Saturday, December 21, 2013

War of the Roses Army - project planning and analysis

So, if one were going to build a 28mm army for wargaming the War of the Roses, a couple of things should be done to begin the project.  First is to decide on the scope (size, scale, etc) of the project.  Second, is to decide on a side, or army nationality.  Third is to decide on the size and composition of the miniatures army.  Fourth, is to decide on the typical figure type/sculpt type.  Fifth is to choose miniatures, order them, and begin the prep/paint/finish process.



Step one has been done - this will be a 28mm project, and I would like to aim for enough miniatures for a medium to large army good for a single player in a several hour wargame.

Step two is MOSTLY done - I have been looking at both the Lancaster and also some of the Yorkist Pretender armies.  The reason for this is because Chris, my intended opponent, is looking strongly at a Yorkist Army.

Step three is a tricky one.  More on that later.

Step four is down to two choices, I believe.  The first choice is to use the Old Glory War of the Roses range.  These are good figures, and I have had great luck with the Old Glory figures in the past.

Old Glory War of the Roses Longbowmen - from the Old Glory UK website
The second choice would be using as many as possible the Perry figures for the War of the Roses.  These would be plastic, and I have always loved the Perry brother's sculpts and look of their toy soldiers. An older range of Perry War of the Roses figures exist - the figures from Wargames Foundry (or The Foundry).  These, while quite excellent, are not as animated as the new figures from the brothers, but they would mix well.
Perry plastic set that allows the building of Billmen and Bows.  From the Perry website.

Step five is in progress - in fact, trying to decide which is what led me to write this article.


Okay, so back to the unfinished step - Step Three.  I want to, if I stick with Lancaster, model the army of Somerset from the Battle of Towton (March 29, 1461).  This is a pretty standard late medieval army, both in command structure (three battles, each under the command of a separate Noble) and in composition (predominantly foot, with some heavy infantry knights and men-at-arms, as well as mixed ranks of billmen and longbowmen).  For reference, there are several well known books on the subject, as well as a great website on the Battlefield. Some of the books, of use for wargamers, are Boardman's book on The Battle of Towton, the Osprey Campaign guide to Towton, and more recently, the title Fatal Colors: Towton 1461 - England's most Brutal Battle, by George Goodwin.

Map from the Towton Battlefield website (link above)


From a wargaming perspective, there are some fantastic pictures at the Grimsby Wargaming Society (gallery 1 and gallery 2).  There is also a great compilation of War of the Roses battle descriptions (Albans, Towton, Wakefield and Barnet), using DBM, from Wargames Illustrated, the collection of articles exists as a PDF file here.  The details on the battle of Towton were by (as they all were) Eric J. Cruttendon.  Towton appeared in issue 137.  Using that article as a reference, the three battles of the Lancaster army are composed of these DBM elements -

Somerset's Battle
ElementNumberDescription
Kn(S)1Duke of Somerset C-in-C
Kn(S)2Royal Bodyguard Men-at-arms
Bd(O)8Retinue Billmen
Bw(S)16Retinue Bowmen
Bd(I)4Shire Levy Billmen
Bw(O)18Shire Levy Bowmen
Bd(I)6Northern Border Foot
Sp(I)12Northern Border Foot
Bg(O)6King's Baggage


Northumberland's Battle
ElementNumberDescription
Kn(O)1Duke of Northumberland
Kn(I)3Men-at-Arms
Cv(O)2Currours
LH(O)2Northern Border Staves
Bd(O)4Retinue Billmen
Bw(S)8Retinue Bowmen
Bd(I)4Shire Levy Billmen
Bw(O)18Shire Levy Bowmen


Exeter's Battle
ElementNumberDescription
Kn(O)1Duke of Exeter
Kn(I)2Men-at-Arms
Cv(O)1Currours
Bd(O)4Retinue Billmen
Bw(S)8Retinue Bowmen
Bd(O)4Shire Levy Billmen
Bw(O)16Shire Levy Bowmen

These descriptions are all well and good, and serve (as a wargaming reference) as an excellent guide to the composition and ratio of the three battles involved on the Lancaster (Royal, Red Rose) side during the battle of Towton.  However, I am currently thinking of two other sets of possible rules to represent the battle.


The first set of rules would be Warhammer Ancient Battles 2 (sadly, out of print as Warhammer Historicals was, for some reason not to be gone into here, shut down), following the War of the Roses army list from the fan supported publication Armies of Antiquity 2.  For this set of rules, for the infantry units, I would go with 12 figure Retinue units (with 1 unit of 12 billmen, organized with two units of 12 each bowmen, giving a total of 36 figures for a bill/bow block), and maybe 6-8 figures for the mounted units.

The second would be using a fan supported modification of the Dux Bellorum rules, modified for War of the Roses battles.  That modification can be found here - at the Shire and Everything After gaming blog.  As a mounting/organization size, I would use two stands of 60mm x 40mm bases for a unit in this set of rules.  For foot, that would be 12 figures, and for mounted that would be 6 figures.

The nice thing about the 60mm x 40mm mounting is that it works for either ruleset, as well as a bunch of other rulesets that could be used - the WRG Renaissance rules could be used, as well as Impetus, Armati, HOTT, or even the Neil Thomas rules for Ancient and Medieval games (as well as his more general Introduction to Wargaming rules).


So, looking at the DBM lists above from Cruttenden's article, we can surmise the following, choosing to analyze the basic ratios, and looking at blocks of bow/bill troops that were 33% bill.

Somerset had two bow/bill blocks of Retinue soldiers, the other battles had only one each.
All three battles had maybe 2 blocks of Shire/Levy (Militia) bow/bill blocks, with additional bodies of archers.
All three had bodyguard elements (knights) for the C-in-C
Some (scant) other knights (maybe 1 unit) were in each, as well as a few other lighter units (Northern spear and sword units, currours, staves).

In Warhammer, doing a Retinue bow/bill block as I described (12 billmen, 24 bowmen) would cost the following:
12 Billmen - @12 points each, with +1 for heavy armour, so a total of 156 points
2x12 Bowmen - @13 points each (as per the errata), so a total of 312 points
Giving each body a leader, musician, and standard bearer gives each a cost of +15 points
Total, for all three bodies of troops making up the bow/bill block would be 513 points.

On the other hand, using the Dux Bellorum rules variant, a Retinue bow/bill block (again, with 1/3 of the troops being the bill unit, and two associated bow units), has the following
Retinue Bill - 12 billmen (two stands of six each) 3 army points
Retinue Bow - 2 units of 12 bowmen each (two stands of six each unit) 2x 3 army points each
Each such bow/bill block would be 9 army points.

To build two such blocks (the number of figures are the same, and I would even do the basing the same, either way), requires the following:
Total (two blocks): 24x billmen, and 48x bowmen.

Using the Perry Plastics, you would need two boxes, and then you would have a couple of figures left over (for command, no doubt).  Going with the pricing from The War Store this would come to a total of $64 (plus shipping, if any).

Using Old Glory 25s, you would need 1 bag of Billmen, and 2 bags of Bowmen.  Assuming an Old Glory Army membership (40% discount), and ordering 1 bag of WOR-08 (Billmen in Livery Coats) and 2 bags of WOR-09 (Longbowmen in Livery Coats), the price would come out to 3x$21 = $63 (plus shipping, if any).

So, the price is about the same either way.  Now I have to decide....


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