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.

Sunday 13 August 2017

Battle of Edgcote 1469 - A DBA Refight

Issue 27 of Miniature Wargames contains a scenario for the obscure (but important historically) Wars of the Roses' fight, The Battle of Edgcote.  Funnily enough, I had been reading about this battle recently anyway, as it has featured on the outstanding Wargaming for Grown-Ups blog.  There are a few posts about this battle, which are full of discussion about where this battle actually took place.  As much still seems uncertain, then I just plunged in and tried to use the magazine scenario as written. 

The Forces:
Although the army lists in DBA are a tour de force in their way, when studying a specific battle I am sometimes led to remember Stuart Asquith's dictum that the best place for an army list is propping up a wonky table-leg!  Certainly, the DBA lists would not suit as written.  The key points about this battle seem to be:

No artillery on either side
A preponderance of longbowmen on the rebel side
Some cavalry on the Royal side; maybe some on the Rebel side
More men-at-arms on the Royal side
A significant number of foot soldiers on the Royalist side were Welsh
The rebels outnumbered the Royalists
Reinforcements reached the Rebels, who were apparently local thugs!

So I plumped for the following forces:
Royal Army: 6 x Bd, 2 x Lb, 2 x 3Pk (Welsh), 1 x Cv
Rebel Army: 5 x Bd, 6 x Lb, 1 x Kn, (+ 2 x 5Hd as possible reinforcements)

The terrain suggested in the scenario is a valley between two hills, with a stream in between.  For this scenario, with some reservations, I made the ground "good going".

The Battle:

The Rebels look across the moor and the stream at the Royalist army

And the view along the valley separating the armies

And from behind the Royalists

The Rebels advance!  A long line of mixed bill and bow, with a small group of mounted men-at-arms in reserve

The rebels cross the stream..

And an exchange of arrows.  A little disorder caused in both lines

A slightly closer view

Knowing that they must lose an exchange of arrows, the Royalists charge down the hill; again, some minor disorder on both sides from the exchange of arrows.

Slightly more disorder caused by the longbowmen as the lines close; note that Welsh pikemen are amongst those pushed back

The same, just further to the right of the rebel line

And the entire line at this point

The Royalists try and initiate melee across the line, hoping their preponderance of close-combat troops will carry the day; this is only partially successful

The billmen on the Rebel left are pushed back by their counterparts; however the Welshmen have punched a hole right in the centre of the Rebel line

The Rebels seem to have the better of it on their right, and push their Royalist opponents back up the hill

Fortunes remain mixed on the Rebel left, whilst they defnitely seem in the ascendant upon the right.  However, the Rebel commander has been forced to throw in his mounted reserve to occupy the Welsh pikemen.

The Rebel attacks on the flanks seem to falter as the Royalists are pushed onto the slopes; unsurprisingly, the Rebel horsemen fail to dislodge the Welshmen in the centre

Same position, just a wider shot

The Rebel horsemen are further back

The tide seems to have turned slightly in favour of the Royalists on the Rebel left too; the longer the combat has gone on the more disrupted the lines have become; in general this is an advantage for the more close-combat orientated Royalists.

Despite many pushbacks on the Rebel right, they are struggling to actually achieve a decisive result

The Welshmen turn back into the battle and attack the Rebel centre in the rear

The Rebel general, Robin of Redesdale falls!  No-one is sure whether he fell to Welsh spearpoints or Royalist axes...

Position at th end of the battle as further units of Rebels are eliminated and the remainder are about to rout

The rebel left at the end of the battle

And on the right; one assumes that those Rebel billmen stuck between Welsh pike, cavalry and Royalist men-at-arms are unlikely to escape!!

Game Notes: In the end a fairly convincing victory for the Royalists; helped by a little bit of fortune in the dice rolling, but massed pikemen are hard to stop in DBA, especially if their flanks are effectively protected.  One thing to note is that bowmen do not necessarily find it easy to stop blades; they are much more effective against mounted opponents.  They need a basic 3-point swing in the dice to stop them, which is quite large really.  They are just dangerous enough so that the tactics of the day are replicated - it simply makes no sense for the Royalists to stand under arrow fire for too long, they need to charge and get to grips.

The other advantage that the Royalists had in this refight was the ruling that the ground would count as "good", so their advancing troops didn't have to spend too long under arrow fire; noting that it requires a lot of luck to work, it is much better for the bowmen if they have more firing opportunities.

DBA rates Welsh troops as "Fast Pikemen" in the Wars of the Roses period. Those more expert than I will have to say whether this seems appropriate - from my point of view, it does make them pretty formidable shock troops when massed.  This might be too effective for what happened on the day.

The Battle 2:

For the second refight I made a couple of small adjustments.  The ground would count as rough going from halfway down the slopes.  The Royalists were given more Welsh pikemen and less blades.  Apart from that, same set-up.

The view from behind the Rebels across Danesmoor.

A view along the stream between the two armies

View from behind the Royalist lines

The same, but closer in.

And looking at the Rebel battle line, again with the mounted reserve to the rear.

A replay of the first battle; the Rebels advance towards bowshot range across the stream

A closer shot of the Rebel centre

The Rebels reach the bottom of the slope and start firing; again, some light disorder in the Royalist ranks

The Royalist begin to advance down the hill, arrows causing some disorder on both sides

Still under bowshot, the Royalists try and redress their line

The lines clash!  The Welshmen again try and break the centre of the Rebels, supported by the Royalist men-at-arms

But a rather different result this time!! Surprisingly, the longbowmen eliminate the lead Welsh pikemen in hand-to-hand combat; whilst Robin of Redesdale personally leads the Rebel men-at-arms in combat with the other.

The fight rages on; the Royalist right never moved off the hill in the first place; the Royalist left has again been pushed back up the slope; fighitng remains a vicious too-and-fro affair in the centre.

More Welshmen fall under Rebel blades, and the impetus seems to be with the Royalists

...and yet more fall! However, the Rebel left is encountering the same problems as last time, pushing the Royalists back but not achieving decisive effect.

A closer view of the centre

The Royalist cavalry at last moves forward to attempt to stem the tide

But the Royalist men-at-arms are attacked from two sides..

And go down fighting!  The battle ends and the Royal army runs!!!

A final closer view of the centre
Game Notes: A rebel victory this time, again by a fairly clear margin.  After the initial Rebel successes in the centre, the Royalists were always on the back foot. The basic mechanism for this was an against the odds defeat of the pike by some rebel bowmen, and the subsequent elimination of the pike. They were handicapped by some poor PIP rolling too, which is why they could never get their whole line into action unlike in the first battle.  This meant that there were always local flanks for the stronger Rebel forces to exploit by finding overlaps.  The effect of the worse ground in this game also made a slight difference, by exposing the advancing Royalists to extra bow fire, but this made much less difference to the Royal army than the low PIP scores.  One wonders whether the emphasis on shock over attrition in DBA 3.0 penalizes longbow-based armies compared to their historical prototypes. 

Anyway, although the formal results weren't particularly close (4 bases lost to 1 on both occasions) the games themselves were interesing and intense.  I know that DBA has the reputation of being an abstract competition set of rules, but I have found plenty of narrative interest in them.

Figures by Baccus 6mm.

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