Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Warwick or bust!

Following the battle of Thoroton in the North, it's time now to look South for the latest of developments in the Wars of the Roses. The Queen's invasion is closing on London, with Warwick poised to defend both king and capital.

Good news for him at first is that his uncle Fauconberg arrives from Calais, bringing badly-needed reinforcements to meet the oncoming Lancastrian host. Marching out to meet the Queen's advance, he takes Henry VI with him as a rallying-point for his own troops and to add a good dose of legitimacy to his own claims that he's loyally defending the king from evil councillors.

Warwick bases himself north of the river Thames so he can monitor the crossing-points to hopefully engage the Lancastrian host piecemeal, cutting the numerical odds he faces.

Unknown to Warwick however, things were not about to go his way. First the Duke of Buckingham advanced with unexpected haste and rushed the outposts on the Thames before Warwick could react, ruining his plans to engage them while they were split. Warwick hurriedly retreats to his camp and begins to fortify it, in line with the conventional military thinking of the day. Little does he know, however, that treachery threatens within his ranks...

From the summary above, it's probably worth putting a little bit of game-based flesh on the bones of the narrative. Part of Warwick's army is made up of the Calais Garrison, the only body of troops that could even vaguely be compared to a permanent national army. These would be under the command of the talented Captain Andrew Trollope, a figure about whom it is worth saying a little bit of background info.

Historically, the real Trollope was the Master Porter of Calais under Warwick's captaincy there. When Warwick went to England in 1459 he took Trollope & the garrison with him, only for Trollope to reveal his pro-Lancastrian tendencies in the most dramatic manner possible by deserting to the enemy right before Ludford Bridge and compelling the Yorkists to flee. Trollope then played a major role in Lancastrian victories like 2nd St Albans and Wakefield, which he apparently helped to plan, before meeting his end on the field at Towton.

In my re-play of the Wars however, the Yorkists in 1459 triumphed before Warwick and Trollope could reach a battlefield - which means that it'a now 1460, Trollope is still in Yorkist ranks and awaiting his moment to switch, and now it's come to the day of battle! Trollope is marked as 'Treacherous' under the 'Coat of Steel' rules, which means he could well sit the whole thing out or switch sides mid-battle. This latter option is pretty close to the historical record as not only did Trollope himself switch sides historically, but in the same year as I'm now recreating (1460) Warwick won the battle of Northampton by means of an enemy force switching sides, and destroying a prepared defensive position. Now we shall see how Warwick fares when he finds himself on the receiving end of this move!

Warwick's CoS card allows 'Artifices' to be used, such as defensive works, so it seems only sensible to use this. I end up picking a London borough for the title of the battle, roughly equating to St Albans in the historic manner but for an advance from the south-west. I ended up going for Gerrard's Cross (as the name also slightly echoes Mortimer's Cross, so I quite liked it.) Wikipedia advises that Gerrard's Cross got its name in the following centuries, but I decided to overcome this by simply not caring - works a charm.

The last detail is the speed of Buckingham's advance. In the Richard III campaign game rules, the river Thames should force the Lancastrians to begin with only three of their four blocks/commands in play, making them introduce the fourth one in a later round. However, the Lancastrians played the 'Surprise' card which raised the limit to allow all of their force to engage immediately. Suited me, as I wanted to fight a battle over a fortified camp, and not a river-line.

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