Author Topic: WOTR - a question for Ruarigh and others  (Read 644 times)

DBS

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WOTR - a question for Ruarigh and others
« on: October 19, 2011, 09:41:26 AM »
Having seen the very impressive Towton game at Salute - but did not have the time to stop and chat to the team - I wondered whether they (or indeed anyone else out there) had any views on the use of Poleaxed 2 for WOTR in 6mm?

The angle I am coming from is this.  As far as I can see, the most notable feature of P2 is that it treats each noble's contingent as, effectively, a combined arms team.  Other rule systems, to a greater or lesser degree, tend to assume a more functional division of forces: at its most extreme, the FoG battlegroup system with all the longbowmen over here in this BG, all the billmen here in this BG, and all the fully harnessed nobs over there in that BG.  P2 instead has each captain keeping his retinue together, with the archers advancing or withdrawing through the bills and men-at-arms as necessary.

Now, it seems to me that this is arguably a much more realistic mechanism.  My concern is the frontage to depth issue - at least in terms of aesthetics.  A large contingent, in P2 28mm/15mm terms, envisages a frontage of eight figures, with up to five ranks: one of fully or partly harnessed men at arms, two of bills, and two of longbows.  So, an eight by five block.

But translate this into, say, 60x30mm stands of The One True Scale.  Say, three ranks of 12 figures.  If one simply substitutes one stand of 36 figures for each rank of eight in the P2 contingent, your large contingent ends up having a frontage of 12 and a depth of 15.  A column, rather than a line of battle.  Even if you space out the figures, and only have two ranks, the physical area covered is still in a proportion of width:depth of 1:2.5, which does not seem right.  Now, I think I am right that for the Towton project, Ruarigh and Co used two 60x30 stands for each rank of eight figures.  En masse, with all those thousands of little men, it did not look too wrong in terms of proportion on the table.  But that was probably due to the vast size of the armies.

Of course, one might say that the answer is to simply reduce the depth in numbers of stands.  But that then leads to difficult choices in representing the proportions between each element of a retinue.  If one only had a depth of three stands, one would essentially have harnessed infantry:billmen:archers in a ratio of 1:1:1 rather than 1:2:2.  And the contingent would still be fifty percent deeper than it would be wide.  Also, the smaller contingents, which are perhaps only two or three ranks deep in 28mm/15mm scale, become equally problematic.

So, I would invite your views.  Am I getting hung up on a perceived rather than a real issue?  Does it play (and feel) OK with these deep contingents, even if one is playing the smaller actions?  Is there a better set of rules?  (I like the fact that there is no figure removal in P2, and, as I say, treating contingents as the building block of each army.)  Should I just get a life?

Ruarigh

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Re: WOTR - a question for Ruarigh and others
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 12:02:27 PM »
P2 is really good for this period because it is specifically designed for it. The combined arms approach works well and feels right, certainly moreso than other rules that let you manoeuvre separate units of bows, bills and nobles. It also encourages you to maintain your battle line because units become disordered when not in contact. The key, though, is the orders system, which requires interpretation to be properly usable. Despite this need, it provides the friction and need to manage your battle lines that makes the game.

Our approach to the rules was to use a frontage of two 60x30 stands with one stand per rank. Thus contingents were generally two stands wide by four or five deep in our smaller games. This looked absolutely fine when we did Blore Heath and Northampton. When we did Towton at Salute, we used a frontage of three stands but retained the same depth. At Derby we used a frontage of four stands, effectively doubling the frontage while retaining the same depth. This made the lines look a little thin to me. They would have looked even thinner had we used the recommended base depths for 28mm figures! Our figures were based 3 ranks deep on each stand and had a frontage of 11 figures per stand for melee troops, while missile troops had a frontage of 8 figures per stand.

When it comes to the look of the battle line, remember that you deploy your troops in commands comprising several contingents, so the depth of the line is thinner compared to its frontage. This makes a visual difference. If you are really concerned about the depth of the formations, I would recommend sticking to the recommended base depths given in P2 for 28mm figures. I think this is 20mm for the melee troops and 25mm for missile troops, but could be wrong because I do not have my rule book with me. That would sort out the basic concerns you have. One thing that we did consider, but rejected for reasons of greater utility of our figures when the project was over, was basing the melee troops on one stand 120mm wide by 60mm deep for three ranks or 40mm deep for two ranks, and doing the same for the missile troops. This would speed up play at the cost of making your troops less flexible. Were you to do this, then you could fix the ratio of bill to knights on each stand to suit yourself, and you could adjust the depth of the stands to suit the depth of the contingent that you think looks right. We were actually rather glad we did not do this in the end because we had the effect of an undulation battle line on our terrain. However, I can see the advantages of such an approach.

Overall, I think you will find that the depth does not look bad once the battle lines are deployed, and even when a contingent becomes separated it does not actually look wrong. As far as game play goes, there are no real issues. Instead of counting up figures for flank attacks you count up ranks, and you can usually guesstimate how many figures are involved in a melee.
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DBS

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Re: WOTR - a question for Ruarigh and others
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2011, 01:19:58 PM »
Ruarigh - very many thanks indeed.  It was precisely your experience with the smaller battles, such as Blore Heath and Northampton, in which I was interested; it very clearly looked very good for Towton, but that was an abnormal frontage!  Your comments about P2 generally reinforce exactly what appeals to me about them as a ruleset.  I had wondered myself about larger block bases for melee and missile, but agree with you that it would limit wider utility / flexibility.  Similarly, I am keen to stick to fairly standard base sizes, so either 60x30 or 40x20, rather than trying to thin down depths a la P2 for 28mm.

A supplementary question if I may - not so much rules related, but rather how you organised for the Towton project.  Looking at the blog, you seem to have (very sensibly) taken, say, the contingent listed by Freezywater for Bouchier, and split it 50:50 between Edward IV's retinue (since he does not personally get a contingent, being the Army commander) and Bouchier's retinue.  Did you similarly split each of the other contingents into, as it were, a retinue for the named commander and a retinue for a lesser leader?  If so, I wondered whether you had found a reference which identified particular gentry against specific noble affinities?  Or did you just (arbitrarily where necessary) divvy up the second tier names known for each side between the main leaders?

Ruarigh

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Re: WOTR - a question for Ruarigh and others
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2011, 06:04:10 PM »
When we were organising Towton we took the Freezywater list and halved it as you say for the initial tranche of figures. This meant that the main contingent in each command consisted of the battle commander and the contingent commander. The remaining contingents had knights of known affiliation allocated to them. No attempt was made to ensure that all the allocated knights were affiliated with the contingent commander. The second tranche of figures was done in the same way as the first, but this time a whole new selection of knights was allocated to each contingent. This meant that we had four named personalities allocated to each contingent. The main basis for choosing these personalities, after dealing with the contingent and battle commanders, was first the availability of flags for them and second the availability of information about their liveries and badges. Where the latter was not available we indulged in some considered reconstruction based on the available flags. The final consideration was the origin of some of the knights. Where we had flags for given knights and they came from somewhere that had some meaning for us, we chose to use those knights in preference to others.

With the available flags I reckon we might have actually doubled the number of named personalities that we fielded, but it would have meant considerably more trouble for producing livery flags and working out liveries.
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DBS

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Re: WOTR - a question for Ruarigh and others
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2011, 09:19:27 PM »
What I suspected - and makes perfect sense.  Thank you very much indeed.

David