Sunday, 28 March 2021

1471 - A rendezvous and ambush at Piggy Longton

The Battle at Beacan Farm as reported in the Dungborough Chronicles. 

While my forces continue to build for the Bosworth project, there are some new French mercenaries (Pike) leaving the painting table that allow another escapade at the fictitious Parish of Piggy Longton in Dungborough.

The French King has sent money and troops to England to aid King Henry VI. Landing on the Welsh coast just eight days earlier, the foreign mercenaries are now nearing Piggy Longton, where they expect to be greeted by Lord Darcy, a Lancastrian supporter.

His neighbour, Lord Trebian, of Yorkist loyalty, having received news of the landings and the close proximity of the ‘enemy’, gathers a strike force to intercept the mercenaries, defeat them and take their war chest.

Our game today will be played out on a 4’ x 3½’ table, with 28mm figures. 

Please use the ‘read more’ tab to see how the Dungborough Chronicles described the battle. 

Note - a link to the full ‘historical’ and geographical background to the fictitious parish can be found in the Resource Section at the foot of this post.

Above - the Piggy Longton Parish with our battlefield highlighted.

Above - opening dispositions together with the marked entry point for Lord Darcy’s reinforcement,  the ‘Men of Piggy Longton’. This is 4' x 3' space.

The well trained mercenary contingents of French long spear, Burgundian crossbowmen and handgunners, captained by Philbert de Chandée, were essential to Henry’s plans.

Above - Of no lesser significance was the War Chest that accompanied them on ox drawn carts. It provided Henry with enough money to keep an army in the field for two months. For additional security, local Welsh nobles who had greeted the invading force, had supplied contingents of longbow and bill, together with a small lance of light cavalry, under the command of Rhys ap Thomas, to escort the funds.

Not expecting trouble, Lord Darcy had gathered the ‘Men of Piggy Longton’ (a mixed contingent of bow, renown for their archer prowess and militia billmen) at the hamlet as the reception party.

Neighbouring Lord Trebian, not known for either patience or caution, planned to move swiftly and attack the Lancastrian column while it was on the move. He had brought his contingents from nearby West Rottingham, crossing Smoggy Brook at the bridge and then moving down onto Crown Hill to block the path of Chandée. He directly commanded his battle hardened mounted Men-at-Arms, while the capable Earl of Tredington and Duke of Staverton each had contingents of bow and billmen, drawn up in two wards.

A local farmhand from Beacan Farm, whilst tending the fields, ‘noting a great kerfuffle’ at Crown Hill, made off on foot towards the hamlet to raise the alarm. Entering Trotter Lane, he met Lord Darcy, who was already arraying his men, having heard the fire from de Chandée’s handgunners in the distance.

The Battle at Beacan Farm.

Rules - Sword & Spear, Figures - Perry 28mm, Terrain - Farm Barn from Warbases (enhanced by modelling), high ground from Last Valley, ploughed fields, brook and trees from S&A Scenics (plus some home made trees), gaming cloth from Geek Villain and fencing from Hoka Hey (enhanced by additional modelling), incidental pasture pieces homemade, bog from Coritani.

The experienced Chandée, never taking anything for granted and treating everywhere as enemy territory, was not the sort to be easily caught out. Once at Beacan Farm, he ordered his light cavalry ahead, to scout the hamlet and make initial contact with his allies, while arraying his handgunners and crossbowmen defensively across the front of his resting column.

The light cavalry having barely travelled a couple of hundred yards, caught first sight of formed enemy contingents with Yorkist banners, heading for Crown Hill. They promptly returned to Chandée with the news, who began urgent deployment of his full force into battle line.

Above - as Lord Trebian reached the vantage point on the hill and seeing the Lancastrians rushing to get into their fighting formations ..... he attacked immediately!

Special Rules.

The sides set up with their front contingents just inside maximum longbow range.

The war chest cannot move from it’s starting position. The moment that any Yorkist unit makes contact with the cart carrying the war chest, the money is captured and the turn immediately ends. The unit that contacted the oxen cart is considered to be carrying the war chest. The Yorkists then conduct a special escape turn.

The Special Escape Turn - Each Yorkist unit rolls 3D6 +3” and moves that many inches directly towards and over (if possible) Smoggy Brook (no terrain penalties are calculated for this escape turn, the unit simply moves the number of inches rolled). If a unit would leave the table, the Yorkist player can instead allow that unit to remain on the table edge, to keep the Lancastrian fighting force intact. At the end of their movement, each Yorkist unit can pivot on it’s centre to face any direction that it wishes. A new normal turn then starts, with the usual sequence of play.

During normal turns (i.e. not the escape turn), all movement through bog and the brook is done with the unit’s movement allowance reduced by 1DU (a system measurement). 

As soon as the unit carrying the war chest crosses to the other side of the brook, the game ends and the Yorkist player immediately wins.

In any case, if during play, an army is demoralised as per the normal Sword & Spear victory condition rules, the game immediately ends and the surviving player claims the war chest and wins.

At the start of turn 4, the Lancastrian player rolls 2D6 and if the player get doubles, places Lord Darcy and his two contingents on the table edge at the designated entry point. If failing, then at the start of every turn there-after, roll again, but each time adding in an extra D6 (cumulative - one additional for each extra turn) for each new turn. Once any one set of doubles are rolled, the reinforcement arrives. When they arrive, immediately add two additional Lancastrian activation dice to the draw bag.

Notes on the game engine.

In Sword & Spear, an activation dice for each friendly unit on the table is placed in a draw bag. So we start the game with 6 red dice for the Lancastrian (+2 when reinforcements arrive) and 7 white dice for the Yorkist. They are drawn in groups of 7 dice, the odd number guarantees that one side per draw will have more more dice than the other and they are treated as the active player for that draw. The final draw in the turn will typically have less than 7 dice.

Once the dice are drawn, the player rolls their dice and depending on the numbers rolled, they can allocate them to various units to perform various Actions. To be active, the dice roll must be equal to or higher than the ‘Discipline Rating’ of the unit selected, so obviously high rolls are good and rolls of 1 and 2 (and more often than not 3) are generally useless, wasted and set aside for that turn.

Get on with it!

The Lancastrian front line all suffer from the arrow storm

Yorkist arrows fill the sky. The Lancastrian handgunners do not have the range to engage and dare not move forwards at this stage. The trained crossbow on the other hand do find their mark, but it is an uneven contest and the Lancastrian right wing fall back.

The Lancastrian cavalry are also stung by an arrow storm on the other flank and the horsemen are likewise forced to fall back.

Above - in an uneven contest, Chandée pulls his front line back, but by pulling back, Chandée has not only set up a cohesive line, but is playing for time to allow Lord Darcy to bring help from Piggy Longton and to fall upon the Yorkist rear!

The Yorkist line starts to advance and Lord Trebian orders his mounted Men-at-Arms to dismount and push towards the enemy pike in the centre.

Above - as Trebian’s left advances, ahead of the them, the French handgunners are put to flight and the crossbowmen take heavy casualties and fall back to seek protection at the barn, though before they do, they manage to see off one the Yorkist bow contingents.

On Turn 6, the Lancastrians are now rolling 4D6 for their reinforcements and they get their ‘doubles’. Lord Darcy arrives behind the Yorkist right flank and they stride out to close the gap with the Yorkists. More importantly, their arrival contributes 2 additional red dice to the draw bag.

Above - Trebian brings his M-A-A to face off against the pike, while on his left, having got rid of the crossbow and handgunner threat, a friendly archer contingent has positioned itself to assail the flank of the French long spears (Pike).

Neither side can take anything for granted, a Yorkist archer contingent on the right (Staverton's command) routs and everything hangs in the balance.

Above - Chandée acts boldly to have the French long spears charge into Trebian’s Men-at-Arms, this both shocks the Yorkists and negates the archers ability on the flank to shoot, an opportunity most certainly lost as the Lancastrian cavalry return to the fray and threaten directly those same archers.

The charge of the French long spears is initially absorbed with heavy losses by the Men-at-Arms, but as push, shove and hack continues, the long spear gain the upper hand at this critical point on the battlefield and the casualties become too much for Trebian’s men, who break and rout. Trebian has his own near miss!

In game terms, Yorkist losses are now great enough that every Yorkist unit must take a morale test. Failures create more losses and routs and the Yorkist force then hits it’s demoralisation level - they collapse and flee the field. Lord Darcy rides ahead and greets Philbert de Chandée and Rhys ap Thomas, greatly impressed by the French long pointy sticks and their shattering of Trebian’s finest!


A very fun game, not a lot of units per side, but enough going on to entertain and potentially give a tight finish. In the end, with losses suffered by both sides, it was going to be down to that final pike (long spear) v MAA melee in the centre that would decide it ..... and quite right too.

The Yorkist’s suffered three notable setbacks. Twice, when they rolled their Action Dice, they got a run of 1’s and 2’s which were totally useless and in effect, brought on a bout of hesitation.

Thirdly, having done an excellent job of neutralising the crossbowmen and handgunners to their front, Tredington's archers didn’t get a chance to disrupt the French long spears because Trebian’s Men-at-Arms were too keen to rush forward at the French and Chandée then took the initiative to launch his own charge.

Had the archers done their work first, the French would, through casualties and the loss of Impetus, have allowed the MAA to fight on more equal terms. So who knows which way that might have gone!

However, it must be remembered that the Yorkists had Lord Darcy to their rear, so there was a bit of an imperative to ‘hurry up’ and keep moving forwards, which brings us back to those costly moments of hesitation that the system creates.

Once again the Piggy Longton map manages to deliver a good pre-generated landscape, with a new part of the map being fought over and allowing a new story to be told.

The 80mm based units seem to be working fine and the nuances of the rules continue to be revealed to me.

More bill and bow units are now needed to swell the ranks so that something nearer to a set piece battle can grace the table, but that is likely a doubling of what I already have and will take a bit of time, so be prepared for more Chronicle tales from Piggy Longton, while that happens.

Resource Section.

All about Dungborough and Piggy Longton. LINK

The last battle fought at Piggy Longton. LINK

A bit about the Bosworth Project. LINK


  1. Splendid Norm a great little battle and your parish setup as you say creates a wonderful narrative context which you have beautifully recounted. Putting pen to paper (metaphorically) takes time so thanks for the nicely told story. The challenge is that little itch of if only you had a ‘few’ more troops.....but that is the beauty of the hobby. Roll on bosworth !

    1. Thanks Matt, yes, as I put out Yorkist forces, I was wishing each wing could have put out an extra contingent of bill and bow, but they will trickle into the armies and as they do, the stories can grow and the table look meatier.

      I do hope these small games encourage gamers to get their collections to the table early, rather than painting for a year before getting a game in ........ and then deciding it’s not for them :-)

  2. Most splendiferous I have been looking forward to this and you do not disappoint. The rules look perfect for solo play and your map is a thing of beauty, I again look forward to more chronicles.

  3. Thanks Phil, the hamlet is proving a hot bed of factional activity ..... I did actually fret when Trebian almost ‘bought it’, I mean, he’s only just got going :-)

  4. A lovely little battle, with the map proving its worth by generating nice terrain and aiding the story too. The miniatures look superb and really show of 28mm in all its glory. I really must give these rules another look, as they've given good games in the past. Time to dig my blocks out again!

  5. Thanks Steve, the rules really do give a lot of decision points, together with gained and missed opportunities, in today’s game, the French long spear stole the initiative and attacked, it could quite easily have been an archer attack, followed by a MAA charge.

  6. Fantastic looking scenario! Beautiful minis, terrain and great maps!

  7. Thanks Michal, the whole thing has been very enjoyable.

  8. Loved it. The map, miniatures and story are all first rate. Read it all twice. The gold standard of AAR’ usual!

  9. Thanks JB, that is very kind. The scenario gave a good chance to build a story, partly based upon Henry’s first arrival in Wales and his advance into England in 1485, while the game itself gave a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon.

  10. A very nice looking game. Good to see you got your recently completed barn on to the tabletop.

  11. Thanks Peter, one way or another it was going to make an early appearance :-)

  12. What a splendid set up and tussle! Looking forward to much more from the Chronicles!

  13. Thanks David, the call for reinforcements has gone out!

  14. Interesting little engagement, Norm. Well told and well illustrated. Not knowing much about WotR, how often were these continental contingents of crossbow, hand gunners, and pike used? You see, I have a box or two of Perry mercenaries that I would enjoy fielding.

  15. Thanks Jonathan. Not that common really. The only occasion I know of ‘pikes’ would be the French contingent that accompanied Henry at Bosworth. They are described as ‘long spear’, but with a pole of up to 22 ft, I felt that the Perry pike were an acceptable adjustment, readily available and in plastic ... so winner! I’m not sure about Scottish pike / spear.

    Xbow and handgunners were also at Bosworth. Handgunners were just starting to become a little more common, so several commanders might of ‘dabbled’ with them, probably in terms of what we think of as skirmishers. European military commanders / specialists also took an interest in WotR and there were some who either observed or took on roles of advisers, so the continental tactics / weapons would have been familiar to the various families and notables. Plus they had been fighting in France with their Burgundian allies.

    I think it was in my last post that I mentioned the risks of creating a ‘fantasy’ WotR army by having too many European type elements in them, but I think it is one of those areas that many players have forgiving collections just to enjoy the variety of troop types.

    Bosworth of course does allow a legitimate dabble to a greater extent.

    1. Edward had hangunners with him when he came back in 1471, they're remarked on by somebody in London after Barnet, there is no evidence of crossbow use or foreign personal to use it,as opposed to the handgunner,having said that there is no evidence it wasn't used! Spiky sticks don't really figure till Bosworth unless you're Scots!
      Best Iain

    2. Thanks Iain, I wonder whether there was a prestige thing here in relation to the new technology.

  16. A cracking narrative to continue the chronicles of the parish of Piggy Longbottom. The terrain and figures are splendid. Once again a close call.

  17. Hi Mike, glad you enjoyed, this one would sit very tidily into a short session, even with a few more bases added.

  18. A great write up and great photos Norm. It did look like a brilliant game.

  19. Thanks Ray, I based the story line on the 1485 invasion, when Henry landed in Wales with a mercenary army and then advanced through Wales picking up local support before enter England. I enjoyed doing all that fluff, it seems to add a bit of soul to the play.

  20. Very engaging AAR Norm, as usual! Seems to me the Yorkists’ race against time was quite a steep hill to climb as the French contingent to their fore was about equivalent to theirs and quite some time would have been needed before putting it to flight and face Darcy later. I look forward to more Piggy Longton chronicles as the ranks continue to swell.

  21. Thanks Mike, I pegged the forces to 200 points for York and 210 for Lancaster, though part of that Lancaster value is wrapped up in Lord Darcy’s reinforcement, so for a short time, the Yorkists have a slight numbers advantage, but once Darcy arrives, it is potentially grim for Yorkist aspirations.

    I should run it again, just to see if reaching the treasury is even possible!

  22. Magnificent Norm! Great read and wonderful photos. Your growing figure collection is a thing of beauty. What's not to like at Piggy Longton.

  23. Thanks Lee, never a dull moment there! I think if I moved action forward by a couple of centuries, the map might need a district added called something like Wargrave or Redmoor etc.

  24. Very nicely done Norm. I enjoyed the narrative and can tell a lot of effort went in it. That was also a pretty cool scenario that came from it. 😀
    The WoTR stuff looks great btw. What did you think of sword and spear? I haven’t played those rules in a long while and might trot them out again.

  25. Thanks Stew, I can’t fully make my mind up about S&S. For now it is working for me, but the system is a tad ‘mechanical’ in its processes rather than intuitive. I like the dice draw for activation, but the opposed die rolls for combats may be a bit too luck driven for me, I need to give that a bit more thought.

  26. Lovely images of a wonderful game, Norm. Figures and terrain look marvelous.

  27. Thank you Dean, I just wish I could get production up even close to you :-)

  28. Lovely looking game and it seems like a nice mechanism for this scale of game,looking forward to your reinforcements!
    Best Iain

  29. Thanks Iain, bill and bow on the bench now!

  30. A great looking game. It is early early days in generating a history for Dungborough and it is a great instalment. I know it has only been a few battles but can already see how useful it is for battle generation and context placement. And although I have not used Sword and Spread, I have heard nothing but good about them.

  31. Thanks Shaun, I have been surprised how the creation of a place like this creates a narrative web to hang things off in rather a similar way that running a campaign game does.

  32. Not sure why I have not commented earlier Norm - I am sure I read the report several days ago! A great little table with beautiful figures and terrain - the whole Piggy Longton concept is inspired for scenario generation!

  33. Thanks Keith, it is bringing a lot of old school type pleasures :-)



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