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"Bills, Bows and Bloodshed going to the printers" Topic

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Warspite102 Nov 2021 3:08 a.m. PST

It has taken a while and there have been several false starts due to my pre-existing health, Covid, etc, but Bills Bows and Bloodshed is finally going to the printers here in the UK. The rules cover the 15th century in Western Europe. They are aimed at the so-called Wars of the Roses [a misleading term which I hate] but will also do for the late Hundred Years War, the Swiss/Burgundian War and are probably stretchable back to the 14th or even 13th century.

28 pages (including six on livery colours) plus four pages of colour pictures. Each set will come with two play sheets meaning most of the game can be played off of the four sides of the two sheets you only have to refer to the main rules for details and definitions.

The 28 pages include a detailed 'Wars of the Roses' army list including units not covered elsewhere such as the Calais Garrison and researched Northern foot. A big feature is the list of livery colours and my research into how these may have varied in practice, especially in the 15th century.

By way of a taster you can see the rulebook's colour photos here:
Each is captioned and gives you some idea of how the rules work. All photos are thumbnails and all open up on a double-click to reveal caption stories.

I have also added other material in this Flickr file (NOT included in the rule book) including my home produced livery flags and interesting shots from elsewhere including a soldier wearing a bend or 'bendys'.


GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP02 Nov 2021 4:18 a.m. PST

Interesting, and how will they be made available?

Wargamorium02 Nov 2021 4:33 a.m. PST

Any indication of what level and what the mechanisms will be like? Figure scale, number of bases etc.

Also if a pdf version is envisaged?

45thdiv02 Nov 2021 4:38 a.m. PST

What price will it be?

Warspite102 Nov 2021 6:14 a.m. PST

Thank you all.
Taking the above in order.

@Games Poet:
If all goes well a batch may be available at Salute, Excel, London next weekend, November 13. I will be asking a few people to stock it plus it will be available mail order and on Ebay. I am in the hands of my printer.

The rules are intended for big battles, not skirmishes. I am lucky in that I have a large figure collection but I do like to complete a game in about three to four hours, tops. Figure scale is anything from 6mm to 28mm but I recommend 10 to 15mm as the best compromise. The mechanisms are simple but hopefully straightforward. If you have played old style WRG then the morale mechanisms are very similar. No .pdf version at this stage and no Kindle envisaged.
This picture: link
and this one: link give you a taste for the melee rules.

The printer has given me a price for the first 250 which suggests that I may be able to keep my price point down to below £11.00 GBP That's for 32 pages of A4 including four pages of full colour (you have seen the pics in my link already) and also including the livery colours guide which could be worth a few quid just on its own!
There will also be two play sheets for the game but I may double this up and give players a copy of each sheet.

More news as and when…!


Wargamorium02 Nov 2021 2:00 p.m. PST

Thanks Warspite.

My interest is battles rather than skirmishes and I have quite a number of Kallistra 12mm figures.

I am in Belgium and since Brexit I have tended to go for pdf rules owing to import difficulties. Maybe a pdf in the future for all us abandoned EU players?

Garand02 Nov 2021 2:34 p.m. PST

I see they use DBx basing. This is good. I'm not too interested in rebasing armies, haha


Warspite103 Nov 2021 8:15 a.m. PST

@ Wagamorium:
.pdf was not my first thought as they are so easy to copy and then re-copy. I have invested hard cash at the printer and this is not a 'kick starter' or crowd funded project. I do not expect to make a profit but covering my costs would be very nice at least.

@ Garand:
Yes, in the covering press release on BBB I make a big thing about the use of existing bases. I actually say: "One of the biggest killers of new rules is trying to persuade players to either create a whole different army just because the author has chosen a different base size or else rip all the figures they have lovingly based on to one set widths and depths and then rebase them on to different sizes."
"My rules retain basing flexibility and player options."

@ all:
I can confirm that the rules went to the printers today on a memory stick and I have even parted with the money!


Wargamorium03 Nov 2021 10:19 a.m. PST

Fair enough. Good point.

I wish you every success with the launch and hope they do well.

EricThe Shed03 Nov 2021 1:05 p.m. PST

Great idea and I wish you luck and plaease accept the following as constructive

1. I think you are you selling a new ruleset with flags and orders of battle. What makes these better than existing rulesets?

2. Can I be so bold to suggest that you include some more 'dynamic photos' of the games. It all looks a little bland.

Can we see some 'hooks' that would entice one into trying the game. For example NMTBH grabbed us by the billhooks so we fought every WOTR battle…

All the best in your venture

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Nov 2021 1:34 p.m. PST

This is going to get confusing – BBB is 'Bloody Big Battles' to me (19th C rules). I'll have to think of them as PPP 'Poleaxes, Princes & Pageantry'.

Warspite103 Nov 2021 4:39 p.m. PST

@ EricThe Shed:
1) I think you misread my link. No flags and no orders of battle are being offered for sale. My flags are in the Flickr photo link only as a convenience and have been available for FREE download on Flickr for quite some time. See my previous posts about those.
My rules DO include an army list but not OOB. I have never mentioned any OOBs!

((The original post even says: "I have also added other material in this Flickr file (NOT included in the rule book) including my home produced livery flags and interesting shots from elsewhere including a soldier wearing a bend or 'bendys'."))

What makes BBB better? How about more than 50 years experience as a wargamer (I am 68!) and more than 50 years studying the so-called Wars of the Roses as a pure historian. I am thus a historian first and a wargamer second.

I have seen (and could name!) rules which take a very superficial look at this very complex period the belt-fed 'Vickers machine-gun' approach to longbows, for example. My reading of the LB is that it was more like a Katyusha or Nebelwerfer; good for a quick serious fire blow but the ammunition soon runs out and the shooters' arms quickly fatigue.

I make a point of speaking to re-enactors about what it is like to actually wear the armour and use the weapons. As a result, in BBB, full armour foot (knights) can only claim a charge bonus (+1MP) ONCE per game. Once you have run 50 paces in full plate and fought a melee, you don't want to do it again.

2) Photos I am very critical of the overly thick, overly expensive rule books (Bolt Action, Hail Caesar and Black Powder for example) which fill a glossy volume with endless pictures of nice kit and pretty products which you can buy. Sadly (and I have VERY personal experience of Black Powder on this one) the pretty pictures just get in the way of finding the bloody rules. If pictures interfere with the flow of the game then they are not appropriate in a rule book.

The photos I have released on Flickr appear in a 4-page appendix at the back of BBB where they do NOT get in the way of finding the actual rules. Also the 'bland' photos you refer-to were chosen to illustrate basic modelling or specific rule points. They are not there to win a photo competition or to advertise a painting service. They merely illustrate rule points for a newcomer to BBB.

Selling points? How about…
1) my personal list of livery jacket colours of the 14th and 15th century plus an essay on how they were worn. That's a whole six pages out of the 32 in the book.

2) an army list which, I believe, is the most representative produced so far [see 50 years as a historian above] units include the Calais Garrison, Northern infantry modelled directly on the Walter Strickland indenture with the Earl of Salisbury, a tribal interpretation of North and South Welsh and the Northern Border Horse.

3) Certain troops such as Irish Kern, Welsh, Scots, Northern foot and Northern Border Horse may claim terrain advantages or else are simply less affected by bad terrain. The Welsh prefer steep hills and woods, the Kerns favour woods and marshes, Northern Border Horse are unaffected by rough ground.

4) a return to the old idea of 'regular' and 'irregular' dice in morale tests. Elite, Retinue, Northern foot, Scots spear, Gallowglas, and Mercenaries react on two average dice (2,3,3,4,4,5) while Levy, Welsh and Kerns roll normal d6 to reflect their greater capacity to lose control either going forwards OR backwards.

5) A large battle with 20+ units on the table can be completed in three to four hours.

Is that enough to be getting on with?


Warspite103 Nov 2021 4:46 p.m. PST

I am afraid I got there first. The first edition of BBB was published off my computer in the late 1980s via the Lance and Longbow Society and word-of-mouth.
The current edition is BBB 2.2 and has existed for about 12 to 14 years, first as BBB 2 and then as BBB 2.1.


EricThe Shed03 Nov 2021 11:50 p.m. PST

Excellent response Barry –

I think of OOB's and Army Lists as one and the same thing

My post was supposed to have been constructive – I think mentioning your experience in the opening post would have been appropriate. You mention previous posts but I haven't seen them…imagine every time you write and publish something its to a new audience.

Having spent years working in marketing it is my experience that to 'sell' a product you have to give folks a reason/motivations to buy if there is no need. My comments stand that in your original email I saw no hooks to purchase.

Your response has to a certain extent addressed this with specifics on the army list, the morale tests, different troops etc but why did you not mention these in your original post? If you want to sell these rules and get folks interested in them you need to excite them.

As to the photos… we do live in a fickle world where image is a great deal. Again interest would be heightened with more dynamic photos.

I wish you all the very best

Warspite104 Nov 2021 2:34 a.m. PST

@EricThe Shed:

Thank you. My response was written late at night and I was a tad over-defensive!



Wargamorium04 Nov 2021 4:58 a.m. PST


I like your comments about modern rule books full of interfering photographs most of which are of no interest. Photographs to illustrate examples of play are always welcome.


Warspite104 Nov 2021 10:51 a.m. PST

Bless you!
The co-author of BBB (Graham) and I had some very frustrating experiences with Black Powder. The first game saw single moves taking more than an hour and there were only a few units on the board, it was a nightmare. The photos were simply an obstacle.

Not mentioned (so far) is that all casualties come off the table under BBB, none of this casualty counter malarky where apparently full strength units have a counter ticking down at the back. And then suddenly this full strength unit just disappears because it is deemed destroyed.

I need the visual feed-back of SEEING my enemy's line weakening or seeing my own line start to thin and knowing I need to deal with it. At-a-glance I can see if I am doing well or doing badly. I don't have to start squinting over the table, reading counter numbers and juggling numbers in my mind.


Warspite106 Nov 2021 5:21 a.m. PST

It all got real this week…
I picked up the proofing copy from the printers:


A4 format, 32 pages in high quality glossy including four pages of photos. High quality 300 gsm card cover. Also supplied are quick play sheets which will allow the game to be played off the sheets, just using the main book for references and definitions.

First nine photos below are the rules and rule explanations:


The rest of the above link is other stuff of interest including my free flag sheets.

I have to say that I was wearing a Covid mask but, underneath, I was grinning like a schoolboy when I got hold of the first copy. It just felt 'right' and not the same as the thin material which my Laserwriter belches out when I print it.

If all goes according to plan this should be available in quantity at Salute, ExCel London, on November 13. Look for the man wearing the white Bills, Bows and Bloodshed tee-shirt.


nsolomon9910 Nov 2021 7:15 p.m. PST

Barry, for those of us on the far side of the world that cant make it to Salute how do we get hold of a copy?

sixlasers11 Nov 2021 11:57 a.m. PST

I'll be buying these as soon as I can. My chaps are 28mm on 60 x 40mm bases. Will this work?

Warspite118 Nov 2021 2:07 p.m. PST

I have put them on e-bay but so far only for UK and British Forces Post Office.
You can contact me direct on:

Yes. You appear to be on 60mm DBA/DBM bases for 28mm figures. BBB2.2 works on any two armies which use similar module widths. At a push an army of 40mm wide models could even face 30mm wide provided you space out the 30mm to meet their 40mm opponents in charges and melee.


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