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Battle before Bosworth

By smacdowall, Jan 9 2020 04:09PM

One of the problems in building armies for the Battle of Bosworth is that once you have fought the battle that’s it. Many of your units cannot see action again as King Richard III is dead and Henry Tudor is King Henry VII. Of course some of the troops can be used in earlier actions in the Wars of the Roses but not all. Important nobles had the unfortunate habit of getting themselves executed when the found themselves on the losing side, so distinctive flags and liveries are sometimes short-lived.

A good solution is to set up plausible what-if scenarios before or after the actual historical encounter. This is what I did before Christmas.

I set up a fictional scenario based on an actual skirmish between the advance guards of Henry Tudor and King Richard III, 2 days before Bosworth. It assumes that this skirmish, at Atherstone, developed into a more significant engagement.

It allows players to use armies raised for the Battle of Bosworth in a plausible setting other than a re-fight of the famous battle. It also places Percy and the Stanleys in the forefront, giving a chance to use troops that were relatively inactive at Bosworth.

The full scenario can be downloaded from my website in the Medieval Scenarios section.

The Royalists had a significant archery superiority. The Royalist player advanced Percy’s archers within range of Stanley’s men and began to inflict significant casualties on them. This forced Stanley off the hill he was occupying to engage Percy in hand to hand combat.

I was playing the Tudors and it seemed like all was lost before the battle had truly begun, Stanley’s levied troops had been decimated and charged forward without orders.

The arrival of Howard’s mounted men at arms presented me with a further problem when they charged Sir William Stanley’s contingent. By dismounting William Stanley’s men at arms I was able to see off Howard’s attack but could not bring up William’s contingent to support Lord Stanley’s men.

While the archery duel had favoured the Royalists the hand to hand combat turned in my favour when Lord Stanley’s men at arms cut their way through Percy’s archers. When Percy himself joined in the fray he was killed in the combat. This caused his men to waver and then fall back.

More troops arrived on the field. Tudor’s French and Scots mercenaries bearing down on the Royalists only to be countered by the Duke of Norfolk’s retainers.

When King Richard himself arrived on the field, Percy’s men were in full retreat while the other contingents were in stalemate. Tudor’s men had won the day but it was not enough to make him king.

There is still another battle to be fought.

The rules used were Tree of Battles which can also be downloaded for free here.

I will be using these rules for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day on 4 April.

Jan 10 2020 08:51PM by Tim O' Connor

HI Simon
Great idea and lovely looking game and I will pass onto to my war gaming friends who have armies in the war of the Roses period. But I encountered a minor problem when I went to see the scenario I could not found it , when I clicked on the relevant section it just came up with the links to the tree of Battles rules. Have I done something wrong ?
best wishes

Jan 11 2020 12:15PM by smacdowall

Thanks for letting me know Tim. The link has been fixed. Clicking on the button will now automatically download the scenario as a PDF

Jan 11 2020 08:45PM by Tim O' Connor

HI Simon
thank you very much for correcting this item and sorry to be a pain but I tried to have a look at the battle of Newmark 1471 , it took me to the battle of Dorylaeum.I hope that this helps.
best wishes and thanks for for fixing the problem

Jan 12 2020 09:29AM by smacdowall

Fixed that link now too. Thanks for letting me know it is really helpful as if no on tells me the link is broken then I assume all is working as it shoulc

Jan 12 2020 11:02AM by David Grech

Thanks for sharing. Your continuous blog feed is a source of inspiration .

Jan 12 2020 11:20PM by Tim O' Connor

HI Simon
Thanks for fixing the link and I will let you when ever I came across any links that are not working and I have passed on these two battles to members s of my war gaming group who have War of the Roses armies . They are very appreciative.

Jan 14 2020 02:40AM by Tim O' Connor

Hi Simon
Just following up your request for being advised about links that do not work. I was in the Imperial Roman Scenarios and the battle for the Hun Camp 428AD and the Adrianople 378 AD are not working . Both these links do not open when you click on them , for your information
best wishes

Jan 15 2020 11:58AM by PaskudnyOrk


thanks for creation of 'Tree of Battles' medieval rules! The new edition is streamlined and much closer to 'Legio' engine, the ruleset I am impressed by - clear, panoramical, historically accurate, gives the spirit of ancient battles (and now the medieval ones too).

I would like to see the point system for 'Tree of Battles' (like those included in 'Legio' volumes) or something similar to army lists for those who like to battle not only historical-driven scenarios.

Good work!

P.S. Small error occured in the rules for command points allocation (page 10):
"1 CP on a result of 2, 3 CPs on a result of 3-4, 3 CPs on a result of 5".
Shouldn't it be as 1CP-2CP-3CP or 2CP-3CP-4CP steps?
Moreover, now it is impossible to get 4CP for exceptional commander (+1 to roll gives still max 3CP), while the rules for Command Actions (page 11) mention about such 4CP leader (in Steady Troops action). Likewise, it is not possible to take two Exert Control actions as no leader can afford to pay 2x2CP.

Jan 17 2020 04:26PM by smacdowall

Thanks for this. The section should read: "The marshal of the host and each captain is allocated 2-4 Command Points (CPs), that will allow him to carry out certain actions during the game. Unless their CPs are already decided by the scenario this is determined by rolling an AvD with 2 CPs on a result of 2, 3 CPs on a result of 3-4, 4 CPs on a result of 5." I have taken out the +/-1 for exceptional or incompentent leaders. I think this best set as part of a historical scenario.
In the combat results it should read "+1 for every 2 CPs of leader fighting in front rank"

I will give some thoughts to a points system.

I will ammend the rules and re-post them. I will notify this both on the blog and home page. Hope to do so by the end of the month

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