Over the last few years I have got into the habit of taking a day off work for my birthday. This then would be an occasion for a day’s gaming with one or two good friends. Nothing too serious; just a friendly game with an interval for a pint and a bite to eat. Obviously, this wasn’t possible this year but I thought I’d take the day off anyway and put on a solo game.
This year’s game was to be Bloody Barons 2. I played this using my 10mm WOTR collection and the game looked splendid. Unfortunately, big battles in this scale aren’t very photogenic. So, although I took plenty of photos, I never got around to writing up the game. However, I realised that I hadn’t properly chronicled the renovation of my 10mm collection, so I thought I’d take a few close ups of the figures instead.
One of the problems with my old collection was that it was difficult to tell the difference between bow and bill at wargaming distances. Hence, this time around, I was determined to make this aspect more obvious.
Bloody Barons uses the terms, levy, retinue and household to distinguish troop quality. With the original Bloody Barons, I used command stands with one, two or three flags to represent levy, retinue and household respectively. I kept the same system for the latest version of the rules.
|Left to right: levy, retinue and household|
|Top down view. Archers to the front with 'a bill at their back'.|
For mounted troops, the rules only distinguish retinue and household; it is easy to distinguish the two by using appropriate figures’ household having more heavily armoured types.
|Mounted: retinue and household|
Each army requires 3 generals. Strictly these should be on the same size bases as the troops but I went for circular bases to make them more distinctive.
Bloody Barons doesn’t include any specific rules for Scots but as I had the figures I just created my own version. I had enough figures for two units of Scots spearmen and a unit of Highlanders. The spearmen I count as retinue but with no missile capability; they also get to use the spear / pike rules. The highland troops do contain archers but count as levy.
Similarly, for the Irish, I have two units of mixed galloglaich and bonnachts. These I count as retinue with no missile capability. They are supported by three bases of kern, which use the handgunner rules.
With the armies now assembled, I now needed a few markers. First off, I needed a marker for unit status. For this, Bloody Barons only recognises two 'formations' - 'in order' and 'out of order'. These are more like morale states than formations and I have substituted the terms 'arrayed' and disarrayed'. In the rules arrayed troops are shown by 4 bases, side by side, in line (all units consist of 4 bases). Disarrayed troops are shown by arranging the bases with a 2 base frontage - i.e. in 2 lines. I did away with this for two reasons. Firstly, I use units of 8 bases; losses are in 8 increments anyway, I had the figures available plus the bigger units look better. Arranging these on a 2 base frontage resulted in a long column that was awkward to fit in the table space and frankly looked a bit daft. Secondly, units can move between the two states of arrayed and disarrayed quite frequently and it was somewhat of a faff to keep rearranging the bases. Instead I opted to create a small base of archers which would be placed in front of the unit to represent the disorder of troops stepping out of line.
|Two methods of showing disarray: with a marker or by rearranging the bases.|
I also needed casualty markers and 'winning the fight' markers. Casualties were easily converted from spare figures and a separate standard bearer based on a penny would suffice for 'winning the fight'.
|A disarrayed unit, winning the fight with one casualty.|
The last marker I needed was a way to show units that were low on arrows. I already had 'extra arrow' markers from my Bloody Barons v1 set up , which could be pressed into service. An alternative is to simply place the archer bases behind the bill, showing the archers withdrawing through lack of arrows.
|Two ways of showing 'low on arrows'|
As mentioned above, the photos of the game weren't great so I won't go into detail this time but rather show just a couple of snaps. Although, the game is designed for 4 foot by 3 foot table I decided to try out a full 6 by 4 table. To my mind the larger table looks much better and it's not necessary to squeeze units into a zone. Still it's nice to have the option to play on a smaller table.
|The evil Count Catchmole drives back Lord Farthingdale's ward. Lord Sacriston faces off against Lord Scrote in the background. (note that I've since made better labels for the generals)|
|Game end. A draw would you believe|
All in all I had a great game, even if it did feel a bit weird in lockdown. Not a patch on a game and a pint with your pals though. Maybe next year!