Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eighth Army Now Painted!

Hooray! Taking advantage of being snowed in, I have been busy with the paintbrush. I have completed painting the Eighth Army in it's entirety, and I have now 'dipped' the whole lot. They are now stashed away in the loft where they are being sprayed with a coat of Matt varnish to protect them and take off the glossy sheen. I shall post some pics soon, once the stuff has dried, to let you all see the 'before and after' effect of the dipping. It's quite striking, I think!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Eighth Army takes shape

After a long silence, I have some practical progress to report! The WW2 Desert Army for the Commonwealth is now fully based. There was much (laboured) cutting of 2mm thick plastic sheets to make bases, sandpapering the surface to make it 'take' glue from the models. Above is a pic of the standard British Eighth Army Infantry Division - 9 Infantry battalions/regiments, 2 Artillery batteries, an HQ, Recon battalion, and 3 motor transports.

The standard Armoured Division - 3 armoured regiments, and just 4 motorised infantry.

The full army, in it's entirety.

The models in various stages - unpainted, base-coat sprayed, and with some details painted on pre-dipping.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pauses & Painting

I've recently had an enforced pause in my painting and gaming, through lots of activity in the real world - nothing serious, thankfully, but lots of social activity which has meant virtually no hobby-time!

I've also been progressing (slowly) with my painting for 8th Army, plus I've also been pondering my Wars of the Roses figures - I need to get them finished up, as at present only around half are painted beyond a very simple base-coat.

From my progress spraying the 8th Army a light desert-brown, I found myself pondering the same option for the Arrayed Levy troops in Wars of the Roses. Sounds mad, but not entirely. From internet forums discussing WotR armies, the general conclusion on colours appears to be:

1: Nobody really knows anything.
2: Undyed, bleached linen was likely to be widespread, meaning a variety of browns & beige in varying tones pretty much anywhere outside the liveried retinues.

Makes sense I suppose, as why would you - as a poor peasant of the day - feel like getting dressed up in your best clothes to go to a battle, unless you were really interested in leaving a good-looking corpse behind? Hm. Still, I suppose there's nothing else for it - I'm just going to hav eto launch myself into a full-scale painting effort yet again. Hopefully a few intense sessions of effort should see me power through a lot, rather than my usual style of numerous, snail's-pace progress sessions in spare half-hours snatched here and there!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

KISS Wars of the Roses

Although I like the ruleset 'A Coat of Steel' by the Perfect Captain, I find that the time required to play a game is difficult to find, so I have been working up a draft of KISS ('Keep it Simple Stupid') rules for the Wars of the Roses, much in the style of the WW2 Desert War set I recently posted about. So, as all wargamers have suspected: cross-pollination between different projects can lead to inspiration!

The set below is in first-draft form, simplifies all orders, combat, etc. to speed things up for me, but still keeps the crucial strengths of A Coat of Steel – namely the character traits of the varying commanders, and the awkwardness of commanding such an ad-hoc collection of nobles.


Ward chits are drawn as per the original game. As each chit is drawn, the ward can change orders, move, fire, resolve handstrokes and then routs. The next chit is then drawn and the process repeated.


Archers Move 6”

Range 18”

Fire: 6 to hit; (Retinue archers get 5+ to hit vs enemy charging to contact)

Handstrokes: 6 to hit in first turn of contact, 5+ to hit in subsequent turns.

Save: 6 to save vs. fire; no save in handstrokes

Billmen Move 6”

Handstrokes: 4+ to hit on first turn of contact, 5+ to hit from then on.

Save: 5+ for Retinue & Well-wishers; Arrayed troops on a 6.

Men-at-Arms Move 4”

Handstrokes: 4+ to hit

Save: 4+

Mtd Knights Move 8”

Handstrokes: 2+ to hit on charge, 4+ to hit from then on.

Save: 4+ in handstrokes, but only on a 6 against Longbow ranged fire.

Crossbows Move 6”

Range 18”

Fire: 6

Handstrokes: 6to hit in first turn of contact, 5+ to hit from then on

Save: 6 to save vs. fire; no save in handstrokes

Special notes: Targets get -2 save mod against Crossbow fire.

Spears/Pikes Move 6”

Handstrokes: 5+ to hit

Save: 5+

Special Notes: Enemy that are non-Spears will always be pushed back 2” each turn.

Gonne Move: n/a

Range 18”

Fire: 6 to hit. 5+ to hit vs enemy charging any adjacent friendly unit.

Each unit rolls a dice to try and score a hit, then the targets roll to save. All units roll double the number of handstrokes dice if they have enfiladed the enemy.


All units should be 2 bases deep by default. All units can fire (except vs. charging enemy, where only front-rank can fire.) Any unit in 1 rank vs 2+ enemy ranks must fall back 2”.


Each unit is marked with a small square marker, divided diagonally by an 'X' into four triangular areas. Each area is filled in with an order and the counter is rotated to show which one is currently in use. The four possible orders a commander can give are Stand (No move); Loose (fire arrows); Advance (move forward but not engage) and Charge (as advance, but must be made to move into handstrokes contact.)

Each order segment will have arrows marking what the order can be changed to. It is not possible to switch freely between stances (for example, a unit cannot be standing and then suddenly charge to contact – it must 'pluck up it's courage' first by switching to advance and building up to contact.) The arrows I plan to mark on will allow orders to change like this:


Can be reached from: Any

Can change to: Loose; Advance

Effects: No Move. Can rotate on the spot if desired. Will get a free volley against enemy charging to contact.


Can be reached from: Stand

Can change to: Stand; Advance

Effects: No Move. Can fire one volley


Can be reached from: Stand; Loose

Can change to: Stand; Charge

Effects: Makes full move straight ahead if possible. Maintain a gap of 2” with all enemy units.


Can be reached from: Advance

Can change to: Stand (automatic on end of combat)

Effects: May move and must end in contact with an enemy unit. 2” separation may be ignored. (NB: the target unit may get a free volley if it has Stand orders.)

Typically there will be only a small chance of a fumble, so a commander will change orders for a Ward on a roll of 2+ (subject to modification by commander abilities – of which more later!) Failure means you stay stuck with the old order.

Only a single orders change can be attempted per turn, with the exception of Wards with an 'Audacious' commander (who gets two order changes a turn;) or a commander with the 'Captain's Advice' stratagem (who gets a single 'bonus' order change.)


Morale is done by commitment. Committed need a 6 to fail, Well-wishers a 5+ to fail, while Uncommitted need only a 4+ to fail. Companies test as per the commanding magnate or as per the dominant troop type if he is dead (or an unnamed captain leads.)

A unit will test morale if:

It loses 2+ figures in a turn to fire or while closing to handstrokes

It loses more casualties than the enemy in handstrokes

It sees a friendly unit routing within 6”

It sees an enemy ambush being sprung within 12”

A unit that checks morale and fails is always marked as 'shaken' (a stand of arrow-flights, a puff of smoke, etc.) If the unit already has a 'shaken' marker, it is routed.

In addition, a failing unit's actions are decided by what it is doing when it fails the morale test.

If already 'shaken' then it will rout.

If it tests because of being fired on, it must immediately change to a 'halt' order.

If it tests in handstrokes, it must back off by 2” and lose 1D3 figures (Arrayed first, then Well-wishers, then Retinue)

If it tests when out of contact, it must immediately change to a 'halt' order (meaning charging units can be halted short of contact by a defending volley)

If it tests because it's magnate is lost (dead, captures, or fled) then it will lose 1D3 of randomly-selected figures.


Units will rout if:

It fails morale while already marked as 'shaken'

It is reduced to just 4 figures, or half it's original strength.


Largely as per the original rules, but with different effects. Army morale starts at 5, with the following modifiers:

-1 from 'The Coldness of the King' (monarch in enemy camp)

-1 from facing odds of 3:2 or worse

-1 from campaign forced march before battle

-1 from enemy pre-battle bombardment

-1 from each peer (level 3 or 4 magnate) lost/killed/captured/fled

-1 from a ward of the army breaking and routing

-1 from a ward leader lost (double-hitter if it's a peer, or if ward is also breaking)

-1 from friendly troops that show treachery (either changing sides or becoming inactive)

+1 from friendly reinforcements reaching the field

The morale level of the army has the following effects:

Level 5 – OK

Level 4 – OK

Level 3 – OK

Level 2 – Test for morale in all remaining units

Level 1 – Test for morale in all remaining units at 1 level lower than normal

Level 0 – All remaining units rout


audacious can make 2 order changes per turn; +1 to orders roll

old soldier +1 to orders roll

amateur extra 4+ roll required to change order (confusion counter)

practiced standard order roll - no effect

impetuous auto-change to advance/charge orders if the target enemy unit feints or inflicts 2+losses in fire

lethargic 2 extra lethargy chits added to the draw cup

bloodthirsty captured=killed; all routers are auto-killed if caught in pursuit

merciful captured=prisoner; all routers are auto-captured if caught in pursuit

timorous check morale as 1 level lower than normal

anti-x if vs an enemy, wounds=kia; if anti-allied magnate, -1 morale level; if anti- cause of own side, treacherous!

trimmer treacherous!

artifices ambushes can be prepared or obstacles deployed in the setup

treacherous as lethargic, but also add 1 'treacherous' chit - if it is drawn first then the leader switches sides immediately

conciliatory roll against the enemy leader morale at setup - apply -1 to the army morale if failed.


Can select 1 for practiced, 2 for old Soldier, 3 for Audacious, 0 for Amateurs.

A captain's advice allows 1 extra order change to be attempted in a turn, once per game

forethought rout bonus - the '666 rule' becomes the '366 rule'

stout ensign cancel one failed casualty roll for a leader

inspiring (4+ puissance required) Can instantly remove a shaken marker at any time

energetic (4+ forwardness required) reroll 1 failed order roll per game

Master Gonner (gonne must be present in army) Can reroll fire dice once per turn.

caltrops/pavises (artifices required) Can setup defences in front of his ward.

good timing (old soldier required) +1 on to-hit rolls when firing, for one turn only

far sighted detects ambushes. Ambush party must be deployed at start and does not get any usual advantages.

feint (old soldier required) can play to make 1 move order backwards, then auto-halts.


roll 2D6 (check only if losses taken)

In shooting 2-10 ok; 11 wound; 12 killed

In Handstrokes 2-8 ok; 9-10 wound; 11+ killed

if using 'I'll not shrink back' bonus: 2-7 ok, 8+ killed (no wounds)

2 wounds = killed

In rout:

from a Bloodthirsty Enemy = auto-killed if hit,

from a Merciful Enemy = auto-captured if hit

If neither: 1-3 captured, 4-5 killed; 6 escaped.

'I'll not shrink back!'

Can voluntarily be selected by a commander on entering Handstrokes.

add Puissance to rolls as a modifier to 'to hit' rolls (Eg. 3Puissance is 3No +1 mods or 1No +3mod, or any other distribution)

The disadvantage is a higher chance of loss to your commander (see above)

if vs an enemy also using the option: roll2D6 each, add puissance & compare:

tie = no effect

1-2 difference = loser wounded

3+ difference = loser killed

And that, in a nutshell, is the new Rules set. I'll be posting a playtest game soon, to judge the likelihood of future revisions. In the meantime I thought I'd post it, at least to fire interest or hopefully provide a little inspiration to any other gamer out there!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pendraken Figures and Basing

The 10mm Eighth Army figures from Pendraken have arrived, and I thought I'd outline the haul - plus do a little checking about bases. I bought mainly infantry, obviously, and found a pleasingly varied set of poses - the 'riflemen' have three, of men either walking forward, charging ahead, or firing. Other bags I ordered, such as Bren-gun or Thompson SMG-carrying men were single-pose. Plenty, in other words, to give a varied bunch of bases.

Bases, then. I wasn't sure what size would be best, so I drew out boxes on a sheet of paper measured to the size-options. The results are below.

Left to Right, the sizes are 20mm x 20mm (too cramped), 30mm x 20mm (better spacing), 30mm x 30mm (deeper, but for no clear benefit) and 40mm x 30mm (too thinly-spread.) I decided in the end to select 30mm x 20mm for my infantry bases as the most pleasing to my eye. Other sizes could be used elsewhere and keep the 30mm frontage, with the depth varying to fit vehicles on.

Clockwise from top-left, this shows a Universal Carrier, a (massive) Bedford 3-ton truck, a Matilda tank, and a Jeep. The 40mm deep base appears to be adequate for all tanks and lorries, but the 30mm deep base is more suited to things like Jeeps on 'Recon' unit stands.

Here's a varied bunch - Clockwise from top left, I've made a 30mm x 30mm HQ stand for each division by using individual command figures, Command-Group models (usually a brass-hat type poring over a map at a table) and a pup-tent. Next is the dismantled components of a 25pdr field gun, which also comes with a trailer and three crewmen (a loader, a man pointing/pulling a lanyard, and an officer observing through binoculars.) The gun also comes with a circular firing platform. Next round is a smaller Morris 3/4-ton truck, then a pair of armoured recon units: the Dingo Scout Car and the Humber Armoured Car.

I wanted the tanks in my Eighth Army to be a jumble of all models and types, as the historical army appears to have all-sorts of varied tank types, none of which were anything other than 'adequately comparable' to most of the German ones in combat, and usually mechanically unreliable. Clockwise from top left, we have here a Valentine (with sand-skirts), an M3 Lee, a Crusader II and a Grant. Turrets come separately and get glued in place, and all will suitably fit a 40mm-deep base.

Next, I'll detail my painting plans for my first formation, an Infantry Division.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

To the Desert!

Hi - I'm on the brink of a new project, and thought I'd detail it right from the word go - the initial idea through to realising it on the tabletop.

I've never been of the opinion that an army endlessly grows - in fact, I was a bit surprised when I recently mentioned I'd completed my Seven Years' War painting scheme for two armies composed over two years ago, and people thought it'd increase. It never even entered my head to grow the forces over time with the odd extra unit of Grenadiers or Cuirassiers here and there. The size was worked out on day one, and seen through to exactly that! Does anyone else work that way?

Anyway, one of the big advantages of a fixed force size is that - besides giving you a definite finishing point - it can usually be part of a campaign structure that cleverly defines the maximum forces allowed. One of the nicest I've seen is a simple set that was first published in a copy of 'Wargames Illustrated' that I bought back in April 2002 and noticed on a re-reading a year or so ago. For those interested, I've discovered there is an electronic copy of the article ('KISS Rommel' by Norman Mackenzie) available online at freewargamesrules (

The game is large-scale strategic-level World War 2, which is always the level I've enjoyed and found the most fascinating. Not for me the madness of 'Advanced Squad Leader' or any similar company-level games - I wanted to do things on a big-scale, and always have since one of the first WW2 board wgames I've ever played - the classic 'Eastfront' by Columbia Games ( If you've not played it and you like WW2 games, then turn yourself in to the wargames police immediately, as you're doing yourself an injustice!

The KISS (or, 'Keep It Simple Stupid!') Rommel rules covered the Desert War, or North African Campaign 1940-1943, which was of little interest for me at first through ignorance - until I read the book 'Alamein' by Stephen Bungay (yet another recommendation, WW2-fans!) A slim but extremely readable fact-filled volume, the bizarre and see-saw struggle in the alien environment between the two sides began to seem fascinating as I learned more - the crack German units with their '88's and their unstable Italian allies, struggling against lack of supplies as much as with their enemies, the Eighth Army of multi-national Infantry from across the British Empire, excellent Artillery plus a jumble of tanks. A colourful mix, and crucially a situation of two varied sides that regularly had a tally of wins and losses against each other.

I've started out by buying the British Empire & Commonwealth Eighth Army, and decided to do so in 10mm from Pendraken ( - this is my compromise scale as I don't want 15mm armies due to the lack of space & painting time, plus I think 6mm would be too small for what is potentially a visually appealing army. The order has now arrived, and I shall post pics of the figures and details of basing plans shortly.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Project Roundup

What with my recent blog posts on the Wars of the Roses, it's as if I've not been doing very much wargaming - far from it! However by being stuck in my Medieval 'thing' I've been slow on posts here recently. I need to vary things a bit by reflecting the more varied activities I'm up to. As a result, here's a brief round-up of the little projects I've got going on right now and which I hope to be posting about soon:

My Seven Years' War campaign is still running along on my other blog ( and progressing steadily, along with a recent big battle. I've come across the "battlechronicler" piece of free software to create battle maps for blog posts very handy it is too, now I've finally started to get the hang of it!

My American Civil War (ACW) campaign set in Scotland is still in the background, which is proving a bit slow to progress at the moment as both a strategic and tactical game. As I don't get to fight out battles as DBA-style tabletop games, I wind up having big pauses in the campaign. Rather than let it die out, I am thinking of pursuing it as a strategic game only. Battles can be noted as a source for scenarios later, and played at leisure - without causing the campaign to be derailed.

I have also got my 2mm ACW armies to put into action, possibly as part of a recreation of the 1864 Grant vs. Lee Overland Campaign ( which I've been aiming to recreate for a long while - ever since reading the Bruce Catton book
'A Stillness at Appomattox.' (Incidentally, if you're a Civil War fan then read the book immediately - it's a genuine classic!)

Away from the ACW, I have another mini-campaign of Napoleonic setting, which I've not posted on for a simple reason: it's so small I hope to complete it before long and then post the entire campaign from start to finish over a single week - we'll see how that goes!

I have also got a game of the excellent GMT Games WW2 boardgame 'Barbarossa to Berlin' on the go. Although not a tabletop game, it's an excellent card-driven boardgame which I'm playing through with an aim to then posting as an entire alternate WW2 strategic campaign, from 1941 to 1945. The card-based system allows for a great deal of period-setting flavour, so I'm hoping it might make a pretty good narrative.

Most recently and unusually, I have gotten into the Desert War in WW2. This has led me to order a bunch of models to re-start painting again, in my attempt to create my own little mini-version of the 8th Army. Once they arrive, I shall be posting a bit about my attempts to create an army 'from the ground up' for gaming.

Good grief, so busy! I think I'll go for a lie down...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Automatic For The Nobles

The 1460 campaign for the Lancastrian return to England is underway to decide the fate of the prototype Yorkist Dynasty, and shall be posted soon. However, there has been one little scrap - barely 1000 men a side - which I've briefly gamed out for fun, and also as a test-run for a little prototype of mine.

The rules system from Perfect Captain for tabletop battles, "A Coat of Steel" is good and unique but... well, it does involve a lot of table-consulting, cross-referencing, and requires two decks of cards plus repeated draws to fight a round. It also means totting up a lot of combat points, to the extent that I have found it necessary to always keep a pencil and some scrap paper handy. No more, however, with the aid of my new Excel Spreadsheet! I have automated the vast majority of the donkey-work, allowing me to enter the strengths and tactics of two competing units, to then get presented with a final outcome instantaneously.

I'm rather proud of the end result, which manages to include the bewildering variety of modifiers to come from total strength, rank-on-rank deployment, troop types, approach speeds, tactics, etc. And at the end of the day it tells you who won or lost, casualties, morale effects, and even if your leader has been killed!

So, to the tabletop for a try-out. Part of the struggle at campaign-level is currently for Lancastrian sympathisers to reach the returning army of invasion, while various local Yorkist regime-friendly magnates try to pin them down and prevent escape. One such encounter has taken place in the Southeast. Baron Scales, veteran of the French wars, has gathered supporters from across East Anglia and is trying to head west to the Midlands. Blocking the move however is Henry Bourchier, with his younger brother John (Baron Berners.) The two small forces come together at Chatteris Abbey in Cambridgeshire, itching for a fight.

The two armies approach

Bourchier - the banners were drawn and painted in about 20 minutes.

Scales - he drew the happenstance card "I Have Dreamed a Fearful Dream" which meant his already Array-heavy command was definitely looking over it's shoulders!

The fight! Bourchier drew lots of billmen, so rushed into contact immediately. Scales used his levy archers to riddle them on the approach.

On impact, the Lancastrians reeled back slightly but overcame the initial impact. The fighting degenerated into a gruelling scrap with each side getting "stuck in" as the result for repeated rounds. The spreadsheet allowed the repeated calculations to go ahead very rapidly. The Yorkists generally had the upper hand of it and steadily inflicted more losses than they took. Scales was even wounded one round, but he couldn't upset the Yorkist will to fight. Eventually, once losses had climbed high enough, Scales' Lancastrians routed of the field, with the Baron himself captured by Bourchier's victorious troops. A successful first outing for the Handstrokes Spreadsheet!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lancastrians in Exile, Yorkists in Power

So, the aftermath of the battle of Lawford Heath has to be weighed up for effects. First, the nobles on the field: as he is 'Merciful', the Earl of March – now the Yorkist host commander – spares the captured Lords Audley & Dudley. Likewise the Lancastrians will spare Wenlock through Buckingham's Merciful nature. Losses in the commons come to roughly 2200 Yorkists and 2400 Lancastrians - including dead, wounded, and (predominantly) fled. Still, who cares about our little plastic-modelled commoners? The little plastic-modelled nobles are all that matters!

Y: Duke of York, Baron Clinton, Baron Grey of Powys,
L: Duke of Exeter, Earl of Shrewsbury,

Y: Baron Wenlock, Earl of Salisbury (wounded),
L: Lord Audley, Baron Dudley,

Y: Earl of March, Baron Ferrers
L: Duke of Buckingham, Lord Grey of Rougemont, Earl of Wiltshire, Viscount Beaumont

Queen Margaret of Anjou watches the rout of her army from a nearby church steeple, and then flees the scene on horseback - no doubt employing the ruse (she supposedly used historically) of having her horse shod back-to-front to leave a false trail - and makes a fast getaway, along with her son.

Campaign Morale for the Yorkists sinks to 3, but Lancastrian morale implodes outright and sinks to zero - there's nothing for it but to flee! Queen Margaret, Buckingham, Wiltshire & Beaumont flee the battlefield to Bristol and then sail to France and exile. Other Lancastrians all make a similar move abroad - Beaufort and Devon join the fugitive fleet sailing out the Bristol Channel, while the Elder Somerset and Northumberland head north to Scotland for safe shelter. In the meantime it is Yorkists that call the 'Parliament of Devils' to issue an attainder on all the fleeing Lancastrians, pronouncing them all traitors and confiscating their lands & titles.

The scenario ends: Yorkists win only a 'minor victory' as they have routed the Lancastrians into exile, but Buckingham, Somerset, Queen Margaret & Prince Edward are all still at large. The Lancastrians however, win a 'major victory' as they have killed Richard of York!

Now the Yorkist cause is championed by Edward Plantagenet (previously Earl of March, now Duke of York himself from inheriting his father's title.) His father's death is not such a blow to Yorkist factional hopes, as he historically died just one year later at the tail-end of 1460, at Wakefield. Now the Yorkists are the controlling faction at court, but without the support of the majority of nobles – several of them lost their fathers to Richard of York at his earlier battles of Lutterworth & Lawford Heath, and are in no mood to make up. The Lancastrian cause in exile shall return in 1460 to challenge them, so York must defend all England from invasion, and do it with a small core of loyal & active Yorkists plus a large mass of uncommitted or actively hostile nobles!

(Incidentally, the historical Edward declared himself king Edward IV after his father died, but does not do so in this game. Why? Well, historically Warwick won at Northampton and killed many Lancastrian peers who are still alive in this game; York advanced his hereditary claims to the throne and got Parliament to pass the 'Act of Accord' which named the Yorkist line as heirs after Henry VI (disinheriting Henry's actual son); plus after York was killed the Lancastrians had lost a lot of popularity by plundering and revenge-seeking, while March had won an independent victory at Mortimer's Cross. In other words, the country just isn't ready quite yet for a rival king to Henry VI, and the wars at present are still only for becoming the controlling influence at court. Give it time though, and the increasing bitterness & rivalry will prepare the ground for the Yorkist claim to become overt!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Battle of Lawford Heath, 1459

The day of battle dawns, and the two armies line up. The Yorkists have York himself in the Centre, his son the Earl of March on the left, and Salisbury on the right. Facing them are the Lancastrians with Buckingham heading the centre, while Exeter takes their right & Wiltshire the left. Wiltshire is an 'amateur' commander and also 'Timorous', so he's the likeliest to quit out if the going gets rough. Also, Buckingham has also prepared a feint to lure in the impulsive York - how will it all turn out? Let's see, through my pics of the game (which I've also added some handy name-markers to!)

The Setup (Yorkists in white lettering, Lancastrians in red.)

The battle begins! Initially promising to have the wind behind the Lancastrians, the Yorkists get a bonus when the wind direction suddenly shifts in the opening moments and removes the disadvantage they had been facing.

"To Arms! A York!"

York in pride of place, surrounded by retainers.

"Buckingham for the king!"

The king's lines, just before they 'run away' back up the slope. Crafty old Buckingham!

The advance underway. The Yorkists advance, and Buckingham's ruse works like a charm. York loses his head and orders all his men to rush on, throwing his central battle into disorder. Meanwhile, Exeter on the Lancastrian right decides to charge onward to strike Edward of March down in short order.

Charge! Buckingham's view from the hill as his right surges forward under Exeter. It duly strikes poor Edward full-force and nearly knocks his company to pieces. The Yorkists take heavy losses, including the Lord Clinton. The whole ward buckles back and comes within an ace of breaking, but the tireless and inspiring Edward (even though he's in his late teens) manages to just barely hold out and stalls Exeter just short of breaking through.

The centres grow close, with total disorder reigning in York's ranks. They are thrown into disorder by archery, lose out in exchanges, and can only advance at a slow, stuttering pace. Still, at least it's not going totally Lancaster's way - Confused old Wiltshire orders the Lancastrian left to advance slightly, but then can't manage to stop it. It keeps on drifting further and further forward, away from Buckingham's flank and towards Salisbury's ward opposite.

Full-contact along the lines as the armies grapple from one end to another

Wiltshire vs Salisbury. The pair lock together with much bloodshed. The Yorkist Baron Powys is killed in the scrum, and only Salisbury hastily throwing in the reserve holds it together. Wiltshire may be a fool, but his men know how to fight!

Disaster in the centre! York finally strikes Buckingham's lines and comes off worst. York is himself cut down in the struggle - the great rebel himself, dead on the field! At this, Wenlock's company cracks and runs, threatening a wholesale collapse. The Yorkist cause is in crisis, and the day hangs in the balance.

On the Yorkist left, March continues to hold out (doubtless unaware his dad has just died in the centre). This proves to be all that is required however, as reinforcements finally rush to the scene and fling themselves onto the flanks of Exeter's ward. At this, the exhausted Lancastrians crack and flee. Lord Audley is captured in the rout and taken prisoner, and Exeter himself is killed by the anonymous swords of the commoners in the chaotic rout. The whole Lancastrian right wing has collapsed!

Battle's end (Routers' names are in brackets)

This proves the crisis for the Lancastrian cause also, but while the Yorkists merely faltered a little, the Lancastrians go all to pieces. The faint-hearted Wiltshire suddenly remembers something he must attend to elsewhere, and the Lancastrian left wing begins to withdraw. Doubtless Buckingham in the centre is cursing his unreliable noble!

The routers and withdrawers back away, and the state of play becomes clear. Shrewsbury is killed in the rout, Lord Dudley dies, while Lord Wenlock gets captured by the Lancastrians. The Yorkists have seven hugely battered companies left to square up against just two of Lancastrians. It looks bad, and shortly as the two exhausted armies face off against each other, the withdrawing Wiltshire convinces the Lancastrians to quit the field. York surges on against them in pursuit. From despair to triumph! What a narrow and glorious victory for York! Pity he's dead, and all that...

The hero of the day, Edward Plantagenet, Earl of March

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1459 - The White Swans

And so, the second part of the military campaigning begins with a genuine head-to-head between the Yorkists and Lancastrians. From north to south the setup reads like a layer-cake, with alternating York/Lancaster forces assembling. I'll spare you a detailed account of the helpless swirl that resulted, but give a rough overview so you have the flavour of it!

York starts in the Welsh marches in a fortified camp at Ludlow. Warwick starts out overseas in Calais, but Salisbury is in the Yorkshire Ridings to the north. There are also many inactive nobles in the SE of England who can probably be counted on to rally to the Yorkist faction.

Meanwhile the Lancastrians' main army (with the Queen and King) gathers in the Midlands. In the south an army under Henry Beaufort (heir to the Dukedom of Somerset) is recruited in Devon & Cornwall, while up in the very far north the Percies gather forces along the Scottish Border - including York's Arch-Enemy Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset returned from his exile in Scotland!

At first, everybody sits tight and recruits across the counties by issuing Commissions of Array and pulling in every favour-owed family of supporters to provide them with troops. Warwick rather unfortunately fails to make it over the channel at first, being delayed by weather. Lots of the potential Yorkist nobles in SE England take their cue from this and fail to recruit to the Yorkist side, deciding sitting it out is much more sensible.

Once everybody has at least a decent army, it's a question of who can combine forces the quickest. Salisbury begins to take a circuitous route southwards, aiming to join York in the Welsh Marches. With their forces combined, plus Warwick's hoped-for arrival in the enemy rear, they should be able to drive the Lancastrians out of their central position in the country.

It's not to be, however! The Lancastrian main army heads north at full-speed and catches Salisbury at Lathom. Outnumbered 2:1, Salisbury is beaten in a half-fight, half-retreat in which his forces are scattered [the unequal fight was played out with the campaign resolution-rules rather than a tabletop battle, and Salisbury managed to cling on long enough to retreat.] The Earl manages to personally flee southwards after the rout and reaches York in person (plus a belatedly reformed personal retinue) but his army has been routed and destroyed (no doubt with the Queen watching in satisfaction from a nearby church steeple.)

The wheel of fortune has now taken a decidedly nasty spin for the Yorkists - now there are only Lancastrian armies in England, north and south - plus any union between them will see him crushed. Even worse, fragile Yorkist morale has taken a big blow through news of Salisbury's rout at Lathom, and everybody seems to be looking over their shoulder, coming up with excuses, etc. York runs east to Northampton in the hope of meeting up with Warwick, when the combined Yorkist force could then throw itself at one of the isolated Lancastrian armies and restore the situation. Warwick, thankfully, manages to arrive back in England and his arrival in London manages to rouse the Yorkist capital and boosts the faction's morale back to decent levels. Then the Lancastrians make a blunder...

The main Lancastrian army moves back into Coventry, aiming to take a central position from which all the outlying armies can reach him and combine, but in so doing he puts himself within striking reach of York. If York quits Northampton instead of waiting for Warwick to arrive and join him, he can catch the king's army with near equal numbers. Waiting for Warwick would almost certainly allow similar or larger numbers of reinforcements to reach the Queen. York decides that he can't take the chance of that happening, leaves only an apologetic note for Warwick in Northampton, then rushes off himself to seek the decisive battle!

I checked out Google Earth for a place near Coventry and in the direction of Northampton, and came up with 'Lawford Heath.' This took my fancy because the historical battle around this campaign was Blore Heath, so the 'Heath-yness' of the name made it for me! Below is a list of the two armies for the battle, plus the inset names are a couple of the 'minor nobles' I have drafted in to command companies for the major magnates. In fact, I only have two companies led by unnamed captains, the rest all being led in the correct style by those of noble blood. To arms!


Duke of York 1860 men
Baron Wenlock
[unnamed captain]
Earl of March 1800 men
Baron Clinton
[unnamed captain]
Baron Ferrers 660 men
Baron Grey of Powys 820 men
Earl of Salisbury 360 men
Total of 5,500 men


Duke of Buckingham 1540 men
Baron Dudley
Earl of Shrewsbury 1140 men
Lord Grey of Rougemont
Earl of Wiltshire 420 men
Viscount Beaumont 480 men
Lord Audley 1140 men
Duke of Exeter 180 men
Total of 4,900 men

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Miniatures & Work

In preparation for the next Wars of the Roses encounter, I have been both making and buying a few extras. First up, I decided to look into getting some banners made for the relevant nobles. The Perry Miniatures boxed sets come with free banners in the form of a randomly inserted sheet (I got four boxes - and four identical sets of banners for Bosworth, naturally!) Although they were no good for what I was searching out, I did get a size template from them. I drew it out onto a sheet of decent-quality paper and then got to drawing and painting myself! The results:

Excuse the temporary stands on some of them, but the banners here are Lancastrian (l-r) Audley, Buckingham, Beaumont, Wiltshire, Shrewsbury & Exeter.

Yorkists here, with (l-r) Ferrers, York, March, Powys & Salisbury. It turns out the details of heraldry such as lions rampant, fleur-de-lis, etc. are nightmarishly hard to draw, but nonetheless a shapeless squiggle with the right colour is indistinguishable on a tabletop (always abide by the 'two-foot rule'!) The banners were drawn twice as mirror-images, cut out, folded over along the 'staff' side, then lightly glued on. Beyond making things, I have also bought a small addition in the form of a cannon, or 'Gonne' from Perry Miniatures.

A free word of advice, Perry Miniatures! - If you send out an order for a miniature in a small package, please don't place the parts in a small jewellery-style box! Otherwise my wife collects the post before I get home, convinces herself that I've bought her a surprise piece of jewellery as a present, then I'm stuck with the task later on of explaining how 'a large Culverin on a Burgundian-style carriage with four crewmen' actually counts as a thoughtful gift ("but this is better than a necklace dear, it has a practical purpose!") Nice work guys, thanks a bunch...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lancastrians 1455 - 1459

Ever had a person you couldn't stand, but can't do without? Queen Margaret does. York is now the leading magnate in the country, with his supporters in key positions following Lutterworth. However, the situation is not so bad on examination. Most of the nobility dislike the ambitious
York as he has obtained his position through violence & he has therefore got few (if critical) supporters.

Into this fertile situation we now have Queen Margaret moving Centre stage to lead the Lancastrians. Her husband is useless, her son's succession threatened by the protector York (who is his primary rival claimant to the crown.) The Queen may have no time for all this parliamentary nonsense and ruling in any way other than by decree, but she still has many potential followers - not least from sons of the dead at Lutterworth who feel they have scores to settle.

Queen Margaret gets York stripped of the Protectorate in 1456 & begins stuffing posts with Lancastrian supporters. The Yorkists are driven out and his main allies, the Neville family, find their rivals the Percies are getting more favour. Margaret leaves the unsafe London to set up a new court at Kennilworth in her Midlands power-base, buys cannon & gets the Royal armouries stock up. Clearly, a reckoning with the upstart York is on the way.

She would finish him off once and for all but York & Warwick are both needed for the moment because of French raids on the South coast mean the French-born Margaret is unpopular and - even worse - Warwick is required to sort it out as the Captain of Calais. Everybody in the capital and the southeast seems to like these Yorkist types a bit too much!

So, how do you get rid of the popular but disliked Warwick? You starve him of funds for one, but then he just resorts to piracy to pay the bills. You call him back to face charges and get him locked up, but his supporters fight with yours and he refuses to come, claiming you're trying to murder him. As if.

Everybody relocates to their centres of support. The Queen is at the Midlands; York is in the Welsh Marches; Warwick is in Calais. Most popular support in the country goes to the Lancastrians, and at long last the fight must inevitably be resumed - drive out the presumptuous Yorkist Traitors!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Early Days in the Wars 1455-1459

So, the battle of Lutterworth is over, and with it - the campaign. The Yorkists rout the Lancastrian army of Somerset and capture the rather confused king Henry, complete with his unfortunate arrow-wound in the neck, and York explains to the king just why he was compelled to take up arms to drive away his evil councillors, thus saving the realm - or at least, that's the official version. The battle of Lutterworth scales out as having about 1900 casualties, but as this is the first resort to arms it's likely the battle's death-toll would have been lower as many troops fled rather than fight to the death. (The historical equivalent of 1st St Albans, for example, had only around 50 to 300 dead and was more of a massive gang-rumble in the town's streets than a battle, which generally only revolved around the deaths of targeted Lancastrian commanders.)

None of the Yorkist commanders died, which is at least historical. Of the Lancastrians however we have the lords Devon, Northumberland & Egremont killed in the fighting. This is okay in game-terms by and large, as Egremont would be historically killed at Northampton in 1460 and merely exits a campaign or two earlier. Northumberland died historically, and while Devon survived the historic campaign he would die naturally in 1458 before the next outbreak of fighting. Clifford is captured by the Yorkists, but (since he was one of the very few targetted die-hards that were specifically killed at St Albans) he is executed as a traitor by York.

Somerset was historically (and famously) killed at St Albans, but here he routed from Lutterworth and successfully evaded capture. He has to flee the country to escape belated capture and execution – as the battle of Lutterworth is further north than the historic St Albans, he has time enough to flee to London and take a fast ship to exile, most probably in the Lancastrian bolt-hole of Scotland. His survival means the scenario was only an intermediate Yorkist victory. How Richard of York must have regretted his hated rival giving him the slip!

The Earl of Wiltshire and the Duke of Buckingham are both linked by marriage to Somerset, but were historically pardoned by York and so the same happens here. Buckingham especially was a conciliatory figure and so he is able to remain in London to see the city entered by the Yorkist army & King Henry VI. Wiltshire was York's one-time rival for the lieutenancy of Ireland, so he presumably keeps a far lower profile for safety.
A July parliament pardons all the Yorkists for Lutterworth, blames the absent Somerset for it and in November King Henry falls ill once again. York is proclaimed Protector and Buckingham works to help run the country, hopefully overcoming the one-off day of violence. Warwick gets rewarded with the plum post of the Calais captaincy. It's all great news for the Yorkists - what could possibly go wrong?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Battle of Lutterworth, 1455

The initial deployment

Battle Plans
The Lancastrian centre is supported by hedgerows, plus Buckingham, as an old soldier, has a Feint planned to draw on the impetuous York. The rest of the army is to sit tight and fire arrows on the enemy.
York's plan is to advance and pin with his centre and left, then outflank on the right with Warwick and roll up the line. All morning the two armies remain drawn up for action, with heralds passing back and forward between York and the king, with the former demanding that Somerset be handed over and the latter refusing. Eventually despairing of any kind of peaceful settlement, York orders the attack.

Hosts arrayed - Yorkists on left, with Warwick's outflanking ward closest

Warwick himself, with his boys!

Buckingham in the Lancastrian Centre, behind their hedge-line

Turn 1
Yorkist advance begins. Somerset (in the Lancastrian vaward) shakes off his Lethargy, which is pretty handy!

Turn 2
Flights of arrows begin descending on the Yorkists as they advance. No losses, but some courage loss in one of York’s Captains. (Good job all the troops are reliable retainers, with no arrayed locals getting involved.)

Turn 3
Yorkist Rearward (Salisbury) halts and fires back. Salisbury loses a bit of courage through happenstance (a 'Gloomy Captain' in the ranks!) but his return fire is much heavier, Galling Somerset’s troops with heavy casualties.
Turn 4
Salisbury uses his ‘Energetic’ quality to recommence his ward's advance after firing. Northumberland fires on March’s troops, as the Yorkist centre overlaps onto the Lancastrian Rearward. Warwick out on the flank stops and fires flights of arrows himself, which hit Pembroke hard on the Lancastrian flank with Galling fire. Northumberland uses his ‘Inspiring’ style to hold up their morale, hoping to keep the flank in play long enough for the centre to repel York.

Turn 5
Buckingham pulls back the Lancastrian centre in a feint to draw on York, but as he does so the Lancastrian army runs low on arrows. Unable to fire back or sit tight to be battered by the Yorkist return-fire, the whole ruse of Buckingham's is rather undermined as while the centre pretends to retreat, both flanking wards rush forward. This seems to be the reason anyway for failure, as York manages to hold off the impulse to advance pell-mell and keeps an ordered advance. Damn! Warwick fires more flights of arrows and Pembroke, badly outnumbered and taking losses, routs off the field. Retainers of York's son Edward (including the 13-year old presumably safely to the rear ranks) charge into Northumberland's troops and press them, but the Percy retainers gather round their standards hoping to buy time for the centre.

The Lancastrian Feint in the centre, as the hedge-row is 'abandoned'

Turn 6
Salisbury stops at short range and fires a 'sharp archery' sheaf into the faces of the enemy ward – his old soldiering experience comes in handy! Somerset's company routs from the losses and the uncommitted Devon takes over the Lancastrian vaward, which falters under the incoming fire and comes to a halt in its advance. March repulses Northumberland on the other side of the line. The Yorkist centre collides with the enemy Main at the hedge-line as the Lancastrians advance back from their feint to catch the Yorkists mid-crossing. While battling over and through this obstacle, Lord Clifford bests a Yorkist company. Similarly successful, Buckingham manages to repulse York and his troops press on against them, crossing the hedge as they advance but losing the advantage of the terrain.

Both sides locked, York on the left and Buckingham/Clifford on the right

Turn 7
Is Buckingham wise to emerge from behind cover? Divine approval quickly arrives (as 'A Celestial Omen' happenstance appears) and the sun parts the clouds dramatically just as they advance. This encourages the Lancastrian centre as they press on, although there's fighting all along the line now. All battles through the Yorkist right and centre continue, plus the new one to the left as Salisbury charges home against Devon (narrowly winning the fight at first, thanks to an unseen ditch thwarting his advance. Damn this farming countryside!) All fights result in protracted battles. In the Lancastrian Vaward Lord Egremont is wounded in the fray (which is the worst place to be wounded!)

The battle in full-swing.

Turn 8
Warwick's rapid flanking move peters out, but he uses his 'energetic' style to encourage a regular advance. He strikes Northumberland's flank but the Yorkists are thwarted as he plays 'Stand off, Apace' and the attackers can't break through. Clifford's fine defence in the centre is belaboured and he routs when March's reserve company finally manages to rush up and join the Yorkist troops already engaged with him, when simple numbers rout the Lancastrians. Lord Clifford himself is swept up and taken prisoner in the retreat. Buckingham had been pushing York back but is now becoming dangerously isolated. Salisbury's battle proved a protracted and bloody one, with Devon being wounded and the injured Lord Egremont being killed.

Warwick's crushing flanking move goes in - "Percy, I'm coming for you!"

Turn 9
The Lancastrians are breaking up but still have each ward in existence, and they issue withdraw orders to each. However Northumberland's surrounded and outnumbered ward is unable to get cleanly away from the enemy flankers on each side, and flies apart under the strain. Warwick gets wounded lightly in the struggle with his hated enemy, but the Yorkist captain assigned to watch over the youthful March is killed – as is Northumberland. Looks like the score is settled! York disengages with the still-numerous enemy centre, and Salisbury has one last fight with Devon's men who get away intact, but with Devon killed in the closing battles.

The end result: A Yorkist victory!

The field, with the Lancastrians broken up into isolated pockets of fast-withdrawing survivors.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

1455 - The Castle Inn

The first Scenario in 'A Crown of Paper' (ACOP) is the 1455 scenario of 'The Castle Inn' which features York up in Yorkshire (naturally) while Henry VI plus his councillors (including Somerset) are in London, preparing to march in a royal procession to Leicester in the East Midlands. The scenario is unchanged from the historical one as nothing has happened yet in my re-fight. York and his supporters have gathered, and must block the royal progress before it reaches it’s destination!

It all progresses fairly swiftly as York heads south on a directly blocking path, rather than dally around with gathering reinforcements. He reaches Leicester himself within a few days, precluding any hope that the king will get there before he can intercept. The slow-paced march by the Council & retainers reaches Northampton on the northwards march, until the heralds bring in news - York is in the vicinity with an army of retainers and supporters! Before they have a chance to gather their own support across the Midlands however, York moves first.

York makes a slight sideways detour westwards to Coventry, allowing the Earl of Warwick to gather some supporters there - sadly not as many as he hoped, with some even having the temerity to send nothing but excuses! (Does nobody have the nerve to attack the god-ordained king?) Still, when York’s army turned east and intercepted the Royal force on the road to Leicester, he had a comfortable numerical edge.

A quick scan of Google Maps and Wikipedia led me to pick Lutterworth as a decent-sounding town between Northampton and Leicester, which would have been as likely as anywhere for the confrontation. The forces present for the first tip over the abyss into armed rebellion are:

Duke of York 960 Retinue & Well-wishers
Earl of March 780 Retinue & Well-wishers
(Note - York’s son Edward, the Earl of March is 13 years old at present, and his retinue will be led by a suitable captain of his father.)
Earl of Warwick 1320 Retinue & Well-wishers
Baron Clinton 240 Retinue
Earl of Salisbury 900 Retinue & Well-wishers
Total of 4200 men

(King Henry VI Present)
Duke of Somerset 420 Retinue
Duke of Buckingham 360 Retinue
Earl of Northumberland 480 Retinue
Earl of Pembroke 360 Retinue
Earl of Wiltshire 360 Retinue
Earl of Devon 360 Retinue
Lord Clifford 420 Retinue
Baron Egremont 180 Retinue
Total of 2940 men

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wars of the Roses Campaign Begins

After a fair bit of tinkering, playing, researching and counter-shuffling, I am finally prepared to start my ‘Wars of the Roses’ refight! By way of introduction, I’ll begin with a brief bit of scene-setting for the benefit of newcomers to the period (perhaps unnecessary, but indulge me for now and accept apologies in advance for any historical blunders - I'm reasonably new myself!)

The start of the wars has something of an advantage in that it has only two major figures centre-stage. There’s Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York; and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset.

York is capable, rich, and an heir to the throne after the childless Henry VI, but it’s all rather spoiled by two things: first is that York himself is highly ambitious and sees his claim less as an “I should be king after you” matter and more of an “I should be king instead of you” business. The second thing is that his whole family is viewed with suspicion. His dad was executed for treason against Henry V (right before the Agincourt campaign, no less!) and 4-year old Richard was only saved from being disinherited by his uncle, who died at Agincourt and left him the Dukedom of York. After this, Richard grew up to become one of the richest and most powerful nobles in England, but his rival claim to the king’s throne meant he was under a cloud the whole time.

Enter the Duke of Somerset, who is a relatively poor noble but a favourite of the king. Henry VI tries to make up for this by showering him with prestigious and well-paid honours, much to the annoyance of others such as York, who winds up paying for a lot of this through the crown. York also gets saddled with hard fighting in France for the first half of the 1440s without much backing from the king, and when he’s sent away for the second half of the decade and Somerset takes over, disaster follows as the English lose much of France. Although the king keeps his favourite despite these disasters, most English people begin to hate the incompetent Lancastrian regime and York (packed off to Ireland) escapes much of the blame for misrule.

Things are all set to go spectacularly wrong, and they do - when York returns from Ireland in 1452 and demands that Somerset be arrested and he get a place on the King’s Council. It all fell apart as people were reluctant to support York and he was forced to back down, swearing never to raise a sword against the king again (that clearly doesn’t work out!) It looked like York had fluffed his big chance and was finished, except for two big catastrophes that followed.

First, the English lost the Hundred Years’ War and all holdings on the continent outside of Calais, which sent the fragile Henry VI into a full-blown nervous breakdown. With nobody at the discredited court able to rule the angry and rebellious nation, York had to be made Protector. He promptly imprisoned Somerset, froze out the queen, and began promoting all his favourites to positions of influence, building up a small but powerful following. It was all fine, until the second catastrophe struck - Henry VI recovered.

Now there were two rival factions with a lot at stake in either York or Somerset controlling the pliant king. Things looked bad for York as not only did Somerset promptly get released and restored to favour, but the king now had a male heir of his own, putting the inheritance of the crown even further from York. (Apparently conceived pre-breakdown, but York’s supporters naturally spread the rumour he’s the illegitimate offspring of Somerset!)

In 1455 York and his supporters (such as the powerful Neville family) left London without taking leave of the king and headed north to their estates and began raising troops - for their own protection, naturally. Then summons arrived from the court, calling on them to attend a Great Council at Leicester “to provide for the king’s safety.” There was no indication what was going to be discussed, but with Somerset controlling the king it seemed pretty certain that “all Yorkists being dead or in prison” was on the agenda! What do you do when you’re backed into a corner, alone, vulnerable, and with only a few thousand highly-armed killers at your disposal? York knows the answer…

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More Northampton fights & Rules

After my test-run of the rule-set 'A Coat of Steel' (ACOS) I was quite happy, and made some extra discoveries as I read more of it and grew more familiar. First up was the fact it'd sometimes be better to split up wards into several smaller companies, under various commanders, than have single massive and flankable companies - or so I thought. I had a 're-fight' of the same armies that I had just used, breaking them up from 3 companies a side to about 4 or 5 each. Here's a few snaps to give a feel for things:

Still a decent show on the tabletop, even if half are still only base-coated.

Exchanges of arrows, and Lord Grey becomes shaken pretty fast and hangs back - false friends!

The 'lets all just collide head-to-head' phase. (Tactically rubbish, but it looks good!)

Yorkists triumph on the left, as Bourchier batters back Clifford's men. Meanwhile Warwick in the centre has already put Lord Grey off by his fire, and promptly flattens Shrewsbury's company. One whole half of the Lancastrian army routs, while the remainder is stalled by Warwick's captains and Lord Fauconberg. Time for the Lancastrians to perform a "strategic retrenchment" - also known to some amateurs as running away!

There was more 'movement' in the battle, but some more features of the rules became clear. The characteristics of the leaders used by ACOS are all very good, but there were so many companies on the go it was impossible to keep track of them all - then I realised that only Ward commanders (ie, the blokes in charge of the left, centre and right 'battles' of the army) have effects that count - I was doing it for each company on the go, which is a definite error.

I think I was also a bit too eager to roll for commander casualties, with the result that in some combats practically every noble was killed or wounded. I think rolling for leader casualties should actually occur if a unit loses a base of figures, not just if it is in combat - this should improve the mortality of commanders to a decent degree, and fit in more with the rules' intention.

Problems are also becoming clear. The orders system is a bit convoluted, requiring a blizzard of counters to track what each ward is doing, and can do. I think I'll be abandoning that for a simpler system, perhaps with a small card for each ward that I can just tick off with a pencil - far neater and requires far less time to set up (I spent about as much time sorting out the stack of counters as I did playing the battle!) Also, the army morale track seems a bit redundant. An army needs to take 3 major 'disasters' to become unsteady, and a total of 5 to collapse. However by the time an army has taken 3 disasters on the tabletop it's virtually disintegrated anyway, meaning you'll probably wrap up the battle yourself before the game "makes" you do it.

I had a little experimental tinker with big-battle DBA out of curiosity, and was rapidly reminded of why I think it's good for Ancient warfare where you have lots of troop variety, but is awful for late-medieval battles. The whole game was just ineffective archery fire on near-indestructible Superior Blades, who carved a bloody path through the majority of each army. Hardly enjoyable, or particularly realistic! Anyway, the monotony of dice rolls with +2 or +5 on each and every dice quickly told on me, and I fled the DBA scene for Wars of the Roses. The only other thing I would consider is Warmaster, but I'm not even sure that'll have the character-filled flavour I like in ACOS. I need to iron out some of my own problems with the orders system to speed it up and make it more user-friendly, but the Beta version has just been made available for free download, and I may start my 'campaign' idea - playing through the scenarios as a 'linked-scenario campaign' of the Yorkist rise to power (or fall to ruin, depending on the results on the field.)

Oh, and don't worry - painting continues in the background! More posts will follow on the progress towards the first campaign scrap.