Thursday, September 30, 2021

The End of Summer ...

 ... and Ancients in transition.

This is very much a summary (well, it's that time of year) of a season with no dominant themes.  We've not been on the road much - but we've not been stuck at home.  There have been events, though not as many as would be usual coming into the Autumn.  The DBA season is up and running, but some of the established events (such as the 'season finale', the English Open) remain cancelled.

And my own Ancients has been a mix of Zoom and Face-to-Face.  A mix of figure wargames and other formats.

We got in one of our regular get-togethers in August including playing a spirited game of Dux Bellorum  - an interesting and worthy game if not one of my all-time favourites.  It's all about timing and tempo, I think ... 

Dux Bellorum is driven by the allocation of command chips which allow localised interventions and overrides in the standard game mechanisms.  How many of these you have and where you use them is crucial and competitive.  I like this aspect although it can seem a little synthetic ... I like the unit structure a lot less (but in part that provokes a broader discussion of what Dark Age warfare might look like).  Anyway, my side won - so it must be a pretty good game.
(scenes from Dux Bellorum ... figures by Richard Lockwood)
And I've been trying to keep my hand in at DBA ... here, a practice game featuring a couple of this year's new armies: Meroitic Kushite and Saitic Egyptian.  This was quite a tight match-up, but the Saitics were played by the luckier player (so the army with the 4-horse chariot general beat the army with the elephant general!)
(DBA V3 Saitic Egyptian vs Meroitic Kushite)

In addition to the Games Day, BattleDay, DBA and Heritage Events, I also got up to the big City.  Not by car though (so this was really on the edge) ...

I played in the latest version of (Paul Morris Award winning) John Bassett's Wolves in the Forum.
(On The Move but appropriately masked!  Shows North takes the train) 

That was the board ... now for the hardware!

(Wolves in the Forum is a multiplayer map based game set in the last years of the Republic) 

I'd love to report a clear win in this game, too, but that would be taking the role play to the extreme.  I got to play the venerable Cicero - so my job was, essentially, to prove the pen to be mightier than the sword (and to use that might to bring down the generals that would overthrow the Senate).  So me and my wordsmithery vs Mark Antony and a huge stack Legions.  Who would you be backing?
On the figures front I have been out trying 3D visual aids to help present my research on medieval formations.

(archer 'zig-zag' visual aid) 

Contemporary manuscripts seem to show archers in 'half ranks' shooting past the rank they partially overlap in front - kind of 'zig-zag' which makes sense, given that there's no evidence longbowmen lobbed their arrows up in the air in a barrage (rather they took aimed shots at closer ranges with a fairly flat trajectory).  
We can debate that last point, of course, but we do need to recognise there's overwhelming amounts of evidnce to support it.  Anyway, stepping to the side to shoot though the gap between the men in front makes a lot of sense, and this seems to be what is being represented.
(a scene from Froissart: here the archers are opposing each other to the flank of men-at-arms)
(archer 'zig-zag' visual aid: men-at-arms pushing to the front)
I've done a demo base in 6mm to help clarify what the bases in the Edgcote game actually represent.  It sort of works, but, in the quest to get an appropriate number of men on the base, I ended up making the combat troops too dense.
(an attempt on 6mm to depict an actual medieval battle formation)

In reality, the rear ranks - by the Wars of the Roses, anyway - would likely be quite loosely arrayed.  They were armed with pole weapons, rather than a single-handed weapon + shield.  So they need a little bit of space to maximise the full potential of their weapons ... and needed a dodge or parry as their defence.  Their loose formation, and the offset spacing amongst the longbows, would make it easy enough for the archers to filter to the rear as the better armoured men steadied for contact.

These serried ranks might even be what Froissart famously meant by describing the English formation at Crecy as a 'herse'.

As a test, here, I've 'photoshopped' the staggered archers from the model into a 15th century picture from another edition of Froissart (illustrating the battle of Crecy):
(hybrid illustration: the Froissart painter plus Phil's model blended in)

On a quick glance, it is weirdly difficult to distinguish the figures from the model ... they do seem to fit the arrangement depicted quite naturally.  This proves nothing - all I was doing was trying to test whether I and the Froissart artist were trying to depict the same thing.  Well ... 'similar', at least?

And, finally,  we have been latterly playtesting Ian Lowell's latest iteration of Rein Bow Warriors.  We were using dummy bases on a grid for now, as Ian gets a grip on his concepts.  I'm assured figures will follow.  It's too early to tell how well the innovative idas will work

(Rein Bow Warriors)

So from cardboard counters to an elderly wolf in the Forum, from 6mm to 54s ... and some nonsense about Froissart: I'd warned there were no dominant themes to end the Summer.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

DBA Special: IV/83a/b Wars of the Roses Yorkist/Tudor at Bosworth (54mm)


These bespoke armies were configured during the development phases of V3 and represent my thinking of how the historical orbats translate for DBA.  I'll point out the deviations where they occur.

The number figures on a base is also not as specified (purely in order to have a comfortable fit for the 54mm figures on a conveniently sized element stand).  The bases are 80mm wide, which allows for a 4 ft wide table.  The mounted are all 'Kn' and are 2 to a base.  The foot are all 3 per base except for hand-gunners/psiloi, but there are several double bases (so 6 figures in 2 ranks).

(me using the 54mm DBA game to explain the battle to cricket legend Freddie Flintoff)
Each army has  3Kn general

 Richard has 2 more Kn although Northumberland can only move on a Pip roll of 5 or 6

(Richard's cavalry at Bosworth: 54mm DBA Wars of the Roses)

The earl of Richmond might get some support from the Stanleys

(Henry Tudor and the Stanleys)

The infantry

(the Yorkists)
(the Tudors)
For the Tudors, I chose to represent the earl of Oxford's Anglo-Welsh vanward as a traditional mix of bows and blades

(Vanward ... 2 x Bw, 1 x Bd: Talbot, Oxford, Savage)

With the Welsh in the mainward a mix of Ax (Ap Thomas) and Bd (Tudor/Pembroke)

(Tudor ... 1 x Ax, 2 x Bd)

... and for best effect, the mercenaries (Pike), I chose to represent as 8Sp.  They can be played as Pk, of course (the difference is interesting but probably not a game changer) ...

(Henry's mercenaries under Philibert de Chandee and Bernard Stewart d'Aubigny)


Contempoaries  describe Norfolk's solid line as a rampart compared with Oxford's slender line.  I therefore took advantage of V3's 8Bw (Lb) troop classification to show this solid mix of archers and combat troops (it certainly looks right to me).  I take the Burgundian 8Lb in list IV/85 to be based on late 15th Cent English practice (so this interpretation isn't straying from DBA orthodoxy by that much, really) ...

(Somerset, livery, Norfolk and Catesby)

The figures in this army are a liberal mix of old plastic soldiers (Britains, Timpo), more modern 1/32 figures (Airfix, Italeri etc.) and metals by Irregular Miniatures.

The splendid fabric flags were researched and created by my lately departed friend, heraldry buff and wargame project collaborator Graham Fordham of Fluttering Flags.  Even though he was mainly a 28mm enthusiast of late, these scaled up versions really make the best of 54mm's visual impact.

Without anything much in the way of field artillery in this scale I adapted the pieces in Irregular's 40mm Renaissance range.  The designs basically work, and so a relatively big 40mm gun becomes a medium piece in 54mm.  The Ribauldequin is simply several such, crafted into one.

(some of Richard's seven score serpentines)

(54mm Bosorth DBA ... 1 x Art, 1 x (handgunners) Ps: Tudor)


Neither side's camp played any part in the battle so they don't really need to be depicted in the game.  Some say the finds associated with Whitemoors relate to Richard's camp, so it makes a fun albeit tactically insignificant addition to the set up.

(54mm DBA IV/83b: Ricardian camp scene)

The vignette includes an Irregular Miniatures cart in difficulties in the marshy conditions typical of the battlefield ... for completeness, it incorporates a Camp Follower element which shows the Stanley family's Lord Strange (a hostage in Richard's camp) accompanied by a mercenary headsman.  Needless to say, I wasn't actually there, so can't say how authentic this scene might be.

The camp area is completed by a fairly successful repaint of the old Timpo plastic medieval tent.  Lovers of detail might like that I have topped the tent pole with a crown finial ... it's actually an inexpensive bracelet ornament you can buy in the Heritage Centre Shop (it really is an authentic Bosworth souvenir.  Who would have guessed?)

(Bosworth 1485: Yorkist tent with Murrey and Blue details)

(Camp Follower element: Lord Strange)

I also made a thorn bush:

Friday, September 3, 2021

21st - 22nd August, Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, Leicestershire

(commemorating the battle anniversary at the Heritage centre)


Much affected by Covid uncertainties, the annual Medieval Festival at Bosworth went ahead in a reduced format this year ... a Living History and Commemoration, but without the big reenactment and Medieval Fair.

(my DBA version of the battle on the Battlefields Trust stand)
The Battlefields Trust were happy to support the event, and went along with my 54mm DBA version of the battle as part of the BT stand.
Indeed, Julian H had his 'Wars of the Roses in 10 minutes' in the lecture pavilion, using swoppets, and a team of locl wargamers were doing a big version of the battle using Never Mind the Billhooks opposte us - so, after my subtle introduction of the figures back in 2014, model soldiers and wargame approaches now seem to be bedded in at Bosworth! 

(this year, the Battlefields Trust stand was strategically placd on the commemorative procession route)
(Henry's mercenaries 'ready for battle at Bosworth Battlefield')

(scenes from Bosworth 2021 ... including the lecture pavilion, Richard in battle and Living History displays)

(miniature action at Bosworth: DBA )

(miniature action at Bosworth: Never Mind the Billhooks) 
So a lower key event than usual at Bosworth, this year, but more time to meet people, forge links and reflect on the tumultuous events of 1485.  A place-holder for the return of the big battle next year - and a rare opportunity for me to do both days ... usually the Sunday of Bosworth is Partizan in Newark (which, this year, again fell victim to the pestillence) ...

The good news, however, is that the Autumn version of the show The Other Partizan is confirmed for October - and things are looking good.  Ancients is back on the move, you might say.  Our odyssey continues.

(roses are laid at the Bosworth sundial)