Friday, 27 June 2014

War Game of the Middle Ages and Ancient Times - part 2

So how did the rules work out?  Well I have to admit when I was drafting the quick reference sheet I had grave misgivings.  Players dice to see who goes first in each game turn, the winner moves, fires and melees, then the loser does the same, actions are consecutive not simultaneous.  Movement distances and terrain penalties are sensible and not over complex, the same goes for firing ranges and effect, so it's all fast moving.  So far so good.

The French Battle advances, crossbow companies in the lead followed by knights on foot and heavy infantry.  The mounted knights hold back while the footmen test the softness of the ground and clear a path through the English men at arms.

The only difficulty we had was with the melee system, the rules state that when a figure from one side moves to within half an inch of an enemy they create the "contact point" and that all figures within an infantry move (i.e. 12 inches) of said point are included in the melee. Seems straightforward but in practice so many troops are drawn in that it just becomes one almighty bundle, perhaps it works better with 30mm figures?

First blood to the archers, three companies of French crossbows get off the first string of arrows and annihilate the Burgundian bowmen.  Realising the threat of being unable to reply to the enemy archers the English light horse charge and catch them unsupported in open ground as they ride them down.

The melee is a two stage process, first you asses which side has won then you calculate the casualties.  And this is where the difficulty comes in, different troop types (see QR sheet at bottom of post) have combat values which vary depending on the troop types opposing them.  This is fine when both sides have the same troop types in the melee but with the 12 inch inclusion zone described above it is inevitable that you will have mixed arms (heavy/light cavalry, heavy/light infantry etc.) on both sides and we found it nigh on impossible to figure out who had won the melee, try it yourself and you'll see what I mean.  

To simplify the situation we broke the melees down into a unit on unit calculation rather than the 12 inch free for all and it seemed to work okay.  Once the winner has been decided, casualties are based on a simple calculation which ensures that the larger side always wins, very similar to the system in H G Wells "Little Wars"

The footmen of both sides lock horns as they slowly splash through the soggy marshlands.

In the melee we found that when the heavier armoured French eventually came to grips with the enemy they bludgeoned their way through the lines but the greater numbers and mobility of the lighter Allies meant that they could quickly plug the gaps to blunt their advance and wear them down by attrition.

Four companies of English men at arms hover like mosquitoes around the edges of the wetlands.

Over the years I've been picking up bits and pieces of Timpo knights on the cheap - a pair of legs here, a torso there, from the junk boxes at shows and when I started to put all the bits together I found I had a decent enough quantity to field an army with no painting involved.  The only drawback being that there is a preponderance of Crusaders which seem to have been very much more common.  The idea of using them as a Crusader army in the Holy Land doesn't really float my boat and I can't see me picking up enough Timpo Arabs to make that feasible so I have decided that any figure in a white tunic with a red Cross of St. George will be English.

After riding down the French archers the English cavalry have overreached themselves and are charged in the flank by the French heavies.

I think it's fair to say that some rather basic tactical errors were made on both sides, notably advancing archers unsupported in an attempt to close the range for them (I might consider extending the bow range to 3 feet in future games).  With the loss of all the archers the game turned to one of local melees erupting all over the field and with no morale rules to break the tension these became a fight to the finish slugfest.

The English numbers hold up well against the heavier strength of the French knights and both sides are worn down by attrition until the allies decide to slip away leaving the French in command of the field but too depleted to follow up.

So all in all a fun fast play game, we both agreed the rules worked well as the core of the system but they need a little bit more built around them like something to cause a unit to break and run or even refuse to fight.   Our aim was to play the to game as close as we could to the original rules, or at least our interpretation of their intention and I think we achieved that, although I would love to have tried them using 30mm flats.  This was just a trial run so we kept the scenario simple but tried to include as many of the troop types and terrain features as possible, the original manuscript offers additional features such as constructing earthworks, sieges, supply etc. And for the Ancients there are chariots and auxiliaries, all the more reason to buy the book (see last post)

The quick reference sheet for the rules, should anyone wish to give them a spin!  Oh I think I forgot to mention that the loser of a melee falls back 1 move, quite important that. 


  1. A very enjoyable read. I love the look of the figures. It's a pity the Britain's Deetail Saracens didn't include archers, esp horse archers.

    1. A pity indeed, I did start to convert some Deetail Saracens into foot and mounted archers but sadly they are now just one more abandoned project :-(

  2. Ditto.Looking forward to more battle reports soon.

    1. We have just played Battle Cry in 54mm using a mat with 5" hex, sadly I didn't take any pics but I'm hooked and next project is to make an 8'x6' mat with 6" hex.

  3. Excellent post Brian! Great idea to pick up bits of Timpo along the way and then create an army! The mass of Crusaders looks quite impressive in your pictures. The fun you have comes right through in your posts and makes me feel like I'm right there with you!
    Thanks for letting us all in on the fun!