayyubid Egyptian)  Total 30 points

          • 2 x Mounted Mamluk (Heavy Cavalry with Bows) @ 5 points each
          • 3 x Mounted Turcomen (Light Cavalry) @ 4 points each
          • 2 x Ahdath (Skirmishers) @ 2 points each
          • 1 x Foot Ghilman (Light Infantry, with Javelins) @ 4 points

In this scenario each side deploys in three phases, first any 1- and 2-point units, then 3- and 4-point units, then units worth 5 or more points. The defender deploys first in each phase.

I knew I was going to be outnumbered and I also knew that due to the deployment rules Stephen would have to deploy most of his Warband before I deployed anything heavier than my Skirmishers. So, I decided on a ruse, I planned to concentrate my force in the South West corner and rely on an interior lines defence, trying to prevent Stephen being able to bring all his troops to bear at the same time, but I would try to make it look like I was going for a central deployment.

Stephen started by deploying his Ahdath on his left flank, near some rocky ground. I deployed my Skirmishers about a third of the way across the table, near to a building, I was hoping Stephen would think that these would be guarding the left of my line, when I actually intended them to be the right of my line.

Stephen then deployed his Ghilman and Turcomen, one of the latter to the east of his Ahdath and the other two in the North West corner with the Ghilman unit.

Stephen’s left flank

Now it was time to deploy my main force, I put my Yeomen on the extreme left of my deployment zone, then the Crossbows, then the Heavy Foot. I put the Mounted Sergeants on the right, immediately behind the Skirmishers. These would act as flank guard.

Stephen then deployed his remaining units, two groups of Mamluks, including his leader.

Stephen’s Turcomen, Ghilman and Mamluks

I deployed my Leader behind my Infantry line, intending to position him so that he could influence courage rolls on the main infantry line.

Turn 2 Andy’s Pullani brace themselves for the attack.

On my first couple of moves I advanced my skirmishers to occupy one of the buildings to form a bastion on my right, and advanced the rest of the infantry to form a diagonal line, getting the Yeomen and Sergeants into Wall of Spears.

Andy’s defensive line

Stephen advanced his forces, but he let his Ghilman get too far ahead of his other troops so they came in range of both my skirmishers and crossbows, taking casualties from both and being forced to retreat battered.

Stephen’s Turcomen units on the West flank advanced and shot at my Yeomen, temporarily battering them, and forcing them back. Fortunately for me they rallied at the first attempt and resumed their place in the line before Stephen could exploit the gap. Stephen also got his Ahdath close enough to my Skirmishers to start shooting, but having the advantage of cover my Skirmishers won that shooting contest. Stephen’s Turcomen unit on the East flank came up, so I advanced my Mounted Sergeants to chase them off, if memory serves, I charged them, they tried to evade but failed and had to fight with Armour of 1, all but being wiped out in the first round of combat.

On my left (the West) Stephen tried attacking my line of foot but his units were rebuffed. My crossbows and skirmishers must have been practicing because they inflicted many casualties breaking a couple of Stephen’s units.

With over half of Stephen’s units wiped out or routed, and with the hope of getting a third battle in, Stephen conceded.

This time I only made two boasts, ‘Half of the Enemy shall fall to my Sword’ (2) and ‘They will tremble before me’ (2). I succeeded with both boasts, so I gained 4 Glory for the boasts, and took 5 Glory for winning the battle.

Stephen made three boasts again, ‘I will destroy more units than I lose’ (2), ‘Half the enemy shall fall to my sword'(2) and ‘My arrows are deadlier than my spears’ (2) this time Stephen failed to achieve the first two boasts, but did succeed with the third, which cancelled each other out, so no change in his Glory total.

So, after the second battle I had 2 victories and 14 Glory, Stephen had two defeats and 2 Glory.

Battle 3

For the third battle I chose “The Hills” and the die roll resulted in Scenario 3 “Defending the Indefensible” with Stephen as the Attacker and I as the Defender. The table was set up with 5 hills, one in the centre of each quadrant, and one more in the central area of the table, with a shrine on the central hill. I had to deploy up to 10 points in the central zone, defending the shrine, with the remainder of my force in the Western deployment zone. Stephen’s force would deploy on the Eastern zone with the objective of getting one of his units into contact with the shrine.

Andy (Frankish Settlers (Pullani))   Total 25 points

          • 1 x Knights (Elite Cavalry, Drilled), Leader Braveheart (In challenges only hit on a 6) @ 8 points
          • 1 x Sergeants (Heavy Cavalry) @ 4 points
          • 1 x Foot Sergeants (Heavy Infantry) @ 4 points
          • 1 x Foot Yeomen (Light Infantry) @ 3 points
          • 1 x Crossbowmen @ 4 points
          • 1 x Skirmishers @ 2 points

Stephen (Ayyubid Egyptian)  Total 29 points

          • 1 x Foot Mamluk (Heavy Foot, Expert) @ 6 points
          • 2 x Foot Ghilman (Light Infantry, with Javelins) @ 4 points each
          • 1 x Hashishin (Warrior Infantry, Assassination) @ 5 points
          • 1 x Mounted Turcomen (Light Cavalry) @ 4 points
          • 3 x Ahdath (Skirmishers) @ 2 points each

The astute among you will notice the inclusion of a unit of Hashishin in Stephen’s warband, with the Assassination upgrade. These troops and the upgrade are from Lion Rampant: The Crusader States. The Assassination upgrade normally costs 2 points but the Hashishin get a discount so it only costs them 1 point. This allows a pre-game assassination attempt against the enemy leader, requiring a 5 or 6 on a d6 to succeed. Needless to say, Stephen rolled a 6, and my leader left this mortal coil clutching his throat. This meant that I would not get any Leader benefits in the next game.

I decided I would need to keep my fastest units as my “reserve” to give them the best chance of getting into the fray (this may have been a mistake), so I deployed my Foot Sergeants occupying the shrine on the hill, with the Crossbows facing Stephen’s deployment area, and the Skirmishers to one flank. In the Western deployment zone I put my two mounted units and my Yeomen.

Stephen deployed his Hashishin and Ghilman in the northern half of his deployment zone, with his Mamluks and Ahdath in the centre and his Turcomen on his southern flank.

As Attacker Stephen took the first move and advanced most of his troops towards the shrine, I advanced my crossbows and moved the skirmishers behind them to the northern flank. I then started to move my reserves up, thankfully all the units succeeded in their move activations in the first turn.

In the next couple of turns our missile troops exchanged fire, generally to my advantage, Stephen advanced his Hashishin and Ghilman closer to the shrine, and I managed to bring up my Mounted Sergeants on my southern flank and my Foot Yeomen on the Northern flank. My unit of Knights, bereft of their Leader, resolutely refused to advance any further (needing a 7+ to move, and having lost the ability to reroll a failed activation with the assassination of my leader).

On the southern flank our cavalry units came to blows, with my Sergeants coming out on top.

Stephen’s Ghilman advanced towards my Crossbows, taking casualties on their way in, but his Hashishin eventually got close enough to charge my Skirmishers, who managed to evade the charge.

By this time, I had brought up my Yeomen to hold off one of the Ghilman units, and Stephen’s Hashishin diverted their attention to my Crossbowmen who miraculously survived the Hashishin’s charge, driving them back.

Andy’s Pullani defend the shrine

And my Knights, you ask? Still sat stubbornly on the edge of my deployment zone refusing to move.

Stephen closes in on the Shrine, my Knights have hardly moved.
Andy’s Knights “resolutely guarding the rocky ground”.

Stephen continued to throw his Ghilman at my Yeomen, and although the latter were reduced to half strength, they held on long enough that the Gilman unit eventually failed its Courage and Rally tests and melted away.

One of the conditions for ending this scenario is when the Attacker has lost 50% of their starting points, and eventually Stephen’s mounting casualties brought him to this point ending the battle.

For this battle I again only made two boasts: I shall destroy more than I lose (2) and Tremble before me (2). I succeeded with both boasts, so I gained 4 Glory for the boasts, and took 5 Glory for winning the battle.

Stephen made three boasts again: ‘My arrows are deadlier than my spears’ (2), ‘I shall strike the first blow’ (1), and ‘I shall run rings around them’ (1). Unfortunately for Stephen he failed to achieve any of these boasts so lost 3 Glory.

My recalcitrant knights did do one good thing, as they refused to move away from my deployment zone it made it all but impossible for Stephen to achieve his ‘’I shall run rings around them’ boast.

So, after the third battle I had 3 victories and 23 Glory, Stephen had 3 defeats and -1 Glory.

In our next session we will fight the fourth battle, where I expect to have a larger force than Stephen, and the final 50-point battle, which we will open up to a second commander on each side.



For those not familiar with Lion Rampant, Boasts are additional objectives you can set for yourself in addition to the scenario objectives. The Boasts Stephen and I used in these battles, and their success criteria and Glory value are as follows (failing to achieve a boasts costs 1 Glory, irrespective of its positive Glory value).

Boast Criteria Glory
I shall slay your Leader Your Leader must kill the enemy Leader in a Challenge or Attack. Routing the enemy Leader does not count as a success. If the enemy Leader refuses your challenge and survives the game, you succeed but score only 1 Glory 3
I will destroy more units than I lose Your Warband must rout/kill more enemy units than you lose (the actual number of models destroyed is not relevant). 2
Half of the enemy shall fall to my sword Your Warband must rout/kill at least half of your enemy’s total number of units (the actual number of models destroyed is not relevant). 2
My arrows are deadlier than my spears Your Warband must rout/kill more individual models with Shooting than Attacks (put casualties in two separate piles!) 2
They will tremble before me! At least two enemy units on the table must be Battered at any one time. 2
I shall strike the first blow One of your units must declare the game’s first Attack 1
I shall Run rings around them At the end of one turn of the game, have one of your own units closer to the enemy’s base line than any of their units. 1
Their arrows shall be lost like tears in the rain None of your units may be ultimately routed or destroyed by missile fire (they may take missile casualties, but this cannot be the cause of their removal from play). 1


A year’s worth of gaming (Part 2)

Club member Stephen reviews the games he has played at Maidstone Wargames Society this year. This is part 2 of the article covering July to December. If you missed part 1 it can be found here.

The first meeting after the Open Day can be an important one because it would be the first ‘true’ impression of a club day for anyone returning after the Open Day. We do try to have a few games going and it’s important that games are open to any new member to help them feel included and part of the club. I had a game of Dragon Rampant with Andy.

July – Dragon Rampant

We got in two games. Andy was using his goblins, and I used two new armies – elves in the first game and dwarves in the second. And Andy won both games. Not just won, but won quite convincingly. That’s the thing with new armies – it takes time. You have to get to know each other, trust each other, respect each other. Just like any relationship.

At the end of July came more sci-fi. Another game of Stargrave – Jurassic Moon! I’m sure you can work out the inspiration for that one. Films, TV, and books all provide an endless resource for Stargrave games. Yet again, another sci fi game in my decision to do more sci fi during the year.

In this game Tony’s captain would get killed by a pack of velociraptors, meaning Tony lost his crew and will have to start all over again. Meanwhile, Eric kept throwing grenades at everything. We also used the Side Hustle cards, which provided a great new element to the game.

July – Stargrave – Jurassic Moon

We are now two-thirds of the way through this gaming year, and another sci fi game for me – Battlestar Galactica by Ares Games. This uses the same game engine as other games such as X-Wing. The game was run by Alan, so fulfilled two briefs for the year’s gaming – play more sci fi, and play more games run by other people. Best of all, though, was the chance to game with club members I seldom game with. Alan umpired with Dave and myself taking the Cylons and Pete S and Chris taking the humans. I don’t wish to gloat, but suffice to say that Dave and myself had a very rewarding day!

August – Battle Star Galactica

And then on to a bit of fantasy – Elf King Red. This is a free download set of rules by Rick Priestly. In brief, the game is based around an elf civil war, with each player taking control of a different ‘Circle’ of elves. It’s one of those games with just a few miniatures per player – a leader (or Thane in the rules) accompanied by six companions. Just seven figures per side!

We had a four player game – Andy, Tony F, Phil, and myself. We played two different scenarios (we agreed that each player must devise a scenario, but obviously never played them all). Andy’s scenario involved hunting down a rampant werewolf whilst mine was all about taking control of a temple in the wilderness.

August – Elf King Red

It proved to be a nice fun game. These sort of things always work best with some kind of scenario driven game. There’s a few holes in the rules, which is OK (they’re free, after all), especially if you’re a group of friends and playing the game in the spirit of fun. We certainly coped with any hiccups and any uncertainties were easily resolved. EKR will make a great one-day session of linked scenarios.

It had been a little while, but the first meeting in September was back to our Wars of the Roses campaign – Battle of Hedgeley Moor. This was an encounter I was unfamiliar with, with newly crowned King Edward sending an embassy to the Scots only to be ambushed by the Lancastrians.

September – Sword and Spear – Battle of Hedgeley Moor

You know what, it’s just not fair! I really thought I was going to win this one, it was looking good at one point. But did I? No. You can read the full report here: Wars of the Roses – Battle of Hedgeley Moor – Battle Report – Maidstone Wargames Society (

A closer game this time, so I suppose some things are improving.

The second meeting in September was supposed to be Rebels & Patriots but Andy had to pull out at the last minute, so I grabbed some spaceships and we had a game of Starmada instead. Like Full Thrust this is a space fleet game, but it’s quicker and dirtier than Full Thrust and can handle large fleet battles better. We played three games. The first was a simple meeting encounter so we could all remind ourselves of the rules. The grey fleet won this so we decided the next battle would be an attempt to take control of a mining facility. The green fleet repelled them this time and so we moved on to the last game – a chance for the greens to consolidate their position. But the greys won again. We decided this represented a minor victory for the greys. They hadn’t managed to take control of the mining facilities but had done enough to press the greens for trading benefits.

September – Starmada

The first meeting in October was on the 14th, which meant only one thing: HASTINGS! A few years ago we’d re-fought the battle so what we did was have a special Saga day based on the Norman Invasion. Norman and Anglo-Dane armies only.

October – SAGA – Battle of Hastings

The four of us decided to play multi-player games. Each player would keep track of victory points throughout the day and the player with the highest total would be declared winner. The day went to Tim with his Anglo-Danes with Jeremey, also using Anglo-Danes, in a very close second. It seems English resistance to the Normans is alive and well.

Since we meet in such a large hall I often wonder why we don’t do more one-on-one games. There’s enough room. So at the second meeting in October Tony G and myself had a few games of Barons War. This was Tony’s first time, so we kept it small. As such, we got in three games. Barons War provides a really good section on scenarios, which always benefits skirmish games. I won the first, then Tony won the second, which left a third deciding game. It went to Tony! The more I play Barons War the more I enjoy it. Like many rules it’s not always as clear as it could be – though not as bad as some rules out there. But as you play it the more sense it makes. A very enjoyable session.

October – Baron’s War

Right then. So, November. And another ding-dong in our Wars of the Rose campaign.

This was the Battle of Hexham and marked a turning point in the war. Not only was it a turning point in the actual war but it was also a turning point (hopefully) in our campaign. Rather than give details here you can instead read about the remarkable events here.

November – Sword and Spear – Battle of Hexham

The penultimate game of the year was a bit of a 90s throwback – Battletech! This game ticked two boxes for my year’s gaming: more sci fi AND play other’s games as well. Back in the day I used to play a lot of Battletech (and Silent Death). This was Eric’s game and we played a version of Battletech called Alpha Strike which, to be honest with you, bears no resemblance to the original game at all. Which is not a bad thing. Battletech was a very 90s set of rules and I’m not sure I have the stomach for it any more. But Eric had done the right thing by introducing us to Alpha Strike because it is a much more streamlined, playable, and therefore enjoyable game. Splendid fun. And check out Eric’s fantastically painted mechs. When I used to play I would go for lurid colours (I remember doing one in purple and yellow). I much prefer Eric’s muted colours.

November – Battletech Alpha Strike

And so on to my final game of the year. And yet more sci fi. Another game of Stargrave, but this time with a festive feel – I called the game ‘There Ain’t No Sanity Clause’ (full credit goes to The Damned for that). Santa Claus has been kidnapped by hordes of psycho-penguins and the players must spread festive goodwill to release him.

December – Stargrave – There Ain’t No Sanity Clause

Five players took part. They had two goals – as well as collecting loot tokens they also had to collect clues that tell them what they have to do to release Santa. The culmination of the game was a group rendition of We Wish You A Happy Christmas. In addition, if the players give back captured loot tokens to Santa (the loot were presents for all the good boys and girls) then they would receive double experience for those tokens.

A suitably festive ending to the year!

So those were the games I played at the club during 2023. I did well on my pledge to play more sci fi, but not so well when it came to playing other’s games (though I did do that more than usual – so not too bad). You know what, I don’t think I played a duff game all year. I thoroughly enjoyed every game. This is the advantage with being a club member – the variety of games and the quality. I’m going to continue with my determination to join in other games during 2024.


A year’s worth of gaming (Part 1)

Club member Stephen reviews the games he has played at Maidstone Wargames Society this year. This is part 1 of the article covering January to June.

This article is a review of all the different games I’ve played over 2023 just to see, and remind myself, of the variety of games I’ve done. At the beginning of the year I made two decisions – play more sci fi, and play more games that other people put on (my general attitude is ‘I paid for these models and took the time to paint them so I want to use them!’ which means I generally put on a game at most meetings). So this year I wanted to mix things up.

The first game of the year was at the club meeting on January 28th. This was a game of Sword & Spear and part of a campaign (which started in 2022) to re-fight the Wars of the Roses with Jeremey.

January – Sword and Spear – Mortimer’s Cross

I love playing Sword & Spear. I do. But I don’t seem to be any good at it. In all the games I’ve ever played of S&S I think I’ve only ever won twice. Surely it can’t be my superior tactics, that seems to be beyond reproach, right? This game was a re-fight of Mortimer’s Cross (you can find the full, and gloating, write-up here: Wars of the Roses – Battle of Mortimers Cross – Battle Report – Maidstone Wargames Society ( As is traditional with S&S, I lost. But you know what, I couldn’t care less because the games are always a lot of fun with plenty of pre-game trash talk and goading, and each game has a story. Playing in good company always helps as well. I’d willingly keep on losing so long as I keep on enjoying it.

February brought another couple of games at the club.

First up was a new game to me – Charlie Don’t Surf by Two Fat Lardies. I find TFL games a bit marmite. I’ve played Chain of Command – loved it. I’ve played What A Tanker – didn’t like it. And this was the first time for CDS. And I loved that as well. The game and models are all Pete S’s, and he’s done a blinding job on them. They are 10mm Pendraken models (I think) and it has just the right look for Vietnam.

February – Charlie Don’t Surf

We’re used to seeing 20mm and 28mm Vietnam games which focus on platoon actions. But Vietnam was bigger than that – often brigade sized actions with the company as the manoeuvre unit. And 10mm captures that perfectly. I had command of the armoured platoon. We put Mark J (newly appointed club chairman) to prove his mettle in command so he took company HQ. The game was a victory for the US side!

The second game in February was planned to be a Barons’ War game with Andy. But in the week leading up I suggested to Andy we could do a ‘compare and contrast’ and have a game of both Lion Rampant and Barons’ War to see how the two handle the same period. You can read a summary of our findings here (Lion Rampant and Baron’s War – Maidstone Wargames Society (

February – Baron’s War and Lion Rampant

First club meeting in March was a Stargrave game. I said I wanted to play more sci fi in 2023 and this was the first sci fi of the year. I found the original scenario online and tweaked it to be what I wanted it to be. Stargrave is a great toolbox of a game – you can make it what you want it to be. This game had both an overland and underground part, which was new for us.

March – Stargrave – The Warp Sextant

I prefer running Stargrave as an umpire, like a RPG. You get a different kind of pleasure as umpire because it’s about providing challenges and running the NPCs/monsters and hopefully providing an enjoyable scenario. Well, for me anyway. In this game Eric’s crew had fought hard to get to the bunker where the Warp Sextant was hidden. But coming out he found Tony F’s crew waiting outside, guns pointed at the entrance. A brief exchange of fire and it was Tony who made off with the treasure. Poor Eric.

End of March it was another chance to lose at Sword & Spear – Second Battle of St Albans. In this campaign I have the Lancastrians which means the onus is on me to win in battles where the Lancastrians came out on top. Such as Second St Albans.

March – Sword and Spear – Second Battle of St Albans

Again, rather than go into details here, anyone wanting to know more about this game can read the battle report (Wars of the Roses – 2nd Battle of St Albans – Battle Report – Maidstone Wargames Society ( Suffice to say, it was business as usual! Tony joined me again on the Lancastrian side. I was feeling good about this one, felt I was due a win. And the early part of the game was looking good – the local militia archers engaged the Yorkist artillery and eliminated them for no loss! Yup, first blood to Lancaster. And then it steadily went downhill. Never mind.

More sci fi in April! This time it was Pete M’s Space 1889 game. A different kind of sci fi – Victorian rather than futuristic. The stand out thing were Pete’s scratchbuilt aeronefs, and we spent a bit of time playing ‘guess what bits have been used for the models’. Truly outstanding.

We played two games. I was on the human side for both games, and both games were very close. And Jeremey got a leathering in both games with his colleagues leaving him to do all the work. Excellent game.

April – Space:1889 – Mars

The end of April was Salute and this coincided with a club meeting day. Naturally, it was going to be a quiet meeting with a fair few members at Salute. I ran an American Civil War game (battle of Cedar Mountain) using brigade Fire & Fury.

April – Fire & Fury – The Battle of Cedar Mountain

The Union army is in a difficult position for this battle – making an attack against a much larger Confederate army. John R took control of the Union troops and did a good job – but his artillery ran out of ammo early in the game and he never had the time or opportunity to replenish them. This left him conducting a fighting retreat, and he made a good job of it, slowing down the Confederates.

First game in May was another in our Wars of the Roses campaign – the battle of Towton. Like all the others…I lost. Now, I’m not just saying this, but the dice rolling on our side was pretty poor, compared to the other side rolling really well. No, no! Stop that! It’s true on this occasion. To read more about this game you can check out the blog post (Wars of the Roses – Battle of Towton – Battle Report – Maidstone Wargames Society (

May – Sword & Spear – Towton

Next was another sci fi game – Full Thrust. Jeremey and Tony were running the game which meant only one thing: vector movement. My fluffy little head struggles with that and prefers the cinematic movement option.

May – Full Thrust

A mixed bag of results. The first game was two opposed fleets with an asteroid field cutting the table in two – Tony F and myself using some of Brigade’s German ships, and Jeremey and Tony G using some of Jeremey’s scratch built (out of false nails) ships. Tony and myself came out on top in that one. We then played a couple of one ship per player games (first was cruisers, second was destroyers) and the alien nail ships won those games.

Along came flaming June and I decided not to attend Broadside since I was trying to restrict spending and if you go to a show you have to buy something, eh? John Lambert and myself had a game of Crossfire. We played this quite a bit a few years ago but then it fell by the wayside. The models for this game were from my collection – WW2 eastern front.

June – Crossfire – WW2 Eastern Front

The scenario was a late war one – Russian advance through Poland with the Germans on the retreat. Naturally, we were re-learning the rules, but it steadily came back to us. MUST ensure we play more of this one.

June 24th was the club Open Day. My game was a Saga: Crusades games. We played two scenarios, I had Saracens and Andy had Milites Christi. Saracens carried the day and won both games. I love Saga. It’s just the right game for me.

June – SAGA Crusades – The Road to Damascus

You can read more about the Open Day here: Review of 2023 Open Day – Maidstone Wargames Society (

That concludes part 1 of the review of 2023, part 2 will be published in a couple of weeks.

Barons at war

Stephen reports on a series of Barons War games played at a recent meeting.

We had a Barons’ War session recently.

We kept it small, with 500 point retinues, which meant we got three games in.

What’s nice about Barons’ War is the scenario content – there’s 15 different scenarios with 12 different deployment options. Which makes 180 different combinations. That’s not bad, eh?

Stand firm

We chose scenarios and deployments randomly.

Game 1

First up was #10 ‘Hidden Treasures’ with Deployment Map 3 (both opposite each other in the traditional way).

Deployment 3

In this scenario each player places 3 objectives. When a player controls an objective you roll a D6 and on a 6 you’ve found the treasure (all other objectives are then removed) and the winner is the one who has possession at the end of Turn 5.

Tony was using a mixed force of knights, sergeants, spearmen, and crossbowmen. He won initiative and, since he started in control of one of the objectives, rolled a dice and…nope, no treasure. This was the first time Tony had played Barons’ War, and it had been a while since I played, so it was very much a ‘get to know the rules’ game. He advanced his sergeants and his spearmen (being led by a sergeant commander).

Outlaws in the cabbage patch

My retinue was made up predominantly of outlaws. My archers also started in control of one of the objectives (in a cabbage patch) so I rolled a D6 and…I got a 6! The treasure was mine, now all I had to do was hold on to it for the rest of the game.

Both my archers and Tony’s crossbows were behind fences and hedges, and at long range to each other, so we stayed put and exchanged a bit of missile fire – the odd casualty but essentially harassment fire. I also engaged Tony’s knights with my archers as he moved into the centre. The rest of our units got stuck in with the melees  and by the end of turn 5 the treasure was still in the hands of my outlaws, so game 1 went to me.

Typical high street behaviour

Game 2

Second game was #6 ‘Tear It Down’ with Deployment Map 11 (in a kind of wedge shape).

Deployment 11

In this scenario the two players again placed 3 objectives each but the idea was that you had to burn your opponent’s objective by being in control of them. The first player to burn all their opponent’s objectives is the winner.

I was unlucky enough to get the red deployment zone, Tony got the blue zone.

This one went a bit catastrophic for me. In fact, the game lasted no more than 30 minutes (and could have been over sooner than that if I’d conceded sooner!).

Around the back of the barn

Again, Tony won initiative and his opening action was to shoot with his crossbowmen at a unit of my outlaws. It was long range and they caused a couple of casualties, meaning I had to make a Morale roll. Which I seriously fluffed and the outlaws went Broken and had to make a move away. Problem was, I’d deployed them quite close to the table edge, and so they routed off table having done exactly chuff all! Realising that my whole right flank, and probably centre, was now compromised (and I had two of my objectives there) I had to hurriedly plug the gap.  So I moved my knights around to delay Tony. He then charged my knights with his sergeants, which is fair enough (if he hadn’t charged me I was going to charge him). However, in Barons’ War if you roll a 10 it’s counted as a critical hit which can only be defended with a 10. My four knights got hit by four 10s! And I didn’t roll a single 10 for defence, which meant…off go the knights!

Truth is, that was pretty much the end of the game (my outlaw commander took control, so I could technically fight on but knew it was no hope). However, I just couldn’t let him win 3-0, so we played another turn and the other unit of outlaws then set fire to one of his objectives. At that point I conceded – at least I got one of his!

Someone is going to get hurt

Game 3

The third, and final deciding, game was #1 ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ with Deployment Map 4 (lined up opposite each other on short edges).

Deployment 4

In this scenario players place 1 objective each and the winner is the one who controls both objectives.

We both began by moving units up by Running, to make up the ground. Things slowed down once we got near each other as we tried to out manoeuvre each other. Both Tony’s crossbows and my archers were on the same flank. I decided to move my archers into the yard of an inn so they could use the fences for cover. These archers were led by an outlaw commander (a veteran, dispossessed, young nobleman – you know what I was thinking!) who used his multiple actions to order the archers to keep firing. They peppered Tony’s crossbowmen who promptly routed off the field. Good – I needed to get rid of them. This opened up the way to Tony’s objective and if I could get my archers there I would win.

Come out the house if you dare

Meanwhile, in the middle, Tony’s sergeant, led by his sergeant commander, engaged more of my outlaws and Broke them. And on the other flank I left my knights in control of my objective, with some spearmen hiding in the woods. Similarly, Tony was advancing on them with his knights and spearmen.

Next turn my archers double-timed to get to Tony’s objective. Realising how exposed the objective was he’d moved some sergeants up to take control of the objective, meaning I would have to fight for it after all. Well, I say ‘fight’ but what I intended to do was shoot more arrows at him.

Flashing blades

‘Intended’ is the important word there, because Tony won initiative next turn and, quite rightly, charged my archers with his sergeants. Fair enough, I expected that. But it went bad. A couple of casualties and, like the knights in the previous game, I rolled really badly for their morale, meaning they had to fall back. But, again, like the outlaws in the previous game, they were too close to the table edge and the flee move had them off the field!

I can hear them but I can’t see them

The game was decided in the fight for my objective. My knights were finally surrounded by Tony’s knights and spearmen. I counter-charged his knights and killed two of them! That took the smile off his face. But I was surrounded and every time I had to fall back I had nowhere to go, which meant I took an extra casualty. That quickly mounted up.

Result? Tony won the last game. But only just!

A clash of arms


Wars of the Roses – Battle of Hedgeley Moor – Battle Report

Battle number eight in our campaign was the little known Hedgeley Moor. Again this was another of those battles that in reality didn’t amount to much and saw one side flee the field after a brief melee. The setup for this battle was a straight forward open plain. We went with 800 points each side for this particular battle. The Lancastrians were commanded by Stephen as Somerset supported by Andy as Baron Ros. I commanded the Yorkists as the rightful King Edward IV and Eric joined us for the first time in the campaign. Their didn’t appear to be any other lords on the Yorkist side so I gave Eric the banners of Lord Falconberg.

With the Yorkists sitting on 5 victories to the Lancastrian’s 1 and only 6 more battles to go in the campaign this was crunch time for Lord Somerset’s ambitions.

Battle of Hedgeley Moor
Both sides drew up their armies in the normal fashion. But a surprise came from Stephen by again fielding a strong force of cavalry. I don’t know if this was part of still trying to exercise the demons given the poor showing of the Lancastrian mounted nobility in many of the previous battles, but their they were taking to the field again.

Stephen placed the mounted men at arms in the centre of his line while I placed my cavalry on the far left of the Yorkist flank, while Eric did the same with his lone unit of cavalry out on the right.

Winning initiative I advanced my army across the field. The line of cavalry in the centre facing my archers gave me no choice but to try and get some shots in as quickly as possible. If I waited for the cavalry I ran the risk of not getting a shot off before they arrived.

Out on the Yorkist left flank I decided to try and goad Andy’s forces into action and to draw his attention away from the centre. Using a bonus dice for some extra movement the Currours set off across the field.

Eric got his force on the move and after a brief word of advice from me, sent his cavalry off to capture the hill on the right and start to threaten the Lancastrian left flank.

Eric rolled well for the first activation dice and was able to move up his entire front line of archers.

Much to my surprise the Lancastrian cavalry remained in place and so I risked moving my archers further away from the my infantry units, in trying to get some shots in on the cavalry. I gave my Crossbows a bonus dice to increase their movement rate and get into a firing position for next turn.

Having shown my hand Stephen decided to no longer wait and got his cavalry on the move. This meant initiative was going to be a crucial for the next turn. Either the Yorkists would get their shots off or the Lancastrian cavalry would charge in.

Thankfully the Yorkists won the initiative and so I made sure my archers would get an attack in. The crossbows went first and through poor marksmanship failed to score any hits and so I feared the worst when the cavalry charged in. Luckily the Lancastrians matched the crossbows lack of skill when it came to the melee with neither side managing to wound the other. With more cavalry approaching I went all out with more bonus dice but only managed a single wound against the mounted men at arms poised to charge.

Eric began an archery duel with Stephens forces while still managing to bring up some men at arms in support. The Lancastrians wary of the cavalry on the hill sent some billmen to secure their flank.

Having managed not to get ridden down by the cavalry on the first charge I quickly repositioned some of my uncommitted archers to fire at the cavalry that had not charged. The hasty volley wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped.

Seeing my archers engaged with the cavalry Andy began to move his own archers to threaten the Yorkist cavalry out on the left .

My archers were being worn down by the cavalry and a good use of some bonus dice saw the Yorkist frontline crumble.

After a few optimistic turns in which my archers managed to first blunt the Lancastrian charge and then hold their own in the following melee, they finally broke leaving a large gap. The crossbows also fell giving the Lancastrians the chance to plunge deeper into the Yorkists ranks and split the force in half.

With Andy’s archers on the move I went back to my original plan and got the Yorkist cavalry moving again. Seeing the cavalry move Andy seized the chance and gave his hand gunners a bunch of bonus dice to rake the Currours as they rode passed. Unfortunately they missed spectacularly.

But I wasn’t prepared to ignore the threat and so I charged the hand gunners with my spearmen. Little did I expect the gunners to be better at hand to hand combat than actually shooting. After a brief exchange and much to their embarrassment the spearmen were destroyed.

Meanwhile on the other side of the battlefield Eric was putting everyone else to shame, the Yorkists were winning the archery duel and his men at arms had got to within charging distance of the remaining Lancastrian archers.

The situation in the middle was still in the balance but the Lancastrian cavalry had failed to exploit the gaps. Two of the four mounted men at arms units had been destroyed, but only after taking out more of the Yorkist archers. But the value difference in those units had pushed the Lancastrians to their first break point.

With their morale lowered Eric pushed the advantage he had on the Lancastrian left flank. The Currours were holding but had failed to sweep the billmen aside. But the men at arms had dispatched the archers and were advancing on the remaining billmen.

In the centre I managed to get some militia billmen up to plug the gap, they were immediately charged by the Lancastrian cavalry but in a strange twist of fate both sides wiped each other out. Again this proved costly for the Lancastrians and when more Yorkist billmen destroyed the remaining cavalry unit it pushed the Lancastrians to their second break point.

With the Lancastrians a spent force Eric continued to press the fight with his cavalry and billmen, unfortunately both were fought to a draw with the Lancastrians saving a bit of pride.

For a straight fight this battle had a few crucial moments. I was surprised by the Lancastrian block of cavalry in the centre of the line. This was a real danger and despite the Yorkist archers not shooting the cavalry down as they charged, because they managed to hold against the initial contact, it gave time for the infantry to be brought up in support.

The Yorkist cavalry on their left flank achieved very little throughout the battle and so it was a blessing the Lancastrians did not pressure the Yorkist forces on that side. On the other side of the battlefield Eric’s first command could not have gone better. Despite not doing as well with his cavalry as hoped he only lost one unit of archers in the whole battle. This would play a pivotal role as the casualties from the centre brought the Yorkists within one point of their first break point.

The campaign is now 6-1 to the Yorkists with 6 battles remaining. It’s not impossible but the Lancastrians are really going to have to produce something special at the battle of Hexham.

Yorkist Loses
1 Unit of Militia Billmen (4 points)
4 Units of Longbows (12 points)
1 Unit of Crossbows (3 points)
2 Units of Currours (8 points)
1 Unit of Spearmen (3 points)
Total loses 30 points (Army break point 46)

Lancastrian Loses
4 Units of Mounted Men at Arms (16 points)
3 Units of Billmen (12 points)
5 Units of Longbows (15 points)
Total loses 43 points (Army break point 38)

Yorkist Victory

Lion Rampant and Baron’s War

Stephen and Andy report on a comparison of two Medieval rulesets.

We decided to try fighting the same scenario with two sets of Medieval Wargames rules, Lion Rampant 2nd edition and Baron’s War 2nd edition. We would keep the armies as similar as possible in the two games, subject to the requirements of the respective rules.

We based our scenario on the Baron’s War scenario 10 Hidden Treasures and Lion Rampant Scenario 12 The Taxman Cometh.

In Hidden Treasures the players take turns to place six objectives on the table, if a player has a unit in contact with an objective at the start of the turn, they roll a D6, on a 6 that objective is revealed to be the treasure and the other objectives are removed. Who ever controls the treasure at the end of the fifth turn wins the game.

For the Lion Rampant version, we kept the same number of objectives and score to reveal the treasure, but in keeping with the Lion Rampant Glory system we decided that if the player controlling the treasure took the treasure off table he would receive 5 Glory, but only 3 Glory if the treasure was under his control but still on table at the end of the game, plus or minus Glory from Boasts.

We set the terrain up with a small village in the centre of the table, with a couple of fenced fields nearby, with some hills and woods on the flanks. We would keep the same terrain for both games.

Lion Rampant

First off Andy describes the Lion Rampant game.

Andy’s warband comprised:

    • 1 x Elite Cavalry, Motivated (with Commanding trait) @ 7 points
    • 1 x Heavy Cavalry @ 4 points
    • 1 x Heavy Infantry @ 4 points
    • 1 x Light Infantry @ 3 points
    • 1 x Crossbows @ 4 points
    • 1 x Skirmishers @ 2 points

Stephen’s warband comprised:

    • 1 x Elite cavalry with leader (with Commanding trait) @ 6 points
    • 1 x Flemish Heavy Infantry @ 4 points
    • 2 x Skirmishers with bows @ 4 points
    • 1 x Genoese Crossbows with pavises @ 6 points
    • 1 x German mercenaries (Warriors) @ 4 points

Stephen won the die roll to determine Attacker / Defender and took on the nominal Attacker roll, the deployment mechanism we used was that the defender deployed any 1- or 2-point units, followed by the attacker doing the same, then repeating the sequence for 3- or 4-point units and finally units costing 5 or more units. The end of the game would be determined b either one player getting the treasure off table, or once there were five or fewer units on the table a die roll at the start of each turn of less than the number of units left on table.

Turn 1. Stephen got off to a good start, advancing all his units except his Elite cavalry, I responded by advancing my Heavy Cavalry to contact one of the objectives but ground to a halt when my Heavy Infantry refused to move.

Turn 2. Stephen continued his advance on the objectives, with one of his Skirmisher units on his left flank contacting one of the objectives. I rolled for the objective my Heavy Cavalry had contacted last turn, with no success, so decided to move my Heavy Cavalry on towards Stephen’s Skirmishers and their objective. I then moved my Heavy Foot towards the first objective, and my other units towards other objectives.

Turn 3. Stephen’s Skirmishers rolled for the objective they had contacted and it came up a 6 the treasure had been found! At this point all the other objectives were removed. Stephen immediately pulled his Skirmishers back and started to move his other units towards his left flank. My Heavy Cavalry were just about close enough to Stephen’s skirmishers with the treasure that I could try to charge them, hoping they would fail their probable Evade reaction. Unfortunately for me Stephen succeeded in evading, his archery taking out one of my riders, and his evade move took him just too far away for me to contact him, my Cavalry then failed their courage test and fell back. To add insult to injury, my next activation to shoot with my Skirmishers at his Elite Cavalry failed, ending my turn.

Turn 4. Stephen continued to pull his treasure carrying Skirmishers back towards his table edge, while he brought his Elite Cavalry across to cover them, and advanced his Heavy Foot through the central village towards my Light Foot. This time I managed to activate all my units, rallying my Heavy Cavalry, putting my Light Foot into Wall of Spears anticipating an attack by Stephen’s Heavy Foot, advancing my Crossbows down the side of the village hoping to be able to shoot at his Elite Cavalry in a later turn, and moving my Elite Cavalry towards my right flank.

Andy’s Elite Cavalry halted by a flimsy fence.

Turn 5, Stephen continued to pull back his Skirmishers with the treasure, with his Elite Cavalry getting closer to support them, as were Stephen’s Crossbows. I advanced my Heavy Cavalry towards his Skirmishers, and my Elite Cavalry through one of the fields, but my Crossbows failed in their shooting attempt.

Turn 6 was short, Stephen’s Crossbows and my Heavy Cavalry both failing their activation attempts.

Turn 7 saw Stephen issue a challenge to my Leader, a duel must be fought! Had I refused the challenge all my units would have had to take a courage test due to my Leader’s cowardice. Honour would not allow that, so forth my Leader went. The Duel consisted of three dice each, scoring hits on a 5 or 6, if one Leader scores more hits than the other the loser dies! The duel was anticlimactic, one hit each resulting in a draw, both leaders returned to their units, their honour upheld. Stephen’s German Mercenaries charge my Skirmishers on my left, the Skirmishers evaded, causing a casualty on the Germans, and ending up too far away to be contacted. The Germans passed their courage test, but on my subsequent turn my Skirmishers shot again, causing two more casualties and a courage test which the Germans promptly failed catastrophically, causing them to rout from the field. My Heavy Cavalry charged Stephen’s Crossbows, I won the ensuing melee and the Crossbows failed their courage test becoming battered.

Turn 8 saw Stephen’s Crossbowmen fail their Rally test, but he then went on the offensive, his Heavy Infantry charged my Light Infantry, beating my lighter troops, who then failed their courage test becoming battered

Andy’s Light Foot fall back battered (red marker) from Stephen’s Heavy Foot

Stephen’s Knights then charged my Heavy Cavalry with the fight again going in Stephen’s favour and my Cavalry failing their courage tests and also becoming battered.

Andy’s Heavy Cavalry battered and down to a single figure as Stephen’s Knights look on and Andy’s Heavy Foot advance slowly through a ploughed field.

On my turn both my Heavy Cavalry and Light Infantry failed their Rally tests, the Heavy Cavalry so badly that they fled the field.

Turn 9, Stephen rallied his crossbowmen and got the Treasure bearers off table, ending the game.

So, on to the accounting, Stephen received 5 Glory for getting the treasure off the field of battle, he also succeeded in all three boasts he made:

    • “They shall tremble before me”, 2 of my units battered at the same time, worth 2 Glory.
    • “I shall drive them back into the sea”, make one unit retreat off table, worth 1 Glory.
    • “I shall challenge their leader to a duel”, self-explanatory, worth 1 Glory.

On the other hands, I made two boasts, both of which I failed to achieve, so scoring -1 Glory each:

    • “They shall tremble before me”, see above.
    • “I shall destroy more units than I lose”, worth 2 Glory.

Final scores: Stephen 9 Glory, Andy -2 Glory. A decisive victory to Stephen.

Apologies for the lack of photos of this game, I got too tied up in fighting the battle to take pictures.

Baron’s War

Stephen takes over with the account of the Baron’s War game.

We put our retinues together to mirror the Lion Rampant equivalents, but under the army composition rules of Barons’ War – so not identical, but as good as.

Stephen’s Retinue:

Unit:   1 x Veteran Lord Commander (mounted), 5 x Regular Knights (mounted)

Unit:   1 x Veteran Serjeant Commander, 5 x Regular Serjeants

Unit:   1 x Veteran Serjeant Commander, 5 x Regular Serjeants

Unit:   6 x Veteran Bowmen

Unit:   10 x Green Crossbows

Andy’s Retinue:

Unit:   1 x Veteran Lord Commander (mounted), 3 x Regular Knights (mounted)

Unit:   1 x Veteran Serjeant Commander, 5 x Regular Spearmen

Unit:   4 x Regular Mounted Sergeants

Unit:   6 x Regular Crossbowmen

Unit:   5 x Green Spearmen

Unit:   5 x Green Spearmen

Unit:   6 x Green Bowmen

So, same scenario – find the hidden treasure and get off with it.

The main point of these games was to compare the rules. For Barons’ War a unit has one activation, but that can be improved to two, or maybe three, if you have a commander attached to the unit (and a commander can also give extra orders to other units). And in Baron’s War players alternate activation of units. This means there is a fundamental tactical difference between the rules – in Lion Rampant you are thinking about what you are going to do now. That’s also the case in Barons’ War (BW for short), but in BW you are also thinking about what your opponent is going to do in the same round, so you have to think about which unit is best to activate, whether to hold activations back for later (in BW your can do a reaction to your opponent’s action), and how the round will develop so you can exploit it. It’s a bit like Saga in that respect – knowing when to unleash everything and when to hold something back for later.

Off to war we go

Anyway, let’s get on with the game.

We rolled for deployment, as per BW rules. Andy was the ‘red’ side and could deploy in the middle, which he did and meant he was already in control of a couple of objective markers.

Andy’s skirmishers about to search an objective while his Crossbowmen look for targets
Andy’s light foot gather round two more objectives, while his Cavalry trot off

I had the flanks to deploy on, not quite in control of any objectives, but no more than a move away.

Venison tonight lads!

Turn one, and Andy searched the objectives, but no hidden treasure was found. My veteran archers on a small rise took aim and let fly at a group of mounted serjeants – two went down to the deadly fire and first blood went to me.

Ready, aim…

Andy then passed a couple of activations, so I took advantage of this to move units up to take control of a pair of objectives. My crossbowmen (only inexperienced green troops – in BW at least 10% of your army has to be made up of green troops) let rip at Andy’s archers hiding beside a pig-pen. Two were taken down, he failed his morale check and they were broken. However, Andy then returned the gesture, fired back with his crossbows, and three of my troops went down and were also broken. Oh well, eh?

On the second turn my spearmen on the left searched the objective marker and lo and behold, what do they find – treasure! Yup, more church vestments. Funnily enough, the treasure in the Lion Rampant game was found in more or less the exact same spot!

The chase was now on. On Turn three I started to move my spearmen toward the table edge. And this is where the tactical nature of BW may have a slight edge over Lion Rampant, because at the start of the turn both sides roll for initiative to see who goes first. But also (and like Lion Rampant) you have to do compulsory morale checks before moving on to ‘new’ activations. Which means you can’t necessarily guarantee you will move those troops you need to move before your opponent. This builds in tension, tactics, and what makes for an exciting game. In turn three I also did what I think may have been a rash move – my knights charged Andy’s spearmen. Knights do though, eh? That’s why they’re knights. OK, so I demolished and shocked his infantry, but I’d also put myself in charge range of his knights and I had no reactions left.

The knights square up

Andy did what he ought to do – his knights charged mine. It did not go how I would have liked. It took a couple of rounds, but my knights eventually succumbed.

Such an ignoble ending

This also left the game in balance. Because at the end of turn five (the duration of the scenario) I had achieved the scenario objective – find the hidden treasure and get away with it. However, Andy had also achieved the general game-end criteria – kill your opponent’s commander (and none of your other commanders pass a morale check to take control). So, who won? We’ll have to leave that one to the chroniclers.

Let’s rumble!

Final thoughts. For me, it is hard to choose between the two because they are so different. Lion Rampant is a quick pick-up game that anyone can jump into and get the hang of in just a turn or two. There is a lot of merit in that. BW requires a little bit of pre-planning (working out and putting together a suitable retinue), but it’s also a more tactical game which means it will take longer for a newcomer to pick up and appreciate the subtleties. No, not more complex, but more subtle. Of course, that’s not to say there are no tactics to Lion Rampant (there are!) but Lion Rampant does lack the depth of BW. Personally, I couldn’t choose between the two. Lucky me that I don’t have to. There is a place for both depending on what you are after for a game – sometimes I want that simplicity and quick ‘pick-up’ nature, sometimes I want a more challenging and thoughtful game. Lucky me that I have both on my bookshelf and can choose depending on my whim. If you are interested in medieval wargames then I’d suggest you have them both as well, because I can’t pick one over the other.

Back to Andy for his thoughts on the two rulesets.

I should open by saying I have played Lion Rampant, and other rulesets in the same family, for many years and am very familiar with them, whereas I have only played Baron’s War once or twice before. This may have an impact on my assessment of the two sets of rules. Both sets of rules have a small-ish number of unit types to start with, and both allow you to upgrade / configure units but Baron’s War has more variety in the options you can apply, and a couple of limitations on force composition, a minimum of 10% of your points must be spent on Green troops, and no more than 50% of your force can be used for units with attached commanders. Lion Rampant has fewer, simpler, upgrade options, and no mandatory requirements for force composition.

I would say that Lion Rampant is the easier game to pick up, but Baron’s War can probably give you more variety in force composition. It’s a “horses for courses” kind of situation, and there is room in my gaming calendar for both rulesets.

Ill Met At Woodfell Hall

Stephen reports on a solo game using Song of Blades and Heroes
Apologies from the editorial team, we messed up the publishing schedule.

It is the year 1266. The Baron’s War, led by Simon de Montfort, is at an end – de Montfort and his supporters were beaten decisively at Evesham the previous year.

Since then, not all has been lost. Many of those still devoted to the cause, though dispersed and leaderless, still resist King Henry’s rule.

We find ourselves somewhere in the hills overlooking the Wye valley, early autumn, 1266. A young and idealistic knight, Sir Hugh Bolton, a loyal follower of de Montfort’s, has been lying low on the Welsh border, as have so many of the rebels.

Sir Hugh has received word that another rebel knight, Sir William le Bleu, is also in the area.

Together, they have decided to meet at an isolated traveller’s inn – Woodfell Hall – high above the Wye valley. As night falls, the two knights and their accomplices make their way to their secret rendezvous.

However, what Sir Hugh does not know is that Sir William is not all he seems. His real name is Sir Peter of the Wash, and he is a loyal retainer of Prince Edward! Sir Peter has been sent on a mission by the prince to seek out rebels hiding in the marches and either arrest them or, better still, kill them!

With Sir Hugh is a knight companion, Sir Aymer, plus four experienced men at arms and another four archers – all veterans of Evesham. Sir William/Peter is also not alone. Prince Edward has sent with him two other knights, Sir Fulkes and Sir Gilbert, plus a troop of five spearmen led by a man at arms, and three crossbow-armed sergeants.

Sir Peter’s Men Arrive On The Scene

The first couple of turns were quite quick, with each side only managing to activate one or two models. Sir Peter gave an order to the crossbows to advance up the road, but then the spearmen (presumably tripping over something in the dark) failed. Similarly, Sir Hugh attempted to get his retinue to head down the road toward Woodfell Hall, but only the archers made it.

Sir Hugh With Archers Up Front

It was a slow initial advance.

Things changed for Sir Peter though – he made a group activation of the crossbows again, and they rolled three successes, meaning they could take three actions. They double-timed down the road, coming up to Woodfell Hall, and seeing Sir Hugh and his men further down the road, raised their crossbows and let fly!

The Spearmen Start To Move

This obviously took Sir Hugh by surprise. But fortunately for him (well, those who had been targeted) the shots had no effect. Two can play at that game, thought Sir Hugh, and he ordered his archers to return the gesture. But since the archers, like the crossbows, had been shooting at long range the effect was the same – no hits.

A Volley Of Arrows

The pace soon picked up.

One of the crossbowmen climbed up the side of the inn to take position on a veranda where he could snipe.

Mmm…Wonder If I Can Climb Up That

Meanwhile Sir Peter tried to give more group orders to the spearmen to bring them up in support – his encouragements worked this time.

Sir Hugh’s men also started pouring into the battle. The archers came up to the road junction, formed a line, and let loose. This was a much better tactic – one of Sir Peter’s crossbowmen was struck, and not only struck, but hit with a gruesome shot! Down he went with blood shooting all over the place from the arrow that had severed his jugular. This caused a morale check amongst Sir Peter’s men. The knights held firm, but the tardy spearmen all fell back a little, not wishing to be the next ones to suffer such a terrible fate.

Lying In A Pool Of Blood With An Arrow In The Neck

The remaining crossbowmen showed they could do just as well. Raising their weapons, they took aim at two of Sir Hugh’s men at arms. Both bolts hit home – one of the men at arms fell down dead, and the other was knocked down with a bolt sticking out of his thigh.

One Knocked Down (face down) One Killed (face up)

Sir Hugh got the rest of his men going, urging them to advance through the scrub and bushes that ran alongside the road. The archers drew their arrows again and had another go.

And the same thing happened!

Down went the crossbowman hiding on the veranda, another gruesome kill! This left the remaining crossbowman feeling nervous and, with his morale faltering, he made a run for the rear before an arrow found him and left him a messy, bloody, heap like his friends.

Blood Drips Into The Water Trough

All this missile fire was well enough, but both sides were keen to get stuck in with sword and shield and sort this out the honourable way. Sir Hugh and one of his men at arms had been using Woodfell Hall for cover as they advanced, and the others had moved through the bushes, which meant they had the drop on Sir Peter, whose retinue had stalled under the effectiveness of the longbows.

By the horse troughs outside the inn is where the two sides finally came to blows.

The Melee Starts

The archers tried to stand back and get in a shot where they could, but in the darkness it would be reckless to shoot into the melee. Sir Peter barked out his orders to the spearmen to urge them forward into the melee, and his knight companions also came into the fight.

It was turning into quite a mess. Sir Hugh’s force was split into three – Sir Hugh with one of the men at arms coming down the road, Sir Aymer with another man at arms coming through the bushes, and the archers waiting to take a shot at any target that presented itself.

More Knocked Down Than Killed

Meanwhile Sir Peter’s troops were more consolidated, though this had been more by accident than design. But what this meant was that one of Sir Peter’s men knocked down one of Sir Hugh’s men whilst another was able to come up and finish them off as they rolled around on the ground.

More Killed Than Knocked Down

Then the telling blow happened. Sir Hugh and Sir Peter faced off against each other, and in only a brief exchange Sir Hugh was knocked to the ground and then Sir Fulkes came up and struck Sir Hugh the killing blow!

The fight continued for another couple of rounds, but it was obvious the rebels had been beaten. Realising their cause was lost the remaining rebels made a break and ran.

Sir Peter and his retinue had come out the winners. They had earned their blood money.

An Englishman’s Home

Stephen guides us through a big build.

This building project is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while but never got around to it.

That’s mainly because I didn’t know what I wanted for this model, how much effort to put into it (in relation to how often it would be used), or how to go about building it with the above restrictions in mind.

But recently two events occurred that focussed my mind – I achieved painting backlog nirvana (I had nothing outstanding to paint!) plus, in our War of the Roses refights, we had the battle of Wakefield coming – the backdrop to which is Sandal castle.

With hobby time and motivation on my side, I decided now was the time to commit!

With any terrain building project the first thing to think about is storage. It’s easy to get carried away on a big build, but where are you going to store it? I made up my mind the model would have a footprint no bigger than A4 so I could store it in a box a ream of A4 paper came in (at this point I should add that it’s going to be used with 15mm miniatures!).

Right, decision made on that one.

Now for the actual build, and construction decisions that need to be made. I knew I didn’t want this to be just a tower, I wanted the bailey included. That’s going to be a potentially fiddly build, because I need to think about all that brick work. I thought about the Wills Scenics embossed sheets, but they’re really scaled for HO/OO railway models, so would be too big, plus the cost of buying all those sheets would make the model expensive for how often it would get used. I thought about a paper model, because all the other 15mm buildings I use are paper models so it would fit in stylistically. But the paper models I found on the internet were either too basic or too complicated.

However, after my recent build of lots of skyscrapers for a Stargrave game where I used simple boxes covered in printed textures, I thought that’s what I would do.

So, I scoured the internet for stone textures I liked the look of. I re-sized them, so the stones looked about right for 15mm miniatures and printed out loads of sheets. I also used MS Paint to put some arrow slits on them as well, and some sheets had doors, of various sizes printed as well.

First thing was to lay out the design of the castle. A piece of A4 modelling ply was cut and on that I drew the design of the castle – a keep on a mound, plus walls and towers. A classic (later) motte and bailey castle.

The best laid plans.

I cut a piece of expanded polystyrene for the motte and stuck that down. When that was dry (and PVA takes a while to set when gluing EPA) I carved the mound, keeping in mind that I had to leave enough space on top for the keep.

I started with the keep. I wanted to make it a round keep, but I couldn’t find a tube the right diameter. Oh well, this particular castle would have to have been originally built in the 12th century – square it would be.

Foamboard keep walls.

Construction proved remarkably simple and remarkably quick. The main structures were built from foamboard and then lagged with the printed sheets. Once that dried it was a matter of cutting out the battlements.

Keep and gatehouse in place.

I was keen to get the first bit done so I could get an idea of how effective the printed textures would look on the model. It was hard to say when I saw it, and I think this was because it was just the tower in isolation with the rest of the model completed to give it context. When I looked up-close I was impressed with the effect, so I decided that once complete, en masse, it should look alright.

The Keep and the steps to the keep door.

The rest went up a lot quicker than expected. This was mainly due to simple shapes and also because once up, they would be done – there would be no painting required (beyond the edges of the battlements where the foamboard and white cut edges of the paper showed).

The walls start to go up.

To give the model some semblance of being an organic structure that would have been built over time with improvements and changes, I made the towers slightly different sizes. You will also notice that one of them is round (a toilet roll insert!) – perhaps early in the castle’s history it was attacked and a tower was brought down, only to be re-built in latest round style? (Ed: Shades of Rochester Castle?

The assembled castle

Yes, using printed textures was a good idea because, at scale, it looked like stone, but also because there would be no painting required which meant the model was finished much quicker than if I’d made other modelling decisions.

The round tower

To finish the base was given a coat of khaki paint and then covered with model railway ballast. And when that was dry some static grass was added – I didn’t put so much in the castle yard since that’s where it would have been trammelled by feet.

Adding the flock.

And that was the model complete, ready for Wakefield, and ready for any other games to be a backdrop for a proper medieval setting.

The finished article

Wars of the Roses – Battle of Northampton – Battle Report

This is the third battle report in our long standing campaign to re-fight the Wars of the Roses. Details can be found on the campaign page. Three battles into the campaign it’s become a tradition for the winner to write up the battle report. Which is why Jeremey takes us through the battle of Northampton (spoiler!)

Battle of Northampton
History tells us this was clearly a defensive battle for the Lancastrians, however history also tells us that due to the treachery of Lord Grey the battle apparently only lasted about half an hour. So we dispensed with that aspect and went for the Lancastrians taking up a defensive position. The Lancastrians were allowed enough stakes to cover their front line at no extra costs, but to provide the attackers with a chance this battle was our first game of unequal sides.

Given the Lancastrians static defence Stephen decided to take on full responsibility of command. I as the Yorkists had originally divided up my force to accommodate a guest commander but ended up dividing the army in to three battles to accommodate an additional commander!
Therefore for this battle both Andy and Tim joined my Yorkist forces.  For this battle the Lancastrians had 520 points to the Yorkist 700 and we played using the Sword and Spear 2nd edition rules.

The start of the battle saw the Lancastrians in their defensive position with a front line of archers and two artillery units. Andy took command of the Yorkist left with Tim in the centre, I took the Yorkist right near the abbey.

The first couple of turns were all about the Yorkists getting their units moving. The initiative system in Sword and Spear makes it tricky to get everyone moving at a steady pace. You can do a group move of units but that is still dependent on drawning activation dice from the bag and rolling enough to start the group move. It was soon clear some units were being left behind.

Meanwhile the Lancastrians had little to do but wait for the enemy to come within range of their guns and archers. The Lancastrians also had a camp which would allow them to increase the reach and potency of their missile fire through the Resupply strategy.

I advanced my force at a break neck speed outdistancing my subordinate commanders and setting a fine example of how a real commander should lead. Although a pause was required to allow some of my units to catch up. While I did this Tim also managed to advance in the centre, but Andy had the furthest to travel so was somewhat behind.

Realising you can’t make an omelette without breaking any eggs I advanced my archers within range of the Lancastrians taking the chance that they could withstand a volley (or two!) and return the complement, to try and create some holes in the Lancastrian line.

However it was not to be. Some good dice from Stephen and poor dice from me saw both my archer units wiped out before they could even loose an arrow! This made me pause in my advance fearing that I’d have no chance of reaching the Lancastrians with my slow moving billmen and men at arms.

In the centre Tim decided to just go for it and continued his advance. Stephen thought it was worth trying a few ranging shots, but didn’t quite have the distance.

A turn later and Tim and Stephen were able to exchange fire. Tim’s forward units of billmen and spearmen took a bit of damage from the Lancastrians but in return they managed to destroy some of the Lancastrian guns and open up a hole in their defensive line.

Spurred on by this Tim adavanced his units even further. Unfortunately this proved costly with the spearmen succumbing to more artillery fire. Luckily Tim’s captain attached to the unit survived to be able to support the remaining units in the continued attack.

Tim’s bold advance saw the first of the Yorkists units reach the Lancastrian defences. For Tim this was his dismounted men at arms. Unfortunately Stephen had plugged the gap left by the loss of his artillery with some dismounted men at arms of his own. With a supporting unit for the Lancastrians and their sharp stakes taking away the Yorkist impetus, this turned out to be a tough fight that would last for a few turns.

Being slightly embarrassed by one of my subordinate commanders getting into melee first, I decided I’d spent enough time regrouping and launched an attack with my billmen. I had some rather useless cavalry and so I put them out front as cannon fodder to at least take some of the incoming missile fire away from my heavy infantry.

On the Yorkist left flank Andy had finally got his forces in range and was able to start making holes in the Lancastrian defence thanks to some good archery. This forced Stephen to think about plugging more gaps, but he held off this time fearing Andy could just stand off and continue firing on the defensive line.

Meanwhile in the centre Tim had managed to get a unit of billmen into melee to continue the assault. This added much needed support to his hard pressed men at arms.

Following this change in momentum, and thankfully because I rolled some good activaton dice. I managed to get my men at arms and billmen into melee against the Lancastrian archers. Even with the stakes taking way my impetus, the archers were no match for my heavy infantry. These Lancastrian loses pushed them over their Morale threshold forcing Stephen to make tests for each unit. Unfortunately for the Lancastrians this resulted in the loss of a few more units.

Andy was still causing trouble on the Lancastrian right flank, forcing Stephen to move up his billmen to prepare for an assault from Andy’s infantry.

With the Lancastrian line crumbling and more Yorkists arriving the battle reached a final stage. Although the Yorkists were at this point only one unit away from their own morale test point.

But there was to be no last minute Lancastrian revival, Tim’s billmen broke through the Lancastrian defensive line and engaged a unit of militia archers. The blue dice shown are Tim’s Yorkist scores against Stephens black Lancastrian ones. This lost unit pushed the Lancastrians over their break point with the remainder of the turn seeing enough other Lancatrian loses to make the battlefield look like a resounding Yorkist victory. Truth be told there was a moment it was clearly in the balance.

That leaves the campaign at 2-1 to the Yorkists, but Wakefield is up next.

Yorkist Loses
3 Units of Longbows (9 points)
1 Unit of Spearmen (4 points)
2 Units of Billmen (8 points)
Total loses 21 points (Army break point 35)

Lancastrian Loses
2 Units of Dismounted Men at Arms (8 points)
1 Unit of Billmen (4 points)
5 Units of Longbows (15 points)
4 Units Militia Longbows (12 points)
2 Units of Artillery (4 points)
Total loses 43 points (Army break point 31)

Yorkist Victory