A new character (to us) for my Dungborough imaginations setting, enters our stage today. He is, or rather was, Stephen the Fearless. Now he treads a more spiritual path as The Bishop of Dungborough.
A charismatic figure and inspiring to the younger men, he has been travelling amongst the local parishes of Dungborough, recruiting for King Henry IV and the Lancastrian cause. It helps that he is on Lord Darcy’s estates, who is pro Lancastrian. In any case his rallies always end up at a local tavern, which seems a popular persuader for those signing up!
Today, he is visiting the Parish of Piggy Longton - What could go possibly wrong!
Note - in the Resource Section there is a link to an article that explains what this fictitious landscape is all about.
Please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post.
Our scene starts with The Bishop of Dungborough leaving Osric’s Chapel in Piggy Longton, in procession towards the tavern, with a body of young men following, who are keen to sign up while whetting their lips on some Piggy Smog strong ale!
The peaceful air and joy of the occasion are shattered by the sound of horn and horses at the gallop. Sir Roger of Westshire, more out of breath than even his horse, reined in his mount in front of The Bishop and blurted that his men while scouting had seen foot soldiers belonging to the neighbouring Lord Trebian, making towards the hamlet. In his opinion an attack was imminent.
The moment needed someone to take charge and Bishop Dungborough, or rather Stephen the Fearless, was that man! A sword was already in his hand, he told Sir Roger to get word to Lord Darcy to bring aid and for three more of his horsemen to hurry and rally ‘The Bowmen of Piggy Longton’ from the local fields and send them to the hamlet.
|Stephen sets his defence, the M-A-A have gone to the bridge.|
Stephen prepared the Hamlet’s defences to delay Trebian. The men who he had just recruited were formed into two bodies of levy foot, simply armed with farm implements. He ordered Sir Roger to dismount his men-at-arms and defend the bridge at Smoggy Brook and then he set about dragging some light artillery pieces out from their storage in the old barn to defend the ground in front of the chapel, to complete his makeshift force.
|The Parish map. The area of today's battle is |
highlighted in white
Lord Trebian was indeed on the way to Piggy Longton. He had heard of the Bishop’s ‘travels’ and though even he would not dare harm the Bishop, he did intend to embarrass him and what better way than to raid, flex some Yorkist muscle and then burn the tavern to the ground!
|Piggy Longton as seen from the Lancastrian side,|
with the bridge and brook in the distance.
At the start of turn 2, test for the arrival of the Piggy Longton contingent of archers. Roll 1D6 and on a score of 5+, place the retinue bow unit within command range of Stephen. If they fail to arrive, test again at the start of every following turn until they do. Add +1 (cumulative) to that die roll on every subsequent turn of testing.
Once the bowmen have arrived, at the start of the next turn roll 6D6 to get Lord Darcy’s reinforcement. For each 1 - 2 rolled, get a levy bill unit. A 3 - 4 gets a retinue bill unit. A 5 gets a levy archer unit and a 6 gets a retinue archer unit. Lord Darcy and these 6 units will set up anywhere in any of the three fields behind the hamlet / road.
Smoggy Brook is easier to cross above the bridge than it is below it, where it is more marshy. Above the bridge, the waterway simply counts as a linear obstacle. Below the bridge, units while even partly in the water can only move at 1 DU regardless of unit type. Units going over the bridge avoid all penalties.
Burning the tavern - Any Yorkist unit that makes physical contact with the tavern (controls the BUA) will immediately and automatically start a fire. Roll a D6 (fire dice) and set to one side.
Severity of the fire - Once the fire has started, at the start of each subsequent turn that a Yorkist unit controls the Tavern, roll a D6 Fire Dice and add it to the other other fire dice already accumulating. Once the pool of fire dice have a combined value of at least 8, the Tavern is considered to have been consumed by the flames.
Extinguishing the kindling - If the tavern can be re-captured by the Lancastrians, before 8 fire dice have accumulated, all Fire Dice are removed from play. The tavern can change hands repeatedly if time allows.
Capturing the Bishop - In any melee action that includes The Bishop being attached to the Lancastrian unit, if the Yorkists win the melee, they roll a D6 and The Bishop is captured on a score of 5 or 6. Once captured, his stand is removed from play and therefore cannot be killed. He cannot be re-captured (or rescued!).
Victory is always determined as usual by casualties, as per the Sword & Spear victory rules.
If the Yorkists successfully burn down the tavern, they instantly win.
If the Yorkists capture Stephen the Fearless, they instantly win.
If the Yorkists cause the death of the Bishop in combat ….. they instantly lose!
Lancastrians are as described as above.
The Yorkists will split their forces between two commanders, Lord Trebian and Earl Elkstone. They start the game within 6” of their table edge, anywhere between the Long Lane and Smoggy Brook.
1 x Dismounted Men-at-Arms
2 x Retinue archers
1 x Levy archers
1 x handgunners
2 x Retinue bill
3 x Levy bill
‘Let no man here step back’! (Stephen the Fearless makes his expectations clear). The Lancastrian plan is simply to hold out until reinforcements arrive and then continue to hold the hamlet ….. to the last man standing!
The Yorkist plan is somewhat unconventional. Elkstone with take all of the archers and form up behind Smoggy Brook to keep the other side pinned, while Lord Trebian takes all the melee troops, headed by the Men-at-Arms to fight their way across the bridge, with the sole intention of punching their way to the tavern. This will be very much in the spirit of a hit and run raid.
And so it begins … The Lancastrians simply stand back and hold their ground, hoping that they can delay the heavy fighting long enough for Lord Darcy to bring his men to the field. This forces Elkstone’s archers to cross Smoggy Brook to bring Stephen’s men into arrow range. Earl Elkstone's left is constantly harassed by the Lancastrian artillery firing from near the chapel and then suddenly, in a surprise action, Stephen knowing that his levy recruits can’t withstand a sustained arrow storm, orders his men forwards, sweeping away one of the archer units at the brook.
|Stephen's recruits sweep away an archer contingent|
The Yorkists are doing no better at the Bridge, against the Lancastrian Men-at Arms, as Sir Roger stands firm. Lord Trebian can feel the momentum of the attack slipping from him. He orders his handgunners to cross the brook below the bridge with a view to getting behind Sir. Roger, but the boggy Smoggy is making for tough going.
|Sir. Roger on the right defends the bridge|
A crisis for Elkstone … ‘The Bowmen of Piggy Longton’ begin to drift in from the fields and form up along the front edge of Blundell’s Wood. Their sudden appearance stretches Elkstone’s position on the far bank of the brook.
|The archers of Piggy Longton form up in front|
of Blundell's Wood
Stephen the Fearless leads his two bands of recruits against Elkstone’s line. One band is severely mauled by the archers and routs, putting Stephen himself in great danger, but the other band crashes into Elkstone’s left, inflicting heavy casualties amongst the archers.
|Two Yorkist contingents wade across the 'Smoggy'|
Lord Trebian, still being held at the bridge, had sent two contingents of Retinue Billmen across the brook just to the left of the bridge. Though their progress from the hedge bound lane and into the waterway has been slow, that order now looks extremely fortuitous as they might arrive on Elkstone’s right just in time to save him.
Lord Darcy arrives …… At last, Lord Darcy has arrived on the battlefield with the Lancastrian reinforcements. He divides his force into two bow heavy formations, each of three contingents, intending one to support the bridge and the other to protect the hamlet itself. Darcy will soon have an advantage in numbers as several Yorkist contingents of billmen are stuck in the jam at the bridge.
|Lord Darcy arrives with two bodies of men|
The new arrivals add 6 Lancastrian dice to the draw bag - activation advantage has just swung in Lancastrian favour and their soldiers are swarming onto the battlefield.
Yorkist set backs ... With losses so high, Elkstone starts to fall back onto Smoggy Brook, while at the bridge Trebian suffers a shocking set-back as his M-A-A take 3 hits!
In a last ditch attempt to win the day, Trebian presses his M-A-A on, who manage to rout Sir. Roger’s men. The way off the bridge is now open. To the side of the bridge, the retinue Billmen are completing their crossing over The Smoggy!
|At last, Trebian's MAA clear the bridge and they advance|
along the road, but their own losses are very heavy. His
billmen are making for the Piggy Longton Archers by the woods.
Too little, too late ... Chaos falls across the battlefield. Elkstone’s force is totally smashed and he runs for his life to join Trebian at the bridge. At the same time, the lead Yorkist retinue bill contingent that had crossed the brook, charge the Men of Piggy Longton (archers) and rout them, then they turn to attack the tavern …. But, Darcy’s billmen have already occupied the tavern and Bishop Dungborough is close at hand, Trebian's men don't want to get drawn into the obvious trap.
|Trebian's billmen approach the occupied tavern,|
but Stephen is behind them with enthused men.
There is more bad news at the bridge, as Trebian’s exhausted M-A-A break and run.
This loss passes the Yorkist trip point for an army discipline test (⅓ losses), which they survive pretty well, but in truth, their losses are too high, the ground in front of the bridge has been recaptured by Lancastrians and the tavern looks too strongly defended. Wanting to ‘live to fight another day’, Lord Trebian orders the Yorkist retreat.
We have fought over this ground around the hamlet once before and it is quite restricted. It was really Trebian's job to hit hard and fast at the bridge before Lord Darcy's reinforcements could arrive and he failed to do this, instead getting snarled up at the bridge leaving him with 6 contingents of heavy foot snaking backwards and going nowhere!
There were nearly some dynastic implications in this scenario for our imaginations hamlet, as Lord Trebian, Earl Elkstone and Stephen the Fearless, each had close scrapes with death!
As it is, some reputational harm has been done to the fine archers of Piggy Longton, as they were quickly chased off the field - they will be keen to redeem themselves 'next time'.
The randomiser for Lord Darcy's force is meant to produce a bill heavy force, but we got plenty of archers instead and three of them were retinue (scores of 6), so if Trebian's 6 bill units had crossed the bridge and been on hand, it might have been interesting to see how that bow v bill tussle would have panned out.
With ten units per side, I was quite pleased that for the first time for this growing project, I fought the battle that I wanted and still had eight unused units in the storage boxes, so the project has passed it's first critical goal of getting enough bases done for a decent game.
The Sword & Spear rules continue to work well, with them settling roughly on a 3 hour game of medium complexity.
My sister webspace COMMANDERS is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and give a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. Link.
Here is a guide to the history and geography of Piggy Longton. LINK