Monday 4 December 2017

The Green Fields of France

This weekend I visited Stuart of Army Royal,,  to fight out some more daring actions in Northern France 1513 using our adapted, and ever evolving, Lion Rampant rules. We played three games but were plagued with incredibly bright sunshine for some of the time, I know that is an unusual thing for someone British to say, and then rapidly falling darkness in the afternoons! This limited which games we could photograph. As a result I have chosen two of the games to report on. In the third game we played the "Meeting the Neighbours" scenario from the Lion Rampant rule book and my force, I was playing the French, was completely annihilated to the loss of one unit by Stuart. Such a shame it was already too dark to properly photograph that game.

As with previous reports the photos are all of the actual games and are not staged. Ok so we have added Stuart's superb new backdrop to some of them but none of the figures have been posed or moved. Apologies for any bad lighting, it was tricky to get decent photos a lot of the time. I did not record the games action by action so will summarise what happened in each one, with an obvious bias towards the side I played no doubt. The best way to follow the action is by reading the captions underneath the photos, the images often tell a better tale than I can.

Encounter at Tournehem

The first Scenario we played was loosely based upon an abortive raid on the English column as it marched to Therouanne. The English crossed the river Hem and were met by an advance French force who attempted to draw the English into combat. Skirmishing took place for six hours which was stopped by the arrival of a detachment of English cavalry.

Opposing accounts of the engagement claimed that it was an ambush laid by the other side. The English simply had to break through to reach their billets in Tournehem. The French were ordered by Louis XII to keep the field which was a somewhat vague command, de Piennes interpreted it as to maintain a force in the area to harass the English whereas Bayard favoured a more specific and direct approach of stopping the English. For the game we therefore decided either side could win via aggression, discretion or both.

The forces were as follows (we played with large retinues in this game!)

The French

From a French Ordonnance Company:

2 units of Gendarmes
2 units of Men-at-Arms
2 units of Ordonnance Archers with Bows

Supporting troops:

1 unit of Aventuriers
1 unit of Francs Archer with bows
1 unit of Stradiots
1 unit of Mounted Arquebusiers

The English Column

1 unit of Foot Knights
2 units of Shire Bowmen
1 unit Shire Bill
1 Organ Gun

Accompanying "Almains"

1 unit of Landsknecht Shot
1 unit of Landsknecht Halberdiers

The English Cavalry Relief Force

2 units of Demi-lancers
1 unit of Border Horse

The French started up to 6 inches along the Southern Edge of the table but were allowed to place up to 8 points of troops 8 inches their side of the river as an advance guard. Additionally they could place 4 points of troops in the woods, these were just across the river on one flank.

The English army entered the table on the Northern Edge via normal activation and could move up to full move distance upon the first activation.
We decided the river was relatively shallow and was treated as rough going. It also afforded cover to units in it. It had a ford which due to low lying fog could not be discovered until it was approached. Upon any unit reaching the river the ford was determined as being in the West on a 1-2, Centre on 3-4 and East on 5-6. The ford was passable without detriment to movement

On the third turn after the English had entered the field the English relief entered from the Central Western edge on a 5+ and then a 3+ if it had not yet arrived on the second turn and then automatically on the third turn if it had still not arrived.

The English would gain 1 victory point for each unit that left the table along the Southern edge and for each enemy unit they destroyed or routed. Similarly the French would gain 1 victory point for each enemy unit destroyed or routed and for each friendly unit that remained on the field.

The French forces advance towards the river, attempting to get into position before the English can.

The English take the field and quickly see off a small group of dismounted arquebusiers

The fighting develops as the English use Landsknecht shot and Bowmen to drive the French back.

This was a great game which really gave the feeling of an escalating engagement. Stuart took the English and I played the French. Initially the English continually failed to activate and bring anyone onto the field which meant the French advanced a long way up towards the river. When the English did finally arrive the French Mounted Arquebusiers, who had been placed as an advance force in the woods, were quickly seen off with volleys of arrows from the English Bowmen.  On both of the French flanks the Ordonnance archers dismounted and took cover in the shallow water from where they sent a steady stream of arrows at the English. It did not take long for the English to realise the advantage of cover that they river gave and they had soon set up a defensive position along it.

On the French left flank the English Relief arrived. The Border Horse flushed the Ordonnance archers on the left from the riverbed only to themselves be routed by the Francs Archers. The relieving Demi-Lancers entered the river cleverly luring the French Gendarmes into a charge where their heavier armour and barding put them at a disadvantage against the lighter equipped Demi-Lancers. The river really was proving to be a key factor in this engagement.

The English make it to the river and use the banks as cover in their "shoot out" with the French.

The Dismounted French Ordonnance archers have been doing a good job of holding back the English, using the river as cover. Unfortunately the arrival of the English Border horse, spearheading the English relief, puts an end to this.

The English relief force has arrived and helps to spur on the English infantry.

The two forces get uncomfortably near each other, with only a shallow river between them.
English Demilancers enter the river...

...and succeed in luring in the French Gendarmes who attack them at a considerable disadvantage in the slippery and rocky terrain.

An overview of the developing engagement.

The Dismounted French Ordonnance archers in the foreground are making a nuisance of themselves but otherwise the French are steadily giving ground.

With one unit of their Gendarmes and one unit of mounted archers lost and the other mounted archers struggling to hold their position the French gave ground. They still had some very effective cavalry units left but had realised that engaging the English on the river banks only put them at a disadvantage. The feint had the desired effect and as the English crossed the river in a more disorganised fashion the French counter attacked. Intitially the French counter attack had some success. A unit of Billmen was routed and a unit of archers nearly caught in the open. The archers did make it back to the river bank from where they could more effectively defend against the French horse.

The game ended as an English victory with the French keeping some of their cavalry on the field but having lost more units than the English. The English were also able to get some units off the field which earned them further victory points. The river had played a key part by allowing units to take cover in the initial "fire fights" that had taken place. The difficult terrain also meant that the English could fight the French Heavy Cavalry on equal terms if they were rash enough to engage them in the water.

The Francs Archers have been seen off so the French horse retreat, knowing that attacking the English while they hold the shallow river will be disastrous.

But the retreat turns out to be a feint and the French cavalry attack isolated English units as they cross the water.

The over enthusiastic English archers, flushed with victory, have advanced too far and are caught in the open by the vengeful French horse.

The archers are driven back to the relative safety of the water where they can fight the French horse more effectively in the rough terrain.

No Wheels on my Wagon

The second game was again set in Northern France during the summer of 1513. In this fictional scenario, based on the day to day type of attacks that took place in this campaign, an English convoy, supplying the siege at Therouanne, had been shadowed by a larger French force so had formed up in a defensive position. The English had unlimbered their guns along a river bank and sent for aid. The English had to try and escape before being crushed by the French force. The French had to try and destroy the English wagons and guns before aid arrived. The English would try and get the wagons off the table and the organ guns if possible as well. The English could leave by the East or West deployment zones, but all their forces had to leave by the same edge once one unit had left from that edge.

The English defenders deployed in the centre of the table by the river.

English Wagon Column

2 Organ Guns
1  unit of Shire Billmen
1 unit of Shire Longbowmen

Accompanying "Almains"

1 unit of Landsknecht Shot
1 unit of  Landsknecht Halberdiers

Plus 2 Wagons. These could be be "picked up" by a unit, it just had to move it into contact with the wagon and declare it was moving it. The wagons then moved as per "The Convoy" Scenario rules in the Lion Rampant rule book. If the wagons were contacted by an enemy before being "picked up" they were considered destroyed.

French Shadowing Retinues

The French forces deployed in the North West and North East zone. They were divided into two separate retinues, each with their own leader.

2 Units of Gendarmes
2 Units of Men-at-Arms
1  Unit of Ordonnance Archers with Bows

1 Unit of Stradiots

2 units of Franc Archers
1 unit of Aventuriers
1 Culverin

English Relief Force

2 Units of Demi-Lancers
1 Unit of Border Horse

Burgundian Auxilliaries

1 Unit of Burgundian Men-at-Arms
1 Unit of Mounted Crossbowmen

The English relief would arrive during the first turn on an 11-12 on 2 dice, then 10+ and so on. We decided exactly where they arrived would not be known from the start and we would dice for the East or West deployment zone when they arrived. A unit would need to role for a move activation to enter and could not attack on the turn it entered the table.

The Relief Force was a separate Retinue with it's own leader.

The English Guns and Wagons form a defensive position while they await aid. The shadowing French force can be seen in the distance.

Outnumbered by the French the English close ranks and, having sent for help, await the arrival of their cavalry.

The French forces enter the field hoping to crush the English before help arrives.

We swapped sides for this game with Stuart now taking the French and myself the English. The English Wagon convoy moved their German Arquebusiers, Archers and Organ Guns into the shallow river for cover while the Billmen attempted to take one of the wagons on and off up the hill to safety. Initially this looked like it might be working as the Stradiots in French service who rode around the top of the hill in a pincer movement were seen off by the English employed Landsknechts. The English success was short lived as the Francs Archers close behind the Stradiots managed to rout the Landsknechts before they could come to grips with them and then sent the Billmen leading the wagon up the hill running in panic. The wagon was abandoned and smashed as it slid back down the slopes.

Meanwhile at the other end of the field the English relief force had arrived. The Border Horse, Burgundian Mounted Crossbowmen and one troop of Demi-Lancers made for the beleaguered Wagon Laager while the Burgundian Men-at-Arms and the other troop of Demi-Lancers surprised the French and attacked them from their flank. This lead to a brief but fierce cavalry melee. Again success seemed to be within reach of the English to start with as the French Men-at-Arms were broken by the initial assault and retreated having been "battered" by the Burgundians. The Burgundians charged a second time, seeing an attack on an already broken enemy as an easy way to earn some English coins and possibly get some noble prisoners to ransom. Unfortunately for them they neglected the more heavily armoured and barded Gendarmes who charged the over enthusiastic Burgundians and sent them fleeing along with the Demi-Lancers who had followed them onto the field.

Stradiots in French service attempt to encircle the English wagons.

As the French close in some of the English try and make a dash for safety. Some try to press on up the hill while the bow, shot and ordnance hold the river banks attempting to keep the majority of the French at bay.

The dynamic of the fight changes with the arrival of the English relief. Demi-Lancers and Border horse can be seen in the top left riding on to aid the convoy while in the top right Burgundian Men-at-Arms and more Demi-Lancers attack the French from behind.

The Landsknecht shot in English service have crept up the river banks in an attempt to fire on the dismounted French Ordonnance Archers.

The Burgundian Men-at-Arms are more than happy to break spears with the already disordered French Men-at-Arms.

With Landsknechts leading the break out, some of the convoy with one of the wagons attempt to escape the field...

...bringing injured men with them, they attempt to climb the hill and escape.

At the other end of the field the Burgundian Men-at-Arms have not managed to rout the French Men-at-Arms. In a furious cavalry engagement they are counter charged by the fresh Gendarmes who soon send them, and the Demi-Lancers with them, from the field.

It looks as though one of the English Wagons may be saved, but no, the Francs Archers loose a volley of arrows into the already panic stricken men, who flee abandoning the wagon which is destroyed as it crashes back down the hill in the chaos.

The French cavalry have secured the top of the hill and now proceed to ride towards the remaining English, tightening the noose!

The French breech-loader on top of the hill has had little part to play in the fight, save a few shots at the English attempting to defend the river.

In the centre of the field the English defenders who had deployed in the river bed found themselves out ranged by the French who used Franc Archers, Aventuriers and the Ordonnance Bowmen against them. The Border horse did manage to get the remaining wagon and slowly (and I mean really slowly, I rolled four sets of double ones trying to activate these bastards!) bring it across the river in an attempt to get it to safety. The remaining unit of Demi-Lancers and the Mounted Crossbowmen screened the Borderers and the wagon as they attempted to remove it from the field. This led to the Mounted Crossbowmen being routed by the Francs Archers and the Demi-Lancers being bested in a nasty clash of lances in the shallow river as they were charged by the French Gendarmes.

 The Borderers did get the wagon off the field but at a terrible cost to the rest of the English force. The Wagon Convoys infantry had been annihilated, one wagon and both the organ guns lost. The relief force hadn't done much better with only the Border Horse getting off the field in good order. Had the Border Horse managed to move at anything greater than a snails pace with the wagon then the Mounted Crossbowmen and Demi-Lancers would have made it to safety with them! In contrast despite some losses both of the French retinues were still in a respectable state although the retinue that had suffered the mounted flank attack had had a bit of a mauling.

A hell of a fight this one, at one point there were charges and counter charges happening all over the table. I think we particularly enjoyed the rule that Burgundian Men-at-Arms will only "Wild Charge" battered units. This is to reflect the fact that in the 1513 campaign they were suspected of only entering the fray when victory was already guaranteed! Amusingly they did have to Wild Charge the battered French Men-at-Arms which meant they were then charged by the Gendarmes with disastrous results.

A great weekends gaming - such a shame that the photos of that third game in which I was completely driven from the field didn't come out well!

The English Border horse have succeeded in getting the remaining wagon moving. As the hill is occupied by the French they attempt to take it across the river to safety.

As the wagon, glimpsed in the bottom left, moves tortuously slowly, the Burgundian Mounted Crossbowmen and English Demi-Lancers attempt to shield it from French attacks.

The French are gaining on the wagon.

The Mounted Crossbowmen are driven off by the Francs Archers and the Gendarmes rashly charge into the water to engage the English. Despite the terrain they scatter the Demi-Lancers but one of the wagons has managed to get to safety.

The "Generals"!

Tuesday 14 November 2017

1540s Tudor English - Rebased

During what I am terming the "Great Rebasing of 2015" I managed to get all my early 16th century stuff done but had to stop at some point and never managed to rebase my Assault Group Mid-Sixteenth Century English. I gave up leaving most of them looking like this: . The post from 2014 discusses the troops in more detail than I will here. Of course the fact they never got rebased has slowly niggled away at me and finally I have managed to put down the paint brushes for long enough to get them rebased. Saying that there are around a dozen newly painted figures that have been added in to make the numbers work so there has been a bit of new painting to complete this project.

I am pleased with the results. I feel the new bases and mixing of the figures makes them look a bit more real and less "toy soldier" which I felt they looked a bit like before. This was especially true of the billmen. You may notice I have added a few figures in "almain rivet" and breastplates to the billmen which means they are not so completely uniform, all being in the red and white coats. This seems to make them look more convincing. The flags are, of course, from Petes excellent range, available on Ebay: and

With the addition of some more cavalry this collection will be superb for pushing the games of Lion Rampant even further into the Sixteenth Century. The more generic Imperialist or French Infantry I have already completed for the 1540s,, could fight them in terrain similar to the recent Ardres and Calais games in a refight of the "Camisade of Boulogne". This will certainly happen at some point, it will mean I can field the infamous Blaise de Monluc as he took part in this assault. It's been a long time since I read his memoirs but from what I recall he decided English archery was not the thing of legend he had heard after encountering English Archers in the night fighting around Boulogne in the autumn of 1544.

The other opponents for this part of the collection are my current project. These figures were sculpted with the French and Anglo-Scots wars of the 1540s in mind but they are fine for the 1530s up to the mid 1560s in my opinion. This means I can use them as English infantry for Mid-Sixteenth Century Ireland. They could be crushing the Rebellion of Silken Thomas, the 10th Earl of Kildare who rebelled in the 1530s and lead to the English Crown taking a far more hands on approach in its government, or attempted goverment, of Ireland in the Sixteenth century. Alternatively they could take the field against the forces of Shane O'Neill. A battle like "The Red Sagums" in July 1561, where Shane O'Neill with 120 Horse and a few hundred Galloglass and "Redshanks" fell upon an English rearguard of 400 men, would be perfect to do in a scaled down skirmish. Sourcing figures for the Gaelic Irish can be a bit tricky but with the use of green stuff and some conversions I think I have found enough figures suitable for a smaller Lion Rampant style force. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures of them up by the New Year.

The Assault Group Mid-16th Century Tudor English

Tudor Billmen flanked by Archers and Arquebusiers with a skirmish line of Bow and Shot in front.

A Tudor Officer amongst the Archers.

The skirmishers fan out in front of the main body of the infantry.

The whole Tudor Infantry company.

The troops from the rear.

The rebased Mid-16th Century Billmen

English Billmen from the 1540s.

An English Command base.

The second English Command Base.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Tudor Archers and "Ammunition Markers"

Despite all the gaming and reenacting that has been going on I have finally managed to paint up a new unit. Following on from my experiment with Stuart's excellent Tudor Dollies to make the gun crew I bit the bullet and tried a whole unit of Tudor Archers. I know that Stuart sculpted the Dollies with billmen more specifically in mind but they also work really well for a mix of advancing and firing bowmen as long as a bit of care is taken to match the arms to certain poses.

The three images below show the unit before I painted it up. I was keen to show what parts have been used to make up these figures and also show how much green stuff is needed to complete them. As you can see a bit of green stuff work is needed but it's not too much and adding the sleeves really isn't that difficult, and this is coming from someone who hates green stuff with a passion! So a mix of Stuart's Dolls, Perry Wars of the Roses plastics and Perry metal Tudor heads make up most of the unit. The eagle eyed may notice a head swapped Assault Group figure, a Foundry Landsknecht and even a new Warlord Plastic Landsknecht have also made it on to the command base. A couple of quivers from Front Rank and some paper crosses stuck on to resemble stitched ones complete the unit.

The Archers ready to be painted - a mixture of Stuarts dolls with Perry Wars of the Roses Plastics.

The dolls with added green stuff sleeves.

The Archers prior to painting.

The painted unit is below. They march under the standard of Sir Henry Willoughby, which is from Pete's excellent flag range: Henry Willoughby was quite the veteran by the 1513 campaign having fought at Stoke in 1487 and Blackheath in 1497 as well as taking troops to the continent in 1489, 1491 and 1512. He was in the rearward in the 1513 campaign with a retinue of 200 men. I am really happy with the resulting unit. Yes they took a bit more effort to build and put together but the figures work beautifully for the early 16th English campaigns in France. You could use these chaps from the early 1500s through to the 1520s.

The Tudor Dollies are still available from Stuart, I thoroughly recommend them. They can make billmen, archers, handgunners or crossbowmen using the Perry plastic kits. You will notice I have also included some figures that aren't wearing the base coats. I like the variety this adds and with the simple change of head gear these Wars of the Roses figures can easily be brought into the early 16th Century. I think at some point I will do another archer unit similar to this. This will then take my early Tudor army to around 72 billmen with a matching 72 archers which gives a nice balance.

Tudor Archers - The standard is that of Sir Henry Willoughby

The Tudor Archers - These chaps would be suitable from the early 1500s through to the 1520s.

The Archers from behind - note the paper crosses on the padded jacks to look like stitched on St Georges crosses.

The Archers in a skirmishing line.

The Archers attacking.

Following on from the games I had over the summer I have also painted up some figures to mark the use of ammunition for guns. Stuart and I were experimenting with artillery rules in Lion Rampant and were using a system of marking how many times a gun had fired. This made subsequent firing incrementally more difficult. So below we have a couple of labourers, a Front Rank wagon and some gun paraphernalia to use as markers. They could also be used to mark casualties or maybe some kind of objectives in a game, they are quite generic and useful. The bases are from Warbases and have a zero to twelve dial on them, the same as my casualty bases. I hate having to use little dice or bits of paper to record stuff. It really spoils the look of the game, and for me the spectacle is what it is all about. I find these kind of markers also add to the feel of the game, rather than detract like paper or dice do. They actually add to the look and flavour of the period which is great.

Four ammunition markers.

Markers that can be used to record ammunition.