Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Nov 6 2019 09:03PM

Last weekend I had the pleasure of once again attending the Society of Ancients annual conference. It was, as ever, a most enjoyable weekend with good company, good games and some excellent talks.


There was a bit of a Wars of the Roses theme this year which suited me perfectly. Mike Ingram gave a fascinating account of Bosworth based on the new battlefield archeology and a detailed look at primary sources which overturn most of what we previously thought we knew about the battle. I highly recommend his book recently published by Helion.


I reprised my toy soldier game, very loosely based on Bosworth. The simple rules can be found in the rules section (medieval) on my website: This Weak Piping Time of Peace.


This time it was Henry Tudor who met his end in hand to hand combat with King Richard. So now the score is one-all.


Following an excellent talk on the little known Battle of Edgcote I took on the role of Robin of Redesdale.


Despite high moral purpose, bravery and determination, we were driven from the field thanks to the untimely intervention of the Earl of Devon.


We did have the satisfaction of killing off the young Henry Tudor who was observing the battle. So Henry died twice over the course of the weekend.


The Gangs of Rome game looked most interesting although I did not manage to take part.


Author and Classicist Harry Sidebottom entertained us with tales of the Third Century Roman crisis before a most congenial dinner.


And I did my part with a talk on the Vandals.


There were many other games which I did not participate in ranging from chariot warfare through to classiacl Rome, the Dark Ages and the high Middle Ages. In my view this is an event well worth attending.


By smacdowall, Oct 31 2019 04:20PM

Bosworth is the subject of the Society of Ancients Battle Day game next spring. It has therefore become my next wargaming project.


I already have a reasonable WoR collection thanks to the excellent 28mm Perry plastics which tempted me at Salute several years ago. They have since been augmented by Perry and Front Rank metals. I am now in the process of painting up the appropriate command groups for Bosworth — more on that later.


My interest in the Wars of the Roses goes back much further. I was inspired as a mere 8 year old by the excellent Britains WoR Swoppets and fought many a boyhood battle between the red and white roses on my bedroom floor.


My original Swoppets Knights collection is still in fairly good condition. Taking a break from painting some 28mm French pikemen for Henry Tudor, I wondered if the Swoppets could see action again. I quickly wrote up some simple rules and called up a friend for a Toy Soldier game very loosely based on Bosworth.


I divided the men up into eight contingents: Henry Tudor, Oxford, Chandée and Stanley for the Red Roses; Richard III, Norfolk, Brackenbury and Northumberland for the White Roses. For this first game Stanley and Northumberland would not have any historical restrictions preventing the players from using them as they wished.


First blood went to Richard III’s more numerous archers as they shot up the advancing Red Roses.



A fierce hand to hand combat developed in the centre with initial advantage going to the whites.


This turned around in subsequent turns with the White Roses being forced to retire.


Richard III led his mounted knights on the right flank to attack Tudor and Stanley who were advancing towards him.


A ferocious mounted combat ensued which swayed back and forth as more men joined the fray and Richard’s archers supported the Yorkist attack from a distance.


Then disaster struck. Richard was killed in hand to hand combat with Henry. The Tudor dynasty had begun!


The game was great fun and hugely satisfying. It was fantastic to see the old Britains knights on the battlefield again. The rules worked well — providing a simple and fast moving game.


I will reprise the game at the Society of Ancients conference this weekend. The rules: This Weak Piping Time of Peace are available as a free download from my website here.











By smacdowall, Sep 28 2019 04:39PM

Play begins
Play begins

Earlier this week, having re-arranged my living room to accommodate a 10 x 6 foot table (boards on trestles), 8 of us fought out the last of the Duke of Marlborough’s big battles with 15mm miniatures.


Battlefield overview
Battlefield overview

As readers of this blog will be aware, Malplaquet (1709) has been a project in the making for quite some time. My journey to this point has involved two battlefield terrain walks; the scaling of the terrain to 1 inch representing roughly 100 yards; several years of collecting and painting all the troops needed at approximately one 15mm miniature to 150 actual men; refining my War of Spanish Succession rules to fit the ground and figure scale; and several trial games along the way.


Malplaquet village - the French HQ
Malplaquet village - the French HQ

Marlborough and Eugene meet at the Saart windmill
Marlborough and Eugene meet at the Saart windmill

It also involved the design and creation of purpose-built terrain — not by me I hasten to add. My skills are not up to the building of such incredibly detailed and atmospheric pieces.


The allied centre
The allied centre

The 3 French and 4 Allied players started off with the historical armies and deployments of 11 September 1709. We would play 17 turns, each representing 1/2 hour from the opening allied bombardment at 07:00 through to 15:00 when the French withdrew from the field on the day of battle. Players were free to make their own decisions, not bound by historical precedent. Their objectives were to do better than their side had done 310 years ago.


French foot behind abatis in the woods
French foot behind abatis in the woods


The French player pulls his troops out of the woods
The French player pulls his troops out of the woods

The French players surprised the Allies when they decided to abandon their defence of the Bois de Sars on their left flank. They had 20 battalions in the woods facing an attack by some 80 Allied battalions coming in from several directions. Giving up the woods meant that the Allies could advance through them unhindered but it gave the French the opportunity to concentrate their troops in a strong defensive position to the south of the woods.


The Dutch attack
The Dutch attack

On the other flank the Dutch advanced with only half their foot against the French entrenchments. Taking fire from French artillery and some dismounted dragoons hidden in Blairon farm, the initial Dutch attack was repulsed.


The Hanoverians are driven back
The Hanoverians are driven back

Rantzau’s Hanoverian brigade cleared the dragoons from the farm and then surged forward against the entrenched Gardes Suisses only to be thrown back.


Lottum's men move into contact
Lottum's men move into contact

Count Lottum’s Prussians and British advanced on the French centre then swung to their right to take the abandoned French positions in the Bois de Sars and emerge on the southern edge of the woods. They launched an immediate attack on the French lines but their ranks were thinned by enfilade artillery fire as they went in. The first Prussian attack was thrown back. A second followed with the same result as Lottum and Maréchal Villars joined the front ranks to steady their respective troops. Lottum and one of his Major Generals were both as Villars launched a counter-attack which drove the Prussians back into the woods.


Eugene's Imperialists advance into the woods
Eugene's Imperialists advance into the woods


Withers' column moves along a woodland track
Withers' column moves along a woodland track

Prince Eugene’s Imperialists found it slow going in making their way through the woods although Lt General Withers with 20 battalions on the far right made better headway. His troops began to emerge on the edge as Major General Miklau’s Imperial hussars and dragoons skirted the wood to come out on the far French left.



French horse move against Miklau
French horse move against Miklau

The French sent 2 brigades of horse against Miklau’s men, driving off the hussars. The imperial dragoons dismounted at the edge of a stream and formed a firing line. Against all the odds they managed to see off a charge by the French cavalry.


The French Redans in the centre
The French Redans in the centre

In the centre the French redans, supported by artillery and cavalry were too strong for the Allies to attack. With the Imperialists still slowly struggling to get through the woods, Marlborough rode over to the Allied right to encourage the Dutch in another attack on the allied right.


D'Artagnan's men stand ready to receive the Dutch on the French right
D'Artagnan's men stand ready to receive the Dutch on the French right

The attack ended in disaster. Marlborough was shot dead. The Dutch faltered and with the great man’s demise the Allied hopes died with him.


The death of Marlborough
The death of Marlborough

Rolling two 'skull and crossbowns' results in Marlborough's death and the end of the battle. The French had won the day.


Look out for a full article in a future Wargames Illustrated













By smacdowall, Jul 21 2019 12:27PM

Having just moved house I have not had the time to post much of late. However the games room is sorted and the painting table set up so I have been doing a bit of painting in between unpacking boxes and sorting furniture.


I will endeavour to post some pics of the latest troops to march off the painting table. First up are Dutch Horse Guards from 1709 — ready to join the Prince d’Auvergne’s squadrons on the Malplaquet battlefield.



I have painted the unit to represent the 1 squadron of the Life Guards of Nassau-Ouwerkerk (red coats) and the 2 squadrons of the Blue Guards who fought brigaded together at Malplaquet.


All flag references I found dated to the reign of King William III and carried his cypher on a blue ground. I decided on a similar design but substituting the coat of arms of Holland which seemed plausible for the post William era.


The Life Guards in front are a converted command group from Minifigs French Musketeers. The officer is wearing a cuirass which the Dutch attempted to have all cavalry wear from 1708 although without much success.


In William's day the Life Guards rode grey horses. I decided also mount the Blue Guards on greys as it makes them stand out and look more impressively 'guards-like'.



In the 1690s each of the three troops of the Blue Guards was distinguished by its men wearing red, yellow or green feathers in their hats. Not having many models with feathered hats I decided on using Minfig French troopers with shoulder knots and painting them in two of the distinguishing colours (red and yellow). The life guards do have tricorns adorned with feathers (taken from French Musketeer miniatures) and I decided to paint them green which was also the allied army’s identification colour.

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