Friday, 1 November 2013

War of the Rings and Roses?

For the last few weeks, I've been musing about to do about the Wars of the Roses. Bloody Barons from Peter Pig is an excellent system, but uses an awkward 3 miniatures per 30mm square base in 15mm games. A basing system not really compatible with any other game system I now of. On the other hand, Coate of Steel has some interesting mechanics that revolve around the personalities of the various lords and their respective talents. Best of all, it's free to download here. On the other hand, it has an incredibly detailed but time consuming pre-battle and combat resolution system.  Combat resolution involves draw after draw of playing cards and more combat modifiers than I care to think about and the admirably detailed pre-battle sequence takes as long to play-out as the  battle itself.

Battle of Towton
Plus there's the fact that I want to play small skirmishes ranging from a single lord and retinue (or even a single knight and his household) all the way up to massive battles. That would create some real issues with basing for 15mm miniatures. I'd effectively have to collect and paint two separate forces for each faction: one multi-based for large battles and a another, single-based collection for skirmish games.

But then I stumbled across General Headquarters' excellent War of the Rose campaign. I was struck by how it was actually cheaper to use the plastic Perry 28mm boxed sets with the Bloody Barons rules than it was to use 15mm metal miniatures! A 40 figure box from the Perrys would cost just £20 and provides five whole companies of eight single "base" miniatures. I especially liked his movement trays with the round insets so that individual miniatures could be placed in them securely. Say, hadn't those been a GW innovation?  So that miniatures based for the Lord of the Rings skirmish game could be used in the mass combat War of the Rings system?

The excellent company bases used by CWT over at the General Headquarters Blog. Image used without permission.

And it hit me: Why not use the Lord of the Rings and War of the Rings systems to game out the War of the Roses? It shouldn't be hard. They're very adaptable to multiple genres. Fran over at the Angry Lurker uses them for his Warring States samurai. Or rather, he uses the Lord of the Rings skirmish rules. I'm not entirely sure if he uses the War of the Rings rules as well.

The more I think about it, the more reasons I have to use them:
  • The War of the Rings and Lord of the Rings games are fully compatible. Models have the same stats and abilities. 
  • The importance of "heroic orders" and "might points" which are assigned to captains and important characters means that the character traits of the nobles present on the battlefield will have a real impact.
  • The rules are quick and simple to use and easy to teach.
  •  Even the biggest games only last an hour or two.
  • Minimum adaption needed (use the stats for Gondor archers as retinue archers. Use Rohan archers as levy archers, use the typical Gondor captain stats for a typical War of the Roses "nameless captain" etc).
  • A campaign system will be easy enough to create, with losses in large games being applied to the forces in "skirmish" games on a point for point basis.
  • The War of the Ring mechanic of companies (represented) by a base of eight 28mm miniatures organised in formations with a single leader figure represents noblemen surrounded by their "affinity" of retainers extremely well.
  • If I don't like the mechanic after all, the eight figure company  easily converts across to Coate of Steel and Bloody Barons, which feature companies of eight-ten 15mm bases. In this case, one 28mm miniatures would equate to one base of 3 15mm figures.
However, as much as this would allow me to capture the impact of the various personalities on the battlefield and play a wide variety of scenario's, it doesn't quite capture the "treachery" and "random event" aspects of the Wars as captured by Coate of Steel and Bloody Barons. So I'll be looking very closely at the pre-battle phase of Bloody Barons and the random battlefield events from Coate of Steel with an eye towards converting them to my game.

This means I have to think up rules for the following:

  • Mixed formations of billmen and archers to represent "retinue" and "household" quality units.
  • Create rules for treachery
  • Create rules for random events.
Doesn't sound hard at all.


  1. You are not the first person I have known to want to use 28mm Perry's plastics on single bases for Bloody Barons. No reasons the rules would not work for that. I look forward to seeing how this goes on. All the best mate.

    1. Thanks Clint. Will keep you updated. This and the 15mm modern/AK47 project are two "big things" for 2014.

  2. Sounds like a great project, and an excelent way to have your cake and eat it too, with regard to skirmish and based battle. The LotR skirmish game rules are very well done, and I have often thought about converting them for this era or that, so they should be able to handle WotR without any problem.