Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Three Battles of Bosworth

Last Sunday was the Society of Ancients' battle day, and the battle they were doing was Bosworth. Although a week late, I thought it would do my own version of it on the kitchen table. The rules would be simple - I would use Table Battles by Tom Russell of Hollandspiele - and these rules, unlike the Society's, would use cards, dice, sticks and cubes.

Richard would start, having six dice to roll and assign. But first, a little explanation of the game.

As can be seen in the image above, Richard has three formations to consider. Norfolk and his own can fight right from the beginning, given the right dice. Rolls of 5 or 6 can be apportioned to Norfolk; rolls of 4 or 5 to Richard. Northumberland cannot be used at this point because he is in reserve. To bring him into the fight, Richard needs to accumulate a full house - three 4s and two 5s (or vice versa), which is quite a tall order when there are only six dice to use. 

For each attack that Norfolk or Richard make they will lose one of their formation sticks, and will remove as many formation sticks from the enemy as they use dice, so it is to their advantage to use as many as possible in each attack. Norfolk can also use a pair of 5s or 6s to screen enemy attacks (i.e., the attack fails with no loss to either side).

Henry's cards are similar. He has Oxford and himself in the front line, and the Stanleys in reserve. 3s and 4s activate Richmond; 5s and 6s Oxford. As with Northumberland, a full house of 3s and 4s will bring the Stanleys into the battle.

Oxford has eight formation sticks and Richmond two. Oxford will also lose one formation stick for each attack he makes and inflict as many hits as he uses dice. Richmond himself does not lose formation sticks when he attacks, but to launch an attack of his own he must have a pair of dice, and will only remove one formation stick from the enemy. To complete the puzzle, Oxford has a counterattack ability that allows him to use a pair of dice to remove an extra formation stick from any enemy that attacks him. 

Both sides start by stacking dice on a single formation card, as shown in the picture below.

Richard attacks first, removing three sticks from Oxford and losing two himself. He then concentrates on building up dice on his own formation again. Oxford also attacks with three dice, hitting Norfolk badly, and reducing him to one stick.

As shown above, both sides have three dice in play again, but this time it is Oxford to move. He attacks Norfolk, who is destroyed. Henry takes a morale cube off Richard. One more is needed for the victory.

The only way Richard can win now is to get four dice on his card to take out Oxford with one attack, and then turn his attention to Henry. Over several turns he saves up his dice, but can only manage three 4s. 

Oxford, with a pair, is able to play and remove Richard entirely at a cost of one formation loss to himself.

Northumberland has not entered the battle and Henry is the victor. Bosworth I to the kingslayer!

Bosworth II starts with a powerful attack by Norfolk doing three damage to Oxford for one to himself. Henry rolls poorly and is unable to populate his cards with dice. Richard has no such trouble.

With Richard to play in the sitaution above, he inflicts three more hits on Oxford. Henry is still struggling to get the dice in play.

Richard seizes the moment and attacks Oxford again. Both formations are removed at the same time, so no morale cubes are exchanged. It is now a contest between Norfolk and Richmond to collect dice for an attack.

Norfolk is first.

His two dice are enough to destroy Henry at a cost of just one formation hit to himself. Bosworth II goes to Richard. 

We go to a Bosworth III to find the winner. The third battle commences with another 3/1 attack by Norfolk

A 3/2 attack from Richard follows from the position below.

Once again Oxford is in a precarious state. Richmond stacks dice hoping to obtain the full house needed to bring the Stanleys into the line; Richard just stacks dice. Battle continues for a few turns with Norfolk successfully screening some attacks while the house of York gathers its strength.

A pair on Norfolk will be enough: Richard only needs to capture one morale cube to claim the win.

And the deed is done! Richard wins two battles to Henry's one. 

And so my battle day is over. Not quite as satisfying as a two hour game with figures, but a fun way to get into the spirit of the event, play the battle, and have hardly any clean up required.

It was an unexpected piece of serendipity to find that today was actually the anniversary of the battle. All in all, I think it worked out rather nicely!


  1. Very abstract but still clever system!
    Despite owning no figures for the WotR, I have played at least 20 games in that era the past 18 months, as part of the testing of the "Test of Resolve" rules, and its many scenarios (2 books now, and a third in development).

    1. They sound like a really good set, and I enjoyed your report on the rules a few weeks ago. I don't have any WotR figures either, but wish I did!

  2. An entertaining way to mark the official anniversary. In each of the three games the ‘fence sitters’, Northumberland and Stanley(s) did not make it into the game. Hopefully the next issue of Slingshot will have some coverage of the various recent Bosworth related activities.

  3. Good to see you were able to join in. I missed it this year. BTW, it is "The Battle of Bosworth" or "Bosworth Field". Field means battle, so you have called this post "The Battle of Bosworth Battle" or "The Field of Bosworth Field".

    1. Interesting, and thank you for pointing that out. I've amended the title. I've never attended a battle day in the UK, but try to do something wherever I am.

  4. Glad to see you got an SOA Battle Day battle in (two even!). I keep meaning to attempt to do a play with the selected battle every year. But every year I don't seem to get my act together to do so!

    1. I'd actually intended to try to design my own little Bosworth game, but the date snuck up on me! The one for next year is Adrianople. Hmm...

  5. I like the ideas in Table Battles, I got the PnP version (base game + Alexander) but haven't had time to get to grips with it.


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