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.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Battle of Wilton 1143 - A DBA Refight

The Battle of Wilton was another clash in the Anarchy-period civil war in England.  King Stephen was at Wilton preparing an expedition when Robert of Gloucester advanced and attacked him.  A scenario based on this battle was published in Wargames Illustrated 31, the last in the series of articles written by Stephen Simpson. 

 The scenario features two identical forces with one side (the Rebels) in a better position.  This refight used the DBA rules and each army was composed as follows:

 2 x Generals (3Kn), 4 x Knights (3Kn), 6 x Spearmen (Sp)
One of the generals on each side (King Stephen for the Royal Army, Robert of Gloucester for the Rebel Army) incurs the double-penalty if lost, the other general on each side does not.  The slope of the terrain is considered to be continuous to the edge of the town and the river (i.e. the side closest to the hills is still considered to be 'uphill', even if visually it looks flat). 

The Set Up:

The Rebel Army occupy the high ground, overlooking Wilton.  The Royal Army has formed up outside the town.  Both armies deploy with cavalry forwards and to the flanks, with infantry in the centre, led by their commander in person.

Another view.  I think the light and the river feature really interacted well together on this photo, my terrain doesn't normally look that good (!)

Another view of the Royal Army.

And of the Rebel Army.

And one last view of the whole thing, for luck.

The Battle:

Rather than charging straight in, King Stephen spends a bit of command effort elongating his lines to overlap the Rebel Army, giving Robert of Gloucester the choice of whether to charge straight in at increased risk, or to spread out and match the King's movements, but potentially unbalance them.

Robert of Gloucester decides to attack directly, accepting a degree of mismatch.

The battle is joined across the line - the Knights on the Royal Right (top-right) suffer against the downhill charge of the Rebels.

The Knights on the Royal Left have done rather better, holding against the initial charge then overlapping round the flank of the Rebel cavalry opposing them.

A wider view of the situation.

Eventually the Rebel Knights defeat some of their opponents on the Royal Left

King Stephen pushes his foot soldiers forward, anxious to get to grips with his enemies.

The mounted melee on the Royal Left becomes more general and swirling...

Whilst the main bodies clash in the centre; however, the Royal knights on the right (top-right) are in serious trouble, as their opponents have even got around behind them

More Royal Knights run away or become casualties on the Left...

But King Stephen's infantry have done rather better, hacking down some of the rebels and forcing the others back.

A wider view.

However, as King Stephen's infantry attack gathers momentum, the Royal knights are facing defeat on both flanks...

The position at the end of the battle: although the King's foot soldiers have performed well, the knights have suffered heavily and been defeated, and the Royal Army's morale has collapsed.  Back to the castle!

Game Notes: I didn't get around to finishing the necessary conversions to make Stephen Simpson's own rules (published in this same issue, Wargames Illustrated 031) playable yet with my armies so I reverted to DBA.  It gave a decent enough game with a result not entirely different from that in the historical battle which is a strong point in its favour, although the style of command is perhaps not as flavourful as a specifically-themed ruleset might be, which is why I am keen to give the author's own rules a try.  

One historical thing which I would like to know is was there any difference to how armoured and unarmoured infantry fought - one might expect the armoured infantry to be in the front ranks for example, or in certain circumstances in their own groups.  I would like to know more about the proportion and usage of missile-armed troops too.  For the physical set-up of these games, it has become apparent that an appropriate castle and some town walls are the sine qua non for this period, since castles were clearly everything (Stephen ransomed one of his important nobles captured at Wilton by handing over a castle).  I must get an order in with Leven, or even better, see them at a show...


  1. Just so you know, your latest 'Oxford' post is saying 'page does not exist' when your link is clicked on.

  2. That's another nice little scenario. As for how infantry fought, whether armoured or not, I think we'll never know for certain, but can only make informed guesses at best.

    1. Thanks Steve. And it is as you say, unfortunately!

  3. Well, Stephen's rules have a better saving throw for armoured infantry and they move slower so must be a difference :-). I have read the scenarios and rules and your battle reports a few times as you posts have inspired me - they are only 3 battles and short and small. But I have other distracting projects so I do not know what will happen!

    1. I know, know, so many tempting projects, so little time! I had absolutely no idea that this year was going to be the year of The Anarchy & The Jacobite Rebellions for me, but there you go...