Category Archives: Trial by Battle

Photos from the playtest of Battle of Morlaix for Trial by Battle

Thought it would be fun to post some of the photos here from the playtest I did for the Battle of Morlaix for Trial by Battle. This scenario includes a number of special rules – including pits and ditches that get filled in once crossed – you can see that in the later photos the cardboard ditches have gone! Please note that the collection of miniatures used are not particularly correct for the period – mixture of a number of medieval figures – mostly later Wars of the Roses and some older Citadel figures. All worked fine for the playtest though and shows that a full scale battle can be played in just 3’x3′!

Enjoy!

Battle of Morlaix Deployment
The French begin crossing the stream. The English are deployed behind ditches at the other end of the table.
Battle of Morlaix - French knights have crossed the ditches and charged home on the English archers and men-at-arms
Battle of Morlaix Near the end of the battle – only two units of English archers are left. A second wave of French are about to cross the stream.

Trial by Battle: Battle of Hattin 1187

A new scenario for Trial by Battle.

You can download this as a PDF as well: Battle of Hattin 1187

Battle of Hattin, 1187

The Battle of Hattin was one of the most significant battles between the Crusader states and the Ayyubids attempting to retake their lands. The defeat of the Crusader army at Hattin lead to the loss of Jerusalem and nearly all the of the Crusader-held cities except Tyre. The Third Crusade was launched as a direct result of the losses resulting from the battle.

The Ayyubid army led by Saladin had launched an invasion of the Crusader states following the breaking of the truce by Raynald of Châtillon. Saladin laid siege to Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Gallilee. Tiberias belonged to Raymond III of Tripoli and his wife, Eschiva, was trapped within. Despite this he tried to dissuade Guy de Lusignan, the King of Jerusalem, from attempting to lift the siege, fearing the strength of the Ayyubid army. But Guy took other advice and marched the full strength of the Kingdom’s army out to intercept Saladin. The Crusaders left the springs of La Sophorie and marched towards Tiberias. But they were constantly harassed by Ayyubid horse archers which delayed their advance until they found themselves desperately short of water. They changed their direction of march in search of springs to the north of Tiberias. Saladin’s army closed in for the kill. Horse archers harassed the army from the flanks. In the historical battle this caused the infantry flanking the knights to flee to the high ground of the Horns of Hattin for protection, where they were picked off at the leisure of the Ayyubids. The knights tried to force their way through the Ayyubid forces standing in the way of their path to the springs. Repeated charges largely failed, except for one contingent led by Raymond III. Eventually the King was forced to surrender to Saladin.

Objectives

The Crusader army are desperate to get to a supply of water, but Saladin’s army are standing in the way. The Crusaders must attempt to get at least half their army off the board to the East. Saladin’s Ayyubid army must stop them.

Forces

Crusaders

2 Mounted Knights

2 Infantry (4 Stamina only)

2 Archers (4 Stamina only)

Ayyubids

4 Light Cavalry

2 Infantry

1 Mounted Knights

Battlefield

The battlefield for this scenario is fairly flat except for the main feature which is the high ground where the extinct volcano known as the Horns of Hattin was located. This can be represented simply by a large hill taking up part of the southern third of the battlefield, or a couple of peaks can be added as well.

Battle of Hattin scenario map

Deployment

See map for deployment. Only the Ayyubid Mounted Knights and Infantry start deployed on the table. The Crusaders enter from the Western table edge in the formation shown. Ayyubid Horse Archers enter from the flanks as shown on their first turn.

First Turn

The Crusaders take the first turn.

Special Rules

The Crusader Infantry and Archers are particularly vulnerable to the Light Cavalry horse archers deployed by the Ayyubids. Historically most of them fled to slopes of the Horns of Hattin (an extinct volcano whose crater formed the distinctive double horned landscape). To represent this the Crusader Infantry and Archers must take a Unit Courage Test once they take four hits. If this test is failed, then they must move to the raised ground of the Horns of Hattin when next possible to do so. If the test is passed, then they will make a test whenever they take more hits. After the first failure they move to the Horns. If they fail a second test they break. They may fight and shoot as normal, but once on the high ground area they may not leave it for the rest of the game unless the Crusader General goes to rally them.

Duration of the Battle

Until one or both armies fail an Army Courage Test or until the Crusaders exit three units from the Eastern table edge.

Victory Conditions

An army wins when the opposing army fails an Army Courage Test and they do not. If both armies fail an Army Courage Test the battle is a draw.

The Crusaders can also win by exiting three units from the Eastern table edge.

Download as PDF: Battle of Hattin 1187.

Trial by Battle Scenario: Battle of Hastings 1066

Here’s another historical scenario for Trial by Battle. Bit of an obscure one this time …

You can also download the scenario for Battle of Hastings 1066 as a PDF:  Battle of Hastings 1066.

Battle of Hastings 1066 

Perhaps the most famous date in English history and one of the most famous battles of the Middle Ages, the Battle of Hastings will be familiar to many people. The background is simple. King Harold of England was resisting the invasion of Duke William of Normandy who had recently landed on the south coast of England. King Harold had marched quickly south to respond to the invasion after beating a Viking invasion force at Stamford Bridge in the north of England. He brought his elite huscarls with him and recruited other men on his way south.  

Harold chose the battlefield well: a defensible hill (Senlac Hill) flanked by brooks and dense vegetation on each side with a steep slope to the rear of his position. William had only one option – a frontal assault up the hill. There are a few different versions of what happened in the battle, but it seems that the initial assaults were repulsed by the English. In their enthusiasm some of the English left their position on the hill to pursue the Bretons, Normans or other French allies down the hill. There they were cut off and destroyed by Norman cavalry. This may have been an intentional tactic by the Normans or an accident, but whatever the explanation it served to weaken the English forces on the hill. The Normans tried similar tactics to draw off more of the English and progressively weakened them until they launched a final all arms assault on the English and overwhelmed them. King Harold was either shot in the eye by an archer or killed personally by Duke William. And thus, a new phase of English history began with 1066 and all that.  

Objectives 

The English objective is to resist the Norman attack. They can sit on their hill and defend for the whole game if they wish. As such the Normans have a time limit in which to achieve a victory by breaking the English army. If the Normans have not won within 10 turns, then the English win the battle.  

Forces 

English 

  • 2 Foot Knights Units – Huscarls 
  • 4 Infantry – Fryd 

Normans 

  • 2 Mounted Knights 
  • 2 Infantry 
  • 2 Archers 

First Turn 

The Normans take the first turn. 

Battlefield 

One third of the battlefield should be taken up with a large sloping ridge on which the English army is deployed. No other terrain is necessary given the scale of the battle on a 3’ x 3’ table. A suggested layout and deployment is provided below. 

Battle of Hastings map

 

Deployment 

See the map above. The English can deploy on the large ridge on the north side of the battlefield before the battle. Duke William’s army enters from the table edge on their first turn.  

Special Rules 

There are no specific special rules for this scenario, but it is strongly suggested that the New Optional rule Cavalry Disengage is used:  

Cavalry Disengage 

All Cavalry can disengage from melee with foot units after the first round of melee with that unit. They need to take a Unit Courage Test to do so. If they fail, they take 1d6 hits which may cause them to take another Unit Courage Test to avoid being removed from play. They will also remain engaged with the enemy unit. 

Additionally Light Cavalry may disengage from Cavalry of any type. 

Duration of the Battle 

Until one or both armies fail an Army Courage Test or 10 Rounds, whichever is first.  

Victory Conditions 

An army wins when the opposing army fails an Army Courage Test and they do not. If both armies fail an Army Courage Test the battle is a draw. If the Normans have not won by the end of Round 10 the English win.  

You can also download the scenario for Battle of Hastings 1066 as a PDF:  Battle of Hastings 1066.

Trial by Battle Scenario: Battle of Morlaix

I am working on some additional content for Trial by Battle at the moment. Here’s a sample historical scenario. Hoping to have about half a dozen of these in the next book as well as some additional rules.

You can also download the scenario as a PDF: Morlaix 1342 Scenario

Battle of Morlaix, 1342 

The Battle of Morlaix was fought in Morlaix on 30 September 1342 between the Anglo-Breton and Franco-Breton forces in Brittany. The Anglo-Breton under English command besieged the town, but a Franco-Breton relief force arrived. The English constructed a strong defensive position. After repeated attacks, the French forced the English to retreat into the woods, and the French force then withdrew. 

The English were commanded by William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton. The French by Charles de Blois. The sources are rather sparse for the battle, but what seems to be clear is that the English were alerted to the approach of the French army coming from the east along the road from Lanmeur. The English had time before the French arrived to prepare a defensive position protected by ditches and hidden pits. Their rear was protected by a wood where they also had their camp.  

The French approached the next morning arrayed in three divisions one following the other towards the English. We will call them battles or waves in this scenario. Each of the French waves attacked one at a time and in theory each was large enough on its own to defeat the English. The first wave was probably thrown back before they reached the hidden pits – presumably by arrow fire. The French then held a council of war and decided to attack again. This time they reached the English lines, but the French cavalry was thrown into confusion by the pits and fled with great losses. The third French wave now approached, and the English who were running low on arrows decided to retreat to the woods before they were overwhelmed. The French tried to break into the English defences in the wood, but the position was too strong. The French withdrew and the English did as well under cover of night.  

To recreate the battle as a wargame some additional rules have been introduced, including limited ammunition for the English archers, the English field defences, and the possibility for the English to retreat to the wood.  

Objectives 

The French player’s objective is to defeat the English army in open battle and also to prevent them retreating to the wood.  

The English player wins by either defeating the whole French army (which is much bigger), or by being able to disengage from combat and retreat to the wood behind their position. They can only do this after the French third battle is released to fight.  

Forces 

English Army 

Seven 6” sections of pits 

4 Archer units 

1 Foot Knights unit 

French Army 

6 Mounted Knight units 

2 Archer units 

3 Infantry units 

Organised in Three Battles or Waves of attack. The French player determines before the battle which units are in which Wave. There must be between 3 and 4 units per Wave.  

Battlefield 

Trial by Battle Morlaix

Brook: 

Can be easily crossed but treat as difficult ground.  

Wood: 

Exception to normal rules, can be moved into by English units only once the French 3rd wave enters the battlefield.  

Road: 

No effect on movement 

Deployment 

The English are free to deploy anywhere within their deployment zone on the Battlefield. When deploying pits these must be within the deployment zone.  

The French player enters with each wave from the Eastern table edge from the direction of Lanmeur. Second and Third waves enter the eastern table edge as follows: 

Second Wave: when there is only 1 remaining unit from the first wave. 

Third Wave: When there is only 2 remaining units from the second or first wave.  

First Turn 

French   

Special Rules 

There are a number of special rules in this scenario. 

Ditches and Pits 

Use the new rules for Pits – see below. 

Treated as difficult ground for movement purposes, so half move for all Units. Can either be a linear static defence – such as stakes or an area static defence such as pits or ditches. Area static defences are 6” by 3”.  

Cavalry must also pass a Unit Courage Test to cross the static defences (must roll 7 or less on 2d6, 8 or less if General with them). If failed, they do not break but remain stationary for that Round. They may attempt to cross again next Round or move away. If moving away through area static defences they do not need to pass a test, but their movement is still halved.  

Ditches Filled 

After two waves of attacks some historians believe that the ditches became trampled down and filled with bodies, meaning that their effectiveness as a defence diminished. To represent this, once two French Units have entered and left a 6” section of ditches that terrain item is removed. The French unit can leave of its own accord or be removed through a Unit Courage Test.  

Limited Arrow Supply for English 

6 Turns of shooting allowed. Use a dice next to each Archer unit to track.  

English Retreat to the Woods 

The English may attempt to retreat to the Woods once the French third wave enters the battlefield. 

If they manage to get 3 units into the woods, then they win the battle.  

Duration of the Battle 

Until one or both armies fail an Army Courage Test or until English retreat to the Woods with at least 3 units.  

Victory Conditions 

An army wins when the opposing army fails an Army Courage Test and they do not. If both armies fail an Army Courage Test the battle is a draw. 

The English can also win if they retreat to the Woods with at least 3 units.  

You can also download the scenario as a PDF: Morlaix 1342 Scenario

Trial by Battle – some supplemental rules for Later Medieval Battles

Due to popular demand I have put together some additional rules for Trial by Battle for later medieval wars – particularly War of the Roses.

These are as of yet not play-tested, but will at some point form part of supplements for the Hundred Years War and War of the Roses.

They can be downloaded here: War of the Roses – new Rules v2

And here they are in text form:

New Rules for Later Medieval Battles 

Pits/stakes and static defences 

Also, for use in Hundred Years War supplement 

Treated as difficult ground for movement purposes, so half move for all Units. Can either be a linear static defence – such as stakes or an area static defence such as pits or ditches. Area static defences are 6” by 6”. This means that a Unit of Mounted Knights would take at least two Rounds to cross them. 

Cavalry must also pass a Unit Courage Test to cross the static defences (must roll 7 or less on 2d6, 8 or less if General with them). If failed, they do not break but remain stationary for that Round. They may attempt to cross again next Round or move away. If moving away through area static defences they do not need to pass a test, but their movement is still halved.  

To cross an area of pits Mounted Knights would have to pass two consecutive tests while presumably under fire from Archers.  

New Units 

New Units added to the list for quick reference below, plus any special rules below.  

Unit Name Move Terrain Archery Hits Range Melee Hits Save Stamina 
Mounted Knights  9”  Not Woods n/a  n/a 1d6+1/1d6  4+  6  
Light Cavalry  12”  All 1d6-2  12” 1d6-2  6+  6  
Foot Knights  4”  Not Woods n/a  n/a 1d6  3+  6  
Infantry  6”  Not Woods n/a  n/a 1d6-1  4+  6  
Archers  6”  Not Woods 1d6-1  18” 1d6-2  5+  6  
Light Infantry  9”  All n/a  n/a 1d6-2  6+  6  
Arbalesters 6” Not Woods 1d6-1 18” 1d6-2 4+ 6 
Handgunners 6” Not Woods 1d6-1 18” 1d6-2 5+ 6 
Pikemen 4” Clear only n/a n/a 1d6+1 3+ 6 
Artillery 2” Clear only 1d6-2 30” n/a 5+ 3 
General  12”  Not Woods n/a  n/a +1  n/a  n/a  

 

Arbalesters 

Heavy late medieval crossbowmen. Use Pavise for cover – thus the higher save. Reduce save to 5+ if pavises not available. 

Slow firing: fire every other turn 

Armour Piercing: -1 to Save from Archery hits. 

Handgunners 

Late medieval handgun. Slow firing but caused fear in enemy troops. 

Slow firing: fire every other turn 

Cause Fear: If enemy lose 2 or more stamina because of Handguns in one Round, must make a Unit Courage Test.  

Pikemen

Slow to manoeuvre but effective against Cavalry and other infantry.
Movement reduced to half for 45 and 90 degree turn. Cannot move if turn 180 degrees.
Cannot cross obstacles or difficult ground

Artillery 

Covers range of different artillery pieces seen on the battlefield. Slow to manoeuvre, but greater range than other weapons.  

Slow firing: fire every other turn 

Cause Fear: If enemy lose 2 or more stamina because of Artillery in one Round, must make a Unit Courage Test.