Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Monday 28 November 2016

The Battle of Barnet 1471: A DBA re-fight

This weekend I had a go at re-fighting the Battle of Barnet 1471, which occurred during the Wars of the Roses.  The scenario I used was an amalgam using information from various published scenarios I have, viz:

Miniature Wargames 009:

Miniature Wargames 123

Wargames Illustrated 114

Wargames Illustrated 142

Scenario Notes:

Surprisingly for such a popular battle for magazaine article authors, Barnet is a really hard battle to do justice to.  All of the scenarios bring out the key factors, which are:

1.  The dense fog prevented both sides from accurately determining their enemies' positions.

2.  This led to each side having its left flank outflanked and defeated in the original battle.

3.  Each army operated very much by individual battles.  The Lancastrian left-wing battle defeated its rival, but then disappeared to loot the town of Barnet.

4.  Suspicions of treachery appear to have played some part in the Lancastrian defeat.

All of these factors pose difficulties for a standard table-top recreation!  I certainly didn't try to solve them outright, but I did incorporate various suggestions from the published scenarios to try and reflect something of the original conditions.  I plumped for using DBA v3.0 over Ancient & Medieval Wargaming.

Special Scenario Rules:

1.  Visibility (for bow and artillery fire) was limited to 2BW.

2.  Both sides were constrained to use their PIPs to move groups in order from the Yorkists' left first until the first combat.

3.  Morale/victory was based on individual battles.  Regardless of exact strength, a battle was considered defeated when it had lost 2 or more bases.  The remainder would then run at 3BW for their baseline.  Oxford's battle only would have to pursue its opponents at normal move rate off the board.  The first army to have two of its three battles be defeated would lose the battle, as would the killing of the Lancastrian or Yorkist general.

4.  On the turn after pursuing any enemies off the board, Oxford's troops could return on the roll of 4-6 on a D6.

4.  Any of Oxford's troops

The Orders of Battle:

The Lancastrians:

Earl of Warwick's Battle:
1 x Blades (w/General)
4 x Bowmen
1 x Artillery

Earl of Oxford's Battle (Right):
3 x Blades
2 x Bowmen

Duke of Exeter (Left):
3 x Blades
3 x Bowmen

The Yorkists:

Edward IV's Battle:
2 x Blades (1 x w/General)
3 x Bowmen
1 x Psiloi (handgunners)

Duke of Gloucester's Battle (Right):
1 x Blades
3 x Bowmen

Lord Hastings' Battle (Left):
2 x Blades
2 x Bowmen

The Set-Up

The Lancastrian Army: Oxford's battle on the left, Warwick's battle on the centre, Exeter on the right

The Lancastrians at the top, the Yorkists at the bottom.  I used the map in the article in WI142 as the basis for the game - the maps varied noticeably between the articles.  A hedge towards the right, with "Enfield Chase" further on.  I wasn't sure how wooded this area was in reality, so I made it an "average"  wood.  Kitts End village is behind the Lancastrians, Old Ford Manor behind the Yorkists (okay, I don't have anything really suitable for a C15 manor, I used a Norman church plus outbuildings).  The  only thing I didn't recreate is that I think the central portion of the battlefield was slightly raised and sloped away towards the edges.  I find this quite hard to recreate well on a small table (it is fine when I am using one of my game mats on a bigger table).  I don't think this ended up having a massive influence on the result though.
The Yorkist Army: Gloucester on the right, Edward in the centre, Hastings on the right
The Battle:

As specified in the scenario rules, Oxford's Battle ploughs straight forward

Hastings' Battle advance to meet it.  If a kind DBA player could confirm that I'm doing this right, I'd appreciate it! I take it that the advancing group conforms to the contacted group: thus the rest of the group swings round to contact, even though this means that some of the moving bases have moved more than their 2BW move allowance.

Oxford's troops engage Hastings', with that telling overlap...

The fighting begins in earnest, with the battle lines quivering...

A slightly wider shot of the same situation

After a few bounds of fighting, Hastings' Battle is as soundly defeated as it was on the day

Hastings' troops on the left run.  In a departure from history however, Edward's troops contact Warwick's in the centre, although he himself remains in reserve.

The to-and-fro of the central struggle: some good shooting helped the Yorkists gain an early advantage here...

Whilst good Lancastrian shooting eliminated the Yorkist bowmen of Gloucester's command on the left side of the hedge
The Yorkists seem to slightly be getting the upper hand in the centre.  However, Warwick leading those billmen in person is hard to finish off and his reinforcements are approaching.  The Battles on the right hand side still have not really engaged.

Same position, closer in.

The Lancastrian reserves tip the balance and now the Yorkists in the centre are in trouble.  Edward leads his reserves forward in person to restore the situation

The battle line restored and again the battle is in the balance.

The Yorkists on the brink of victory!  Warwick's battle has collapsed and some of Gloucester's bowmen have hit some of Exeter's dismounted knights in the flank as they seek to restore the situation,

Some of Oxford's troops have been gathered, reformed and re-enter the battle

But they are not needed! Some heroic Lancastrian fighting has turned the tables and Eeter's knights have defeated Gloucester's bowmen, causing the Yorkist right-hand Battle to collapse...Edward IV, although personally victorious (see the Lancastrians streaming North along the road), has been defeated and must try and escape...

A much reduced but victorious Lancastrian Army holds the field!
Game Notes:
Slightly bigger than the average game, and despite my initial misgivings, it did make quite a good game!  All the scenario special rules seemed to work out fine, so many thanks to the various scenario writers that I cribbed ideas from!  Funnily enough, what I really missed - and it is a thought I have had before - of having some visual way to represent the fog, or indeed other weather conditions.  Maybe dry ice?! Or exotic light bulbs?!? I don't know.  But I think the main problem with "foul weather" games is that the atmosphere is wrong.
Game played on a 3'x2' table, buildings mainly by Timecast and figures all by Baccus 6mm. I think this one took about an hour, played in two stints.  Blades are very hard to kill!  A thing I have noticed with these rules is that a sudden bow-on-bow kill happens much more often (because of the way the combat factors interact with the combat results) and can change a situation quite rapidly.

Friday 18 November 2016

Attack On La Londres - Supplementary

 Extra Pictures
A couple of comments on the Attack on La Londres Farm AAR indicated that it was a pity I hadn't included a few close-up shots in the report.  Although I didn't take any genuine close-ups, I have enlarged a few of the photos (not all of which made the original report) to give a better indication of the models within the terrain.

The Hampshires move to assault position

The Hampshires close up to the German left flank position

The Hampshires storm the last position

Thursday 17 November 2016

WRG 1925-1950 AAR: Attack on La Londres Farm

One of the bloggers I follow is Shaun Travers.  His blog is an excellent source of ideas and inspirations, particularly if you are looking for ideas for rules and scenarios played out on small tables, with no loss of fun and still retaining good visual enjoyment.  A while ago, he published a scenario which looked an absolute cracker: an attack by D Company of the 7th Hampshires on La Londres farm on 31st July 1944.

This game was played as a "training exercise" for myself: how I would approach this tactical problem.  It wasn't a "fair" solitaire game with me mentally switching sides, but rather my attempt to guide the British using the best tactical practice to victory.

Order of Battle

The British:

Coy HQ: 1 x Comd Gp, 3 x PIATs

3 x Rifle Pl each of 1 x Comd Gp, 1 x 2" Mortar, 6 x Rifle Gps, 3 x LMG teams

+ a call for 4 x 4.2" arty support

The Germans

Coy HQ: 1 x Comd Gp

2 x Rifle Pl each of 1 x Comd Gp, 6 x Rifle Gps, 3 x LMG

1 x Sp Pl of 2 x MMG

The Battle:

The set-up.  D Coy are in position top-right.  The target farms are bottom-centre. The British looked cramped, but one must remember the ground scale 1cm:10m.  Thus each 4-man rifle group is already spread out over 25-30m, which is pretty reasonable dispersion anyway.

The first shots of the encounter were fired from German LMGs in the top floor of the left-hand building in the right-hand farm complex - 4 Tommies dead and wounded in an instant! The other platoon which was crossing the road was missed.  The British platoon lining the hedge opened a heavy fire to suppress the Germans, before smoke obscured the position.
Now that the enemy position is obscured, theBritish platoon advances around the flank, covered by the second platoon
Note the third British platoon also moving into supporting fire positions (top-right)

The flanking British platoon uses the cover to get close, overpowers a German rifle group protecting the right-edge of the buildings, then assaults the right-hand building: the German section is killed or captured.
The British let the smokescreen rise so they can "shoot-in" the attack on the remainder of the famr complex.  After the Germans suffer further casualties, the remainder of the platoon surrenders.
Using the captured farm buildings as a firebase for the next stage, the British bring up the supporting fire platoon to the hedge by the road, whilst the other platoon follows in the footsteps of the leading platoon, until postioning themselves to the flank, ready for the assault.
Yet again, a concealed German MG cut down the first British riflemen to move out from cover; again the British use the combined smoke and suppression recipe ot silence the German machineguns and move forward for the assault - which duly eliminates the Germans, including the German Coy Comd in the adjacent field.

The remainder of the assaulting platoon adopts its new base of fire positions along the hedge, whilst the last platoon advances to the top-edge of the farm bulidings, ready to begin their assault.

This time the German fire is ineffective and the leading section gets close - however the Pl Comd of the nearby fire support platoon decides that he can take the nearest building and does so.  At this point, the remaining Germans surrendered.  The position is cleared!

The position at the end of the action.
Game Notes
A thoroughly enjoyable little scenario.  I made sure that I used the most methodical tactics I could, isolating individual German positions and using a combination of smoke, suppression and assault to render the German defence ineffective.  However, there is no such thing as an easy win and the 8 casualties were taken at those moments when the British infantry simply had to advance into the open.  Of course, the gaming world "reality" of the edge of the board made it slightly easier - had this not been the case, I may have used the 2nd platoon in the position later used by the 3rd platoon for its assault (to reduce exposure to any further enemy depth positions).
The key rule to use is that infantry in cover in WRG 1925-1950 are pretty much invisible until 50m away unless they open fire.  Thus as long as there are plenty of covered routes, they can be pretty invulnerable.  This can be used to great effect.  Unless they are hit whilst moving with the open or with serious HE weapons, they are very robust too.  My detailed review of these rules is here.
The game took about an hour of play.  I used the venerable but still solid WRG 1925-1950 rules on a 2'x2' table.  Buildings are a mixture of Total Battle Miniatures and Leven castings.  The figures were mainly from the new Baccus 6mm WW2 range.

I have added a couple of additional photos here after some requests for a couple of close-ups of the action. 

Wednesday 16 November 2016

The Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549: A Solo Mini-Campaign

This campaign scenario was written by Andy Callan, published back in Miniature Wargames 13.

 It covers the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549, one of the rebellions that occured in the Tudor period as a result of the major religious upheavals at the time. It took place in the south-western counties of Devon and Cornwall.   The rebellion was full of very odd incidents, but it basically consisted of a Royal army, sent by the Lord Protector of the young king Edward VI, composed partly of local nobles, partly of nearby militiamen and partly of foreign mercenaries, attacking the rebelling Cornishmen and Devonians who were laying siege to Exeter.

The camapign is designed as a series of five battles. The author suggested that the campaign could easily be played solitaire, as the rebels' tactics were quite stereotyped.  I don't have a Tudor army, but I do have plenty of Wars of the Roses' models which I thought would do admirably: the rebels, and a large number of the loyalists, were bills-and-bows troops anyway.  My WotR mercenary pike and handgunners would do fine as landsknechts and Italian arquebusiers!

I used DBA v3.0 for the games.  I had given some thought to using Neil Thomas' Ancient and Medieval Wargaming rules but plumped the other way.  Perhaps I'll choose the other way next time around.

Rebel Forces:
The rebel forces consisted of c.5200 men (mixed bowmen and billmen), with some captured guns in some of the individual battles.

The rebels had a chance of getting reinforcements every turn (something like 1:8 - 1:10 chance).  These reinforcements might arrive in the rear or flanks of the Loyalist forces and represented the best chance of pulling off a victory.

Loyalist Forces:
The rebel forces consisted of c.800 heavy cavalry, 150 light cavalry, 200 arquebusiers, 850 pikemen, 1000 militiamen (bowmen and billmen), 150 pioneers, 4 guns.  The pikemen are withdrawn before the final battle and replaced by another 1000 militiamen.

Game Notes:
Standard DBA v3.0 classifications were generally used.  The mercenary arquebusiers were allowed an additional +1 factor against foot.  Heavy cavalry could serve as either Knights or Blades.  In one game I used a separate light infantry base for the pioneers, but later I went with Loyalist foot could ignore hedges used defensively.  Army break points were set at 1/3rd of bases lost, rounded up. 

The First Battle - Fenny Bridges

The loyalists approach the Fenny bridges from the East

The length of the battlefield; the rebels are deployed in depth, the loyalists have arrived from the East (right)

The loyalists converge to concentrate artillery and archery against the rebels holding the bridge, who are driven back

The rebels attempt to maintain their position...

But are destroyed by the superior loyalist fire; the loyalists storm across the bridge then destroy the rebels guarding the ruin; mercenary gunfire drives back some of the rebels from the second bridge

Ouch!! The Devonshire archers get the better of the bowmen's battle, and eliminate some of the Dorset militia

The loyalists re-organize in an attempt to "win the firefight"; meanwhile the loyalist commander Lord Russell leads his gentlemen over the river at a ford they have discovered, destroys some militiamen opposing him and outflanks the remaining rebels, who become demoralized

At this point, the first battle ended
Battle Outcome:
Loyalist victory
Loyalist losses: 1 x Bw
Rebel losses: 2 x Bw, 1 x Bd 

The Second Battle - Faringdon Down

Faringdon Down: a smaller Rebel forces advances to meet the advancing loyalist column

The loyalists are alert!  The loyalist gentlemen spur their mounts up the hill to gain the ridge before the rebels

Gentlemen know the best way to deal with treacherous rebel scum: lances ready, charge!

Meanwhile Lord Russell is thrown into uncertainty...what is that dust cloud just beyond the extreme range of bowshot...?

The loyalist cavalry achieves good success, causing heavy casualties amongst the rebels and driving them back down the slopes of Faringdon Down and killing the local rebel commander for good measure.  The rebels hurriedly reform.

The Italian Arquebusiers investigate, but find nothing. Just a figment of Lord Russell's imagination!

The loyalist gentlemen reform their ranks ready for another charge...

Which they deliver in fine old style!

Hold on...this time it is a band of rebels! Lord Russell hastily breaks up his column to face the new threat

It doesn't matter though - the knights have eliminated the rebel foot troops on the other side of the hill and the battle ends, the surviving rebels slinking away into the countryside
 The Third Battle - Clyst St Mary

The rebels deploy to defend hedges and earthworks to the east of Clyst St Mary.  The loyalist forces approach from the East.  The rebels maintain a second and third layer of defences around the town.

The loyalists advance towards the rebel left flank, whilst refusing on rhe other side.

Instead, the loyalists use their artillery to pound the rebels' defensive works and drive out the defending militiamen,

After a sharp fight around the hedges and earthworks, the loyalist infantry make some progress and kill some rebels, taking the rebels' guns

The rebels reinforce quickly to restore the situation around the earthworks

A renewed push against the rebels' left flank retakes the earthworks amd causes firther heavy casualties.  A group of dismounted loyalist knights has broken through in the centre.  Heroic Devonshire militiamen have successfully resisted the attack of the Landsknechts on the rebels' right.

Another view of the promising loyalist attack

The Devonshiremen continue to push back the German mercenary pikemen! And accurate shooting decimates more of the loyalist bowmen too...

However, the rebels' defeat on the other flank has demoralized their army, which gives up the town and bridge without further fighting.
Game Outcome:

Loyalist win
Loyalist losses: 1 x Bw
Rebel losses: 1 x Art, 2 x Bw, 1 x Bd

The Fourth Battle - Clyst Heath

Another line of hedges and earthworks defended by the Rebel billmen and bowmen; once again, the Loyalists advance from the East (right)

Same position from behind the rebel lines

The Loyalists advance mainly on their left flank, whilst advancing their artillery on the right to pound the earthworks.  Which was immediately shot to bits by the rebel artillery!  Oops...

The Loyalists press on quite slowly as the terrain breaks up the advance, but they get the better of the first arrow exchanges on this flank

The Loyalists advance into hand-to-hand combat range

And the leading dismounted knights are over the earthworks!

Mounted knights come up in support, led by the General himself, but they have suffered further losses at the hands of the Rebel artillerymen

In the centre, the Loyalist militiamen and dismounted knights burst through the hedge

And defeat their rebel enemies!

The rebels just about holding on against the Landsknechts on the southern edge, but note that the centre has been entirely cleared of rebels.  The rebel bowmen had already eliminated the mercenary arquebusiers - a fine showing!

The earthwork was still being contested when the Rebel army broke
 Game Outcome

Loyalist victory (just! - the Loyalists had lost 3 bases to 1 Rebel early on in the game, and a single additional Rebel success would have won it for them...)
Loyalist losses: 1 x Art, 1 x Kn, 1 x Bw
Royalist losses: 2 x Bw, 2 x Bd

Battle Five - Sampford Courtenay

The rebels around their defended fort and the surrounding hedges.  The basic plan is to lure the Loyalists into the mazy terrain and then hope to pull off some ambushes

From behind the Rebels, looking at the superior numbers of the advancing Loyalists

The Loyalists' advance: a combination of artillery and archery and terrain has disrupted the advance of the Loyalist Left.

Some of the Loyalist billmen cross the hedge

Further determined attacks see more Loyalists over the hedges

Rebel billmen contest the advance of thre Loyalists down the country lanes

And face superior numbers with considerable heroism

The melee ebbs and flows but overall the Loyalists are beginning to gain the upper hand

Finally some of the Loyalists eliminate the Rebels at the base of the hill and on the upper road - all must be lost soon for the Rebels

Goodness!  A large force of Rebel reinforcements arrives on the southern road (bottom) just in the nick of time!

The Rebel artillery has destroyed some of the Light Horse in the Loyalist rear

The Rebels continue to hold on amongst the hedgerows

Hurrah! The Loyalists capture the Rebel artillery and gain the plateau inside the Rebel encampment!  Surely the Rebels must now break!

The pressure on all axes hasnearly ground the Rebel army down...

But another lease of life! Yet more rebels arrive on the road, whilst Arundel, leader of the Rebels, puts together a neat counter-attack to eliminate the militiamen who penetrated the Rebel camp

Can the rebels deploy into a line of battle which might just let them destroy the Loyalists and reverse the fortunes of the campaign?

No!! The rebels lose heavily in the archery duel at the bottom of the battlefield!  The Rebel army wavers and breaks...the rebellion is defeated (just!)

Battle Outcome

Loyalist victory
Loyalist losses: 1 x LH, 1 x Bw, 1 x Bd
Royalist losses: 1 x Art, 3 x Bw, 2 x Bd

A thoroughly enjoyable mini-campaign, in every sense.  The loyalists held most of the advantages, but as can be seen, they were nearly defeated and lost the campaign in battle 4.  The DBA rules held up well generally.  I think that they gave a very different game from that which would have occurred using A&MW, specifically because the army break points are set at very different levels.  The bowmen in DBA didn't seem to gain too much help from the hedge cover.  The artillery duel was quite surprisingly bloody and decisive too! But generally it all seemed quite plausible and I felt myself getting more and more involved in the fortunes of war, game-by-game: which ultimately is what I want from a campaign. 
All the battles were fought on a 3'x2' board, using a mixture of homemade terrain and items from Total Battle Miniatures , Timecast and Leven Miniatures.  All figures were from Baccus 6mm.