By smacdowall, Jun 17 2021 07:59PM
My first face-to-face game in ages was back to the Wars of the Roses in preparation for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day to be held 15 August in Newbury (God and pestilence willing!). It was also an opportunity to re-familiarise some of the players with the Tree of Battles rules which we will be using for the Bosworth re-fight.
Rather than doing Bosworth itself I decided on a fictional scenario which imagined King Richard III moving on the Earl of Oxford before he could link up with Henry Tudor.
Oxford, accompanied by Thomas and William Stanley, is outnumbered but all he has to do is hold his position.
He has more artillery than the King and is also reinforced by a unit of French pikemen and halberdiers.
The King, assisted by John Howard Duke of Norfolk and Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, has to attack and defeat the enemy.
The game opened with a furious archery duel between Sir William Stanley’s men on Oxford's right and those of the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey on the Yorkist left.
William Stanley’s men got the better of the archery duel causing Surrey’s levy to fall into disarray. Seeing an opportunity, Stanley led his retinue in a mounted charge which routed Surrey’s levy. Unfortunately Stanley could not rein in his men and they continued their pursuit. King Richard (who was also mounted) led his retinue to intercept Stanley, killing him and destroying his men at arms.
Thomas Stanley and Henry Percy were both deemed to be ‘potentially treacherous’. This required a loyalty test to be taken if either were ordered to do anything other than hold their positions. Oxford was quite happy to keep Thomas Stanley holding a hill but the King wanted Percy to advance. It took the King’s personal intervention to make this happen. King Richard also sent a herald forward to entice Thomas Stanley to change his allegiance but Oxford’s personal intervention kept Stanley loyal.
With Richard busily engaged sorting things out elsewhere, the Yorkist centre was slow to advance. With the King back controlling them they moved in on Oxford’s men and engaged them in an archery duel which the Yorkists got the better of.
Meanwhile the Yorkist left was wavering under archery supported by artillery and skirmishers. Oxford sent his French mercenaries forward in an attempt to break Norfolk’s wing that was holding the Yorkist left.
The ever active King Richard III personally intervened to shore up Norfolk and to prevent a breakthrough.
In the centre, the Constable of the Tower of London closed in on Oxford’s retainers who were reeling under the arrows of the King’s men. Oxford held the line and the Constable’s isolated men fell into disarray.
With the pub beckoning we decided to call it a day. The Yorkists had failed to defeat Oxford’s army but they had killed William Stanley so the result was a draw with the tactical advantage to Oxford.
The Tree of Battles rules worked well, giving us a fast paced game which gave us the feel of a Wars of the Roses engagement. We will be using them, and the same miniatures, at the SoA Bosworth Battle Day 15 August. There is plenty of room for others to join us then. If you would like to secure a place let me know at [email protected] Or just turn up on the day.
Tree of Battles is available from this website both as a PDF or in hard copy here.