9. First St. Albans (22 May 1455)

    I have some affection for weird little battles, and this one was weirder and littler than most. The Lancastrians are defending at narrow gates, meaning that the Yorkists are launching costly frontal assaults on well-fortified positions. Usually the system represents a terrain advantage by saddling the attacker with one-die-per-turn restrictions, and that's the case here, but then I went one step further. The Lancastrians "never" suffer more than one hit in a single attack. The quotation marks around that "never" are because of two important exceptions. 

    One, if the Yorkist Archers Special Formation has a cube on it, then this is negated. Said Archers are also on screening duty, so there's an incentive on the Lancastrian side to keep up the attacks until the Yorkists flub a roll and aren't able to keep a cube on there. At that point, they're less likely to attack, since they're going to suffer one or two losses in exchange for only one. 

    The second exception is that this bonus goes away when Henry VI is Routed. Historically, Warwick snuck around and got the drop on old Hank. At this point the Lancastrians were attacked from both sides. The game abstracts this somewhat by having Warwick Retire - the idea is that he's back there mucking about, causing the defenders to get distracted enough that the rest of the Yorkist Army can deliver the coup de grace. 

    Warwick sneaking around is a major investment - four dice placed over the course of four turns - but it's usually worth it. That said, going all in on that from the get-go might leave the "actual" Lancastrian Formations in pretty good shape for the end game. Both Lancastrian Formations use Doubles, which makes it fairly easy for them to keep up attacks or prepare a counterattack.

    10. Blore Heath (22 September 1459)

    The Routing Special Formation - something fairly unusual in the series - simulates the death of Audley and the resultant command-control panic. I originally had a separate Audley "Formation" card that would Rout when the front ranks did, plus remove the Special Formation (without it Routing), but it seemed like a waste of a card. 

    Careful play is a must for the Lancastrian Player, who should plan on losing his front Formations and then has to figure out how to pull off the win in the second half of the match provided he's done enough damage in the first half.

    11. Mortimer's Cross (3 February 1461)

    A lot of battles from this period, we don't have a whole lot of detail on 'em, and Mortimer's Cross is no exception. I chose to focus on the battlefield prowess of the future Edward IV. The dice on his card can be expended to serve as a "wild" die, giving the Yorkist formations incredible flexibility. In the earliest version of this battle, Edward's card was a Special Formation, trading doubles in for up to three cubes. That made it too powerful, so I nerfed it down to one cube, and then, finally, making it a regular formation (meaning of course that instead of trading dice for a cube, it would retain the dice until they were used). When I try out a new idea with this series, I often need to dial it back over the course of a few iterations, because the first stab at it usually throws things too far out of whack.

    12.Towton (29 March 1461)

    Engraving of "Edward IV extolls his troops to fight their Lancastrian foes at the Battle of Towton" by John Quarterly. Later engraving by Charles Oliver Murray.

    A big huge slobberknocker of a battle, with lots of different reactions and Formations in Reserve. Like most of these battles, the Yorkist Player will find himself outnumbered: he has less Formations and less sticks. But Edward IV's superior skills as a commander, represented by the "wild" die ability, may again prove to be decisive. The tricky part is that Eddie also needs to stack up some dice to call in Norfolk, whose arrival will help even the odds. A fun and tricky battle, but one that's best played slowly and carefully.

    13. Edgecote Moor (26 July 1469)

    Battles with fewer cards are harder to design and harder to balance than the larger ones, because the player's options are more conscribed, with a much smaller margin for error. This makes those battles interesting contests for experienced players, but less ideal for newbies. In the base set, Plains of Abraham, Bosworth, and (to a degree) Brooklyn Heights fit that bill. In this set, Edgecote Moor certainly qualifies. In a way, this one is a racing game, with the first player to call in Reinforcements having a definite advantage.

    14. Barnet (14 April 1471)

    Late 15th-century artistic portrayal of the battle: Edward IV (left), wearing a circlet and mounted on a horse, leads the Yorkist charge and pierces the Earl of Warwick (right) with his lance. In reality, Warwick was not killed by Edward, but was probably killed by some unknown soldier whilst trying to escape the field of battle on foot after his horse had been felled.

    Edward IV had deployed his men during a dense fog, and had overshot his mark; instead of his three battles opposing their counterparts, his right outflanked the enemy left, and the enemy right outflanked his own left. This results in some situations where some Formations can be attacked more-or-less with impunity, and allows multiple enemy Formations to come to bear against Edward's center. He's once again outnumbered as well. Historically, after crushing Edward's left flank (Hastings), Oxford's battle tried to reconnect with their army and were mistaken for the enemy. The "Treason!" special card, and Oxford's subsequent auto-Routing, reflect this, and as in Edgecote, there's a sort of a racing game element to the proceedings.

    15. Tewkesbury (4 May 1471)

    The battle of Tewkesbury, depicted in a Ghent manuscript

    The core asymmetry in this one revolves around Somerset, who is able to place multiple dice in a single go, unlike the other formations on both sides. It's easier to give him dice and easier to attack, so it pays to be aggressive. At the same time, it's a very brittle sort of advantage in that he's targeted by two enemy Formations, who themselves may be augmented by the hidden spearmen waiting in ambush. Somerset's removal is going to cost his side two morale cubes (unless it coincides with the removal of an enemy counterpart). What happens next is going to depend on how well Somerset did, and how prepared each player is for the home stretch of the match.

    16. Stoke Field (16 June 1487)

    The last battle of the Wars of the Roses, often seen as a mere footnote, though some historians are coming around to the idea that it was more important and decisive than Bosworth. (Bosworth, by-the-by, isn't in this one because it's in the base set.) Historically only a small part of the Tudor army was engaged, with the King holding the bulk of his force back and allowing Oxford to deal with the Yorkists. That's why if Oxford Routs, it costs his side two morale cubes. Since he only starts with one, that's going to be fairly catastrophic unless (a) he Routs two enemy formations first, allowing him to absorb the loss, or (b) there's some simultaneous Routing going on. The Tudor Player has more options available to him, but the York Player isn't nearly as helpless as he seems, with his Mercenaries and Kerns being particularly good tools in the right hands.

    See Notes on Table Battles no. 1-8

    See Notes on Table Battles no. 17-23


    • I’m with you Ian, English Civil War TB currently sits atop my want list.

      Steve Carey

    • A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away I stood on Ambion Hill with my university personal tutor Danny Williams. A diminuitive Welshman he had ended up the definitive defender of the wrong site, pace Glen Foard, of Bosworth Field.`s location. At the time I had thought, you`re wrong Danny, his battlefield didn`t make sense..Occasionally mistaken what Danny did next, like any good teacher, was to fire a passion in me for this time, this politics, and it`s wars. I`ve ordered the expansion and if it is up there with the base game`s Bosworth I`ll raise a glass to Danny, fine dead Welshman that he was, and crush the Lancastrians once again. I`m pleased this was your first expansion for Table Top Battles but I look forward to the English Civil War.

      Ian Nicholson

    Leave a Comment