Thursday, 10 September 2015

Totteridge & Whetstone

"Lo, now my glory smear'd in dust and blood!
My parks, my walks, my manors that I had,
Even now forsake me; and, of all my lands,
Is nothing left me, but my body's length!
Why, what is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust?
And, live we how we can, yet die we must."

 So says Warwick Kingmaker at the climax of the Battle of Barnet, at least according to Shakespeare. Like most actual battles in the Wars of the Roses Barnet is both difficult and, in my opinion, unsatisfying to refight. Therefore tiring of Tewkesbury, I stayed in 1471 and set up what is still a meeting between the sons of York (OK, not Clarence) and the Neville brothers, but in a different location and with different forces.

We once again used To the Strongest! with a couple of tweaks to try to reflect how we saw combat of the time. They didn't particularly work so I won't detail them here, but we have another set of house rules ready for next time. The issues are mainly around the transition from opening archery duel to melee troops advancing into combat. We also find longbowmen not as effective in melee as we feel they would have been. It is, of course, all a matter of opinion. I tend to base my views on Goodman and Wadge, which are both excellent books, but clearly half the fun is in the debate.

In terms of the action - no photos for the usual reason - the Yorkists looked as if they were going to lose inside about ten minutes having come off much worse in the opening arrowstorm, but the crucial factor turned out to be the historically accurate deaths of Warwick and Montague. The rules place great value on commanders, and when they're gone so, pretty much, are one's chances. I think we all also learned that attacking with disordered troops is a bad move, plus some nuances of how to pin units and then flank them. A most satisfactory evening.

I haven't forgotten the planned Hussite action and was able to pick James' and Peter's brains about certain aspects of the rules, so that exercise will continue in the background. This was a brief hiatus in our Seven Years War activities so it will be back to Ilkley next week for some Prussians versus Austrians.

And for those who wondered what the Neville brothers did next, here is the answer. They took up music and covered Leonard Cohen songs:


  1. Just wondered, did you include any possibility of Montague or Clarence going over to the other side and did you do anything for fog or was it a relatively straightforward battle
    thanks Iain

  2. No, it's the fog and its consequences that, for me, make Barnet not worth trying to refight.

    The original intention behind this was to lay on another game for the chap who I'd introduced to wargaming the other week. So I wanted more complexity (different troop types, different training levels etc), but didn't want to potentially unbalance the thing with treason or other stratagems. There will be plenty of time for that if he gets the bug.

    In the end due to domestic fannying about it, was pressed into service as a game for very experienced players in James and Peter, but it still provided a good night's entertainment.