Saturday, 21 October 2017

Battle Report; the raid on Ardes

A couple of weeks back my local wargaming support group (myself Keith & Jeff) met with Simon at Firestorm Games in Cardiff. We're all separated by distance and time to a greater or lesser extent and this, certainly for me at least was a try at a game without taking over the kitchen for the day. I must say it proved to be a winning formula for a good catch up as well as some introductions and there was a rather good shop on site and a bar - what's not to like ?

We'd agreed in advance that I would host / umpire a game of Lion Rampant using my Renaissance adaptions which I loosely based upon the 1513 raid on Ardes. I had previously gamed this scenario with another Renaissance man Oli during a weekend of gaming in the summer and this was our stand out favourite. You can see how we got on in his blog posting here. In fact, this turned out to be quite a different result !

Here's the history part;

Within days of Marching from Calais to Therouanne Henry VIII soon became aware of the trouble with hiring Landsknechts when they came upon the friendly town of Ardes as an advance party of the Germans soon accompanied by some English began to pillage and burn the town. Henry was furious and decreed that anyone participating in the pillage would be hanged and should leave the town within the hour but this fell on deaf ears and it was only when he personally led a body of his heavy cavalry against them and hanged the ringleaders that the mayhem ceased.

There’s lots of ways you could play this out but one particularly memorable adaptation with a little bit of license was the following;

An English / German raiding force of 30 points attacks the town through an undefended gate, with the town defended by a 20 point garrison. The raiding party must loot and burn 4 prominent buildings in the town and make their escape. When the first building is fired the smoke attracts the attention of both a 30 point French patrol and a 20 point detachment from the English army who arrive on a 1-2 following the turn of the first fire, a 3-4 then 5-6 thereafter.
This makes for a prolonged almost two-part skirmish game in and outside the walls with even yet uneven forces, it’s also a great opportunity for four players to cover a day's gaming.
Unfortunately I neglected to take my camera so all of the photos are from our phones but hopefully that doesn't detract too much.
Here's the set up, essentially a board of two halves, town and rolling country.
The terrain boards, most of the figures and some of the buildings are mine, the majority of the town is made from Simon's collection.

For the initial clash the English deploy at the SW outside table edge and the Garrison deploy in the NE inside table edge.

The forces for the game are as follows:

The French Garrison
Foot Knights (the Garrison Leader) 6 points
2 Units of Aventuriers with Crossbows 3 points each

2 Units of Picard Infantry 3 points each
Culverin and crew 3 points
21 points

English Raiders
2 Units of Shire Bill, one of these is the English Leaders Unit. 5 points each
3 Units of Shire Bow 4 points each
2 Units of Landsknecht Shot 4 points
30 points

When they arrive the English relief force deploys in the Eastern edge in front of the town and the French on the Western edge.
French relief force

2 Gendarmes Units (the Leader) 12 points
1 Unit of Ordonnance Mounted Archers 4 points
2 Unit of Men at Arms 10 points
1 Unit of Stradiots 4 points

30 Points

English relief force

2 Unit of Demilancers (the Leader) 5 points each
2 Units of Border Horse 5 points each

20 Points
Special Rules
See the sausages & mustard scenario for rules for burning the objectives. Once an objective has been set alight each player roles every turn to see if their relief force will arrive.

This will be on a 9+ on two dice for the first turn, 6+ the second, 3+ if they still don't arrive on the third and then automatically if no relief has arrived by the fourth turn. 
The French relief force arrives in the NW and the English relief force will arrive in the SE zone. Both relief forces are entirely separate retinues in the game, this means they have their own Leader and work as their own retinue for the purposes of morale and activations. 
To arrive the relief forces simply make a move activation for each unit that wishes to move onto the board. Units can only enter making a move activation - they cannot charge a unit directly from off table for example.
The aim of the French Garrison is to prevent buildings from being burned, the relief force is to either prevent more of the town being destroyed or prevent the English from escaping if this has already been done. 
The aim of the English raiders is to burn and loot the objectives and escape, the relief force must contact a friendly unit in the town to cease the destruction or if this is too late to aid the escape of the English forces. 
On with the game.

For the first engagement Jeff took command of the Anglo German raiding party with Keith in defence of the French Garrison. Here we are a few turns in with Jeff's force reaching the gate and Keith awaiting with a welcome party. We agreed that Jeff could enter the town by the gate and the breach in the wall.

The Landsknecht arquebusiers were first to break in for which Keith had some initial difficulty beating back with bolt and guisarme. 

The arquebusiers made their presence felt with an initial salvo of shot at point blank range which pushed the Picard infantry back in disarray, this opened up a crucial gap with which to pour men into the town but the street was also clear for a brief moment, long enough for the French gunners who made their presence felt with a nasty blast from their culverin.

This shock sent the Landsknechts reeling back into the gatehouse archway in shock, bumbling into the English Longbowmen who were trying to push through. The English then fanned out as quickly as possible to get out of the killing zone. The Longbowmen punished the adventuriers facing them and the Landsknechts managed to rally and engage in some further sporadic fire at the Picards, reducing them to a man.

I took a lot of photographs of this, being somewhat impressed with the effect of cotton wool and an LED tea light !

Over on the French left things were hotting up with the English managing to pour billmen through the breach into the jaws of some more Picards in schiltron.

There was a lot of back and forth with some Adventuriers adding their bolts at each opportunity but the steady grit of the English bill managed to push their adversaries back in disarray

Keith managed to beat off the troublesome Landsknechts with another murderous blast from the culverin and some positively hostile treatment from his unit of foot knights who he then manoeuvred to the threat at the breach.

The English pushed more men through the breach and into the streets as quickly as possible to get out of the reach of the knights and the culverins murderous gaze for which Keith was having extraordinary luck with the dice.

A point of note on the artillery, here are the rules which myself and Oli fashioned though play testing;

  • Use 1 artillery model plus 4 crew (Your Leader can't be part of this unit).
  • May be operated so long as 1 crewman is still alive.
  • Points cost: 4 points (maximum of 1 artillery piece per Retinue).
  • Range: Culverins 24”
  • Movement 3”, cannot move and fire and a pivot greater than 45 requires a move
  • Shoot value: 7+.
  • Damage: 
Short range, up to 6”, roll 12 dice hitting on 5+ (4+ if target unit is in schiltron)

Mid Range, up to 16”, roll 8 dice hitting on 5+ (4+ if target unit is in schiltron)
Long Range, roll 4 dice hitting on 6+

The target receives -1 armour if fired from half range or less & must take a courage test regardless of casualties.

If 5 or more 1’s are rolled the gun is out of action for the rest of the game. This represents lack of ammunition, poor powder, travel damage or badly trained crew.

Once the crew has taken half casualties the above number of dice are halved
  • Reload value: After firing the artillery may not be fired again until a successful Reload action has taken place. This is carried out as a normal, ordered fire activation and gets more difficult after each firing, to begin on 7+ then 8+9+10+ and so on each turn with no reload once 12 is reached. 
  • If contacted, shot at, and for Courage tests, the crew count as Serfs at their current strength 
  • The crew must maintain cohesion around the artillery model (not moving more than 3” beyond it).
Back to the fighting, the foot knights worked their way through the town....

and with the dice skill of a Casino ringer, that bloody gun kept on firing

This didn't sway the plucky Longbowmen who scurried across the streets but sadly it was to no avail as they just couldn't get their tinder box going to fire a building, Jeff's dice in this task was proving to be the opposite of Keith's. We retired for a bit of lunch and shopping at the venue.

Refreshed and with lighter pockets we put round 2 into action. Regrettably, being somewhat distracted in defeating the garrison and with some ill luck no buildings had managed to be fired to signal the relief forces but we agreed the noise of the murderous culverin would surely have served the same purpose - I was really looking forward to setting Simon's collection alight.

Myself and Simon took command of the relief force with myself as the Tudor cavalry.

hmmm, a little bit one sided owing to the raiders being annihilated, then to ad insult to injury Keith was still in the game and eager to add the remainder of the garrison to the fray, and their blood was up.

My task was simple, get across that board as quickly as possible and with a comparatively nimble force I reckoned I had at the very least a tiny speck of a chance.

I managed a good run of movement activations and sent the Border Horse out to screen the advance of the Demilancers, I was counting upon their skill at skirmishing to generally annoy Simon and the chance that the Gendarmes may fail some activations being that little bit more difficult to move.

My plan seemed to be working, for a short while at least....hope is important.

The Borderers bravely or perhaps recklessly skirmished with the Gendarmes and men at arms while one unit of Demilancers sneaked round the back. I manoeuvred the second unit of Demilancers with my leader to Simon's Gendarmes who were engaged with some pesky Borderers, they performed an evade action and then I pulled my trump card and challenged his leader to a duel.

Simon refused, the Earl of Essex was no Brandon or Henry, he was simply too low born and looked a little dirty. This caused a morale check for the French relief force with a reasonable amount of success which gave me a tight window to push my cavalry past them.

Then, with the end in sight, it went horribly wrong and I too was annihilated.

Defeat seemed to be clear but I thought I'd see how we compared;

Victory Conditions

The English;

2 points per objective destroyed. 
3 points if the relief force manage to cease the destruction.
1 point per unit to escape.
2 points per enemy leader slain and a bonus point if in a duel..

The French;

2 points per objective unharmed.
3 points if they stop the English from leaving.
1 point per enemy unit destroyed.
2 points per enemy leader slain and a bonus point if in a duel.

A marginal 26-0 to the French !!!

Did I mention there was a bar on site ?

LtoR; Me, Keith, Jeff and Simon

We discussed the day's game

The street fighting was definitely a hit, it was so much fun and made for some great moments and some pretty good photographs too. Following that the contrast of swirling cavalry battle was also fun and a great spectacle, we had quite a lot of interest throughout the day from onlookers.

In hindsight there were a few things that I'd recommend changing, the English should deploy almost in front of the town and/or the French should not be able to react until this is reached. The idea being that the garrison were not aware of the impending danger. Alternatively you could possibly roll during each English movement up to the walls to see if they are spotted.

That would definitely have made a difference I think. Also though Jeff had a lot of bad luck with the dice I wonder if he could have done with a few more in his force I'm not sure, I think speed was the key here and it was lost by starting at the other edge of the table. Or possibly was it that the English just had too much to do? There's definitely scope for a re-fight.

This also served to remind me that I must get a few more French, particularly some with polearms and ideally some Franc archers too. 

The use of the venue was a great success I must say, I think we'll be there again.

The keen eyed of you in this and the previous post may have noticed quite a lot of new Gendarmes and mounted archers, more on them very soon (I've got 2 figures to complete and I'm in the middle of a painting drought - why do we do this hobby ?!!)

Bye for now



  1. A great looking game Stuart...
    It’s nice to see you getting your troops to actually move... ;-) ... even if it is into the jaws of death...

    All the best. Aly

    1. I know ! I just need to work on the fighting part now

  2. Not sure about a good looking game, but certainly good looking gamers!! ;-)
    Very enjoyable and we must establish as an annual event.

  3. Once again, just stunning and very inspirational stuff. You guys are very inspirational. The research, the sculpting, the painting, the terrain, the scenario, the rules mods, just all top notch.

  4. Awesome table and nice game!

  5. Absolutely beautiful! /Mattias

  6. Fantastic looking game, Stuart! Figures, terrain and action all superbly presented. I love how you have applied the rules to big games;very inspirational.

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  8. What a cunningly constructed scenario and a beautiful table layout! If you have no objection I will use it with Dragon Rampant at our club games night. A few clarifying questions if I may:

    - What Armour and unit strength did you give the artillery?
    - how did you play out the storming of the breach? Rough ground? +1 Armour to defenders?
    - What rules did you use for breaching the barred gatehouse door?

    Again, congrats on a brilliant game and a lovely looking table (I agree, that tea-lamp cannon effect is great!

    cheers, Paul

    1. Hi Paul, glad you like it

      We gave the artillery armour 1 and unit strength of 4 but you could amend this for things like pavises or gabions and if it were a larger gun with more crew.

      The gate was open so you just moved up to it but we did count that and the breach as rough terrain so both parties attacked and defended on 5+ with an armour of 2.

      The gatehouse became areal killing field for the Landsknechts as when they fell back the Longbowmen were in the way so they were affected by the rules for a blocked retreat.

      Thanks again, hope you have fun with it.


    2. Thanks Stuart! I was also thinking abut your comments regarding the force ratios and starting points. As a result, I am going to give the initial forces:

      Attacker - 36 points deployed 12 inches from the city walls (having snuck up)

      Defender - 24 points, and one units can start in the vicinity of the city walls. The rest enter from the table edge (the barracks being offboard). No artillery piece (but can take 1 war engine)

      Attacker Relief Force - 24 points
      Defender Relief Force -32 points

      Do you think that will make it a more balanced game?

    3. I think so yes, especially if you're using difficult terrain as the initial obstacle.

    4. Tweaked it a bit and had a great time - down to the wire.. Thanks indeed!

  9. Great photos and write up Stuart. The game looked like a lot of fun. I agree getting the balance correct for the forces and positions is quite difficult - but then again it only takes a few catastrophic failed activations and anything can happen in LR.

    I was going to go back to my original post on our game and change it from "St Omer" to "Ardes" and but then when I looked a bit closer - its "Ardres", "Ardes" is miles away in central France. You won't like this but I think in 1513 - it was English!!!!!

  10. I've changed it - I couldn't leave it as St Omer!

    1. Haha that made me chuckle. Yes the town was not quite English but was paying protection money at the time so an English on English-ish town could have been more fun !

    2. Yep I did think that - a legitimate English kind of vs English (but not Yorkist rebels!). On re-reading you have mentioned it was a friendly town as well.

      We need to start thinking about December...

  11. Lovely looking and sounds like great fun game!
    Best Iain