Don’t worry, this is not about my trip to CRISIS again! Rather, it’s the title of a Wars of the Roses scenario we designed as our second game with the Sharp Practice rules.
The game revolved around acquiring supplies. Two advance parties were approaching a village where they hoped to struck a deal with the alderman to get a cart of badly needed ale. Big Men could bargain with the alderman or they could try to steal the cart. If they stole it, however, the villagers would enter the battle on the side of the other player. Bargaining required a successful roll which was modified by several factors, benefitting the player who had shown no aggression until this moment, whose Big Man came alone and whose troops kept a certain distance to the cart. For those interested in playing the scenario, I have put a pdf with a detailed outline in the resources section of the blog.
The game started with a Yorkist column of billmen advancing on the road towards the farm where the alderman was waiting and the cart was kept, while a column of archers moved in on the other flank to cover the road should the Lancastarians get the cart first. The Earl of Warwick with his men-at-arms was positioned in the middle to trundle through the farmland and enter negotiations with the alderman.
The Lancastarians had their troops again broken down into groups. A small band of archers approached the eastern side of the road to cover the Yorkist’s exit, while their other groups advanced on the western side and in the middle. Soon, two Lancastarian Big Men decided to break from their groups and rushed towards the alderman, who was easily convinced to sell them the cart. This, of course, meant that there was no longer any reason to refrain from aggression and the fighting started immediately. Unfortunately, the Yorkist column of billmen was in perfect range for the Lancastarian archers. Fearing for the worst, they charged their enemy only to be repulsed by the stout bowmen. Those archers continued to hold the approach to the farmhouse and warded off the billmen, who got stuck and could not come to the aid of their comrades.
Meanwhile, the Lancastarians started to move their cart along the road in a western direction towards their exit. The Yorkist bowmen, whose job it was to prevent such a situation from happening, were in the middle of the manoeuver of changing formation from column to line. Fearing that when finished they would only see the backlights of the cart, they decided to charge into melee. They succeeded in capturing the cart and even wheeled it around.
Their moment of triumph should not last, however. The Lancastarian billmen bore down on them and retook the cart. It has to be said that those billmen did the bulk of the job: They fought their way through the Yorkist bowmen and enabled the cart to turn back into a western direction.
Meanwhile, Warwick decided it was time for his men-at-arms to enter the battle. Things were looking increasingly bleaker as the Lancastrian billmen plowed through the Yorkist bows while their men-at-arms were hurrying to support them. When the Yorkist men-at-arms clashed with their enemy counter parts, however, not only did they lose two warriors but also their commander as Warwick himself was badly wounded in the melee! His remaining men, being loyal members of his household, decided to carry him off the battlefield and retreated.
There wasn’t anything that could hold the Lancastarians now and they marched off with their cart of ale, undoubtly looking forward to celebrating their victory.
And a clear victory it was. K. beat me fair and square by using her troops and especially her Big Men in a much more flexible and dynamic way. In the middle of the chaos caused by the card activiation system, she always retained control of the battle while I was merely reacting – and this mostly in an ineffective way. My troops were split in three parts which didn’t achieve any coordination. On the right flank, I let my two groups of billmen be drawn into a melee with the archers, while in the middle my men-at-arms charged their counterparts with disastrous results – an engagement that wouldn’t have had any real consequences even if I had won it.
With the clear framework of the scenario, we reduced the playing time to two and a half hours for ten turns – much better than the six hours of our first game. We still had to look things up, but the process was much smoother than last time. Again, we had great fun with the rules and are looking forward to our next game. Also, our commanders are probably going to fork out money for a decent suit of Milanese armour – in both our games, the Big Man with the highest status was killed or badly wounded.