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.

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  The pikemen are withdrawn before the final battle and replaced by another 1000 militiamen.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.



  1. Excellent reports and enjoyed reading them! The mini-campaign seemed to be well suited to solo play as it stated. I think there is something just as satisfying about fast play rules and small tables to play through a mini-campaign in the same time it would take to play a large battle with other rules.

    1. Thanks very much. I think a really big hand has to go to Andy Callan for designing such a brilliant little campaign: interesting involving subject matter really amenable to solo play and small tables.

  2. Great report and the mini-campaign sounds fun to play.

    1. Thank you, that is very kind. It really was fun and I would heartily recommend it for solo play, or for head-to-head play between a couple of friends looking to explore an interesting situation.