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By smacdowall, Aug 23 2021 04:16PM

Five of us joined the Covid postponed Society of Ancients Battle Day on 15 August to fight out Bosworth on a 10’ x 5’ table using my Tree of Battles rules and 28mm collection of (mostly Perry) figures.

The new setting at Newbury was a great improvement over the previous Bletchley venue and there were a fabulous array of games on offer all re-fighting Bosworth with various rules in all scales from 6mm to 54mm.

Our game began with both Northumberland and Chandée initially off table. Northumberland and the Stanleys were designated as ‘potentially treacherous’ which meant that they might not cooperate if ordered to do anything other than hold their position.

King Richard had a superiority in both archers and guns. When both first lines advanced into bowshot the Yorkists had the better of the archery duel, inflicting severe casualties on the Tudors and decimating Sir John Savage’s contingent on the Tudor right.

It was beginning to look shaky for Henry Tudor as the battle lines began to close. After several failed attempts he managed to get the Stanleys to join in the fight. The timely arrival of William Stanley on the Tudor left shored up the line and Stanley’s archers delivered a devastating arrow storm against Sir Robert Brackenbury’s advancing billmen.

Meanwhile Thomas Stanley advanced on the far right of the Tudor line towards Richard’s camp.

The arrival of Chandée’s French and Scots threatened to turn the Yorkist right. Richard sent out a screen of Burgundian handgunners to slow their advance and he managed to persuade Northumberland to join the fight and move on the French.

When Oxford and Norfolk’s lines clashed in the centre, Norfolk’s men had the best of the engagement but the Tudor line held.

William Stanley’s intervention began to turn things around for the Tudors. Seeing off Brackenbury, Stanley’s men began to close in on Norfolk’s flank.

Then Chandée’s French and Scots closed with Northumberland’s northerners and made short work of them. It looked like a Tudor victory was imminent.

Seeing that the battle was at a critical point, King Richard led his Knights of the Body in a charge against Henry Tudor and his smaller bodyguard. Against the odds Henry’s countercharge succeeded in knocking back Richard’s knights.

Richard’s dismounted retainers moved in on Henry’s flank. A ferocious combat ensured in which Henry Tudor was wounded and captured. A swift battlefield execution snuffed out the Tudor dynasty before it had a chance to take hold. Richard III remains king of England!

As ever, the Society of Ancients Battle Day was a fantastic event. Next year Adrianople.

By smacdowall, Jun 17 2021 07:59PM

My first face-to-face game in ages was back to the Wars of the Roses in preparation for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day to be held 15 August in Newbury (God and pestilence willing!). It was also an opportunity to re-familiarise some of the players with the Tree of Battles rules which we will be using for the Bosworth re-fight.

Rather than doing Bosworth itself I decided on a fictional scenario which imagined King Richard III moving on the Earl of Oxford before he could link up with Henry Tudor.

Oxford, accompanied by Thomas and William Stanley, is outnumbered but all he has to do is hold his position.

He has more artillery than the King and is also reinforced by a unit of French pikemen and halberdiers.

The King, assisted by John Howard Duke of Norfolk and Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, has to attack and defeat the enemy.

The game opened with a furious archery duel between Sir William Stanley’s men on Oxford's right and those of the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey on the Yorkist left.

William Stanley’s men got the better of the archery duel causing Surrey’s levy to fall into disarray. Seeing an opportunity, Stanley led his retinue in a mounted charge which routed Surrey’s levy. Unfortunately Stanley could not rein in his men and they continued their pursuit. King Richard (who was also mounted) led his retinue to intercept Stanley, killing him and destroying his men at arms.

Thomas Stanley and Henry Percy were both deemed to be ‘potentially treacherous’. This required a loyalty test to be taken if either were ordered to do anything other than hold their positions. Oxford was quite happy to keep Thomas Stanley holding a hill but the King wanted Percy to advance. It took the King’s personal intervention to make this happen. King Richard also sent a herald forward to entice Thomas Stanley to change his allegiance but Oxford’s personal intervention kept Stanley loyal.

With Richard busily engaged sorting things out elsewhere, the Yorkist centre was slow to advance. With the King back controlling them they moved in on Oxford’s men and engaged them in an archery duel which the Yorkists got the better of.

Meanwhile the Yorkist left was wavering under archery supported by artillery and skirmishers. Oxford sent his French mercenaries forward in an attempt to break Norfolk’s wing that was holding the Yorkist left.

The ever active King Richard III personally intervened to shore up Norfolk and to prevent a breakthrough.

In the centre, the Constable of the Tower of London closed in on Oxford’s retainers who were reeling under the arrows of the King’s men. Oxford held the line and the Constable’s isolated men fell into disarray.

With the pub beckoning we decided to call it a day. The Yorkists had failed to defeat Oxford’s army but they had killed William Stanley so the result was a draw with the tactical advantage to Oxford.

The Tree of Battles rules worked well, giving us a fast paced game which gave us the feel of a Wars of the Roses engagement. We will be using them, and the same miniatures, at the SoA Bosworth Battle Day 15 August. There is plenty of room for others to join us then. If you would like to secure a place let me know at [email protected] Or just turn up on the day.

Tree of Battles is available from this website both as a PDF or in hard copy here.

By smacdowall, Apr 4 2020 12:03PM

Today was to have been the Society of Ancient’s Battle Day. Bosworth will now be re-fought on Saturday 27th March 2021. This gives me lots of time to finish off those contingents which would have have been ready by today thus avoiding the need to substitute other figures.

Just before the coronavirus lockdown I ran a mini-Bosworth game to test out the latest tweaks to my Tree of Battles rules which I will be using on the day.

The simple scenario conveniently ignores the Stanleys and Northumberland but includes all the other contingents that would be engaged at the Battle Day. The scenario can be downloaded from my website here.

The battle began with Richard’s first line moving into archery range while his second line moved around to his left flank. Although Richard had more archers and more guns, the archery and cannot duel was inconclusive thanks to some good dice rolling by Henry Tudor.

Henry advanced his French and Scottish pikemen against the flank of Richard’s line. Richard turned Sir Robert Brackenbury’s contingent to face them but the French drove them back with heavy casualties.

A similar fate befell Sir Thomas Howard’s contingent and it looked as if all was over for King Richard as his flank was being rolled up even before the two main lines had met.

In a desperate attest to stave of inevitable defeat, John Howard’s archers turned to face the advancing pike block as Howard’s billmen and Men at Arms surged forward to engage Rys Ap Thomas’ Welsh.

Then the impossible happened. In hand to hand combat, with the odds stacked against them, Howard’s archers killed Philbert de Chandée and sent his French and Scots reeling back in disarray with heavy casualties.

On the other flank, Richard had brought his second line up to envelop Henry’s right. Henry counters this by dismounting his mounted archer escort and leadings a mounted charge against Richard’s retainers.

The dice which had favoured Henry in the archery duel now deserted him. The Earl of Oxford and Rys Ap Thomas were sent recalling back in disarray by Howard and the Leicester levy.

Then Richard III led his Knights of the Body in a charge against Henry Tudor. Henry’s men reeled and he was captured. The battle was over and Richard would remain king of England.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that the men I used as Richard’s retainers wear the livery and carry the colours of Edward IV. These will be replaced by the time the Society of Ancients’ Battle Day comes around again in 2021!

By smacdowall, Jan 9 2020 04:09PM

One of the problems in building armies for the Battle of Bosworth is that once you have fought the battle that’s it. Many of your units cannot see action again as King Richard III is dead and Henry Tudor is King Henry VII. Of course some of the troops can be used in earlier actions in the Wars of the Roses but not all. Important nobles had the unfortunate habit of getting themselves executed when the found themselves on the losing side, so distinctive flags and liveries are sometimes short-lived.

A good solution is to set up plausible what-if scenarios before or after the actual historical encounter. This is what I did before Christmas.

I set up a fictional scenario based on an actual skirmish between the advance guards of Henry Tudor and King Richard III, 2 days before Bosworth. It assumes that this skirmish, at Atherstone, developed into a more significant engagement.

It allows players to use armies raised for the Battle of Bosworth in a plausible setting other than a re-fight of the famous battle. It also places Percy and the Stanleys in the forefront, giving a chance to use troops that were relatively inactive at Bosworth.

The full scenario can be downloaded from my website in the Medieval Scenarios section.

The Royalists had a significant archery superiority. The Royalist player advanced Percy’s archers within range of Stanley’s men and began to inflict significant casualties on them. This forced Stanley off the hill he was occupying to engage Percy in hand to hand combat.

I was playing the Tudors and it seemed like all was lost before the battle had truly begun, Stanley’s levied troops had been decimated and charged forward without orders.

The arrival of Howard’s mounted men at arms presented me with a further problem when they charged Sir William Stanley’s contingent. By dismounting William Stanley’s men at arms I was able to see off Howard’s attack but could not bring up William’s contingent to support Lord Stanley’s men.

While the archery duel had favoured the Royalists the hand to hand combat turned in my favour when Lord Stanley’s men at arms cut their way through Percy’s archers. When Percy himself joined in the fray he was killed in the combat. This caused his men to waver and then fall back.

More troops arrived on the field. Tudor’s French and Scots mercenaries bearing down on the Royalists only to be countered by the Duke of Norfolk’s retainers.

When King Richard himself arrived on the field, Percy’s men were in full retreat while the other contingents were in stalemate. Tudor’s men had won the day but it was not enough to make him king.

There is still another battle to be fought.

The rules used were Tree of Battles which can also be downloaded for free here.

I will be using these rules for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day on 4 April.

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