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, 11 August 2021

Battle of Lincoln 1141 - An Ancient & Medieval Wargaming Refight

Never one to intentionally waste a good scenario, I found that I had sufficient time to replay the 1141 Battle of Lincoln, previously done as a DBA battle, using Neil Thomas' Ancient & Medieval Wargaming set instead.  It shares some key assumptions (keep it simple) but is really on a different branch of rules development.  In particular it has an emphasis on attrition, where DBA emphasizes shock.



The Scenario:

The details are broadly as in the first re-fight, but with the forces re-jigged as follows:
The Forces:
The Royal Army: 
4 units of Knights  (Heavy cavalry, heavy armour, average)
3 units of Armoured Infantry (Medieval infantry, heavy armour, average)
2 units of Unarmoured Infantry (Medieval infantry, light armour, average)
2 leaders (King Stephen and William of Ypres)
The Rebel Army:
4 units of Knights (Heavy cavalry, heavy armour, average)
2 units of Armoured Infantry (Medieval infantry, heavy armour, average)
3 units of Unarmoured Infantry (Medieval infantry, light armour, average)
1 unit of Welsh Infantry (Medieval infantry, light armour, levy)  
2 leaders (Robert of Gloucester and Ranulf of Chester)  

Neil Thomas' Ancient & Medieval Warfare rules don't have an appropriate list in the 'Medieval' rules section, so the armies above are a compromise between the troops in the scenario as written and the closest army in the rulebook (the "Early Frankish" army in the 'Dark Ages' section), but replacing the 'Dark Age' infantry (who use shieldwalls) with 'Medieval infantry' (who don't).  The Norman cavalry is downgraded morale-wise from 'Elite' to 'Average' in keeping with the scenario ratings.*  In any case, it seemed to work okay.  I use an additional rule that generals can re-roll any failed morale roll, but if the re-roll is a failure, then they become a casualty.
The Royal Army is considered beaten when reduced to 2 units, the Rebel Army to 3.  Loss of the King means that the Royal Army has to immediately lose another 2 units.  This is not applied to the other leaders.

Other scenario rules are as in the DBA battle: the Royal Army's knights must charge forward in their first turn.

*There is always a difficulty in ascribing how far a troop types' 'elite' status is considered an integral part of the unit's inherent characteristics and how much not in any given ruleset.  I think that on balance Thomas is probably a bit too generous to the average Norman mounted soldier in making them all Elite, but I don't know how one would definitively argue the case either way.

The Set-up:

The set-up with the Empress' troops on the low ground (bottom) facing the King's army on the high ground (top)

A different angle, showing Robert of Gloucester leading his foot soldiers (foreground)

The Welsh infantry looking exposed at the front-right of the Rebel Army.

Another view of the King's Army, with William of Ypres' knights on one flank (right) and 'The Earls' on the other.

The Battle:

William of Ypres and some of the King's knights charge the Welsh infantry

The Welsh infantry suffers heavy losses (red/pink markers indicate base losses), although they stoutly inflict some on the attacking knights too.

There seems to have been a couple of pictures missing, not sure why exactly!  Anyway, the Welsh infantry have been killed or dispersed, but Ranulf's rebel knights have charged the Royal knights in their turn (centre-right); battle has been joined on the other flank, with 'The Disinherited' and 'The Earls' charging each other - 'The Disinherited' have the better of the initial melee.

 The Rebel infantry starts to enter the fray in support of the Rebel knights

A wider shot

Losses mount on both sides but particularly to the Royal Army, as the knights on both flanks are worsted by their opponents.

Battle is engaged across the line, with a bulge in the centre.  The somewhat depleted Earls on the Royal Right (left) have managed to hold on, despite the unfavourable conditions; whilst the Royal Left is in some flux, although Ranulf of Chester's men have had, on the whole, the worst of it.

One of the Rebel knight units is eliminated on the right, flattening out the line at this point.

However, Ranulf of Chester personally leads his men into action against William of Ypres' knights, killing and dispersing them and capturing the leader himself!

Like so.

However, 'The Disinherited' rebel knights have decisively got the upper hand over 'The Earls (left), leading to a gap in Stephen's line - both of the Royal Army's flanks look a bit shaky

and looking shakier by the minute, as more and more Royal knights fall on each flank, as pressure and numbers tell

The infantry fighting in the centre increases in ferocity, despite Stephen's personal leadership...

Until suddenly the King is down!

With the Royal Left flank also caving in (Right) and the Right flank hanging on by a thread (Left), there is little doubt now about the outcome

And the thread breaks - the last Royal knights flee and the rout becomes general

The position at the end of the battle.

Game Notes: Another fun game, with a fairly similar outcome to the first.  If anything, this felt a bit easier for the Rebels.  Why is that?  In Thomas' more attritional rules, numbers matter both for inflicting and absorbing damage.  In the DBA-battle, the Welsh were dispersed much more quickly than in this battle, in which the Welsh were able to delay and damage the oncoming mounted attack.  Not by much, but by enough.  In DBA, the tactical battles tend to be both more equal and more chancy.  The physical character of the battles change slightly but noticeably too.  Damage in A&MW is straightforwardly represented by physical losses, whereas in DBA the more basic element of damage is the 'recoil', which can then be exploited to lead to losses; conversely there is also a much higher chance of quick-killing entire units than in A&MW.  However, A&MW can effectively model a degree of fatigue as losses mount in small increments in a way impossible in DBA.  So, À chacun son goût and all that. A&MW remain very user-friendly rules, you never feel lost or confused (although you may well disagree with some of the assumptions).  I used the variant from Thomas' Simplicity in Practice horse-and-musket era rules where hits achieved are used to generate a dice roll to see whether a full base is removed or not.  I think the change works from a game point-of-view, although I accept that this changes some of the probabilities implied in unit match-ups quite a lot.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Leven and Timecast.


  1. You are not one that I would EVER accuse of wasting a scenario! I enjoyed your replay. Thank you.

  2. Interesting to see the Thomas rules follow upon the DBA game. I like their attritional approach, though don't like the visual look of a unit getting smaller as it loses elements, markers are less intuitive, but do get around that.

    1. Yes, the tiny 1-base units aren't great; apologies for the markers, don't know why I didn't use my 6mm ancients casualty figures to mark losses! Was just in a rush to get the second game done on a whim I think.

  3. I prefer Thomas' rules to DBA, which I found to dependent upon a single die roll IIRC, but it's been a long time since I played them. Also the Barkerese language did my head in!

    1. I don't think I have had any DBA games which have been dependent upon a single die roll (except in the sense that all games will ultimately be resolved by the die roll which brings the game to an end), but it is definitely a game which repays throwing high in a smaller number of rolls than many other games, including Thomas'. Or even more: there are definitely combats where you are waiting for who is going to throw a '6' first. I like them both, for different reasons; although if I were starting out, I would much prefer Thomas' rules.