Saturday, 12 June 2021

Battle of Towton - a 28mm Wargame - part 2

Welcome to the biggest War of the Roses battle that the Shed has seen so far in our journey through this factional struggle for the English throne. This is a massive wargame as far as the shed is concerned and is the culmination of many hours of modelling, painting, and research.

This series of games all started last year when one of my regular shed visitors (think it was Alastair) recommended our next big game should be a partnership. In other words we all contribute forces to the big game. Twelve months and a pandemic later 1500 plus figures took to the table. I will add that this is not our entire collective WOTR collection as many of our units such as Pikes, Cavalry and Irish did not feature.

The plan was simple, start at 11am on a Saturday and play through to 5pm. There was a planned break for lunch and a post game barbecue for the participants and their partners. With a barrel of homebrew ale ready for consumption what could go wrong?

As per previous battles the set up etc can all be found in the previous post HERE

So the scene was set for a multiplayer all day medieval blood-fest. The forces of York (Myself as Edward IV, John as Warwick, and Mark K as Fauconberg) facing the Lancastrians of Mark F and Alastair

The field of Towton before the battle locking East from Cock Beck

The forces arrive

We just about squeezed in the three battles aside along the 15ft table

No time for Subtleties

As the game kicked off the weather was offering light snow and a strong wind blowing directly into the Lancastrian ranks. 

With the advantage that this would give to the massed ranks of Yorkist Archers the Lancastrian Lords had no choice but to advance into the arrow storm and close quickly with the enemy

With forces separated by some 30" apart the Yorkist archers stepped forward to within Long bow range (up from 15" to 19" thanks to the strong wind). 

As they began to open fire the weather shifted and the snow began to fall heavily. This was a mixed blessing to both sides. Firstly all the hand gunners were rendered useless, secondly the targets of the Yorkist arrows now enjoyed better saves (heavy snow acted as cover) and all command ranges were limited to 3" rather than the usual 6".

Indeed this change in weather had consequencies for the Yorkists with their Archers strung out in front their Lords could not activate both archers and bring up their infantry support simultaneously. The Lancastrians, heads down in the face of wind, snow and arrows marched grimly forward.

The Yorkist archers started to use their precious arrows with mixed results across the Lancastrian front. 

In NMTBH all archer units bar skirmishers have a maximum of six shooting rounds.

The Lancastrians advance into the Yorkist barrage..

Lancastrian skirmishers attempted to screen the advance of their main troops only to be removed quickly by accurate Yorkist archery

The Lancastrian Left approaches

Under the command of the Earl of Northumberland (Alastair) the Lancastrian left wing advances towards the Yorkist rightwing. Could they capture Edward?

Northumberland's men at arms would spearhead the assault.

Alastair, being Scottish, had a continent of knights from North of the border.

Edward's archers poured fire into Northumberland's forces - the arrows began to find their targets and the attack began to run out of steam.

Northumberland's lead unit devastated by arrow fire - the blue dice denoted casualties. The front unit had lost six figures and a further 2 (dice). We elected to remove casualties in blocks of six to speed up the game abnd to ensure the figures went back to the right person.

Edward's archers continued to release volleys into the approaching enemy. One devastating volley routing a two units of mercenary Pikes. 

Despite this storm the advance continued 

A Pain in the Neck for Lord Fauconberg

Over on the Yorkist right flank Fauconberg (Mark K) was having to deal with not only an advancing juggernaut of Lancastrian troops but also a skirmish party of light horse and archers lead by Sir Alexander Hody. This body of troops was to be a real pain all game as they darted in and out of the woods firing onto the Yorkist flank.

Hody's horse tangle with the Yorkist left flank below- and now with support from the main army

Over in the centre the Yorkists under Warwick continue to volley fire into the Lancastrian ranks

A mass attack builds on the Lancastrian right wing

As the arrows of York fell in to the Lancastrian lines a large body of troops under Exeter on the right wing moved forward like a giant mailed fist.

These forces crashed into the Yorkist left wing. A brutal melee was fought through out the day with the Lancastrians slowly gaining the upper hand

The Lancastrian Line crashes into the Yorkist left flank - this was the mother of all melees

With the battle now in full swing over on the Yorkist left wing the Lancastrian centre edged forward

Chaos on the Yorkist left wing....

The table around the middle of the day - Lancastrian progress in the foreground, the centre holding back and their attack is petering out in the far distance. 

The Lancastrians continued their advance...

The Generals survey the field

The Lancastrians ponder their next moves....

The Yorkist line braced itself for another crunch time....

Over on the Yorkist right wing the Lancastrians were now having a tough time against Edward's battle and were in danger of running out of steam.

Warwick's archers continued to pound the the centre but arrows were now in short supply

The Lancastrian line almost reached Edward only to be driven back by Essex and his men at arms

As the Yorkist left flank is in danger of collapsing Falconberg rallies his troops

The Lancastrians still push forward - casualties are massing up on both sides but with 50+ morale tokens in each pot there was still time for both sides to win the day.

Two pike units under Heron force march into the centre. (rear of Lancastrian Lines)  

A volley of arrows carried by the strong winds routed these mercenaries carrying with them a few units either side.

A rather large hole appeared in the Lancastrian battle line... 

The remaining pike units (Heron had four) surged forward and slammed into Yorkist troops. Another violent conflict erupted.

More and more units were now leaving the fray and casualties were wracking up on a continuous basis. If there was any good news for either side it was to come in a sudden change of weather. The snow cleared and the wind subsided. 

The pike melee still raged...

Over on the Yorkist left things were now getting desperate for Falconberg. With no room to manouvre units retreating were driven off the table. Exhausted troops continued to wrestle for control.

Conversely the Lancastrian left flank under Northumberland was virtually spent....

But the battle of the Yorkist Left wing was turning for the Lancastrians. Slowly and steadily the Lancastrians were pulling ahead in the token count.

Norfolk Arrives

With the battle lurching towards a Lancastrian victory it was time to see if Norfolk would arrive to join the fray. Could his presence turn the tide?

Sure enough The Duke entered the field leading two units on Knights and supported by a lesser Lord Dinham with his retinue of Bills and Bows.

Wenlock arrived a turn later

Norfolk arrives

The Lancastrians can see Norfolk and Dinham approaching up the road...

Norfolk's men could not have arrived in a better moment. Things were starting to look bleak for the Yorkists on the Leftwing and casualties were mounting up across Edward's front. The wind and snow had subsided and those remaining Lancastrian archers were beginning to find their targets.

The Knights quickly charged into the far left of the Lancastrians under Fitzhugh. They made mincemeat of the archers who decided to stand and fight but came unstuck against the bills - a unit of knights routed from the table taking both the archers and skirmish units from the Yorkist wing with them. Things just got worse for Edward.

Despite the failure of his cavalry Edward's rightwing was safe from the Lancastrian threat. However things were still going badly on the far left wing and were about to get a lot worse in the centre. 

The End of the End

As we approached 4.30pm (we'd agree to close at 5pm) a tally was made of the morale tokens held by each side. The Yorkist commanders were shocked to receive the news that they were only three tokens from breaking. The Lancastrians were wearing slightly better with 8 remaining. Victory looked assured for the red rose.

Our rules were quite clear the first team to break the other won the day there would be no opportunity for a draw. This was likely to be the last turn (certainly for the Yorkists) the command cards were shuffled and put back into play.

A few lesser lords appeared and performed their actions with no particular impact. It was then the turn of Edward Plantagenet.

Using his three commands he swiftly ordered one of his retinue men at arms into the fray.... 

He then attached himself to his personal bodyguard a charged into the combined bills and bows of Lord Dacre's remaining troops. A swift and violent melee took place. Edwards presence adding fervour to his troops. The Lancastrian bills collapsed. Alastair took up the dice to roll for the morale test.

A four - the combined Bills & Bows shattered and routed from the field - four lancastrian tokens taken. As the routing troops fled the field their surrounding allies checked for morale. Two more units routed and another four tokens. What was left of the Lancastrian left wing collapsed - Edward had won the day !! 

A cheer of hooray erupted from the Yorkist side of the table. Victory snatched at the jaws of defeat. What a way to win and end a wonderful, spectacular day of gaming.

A massive thanks to both Marks, Alastair and John for a great day of gaming. 

The Aftermath

So Ladies and Gentlemen we can report that the battle of Towton has now been fought and what a day. It was fair to say that all the players were exhausted and buzzing from the event. It was such a close affair and to end with Edward leading the charge was the icing on the cake.

The introduction of the bad weather added a dynamic that worked in the game. It was agreed that it was simple and gave the Yorkists an advantage but not overly powerful. The sheer size of the game was a spectacle that we will all remember for a long time.

The clean up begins

If you enjoyed this please check out our all day epic refights of Newbury (ECW) and Hastings

What next ?

Well we are going to take a small break from the Wars of the Roses for the moment and get in some other games. Please be sure to pop back again soon.

Take care and stay safe folk

From a victorious Eric the Shed (aka Edward IV)


  1. It was a truly epic day and appropriate that it came down to the last roll of the dice...if only I hadn't rolled that 4!!!

  2. What a magnificent sight, a monumental game and a fabulously nail-biting conclusion (with a Yorkist victor to boot, yippee!).
    Regards, James

  3. What a fantastic gaming experience, mass battle, gorgeous armies and quality time spent with gamers and their partners for the BBQ afterwards, you have been a splendid host and the time you have taken to get this all written up and shared is appreciated - thank you. The internet at its best!

  4. A rousing AAR and wonderful photos draw the reader into the action as if they had been there! Wonderful looking game!

  5. What a magnificent looking game

  6. An awe-inspiring game, certainly one to remember.

  7. WOW a super looking game I must say, that is a huge amount of medieval figs! I have never put that many medievals on a table, Napoleonics and 7YW and ancients yes, I may need to up my collection I am so impressed


  8. Spectacular! And what a finish too!

  9. Magnificent and amazing looking game.