Wars of the Roses – Battle of Mortimers Cross – Battle Report

The fifth battle of our Wars of the Roses campaign took us to Mortimers Cross. This would be our first straight up fight when compared to previous battles from the campaign. The Yorkists were 2-1 up in the campaign with a draw making up the forth battle. For the battle I took command of the Yorkist Left under the Duke of York with Andy acting as Lord Ferrers my second in command. On the Lancastrian side Stephen took command as Owen Tudor with Tony F second as Sir John Throckmorton. Both sides had 800 points for the Battle and as throughout the campaign we used the rules Sword & Spear 2nd edition.

Battle of Mortimers Cross
Historians don’t really know the exact location of the battle so we went for an open field with steep hills to one side and a river to the other. There was of course one historical event recorded for this battle and that was the three suns in the sky phenomenon. History records the Duke of York declaring this a good omen, but for the battle we decided this could have gone either way. To represent this we rolled randomly at the start of the battle to see which side had the omen, the omen would allow one dice reroll in the game. Unlike history the roll saw the Lancastrians claim the good omen.

The two armies drew up in standard formation, I took the Yorkist left flank with Andy having the right, Andy also had a few units starting on the far right in a flanking position (apparently the Yorkists did this in the battle so we allowed it during deployment). I decided not to have too many cavalry units for this battle, I wanted to build in a good core strength to the army. For this I had some freshly painted militia billmen and archers. Stephen for the Lancastrians had twice as much cavalry and a more varied force with crossbows and some Irish Kerns.

As expected the battle started with an archery duel in the centre, because I had a camp I was able to add additional dice for greater range and took a chance at some long ranged fire. it didn’t have the desired result but as the Lancastrian archers commanded by Tony got closer my archers started to score more hits. Rather surprisingly it was at this point Tony and Stephen decided to use their reroll ability. Admittedly this was to save a unit that would otherwise have routed but I thought it was early in the battle to use the ability.

The Yorkists didn’t have it all their own way and a unit sized gap soon appeared in the front line. Over on the Yorkist right flank Andy was also advancing archers but they would be facing cavalry rather than infantry units. Stephen swiftly advanced the cavalry to within charge distance in a bold move not unlike what was witnessed in the last battle.

The charge proved devastating wiping out two of Andy’s archer units and suffering no loses themselves. Even though it was very early on in the battle this had the potential of destroying the Yorkist right flank and separating the far Yorkist units from the main force.

Andy quickly countered the threat by advancing up some billmen and men at arms. Following suit over the cavalry charge I tried the same on the other side of the field. Tony had advanced some Irish Kerns on the Lancastrian right flank, so I charged them with my mounted men at arms.

I was expecting a walkover but the dice were not on my side and all the cavalry managed was one hit against the Irish but suffered two hits in return. I therefore decided to withdraw the cavalry rather than risk leaving them in locked in the melee.

Having failed to sweep aside the Lancastrian right flank I turned my attention back to the centre. The archery battle was going the Yorkists way so I spent time bringing up the rest of my infantry. Tony matched this by bringing up some men at arms.

My spearmen were the ones facing the men at arms but I didn’t hold back and charged in. At the same time Stephen charged again on the Lancastrian left flank, this time against Andy’s billmen.

The Lancastrian charge hit a solid wall with the Yorkist billmen holding their ground, locking the cavalry into a prolonged melee. Feeling emboldened I charged again with my cavalry against the Irish, this time making sure I had some bonus dice to add a little extra to the combat. It proved decisive and the Irish were routed from the table.

Back to the centre and the Yorkist spearmen were slowing being defeated by the Lancastrian men at arms. With the introduction of a second unit of men at arms the spearmen were routed.

With the Lancastrian cavalry still fighting the Yorkist billmen, Stephen brought up the mounted men at arms and destroyed the remaining archers under Andy’s command. But Andy now had fresh men at arms ready to join the fray.

With the Lancastrian loses mounting up I felt able to take more risks. The Yorkists had won the archery duel in the centre and the Lancastrian cavalry were facing a tougher challenge against the Yorkist infantry. So I continued the advance of my cavalry against Tony’s billmen.

Things started to go badly for the Lancastrian cavalry. The Yorkist infantry started to score hits and soon a unit of Currours and mounted men at arms were destroyed for no loses on the Yorkist side.

The battle in the centre started to draw in more units. With the destruction of my spearmen, I managed to get a unit of men at arms and billmen into the melee. Ultimately I’d lose the men at arms to this fight and a unit of mounted men at arms over on the left of the Yorkist line. Which pushed the casualty right up alarmingly.

Feeling they had nothing to lose the Lancastrians threw caution to the wind and charged in. Starting with their mounted men at arms against Andy’s billmen. But with the presence of the Yorkist camp Andy was able to add additional dice to give the billmen the best chance. This proved a wise move and ended with the cavalry locked in combat.

In the centre Tony threw the remaining Lancastrian billmen against the Yorkist archers, but I’d had time to bring up some billmen of my own in support.

At this point the Lancastrians were rapidly reaching their break point and just didn’t have enough units in combat to make enough difference. The last gasp came with the outflanking of the last unit of Lancastrian mounted men at arms by Andy’s dismounted men at arms. This was too much for the Lancastrian cavalry and their loss pushed them to breaking point, handing victory to the Yorkists.

As mentioned this was the first straight up fight in the campaign so far. Neither side had the advantage and so the battle was down to each sides order of battle and how it was deployed. For the Yorkists I decided to include a larger number of militia units to effectively add some fodder to the ranks and hopefully keep the army in the field longer. I also reduced the amount of cavalry units, mainly because I also didn’t want to spend too many points on commanders. The Lancastrian order of battle was fairly similar but two factors were different, the Lancastrians were spread thinner and additional points reduced the overall break point of the army. At the point the Lancastrians broke the Yorkists were still half a dozen units away from breaking themselves.

This battle put the Yorkists in a commanding position in the campaign, it’s the second battle of St Albans next and the Lancastrians are going to have to up their game.

Yorkist Loses
5 Units of Longbows (15 points)
1 Unit of Militia Longbows (3 points)
1 Unit of Spearmen (4 points)
1 Unit of Dismounted Men at Arms (4 points)
1 Unit of Mounted Men at Arms (4 points)
Total loses 30 points (Army break point 48)

Lancastrian Loses
2 Units of Dismounted Men at Arms (8 points)
2 Units of Currours (8 points)
2 Units of Billmen (8 points)
4 Units of Longbows (12 points)
2 Units of Kerns (6 points)
Total loses 42 points (Army break point 39)

Yorkist Victory

Society meetings- August 27th and September 10th

We’ve been remiss and not posted a photo round up of several of our meetings held over the last three months. Here’s the first of these covering the first two of the missing meetings.

August 27th

Three games ran at the meeting, first up a 6mm Ancients game using Field of Glory rules.

Alan ran an Eastern Front WWI game in 15mm using “Battles with Brusilov” rules.

 

And finally for this meeting, Stephen ran a very wet Stargrave game, Waterworld. We should have a more detailed write up of this game soon, but you can find an article about the boat building endeavours of our members here.

Andy’s crew approach a tower block
Tony’s crew encounter a Kraken
The view from orbit

September 10th

We had another three games at this meeting, firstly a 2mm Strength & Honour game.

Stephen and Jeremey ran another game in their refight of the War of the Roses, using Sword & Spear rules. There’s a full account of this battle (written by the victor, of course) here.

Lancastrian defensive position
Yorkist right flank
Yorkists advance

And finally, Eric ran a series of Gaslands races.

We’ll round off the other two missing meetings, September 24th & October 8th in the not-too-distant future.

Wars of the Roses – Battle of Wakefield – Battle Report

The fourth battle in our long standing campaign to re-fight the Wars of the Roses (details can be found on the campaign page) brought us to Wakefield. Going into this battle the Yorkists were 2-1 up but with Wakefield being a historical disaster for the Yorkist cause there was every chance that lead was about to end.

Stephen takes us through the battle from the Lancastrian point of view with additional details from Jeremey for the Yorkists.

Battle of Wakefield
Wakefield was a decisive battle in the Wars of the Roses – Richard of York would be killed, thus blunting the Yorkist pretensions to the crown. Well, it would, wouldn’t it.
It was a very decisive victory for the Lancastrians, whose army greatly outnumbered that of York. Richard of York found himself encamped in and around Sandal castle, just outside Wakefield.

Queen Margaret led the Lancastrian army and as they approached the castle the Duke of York led his men out to meet them in battle. Estimates have the army of York at around 5,000 and the Lancastrians at about 12,000, with the Lancastrians fully surrounding the Yorkists. The inevitable happened.
Arguably, given that situation, it might not make much of a game, so to give the Yorkists a fighting chance we increased the ratio – the Lancastrians had 925 points and the Yorkists had 750.
Turns out they didn’t need them!

Let’s say it right at the beginning – the shame of this one lies on my shoulders. No excuses.

Anyway.
Since the Lancastrians had a numerical superiority we split them up into three commands – myself with the Duke of Somerset and all the cavalry – 4 bases of mounted men-at-arms, 2 bases of currours, and 2 bases of border horsemen. The flanks were split between the Earl of Wiltshire (Andy) and Lord Roos (Tim). Wiltshire and Roos had the same: 1 dismounted men-at-arms, 3 retinue billmen, 4 retinue archers, 2 militia archers.
Jeremey would take sole command of the Yorkists.

Jeremey deployed his troops in a very orderly U shape. I deployed the cavalry in the middle, with Wiltshire and Roos on one flank each. The plan was simple – the classic Zulu battle tactic of the horns of the bull attacking first, followed by the bull’s charge in the middle.

Seeing how surrounded he was, Jeremey immediately tried to re-deploy some of his troops, notably his currours swinging to face Wiltshire with the hope of driving off the archers.
(Jeremey – at the start of the battle I panicked, I was already facing an enemy on three sides and had screwed up my deployment, I started deploying my units as a block decending from the centre line but a quick check of the ambush deployment scenario in Sword and Spear said all of my units had to be closer to the centre line. I hadn’t even put my archers facing the flanks or front! So thinking the battle already lost I thought I might as well see if I could catch out the archers on my right flank by surprise).

I’d strung my cavalry out, directly facing Jeremey’s men-at-arms. Both the Yorkist and Lancastrian mounted men-at-arms are equal in ability, so realising that any contact between the two of us would be a 50/50 chance of winning, and since I had twice as many mounted men-at-arms, I started moving my cavalry into a double line – thinking that if he broke through one line, the chances are he wouldn’t break through the next. I could take the loses, he couldn’t.
(Jeremey – seeing I would be outnumbered if Stephen charged down the middle of the field, especially now that I’d moved some of my cavalry out to the flanks, I tried to move up some infantry units to support the centre).

Out on the flank, the archers moved forward and sure enough engaged Richard’s army. First blood went to the Lancastrians!
Jeremey continued to sort out his deployment, realising (quite naturally) that he had multiple fronts to deal with. He seemed to have a few commanders in the army, which would help since an attached commander means a unit can manoeuvre with a lower activation dice. It still looked very messy in the ranks of Richard’s army.
(Jeremey – It was a mess, I wasn’t getting the activation dice I needed and my initial deployment was looking like a fatal mistake. I had a general and two captains and started attatching them to units to reduce the activation score needed to get my units moving).

Wiltshire and Roos seemed to be falling into the trap of giving too much attention to those units engaged, and not enough attention to moving up their second line. I think there’s a good reason for that, and I’ll address that at the end. This could prove crucial, because at some point the Yorkists would have to charge the Lancastrian archers rather than just take the arrows, and without that crucial second line of billmen, the archers could suffer.

That said, at this point, it wasn’t looking too bad. I felt confident of a victory – we had the numbers and the position.
(Jeremey – my initial cavalry charge out to the flanks did not prove as successful as I’d hoped for, trying up some of my cavalry in a protracted melee. But the fight was also drawing in other Lancastrian units which meant they were not attacking my disorganised flanks).

I think Jeremey could see I was preparing for a cavalry charge. Truth is, I wasn’t. Like I said, our plan was for the flanks to hamstring his army and then the cavalry to charge in. But I think I made them look too threatening. So he swung some archers around who started to shoot at the mounted men-at-arms. It was tempting to launch my charge at that point but, like I say, that wasn’t the plan. So instead I moved up the border horsemen, who were quicker, and perfectly capable of dealing with that threat.
He was obviously unconvinced.
(Jeremey – I honestly didn’t know what Stephen was doing, my greatest fear was facing a cavalry charge at the same time as an attack against the flanks. I just didn’t have the units to cope with that).

My first mistake – I’d moved my cavalry just within charge range. I didn’t mean to do that. So on his turn he decided to take matters into his own hands and, with the impact bonus, launched his mounted men-at-arms at mine. Can’t say I blame him.
I was secretly happy about that – let’s get it over with sooner than later, I thought. I was fairly confident my multiple lines would stop him and if he lost his mounted men-at-arms then that would probably be it for the rest of his army, having lost their back bone.
(Jeremey – this was my first lucky break in the battle, with Stephen’s command divided into three it meant his cavalry were often left with few activation dice being drawn compared to mine. As such I found myself facing his cavalry without any activation dice. So I loaded up my cavalry with dice and charged).

Now, at this point it’s worth saying that I truly don’t think I’d done too much wrong with the Lancastrian tactics. Yeah there’s always one or two things that could have gone better. But, as any commander will tell you, no military plan lasts longer than the first contact with the enemy.
There was one other, very important, factor to this game. Jeremey seemed incapable of rolling anything other than 6s. He could roll four dice and three of them would come up 6 with the other one a 5 or 4. No matter how good the plans, how many troops you have, it’s hard to fight against that. That’s not an excuse (like I said at the start – I take responsibility for what happened, and I will address that at the end), but it is a simple fact that I am sure Jeremey will be gracious enough to admit.
(Jeremey – to be fair I did have a good dice game, but I wasn’t having it all my own way. After all my initial cavalry charge against the archers failed, I had suffered the lost of most of my own archers at this point and if I hadn’t retreated some of my billmen units I’d have lost those as well.  Part of what led to the idea I was getting lucky with the dice was due to the destruction of Stephen’s cavalry. But when you consider I was able to place activation dice on my units giving them a bonus, plus getting the charge in first and against enemy units with no activation dice. The result was truly in my favour).

So, the cavalry charge.
It didn’t go well for the Lancastrians.
He hammered through the first line, pulverised the second line, and was finally stopped (somehow) by the third line. Although on the next turn the third line would also go!
There, I’ve said it.
The entire Lancastrian cavalry wing destroyed, without taking any of the enemy with it. Even as I type this I’m still not sure how that happened. Two units of Yorkist mounted men-at-arms, took out 8 units of Lancastrian cavalry, without loss.
Such are the fortunes of war and the stories that history is made of.
(Jeremey – see my above point. Having played a fair number of games of Sword and Spear, the golden rule is to get your cavalry charge in first. Preferably with a bonus dice as well. My cavalry charge was as good as it could have been in game terms). 

So let’s turn to the flanks, because that was the end of the centre.
Both Roos and Wiltshire continued their pressure. Andy had realised it was time to move up his second line, and put Wiltshire in direct command of them to get them moving. Tim succumbed to the temptation of allowing himself to funnel too many men (and activation dice) into small scraps, so I sent the Duke of Somerset (who had miraculously survived the Yorkist cavalry) over to him to lend some command and control initiative.
(Jeremey – on my flanks I’d lost my archers and so while the cavalry battle raged, I had started to try and consolidate my infantry units. This didn’t work as planned but actually led to a similar situation as the cavalry. Some Lancastrian units got close enough to charge and therefore I again decided to act boldly and charge).

Jeremey had tried to charge Wiltshire’s archers, but Andy had supported his line with billmen and dismounted men-at-arms, and Jeremey’s currours were bounced off (one unit routed and the other ‘re-deploying to the rear’). It was looking strong on Wiltshire’s flank and, so long as no more serious loses were incurred by the Lancastrians, they could still scrounge a slight victory. Then something surprising happened – Jeremey advanced a unit of dismounted men-at-arms against Roos’ militia archers. OK, so that sounds like a good match for York, but the Yorkists had little support for this charge and the militia had other archers, billmen, and men-at-arms, in the immediate area who could help bolster them. Not sure what Jeremey was thinking – was it hubris, was it spontaneity, was it something else? No idea.
(Jeremey – I spent most of this battle just waiting to lose, I was fighting for pride and the chance to give a good account of myself given the points difference, and poor deployment. As it was the lack of coordinated attacks from the Lancastrians gave me the opportunity to take some risky moves).

What did happen is that the militia manage to stop the charge (Jeremey – I thought I was only rolling 6’s?). This would prove vital, because now both sides started funnelling units in to this fight to offer support. What had started as a whimsical charge, a simple fight between two units, promptly escalated into a fight for that wing! With Somerset now lending Roos a hand, Tim managed to push some archers and bills forward, slowing down the Yorkist cavalry that had destroyed the Lancastrian cavalry, from charging into that flank.
(Jeremey – this is the point that the battle started to turn against me. Despite winning the cavalry fight I now needed the activation dice for the melee on the flanks. Which left my surviving cavalry strung out across the battlefield and out of this crucial fight).

With some relief, the Yorkist casualties started mounting up. However, so did the Lancastrians. In fact, the Lancastrians were the first to reach their morale point – an army wide morale roll was needed. But only a turn or two later, this was also the case for the Yorkists.
Over with the Earl of Wiltshire, and Andy could see the Yorkist mounted men-at-arms making their way over to him, so he started to straighten his lines, ready for a charge.
(Jeremey – I’d managed to recall some of my cavalry and the battle had reached the end stages. Despite their loses the Lancastrians still outnumbered me and so I decided I’d done enough to leave with my pride intact. As a last gesture I tried another charge but this time I was checked by my opponent).

Meanwhile, over on the other flank, the fight between the Yorkists and Roos’ men reached a climax – a unit of Lancastrian bills charged into the flanks of the Yorkists, finally routing them. This had been a desperate fight indeed and the loses that Richard of York’s army took helped prevent a humiliating Lancastrian defeat.

It was now more or less over. On the same turn both sides had reached their broken level.
We sat back and it was declared a draw!
Well, a tactical draw it may have been, but in reality it was an overwhelming moral victory for the Yorkists.

So what went wrong?
Two things really.
Firstly, Jeremey was doing some cracking dice rolling. There’s not much anyone can do about that. It’s simply the case that he was just rolling 6s all the time, and we weren’t!
(Jeremey – as I’ve mentioned the Yorkist ‘good’ rolls have disguised a fairly even fight in other areas).
Secondly, I must take responsibility for not thinking about command and control. I gave the Lancastrian army just three commanders – three generals. Each command had one general to take full responsibility for command and control. Now, that was actually adequate for the cavalry, the smallest command, and closely deployed in supported lines. But the two flanks would be more strung out, meaning it was hard to keep them all in command range (actually, both flanks often had troops out of command). This made it difficult (nigh on impossible) for the Lancastrian flanks to keep their second line of billmen up with the archers to respond to any Yorkist charges. Ideally, each flank needed two commanders – a general and captain. This would have meant the Lancastrian battleline would have been stronger to repel Yorkist charges, meaning fewer loses.
I have to take full responsibility for that. Any successes the Lancastrian army had to force a draw rather than utter defeat are to the credit of Andy and Tim, not me.

Anyway, a draw it was.
(Jeremey – I was expecting an early bath on this one. My initial deployment stiffled any attempt to take the battle to the enemy. Archers in the wrong place, slow moving infantry stuck in the middle and an initial cavalry charge that went no where. But the Lancastrians just didn’t press the attacks on the flanks. Maybe by splitting their command into three meant each commander was trying to preserve their own small force? Whatever the reason I’m glad I didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and took some very bold moves and effectively won a draw).

Yorkist Loses
4 Units of Longbows (12 points)
2 Units of Militia Longbows (6 points)
3 Units of Billmen (12 points)
3 Units of Currours (12 points)
Total loses 42 points (Army break point 39)

Lancastrian Loses
4 Units of mounted men-at-arms (16 points)
2 Units of currours (8 points)
2 Units of border horsemen (6 points)
1 Unit of dismounted men-at-arms (4 points)
3 Units of retinue archers (9 points)
3 Units of militia archers (9 points)
Total loses 52 points (Army break point 49)

Battle Declared a Draw

Society Meeting, October 22nd

It’s been a while since we posted any pictures of society meetings, but here are some from our latest meeting, which had a good turn out with five games in progress and around 20 members present.

First up we have a 2mm Ancients game using Strength and Honour rules, Republican Romans vs Germans.

Marcomanni & Suebi Warbands clash with the Auxilia
Same clash, different angle
Close up of the Suebi Warband
Line of battle

Our second game was a clash between a 100 Year’s War English army and some Ottoman Turks, this time in 6mm using Field of Glory rules

Archers flanking Men at Arms
Close up of Archers
Archers holding the hill
Cavalry charge the Men at Arms
Men at arms punch a hole through the line of Archers

Slightly later historically we turn to the War of the Roses, and a game based on the Battle of Wakefield, this time in 15mm using Sword and Spear rules.

Battle of Wakefield, starting positions. Jeremey feeling somewhat surrounded.

In the background you can see Stephen’s representation of Sandal Castle, you can see an article on its construction here.

Close up of the Yorkist right flank.
Lancastrian Left Flanking force
Yorkist Archers, the small dice show the remaining strength
Uneven archery duel, all units started at strength 3.

Our fourth game, chronologically, takes us to the East End of London, where things go bump in the night. A Victorian Gothic Horror game using “A Fist Full of Lead” rules in 28mm.

Just another day in the East End
A bit of a barney
Hello, hello, hello, what’s going on here aaarghh
It’s not even safe indoors
A Hansom Cab
Police raid a house of ill repute
They’s big n hairy & I be afraid of ’em

And finally, we go to Vietnam, with a 1:600 scale Air game using Thud Ridge rules.  Only a couple of photos of this game unfortunately.

SAM-2 site protecting a vital bridge as a Skyhawk attacks.
Close up of the Skyhawk, pursued by MiG-15s

 

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

Wars of the Roses – Blore Heath – Battle Report

This is the second battle report in our long standing campaign to re-fight the Wars of the Roses. Details can be found on the campaign page. Jeremey  takes us through the battle of Blore Heath.

Battle of Blore Heath
I had originally put this battle down with the Lancastrians as the defenders. Accounts of the battle have the Lancastrians arriving first and taking up a defensive position along a stream. The Yorkists then arrived and being outnumbered took up a defensive position in turn at which point the Lancastrians attacked. But my opponent Stephen put forward the arguement that the battle was essentially a Lancastrian attack and so that’s what we went for.
As with the first battle we had two guest commanders, this time Andy joined the Lancastrians while Tim joined the Yorkists. For this battle both sides had 750 points and we played using the Sword and Spear 2nd edition rules.

For the start of the battle I took up command of the Yorkist left while Tim took the right. This left me facing Andy across the stream and Tim facing Stephen. One of the house rules we had for this battle was that the Lancastrians had to have at least four units of cavalry, as that was a feature of the historical battle. In the end Stephen had six cavalry units of various types and kept them all under his command. The Yorkist forces were an even mix of archers and billmen distributed evenly between the commanders. The only difference being I also had some guns in the centre.

The start of the battle saw the Lancastrians waste no time in bringing forward their archers in the centre ground and cavalry on the Lancastrian left. Seeing this I pushed up my guns in the centre knowing they outranged the archers.

Being in keeping with the historical nature of the battle, Stephen decided to charge his cavalry straight across the river. Despite never having played Sword and Spear, Tim managed to put his archers into a good position to cover any attempts by the Lancastrians to cross the river. These made short work of the light cavalry before they could charge into contact.

In the centre it was a different story with the Lancastrian archers getting the upper hand. The Yorkist guns were the first outright casualty while the other archer units also took some damage. Due to this I moved my billmen and men at arms back from the river and out of range. This was immediately called out as a cowardly move by the Lancastrians.

As more Lancastrian cavalry approached the river. This time mounted men at arms, Tim encouraged by the ease at which the last attack was repelled moved some men at arms up in response to the treat.

On the Yorkist left flank I had positioned my cavalry as a diversionary tactic. I was hoping Andy would commit some of his units to counter the threat rather than strengthen the centre. But then having gained the initiative by quite a big margin Andy rolled the dice to see which of his units he could activate. The roll was a complete disaster leaving Andy with only one unit receiving an activation.

Seeing the lack of action on the Lancastrian right and because I was losing the archery duel in the centre I took the bold step of committing my cavalry across the river unopposed with the view of taking the battle to the Lancastrians.

As mentioned the Lancastrian archers were winning in the centre. Despite being Militia units they were outclassing my retinue archers. This led to more tactical (ahem) retreat moves from the Yorkist billmen units.

Meanwhile the Lancastrian right went from bad to worse. The Yorkist cavalry charged in against the opposing billmen with the resulting dice throws ending is a swift defeat for the billmen. In the above picture you can see the Yorkist dice roll (blue dice) versus the Lancastrian (yellow/red dice). Given the impact rule charging cavalry get such a roll saw the billmen destroyed rather than take a couple of wounds.

The second Yorkist cavalry unit did just as well (helped by having a 6 played as the activation giving a boost to the combat) meaning the original diversion of the cavalry ended up breaking through the Lancastrian right and able to turn and threaten the Lancastrian archers in the centre.

In contrast the Lancastrian mounted men at arms on the Lancastrian left failed to run down the Yorkist dismounted men at arms even with the support of the Lancastrian general and outnumbering them.

Luckily the lancastrian general survived the destruction of the cavalry unit they were attached to. Here we see Stephen “repositioning” his general in a backwards direction which the second cavalry unit fights on.

With potentially more cavalry on the way Tim started to move up more units in support, including his own cavalry.

The battle in the centre came to an end with archery from Andy landing the final blow on my Yorkist archers that had already been suffering under Stephens. Despite all of my archer units being wiped out, in the last attacks I was able to make I did manage to destroy a couple of the Lancastrian militia archers that had caused so many problems.

However at this point in the battle the Lancastrians had suffered heavy loses and wer close to breaking. They only lost one unit in the first morale check, but with the Yorkist cavalry rampaging on their left flank, the Lancastrian cavalry being repulsed on thier right and with a distinct lack of targets in the centre, their options were limited.

Trying desperately to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat Stephen charged the last of his cavalry across the river and against Tim’s mounted men at arms that he had managed to get into position. The following melee of light cavalry versus mounted men at arms with another unit in support went as expected pusing the Lancastrian army over it’s break point and handing victory to the Yorkists.

Yorkist Loses
3 Units of Longbows (9 points)
1 Unit of Crossbows (3 points)
1 Unit of Spearmen (4 points)
1 Unit of Guns (2 points)
Total loses 18 points (Army break point 38)

Lancastrian Loses
2 Units of Mounted Men at Arms (8 points)
4 Units of Currours (16 points)
2 Units of Billmen (8 points)
2 Units of Militia Longbowmen (6 points)
2 Units of Welsh Longbowmen (6 points)
Total loses 44 points (Army break point 43)

Yorkist Victory

Wars of the Roses – 1st Battle of St Albans – Battle Report

This is the first battle report in what will be a long standing campaign to re-fight the Wars of the Roses. Details can be found on the campaign page. Stephen takes us through the first battle.

First Battle of St Albans
Well, our first Wars of the Roses battle in a campaign to re-fight all of the major battles – First St Albans.
Jeremey’s plan is that we set up the historical battlefield, but after that it’s up to each commander. So not a true re-fight so much as just sharing the same battlefield, so keep that in mind. There’s positives and negatives to that approach, like there is to any other way of re-fighting a battle, but that is the approach we agreed on so that’s what we are going with.

I had the Duke of Somerset in charge of my army. Since it was going to essentially be an attack and defend scenario (with me defending St Albans) I decided to use my army points prudently and spent a bit on militia archers (as well as retinue troops) to make the points go further. I decided I would keep them static, behind stakes for a bit of extra protection, and use retinue troops for any aggressive tactics. I also gave myself a Scottish contingent (yes, we know there were none present at the actual battle – read above for our take on this) of a pike block (protecting the central road into the town) and some light cavalry lancers who I put on the left flank to annoy Jeremey. Experience of using both troop types in previous games meant I wasn’t expecting much out of them. I had the men at arms in the middle, with Somerset, and on the right and left flanks, on the edges of the town, were the billmen and archers. I had quite a long frontage to my battleline thanks to bringing some cheaper troop types (the local militia archers) to bulk the army out.

In contrast, Jeremey had a smaller army that he deployed in two lines, meaning that he would struggle against my flanks. He also had lots of commanders! He obviously had low expectations of his army to follow orders. It looked like he had the whole of Burke’s Peerage on the table.

For so many commanders he made a slow and ponderous approach. The front line seemed to consist mainly of his archers. Out on my left flank I sent the Scots lancers charging forward. I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. My initial tactic was just to put them somewhere it would annoy Jeremey and he would have to turn troops to face them just in case.

But it turned out I had them in quite an advantageous position, looking straight on to the flank of some of his archers. I rolled a couple of 6s so made the choice to send them in.
This set the ball rolling. First blood went to Somerset’s army – the Scots routed a unit of archers! At that point I decided they’d already paid for themselves. Mind you, not too far away were a unit of his armoured men at arms and it was obvious what was going to happen. In they went and off the table went some lancers.

Like I say, this set the tone. Because what happened is that Jeremey was having trouble keeping his two battle lines going. In the middle he moved his crossbows forward, looking straight at the pike block. I knew what would happen if I stayed there – a steady rain of missile fire and the pikes gone for nothing. So I decided to push them forward as fast as I could, plonking a 6 activation dice on them whenever I could to give them an extra move unit to get in quickly.

I advanced the retinue archers on my extreme left and right flanks to over lap his army, create some oblique fire lanes to keep him in arc as he approached, and see what casualties I could cause before he got to the town.

Jeremey’s lines got more and more separated. Due to both the Scots lancers, the Scots pike block, and the flanking archers, he was taking casualties and his line was breaking up. He was having to use his best activation dice to keep his line in order, turning this way and that to see off a threat as it came. And all this meant his men at arms and billmen at the back just got left behind.

At this point the only troops I had committed to melee were the lancers and pikes, which I ultimately lost, but it also meant I had not sustained any other casualties. By the end of it I had more or less routed all his archers (I think he had one or two units left, but that was about it), one of his commanders was dead (might have been two?), and many other of his units had taken hits. Apart from the pikes and lancers my army was still intact. The two armies had taken similar number of routed units but Jeremey had many more that had taken casualties and were looking weak.

There then followed a lull in the battle. I moved my flanks a bit further forward, sent some billmen to the right flank to give it a bit of backbone against some advancing men at arms, and moved my men at arms units into the centre where the pikes had been.

Meanwhile, Jeremey was ‘re-dressing’ his ranks (moving them to the rear is what he was doing!), sorting out his lines, and getting that rear rank forward.
The final stage of the battle then got underway.

Jeremey, with army now sorted out, continued his advance on St Albans. There was a push on my right flank as his billmen and men at arms came into conflict with my archers. It went his way. Out on the left things were a bit more static – it seems he still hadn’t fully recovered from the lancers. I moved my archers on the left into arrow range and let rip. He then double timed his infantry to close them into combat as soon as he could. There then followed a surprising victory for my archers.

They were charged by his plate-armoured men at arms, they drew their hatchets and blades and prepared for the inevitable. However, against the odds (and thanks to some demon dice rolling) the archers prevailed and routed the men at arms (who had been weakened due to bow fire).

In the middle Somerset ordered his men at arms forward, down the road, to meet the enemy in combat. That was very much the endgame. My men at arms, fresh and ready for battle, charged into what remained of Jeremey’s archers and billmen, taking them out of the game.

With that, it was the end – Jeremey’s army had reached its rout morale level and it was game over. A victory for Somerset!

Yorkist Loses
6 Units of Longbows (18 points)
1 Unit of Crossbows (3 points)
1 Unit of Welsh Spearmen (3 points)
2 Units of Billmen (8 points)
Total loses 32 points (Army break point 30)

Lancastrian Loses
6 Units of Longbows (18 points)
2 Units of Northern Boarder House (6 points)
1 Unit of Scottish Pikemen (6 points)
Total loses 30 points (Army break point 37)

Lancastrian Victory

The Bloody Field – Wars of the Roses Battle Report

After the disasterous dice rolling displayed in the previous battle Jeremey offers Tony the chance to get even.

A victory entirely down to how bad your opponent rolled isn’t much to celebrate and so I offered Tony the chance of a rematch to banished those dice rolling demons. This was a smaller battle, mainly because I had to provide both armies. I made the sides identical with 12 units in each army. As before I took charge of the Yorkists and Tony the Lancastrians.

Tony deployed his forces in the traditional way of archers out front with billmen and men at arms behind. He also positioned all of his cavalry on the Lancastrian left flank. Although Tony’s set up was more in keeping with the period, I decided to deploy in a single line with my archers interspersed between my other infantry. I did this because we were using the Sword and Spear rules which do not allow general infantry units to move through each other. Tony scores a point for taking the historical high ground and I lose points for playing the rules not the period. I also split my cavalry up with a unit on each flank.

Much to my surprise given the last battle we fought Tony advanced with his cavalry straight at my archers despite them having a number of billmen units in support.

Meanwhile both sides advanced their frontlines to begin the archery duel. Initially this looked like it was going to favour Tony’s deployment because more of his archers were lined up against my billmen and men at arms, giving the chance to cause the Yorkists some damage before the infantry came to blows.

At this point Tony’s cavalry crashed into my archers but did not do enough damage and so the melee continued. Despite not getting the result Tony expected from the charge (partly because of the billmen support of the archers) they would end up locked in combat for quite a while.

As with the previous battle the Yorkists won the archery duel but this time the Lancastrian archers did at least cause some damage on a number of Yorkist units.

With the archers once again wiped out Tony began moving up his infantry units to get to grips with their Yorkist counterparts.

On the Lancastrian left flank the mounted men at arms finally managed to destroy the Yorkist archers but were locked in melee with the Yorkist billmen. I was surprised to find the cavalry still intact after this combat, I was hoping to have destroyed the cavalry who are tough when charging but not for prolonged combat.

With the destruction of their archers and the loss of some other units the Lancastrians were on the brink of breaking after just three turns. It was at this point that Tony’s now legendary bad dice rolling returned. A bold charge across the road with enough dice to provide a bonus produced nothing higher than a 3! This saw the destruction of the billmen and the breaking of the Lancastrian army.

We didn’t have enough time to refight the battle on the day, so instead Tony and I decided to ignore the army break point and continue the battle to the death.

Clearly that’s all Tony’s Lancastrians needed to suddenly start rolling dice like they meant it. A ferocious clash took place on the Yorkist left flank  as their billmen and men at arms charged across the road.

On the Yorkist left flank the cavalry were maneuvering into position to prevent either side from outflanking the other. In the background you can see the Lancastrian cavalry still trading blows with the Yorkist infantry.

With the Lancastrians new found successes punching holes in the Yorkist front line, drastic measures were needed to stop the advance. This ended up with the generals of each side supporting their men at arms.

The fight continued and despite the Yorkists getting more men at arms into the fight the Lancastrians overwhelmed the Yorkist men at arms but failed to kill the Yorkist general in the fight.

Realising the danger the Yorkist general moved to reinforce the other men at arms unit. But this move also abandoned the hard set Yorkist billmen on the Yorkist left who were quickly destroyed, leading to the collaspe of that flank.

With the Yorkist Archers now in danger of being overrun, the Yorkists had some good news with the cavalry duel out on the Lancastrian left. This allowed the Yorkist mounted men at arms to rush to the aid of their general.

Despite this last minute charge and the final defeat of the Lancastrian men at arms by the cavalry, the Lancastrians still had enough men under arms on the battlefield to declare victory.

This was an interesting battle. By continuing to fight on after the standard victory conditions were met (rather quickly I might add) the battle flowed back and forth. The Yorkist cavalry proved superior on the day (with credit given to the Lancastrian mounted men at arms that lasted three round of melee against some billmen). And the initial archery duel clearly went to the Yorkists. But the Lancastrian infantry proved unstoppable on the day.
This battle did make me question the Sword and Spear break point rules. Maybe there should be a sliding scale to represent historical battles where armies break early on to those where armies fought to the bitter end.

Yorkist Rampant! – Wars of the Roses Battle Report

After a gap of 17 months (for the obvious reasons)  Jeremey and Stephen finally got to field their Wars of the Roses armies again. Here Jeremey takes us through what happened.

Both Stephen and I agreed on making this a 700 points per side battle using the Sword and Spear rules. We invited other members to take part and ended up with the Lancastrian forces commanded by Stephen and Tony, with the Yorkist side commanded by myself and Andy.

Here we have the main bulk of the Yorkist forces, with the usual number of archers and billmen. The Yorkists didn’t bother to bring any unusual units like artilery, but did have welsh spearmen and archers to swell the ranks. I took the Yorkist Left flank facing the Lancastrians commanded by Tony, which left Andy facing Stephen’s lancastrians on the right.

The Lancastrian forces had a similar make up but went for some artillery and handgunners. Both sides drew up their forces in typical formations. Tony on the Lancastrian right had command of all the Lancastrian cavalry units.

To add a bit of flavour to the game I created a number of event cards, these were sort of successful but on drawing the cards the lancastrians came off worse with both the artillery and handgunner units being forced to join the battle after a set number of turns. This was due to having event cards designed to show the chaotic nature of forces during this time getting lost on the way or being hesitant to join the battle.

The initial activation of the armies saw both sides move up to longbow range and engage in an archery duel. It was at this point that a general theme of the Lancastrians (specifically Tony) having the most appalling dice rolls ever  began.

The archery duel didn’t last long and saw the majority of the Lancastrian archers wiped out for no loses on the Yorkist side.

Faced with the archery disaster the Lancastrians under Tony started an outflanking move with their cavalry, a mixture of mounted men at arms and currours.

This caused a bit of panic in the Yorkist ranks (well me really) who quickly brought up more of their billmen and cavalry to counter the move.

Having riden within range the Yorkist horse charged against the lancastrians attempting the outflanking move, the first charge nearly destroyed the Lancastrian cavalry. They were soon dispatched in the following turn.

However this didn’t discourage the Lancastrian who then charged with their mounted men at arms straight at a unit of billmen. Again Tony’s dice rolling saw the Lancastrian cavalry completely destroyed for just a single point of damage to the billmen.

Meanwhile on the Yorkist right flank the Lancastrians commanded by Stephen managed to buck the trend and shot Andy’s welsh spearmen to pieces. This put the right flank in danger as the Yorkists had fewer archers to try and even the score.

The alarming gap in the Yorkist forces where the welsh spearmen used to be. Facing the potential of another arrow storm Andy decided drastic measures were needed.

Much to my surprise this saw Andy charge the archers with his Northern Boarder horse. It didn’t go well with the cavalry being wiped out.

Having so far suffered only two points of damage to my units I felt emboldened and charged my billmen into the remnants of Tony’s archers scoring a number of hits and pushing the Lancastrian loses towards breaking point.

With the Lancastrians on the brink of breaking I charged the final unit of Lancastrian currours with my mounted men at arms. As was typical for the game so far the Lancastrian cavalry were wipped out handing victory to the Yorkists.

It’s always nice to win a battle but this game was one of the most one sided I’ve ever played. My Yorkist forces on the left flank had managed to almost wipe out the Lancastrians for the loss of no units and only suffering two points of damage. I must say the victory felt somewhat hollow and we were all left amazed at just how badly the dice can sometime go against a player.

I promised Tony a rematch just to throw off the dice rolling curse he was clearly suffering from.

Society Meeting 27 November 2021

Andy’s short roundup of games at this weekend’s meeting.

First up Stephen and I tried out Barons War rules for the first time. As it was our first outing we decided to go small, and had 500 point armies. We managed two games in around 5 hours, with much referring to the rules. All in all we thought the rules worked quite well.

Andy’s green bowmen thinning out Stephen’s Welsh Knights
Welsh archers draw bows to shoot Andy
English knights skulking around the back
Spearmen charge each other
Knights and sergeants urge the crossbows forward
Stephen’s Welsh Knights run from the field.
Andy’s spearmen force back Stephen’s archers

Meanwhile Jeremey and Tony were playing a War of the Roses game using Sword and Spear.

Elsewhere in the hall six of our Field of Glory players (John, Peter, Brett, Paul, Mark and Colin) fought out a tournament. Final results to be confirmed…

Yes, 6mm vs 15mm. But they all follow the same basing system.