Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Wargaming the War's of The Roses

It is all the fault of those Perry twins! I keep on seeing blog posts, forum entries and magazine articles about their plastic Wars of the Roses figures and I want them.

So before buying any I thought that I had better start to understand these "wars".

Books

So, what books do I have. Well I hoard books so I already had some. But of course why read those when I could buy new books. So I bought two books on the military history of the wars. First John Sadler's "The Red Rose and the White". Then Philip Haigh's "The Military Campaigns of the Wars of The Roses". Read them in double time. Both very good, Haigh has the edge in writing style and detail but Sadler tries to bring in more of the first hand experiences of the politics and the fighting.

Then I pulled out the Terry Wise men at arms book, the WRG Armies of-the middle ages book, the army lists (WRG, FOG, Impetus). More army and troop type information.

So I have enough knowledge to be dangerous, now I need to start building an army.

What Side and When?

These are a complex series of wars. People change sides, change alliegency, they even change their titles as the wars go on. I first leant towards the Yorkists, after all Edward IV was never defeated in battle and they wear cool colours (more on that later). But, I don't have an opponent in mind yet, so best to collect both sides.

Now the side changing and treachery comes in to help. Warwick, the arch Yorkist, changed sides in 1469 and was suddenly a Lancastrian (actually I think he was always on his own side and changed his allies). So collect both sides for 1469-71 and you have a larger Yorkist army for the 1455-64 war. Genius!

Another plus for this particular phase of the wars is the presence of Burgundian supplied mercenaries on the Yorkist side. That gives me an excuse to use the Perry Mercenaries box to add in pikes, crossbows and handguns.

Figures

As is usual for me, this has been opportunistic. I went to Colours 2011 at Newbury and found Dave Thomas selling the Perry Plastics at 15 quid a box. So I bought two of the WotR infantry boxes and a mercenary box to get me started.

Once home I started to assemble them. I actually enjoy assembling plastic figures and these go together like a dream. The parts in the two boxes are interchangeable, so you get great variety.

After assembling a few figures I sat back and thought about actually organizing the little chaps. Many troops were raised as retinues for the various nobles so I decided to work on a number of these. How many figures? For no real reason I settled on large retinues (for kings and the main magnates like Warwick) of 24 figures, standard retinues of 16 and small ones of 8 or 12.

I cannot find a definitive view of the relative proportions of bows, bills and men-at-arms in the books or online so am going for 50% bows and a 3:1 ratio of bills to men-at-arms.

Basing

It is going to take me a while to get these painted and it would be good to get some gaming done early on. That means that I need to be able to use the figures for skirmish games. So they need to be on individual bases. Whilst thinking about this I came across Warbases. They have movement trays that will take figures mounted on UK 1 penny coins. So I collected all of the 1p coins in the house and started sticking the figures onto these. I have covered the coins and bases with PVA and bird cage sand before painting. Once I am ready to move to big battle systems (I am open minded about rules as long as I can base things my way) I can pop the figures into suitably decorated movement trays.

Next ...

For the next post I will share my thoughts the retinues that I plan to build, the colour schemes involved and get started on painting. Pictures will be posted of my progress.

2 comments:

Blastwall said...

Check out the Coat of Steel and Crown of Paper rules by the Perfect Captain (just Google). They are great. I also recently took the WOTR plunge - always wanted to do it and the Perry figs swung me into action.

Richard said...

The Perry miniatures are great to paint. I bought quite a lot. I am currently building the Lancastrian/Tudor host for Bosworth field.