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"Does Percy ruin a Bosworth re-fight?" Topic

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Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

Bosworth seems to be one of the most popular battles wargamed from the Wars of the Roses.

In a strict 2-player game however Percy (Northumberland) would seem to make the game almost unplayable (to me!). I'm assuming you would basically have to leave his (in)actions up to a dice roll or an Umpire if you have one.

In a 3 player game you can assign one player to Percy and let him play out his own motives.

What do you think about the prospects in a 2 player game? If you think it's worth doing, what mechanics would you include to govern Percys actions to make the game playable yet historical.


advocate09 Dec 2020 10:08 a.m. PST

For that very reason I wouldn't replay Bosworth, except as part of a multi-player campaign.

Eumelus Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 11:41 a.m. PST

If one assumes the same loyalties/treacheries are in effect as historically, then perhaps a Bosworth game could be done simply as a fight between the "battles" of Oxford and Norfolk. If Oxford prevails then Richard launches his death ride, Stanley betrays him, and Dickon ends up under a car park. If Norfolk wins, then Tudor flees back to France and Richard stays on the throne for at least another season. No real need to include Northumberland at all.

Some game systems wouldn't offer many tactical choices if focusing down just to a single ward, but I think a clever scenario design could put in enough "granularity" to make a good game. You could really drill down to which contingents are where, intensity of shooting, minor irregularities of ground, inspiration/death of leaders, etc.

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 12:26 p.m. PST

It's likely just one example of many such historical battles which proved to be one sided for one reason or another. I'm building re-fight of The Plains of Abraham (Quebec 1759) which after an initial round of skirmishing did not evolve into much of a fight. I'll be developing scenarios which give the French a good chance of avoiding an historical repetition. In my view you need to enable a 'game' which I define as a competition of equal opportunity.

MajorB09 Dec 2020 12:33 p.m. PST

YesThatPhil makes a pretty good version of Bosworth that takes both Northumberland and Stanley into account

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 5:02 p.m. PST

Never good game design when a single die roll outweighs strategy. I think advocate and Eumelus both have workable approaches: both a four-player game with all participants or a two-player game with Nothumberland and the Stanleys presumed to respond to the outcome seem workable.

Yesthatphil10 Dec 2020 5:25 a.m. PST

Thanks, MajorB …

I have Percy as a reluctant Royalist … he moves sometimes but not always, so his contribution varies from game to game.

He can't be ignored by the Rebels but he can't relied upon by Norfolk, who needs his flank covered.

I have found Bosworth to be a fantastic and thrilling refight which is poised on a knife edge – and which Richard can win by grabbing destiny by the scruff of the neck, as he did historically. If Percy comes to the party, Richard need not be so audacious. If Percy is too far behind, and the Stanleys get stuck in, Richard really does need to get lucky.

Beware following obsolete interpretations, however (Ospreys, Ambion hill and all the fictional stuff) …you are unlikely to get a game that is both good and relatively historical if you with the wrong data.


Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2020 5:17 p.m. PST

@Phil, not sure what your opinion of Ospreys are in general but they have re-worked their Bosworth volume based on current info:


Yesthatphil11 Dec 2020 3:34 p.m. PST

thumbs up OK … was judging on the one in current circulation, which, being written before the recent archaeological work, is now obsolete.

Good to know that they are updating. Ospreys are varied, and the good ones are very good.

I have a lot of time for Graham Turner who researches his pictures very thoroughly (so they will be good). I was recently involved in some work regards Edgcote. Graham has done a picture of the fighting which he shared with us. We made some observations about the landscape, trees etc. based on our research, and he duly redid some parts of the picture to match our findings. Like I say, very thorough.


Warspite112 Dec 2020 5:34 p.m. PST

My regular opponent and I are planning a Bosworth refight under my own BBB rules.
The matters of treachery or simple vacillation have been much considered for Bosworth.

I have a set of plastic poker chips. Six envelopes will be made available with three chips placed in each. Values will vary, 1, 5 and 10.
The likely envelopes will be:
1, 1, 5
1, 5, 5
1, 5, 10
5, 5, 5
5, 5, 10
5, 10, 10

The 1s are useless and have no value. They are merely dummies to pad the envelopes. The 5 and 10 chips represent efforts to cultivate and encourage one's own commanders or to suborn the enemy's commanders.
On a piece of paper each of us can allocate our chip points to our commanders and/or the enemy's. A target may receive more than one counter. You could even use all three!

Possible targets are:
Lord Thomas Stanley
Sir William Stanley
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland
Lord Lovell

Immune to this process are:
Richard III's personal foot contingent (he will be mounted with his bodyguard anyway)
Howard Duke of Norfolk
Either army's artillery
Earl of Oxford (T)
French Mercenaries (T)
Henry Tudor's contingent (T)

(T) = Tudor's army

Each side will probably have a couple of units of Levy and some cavalry but these are not worth suborning.

The process is then very simple. We each secretly write down which units get what chip/s. These are declared on move one and we find out who has done what to whom.

Taking counters from both sides into account, any unit with a 5 enemy chip on it refuses to move or fire unless it is fired upon or charged or until its own friendly CinC has ridden across to 'motivate' it. This is possibly what Henry Tudor had to do with William Stanley in real life.
Any unit with a 10 enemy chip on it actively changes sides and fights for the enemy.
Where both sides place a chip/s, the chip differences are considered. If I am Tudor and place 5 on William Stanley but Richard places 10, William vacillates and refuses to move until Tudor rides across to motivate him.
Meanwhile, if I have placed 5 on Percy and 10 on Thomas Stanley (and Richard places none) we get the genuine Bosworth outcome of a vacillating Percy doing nothing and Thomas Stanley changing sides.
In Thomas Stanley's case I would suggest an additional D6 die roll to see how many moves before he acts.

Oh… in the event of BOTH changing sides, the Stanley brothers effectively 'stalemate' and refuse to engage each other. They will only shoot or counter-charge non-Stanley units in self-defence.

It seems a simple system but the test will be 'on the day'.

Any comments?


Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2020 10:00 p.m. PST

Interesting system Barry. Thank you for sharing.

Warspite115 Dec 2020 6:08 a.m. PST

@Uesugu Kenshin:
I should add that each side draws only ONE of the six envelopes before the game, the rest go out of play.
The two sides then have to make their best choice of:
1) trying to guarantee loyalty on their own side
2) try to suborn the other side's commanders
3) steer a tricky course and try to do BOTH.

Of course, as you don't know how much influence the other side has this will be a blind choice, with results revealed on the first move.


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