Blood Red Roses

Blood Red Roses

Phil came back from the Society of Ancients Conference with a new set of Wars of the Roses rules, written by a chap called Adrian Naylor. Phil was fairly excited by them, as he thought they were doing something different and also provided something that looked like a Wars of the Roses battle. They’re called „Blood Red Roses“. I therefore put them on this Tuesday as a change from the current Jacobite sessions.

Blood Red Roses

The game plays on a 5 x 5 grid, and you deploy two or three Wards in the central three zones. Bows shoot two squares and artillery three. Wards usually move one square, unless they’re Assaulting, when they move two. All movement is on tramlines towards or back from the enemy baseline. The rules include an army generation mechanism, using bespoke cards, or you can use playing cards instead, if you want.

What is good about the figure set up is that it doesn’t matter where the bases go in the zone, which avoids the issues around what exactly is going on in a „battle“. Each Ward has a Cohesion value, which is six unless you have some Leadership card that pushes it up. In the photo above the Cohesion is shown by the Rummikub tiles. Most of them were seven or in one case eight due to card based modifiers. This normally only goes down once the game starts. You can restore a point with a „Happenstance“ card if you are lucky, but can’t go above the original value. The big white cards are the original cards used to choose the armies. The little white labels are the „Battle Stance“. The stances are Assault, Attack, Advance, Hold and Retire and are in this hierarchy. Some are better for melee, and some for shooting. You lay down the markers to change status, which requires a „mettle“ roll. If you fail, you don’t change. If you were trying to change more than one stance you both fail and lose a Cohesion point. When you lose Cohesion you get a Happenstance card as compensation.

[Note: The figures with the white tags are „Array“ troops. Everything else is „Retinue“, except for the bases with a standard behind them, which are „Household“. Array are the weakest quality.]

Phil pushed forwards on both flanks. I couldn’t make the roll to move, so just sat there.

I fired my artillery, but didn’t do any damage. I have corresponded with the author on the subject of artillery, as it struck me as the bit of the rules that didn’t really work properly.

As Phil closed on this flank I shot at him with everything, and inflicted some hits. This caused a drop in Cohesion. In the centre King Edward led his main battle forwards.

It was going reasonably for me at this point. I’ve knocked a few Cohesion points off Phil, and taken a hit on my right, but failing mettle tests has slowed my advance, so I just gave up with that and decided to shoot on the flanks and attack in the middle.

The flanks are shooting at each other and doing some damage. We forgot to apply some rules here from time to time. When learning a set of rules both players need to be on top of it, and Phil was relying on his memory of playing the game at SOAC, which proved to be imperfect. Luckily Jon F was on the Zoom link, and prompted reminders from time to time.

Several turns further on and I’ve managed to move my central Ward forwards another zone. Very frustrating that it wouldn’t move. On both flanks there’s shooting and fighting and I’m a bit ahead, but I’ve taken a lot of his in the middle that have reduced my Cohesion.

I finally got into contact in the middle, but Phil saved a whole load of hits so everything was bogging down a bit.

I was being pummelled on my left, and being ground down on my right. In the centre I continued to be frustrated by a combination of saving rolls and a flurry of Happenstance cards.

We played a couple of more turns and the game was turning into as bit of a meat grinder. Decision making had sort of disappeared as we headed into the end game. Phil then remembered he had some reserve cavalry and was bringing it up when I said we could finish, as I didn’t think I had any way back into the game.

The game did look like a Wars of the Roses battle, and it played well. We need to play it a few more times to get the mechanisms fixed in our heads. When I started to write this up I re-read the rules and realised we’d missed a few things. Phil should have had lower Cohesion on both of his flanking Wards, so I may have been premature in chucking my hand in.

Very promising.

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Autor: Trebian / Wargaming for Grown-ups