Boat Hooks at the Other Partizan

The Other Partizan Show is held at the George Stephenson Hall at the Newark show ground, just outside of the historic town of Newark. The Other Partizan show is the second Partizan show of the year, held in the Autumn, with the original Partizan show held in the spring. I am happy to proclaim Partizan as my favourite wargames show, although I admit to being totally biased in this respect. It is only an easy 20 minutes down the A46 from my house.

However, to back this claim up I would add that the venue is generally bright and airy, there’s free parking, the standard of games on show is the best you’ll see anywhere and the selection of traders means that you should be able to find most of what you want and much that you didn’t realise that you needed! Add in a decent cafe (the bacon cobs are excellent!) and an Ice cream stall – somehow the weather always seems fine at the Partizan shows – and you have the recipe for a very pleasant day out.

An ariel shot of some of the exhibits at the Newark Air Museum

If all that isn’t quite enough for you, the venue is next door to the Newark Air Museum, 5 minutes away from Newark; which of course has the Castle ( free entry), the English Civil War museum, Queens Sconce and Polish WW2 Cemetery and is 15 minutes away from the Stokes Field Battlefield at East Stoke village. So you could quite easily make it a weekend break if you fancied it.

My Fleet all packed up and ready to go to Partizan.

I was attending the show with Andy Callan and his brother Ian, and as the ‘Billhooks Brothers’ we were presenting a participation games of Never Mind The Boat-hooks. It was the second time that we had presented this game and having learnt from the first game that we had run at a previous Partizan, the idea was to present a stripped down game, involving three or four ships rather than the whole fleet that was on the table, to allow for faster games. As it happened, we had very few people that actually wanted to roll dice but plenty that were happy to chat to us about the game and the various spin offs of the ‘Bill Hooks’ rules sets.

It was a very enjoyable, if tiring day, meeting so many good friends of the game, some of whom, we only knew as Facebook friends. We spent so much time chatting that we barely finished the actual game that we had started, to get things going. I was tasked with taking photo’s and posting live to our Facebook group so here is a round up of all of the pictures as well as a brief narrative of the battle.

The Fleet on the left of the picture were designated as the French and started the game aggressively by sailing straight across the table and peppering the English with Arrow fire. The Green and yellow galley had positioned itself in a commanding position to windward!

The English Cog (red and Yellow) attempts to grapple and board the now French Carrack ( formerly the George!). The boarding attempt failed but in the ensuing collision, the French archers were thrown out of the fighting top! In the back ground, a French Galley is rowing to support.
Another English Cog joins the fight and again fails to grapple. The French carrack could elect to slip away between the two ships but decides ( rather optimistically…) to fight and successfully grapples.
To add to the mayhem, the French Galley joins the fight although comes off worse in the ensuing melee. To add to their woes, the English Galley has swept down to pour fire onto the French. In addition, their other galley, thanks to a special event, has run aground and can play no further part in the battle. The French aggression now looks somewhat hasty!
Against all odds, the French are able to resupply their galley with additional crew and board the English galley! The English will fight on but at a severe disadvantage.
It’s small comfort for the French though, in the continuing melle, their Carrack has been captured, all the crew have killed and with the loss of their Flagship, the French are forced to concede the battle.

So, it was only a brief game of just four moves but thanks to the amount of chatting, a battle that could have been over in an hour stretched out over the day! I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves at the show and perhaps were tempted to have a go at Boat hooks – you can always start as we did, with some cardboard cut out shapes. The rules are available as a free supplement to WI 426 – we still have copies – see the link below – and the cards and tokens are available as free downloads from the WI NMTB site. As for crew, we use the same troops as in the land version, Never Mind the Billhooks – hence the landscaped bases!

One final thought, there were some amazing games on show at Partizan – the best way to see them is to go to the Partizan web site and Blog.


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:


The magazine with the free rules set is available here:


For free down loads of cards etc go to the resources section here:


Happy Modelling!

Never Mind the Billhooks BASH 5

I’m a bit late writing this up as the event took place on Saturday 2nd September and a lot of beer and bourbon has flowed under the bridge since then…..As usual, I started the day by taking a few pictures and making notes of the battles but as the day continued and the battles became more intense, my note taking dried up, as did my photography. So what follows is more of an impression of the day and some of the lessons that I learnt using my Landsknechts.

The event is organised by Pete Harris and held at the Derby Boards and Swords venue ( link below). Regulars to the event tend to meet up on the Friday evening and have a pre BASH meal and refreshments. Pete Harris had also kindly organised the evening, with the group first meeting in the Derby pub, the Tap (great beer!) and then walking on to the Exeter (great food!). After the usual pre-event banter and an extremely humorous and at times hilarious evening, we retired to the Travel Lodge for a night cap.

The next morning, a full English breakfast and multiple coffees helped to start the day and it was off to Boards and Swords to commence battle.

My Landsknecht force on parade!

My Landsknecht force consisted of three blocks of 24 pikes, each with an accompanying band of six gunsmen. As each block is activated by it’s own card, I only had one army commander, Heinrich Kane, who’s main task was to undaunt any units in trouble or to issue orders to any unit that needed to react quickly to unfolding danger. As well as the troops, I had two Artillery pieces and a unit of light cavalry with their own leader.

Heinrich Kane, my newly imported mercenary leader!

This gave me 7 Army morale tokens, which sounds good but losing just two pike blocks would cost me 8 morale tokens. If that sounds unlikely, bear in mind that only the army commander can ‘undaunt’ a unit so if a block ‘daunts’ in combat it will split and the commander, assuming he is available, will have his hands full trying to rally the units. However, the upside is that the Army will have 5 commander cards plus the skirmishers and so plenty of opportunity and flexibility to move during the game.

The other issue with Landsknechts in the game is their lack of fire power compared to some armies and that they will only save on a 5 or a 6 when shot at. As a pike block, they will also take an extra casualty if hit by artillery fire. To offset this, Landsknechts have the attached gunsmen, that can be detached and sent forwards as skirmishers to harass the enemy and tie up their skirmishers (they can’t directly ‘block’ fire from opposition artillery or full units of archers). In addition, they have the ability to spread casualties through the block, making them less likely to require a morale check due to incoming fire and are therefore more durable in combat.

My Artillery pieces – now based

My choice of two artillery pieces might seem extravagant, particularly as artillery seems to have the habit of blowing up in games. Despite this, I believed the odds ( apparently 216 to 1) would make this unlikely and decided that I need something to intimidate the enemy and inflict casualties at range. This proved to be a double edged sword as I will explain below!

My final unit was a Light cavalry squadron. I will be changing these to Stradiots in the future – any excuse to buy some more toys….but for now they were a mercenary band of Welsh Cavalry led by Owen FitzTudor! I think that light cavalry are a valuable addition to any army. They can be brittle – a couple of lucky fusilades from skirmishers can see them off but they have the advantage of mobility and of course can get around the flanks of an army and cause mayhem.

And so to battle.

Let battle commence – in the background, Mike Peters surveys his table and plans his attack!

Battle one vs Richard Robinsons Burgundian Force

My Nachult block sneeking around the flank!

Richard opened the game immediately by firing his cannon. Despite my earlier comments regarding 216:1 odds of a catastrophe, Richards gun blew up, much to my amusement. So it was straight to the cards with the initial phases consisting of the skirmishers exchanging fire and my light cavalry winning the dice off with Richards light cavalry.

Gewalthut takes on the lone MAA unit and pushes it back!

It was now that I realised that my artillery were counter productive. Although they didn’t succumb to an accident, they just spurred Richard into advancing as quickly as possible! Fortunately for me, this led to Richards army being split, with his bowmen units being left behind whilst his Men at Arms charged home. I was able to defeat the MAA in combat, the pike blocks easily able to match them in combat, and with a pike block sneeking around the Burgundians left flank, they were out numbered and unable get enough shots off to weaken the approaching Landsknechts.

Despite taking casualties from the bowmen, who were protected in a block by spearmen, once combat was joined the pike block was able to use it’s superior numbers the win the melee. Victory to the Landsknechts!

Battle Two vs Ian Callans French Gallia Force

My set up – Cavalry out on the flank, Infantry in the centre

The French force was light on firepower but with blocks of MAA supported by spearmen, the offensive capability in melee is worrying! They get 24 dice for a full unit in combat but are saving on a 3+. Ian set up with a ‘refused’ right flank, pinning my opposing flank with his light cavalry and skirmishers.

Ian’s French with the refused flank

I opened the battle by firing with one of my guns and again, rather than provoke a cautious response, the opposite happened! Ian’s French came charging across the battlefield, eager to engage in combat before they took any more casualties. In addition, his light cavalry slaughtered my lights and then went on to cause mayhem with a flank charge on a pike block and then chasing off one of my artillery crews!

The battle was decided with a large melee in the centre involving two pike blocks and two of the French MAA and spear combo’s. After a three turn ‘slugfest’, it was the French that were victorious, daunting one pike block and breaking the other. Victory to the French!

Battle Three vs Ralph Duttons French Gallia Force

I was hoping for a different match up after the last battle but drew Ralph’s French in a near identical set up to Ian’s army.

Ralph’s cavalry play hide and seek with my Landsknechts!

Ralph was somewhat wary of the Landsknechts, initially focusing on their strengths rather than trying to find the weaknesses! Once again, that changed when I opened fire with my guns, prompting him to get into combat as quickly as possible! Despite initially holding their own in combat, the 3+ save of the French MAA gradually won the day.

The Vorhut are about to break! In the background, the Gerwalthut have daunted one unit but are facing a charge for the next block – they lose this time!

After a protracted, hard fought combat sequence, again, going into the third round, the Landsknechts had to withdraw, in disarray, as it was them who initiated combat. They were unable to withstand the next charge of the French MAA and were driven from the battlefield. The French were victorious!

The Consultation prize

Well they didn’t fair so well in battle but the Landsknechts were voted the best painted army. So I was pleased with the effort that it took to get them to the table! I have learnt a great deal though. I tended to fight a defensive battle, trying to wear down my opponent before closing in melee. I think that this is a mistake and in future, I will try to be more aggressive and attack first. This will give me all four ranks of pikes in the first round of combat and a re roll of any ones.

There she blows! my only loss to a miss fire!

The artillery is a mixed blessing. I think that the chance of a gun blowing up is exaggerated ( I only lost one throughout the day). However, there were turns when they hit nothing and as the battle progressed, the targets available diminished as my own troops got in the way and combat was joined. The 18 points that I paid for them would upgrade all three blocks to veterans! The other issue with the artillery was that it just forces the opposition into action, in effect giving them the initiative.

Hmmm, as a certain wise man once sang, ‘I think I better think it out again’

Oh! and it wasn’t Chris De Burgh…..


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:


To visit the Boards and Swords website for directions and details of the venue, click here:


Happy Modelling!

Bill Hooks BASH IV

I spent a very enjoyable Saturday at the fourth ‘Bill Hooks BASH’ organised by Peter Harris at the Boards and Swords venue in Derby. I must thank Peter for organising the event – there’s a good deal of work that goes into the admin, from collating all the entries, sorting the tables and scenery and keeping things running on the day. Peter has managed to create an event that as well as being well organised, is played in the spirit that most wargamers would appreciate. It’s great to meet up with like minded people in the hobby and spend a day in such pleasant company. The games are played with a wry sense of humour rather than a competitive edge, with good fortune and bad met with the same amused resignation and acceptance!

I must also add that I am very impressed with the venue ‘ Boards and Swords’. The staff were just great keeping us supplied with endless cups of coffee and making us all feel very welcome. I’ve added a link below to the venue. If you are in the area please drop in and support them.

Finally, before I get to the battles, the roving Umpire on the day was Andy Callan. You cant get better than the author of the rules being available to sort out any queries that come up in the heat of battle!

And so onto my day, where I fought three battles, one with a typical English WOTR army, led by Lord Harry Hotspur, the other two with my new Irish Army led by Brendan Fitzmaurice. As usual with my battle reports, I apologise for the one sided nature of the reports. Like all good (and bad) Chroniclers, only the highlights are included. The other problem that I have is that as I get more involved in the battle, I tend to forget to write down what actually happened, so like most accounts of the WOTR, the accounts are written long after the battles were over, although at least I can claim to have actually been there….

Battle number one vs Colin Bright’s Lancastrian/Tudor ArmyThe Lancastrian soft Centre

As Colin was relatively new to ‘Bill Hooks’ I was fighting with my standard WOTR Yorkist army commanded by Lord Harry Hotspur. The idea was to give Colin a play through as an introduction to the day and to get used to the flow of the game. In the initial set up, my light cavalry out scouted the Lancastrian force as they had no light cavalry or skirmishers.

Hotspur holds the centre as Sir Eric (on the left) does his best to provoke the Lancastrians into advancing!

Turn 1 saw the Lancastrian Army advance in a determined effort to bring the fight to the Yorkists and drive them from the table. Colin had deployed his two MAA units on either flank and looked as though he was going for a pincer move on my position. I immediately sent out my Skirmishers and light cavalry to the flanks to slow the advance and my cannon opened fire to good effect, causing attritional casualties amongst the enemy. Hotspur held his ground in the centre. To be precise, his card wasn’t drawn but it sounds better if it seems like some sort of cunning strategy!

Colin’s Tudor Bow and Bill block

Turn 2: With the armies now closing, and both Hotspur and Sir Eric now pushing forward, a fierce archery duel opened up, with the Lancastrian forces having the better of the encounter, remaining relatively unscathed themselves whilst Sir Eric Diehard and Lord Hotspur took heavy casualties. Out on the flanks, the skirmishers and light cavalry were doing an effective job of keeping the MAA at bay whilst continuing to inflict ever growing casualties. The cannon remained effective, and although a few scary double ones occurred, the gun remained intact.

Another of Colin’s beautifully painted units – look carefully! They’ve even got bow strings!

Turn 3: Lord Hotspur had closed with the Lancastrian Centre and although taking further heavy casualties from archery, almost wiping out the Yorkist archers, Hotspur was able to charge home with his MAA on the opposing Bill and bow block. Although the first round of combat did not force the Lancastrian unit to break, Hotspur inflicted 6 casualties on the Bills for the loss of just one MAA.

The Lancastrian MAA – isolated on the flank.
The battle is finely poised – Hotspur is about to strike!

Turn 4: The flanks were still a problem for the Lancastrian army. Their units were being pinned by the skirmishers and cavalry and they faced the dilemma of trying to come to the aid of the centre without exposing themselves to a flank or rear attack from the cavalry. The cannon was still intact but with a fouled barrel, was becoming less effective. Meanwhile, in the centre Hotspur had won his ongoing melee on the drawing of the first bonus card, causing the Lancastrian bill and bow block to become daunted and fall back with their commander. This put Hotspur in a dominant position in the centre and as his card was drawn, he was able to charge into the next Lancastrian Bill and Bow block. This time, after another short but bloody encounter, the Lancastrians failed their morale test and routed from the battle field. Their route spread panic in the other retreating Lancastrian units and they fell back again to the table edge. At the turn end, the Lancastrian Commander was unable to rally his troops and so failing their morale test once again, they retreated from the field. Victory for Lord Harry!

Battle 2 My Irish Vs David Grummitt’s Lancastrian Army The luck of the Irish

For my second battle, I used my new Irish army. I had only used them once before, against Ian Callan’s Welsh and they had proved to be fast but brittle. I made a couple of changes to my order of battle. I used mixed wards of Gallowglass and formed kern rather than having them in separate wards. I also split my cavalry into separate units, one activating on the skirmish card as skirmishing cavalry, with Lord Kildare in command of the other unit. As usual, my ability to game and record the action turn by turn started to fail as did my picture taking ability!

The Lancastrians started with an aggressive push in the centre which once again was met by the Irish centre holding steady, whilst the skirmishing kern and the cavalry pushed out around the flanks, threatening to get behind the Lancashire lines. This unsettled the Lancastrians, their skirmishers were put to flight and the Kern started to make mischief, distracting the Lancastrian archers and bill blocks. The Lancastrian Commander, Lord Somerset ( I think) was made of sterner stuff and pushed on, smashing the first unit of formed kern and sent them running from the field.

Somerset surrounded!

However, The Lancastrian lord found himself isolated and surrounded by the Irish Kern Skirmishers, with Cavalry to his rear and Gallowglass to the flank, things were looking sticky!

How do I get out of this mess?

Somerset was in no mood to wait on the Irish and once again charged forwards into the next unit of formed kern. It was a brave strategy that would of worked as the MAA made short work of the kern. However, the Irish Commander had found a four leafed clover and lady luck came to his aid in the form of a special event card allowing a free flank attack! Fitz Maurice led his Gallowglass charging into the flank of Somerset and with 18 dice plus his leadership the Lancastrian casualties began to pile up!

Last man Standing!

With Somerset bravely urging his men to turn and face this dastardly flank attack, the melee was decided when the other Gallowglass unit turned and charged into the rear of the melee. Although in disarray, the front rank was enough to tip the balance and Somerset was slaughtered along with his men. Victory for Fitzmaurice and the Irish!

Battle Three. Irish vs Richard Marriotts Lancastrians – Stokes Fields revisited!

By now my chroniclers energy was exhausted and I am sorry that I did not take more pictures of Richards victory ( Oops! there should have been a spoiler alert there.) Richards army was slightly unusual in that he had taken mounted knights rather than men at arms. I had always considered that although they are dangerous, they are an expensive luxury in a battle of this size. Well after all the games I’ve played it seems I still have plenty to learn!

I used my well worn plan of trying to use my skirmishers and cavalry to dominate the flanks and pull the opposing army out of position. The battle started well for the Irish. Richard opened hostilities by firing his cannon, only to roll three ones and blow it up! Oh how the Irish laughed at this new technology…However, the smile was soon wiped off of their faces as the Lancastrian skirmishers made short work of the Kern on the left and the Knights advanced menacingly on the right holding the Irish back and keeping them out of the way!

I think that Richards commander had been trained by the grizzled Veteran, Oxford, who so competently disposed of the Irish at Stokes Field. The flanks were secured by the skirmishers and a unit of bows and bills on one side and the Knights on the other. One by one, my kern skirmishers and cavalry were destroyed, daunted or just pushed back. Meanwhile in the centre, the archers were causing havoc and the desperate charges of the Irish were met with a resolute defence. My commander, Lord Fitzmaurice was slaughtered in a last charge, his Gallowglass unable to break the Lancastrian Bills

The final melee – Fitzmaurice is vanquished!

So the day ended with a loss but as with all Bill Hooks games played todaqy, there were enough laughs and ‘if only’s to convince the players that next time, victory will be theirs! I enjoyed using the Irish and have learnt a great deal. They remain a fragile choice but their speed and the way that the skirmishers activate can cause a few problems for the opposition. However, if caught in the open, they don’t stand up to arrow storms very well – they definitely need a bit of luck to succeed!

Just one example of Mike Peters superb painting skill – Yes, the banners are hand painted!

To round up a fantastic day, I managed second in the painting competition, with Mike Peters winning. Mike is a fantastic painter and modeller, all of his banners are hand painted and he has created some superb vignettes for his command stands. Watch out for an article in a forthcoming Wargames Illustrated mag showing you how to paint banners. Mike is also the official Bill Hooks BASH scribe, so you can read all about the day and see some of the fantastic armies on show in the next WI. As if he isn’t clever enough, Mike is working on a skirmish version of Bill Hooks. This will enable you field a small retinue of your own design to take part in various adventures from pillaging your enemy, hunting down outlaws or fighting off rivals trying to pillage you! There’s even talk of Pirates!

Once again, a big thank you to Peter Harris and Boards and Swords for organising and hosting the event; a very big thanks to my opponents, Colin, David and Richard for being such sporting and good humoured opponents and of course a big thank you to all the attendees for making the day so much fun. Next up, it’s Bill Hooks at B.I.G. down at Bristol – check out the NMTBH facebook page for details if you would like to go!


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:


To visit Mike Peters blog and see his master class in banner painting, click here:


To visit the Boards and Swords website for directions and details of the venue, click here:


Happy Modelling!

Bill Hooks BASH part 2 – the Battles!

This blog is an account of the battles that I was involved in at the Bill Hooks BASH held on September 4th at Boards and Swords in Derby. For more details of the actual event, please refer to my earlier blog, Bill Hooks BASH part one.

Sir Pete faces off against Sir Mike in the first battle

As always, it is difficult to participate in the battles, take photos and record exactly what happened. So the accounts are written after the event, from the brief notes that I made and of course, are totally biased from my perspective. As such, I suspect that makes my reports as reliable as the chroniclers of the time! If you get to talk to my opponents, they may hold a different view of what really happened! I must also apologise for not getting photos of every battle or even every army – there really was too much going on!

Sir Richard vs Sir Ian – game one
Sir Ralph prepares to Advance against Sir Robbie – Game one

BATTLE ONE vs Sir John Csonka

It’s worth mentioning that John had travelled all the way from Bournemouth on the coach to join us on the day. This was to be his first ever battle using the Bill Hooks rules. He had borrowed an army, very kindly supplied by one of the other players ( Robbie, I think), so as a result, he was limited in the options that he had for his troops. With an army composed of just Bows, Bills and Men At Arms, John adopted a defensive position on the top of a hill at the back of the table and invited me to attack and do my worst – I was happy to oblige!

Lord Hotspur approach’s John’s defensive position

The movement phase was a somewhat one sided affair as I redeployed my artillery and the battle opened with them opening fire without effect on the opposing army. I had moved my main ward within long range bowshot of John’s defensive position. The idea was that we would either tempt John off of the hill or let him use his arrow supplies at long range whilst I moved my MAA into position to charge. My opening bow shots caused a bit of damage to John’s archers. To my surprise, John’s opening shots at long range killed seven of my archers in Lord Harry Hotspurs unit. At the end of the turn they were forced to make a morale check. A roll of 8 + would be good enough, with a 5, 6 or 7 causing the unit to be daunted and to fall back. I rolled a 3 and a 1!

Just don’t roll a four….

This would cause the unit to rout! I used Harry Hotspur’s command status to reroll the 1. I rolled another one…The whole block, along with Sir Harry ran from the table – game over! With the benefit of hindsight, I only needed to test the archer unit’s morale as the casualties were caused by shooting. Once they failed, they would have routed back through Sir Harry and his MAA but not caused any further morale checks with the MAA as they would ignore the archers plight. However, Once I chose to use Sir Harry’s reroll it seemed only fair that he should abide by the result – served me right!

Gaps were appearing in Johns line but my army was struggling to find a way in.

As that battle had ended so quickly, John kindly suggested that I re instate Sir Harry ( less his cowardly troops!) and we carried on with the battle. A desperate struggle ensued, with Lord Harry Hotspur and his remaining ward and Sir Eric Die Hard grinding down Johns position and gradually temptimg them to advance. The Kern nearly won the battle for me. Having ground down a unit of MAA that were holding the flank and forced them to fall back daunted, the Kern nearly killed John’s isolated C in C. He escaped the combat with one wound, somewhat shaken but was able to re-join another unit and find safety.

The battle came to it’s second conclusion when Sir Daniel Rose charged his light cavalry unit at a unit of Billmen that had become exposed. If he could force a morale check, Johns army was in danger of routing. Although Sir Daniel won the combat 5 wounds to 4 he managed to roll another 1 when checking for wounds on the leader. As a dolt, he had only one wound and was killed. We decided that both units should test morale. The result was predictable and whilst John’s men stood, the few remaining light horse routed, giving a second decisive victory to John!

Battle Two vs Sir Ralph Dutton

Sir Ralph’s Household observes the battlefield!

Sir Ralphs army livery was based on his family name and his home location. The army was fairly ‘bow heavy’ and Sir Ralph adopted an aggressive strategy, advancing rapidly to bring his superior firepower into range of his opponents. The opening moves saw two significant events. I drew my first and only special event card of the day and caused a rainstorm preventing any firing in the first turn. Under cover of the rain, my Kern were able to advance quickly down the left flank, threatening the rear of Sir Ralph’s army. I was also move towards Sir Ralphs Bow men line safe in the knowledge that he would be unable to unleash an arrow storm for the time being.

The army is ready to advance!

As the rain storm ended, my Skirmishers were again activated. The bad news was that my Artillery piece blew up killing it’s crew. The good news was that the Kern had closed with the opposition skirmishers and put them to flight in combat. They continued to harry the left flank, disposing of another batch of crossbowmen and distracting the units on that side of the table throughout the game.

On the right, the two opposing units of Light horse charged each other. This time, after 2 rounds of combat, Sir Daniel Rose was victorious, routing his opponent. This left the right flank under pressure with my light horse threatening the bow men from this side, turning them away from my centre with a flank attack.

This looks like it’s going to hurt….wait they’ve missed – pile in boys!

In the centre, Sir Ralph finally unleashed his arrow storm but seemed to be suffering from damp bowstrings as casualties amongst my wards were extremely light. In reply to the arrow storm, Sir Eric Diehard was able to charge home, tying up one of Sir Ralphs ward and preventing its commander from giving orders. This allowed me to concentrate my fire on the formation of bowmen in line. They were out shot and routed.

Sir Ralphs MAA close in but have to weather an arrow storm!

Sir Ralph then attempted to charge my units but fell short. Surrounded by archers , they were almost annihilated and failed their morale bringing the battle to a close. Victory for Lord Harry Hotspur! In this game, apart from the episode with the artillery, my dice throws had been much kinder. I was lucky to take minimal casualties from Sir Ralph’s opening arrow storm, whilst my own troops were far more effective with their dice, with over average numbers of 6’s being thrown at each attempt.

Only four men left standing! Even the crossbowmen skirmishers get in on the act!

This was the first time that I had faced archers in a line formation in a ‘real battle’. We had play tested the formation and whilst it is devastating if it has the initiative – an arrow storm could be 48 dice! – we found it to be extremely fragile when in melee and of course vulnerable to a cavalry charge. Although light cavalry are vulnerable to arrows, an unsupported bow line is still going to struggle against a head on charge, even with a closing shot. I’ll leave you to do the maths!

Battle Three vs Sir Richard Robinson

Richard is now a veteran of Bill Hooks, being Peter Harris’s regular opponent. His well balanced army would be a formidable test. From the start, Sir Richard adopted a no nonsense ‘up and at ’em’ philosophy, with his army advancing rapidly towards me. Once again, my Kern were able to work their way down the left flank to cause mayhem with Sir Richards skirmishers and threaten to get behind his army. And once again, my artillery blew up in the opening turn!

The centre of each army closes. My light cavalry are lurking just out side of camera shot!

Despite that minor set back I managed to position my light horse to launch a flank attack on Sir Richards two units of archers in line. This caused them to pivot at right angles to my army, exposing his C in C and his ward of MAA. Although my light horse were beaten off and then ridden down by Sir Richards light horse, his battle line was in chaos, pulled to the left by the Kern and to the right by the light horse. After inflicting a couple of casualties on Sir Richards MAA, Lord Harry Hotspur ( rated as a Hero for this game) charged home with his MAA.

The archers have had to swing around to turn and face – Hotspur sees that gap and he’s in!

Lord Hotspur comfortably won the ensuing melee and was able to follow up in the next turn, pushing The opposing army commander off of the table. Another victory for Lord Hotspur! Once again, the dice goodess had been exceptionally kind to me. I think that I used my bad throws up in the first game!

Another superbly painted unit – I’m not sure who these are fighting for.
Like wise, I’m not sure who these fellows represent but the units looked lovely and the round basing in trays works really well.

So three great games, all with different highs and lows and three great opponents. All three games could have turned out differently with a change of the order of the cards or better or worse dice. I think that is part of the charm of the rules. No matter how good your initial strategy, lady luck will have her say. Which means that win or lose, you have something to talk about and the urge to fight another battle!

Clever use of spare arrows to count down the volleys!
Sir Robbie’s Irish Bonachts. There will be more on Irish troops in Bill Hooks Volume 2! You will have to wait though!


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:


Happy Modelling!

Bill Hooks BASH part 1- Overview

The first Bill hooks BASH was held at Boards and Swords Gaming venue in Derby on Saturday September 4th. The event was organised by Peter Harris and 14 gamers signed up for the event. The rules writer Andy Callan was in attendance to advise and help resolve any rules queries. Dan Faulconbridge of Wargames illustrated also attended to cast his eye over proceedings and to wish the participants a good days gaming!

Making up the goodie bags at Arcane Towers!

Tickets were just £15 and as well as unlimited tea and coffee, an individual pizza ( Dominoes!) of the players choice was provided for lunch. In addition, Wargames Illustrated and Arcane Scenery teamed up to provide a Goody bag for each player to take home. The contents included the current issue of Wargames Illustrated with a free Perry miniature medieval frame, a new set of 20 dice, two DeeZee Dogs and thanks to a last minute generous contribution from River Horse games, the Terminator Rules book plus 4 character miniatures and a frame of resistance fighters.

A sample of Mikes Painting – Figures are by Front rank. The basing is superb as well!

The plan was to play three games during the day with players declaring their allegiance to either York or Lancaster. In addition, a prize would be awarded to the best painted army, as voted by the participating gamers. That was as competitive the day was designed to be. The emphasis was on just enjoying the game and helping the less experienced players get to grips with the rules. A number of the players had made great efforts to attend. John had traveled from Bournemouth by coach! ( his home is in Hungary!) Mike, had made the trek from Bristol and Robbie had traveled from Durham. My trip from Bingham was much easier!

Mike Peters wins the award for the best painted army.

Mike Peters deservedly won the Painting competition with a near unanimous vote for his beautifully painted and based army. His army also featured hand painted banners as well as some superb brush work on the command figures. I’m not sure that my photographs do his figures justice – perhaps Dan can do a photo special in the future!

The Commander of Mikes Army

The gaming proceeded to plan with all games being fought in great spirit. The background noise of laughter, cheers and general kind hearted banter added to the friendly atmosphere. At the end of the event, York were declared the Winners with a total of 10.5 victory points to Lancasters 9.5. The 0.5 points came from a drawn game where both army commanders were killed simultaneously in the same melee! A first for Bill Hooks as far as I know. As for how individual players did, they kept their own scores and I hope like me they will have plenty of ‘war stories’ to tell their mates.

To see how Mike painted this banner visit his Blog – link is below in the ‘Commercial section.

The day ended on time at about 5.00pm. I made my short trip home feeling tired but that I had had a fantastic days gaming and met with some really great wargamers who clearly enjoyed playing for the love of the hobby! I hope to see them at future events. I’m not sure whether the rules bring out the best in players or whether the players brought out the best in the rules. I suspect it was a bit of both and the result was a most enjoyable day.

An Irish contingient courtesy of Robbie all the way from Durham!

Finally, a big thank you to Peter Harris for organising the day. Boards and Swords did a great job hosting the event and I heartily recommend this venue to any gamers that live in the area or are planning a visit to the ‘Lead belt’. And of course, thank you to all that attended, including of course Andy Callan, who was constantly on call to sort out any rules queries and save us the time of looking them up!

The Spanish Inquisition attached to Pete’s Army…that was unexpected!

In Part two of this article, I’ll cover how my battles went and of course add in some more pictures of the armies that I fought.


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:


To visit Mike Peters blog and see his master class in banner painting, click here:


To visit the Boards and Swords website for directions and details of the venue, click here:


Happy Modelling!

Round and Round the Mulberry Bush!

I had been thinking that we were playing too many games of Never Mind the Bill Hooks where we just lined up the armies and set to. I shared the thought with my gaming buddy, Pete, and he quickly came up with the following very simple but effective scenario.

The initial deployment of the main ward and commanders

The set up is very straight forward. The table is clear of scenery apart from a large wood right in the centre. The wood will effectively block line of site across the table and be impassable to all units except skirmishers. Both sides must set up their Commander in chief and his ward in the middle of their deployment zone right opposite the wood. Your second ward of infantry must be left off the table and will only enter the game on the second turn – more on this later.

The view across the table. Skirmishers and Light Horse deployed. Not Artillery on the flank.

Each player now throws a D6. on a 1,2 or 3, you must move your commanders ward to the left of the wood when activated, both in the manoeuvre phase and card phase ( You can choose not to move at all…) A 4,5 or 6 means you must move to the right. This results in either both players moving to clash on one side of the wood or going around opposite sides of the wood, chasing after each other….

Around the woods they go!

Once you know which way your main ward is going, you then roll a dice to see which order you set up any remaining skirmishers, Artillery and other units. Of course, the dilemma that you now have is whether to support your main ward or to go the opposite way around the wood…..

On the left, the reserve ward has deployed and engages with the enemy to slow them down!

Now back to the second ward. On turn two, they will join the battle on a roll of 5 or 6 on a D6. If they dont turn up, subsequent turns need a 4+, 3+, or 2+. You must get at least a 2+ after turn 5. A 1 is a fail regardles of how many times you have tried to bring the ward on. Just to add to the confusion, If your ward successfully throws to come on, you then throw a D6 to see which flank that they arrive on. a 1,2,3 it’s your left flank ( anywhere on that side of the board) – a 4,5,6, it’s the right hand flank.

Lord Callans Archers were my reserve ward. They managed to hold off Lord Woodborough despite the odds!

As you can guess, it’s not the sort of scenario that allows you to plan a grand strategy, so if you are of a controlling disposition, this is not for you. However, if you like the challenge of having to react to reverses of fortune or enjoy watching your opponent doing so, then it will be great fun. We have played the scenario through twice now with different outcomes and different problems to overcome.

Kern are extremely useful for driving off other skirmishers!

Just for fun, we also used identical armies as follows:

Commander in Chief, Level 2 with ward of two bows, one bills and one Men at arms – 60points

Second commander, Level 2 with ward of one bows, one bills – 29 points ( 5pts for extra commander)

Third commander, Level 2 with ward of Light horse – 17 points ( 5 pts for extra Commander)

One unit of skirmishers with crossbows and pavises – 9 points

One unit of Skirmishers – Kern 6 points

One Artillery piece- 9 points

An Artillery piece is useful if deployed on the clear flank – but unsupported artillery is vulnerable!

You can of course choose to use whatever forces that you prefer. Have fun!


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


We also have a category devoted to Never Mind the Bill Hooks:


Happy Modelling!

Zulus at Balaclava

In the final battle of my gaming weekend, we played a Zulu’s vs British battle. The encounter was fictitious, although the battlefield layout was based loosely on the Battle of Balaclava from the Crimean War, with the Zulu’s playing the Russians. We have used this format of taking a battlefield from another period with great succes in our other games. It throws up some interesting problems for both players and of course some good talking points during and after the game!

Zulu’s scout the battlefield.

We also used the rules written by Andy Callan for Jacklex Miniatures ( Mark’s Company). They are available as a free download from the Jacklex site here:


Once again, Simon drew the short straw and was playing the defending British encampment. He was certainly low on manpower to defend the camp but help was on the way. The question was – would it arrive on time? The Zulu army consisted of 7 large regiments of 50 Zulu’s each. Although the units are huge compared with the British, the simple but clever morale rules help to even things out. The large Zulu units make the game look fantastic though and give some idea of scale as well as intimidating the opposition!

The battlefield set up

Mark had done a superb job in painting and organising all of the figures and of course supplied the scenery for the giant sized gaming table. To add some extra atmosphere, Mark put on the Soundtrack from the film Zulu, and with the two of us providing the Zulu war cries, it was game on!

The initial positions – the British defend their camp

The battle commenced with the Zulu’s left horn of two regiments entering the battlefield to attack the forward gun emplacements. The rest of the Zulus, would only arrive on the throw of a dice, the ‘Head’ of three regiments of Zulu’s being the next in turn. The first two regt’s of Zulus advanced at speed, quickly overwhelming the first gun emplacement, putting the supporting Native Natal contingent to flight and moving on to engage the next gun emplacement.

The Zulu’s charge the guns!
The gun emplacements are quickly overwhelmed
The British firing line advances but the Zulu’s move around the flank!

The victorious Zulu’s left one regiment engaging the remaining gun emplacement, whilst the other regiment, rushed down the left flank towards the British encampment. The three companies of British regulars were drawn towards the battle for the surviving gun emplacement. With hindsight, this was a rash move, as the other Zulu regiment scooted around the back of the hill covering the flank of the camp before any determined resistance could be organised. The Zulu’s poured into the camp, over running the limited defence and proceeded to loot . A Royal Navy detachment managed to get away and after some time they began to subdue the Zulu’s but the damage had been done.

The Zulu’s are in the camp!

The main bulk of the Zulu force ‘ the head and chest of the buffalo’ in the form of three addition regiments were now attacking over the front ridge and charging the forlorn British firing line. There was a glimmer of hope, The relief column had finally arrived and by a stroke of luck it was four companies of British regular infantry. They immediately formed a firing line and attempted to support their colleagues further out on the battlefield.

More Zulu’s are on the way!
Steady lads – open fire, mind your marks!
Reinforcements have arrived!
The Zulu’s charge in!

Alas, they were too late. the Zulu’s swarmed into the firing line and after a brutal fight, the line was broken, with the British forced into forming a defensive knot. More British reinforcements now arrived in the shape of the irregular cavalry and an artillery detachment but it was too little, too late. The British centre had been crushed and wiped out to a man. The camp had been looted and the supply base smashed, it was time for the Zulus to withdraw. Even better the Zulu’s had achieved this with just 5 of the 7 regiments available. The right horn of the Zulu army didn’t make it to the battle – perhaps they were diverted by the action at Rorkes drift….

The British crumble under the assault!
The survivors attempt a last stand.
The Zulu’s are victorious!
The British are overwhelmed…

It was also time for us to head for home after a fantastic weekend of gaming. Thanks again to Mark of Jacklex miniatures for not only hosting the games,providing us with superbly painted and organised armies but for his wonderful hospitality.


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


If you would like to see the classic range of Jacklex miniatures, click here:


Happy Modelling!

Trafalgar- A wargaming weekend continued

My last blog article told the story of our refight of Vittoria. The game had lasted well into the early afternoon and so rather than start another large battle, we decided that something less serious was required. Andy Callan, is working with Wofun, a company that specializes in laser cutting 28mm gaming figures into acrylic plastic. The Company uses artwork by Peter Dennis. If you have any Osprey books in your collection or have bought a Perry or Warlord boxed set, the chances are that you are familiar with Peter’s excellent work. The combination of Peter Dennis’s artwork and the simple design of the acrylic figures mean that using the Wofun kits, you can produce a table ready army in a matter of an hour or so.

Admiral Collingwood (well, Steve Wood) surveys the enemy fleet!

Andy’s role with Wofun is to produce simple rules to use with the figures and as a result, he often receives samples of the latest Wofun products. He had recently acquired the Trafalgar boxed set, which features every ship from all three fleets present at the Battle of Trafalgar. It took about an hour to assemble the 60+ ships and we were ready to refight the battle. Andy hasn’t actually produced the rules for this set yet but over the course of lunch, he knocked up a set of simple rules that would give us a nice straight forward game.

There’ plenty of room on the table! The ship in the background is ‘Africa’

Our host, Mark, has a luxurious wargaming set up, including a massive 17x 8 foot table that uses carpet tiles for the base scenery. It was a simple task to relay the table in Blue carpet tiles and hey presto, we were ready to go!

Admiral Mark signals his fleet! ‘Get stuck in boys, last man in, buys the drinks!’

We chose admirals by drawing lots. Unfortunately for Simon, he drew the French and Spanish fleets – he was in for a difficult battle. As regards movement, the French and Spanish ships were given limited scope for maneuvering. We decided that the fleets would stay in the same relative position other than closing with each other, so forward movement was not allowed to any great degree – we didn’t want the ships to disappear off of the table! The French and Spanish were also at a disadvantage with firing, requiring 6’s to hit at anything over medium range, allowing the British fleet to close. The British had the advantage with their first broadside and so were encouraged to wait to open fire.

The French and Spanish open up at long range.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story of the battle. With the odds stacked against Admiral Simon, the Spanish and French were always going to struggle. Simon made things even more difficult by achieving the world record for rolling dice without getting a single 6! At one point, we actually checked to make sure he had 6’s on his dice!

The two British Fleets bear down on the Enemy.
Close action! Nelson gets to grips with the enemy
Collingwood prefers a more stately approach!

So the two British fleets, under Collingwood (me) and Nelson ( Mark) closed on the enemy and when in close range, opened with a devastating Broad side. As the British cut the Spanish and French line, raking the ships as they went, close combat ensued but by then it was very much over with a large number of the enemy ships out of action or smoking hulks! As expected, the fleet led by Nelson was first to contact the Enemy and was rewarded by forcing the French flagship to strike his colours.

The enemy fleet is raked from stem to stern!

Fortunately, Mark, who was playing Nelson did’nt get shot so I didn’t have to kiss him…..

Next up, Zulu’s at Balaclava!


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


If you would like to see the classic range of Jacklex miniatures, click here:


If you would like to see the range of Wofun products, Click here


Happy Modelling!

Prelude to Vittoria

Since lock down has been eased I have been making up for lost time on the gaming front. I was fortunate enough to be invited to my second weekend of gaming this year and joined Andy, Simon and Mark at Mark’s fantastic gaming venue at his house in North Yorkshire. Mark owns Jacklex Miniatures and his obsession is with 20mm classic metal gaming figures, rather than the 28mm armies that I am used to. The gaming group that Mark is part of also prefers umpired ‘old school home brew rules’ for Napoloeonics’, uses figure removal to count casualties and a more rigid command and control system, together with simultaneous orders and movement. All of which is a culture shock to someone who has spent 10 years or more playing the more relaxed ‘Black Powder’

The smaller scale figures still make an impressive sight!

None of the above detracts from the sheer spectacle of the games that we played, nor for that matter, the fun involved. Mind you, I do admit to a certain amount of frustration, particularly when I was unable to detach my rifle companies to subdue a French battery – apparently, that sort of thing might be OK for Bernard Cornwells’ Sharpe but isn’t the done thing in history! Otherwise, I think that I just about managed to keep my toys in the pram in what was a very hard fought battle!

Before the battle – most of the French army is hidden from view.

The game was based on the Battle of Vittoria and followed some of the narrative of the original battle although it had been scaled down slightly. The picture above shows the set up. Players were asked to submit their dispositions and order of march to the Umpire prior to the battle starting, along with any general orders to brigades. I neglected to bring the detailed orders of battle away with me, so I can only report that Andy was playing the French, with Simon and I playing the British and Allied armies.

The French had deployed a division of troops in the centre of the battlefield, with a battalion guarding one of the fords through the forward village. It was all that the Allies were able to see at this stage. It was likely that there would be more troops hidden from view!

The British Cavalry brigade embark on their scouting mission!

The British plan was to send the mixed brigade of Scots, Portuguese and Spanish Infantry straight through the centre to fix the French and to draw the French into supporting their troops at the various bridges and fords across the river in the centre of the battlefield. Three other infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade would deploy on the left flank and attempt to force a passage over the bridge and fords on this side of the battlefield. The Cavalry brigade had been given orders to scout the entire length of the river. We were interested to find out whether there were more French troops hiding in the village next to the bridge and to see if we could spot any further French deployment. The orders also included a request that once scouting had been completed, a full report should be sent back to HQ….

I’ll attempt to tell the tale of the battle using pictures to illustrate the key points.

The Allied Centre advances and immediately find their advance blocked by a strong contingent of skirmishers and artillery.
On the left, the Allied cavalry lead the advance, with Pictons infantry division following up.
The French deploy their artillery on the heights to defend the bridge on the left flank.
In the centre, the Allies pushed on to the bridge, with the Scots leading the way.
Scotland the brave!
The Scots attempt to push through the centre.

Encouraged by the skirmishers holding the French in check., the Scots attempted to force a passage through the centre by charging the guns. This was not going to end well for somebody…

With the British brigade charging the bridge, the Spanish brigade deploys to the right.

Meanwhile, back on the left flank the French artillery battery engaged the leading cavalry, breaking one regiment and causing disorder in another. Despite this set back, the cavalry were able to press on. With the knowledge that the village and bridge were undefended, the Allied infantry began preparations to force a crossing.

The situation on the left flank.
Further scouting by the Allied cavalry revealed a brigade of French Cavalry deployed in defence of the bridge.

With the bridge on the left flank looking strongly defended, the Allied cavalry pushed on and the infantry attempted to storm the guns on the hill over the ford. The final Infantry Brigade of Pictons Division had arrived and so one brigade was ordered to continue around the village to prevent the French from attacking over the bridge.

Keep going! The Allies reinforce the centre after the Scots have been mauled.

Back in the Centre, the Scots had been terribly mauled by the Artillery and had fled the battlefield! Fortunately, the Brigade morale held and yet another assault was attempted, whilst the Spanish brigade moved to flank the woods.

It’s all getting a bit fraught on the left wing!

It looked as though things were going badly for the Allies. The French artillery was inflicting tremendous losses on the allies and withstood all attempts to shift them. However, a glimmer of hope appeared for the allies. The cavalry had successfully scouted the length of the river and found two more crossings that appeared to be undefended. The French seemed oblivious to the existence of these fords and seemed only concerned to shadow the allied cavalry and reinforce the heights.

The British cross the ‘hidden’ fords to engage the French – completely surprising them!

As the French Cavalry pulled back, another trap was sprung as the British Cavalry crossed another hidden ford to catch them in the rear!

Now we have them!

Back in the centre, another assult on the french guns had failed but the Spanish had deployed and were occupying the French, preventing them from re deploying and reinforcing the left flank of the battlefield.

Hold the line!
More Spanish move up and the French skirmishers are pushed back.

Back on the left, the British cavalry had beaten their French counter parts and the Infantry had broken the French Battalions that had attempted to defend the hidden ford. Picton had aslo ordered his third brigade to ignore the guns and advance around the hill smashing into the flank of another defending French battalion.

The French are encircled!

With the collapse of the French on the left, the French were in danger of being encircled. Andy, decided that the battle was lost and began the retreat back towards Vittoria. Victory for the Allies….only just though! Without the successful reconnaissance by the Cavalry, the Allies would never have pushed though the other river crossings. The French defence was just too well planned.

Onwards men! Victory is in sight!

A very enjoyable game, where Mark, our host and umpire had to work very hard to keep some of the players in check (sorry Mark!) The game was made all the more enjoyable by the wonderful set up and beautifully painted and organised armies.

After a very nice late lunch we were ready to re-fight Trafalgar….but that will follow in my next battle report!


I hope that you all enjoy your hobby as much as I do – remember that our web site will have much of what you need! Click here to see our shop:


If you would like to see the classic range of Jacklex miniatures, click here:


Happy Modelling!

Stokes Field- The Prequel

At last, I managed to get a war game in before the latest lockdown! I joined up with Andy Callan, his brother, Ian and Mark Lodge of Jacklex miniatures for a full day and evening of wargaming this past weekend.

One of the battles that we fought during the weekend was a War of the Roses battle using the Never Mind The Bill Hooks rules. It seemed sensible to use the latest scenario that Andy had written for Wargames Illustrated, issue 394, ‘The one about the ‘Englishman, Irishman and the German’. It is based on a fictional scouting encounter just prior to the main event at Stokes Field, the final battle in the War of the Roses.

I’ve mentioned that both Andy and myself live in Bingham, just a few miles down the road from the village of East Stoke. I have visited the battlefield on a number of occasions, most recently,  just a couple of weeks ago. I doubt that things have changed very much over the intervening centuries since the battle. The River Trent may be more constrained by it’s banks now but follows a similar route. The hedgerows may have changed but the lie of the land will be much the same.

Stokes field - the view to Hoveringham and the Trent

Stokes field – the view to Fiskerton and the Trent. It’s possible that the rebels camped in the far field to the right of Fiskerton (the white dots on the left of the picture!) the night before the battle.

Ideal Marching country - not so good when you are running from cavalry!

Ideal Marching country – not so good when you are running from cavalry!

It looks like an ideal place for a battle as there are no major obstacles or hills, just a typical piece of gently rolling English countryside. You can see for miles in some spots, particularly as the ground rises away from the Trent above East Stoke. The view can be deceptive though. There are enough rises and folds in the ground to hide an army and some places where the land falls sharply is treacherous, if you are not careful. What was a minor inconvenience when you are advancing in good order would be a death trap when retreating in panic. A good example is the so called ‘Red Gutter’ where the rebels were cut down as they routed.

The drop down to the 'Red Gutter'

The drop down to the ‘Red Gutter’

The Red Gutter at Stokes Field

The Red Gutter at Stokes Field

I think that the above picture shows the entrance to the ‘Red Gutter’ – an enclosed lane at the base of the rising ground behind the battle field, on the retreat route to the safety of the Trent crossing at Fiskerton.

And so onto our game. We more or less followed the orders of Battle and additional special rules that are detailed in the article, with Ian and Mark playing as the loyal Lancastrians and myself leading the rebel Yorkist alliance!

The deployment

The deployment

I deployed my mixed contingent along the ridge line with the Irish Kern skirmishers holding the village, the archers and Gallowglass holding the centre and the German hand gunners in cover in the woods. Out of shot, Lord Lovell was leading the light Horse protecting the flank of the village. Facing them was a powerful force of Bows and Billmen as well as a unit of light horse and a group of skirmishing archers.

The Lancastrian army, a strong force of Bows and bills were massed on the baseline with their light horse facing mine. In the maneuver phase I decided to redeploy my light horse and moved them across to the right flank where there was more room to  threaten the Lancastrian foot units. I decided that the kern were well placed in the village to defend the left flank. A protracted movement phase then continued, where the Lancastrian light horse advanced to the village and then withdrew without causing any consternation. Meanwhile, Lord Lovell had led his light horse to the far right flank of the Lancastrians and supported by the now advancing German hand gunners caught the Lancastrian bows and bills in some confusion. The Light horse charged home into the flank of the Lancastrian’s, routing them and their leader from the field! Game over with out even resorting to the cards!

We started again. This time the Lancastrians were not going to be caught by a sucker punch  and they advanced to use their superior archery force to beat back the rebels!

Game number 2! The Lancastrians aren't messing now! Game number 2! The Lancastrians aren’t messing now!

This game was more of a match, with Lancastrian Archers wiping out both units of kern skirmishers, daunting a block of bows and Gallowglass and whittling down the rebel army. Once again, Lord Lovell and his light horse were able to save the day with a rather dodgy counter charge through Lovell’s own evading skirmishers…On reflection, the counter charge should not have happened, as whilst it wasn’t explicitly against the rules, it certainly pushed the spirit of them. With Lord Lovell on the loose again, the Lancastrian flank was tied up, allowing the Gallowglass unit in the centre to force a charge home against the bills and bows there.

Memorial at East Stoke Church

Memorial at East Stoke Church

Whilst vulnerable against archery, the Gallowglass are formidable in combat and they were able to carve through the centre units of Lancastrian Bows and Bills causing enough casualties to collapse the Lancastrian army morale. Another very close victory for the rebels. Unfortunately, as I became more involved in the battle, I forgot to take pictures! However, after a post battle VAR check, over a beer or three, the general consensus was that although the Rebels were deemed to have won on the night, a review of the match play meant that at least an honourable draw would have been a fairer result!

Story board from the battlefield

Story board from the battlefield

In the post battle review, the counter charge by Lord Lovells light cavalry had certainly influenced the out come of the battle, perhaps unfairly so. Also mixing English bowmen and Irish Gallowglass in a block, whilst again, within the rules, is probably stretching things even though they were obliged to follow the ‘Brexit rule’ to check if they could pass through each other! It’s a point that will be addressed in the expanded rules and I wont cover it here. That said, the lack of initiative and undue caution by the Lancastrians caused many of their own problems. There were opportunities to kill off units that were just not taken. The archery proved to be dominant in the early stages of the battle but some units ran out of arrows and perhaps Mark was a tad unlucky at one point when rolling 30 dice needing a 5 or 6, he only managed 4 hits…Damp bowstrings I think!

Great fun though – next time I’ll take more pictures!



Almost all of the paints, miniatures, bases, basing materials and anything that you are likely to need for your hobby are available POST FREE from my shop here:


Perry’s WOTR plastic range are here, including some nice army deals!


Happy Modelling!


Lecourbes Defence of France June 1815

This past Saturday I attended the ‘Bingham Napoleonic Days’ event with the NG13 Wargamers. We were putting on a demo game and for this year, Andy Callan had found a nice set of scenarios that had been published in the ‘Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy’ Magazine. The articles, written by Rob Harper, detailed how General Lecourbe was able to conduct a rearguard defence of Eastern France against the invading Austrian Army. As well as giving a nice overview to the campaign, Harper also provided a series of linked scenarios that gamers could use to re-fight the campaign. We chose our favourite rules set ‘Black Powder’ for the battles and for the skirmish scenarios, used ‘Rules for old wargamers with short memories’, a home brew mash up written by Andy.

First Scenario. French defend the Tile factory

First Scenario. French defend the Tile factory

As a group, we are happy to use what ever troops that we have available in our collections to fight scenarios. We dont get too hung up on getting exactly the right regiments on the table. Indeed, as I had no Austrians to field, I took a brigade of Prussians to fight alongside their Austrian allies. It added a bit of colour to the Demo game and we were happy to point out the discrepancy to our visitors both verbally and in our briefing handout. We were playing Second Edition Black powder and the only minor rules amendments that we made were to take away the ‘Follow me’ rule from the Austians and to remove the order bonus for Columns. The Austrians had shown a remarkable lack of ambition in the actual campaign and we felt that these amendments would be enough to reflect this Austrian caution in our games.

The Prussians push onto the French Right.

The Prussians push onto the French Right.

Andy and I took the Austrian/Prussian Alliance and Pete Harris, fought as General Lecourbe, leading the French. As usual, I was playing and trying to take pictures, so although I had plenty of pictures, they weren’t necessarily of the key moments – I was too engrossed in the game!

The French reinforcements arrive and move to the front.

The French reinforcements arrive and move to the front.

The first battle of the series had The Austrians struggling to deploy their forces against a French force in a good defensive position in a tile factory on a hill in front of the village of Dannemarie. Both sides had reinforcements that they could bring on, the Austrians being hampered initially by the ‘traffic jam’ on the main road. The French had no such problem but they were out numbered – if the Austrians could bring their army onto the table.

General Le Courbe oversees the defence of France!

General Le Courbe oversees the defence of France!

The initial part of the battle saw the French comfortably holding the Austrians in front of the Tile Factory. The Prussian detachment was able to flank the building and move to threaten the French right. Lecourbe was able to deploy his cavalry and push the Prussians into square whilst moving reinforcements to counter the threat. As the pressure built on the Tile factory the Austrians were presented with a relatively weak French right flank. All they had to do was to deploy their Cavalry brigade and bring on the extra Infantry brigade that was dawdling off the table…

Prussians attempt to by-pass the tile factory, only to be met and contained by the French reinforcements

Prussians attempt to by-pass the tile factory, only to be met and contained by the French reinforcements.

The Austrian Cavalry failed in six turns to throw a command roll of 8 or less!!! Clearly, the Austrians thought that they were going to a dance, but didn’t even send the three and four pence!!! With no reinforcements to exploit the weakened flank. The French tied all of the Prussian infantry into squares and began to out-shoot them, bringing them close to breaking point. Although the Austrians did eventually manage both to deploy their cavalry and break the French Brigade defending the Tile factory, the game had reached it’s end in the allotted twelve turns. It was a tactical victory for the French who were then able to fall back in good order ready for the next battle.

Battle Two The defence of

Battle Two The defence of Chavvanes-sur-L’etang. The Prussians push on!

After a bit of scenery shifting by Andy, we were ready to fight the next scenario, the defence of Chavannes-sur-L’etang. The Austrians were again partially deployed off table but this time, there was a bit more space for them to deploy and the main bulk of the army was soon threatening the French, who were deployed in and to the rear of the Village. Once again the Prussians moved aggressively forwards onto the right flank of the French. This time they by passed the village, leaving their Artillery and Austrians to deal with this threat. The initial stages of the game were dominated by 5, yes, 5 blunders during the orders phase with 4 for the Austrian/Prussian alliance and one for the French. Although not fatal for either side, the result was that the Austrians were once again slow to deploy and support the Prussian advance. The Austrian cavalry were doing their version of the Hokey Cokey – In Out- In Out of the game!

The Austrians attempt to pound the Village into submission!

The Austrians attempt to pound the Village into submission!

Despite these tribulations and the difficulties in encountered in crossing the various streams, some progress was made by the Alliance, with a French battalion being destroyed in the village and the Prussians driving off an artillery battery on the right. Lecourbe kept his cool and was able to steady the  line. He sent a replacement batallion into the village, reinforced the right flank with an infantry battalion and sent his cavalry to hold the Austrians to the left.

An aggressive move by the French cavalry holds the Austrians

An aggressive move by the French cavalry holds the Austrians

The Prussians charged home, threatening to break yet another French battalion, but the French were able to pass their morale test, hold on and lock the Prussians in a vicious hand to hand combat that continued over the next couple of turns. Although eventually beaten back, the French had inflicted sufficient casualties on both of the Prussian battalions to shake them causing the brigade to fall back. The supporting Austrians were too late to help out and unable to exploit the weakening French right flank. Meanwhile, on the left, the Austrians tried to push through the French cavalry, only to be counter charged and were soundly beaten! The Austrian cavalry then managed, to not only fail their morale throw, but the supporting units also broke as well. The Allied advance was in tatters and the French were victorious!

The Prussians fail to break the French in combat and are periously close to losing the brigade.

The Prussians fail to break the French in combat and are periously close to losing the brigade.

We then moved onto the third scenario which was a skirmish game. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures and so will not include it in the report. In view of the superb French performance, it was clear that Pete had done Lecourbe and France proud and won the day! In real life, Lecourbes campaign was described as a “master class in defence” which Davout thought worthy of a Marshal’s baton. Sadly, worn out by his exertions, Lecourbe died in October 1815. His name is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe – a well deserved recognition of his achievements.

The French Cavalry charge home and are victorious! Both Austrian Cavalry regiments break as well as the supporting Austrian Infantry!

The French Cavalry charge home and are victorious! Both Austrian Cavalry regiments break as well as the supporting Austrian Infantry!

The event itself was, as always, a very pleasant and enjoyable day. My only regret was that I was so engrossed in the games that I did not attend any of the Lectures or have a chance to browse the books on sale! We had a good number of people through to watch us and to join in with the games. Wargaming isn’t really a spectator activity but I hope that those that did get a chance to roll dice and make some of the command decisions enjoyed themselves. As always, it was great to meet up with friends and like minded hobbyists.

Bingham Napoleonic days

Bingham Napoleonic days Look out for the 2021 event!

We are very much looking forwards to next years event. If you are available in early March, put a note in your diary. Entry to the event is free and I know that the programme of speakers will be of the usual top quality.


To get full details of the Bingham Napoleonic days, including a list of speakers, click here:


Almost all of the paints, miniatures, bases, basing materials and anything that you are likely to need for your hobby are available POST FREE from my shop here:


Our range of Warlord Napoleonics can be seen here:


Trent Miniatures make a lovely model of General Lecourbe ( as well as a few other revolutionary Generals!). I you would like a Le Courbe to lead your army you can get him here:


Happy modelling!

Never mind the Bill Hooks – New Battle Report

It’s been an exciting week for the ‘Never mind the Bill Hooks’ project. On Tuesday, Andy (Author and rules guru), Pete and myself met with Dan of Wargames Illustrated for a photo shoot for the forthcoming publication of the rules in Wargames Illustrated magazine. Dont worry, it wasn’t us old geezers that Dan was photographing but our WOTR armies. The photos would be used to illustrate the rules and to explain how the mechanics of assembling your army, movement and combat works in the game in detail. The plan is to include ‘Never mind the Bill hooks’ as a separate colour supplement with the April edition of the magazine so you will soon be able to get you hands on a copy of the rules and try it for yourself, if you fancy a bit of WOTR tabletop action.

Two armies on display - not all of these units will fight in the battle!

Two armies on display – not all of these units will fight in the battle!

To give you a flavour of the game, here is a battle report of our game played on Thursday evening. Well actually, it’s two games, but more on that later. Sir Harry Hotspur (Yorkist) and retinue were giving battle to the Lancastrian sympathiser, Lord Bingham and his retinue on Woodborough fields! The Armies were of a similar size but Andy, playing Lord Bingham had randomly generated his retinue from the battle cards, once he had taken his mandatory core force of Bows and Billmen. I had opted for a cunningly designed bespoke retinue that would allow me to try out a different strategy to my usual suicidal charge in the centre…

Sir Harry Hotspurs retinue ready for battle.

Sir Harry Hotspurs retinue ready for battle.

On the Yorkist side, Sir Harry Hotspur was commanding two units of Bowmen, supported by a unit of Men at arms. On the right, Sir Eric Diehard commanded a ward of a bowmen and Bill men and on the left wing, Sgt Danny Rose also stood ready with his ward of Bowmen and Bills. The army was supplemented by three groups of skirmishers who are allowed to act independently of the main command. There was one unit each of Bows, Crossbows and Hand gunners.

Lord Binghams Ward

Lord Binghams Ward

The Lancastrian side took the field with Lord Bingham in command of 2 units of bows supported with two units of billmen. On his left, Sergeant Longacre commanded a unit of Light Horse and to the right Captain Buttercross commanded two units of Bowmen and a unit of Billmen. Again, the Lancastrians were reinforced by three independent units of skirmishers, two of hand gunners and one of Crossbows.

Sgt Longacres light horse

Sgt Longacres light horse

Both armies deployed within 9 inches of the table edge and after dicing for the first turn, the Commanders began to move their units. At the start of the battle, commanders are free to move units alternatively. The Yorkist skirmishers hurried into cover in the woods on the right of the battlefield just as Sgt. Longacre led his light horse in a flanking movement, threatening Sir Eric Diehard. Sgt Longacre had ventured too close to the wood and so the Yorkists skirmishers let loose a well aimed volley of arrows, bringing down two of the light horse men. This first shot signaled the start of the battle and from now, commanders would rely on their card being drawn to activate their units!

The Lancastrians are coming!

The Lancastrians are coming!

On the left wing, Sgt Danny Rose advanced cautiously, supported by a unit of hand gunners. In the centre, Harry Hotspur edged forwards to bring his bowmen to bear against Lord Binghams ward. It was Lord Bingham who took the initiative, moving forwards and unleashing an arrow storm on the Yorkists. The wind was clearly against them and although they caused a number of casualties, the Yorkists were able to weather the storm and launched their men at arms into the fray. The Yorkist men at arms were met by the Lancastrian billmen, who were no match for the fully armoured Men at Arms. Having lost the combat, The Lancastrians then failed their morale check and routed from the table. This meant that the units within command range had to test their morale – Andy’s dice appeared to be cursed and the bulk of his army ran off the table! Game over and victory for the Yorkists!

Take one! Men at arms charge home!

Take one! Men at arms charge home!

It was only in the post mortem that Andy then remembered that he had a special event card that he had won, that would allow him to protect one of his units with a terrain advantage, causing the charging unit to loose it’s bonuses and fight as ‘disarrayed’….

Take two! Men at Arms charge home - this time disarrayed by the hidden terrain.

Take two! Men at Arms charge home – this time disarrayed by the hidden terrain.

As the night was young, we rewound the combat and played on with the card in place. The combat this time was more even, with the Bill men holding the Yorkists – game on!

Sgt Longacres last hurrah!

Sgt Longacres last hurrah!

So with the centre locked in combat, attention turned to the two wings. Sir Eric Diehard was way out of position but cautiously moved around the wood to attempt to come to the aid of Sir Harry. Progress was slowed by the need to protect the archers from the marauding Sgt Longacre and his light horse. Sgt Longacre lost patience and as Sir Eric moved ever closer to the centre, Longacre launched a forlorn charge at the waiting Billmen. It was always going to be a difficult task for the horsemen to break through but my dice were only rolling 6’s – the light horse were wiped out!

Sgt Rose under pressure.

Sgt Rose under pressure.

On the left wing, Sgt Rose had suffered an injury and his bowmen were out numbered and taking casualties from the superior force commanded by Captain Buttercross. The unit of bowmen under his command were wiped out to a man by the superior archery of the Lancastrians – the left was looking shakey!  Unlike his namesake, Sgt. Rose soldiered on, carrying his injury and thanks to another special event card (only two special event cards are permitted in a game) that caused confusion in the Lancastrian ranks, Rose was able to charge home with his Bill men.

Sgt Rose makes progress against all odds!

Sgt Rose makes progress against all odds!

The Lancastrian archers were put to flight and the supporting billmen were left in disarray by their retreat. Sgt Rose pressed home his advantage and charged again, his dwindling band of billmen once again locking the enemy into combat.

Trouble in the centre for Lord Bingham!

Trouble in the centre for Lord Bingham!

Back in the centre, the hand to hand combat continued, with the Yorkist men at arms now held. A glimmer of hope arose for the Lancastrians when one of Hotspurs Bowmen units was put to flight, causing two units of Yorkists skirmishers to run off in panic. The victory was short lived, the remaining bowmen on the Yorkist side, although now desperately short of arrows, were able to reduce their opposite number to just four men. In desperation, Long Bingham pulled away from the combat forcing a morale check on his own men so that he could direct the last undamaged unit of bill men to attack the Yorkists archers. The Bowmen managed not only to evade the attack but turned and fired their last arrows into the Bill men. Once again, the dice were kind ( an understatement !) for the Yorkists and they decimated the Lancastrians.

It's over now!

It’s over now!

At last the Yorkist men at arms broke the bill men forcing them to retreat. In one last desperate attempt to win the field, Lord Bingham challenged Hotspur to a duel. A draw ensued and as Eric diehard finally arrived to bolster the centre, Lord Bingham left the field, his army in tatters! Victory for Sir Harry!

As usual, I apologise to my gaming buddies for the one sided account of the battle but in keeping with the chronicles, history is written by the victor and the man with the camera…. By the way, I should point out that the dice were borrowed from Andy and not my own. even I was beginning to think that they were loaded – 10 hits of 5 & 6 from 12 dice is pretty unusual. I wont put into print Andy’s response…


Almost all of the paints, miniatures, bases, basing materials and anything that you are likely to need for your hobby are available POST FREE from my shop here:


Perry’s WOTR plastic range are here:


As already mentioned, the rules will be available as a full colour supplement with the April edition of Wargames Illustrated. If you would like the current issue, click here:


Happy Modelling!


1 2 3 6