Legio Wargames

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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.




By smacdowall, Apr 28 2012 09:57AM

My late medieval adaptation of Comitatus is now available to download in the Rules section.

I have taken care to ensure that these rules work particularly well for the Hundred Years War and Wars of the Roses. However they can also be used for other actions and theatres including the Scottish, Italian, Burgundian and Swiss wars right through to the end of the 15th century. With little modification they could also be used for representing some earlier conflicts.

I will work on getting some scenarios up before too long with sample orders of battle.

By smacdowall, Apr 15 2012 04:41PM

As the Earl of Oxford and Duke of Exeter approached Newark, their scouts reported that King Edward had secured the town and had deployed his army to block their advance. His force consisted of his own retinue, that of his brother Richard of Gloucester, some Flemish mercenaries, William Stanley’s retainers, shire levies from the Midlands and some light artillery. They were deployed along a line of low hills with Gloucester on the left, Edward in the centre and the guns off the the right behind a small hamlet.


Oxford and Exeter had slightly more troops including their own retinues and retainers, those of Viscount William Beaumont and 4000 men raised in East Anglia and the Fens. The Lancastrians had slightly fewer archers than Edward but more men at arms and billmen. Their plan was to attack in 2 battles with Oxford, Beaumont and all of the archers in the forward Battle with Exeter deployed behind commanding a smaller Battle of men at arms and billmen.


Oxford’s Battle advances into bow range of the Yorkists and start to get the worst of the archery duel



The Yorkist guns open fire. They make a lot of noise and smoke but other than that have little impact on the outcome of the battle.



Exeter holds his men back and does not advance to support Oxford. At the start of the game each player had to roll a die to determine how the junior captains would interpret their orders. Richard was happy to obey his brother Edward's instructions but Exeter decided to vacillate. This remained his position right to the end of the game - the Lancastrian player never rolling high enough to get him moving, and not being able to afford to send Oxford back to force him to obey.



Seeing Oxford's men withering under the storm of arrows, Edward orders his billmen to the fore and signals the advance.



On the Yorkist left, Richard of Glocester, supported by William Stanley breaks the East Anglian troops of Oxford's left wing.



In the centre, however the fighing is much more evenly matched as Oxford and Edward come face to face. The initial clash is inconclusive.



For a moment Edward and his retinue find themselves exposed as they hold their ground while the troops on their flanks are pushed back. However the Edward’s Flemish handgunners continue to inflict damage on Oxford’s men and Richard of Gloucester has managed to stop his troops from pursuing and is ready to come in on Oxford’s right flank.



It is all over for Oxford. His men melt away and he finds himself surrounded on all sides by the victorious Yorkists. We can only assume that his head ends up on the chopping block.

Meanwhile Exeter withdraws from the field in good order, having not moved from his initial position. He dictates a message to Warwick saying how, despite Oxford's impetuosity, he has been able to preserve his forces in order to fight another day.









By smacdowall, Apr 10 2012 06:07PM

The most noble and right victorious Prince Edward, by the grace of God, King of England and of France, and Lord of Ireland, in the year of grace 1471, has arrived in England to reconquer the realm from that traitor and rebel the Earl of Warwick.


The King is now at Nottingham and has sent his Scourers into the adjoining countryside to spy and search for any gatherings of men who might stand against him. He has learned that the Duke of Exeter the Earl of Oxford, Viscount Beaumont and other traitors are marching towards him with a great fellowship, which they had gathered in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, and Lincolnshire.


Battle will be joined in Wangford, next Sunday.


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