Monday, 11 July 2016

AAR; Solo Wars of the Roses games (Bloody Barons) Early July 2016

Because of a full diary I have not been able to get to a club game for the past month or so, but instead I have played a couple of solo games featuring the Wars of the Roses using Bloody Barons rules by RFCM, 2005. The choice of period was inspired simply by stumbling across my 15mm armies and thinking they looked pretty and had not been out of the box for over a year.
St Albans; set-up (York on the right)
Rather than fight a regular stand-up game, I decided to use the historical scenarios listed at the back of the rules, starting with the 1st battle of St Albans (1455). The game matched the historical outcome fairly well; the Yorkist centre (Earl of Warwick) broke through the Lancastrian centre in the streets of St Albans and went on to capture the isolated Lancastrian King Henry VI. The Lancastrian left (Earl of Northumberland) and centre (Duke of Somerset) did recover and attacked (and killed) Richard of York! On the other flank both sides matched each other in a draw (Earl of Salisbury versus Clifford). The final victory points score was a draw, but the Yorkists did hold Henry VI, and now Edward Earl of March would take over as the prime York contender for the throne, five years earlier than historically correct.

St Albans; York break through the centre

The game played quicker than I anticipated, so I decided to undertake the second scenario; the battle of Blore Heath (1459). This scenario has a couple of unusual features; the Yorkists have defences and artillery (3 light guns), whilst the Lancastrian right flank is all mounted. The Lancastrian centre (Lord Dudley) and right (Lord Audley) rapidly advanced, but the left flank (Sir Thomas Dutton) remained stationary for almost all the game. The Yorkist guns did well, halting and damaging the leading Lancastrian household unit. The key to the game was the mounted charge by the Lancastrian knights on their right flank. They smashed into the Yorkist command (Sir Thomas Parr); the defences helped the Yorkists to achieve more ‘hits’ but these could not be converted into ‘kills’, whereas the fewer Lancastrian ‘hits’ were all converted into ‘kills’. As a result the Yorkist flank was routed and turned. The Yorkist centre under Earl of Salisbury could not adjust in time because they were under attack from the Lancastrian centre (Lord Dudley), and so the Yorkist line was rolled up! The result was a good win for the Lancastrians, which could have been more decisive if only their left command had managed to move forward!
Blore Heath; set-up (York on the left)

The first game, St Albans, was fairly standard fair; the weakness of the Lancastrian centre and isolation of King Henry VI made the result favour York, but the success of the Lancastrian counter-attack on their left wing forced a drawn result. The second game, Blore Heath, largely turned on a single round of combat as the Lancastrian knights charged in. The result could have gone either way; if the York ‘hits’ were converted into ‘kills’ and/or the Lancastrian ‘hits’ failed to ‘kill’, then the charge would have been repulsed and a Yorkist win may have happened. The York army was saved from an absolute disaster by a combination of a short game length and the failure of the Lancastrian left to advance.
Blore Heath; Lancs knights (top) turn the York line

I like these rules, they play fast and give clear results. I sometimes feel they favour shooting over combat, and many times it feels too hard to convert your ‘hits’ into meaningful ‘kills’. If using cavalry, then combat is the only meaningful choice and it seemed to be devastating. I would be interested to see how mounted knights work in a more ‘open’ battlefield, but they worked (with good dice) even when charging field defences uphill! Artillery was also a surprise and worthwhile, especially when used against good quality troops (don’t waste it firing at Levy troops).
I plan to continue my journey through the historical scenarios at sometime in the future, and the next is the Rout of Ludlow (1459). But it is week until the Attack show at Devizes, where I plan to spend some money, so where I go next in terms of gaming is in the air!

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