Tag 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′!


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 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.  


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.  



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


  • 2 Mounted Knights 
  • 2 Infantry 
  • 2 Archers 

First Turn 

The Normans take the first turn. 


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



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.  


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.  


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.  


Trial by Battle Morlaix


Can be easily crossed but treat as difficult ground.  


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


No effect on movement 


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 


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