The Wars of the Roses
In the period from 1455 to 1487, England saw a dynastic struggle between the Houses of Lancaster and York for control of its throne. The cultural setting is Britain. For the previous century, men from Britain had fought in France, primarily on foot when engaged in set-piece battles, combining those fighters equipped for close combat with skilled, disruptive archery. This pattern continued unchanged into a period of intermittent warfare which, some centuries later, became known as the Wars of the Roses (WotR).
A WotR army was typically divided into 3 “wards” — van, main and rear — each of which would form one division, or “battle”. Each battle had a commander who was often, but not always, the noble who provided the largest number of troops. The choice of commander was as much a political decision as a military one, needing to strike a careful balance between status, influence and military skill.
Each battle fought more like an autonomous armed mass (with some distinguishable groups), rather than the recognisable regiments or battalions which reflect the command and control structure of later centuries. Within a battle, elements can be identified from the viewpoint of arms, attire, armour and role: plate-armoured men-at-arms and other foot melee troops, archers, and, less commonly, mounted troops — men-at-arms and scurrers. Additionally, there were mercenaries bringing further weaponry: handgun, crossbow, pike and dart.
It was noticeable that the longbow was only used significantly at the start of an engagement at the front of a battle. While this appears similar to skirmishers in later centuries, the density and weight of longbow firepower seems to have had an effect rather more significant than “mere skirmishing”. Indeed, the occasional complete absence of any archers on one side would spell trouble, so merely abstracting this element away does not seem appropriate (and there are those cool figures to get onto the table). Furthermore, their function was not to delay the advance of the enemy, as in later periods, but to give advantage for the subsequent melee engagement through disruption and damage by firepower. Deployed as a front line for the first phase of the engagement, they discharged most or all of their arrows, fell back, and then joined in as lighter melee troops “supporting” their colleagues. It’s important to note that engagements were rarely, if ever, concluded as a result of such fire — even in the instances where archers were only present on one side — and any subsequent missile actions in the latter phases of the engagement were never decisive.
The Test of Resolve wargaming rules use only one twelve-sided die (D12) per side. The game
plays out with a small deck of cards for each army; these cards are designed to introduce an
innovative, realistic and exciting unpredictability to the game flow — and remind the players
that commanders had little control of events when the fighting started!
Test of Resolve successfully achieves the following design criteria :
- The rules reflect and encourage the nature of warfare in this period.
- Games are playable with figure sizes up to 28mm.
- Games are able to be completed in an evening — from 1 to less than 3 hours, depending on the scale of the engagement.
- Historical scenarios are playable on a 180 x120cm (6’ x 4’) table with 28mm figures (and, of course, smaller scale ones).
- Any historical (or fictitious) scenario has a high degree of replayability.
- The rules are very suitable for solo play and for multiplayer gaming.
- The rules also cover:
- Continental & Irish mercenaries
- Unreliable Commanders and Identity Confusion
- Comprehensive terrain rules, particularly defensive positions, towns & rivers
- The gaming experience is fun!
From the provisional playtest scenario for Stoke Field:
Order of Battle
A notable incident has occurred. This card impacts the next card to be played in the Play Deck, if there is one:
Move & Melee:
Either: +3 to the Movement Distance die roll (and can pay the 3” Cost),
Or: +1 modifier on the first Melee round.
The choice must be made prior to rolling for movement. It applies to all companies in a battle, and may be different for each battle.
Either: Fire: +1 modifier on fire attempts,
Or: Strengthen Resolve: +2 modifier on all Strengthen Resolve Checks.
The choice applies to all companies in a battle, and may be different for each battle.
End Turn: no additional effect.
Milling Around: becomes a conventional Move & Melee card!
Missile Supply: fire-capable missile companies may Fire!
Flummoxed!: nullifies the Flummoxed! card effect.
Event: +2 modifier on the Event die roll. If a modifier is not appropriate, players should decide on a creative alternative!
The ultimate fate of any Captured Commanders is finally determined by a roll on the Captured Table.