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"Can Wars of the Roses wargaming get thorny?" Topic

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The Editor tries out this first-year gaming convention in the San Francisco Bay Area (California).

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Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2019 12:41 p.m. PST

Aside from looking really, really cool, what makes wargaming the War of the Roses fun?

It's got mirror image armies for the most part and that's fine but in the absence of lots of scenarios for other mirror image army periods like the ACW or the ECW, what keeps the period from becoming tiresome after several re-fights? is there a campaign game that keeps it fresh? Kingmaker?

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Feb 2019 2:09 p.m. PST

Interesting topic.
The personalities are intriguing.
All the leaders are equally avaricious and unpleasant. No goodies.
The wars are full of unexpected events upon the battlefield.
The equipment is attractive in wargame terms. Plate armour, flags, bows en masse.
Not a civil war (nobles versus nobles) , but one in which the commanders themselves are very untrustworthy.
As with many periods, I think 50% of the game enjoyment is the rules.
I am not keen on Kingmaker at all. That just illustrates how subjective gaming is.

Bandolier26 Feb 2019 2:52 p.m. PST

I agree with Martin.
The personalities (both non-combatants and military) with their shifting motivations and allegiances is fascinating.

I haven't attempted a campaign. These days we play WoTR using Mortem et Gloriam. If you haven't got a scenario the pre-battle system will set it up for you. This helps keep it fresh and you can experiment with the various unit types and numbers.

There is a good book on WoTR battles that was written with wargamers in mind. I'm not near my bookshelf but I can check the title later. It has many scenario options.

They definitely look really, really cool.

MajorB26 Feb 2019 3:39 p.m. PST

There is a good book on WoTR battles that was written with wargamers in mind. I'm not near my bookshelf but I can check the title later. It has many scenario options.

I'm intrigued. What book is that?

Bandolier26 Feb 2019 3:46 p.m. PST

@ MajorB
The military campaigns of the Wars of the Roses
Philip A. Haigh

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2019 4:35 p.m. PST

Thanks for the book reference. I just bought a copy. grin

I would go farther and say that in general the only interesting thing about any Western Medieval combat after experiencing the basic matchups is the variability introduced by personalities and luck. I've rarely found historical Medieval battles to be much fun after the first time through, but put into a campaign setting, even Dark Ages shieldwall slogs start to be fun. The WotR period has tonnes of sideways political factors (and a few financial factors) influencing battlefield behavior beyond simple force quality calculations.

- Ix

PS: In Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and across Asia, things were quite a bit more varied and there's a lot more nuance to battlefield tactics and strategems. Some of those cavalry armies actually knew how to maneuver!

MSU John26 Feb 2019 5:00 p.m. PST

For ACW, getting or creating scenarios to put things in historical perspective never gets old for me. I'm assuming the same would be true for the WOTR,

coopman26 Feb 2019 5:06 p.m. PST

And you have a time period of 32 years instead of 4.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2019 9:24 p.m. PST

Are use DBA to play games for the war of the roses. The armies are similar but there is some variety. The various battles scenarios present interesting problems.

Griefbringer27 Feb 2019 2:39 a.m. PST

If you like the look of the later 15th century forces, but want slightly less mirror image forces, then there is also a plenty of action to be found in the continent with somewhat more varied forces. Some of these even include English, such as conquest of Normandy and Aquitane (1449-1453), the expedition of 1475 and wars in Bretagne.

As for the WotR, there are some historical battles where the forces were less symmetrical, such as the Stokes Field in 1487 where the Yorkist die-hards fielded significant numbers of continental and Irish mercenaries.

BillyNM27 Feb 2019 1:00 p.m. PST

There are lots of historical events that lend themselves to introducing stratagems if you are concerned about symmetrical battles. There was system for these published in Wargames Illustrated issue 56.

MajorB28 Feb 2019 12:31 p.m. PST

The military campaigns of the Wars of the Roses
Philip A. Haigh

Oh. That one. That's a shame. His maps are in some cases totally wrong.
It's also pretty out of date with recent research and archaeology producing alternative (better?) interpretations of both Northampton 1460 and Bosworth 1485.

Thomas Thomas14 Mar 2019 1:31 p.m. PST

For WOR books try Hugh Bicheno – lots of military insight and more modern research.

What keeps all medieval wargaming fresh is the strong combined arms aspect. Missile, Heavy Foot and mounted shock troops all can be battle winners and battle losers. The DBX series of games does a great job of representing the mix of troop types/weapon types. So even two mirror image armies can jockey for position and feature different troop types. Not to mention command control – another aspect that DBX does well.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame & Glory Games

DukeWacoan Supporting Member of TMP Fezian19 Mar 2019 2:26 p.m. PST

Take a look at Lance & Longbow Society and their publications. While the armies are interchangeable, there are a bunch of potentials in terms of battles and scenarios.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2019 4:59 p.m. PST

What's fun for me:

-The first wargame I ever played as a kid was "Kingmaker."
-The personalities are just fantastic.
-Liberal use of foreign mercenaries keeps armies interesting.
-Livery colors keeps painting units from being redundant and boring.
-Less armor heraldry to paint than earlier periods.
-Almost no cavalry to worry about.
-The minis (I use Perry) are some of the best of any era.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2019 5:16 p.m. PST

Re: gaming resource:
Check out the Wotr scenario book there. It's 100% your best gaming resource for this period. 16 historical and one what if all with orbits and maps.

Best of all, it can be applied to any gaming system.

Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2019 12:11 p.m. PST

@ Uesugi Kenshin

I hear Kingmaker was a very good game.

I agree about the personalities; it's too bad most of them are dead now

I dont care much about how complex they are to paint, and I like horses, because I never paint my own figures

Yeah, Perrys…but what's with all the plastic?


Yes, it's all about the rules. What sort of place makes mats for those Bloody Barons rules?

Yesthatphil21 May 2019 7:39 a.m. PST

I agree with MajorB and Thomas Thomas with regard to Haigh and Bicheno.

One of the problems with the WotR period is that modern archaeology is enabling us to solve many long standing mysteries. Old books like Haigh are based on assumptions that have in many cases been superseded.


Mithmee31 May 2019 5:52 p.m. PST

Well it is a very interesting time and as mentioned above it covers nearly 33 years.

You have the end of the 100 Years War ending just two years prior to the start of War of the Roses.

You have Henry VI who while King was just plain horrible.

Then add in the Noble families who were connected by blood and marriage.

The War of the Roses saw the end of the Middle Ages and Chivalry for Europe. It also saw the end of the English Long Bowman since the many battles saw many being killed off.

So you have lots of veterans of the 100 Years War, family feuds and individuals moving to gain more power.

By it end most of the old Noble families were basically wiped out and the Tudors were sitting on the throne.

But there are problems since while most battles were small only several thousand on each side there is really no good records on the Order of Battles for each of these battles.

Also the real numbers that fought at Towton are completely unknown, but I could see there being around 45,000-60,000 fighting there.

Mithmee31 May 2019 6:16 p.m. PST

I hear Kingmaker was a very good game.

It was but after your first few games you learned to Turtle and to stay out of Cities.

Players would grab the closest contender and head to their Stronghold.

You would build up your forces but not commit to battle since you could go from being the strongest to the weakest really quickly.

You could even have won the battle but your most powerful Lords brought the farm during it.

So you would go find a nice castle and gather your forces and carry out ambushes or to pull one of your opponents Lords away so that you could jump on them.

Warspite116 Jun 2019 7:18 p.m. PST

There is some tactical finesse in how you place your units and (under my rules) how and where you place your reserves.

The biggest attraction is the personalities and the treachery, there was as much back-stabbing as front stabbing.


andresf24 Aug 2021 7:44 p.m. PST

> Yeah, Perrys…but what's with all the plastic?

I don't understand this question. All Perry plastics are superb, and their medieval kits are fantastic, easily better than many metals. Plastics being inferior is a thing of the past.

FatherOfAllLogic25 Aug 2021 7:33 a.m. PST

We played Kingmaker every Saturday for 10 years.

dapeters25 Aug 2021 8:45 a.m. PST

Not as much WOR but as in 15th century western Europe. I like the weapons, Fashions and Armor.

Arcane Steve26 Aug 2021 4:40 a.m. PST

My guess is that it depends on your approach to wargaming. If you get your enjoyment from re-fighting the actual battles in as precise detail as you can convince yourself happened, you will quickly run through the available battles.
If you prefer a less serious approach to wargaming and enjoy fighting fictional engagements with your own retinue against your friends then the 'Never Mind the Bill Hooks' rules set will enable this approach. The rules allow you to field small armies in the style of the period, with most of the troop types available. Think 'Nibley Green' sized engagements. I've been playing for nearly three years now and every game seems to generate it's own story.
And as has been said already, the livery makes for a very colourful army.

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