Peter Dennis introduces the latest titles in his ‘Battle for Britain’ series, featuring easy rules by Andy Callan:
In the papery romp through the military history of Britain that the ‘Battle for Britain’ series is, the one inescapable date is that epic year. When I read that Battle of Hastings themed coinage was being introduced for the 950th anniversary I thought the paperboys had better raise a celebratory axe in 2016 too!
Battle for Britain. Wargame the Wars of the Roses 1455-1487 (WOTR) was already well on in development and I did the two books pretty much side-by-side. Both had their challenges and rewards from the design point of view. The biggest change from the Battle For Britain. Wargame the English Civil War 1642-1651 (ECW) book is that all the front ranks of every stand are separate, and are glued to a locating strip in their position on the ‘ground’. This is to encourage cutting out the space between the legs of the front rank soldiers. I was experimenting with this in the later sheets of the ECW book, but when I saw the resulting improvement in the appearance of the units, I resolved to make this the standard look of all the paperboys in future. There is base colour too on the sheets, so this is optional; but it takes only a few moments to do, and really makes the guys look much more real.
WOTR (as I shall call it), had relatively few troop types; bills and bows mainly for the native English, but had many important commanders – each with their own retinue in a distinctive livery tabard. This meant that, to give an accurate representation of the look of the armies, those bills and bows had to be reproduced in different coloured tunics. Luckily, a predominantly red tabard was used by several great Lords, which made liveries for the leaders represented in the book just about achievable within the 48-page format.
Bowmen (pictured left) present a challenge to show in the paperboys’ ‘from the front’ pose. Those raised bows look rather delicate, even when given the usual 28mm soldiers’ rather chunky weapon. In practise though, they are no more difficult to cut out than anything else.
A layer of white PVA glue on the finished bow dries clear and matt, and lends a suitable stiffness – making them more durable than you might think. The bills too seem daunting to the cutter with their complex silhouette, but you will soon get used to releasing them from the sheet, and the raised weapons give the stands a nice sense of movement.
The late 1400s saw the knightly lance reach its greatest length. Rather than make separate weapons (as was essential for the pikes in the English Civil war book to fit them on the sheet), I decided to try to have them integral to the figure. Cavalry need to grip and tuck in the lance, which made separate lances impossible to my way of thinking.
This ‘integrated lance’ required a long cut down each side of the pole, which proved to be so easy in development, that I used the technique for the infantry spearmen too. There is a sheet of Swiss-German pikemen for the Battle of Stoke Field (pictured above), which needs the pikes to be made separately though. The extra layer of glue and paper in that pike-making system is needed for the really long weapons.
Andy Callan has come up with a rule set that is very simple to learn and to play but which has a chess-like fascination. Each of the three ‘Wards’ on each side fights as a single unit. Archery is followed by close combat in which the players set stand against stand inside the terrible scrummage that such a battle must represent, until one side or the other breaks and the troops left on the field (the ones that haven’t gone off in bloody pursuit), may turn their anger on to the neighbouring enemy ward.
He developed this style of game back in the 80s in an influential game called ‘Dark Age Infantry Slog’ (known as DAIS in the wargaming world). The rules for 1066 are what he describes as a much more user-friendly version of DAIS. There were, in any case, more than infantrymen stalking the field at Hastings and the Norman player has a more flexible and modern army to command than the shieldwall armies of the Saxons and the Norsemen. The rules for both periods have a starter game, which is played on two copies of the squared ‘ground’ on the inside back cover. I enjoyed the starter games so much I didn’t want to set up the big battles… but that’s another story.
One of the things I really like about paperboys is the mass look you get from the relatively crowded stands of figures (see left). Wargame 1066. Saxons, Vikings, Normans really uses this to great effect. The double line of stands in the shieldwall in Andy’s rules creates a formidable block of warriors!
I included lots of alternative shields which can be glued over the ones on the figures to prevent some of the more striking designs visually jumping out in the line. I was trying to get a really irregular, rather sombre look to the Saxons and the Vikings, who are represented in various forms in the figure sheets.
This was my first attempt at ‘big shield’ armies and I think they suit paper figures very well. Since then I have made many Romans for the ‘invasion’ book; varying the shield positions and weapon angles amongst the stands creates a flicker which lends life even to a uniformed mass.
The relatively limited troop types in 1066 allowed us space to include more buildings, a town rampart system – even a Viking ship as well as the usual trees (see main image). Andy had space to include scenarios for all three battles of 1066 too, so if the Hastings interest this Autumn inspires you to relive that year on the wargames table, get the scissors out!
Battle for Britain. Wargame 1066. Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Battle for Britain. Wargame the Wars of the Roses 1455-1487 are now both on sale from Helion & Company Ltd.