Thursday, 25 October 2012

Battle of Burwood, 1461

Having finished painting my first Wars of the Roses miniatures, I decided to test them out with a game of DBR, since I wanted to get my head around it before deciding whether I wanted to use it for the English Civil War. Yes that's right - I'm all about the shiny new Anglo-centric projects!

The Yorkists came to the field with 10 Bows(S) and 6 Blades(S) – there were many men of quality in their ranks. They were outnumbered slightly by the Lancastrians, who marched forth with 10 Bows(S), 3 Blades(S) and 4 Blades (O). In total the armies mustered 1,600 and 1,700 men apiece.

As the day opened, the Yorkist commander Sir Henry Mourne had put the greater part of his archers on Burrett's Hill. The rest of his men he kept in one great battle, their flanks secured by the village of Burwood and by their fellows on Burrett's Hill.

His opposite number, Sir Alan Reed, had drawn up his men in a smaller line to the south of the great field – little did Mourne realise that the cunning Reed had also placed a column on his northern flank...

Starting positions.
Yorkist line.
Main Lancastrian battle.

Aware of how far his longbowmen could fire and eager to bleed the enemy, Sir Henry moved his men forward, still anchoring them on Burwood. The Lancastrians heaved themselves forward in response, trudging through the spring mud. Excited by the prospect of combat, the archers under Okeham on the hill leapt forward as one and opened fire, disordering the enemy left.

The battle lines continued to close until, horror! Okeham's archers were caught by a storm of arrows from the Lancastrian left and the front rank melted away leaving the rest in disarray. At the same time, scores of men-at-arms in blue and white were whittled down, giving heart to the Yorkists once again. Then on the other flank, the Lancastrians lost archers too. The Good Lord was hedging his bets today.

The battle lines close - but there are more Lancs in the distance!

It was at this point that Sir Henry led his men at arms in a gallant charge against the enemy centre – but his archers hung back, having realised the threat of the Lancastrian second column. The enemy centre was shattered, hundreds of archers falling and the enemy's men at arms thrown back.

The centre cannot hold!

Shaken by this turn of events, Sir Alan could think to do nothing but throw himself back into the fray, but he was beaten back by deWolf's shields.

The last of Okeham's men on Burrett hill continued to drive back the Lancastrian left with their bodkin heads as Sir Henry kept up his relentless, remorseless assault on the Lancastrian centre. Now he and Sir Alan met in the melee, and there he dealt the foeman a great blow to the head that left his shield red with more than paint.

There we called the game, since Sir Alan was dead along with almost enough stands lost to automatically lose. Victory to York!

After the battle, Sir Henry was well pleased, especially with Jack Bone who commanded the archers of the Yorkist left – he had successfully held at bay almost three times his own numbers to give his captain time to break the enemy centre!

The main action at the end of play.

Butcher's Bill
York: 75 dead, 124 wounded
Lancaster: 450 dead, 258 wounded

That seemed to work about right, but it didn't seem as fun as DBA/HOTT for some reason. I haven't given up hope, but I think I'll have to be much more familiar with the combat resolution tables before I can really enjoy a game of this.

It still gave some fun moments, like Jack Bone's desperate defence of the Yorkist left, or Sir Alan throwing only 1s for his PIPs in the confusion of the melee. He shouldn't have tried to be clever with his deployment - more men in the main battle might well have saved him.

Overall, the game seems a little brittle and sterile, but I think that's more to do with Phil Barker's writing style – I know I don't feel that way about the other WRG games I play, although those are all based on the simpler DBA mechanics.


  1. An interesting report.

    With one command there is potential for limited PIPs. I wonder what would have happened if even a small, and likely foolish, body of MAA remained mounted?

    We find that weather adds interest as well. What if a strong wind blew from one side or even a mist covered the battlefield. Don't forget ambushes and such either. These aspects of DBR add to the game IMO.

    1. The number of 6s thrown by Sir Henry compared to Sir Alan's 1s was certainly extraordinary. I have some mounted MAA in the painting queue, but the barding is giving me pause!

      I agree, making a battle more like Towton or Tewkesbury would add colour, but I just wanted to grasp the essential mechanics for this first game. Have you tried re-fighting any Wars of the Roses battles yourself?

    2. The basics are the correct place to start. I was more suggesting that elements such as weather and ambush do add to the game as you never know when they will come in to play.

      I am starting to paint some Wars of the Roses figures, initially for DBA.