Monday, March 06, 2006

War of the Roses Campaign: Game 4

Year 2 of the Wars of the Roses began spectacularly, in a game marked by the most aggressive attacking we've seen so far, as well as possibly the poorest die rolling as well. Read on to find out which side failed to appease the gods of dice, and which side won in the Spring of 1462.

The starting line-up was as shown in the picture above - (left to right in each case)
York: Neville, Edward, Herbert
Lancaster: Percy, Margaret, Beaufort.
A small hamlet occupied the centre, which we named the Hamlet of Dogg (a nod of the head to Tom Stoppard here).

The battle began with aggressive advances on both flanks. Warwick advanced his knights to strike at the right of Beaufort's line (3a above). A unit of skirmishers skirted around the hill (seen on the far left of the picture) and tied up several of Beaufort's units for a few turns, but otherwise did nothing for the rest of the game. In the centre, Margeret stole a march on Edward, and occupied Dogg's Hamlet with a unit of skirmishers (3b above) while advancing strongly with her remaining troops, using the built-up area as an anchor for their flanks. On the far right, Herbert advanced aggressively into contact with Percy (3c above).

Warwick's attack on the left went badly. The initial assault (1, above) failed to break the line, whereupon Beaufort's troops surrounded the knights (2, above) - one of them (the unit that's attacking the rear of the knights) making 3 successive command rolls at cumulative penalties of minus 4 to march across a hill, and through the woods to get there! The beleaguered knights were cut down in the melee: the 'before' and 'after' in the picture above (2 and 3) tells the story more poignantly than words could. This is the kind of thing that breaks a wargamer's heart to see ...

The situation looked grim for the Yorkists: the assault on the left was stalled (1) with the Lancastrian's re-forming their lines. In the middle (2), Edward had been pushed back by archery (Margaret's sharpshooters got 3 hits out of 3 dice twice, killing whole bases and pushing units back). On the right, a grim battle between Herbert and Percy initially swung in Percy's favour (3), again with bad dice from the Yorkists, but then swung back to Herbert as the scrum developed (4). That battle would eventually claim 3 whole units from Percy, and deplete Herbert's force similarly, continuing Herbert's reputation for hard fighting.

In the centre, Edward's billmen launched a flank attack on Margaret's exposed troops, but failed to win (by this point it should be clear which side was rolling appallingly). The Lancastrians counter-attacked, but in a series of surprising reverses, a flank attack against a single element of Edward's bill by two elements of Margaret's bow (pictured in 1 above: the units concerned are just right of centre) was defeated: the cramped battlefield meant that the archers suffered the "buttocks of death", and the victorious single element advanced into flank attack against the attacking billmen (seen on the top right of 1).

Meanwhile, Margaret's retinue bowmen had launched an attack on Edward's complete retinue, who had moved up to try and rescue the situation. In (1) above, you can see on the left an "L"-shaped unit of archers (Margaret's retinue) attacking a unit of bow in line and knights in column (Edward's retinue, showing the Yorkist falcon-and-fetterlock, as well as the boar flag of Richard of Gloucester, Edward's youngest brother). Queen Margaret herself joined the combat, against the protests of her brother Beaufort. The resulting combat saw the Lancastrian retinue first pushed back, and then wiped out to a man, as Margaret herself was slain in battle (2, above).

In one swift stroke, the battle was over. Across the battlefield, 3 players had lost their personal retinues, an unprecedented level of slaughter for the campaign, and some 8 units had been lost in total. Spring has seen a bloody start to the year: it remains to be seen whether the summer of 1462 will see the winter of discontent made glorious by the sun of York, or whether this internecine conflict will grind on ...


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