|My only as yet completed company, Warwick's for my planned WOTR collection|
Last week in a chat with friends from the DWG, in one of our regular Zoom gatherings which have replaced in the recent lockdowns our regular pub gatherings following a monthly club meeting, a new set of Wars of the Roses wargame rules came up in conversation, written by Dr Rob Jones a medievalist historian based in Cardiff and whose name immediately rang a bell, having had the pleasure of listening to him present at Penarth Wargames Society's annual show, Crusade in 2017 and 2019, both of which I reported on here at JJ's and can be seen in the link below.
|Rob Jones Presentations at Crusade 2017 & 2019|
In addition to the name of the author, what further peaked my interest, was that his new rules were based on the rules I was planning my own collection around, 'A Coat of Steel' (ACOS) by The Perfect Captain which seemed to me to really capture a lot of the peculiarities of medieval warfare and the warfare of this particular era, if in a rather opaque manner, with its references to a lot of medieval nomenclature which provides some of that 'feel' but at times rather confuses the matter of simply being a set of wargame rules.
|Warwick's boys get stuck-in in a Christmas game held at the DWG a few years ago|
Anyway intrigued, I found my way to Dr Jones' web site and the page relating to his rule set, 'Blood and Horse Droppings' (BHD) and promptly got a copy of the rules, a set of 'Warre Dice Stickers' and some army lists for the period and sat down to read, compare and contrast with ACOS, see link below if you are interested.
So in essence, Rob Jones has sieved out what I feel are the best aspects of ACOS, namely its rather unique method of combat resolution. which requires opposing commanders to select from a range of six distinct tactical options for their 'companies' that in the case of BHD, when compared one to another and combined with the result of a six sided 'Warre Die' result, churns out a result of casualties, disorder and/or pushbacks that helps to capture the feel of the bloody scrum produced from men locked in close combat with two handed 'tin openers'.
I was slightly disappointed to see his dropping of the similar shooting options of choosing different ways to launch arrow attacks dependent on wind direction and the tactics of the target presenting themselves in an advantageous way or not in the approach to combat, but can see that his simplification of this process could well pay off in a cleaner and faster resolution to this aspect of the game.
|Perfect Captain - A Coat of Steel|
Perfect Captain - A Crown of Paper
However additionally BHD retains the use of the wonderful artwork and characteristics beautifully captured in ACOS's with its character cards and the use of Traits and Puissance ratings to show the tactical and aggressiveness ratings for the various captains together with their respective ranks, that is Royals, Barons and Knights.
Another key change is the organising of the various troop types (retinue, array, mercenaries, spears, mounted men at arms, scurrours, Irish and Gonnes) around a set sized (base footprint) unit incorporating figures to represent the different troops that would be grouped within a company, the basic unit; therefor a retinue company would feature a captain and his fully armoured men at arms, some other jacketed men at arms and a group of archers, liveried and locals, the number of which and the types used being simply to illustrate the look of the unit, perhaps with archers to the rear and men at arms to the front.
Rob Jones made particular mention in his talks of how groups of men were raised during this period, which would include a mix of weapon specialists, and how they would fight together in 'their company', be that liveried retinues or commission of array, with a group loyalty to one another and the captain who raised and organised them, and he has reflected this in the rules, together with a very limited range of movement options also captured in his presentations.
|Some Scurrours, painted for a friend at club, during lockdown (Vince - I'll bring them along for you next month)|
I would thus take my current based groups of figures as seen in the pictures above and group eight such bases of infantry types, four to the front and four to the rear on a movement tray to represent such a company, and for my cavalry units, probably sticking to a single rather than double rank with a similar frontage as for the infantry.
Different strength companies, under or over strength are represented by a casualty rating of 4, 5 or 6 indicating how many casualties can be absorbed before the company breaks and with the lower or higher number indicating an above or below strength average company.
The various hits taken by units in the form of casualties and 'Black Flag' disorder hits could probably be easily recorded using micro dice, small markers or on a roster, depending on your own taste.
By retaining the basic character parameters and troop types in ACOS it also should enable BHD to be played using 'A Crown of Paper' (ACOP), the stand alone campaign game from The Perfect Captain which is another compelling reason to check these rules out.
I plan soon to make a start of my big pile of Perry WOTR plastics and metals and I will continue with my ACOS basing system which will easily convert as illustrated into BHD units, a rule set I am keen to have a go with, seeing that they incorporate a lot of the ideas of medieval warfare that Rob Jones outlined in his very entertaining presentations.