Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, March 20, 2017

1st St. Albans

After a couple of weeks of diminishing returns in attempting to finish off some 15mm figures, I decided that I would clear the hobby room table and give another boardgame a go.

Having already tried one of the battles without making much progress, I resolved this time to make the effort to properly learn the rules for Blood and Roses, a game from Richard Berg's Men of Iron series.


The Yorkists (White), arrayed in three battles, are endeavouring to give the Lancastrians a bloody nose and force concessions out of the king.

The Lancastrians are ensconced behind the Tonman Ditch, which, while difficult to traverse, is rather longer than the Lancastrian line. The Yorkist intent then is to get Salisbury across on the left and York across on the right to turn the line from both ends.

Sadly for the Lancastrians, there's not a great deal they can do about it. Their troops are average, they are outnumbered, and they have no longbowmen.

The turning movements begin...

The tactics for the Yorkists are pretty obvious: outflank them; soften them up with the bowmen; then attack with qualitative and numerical superiority.

Salisbury gave us a textbook example, as seen below:

After the longbowmen have disrupted Clifford's foot...

...and after the heavies have gone in.

And after this the net got ever tighter.


Somerset under pressure.

Now Northumberland in trouble.

With the Lancastrian strategy being merely to hold out until nightfall, there were few chances to counterattack. But when those chances did come, they were led by Clifford, who fought desperately to protect the king and fend off that rabid dog, Salisbury.

The king's person changed hands twice, but York would not be denied.

The Percies have had enough.

The heroes of the day for York were many, but for Lancaster only Clifford could hold his head high.


"A Clifford, a Clifford!"

Verdict:

I'll give this scenario another shot or two and look to make sure I'm doing all the rules right (there is a suspicion that one or two things may have been a little 'outside the book'), but once I've done that, I think that I'll enjoy working through the other battles in the box. For all that a boardgame lacks in spectacle compared to miniatures, it's a lot cheaper, it's less time consuming, and it's more portable than two all-options Wars of the Roses armies in 15mm would be!

13 comments:

  1. Handsome looking game, Aaron both in map and counters. Quite pleasing to the eye even if it is not in our preferred 3D!

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    1. It's not our dad's pink and blue counters on a white map these days, is it?!

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  2. A nice set of battles. From memory I think these games have always included one or two battles that through being accurate ... are not balanced from a play point of view, but very handy to learn the system, enjoy the history and in a solo game it matters little anyway.

    I read an account of 2nd Albans once, which had troops fighting in the town square, with archers firing into widows etc - it was very well written and has stayed with me as a graphic image. ... The sort of thing that should have been a Ladybird book :-)

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Norm.

      Yes, Richard Berg is not big on balancing mechanisms, so there are quite a few one-sided affairs in his games, I've found.

      Regarding the account of St Albans you mention, it was reading novels as a kid that got me interested in the Wars of the Roses, with the death of Warwick being particularly affecting.

      It's certainly a period replete with drama, plot, and interesting characters!

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  3. This game (Blood & Roses) is the best of the Men in Iron series. The rules work best with this subject, the other games not so much.

    Go to BGG, Ralph (developer) supports this game really well, and if you can't find a question already answered, he gets back to you quick when you do ask.

    Cheers
    Kevin

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    1. Cheers, Kevin. I was considering looking for Infidel, but may reconsider based on your advice.

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  4. Interesting that the game play and mechanisms don't give you a battle much like what happened. The Yorkists didn't bother with any outflanking but went straight over the ditch in a head on assault. That tells us something about WotR generalship as well as the difficulties in manoeuvring large bodies of infantry once deployed. Most WotR battles are not very subtle. It was an issue when we were designing the "Northampton 1460" game, which didn't really lend itself to a convetional board or figure wargame.

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    1. Yes, I think there may be a few problems with the scenario, not least being that in the online sources I've seen the bulk of the Lancastrians seem to be in the town, not defending forward at the ditch as they are here. I hesitate to claim anything too definitively, however; I don't have the books here to check.

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    2. It's a street fight (described by one speaker on the subject as "an overgrown pub brawl"). The defenders are concealed within the town as well as being along the ditch so the Yorkists couldn't really do anything clever as they didn't know where they were. I think fighting the way into the town and killing them where they could was the only option.

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    3. Thanks for the info. I find it a little frustrating not having access to primary sources. I'm so used to checking Livy, Polybius, Caesar et al. that I don't quite know what to do for other periods where the sources are not so readily available online or so concentrated. Oh well, just have to get used to it, I suppose!

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  5. I've played the Tewksbury scenario as the Yorkists and lost badly. The men of iron series is pretty interesting. I have, and have played, all three of the current batch. I'm looking forward to the next game, Arquebus, getting published whenever.

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    1. Thanks, David. Have you tried the Arsuf scenario from Infidel by any chance?

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  6. Cool looking game, this is something that the Rejects have never done, perhaps its time we did?

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