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!

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