Thursday, 21 October 2021

Battle of Bosworth - 28mm Wargame - part 2

 Good Morning Folks

Monday night saw a very special game in the shed, it was of course the last of our games to refight each and everyone of the major battles of the Wars of the Roses using the excellent Never Mind the Billhooks ruleset. We have tailored these slightly to fit our style of fast play frenetic engagements but I think we have kept the spirit for which they have been intended. I do intend to produce a summary of these games and will invite each of the participants to share their own comments.

Part 1 can be found HERE

Given this was the last game and interest was high amongst my playing group, I invited eight players to take sides in the Bosworth battle. It was a bit of squeeze to fit everyone in but it was great fun.

I would take charge of Richard III and his cavalry force, John and Mark K would lead Richards battles and if Northumberland took part these troops would be lead by Tony.

Facing us across the field were the Lancastrian stalwarts Mark F and Alastair and those pesky Stanley's were lead by Vince and Stuart. As always a short briefing before the battle took place with both sides of the winning conditions. There would be an automatic victory for the side that killed Henry Tudor or Richard III. Failing that victory would be achieved if either Lancastrian or Yorkist army could destroy their opponents (ie one side would lose all their tokens). The morale tokens for the Stanleys and Northumberland were kept separate so with the Yorkists enjoying a significant advantage in numbers it was going to be a tough ask for the Red Rose.

I'd set the forces up earlier and given both sides were literally just out of bow range we forego the maneuver phase.


Five of the eight generals survey the field

Both sides recognised that it was crucial to try and get their respective allies (?) the Stanleys and Northumberland into the fight and as the table illustrated in part 1 of this battle a +1 modifier could be enjoyed if either Richard/Henry were within 12" of these supposed loyal Lords. As such both Generals trotted towards the reluctant supports. 

Henry Tudor cajoling the Stanleys to join the fight

As Henry advanced on Stanley to convince him that the fight was a worthy one Richards own horse moved forward. A quick measure revealed that Henry had strayed to far. He was within charge range of Richard. If the cards were kind Richard might be abler to sieze the day in the second turn.   

Richard's household troops ready themselves for a charge

Rather fortuitously for Henry two things happened - he was firstly able to convince Lord Stanley into the fray and secondly his activation arrived earlier than Richard's. A repeat of Richards 'real' charge was literally no longer on the table.

With the threat of Stanley's knights now up against Richard, the King felt it wise to withdraw and allow a separate unit of Knights to face off against the traitor Stanley.

Northumberland watched and waited quietly

Crossing the field to the main battle the forces of Oxford (Lancastrian) and Norfolk (Yorkist) were now entering an arrow duel. Both sides succumbing to a withering storm of clothyard shafts. With numbers stacked in favour of the Yorkist cause Oxford's troops were coming off worse.

In the centre a second archery duel was taking place and several skirmish units were playing havoc across both lines.

The French mercenaries (Pikes and Xbows) of the Lancastrian army shuffled forward

The Skirmish units of the Yorkists began tearing chunks out of the Lancastrian army - dice rolling was furious and some phenomenal hits on both sides were achieved. Casualties were racking up very quickly.

The archery duel continued unabated for a couple of turns across the field and as supplies dwindled the men at arms and bills readied their weapons for the melee that was sure to come

By now the Yorkist centre had pushed forward and their archers were now tearing holes into the Lancastrian lines. Fortunately the Lancastrian army had almost doubled with Both Stanley now entering the fray.

Northumberland waited and watched

Lord Stanley let loose his cavalry into Richard's rear guard of horse, a swift brutal charge with the Yorkist unit routed from the field. Stanley's own knights almost destroyed in the process. 

Richard was safely tucked behind his own lines and away from the Stanley threat.

Despite Stanley's proximity to him, Northumberland waited and watched.

The Stanley army now advanced en masse towards the swampy ground. If they could traverse this they would threaten the Yorkist centre

Seeing his allies now advancing forward Henry retired to the safety of his own lines - alhough he might have timed this badly as an advanced unit of Yorkist handgunners dropped a third of his horse.

By now the Lancastrian left wing was locked in combat and numbers were really beginning to tell - despite routing a unit of Yorkist bows and the cascade effect of two more units failing rolls) the Yorkists were winning the fight on this wing.

In the centre advanced troops were now engaged - but again the more numerous archers units of the Yorkists were still cutting swathes of Henry's soldiers down. 

It was time to advance the pikes...with their missile support sorely depleted they marched forward boldly into an arrow storm. 

More pikes entered the fray, only to be entering this furious missile barrage.

Out of desperation Oxford (Lancastrian) ordered his small light cavalry force forward to try and clear some of the damaged Yorkist archery units. Their charge effective in removing many of these bowmen but was it too late?  Oxfords troops had suffered horrendous casualties with almost 60% of his force now removed from the table.

Stanleys troops had now reached the swampy ground and their bows were beginnimng to find targets on the Yorkist centre.

Northumberland stirred, but then watched and waited

Back in the centre Richard watched his guns and archers hammer the advancing French pikes...things were going well but Henry Tudor remained out of reach.

Suddenly Northumberland raised his banners - he would fight for King Richard !

Leading his troops forward he would confront the Stanley family. 

As Northumberland advanced his forces felt the full weight of the Stanley archers, their arrows were now ripping the hearts out the Yorkist left flank.

Things were getting tight across the whole field. Several Yorkist troops failed morale rolls and both main armies were getting low on morale tokens.

Who would break first....

Richard reading his household troops for a charge against the French. Could he deliver the final blow?

The French had taken a hammering and many pike units were now severeley mauled a retiring from the field

All of sudden a cruy from Oxford (Lancastrian) - my battle is lost !

Simultaneously the Stanleys gave Northumberland a pasting and much of the northern support for Richard melted away - Northumberland's separate force almost as soon as it had arrived was broken

Richard ordered his horse into the lead pike block - their polearms holding back against the initial charge

To counter this threat Jasper Tudor, Lord Pembroke and Henry Tudor's uncle charged forward. He was last seen being torn from his mount in a furious battle with Yorkist bills and archers.

It was all over - there were no more Lancastrian morale tokens ! Despite the Stanley's entering the conflict there was insufficient time for them to make their mark (althought they did rout Northumberland).

Richard III surveyed the field - he was still King but by what margin? The Yorkists were only two tokens from breaking themselves. It was a very close affair !

Congratulations to all those that took part, a truly epic game that went right to the wire.

Thoughts and comments in the next post

Take care


  1. Excellent, and the rightful king remains on the throne.

  2. Wow! Exciting stuff! You could say it was closer and tighter than the real thing! Yet again your pre-planning and special rules have created a very real feeling of a desperate scrabble for the crown! Brilliant! What next tho?

  3. Another gobsmackingly beautiful presentation. Well done!

  4. Heart pounding action right to the end!

    Love it when a tabletop action does that.

  5. What a battle! Glad to see Richard prevail. Wonderful armies - you guys really did the period justice.

  6. It was a great series of battles to play ,great scenarios, scenery and troops all exiting games decided in one evening
    An honour to fight all 16 battles of the war of the roses

    1. Sheddicus has been identified - one of my players has signed up for his own blog...!