Monday, February 11, 2013

A Wars of the Roses Game at Guildford!

The board set up.  Mike Lewis (left) of Black Hat Miniatures took command of the left flank

Well, I went along to the St John's Centre in Merrow on Saturday morning, home of Guildford Wargames Club.  The club had been asked to put on a demonstration game as part of the activities being laid on to celebrate the hall's tenth anniversary.  As church halls go it is pretty impressive (it is Surrey after all) with a first floor, where the seminar room is, in which the club meets every Monday.

The most popular figure on the table!

We had decided on a game set in Britain as we felt that it should have more resonance for our visitors.  The ultimate selection of a Wars of The Roses game was fortuitous given all the recent coverage of Richard III and nearly everyone asked if we had a Richard figure.  Fortunately, I had the one I painted for Guy's mini Bosworth demonstration at school a few years ago.  This was his first game, however, which is usually a bad omen.

My battle on the right flank.  This is one of the few actually viable armies I have!  About 1700 points

We had three players each side, authentically commanding a battle each.  I was on the right flank as Richard III or, rather, as our fictitious battle was set in the 1460s, the Duke of Gloucester.  We laid out our troops with, what to us on the Yorkist side, looked like a vast numerical superiority on the Lancastrian side of the table, particularly in cavalry and archers.

Our extremely numerous opponents

We used WAB 2 rules, which I have never played, although I have played WAB quite a bit.  The key changes seemed to be around making manoevering more difficult, the effect of characters as regards morale and three rank depth bonus limits.  Anyway, I forgot my rule book (or rather I brought my revised WAB 1 instead as I had completely forgotten WAB 2 was a large hardback) so although it didn't make much difference I did plod along at normal moving speed as I wasn't sure about the rules for moving at marching pace.  I thought you needed to be in column or have a musician but everyone else was moving at eight inches a go and I was moving at four.  Anyway, this did prove to be critical in the end as my foot units never really got engaged in melee. 

Old technology beats new technology in the village

Most of my game was a missile duel.  I had a cannon, two units of longbowmen and two units of crossbowmen who I remembered were very strong in WAB.  Most unusually, I had good dice throws all day and by concentrating my fire on certain units I sent some running very early in the battle.  My mercenary crossbowmen (my force is actually the Earl of Oxford's, so are usually fighting on the Lancastrian side where continental mercenaries would have been more common) did a great job on the far right; destroying Dave's handgunners completely and sending his cavalry back the wrong way.

My artillery crew flee their gun to escape the hail of arrows - but not before breaking two units of the opposition

It was the first outing for my cannon as well and, although the crew were eventually sent running from their piece by concentrated archery they did cause quite a few casualties first.  The other guns on the table mostly blew up!

End of the game

Thinks didn't go so well for Mike on the left flank where there was a vicious back and forward in the churchyard.  The centre also saw a reverse for the Yorkists.  Altogether we played for about four and a half hours without a final resolution I still had a viable force and hadn't lost a unit other than my artillery crew (and they still had a chance to rally) but our centre and right had been pounded.  The scene at the end of the game (above) shows me with a unit of men-at-arms (unengaged) and units of crossbowmen, pikemen and archers still fighting.

Further to the right I still had another unit of bowmen, another of crossbowmen and a unit of billmen (also unengaged).  Both of Dave's remaining units would have been removed with one or two more casualties in the next round.  So whilst it was a loss for the Yorkists I would like to think that Richard could have made a tactical retreat, at this point, to fight another day!

As to the real purpose of the day, we had a constant stream of visitors (and even at least  one potential recruit) all of whom seemed fascinated by what was going on.  Dave and some of the others had also laid out some static displays of troops from other periods, ships, aircraft and  the Lord of the Rings. People on  TMP are rude about Games Workshop but it was amazing how many people knew about Warhammer!  The ladies from St John's Centre kindly provided cake and there was free tea which helped calm my battle-stressed (or, rather, rules-stressed) nerves somewhat.

Part of the static display

This was the first big battle game I had played since April 2009!  Despite my nervousness about remembering the rules I did enjoy the day in the end and must thank Dave in particular for letting a non-member return.  I am now seriously thinking about re-joining and maybe doing some more Colonial gaming again.  The other question is: Do I start painting Wars of the Roses again?


  1. I think it must be a "yes" to all your questions!

  2. Great report and well done, your selection of medieval troops matches mine very well - Old Foundry figures... which are currently engaged on the table, as I get back to understanding the Hail Caesar rules!

    I haven't played WAB in many years - after the fiasco that was the transition from v1.5 to 2.0, and then the collapse of 'Warhammer Historical'...

    Thankfully Hail Caesar caters for my needs very well :-), and my WAB based figures can easily adapt.

    Wishing you the best of luck in your future active gaming!

  3. A great looking game! Free tea and cake, yum!

  4. A beautiful and timely game! Nice to see the interest in the period. Best, Dean

  5. Fantastic battle - and a nice reminder of recent discoveries. Best, Dean

  6. Nice to see you on Saturday Stephen. I didn't join in with the game but spent the day talking to the "punters" and eating cake.

    It all seemed to go well and certainly cemented relations with the other centre users (although I never want to hear the recorder group again!)

    Let me know if you're venturing back... Very happy to organise something.