Wednesday 11 September 2019

Battle of Gibbet Hill - War of the Roses 1461

Over the summer I have missed a couple of games at Reject HQ but this Sunday I was able to join my fellow outcasts for a game in the shed-o-war. This time Postie had his War of the Roses figures out and we prepared ourselves for a very bloody clash of arms.

The Setup
The order of battle for this game was loosely based on the Battle of Towton (known as the Bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil). The game opened with each commander moving the various commands and redeploying their troops. Each command rolls to see how far onto the table it can deploy and once both have moved their troops the commanders roll for initiative. 

Order of Battle
c/o EdwardIV (Brilliant) 15" +4
   1 -  Men at Arms (Foot)
   2 - Retinue Bill
   3 - Retinue Archers
   4 - Shire Archers
   5 - Mounted
   6 - Light Gun +4 Crew
2nd in command - Earl of Warwick (Plodding) 9" +2
   7 - Men at Arms (Foot)
   8 - Retinue Archers
   9 - Shire Bill
   10 - German Pikemen
   11 - German Handgunners
3rd in command - Duke of Norfolk (Efficient) 12" +3
   12 -  Men at Arms (foot)
   13 -  Retinue Bill
   14 - Shire Bill
   15 - Shire Archers
   16 - Peasants

c/o Duke of Somerset (Efficient) 12" +3
   1 - Men at Arms
   2 - Retinue Bill
   3 - Retinue Archers
   4 - Shire Archers
   5 - Mounted
   6 - Light Gun +4 Crew
2nd in command - Earl of Northumberland (Efficient) 12" +3
   7 - Men at Arms
   8 - Retinue Bill
   9 - Retinue Archers
   10 - Shire Bill
   11 - French Crossbowmen
3rd in command - Sir Andrew Trollope (Brilliant) 15" +4
   12 - Men at Arms
   13 - Shire Bill
   14 - Shire Archers
   15 - Welsh Spearmen
   16 - Peasants

The Action
The Initial setup - The Yorkist plan was to hold the nearest hill and centre and attack on our right flank, but after one turn of archery fire, we changed the plan. Standing still as glorified archery butts just wasn't going to work. 

Edwards Standard Bearer takes up a prominent position in the centre of our line. The morale bonus received from this guy was needed several times during the game. 

The advance begins as arrows darken the sky

The Yorkist line advances off the hills. As usual, Surj got his units in a jumble but the line remained fairly ordered for the first half of the battle. 

A fine figure of a man.... Payback for some less than flattering pictures of me over the years! Lol

Next doors cat Sid is a regular visitor to the shed of war. He looks a little bemused. 

Archery in this period is murderous and both sides lost more men to arrows in the early part of the game.  Surj and I quickly changed our plan after being on the receiving end of the first volleys. 

Postie decides to move the shepherd and his flock out of the way while Surj advances his foot troops. 

The master tactician at work.

The local farmers seem oblivious to the battle taking place in their fields. 

Meanwhile, the shepherd gets the flock outta here...

Our archers make short work of Lancastrian Billmen and Men-at-Arms in the centre, but the enemy also has two full-strength archer units poised to return the favour. 

The Lancastrian commander doesn't look too pleased with the situation. 

My troops under the Duke of Norfolk advance in good order towards the Lancastrian line. My archery was particularly effective and I moved up with relatively few casualties compared to Surj's troops on my right. 

Creeping towards each other the casualties mount.

Ray moves his men-at-arms forwards, poised to charge the Lancastrian lines. Meanwhile, Surj moves his mounted troops into a position to counter-charge...or so he thinks. 

My troops, under the Duke of Norfolk. Looking good despite all the sharp pointy death raining from above. 

Rays Men at Arms charge our unit of french crossbowmen (just right of centre in this picture). The Shirmish unit fails its morale and flees off the table! The Charging Men-at-arms are able to continue their charge and hit the next Yorkist unit which had been behind the Crossbowmen. 

The unfortunate result of this action is that the Lancastrian men-at-arms are now no longer in front of our mounted troops and cannot be counter-charged. Surj was understandably not happy at this point! 

Over on our right flank another unit, this time archers has also been charged by the Yorkists. They put up a stiff fight but still lose by a narrow margin and are driven off the battlefield. 

Things are hotting up now as foot units finally meet. Melee is as deadly as being shot at by archers but at least we'll have a chance to deal some damage to the enemy at the same time. 

With our archer's gon on the right flank, our foot units now line up for the next turn and more melee. 

Casualties are incredibly high and units that have fought hand-to-hand are severely depleted after a single melee. 

Surj goes toe-to-toe with Rays lancastrians. 

And in the centre, the infamous 'Pink Helmet' narrowly escapes destruction. 

The swine. Yorkist Retinue Buillmen see off one of our Shire Bill units and then charge into their rear as they flee. Ouch. 

Payback, our Pikemen make short work of Yorkist billmen. 

Meanwhile on my flank I get stuck in and have better luck with the dice than I am accustomed to.  I push back the Yorkists and press my advantage with the only archer unit still unscathed on the battlefield. 
My troops push forwards but the centre of the battlefield is eerily quiet as many units on both sides have been destroyed. It was at this point that Stuart announced that both sides had reached their breaking point, having lost six units. The victory was given to the Yorkists as we had destroyed seven enemy units by the end of the last turn. 

We all really enjoyed this battle, despite the high casualties. I think myself and Surjit felt a 'Minor Victory' was a little unfair because it felt that we had dominated the action all game. In the end, though, casualties count and both armies had been badly mauled by archery and melee. 

Surj and I had to change our plan early in the game. Its been a long time since any of us have played this period or these rules so it was quite a shock when we had the first turn of archery fire. It was immediately apparent that we couldn't sit back and wait for the Yorkists to attack, we had to take the fight to them. Fortunately our dice rolling was above-par all game and we won every turn of initiative which gave us a big advantage because we could fire first. Had the game gone another tunr its hard to say how things would have turned out. I was poised to melee with more Yorkists on my flank but in the centre Ray had two archer units poised to rain some hurt on my men. 


  1. Great report Lee, and thank you for the pic of my fat belly! I'm not at all sure how the game would have played out if we continued, but if your and Surj's dice throwing abilities carried on it would have been a bit more than a minor victory.
    P.S In your last photo you have claimed that the Lancastrians won, I was the Lancastrians you plonker!!!

    1. Lol, plonker status reconfirmed and mistake corrected.

      Our dice were blessed in that game. I didn't know how to react, I'm not used to winning melee's!

    2. Well done boys, love the flattery picture!

  2. Another great report this time from the other side of 'Gibbet Hill'

    1. Thanks. It was a bloody game for all concerned, and I thought we'd muffed it when we had to change plan early in the game, but it turned out to be the right decision.

  3. What a lovely looking game, but certainly a bloody one!

    1. It was a toughie. We (the Yorkists) lost a couple of units rather uselessly but then so did Ray when his cannon blew up right at the end of the game.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Tamsin. One of these days we'll get Postie to put some decent lights in the shed-o-war.

  5. The butcher's bill at Towton was probably lower than that of the defeat of Boudicca's rebellion.


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