Strange times indeed at Warlord Games HQ – a wind from the continent sweeps in, bringing with it Trade Salesmen from near and far. Like laughing hyenas they roam the corridors, telling tall tales of their sales prowess, and nicking all the comfortable chairs. Something must be done about this infestation – what better way to sort it out than to have them fight amongst each other on the tabletop!
I’ve attended many gatherings at Bossman John’s exceptional gaming den, but this was easily the most packed I’ve ever seen it. John (renowned for looking after gamers in style) laid on some excellent fish and mushy peas, but calamity struck early – the chips were nowhere to be seen! Despite this crime against the finest of British cuisine, all was soon forgiven as we piled in to the games room to see the spectacle laid out before us.
Expertly set up by author of Pike & Shotte, Steve Morgan (though we all know it his mum was the real author -ed.), was a scenario from the very start of the period – Henry VIII’s campaigns into Scotland! The number of bows and bills on the field made the medievalist in me very happy indeed, and it’s always a pleasure to get to see some “deep cuts” from John’s exhaustive collection of miniatures – his English heavy cavalry is over 40 years old! With a dozen people, there wasn’t much call for strategic objective play – this would be a good old-fashioned beat-em-up!
Command of the English and their German mercenary cavalry lay with Emiliano, Tom, Colin, Gareth, and Austen, with the Scots (supported by Welsh and Irish irregulars) led by Maciej, Charlie, Che, Rhys, Allan, and Juergen. Also present were Craig, Lorenzo, and your dashing battlefield reporter… me! With such an august assemblage of wargaming skill, an epic clash was certain to ensue!
Under Steve’s watchful eye, the game commenced with a general advance by the English – sort of! While German “Black Riders” surged forwards on the left under Emiliano (facing off against his own brother!), Tom and Gareth’s central battalia decided that what was really needed was a solid defence, and refused to budge an inch! On the right, Austen (a former cavalryman) surged forwards, pitting the flower of English nobility against Juergen (a former panzer artilleryman) and his rabble of levies.
Battle was swiftly joined, with Emiliano’s Germans running roughshod over Che’s Scotsmen – aided by some truly atrocious dice rolling from every Scots general not named Rhys – and the Scottish left quickly began to collapse. Charlie was able to swing his infantry out of line to shore up the flank, but faced with Gareth and Tom in the centre could not commit more than a few pikemen to the struggle. On the right, Juergen and Rhys gamely advanced on Austen and Christian, with Rhys making a series of increasingly improbable saving rolls as his infantry came under fire.
Displaying all the patience and composure that English heavy cavalrymen are historically known for, Austen ordered his lancers forward, smashing through panicked light infantry and cavalry. For a moment, it seemed that nothing could halt the rampaging horsemen, but a staggering volley of shot from a unit of Rhys’ arquebusiers emptied many saddles and stopped the charge in its tracks. Shaken and badly mauled, the cavalry could only watch as Rhys’ infantry closed on Christian’s billmen and archers. With the tactical good sense of a born horseman, Austen then ordered his own archers to charge into the melee, prompting much laughter and a gentle lecture from John on the difference between a billhook and a longbow.
With the right embroiled in a bloody scrum, and the Black Riders mopping up the left, the Scottish centre mounted a desperate last-ditch assault on the English lines. Gareth and Tom were finally able to mobilise their forces, and a duel of shot and shaft began as the infantry on both sides seemed strangely reluctant to close to hand strokes! Allan and Charlie tried gamely to close the distance, but it was becoming rapidly apparent that the jig was more or less up.
As the battle petered out, the exhausted forces on both sides withdrew, leaving a scene of carnage and devastation behind. The Scots could (and did, loudly) claim to have butchered a great number of wealthy Englishmen, but the field and the day clearly belonged to King Henry’s men. With the rueful Scots vowing terrible vengeance, the game came to an end with many handshakes and a wonderful time had by all. To celebrate (or perhaps commiserate), several of us headed off to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem for a beverage or two, and thence to diverse other pubs besides – but that is a tale for another day!