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Feuding in Driffield, 1455


Misc., Medieval, Lion Rampant, 28mm

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Lion Rampant, and gave it a read. The rules looked both simple and fun, while giving enough period flavour to make the game interesting. Better still, I found a box of Perry plastic Wars of the Roses infantry contained pretty much all the figures I might need for a basic “army”, apart from a unit of six dismounted men-at-arms, which included the force leader. They came from the Perry’s as well, the 36 figures in the box split six ways, so that others in Orkney could build up armies too. The other wargamers in Orkney are still painting their forces.However, I not only completed mine – the retinue of Thomas Percy, Baron Egremont, but I also raised a rival force – the men of Sir John Neville. The Percys and the Nevilles were sworn enemies, and Thomas and John had already fought a skirmish with each other, even before the Wars of the Roses got properly under way. The fact that the Percys were now Lancastrians and the Nevilles were Yorkists was almost irrelevant in their private vendetta. For them it was just another excuse to wade into their great rivals.This little skirmish between the two nobles and their retainers was fought out in a small Yorkshire village. This tabletop fight was notable not only because it blooded my two forces, but it was also fought in the Orkney Wargames Club – version 2. Now, I was a member of the OWC back in the 70’s, and we called our resurrected club that when we first started gaming up here a few years ago. Meanwhile, the local fantasy club had adopted the name, and they meet in a church hall in Kirkwall every Thursday night. this week we decided to join them.Only two of us were playing – Sean and myself , using a 4 x 3 foot table (a Warhammer mat). Also, thanks to other commitments we only had an hour of gaming time. In the end this proved to be plenty. This was a straight-up fight – called a bloodbath. We both started with evenly matched forces, of four units apiece. When the total number dropped to five units we rolled a dice, to see if the game would end. In other words, we would fight until there was a clear result one way or the other, or both sides had effectively wiped each other out.These evenly matched forces consisted of two 12-figure units of retinue longbowmen (expert archers), one 12-figure unit of retinue billmen (expert foot sergeants), and a 6-figure unit of foot men-at-arms, which included the force leader (Sir Thomas for the Lancastrians, and Sir John for the Yorkists). Being a Yorkshireman, Sean took charge of the Nevilles, while I commanded the Percys. We both approached each other cautiously, but soon we were skirting the village with our lead units. Sean made the first move – peppering my billmen with arrows, and then charging in with his own billmen. It was deftly-done. The arrows caused casualties which prompted a cohesion test, which the billmen failed.They became “battered”, and therefore easy meat for the Yorkist billmen, who chopped them up even more. The survivors broke and ran, and didn’t stop running until they exited the table. That though, was when it all started to go wrong for Sean. His billmen moved forward, but came into range of my massed archers. His bowmen were on either flank, while I grouped mine on my right. The poor billmen didn’t stand a chance, and once they failed their cohesion test they began withdrawing from the field, having suffered half their number in casualties.The sequence of play was now working in my favour. To do something you have to activate a unit, but when it fails then all the other units you haven’t activated yet do nothing. Instead initiative passes to your opponent. Sean failed a string of activation tests, which let my bowmen do things they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. I moved forward and began out-shooting the bowmen facing mine, and forced them to retire. pretty soon that turned into a rout as the Yorkists failed their morale test. Then the archers raced back in time to do the same to the other band of Yorkist bowmen, who had marched around the village to attack me from the left flank. With them retiring we’d reached four battered, routed or destroyed units – almost the five needed to end the game. However, three of them were in Sean’s retinue. That left his men-at-arms, led by Sir John Neville. Chivalry dictated that I should lead my own men-at-arms out to meet him. Instead I chose the un-chivalric longbow as my tool of destruction, and whittled away at his band until only Sir John was left. Then I charged in, once I’d outnumbered him. Sir John Neville was duly hacked to death, and victory was complete. We both enjoyed our little skirmish – the rules were very fast and slick – and it took just over an hour to play. We’ll certainly try Lion Rampant again…

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