Monday, 15 May 2017

Tiny Table equals Compromise.

As regular readers of this blog will know, among the periods in which I wargame, is a Wars of the Roses army in 28mm. Being a solo player, I of course painted up both Lancastrian and Yorkist forces. I have experimented with a number of rule sets for this period, including Hail Caesar, Sword and Spear, Impetus and Swordpoint. For skirmish games, my favourite set is Lion Rampant, it is quick, easy to play, and a lot of fun too.

However, for larger battles, the previously mentioned sets are fine, they each have their own good, and not so good points. I was still looking for the 'Holy Grail' set of rules. Thanks to my good friend Nik, a member of the Tabletop Commanders community and owner of the very popular 'Medieval Miniature Wargaming' site, also on Face Book, I may well have found it. I was introduced to 'Mortem et Gloriam or MeG for short.

MeG is the latest, and possibly least well known of the recent Ancient/Medieval rule sets to be published within the last few months. The rules allow for a number of bases to be gathered together to form TUG's and SUG's (Tactical Unit Groups and Skirmish Unit Groups), A number of these Unit Groups form the army. The rules call for base removal when casualties are sustained. The number of figures on each base is not important, nor is the size of the base, as long as both armies are based in the same way.

A typical TUG of longbows would be eight bases in total, as you can see from the bases I use, that a TUG would occupy a frontage of 340 mm or just a shade over 13 inches. That would be fine on an 8 x 4 foot table, unfortunately, the table I currently have access to is just 1100 mm x 730 mm (43 x 29 inches). Three typical TUG's, side by side, would pretty much occupy the full length, with no room at all for manoeuvre.

This is where the compromise comes into play. Those eight bases are now condensed into a single base measuring 80 mm or a tad over three inches. Each of the figures now represents a base of the TUG. Instead of removing a base, I remove a single figure.

A TUG of foot knights, comprising six bases, or in my case just six figures.

Cavalry are little more difficult, being larger models, but six bases are represented here.

My compromise, though not nearly as impressive as the original, does only take up a frontage of ten inches or 255 mm, compare the size with the full longbow Tug of eight bases in front!

Does it work? As all my figures are based in one's, two's, three's and four's, yes it does, and will allow me to fight some decent sized battles on my tiny table.

I have a copy of  the MeG rules, and have ordered the cards and dice used to play the game. In the meantime, Nik and myself are planning a Hundred Years War campaign, using his figures. With the power of the internet, we will fight the battle over on Google Hangouts, with a couple of camera angles on his table. Planning is already well advanced, and once we have ironed out any problems, it will be broadcast live on YT, links to watch being posted in Tabletop Commanders and Medieval Miniature Warfare face book pages.

A narrative of the above mentioned campaign, to whet your appetite.

May 1424.

London to Dover Road.

Jack Hall had risen early, soon after dawn broke he had taken his short hunting bow and slipped out of the sleeping camp, nodding to Ralph who was standing his turn on guard duty. There were no lurking French here in the fields of Kent, but the donkey carts contained food, weapons and other items of value, for any opportunist thief who happened to pass by.

He had soon bagged himself four plump rabbits and a grouse. On his return he could smell a fire that had already been re-lit, and men moved about the small tents. James Blackwell, the captain of the band, saw him approaching and smiled, noting the animals and bird hanging from his belt.

'A fine morning for a hunt it seems Master Hall, I can see we will not be going hungry with you in the company.' Some of the other men grinned and nodded in agreement. 'There is no time this morning to cook your prizes, we are but two hours walk from Dover,' James continued, 'You will have to make do with bread and cheese like the rest of us this morning.'

Jack handed the results of his hunt to the boy who served as servant to James Blackwell. 'It can join the rest of the provisions sir, who knows when we will be able to hunt again?'

The men set about breaking camp, the simple canvas tents were soon dismantled and rolled up, along with woolen blankets, pewter mugs and other items. All were loaded into one of the two donkey carts. The column was ready to set off on the last few miles of its journey from Yorkshire to the South Coast. Anyone who paid any attention to the small column, would find nothing unusual, a group of farmers or pedlars perhaps, heading into Dover to turn a few pennies in profit. They may have been curious at the sight of an impressive chestnut stallion, worth a great deal of money, that was tethered to the back of the leading cart. A cart which was covered in a tight canvas cover, to protect its contents from the weather or any prying eyes. The second cart was laden with the everyday items of people travelling the road.

James Blackwell, the captain of this small band, had accepted an indenture from the king to serve as a Man at Arms, and to provide ten archers for his company. An army was mustering at Dover, and a fleet of ships would transport the men to Calais. All his men were volunteers, they all were proficient with the bow, and he had provided for all their needs, with equipment for the forthcoming conflict, as well as food and shelter on the journey south.

Each man would serve for six months and be paid three pence per day, when the Royal Commissioners had stopped at the town, calling for volunteers, James was quick to respond, and he had hand picked the ten men he wished to accompany him.

For his service, each of his archers would be paid £4 10 shillings. They had each received the sum of £1 - 2 shillings and 6d in advance. A small fortune to ploughmen and farmers who would be lucky to earn £2 in a year. Once they presented themselves to the commissioners in Dover, they would receive a further 25 percent, another £1 2s 6d, the remainder would be paid at the end of their service, assuming of course, they were still alive to receive it.

The column made its way to Dover Castle, overlooking the harbour. The men were amazed at how many ships filled the waters below the lofty sentinel. It was clear a large army was to be transported very soon.
Once inside the castle, Captain Blackwell presented himself and his men for inspection by the commissioners. He proved he had a horse, helmet with visor, armour, lance, axe, sword and a dagger. Each of his archers was supplied with a Jack, a protective cloth jacket, consisting of many layers, which although soft and comfortable to wear, offered a lot of protection from sword and arrows. Each had a helmet, sword, buckler, longbow and at least 40 arrows. Once the commissioners were satisfied that the indenture had been filled, the men received the promised money.

James Blackwell was informed that he and his men would be serving in a battle commanded by the Earl of Salisbury, and that it was presently camped to the west of the town, with the expectation of sailing for France within two days.

So it was, James Blackwell and his company joined the battle of the Earl of Salisbury, and two days later boarded a cog bound for Calais, their adventure was about to begin...

A month earlier Jamie McNair, a crofter from the Highlands had been called by his lord to pay service. He along with some 6,000 other Scottish troops, under the command of John Stuart the Earl of Buchan, had sailed in Spanish ships from Scotland to La Rochelle in France. The Scottish troops were to replace the losses suffered during the defeat at the Battle of Cravant by English forces.

Jamie had answered the call by his lord, it was his duty, but he was unhappy to discover he would be travelling to France, not crossing the border to fight in England.
The voyage had taken five days, and though the passage was made in reasonably good weather, Jamie, and his colleagues had suffered greatly from sea sickness, to the point, they gladly left the ship and set foot, once again, on dry land. Even if that land was France. They would spend the next days marching through the French countryside to join the Scottish contingent under the command of the Earl of Douglas, so recently defeated by the English.

Jamie carried his pike, and realised with every step he took, he was moving further and further away from his beloved family and the small croft that was his life. He just wanted to get this service over and done with as quickly as possible, so he could return home. The men with Jamie trudged along the dusty roads to an inevitable meeting with the English foe. Very soon, though he did not know it, he would meet James Blackwell and his company of Yorkshire volunteers on the fields of France...

To be continued...

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Imagi-Nations. A progress report.

I have completed the third squadron of cavalry to add to my forces. Introducing the unit for Karacia.

The tufts are still wet with PVA and the sword scabbards are still to be added.

A line up of of what I have managed to build and paint since mid March.




This gives me an excellent nucleus to build upon.

I still have three more cavalry and eight more infantry units to build.

They will all be standard line infantry and regular cavalry, the specialist troops will come later.