Wednesday, August 17, 2022

“A ship’s a fool to fight a fort.”

So said Admiral Lord Nelson. With the centenary of Trafalgar so fresh in the collective minds of the Royal Navy, the Admiralty is pondering the Hero’s words anew as they contemplate an attack on Heligoland.


After the island was transferred to Germany in 1890, the new owners immediately began work on
fortifications centred around a quartet of 21cm/8.2 inch guns and eight 28cm/11 inch howitzers. These were supplemented by a number of 4.1 inch/105mm guns positioned around the island for close-in defence. Since the main artillery is located two hundred feet above sea level it also has the attribute of increased range and plunging fire.

Twelve heavy artillery pieces on a rock-steady firing platform and plunging fire capability… Quite.

The only bright spot is that this heavy armament won’t be augmented any time soon, as there’s a tug of war between the German navy and the army when it comes to the allocation of artillery. Troops are massing along the Franco-German border, and the French army artillery is superior to that of the German army. There's at least one company of troops in garrison on the island. It's believed their complement of machine guns has been increased.

So it is that the Admiralty ordered up the four Royal Sovereign class battleships Royal Sovereign, Empress of India, Resolution and Repulse. Their 13.5 inch main armament offers a ‘bigger bang for the buck’ when it comes to shore bombardment.

The class has the unfortunate reputation of being unstable in high seas, hence their nickname of the ‘Rolling Ressies.’ Stormy weather in the North Sea precluded any immediate move against Heligoland after the Battle of the Humber for this very reason. Now April has turned into May the weather has settled and the operation is on once more.

The plan is for the Royal Sovereigns to close with the island in the afternoon so the sun will be in the eyes of the defenders. The bombardment group will commence targeting the shore defences while the five London class and four Majestic class battleships stand off as cover in case the German fleet sallies forth from Jade Bay. Under no circumstances are the village or the lighthouse to be targeted. The civilian area is marked by the steeple of St. Nicholas’ church. (The kazern/barracks for the island’s garrison is located too close to the village to be targeted safely and so is, unfortunately, also out of bounds).

The fleet has the usual complement of cruisers and destroyers, among which is HMS Charybdis. This elderly Second-class Protected Cruiser was used for troop transport from 1905 onwards, and performs the role for this mission.

Game Mechanics.

All heavy artillery on Heligoland will range up to 20,000 yards (10 nautical miles). Add one to the firing dice for a totally stable firing platform and there are no penalties for bad weather. Each weapon counts as one calibre larger on the progressive fire table to reflect the effects of plunging fire, so 11 inch guns will count as 12 inch, 8.2 inch as 9.2 inch.

Shore bombardment takes a different approach. All ordinary hits are ignored. Critical hits count, but only Turret, Gunnery Director Centre, Fire and Magazine hits have any effect. A Magazine hit will only destroy the turret it serves. A result of Fire indicates that undergrowth or buildings have been ignited by a shell burst. Depending on the wind direction this will decrease the defending fire factor by one due to smoke obscuring the range finders.

Victory Conditions.

The Royal Navy has to destroy all twelve main artillery positions for victory. Once this has been achieved it’s assumed the smaller vessels will close with the shore to suppress the 105mm guns and provide fire support as Charybdis lands her troops.

The German defenders will achieve victory if two ships of the Bombardment Group are sunk or crippled, at which point the group will withdraw.

With luck and a following wind - and cooler weather - I'll fight out the engagement in the next few days. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Battle of the Norwegian Sea ~ Conclusion

0805 hrs: Action became brisk with an increasing exchange of salvos. HMS Hermes suffered the attentions of all three German armoured cruisers as well as SMS Berlin, and succumbed under the weight of gunfire.

0810 hrs: Minutes later Berlin followed her enemy to the bottom as the combined weight of Aboukir's and Euryalus' secondary armament salvos ripped into her hull. The Royal Navy's gunnery from their main armament was poor, with several rounds missing their targets by a wide margin. The light cruisers fared better in spite of the rolling seas, their gun crews managing to compensate and score several telling hits on their opposite numbers.

0815 hrs: The range closes. Highflyer sees an opening and launches two torpedoes on a track timed to hit SMS Prinz Heinrich. German gunnery is good. Euryalus takes heavy cumulative damage and begins to slow.

0820 hrs: Prinz Heinrich fails to spot the torpedo tracks in the turbulent seas and takes a fatal hit astern. The Royal Navy's gunnery improves somewhat and they make better practice on the other two German armoured cruisers.

0825 hrs: It's not all one-way traffic. The surviving German armoured cruisers turn their 15cm secondary armament on Highflyer and she succumbs to heavy cumulative gunfire. Her demise allows Hamburg a chance to forge ahead, making best speed in the rolling waters. Emboldened by her late sister ship's success HMS Hyacinth tries her luck and fires two torpedoes.

0830 hrs: This time the torpedo tracks are sighted. The two German armoured cruisers try a partial turn to starboard in an effort to avoid the attack, keeping in mind they can't deviate too much or they'll be forced into neutral Norwegian waters. One torpedo reaches the end of its run and sinks. The other almost runs out of steam but smashes into Friedrich Karl, inflicting telling damage.

0835 hrs: Random event. A timely squall arrives in just the right place. Kommodore Schafer is mindful of the damage inflicted upon his ships and the fact Hamburg is heading for the North Atlantic with little chance of the enemy stopping her. With the Kaiser's known tenderness toward his fleet's survival Schafer decides to call it a day and head for home. Turning into the squall he manages to break contact with the enemy. The rain front will pass over Hamburg, further obscuring her from pursuit. 

0840 hrs: Rear Admiral Sir James Bryce RN is both frustrated and secretly relieved by the enemy's breaking contact. He has lost two of the Royal Navy's more modern cruisers, the surviving third isn't in a position or condition to pursue the Hamburg, and HMS Euryalus is in a bad way. Should the weather in these high northern latitudes worsen she could be in serious danger of foundering. Sending a complete action report to the Admiralty he too decides to turn for home and orders a course set for Scarpa Flow.

* * * *

And so the Battle of the Norwegian Sea ends in a tactical German defeat but a minor strategic victory. Schafer succeeded in getting at least one light cruiser into the North Atlantic. SMS Hamburg will commence a guerre de course against British and French merchant shipping as soon as she's refueled and repaired battle damage off Iceland.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Norwegian Sea ~ Game set-up

I clean forgot to post the weather and general conditions for the Norwegian Sea encounter, so here's the bumf now.

Participants.

Royal Navy:

Light Cruisers Highflyer, Hyacinth, Hermes.

Armoured Cruisers Aboukir (Flag), Euryalus.

German Navy: Armoured Cruisers Friedrich Karl, Prinz Adalbert (Flag), Prinz Heinrich.

Light Cruisers Berlin, Hamburg.


Weather: Overcast, rain/sleet squalls, heavy 3m swell. Wind: South Easterly, Force 6 (strong breeze).

0800 hrs. The respective squadrons sight each other at 13,000 yards moving away to the Southwest not long after daybreak as the light increases to dispel some of the gloom.

Both sides’ destroyers are reduced to half speed as sea conditions become too rough for the smaller ships to handle. Signals from the respective flags order the flotillas to stand off and await further orders. Due to the swell the light cruisers’ main armament and the secondary armament of the armoured cruisers are also affected by sea conditions, the latter because the low-sited casemates of the secondary weapons are frequently washed by the high seas.

(In game terms the light cruisers' main armament and the armoured cruisers' secondary armament suffer a -1 to their gunnery dice roll)

On sighting the enemy, Kommodore Shaffer orders an increase in speed to place his squadron well ahead of the enemy. The light cruisers Berlin and Hamburg are ordered to go to full speed commensurate with sea conditions. There’s every chance they will be able to avoid combat altogether and break out into the North Atlantic.

On HMS Hermes’ sighting report, Rear Admiral Sir James Bryce orders the squadron to turn 1800 to starboard and increase speed in an attempt to intercept the German squadron. The light cruisers Hermes and Highflyer are in the best position to manoeuvre independently and bring their enemy counterparts into action, and are so ordered. Hyacinth is to remain with the armoured cruisers and provide support as needed.

With luck and a following wind I'll play out more of the tabletop encounter over the next few days.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Battle of the Norwegian Sea ~ Part 1

Having a permanent wargames table is a blessing, until the Cat Decides It Makes a Good Napping Post...

The range closes to a little over 12,000 yards (six nautical miles)

SMS Hamburg and Prinz Heinrich score hits on HMS Hermes. Royal Navy return fire is ineffective.

I can haz Hamburg? The Household's Hairiest Member is unimpressed when he's prevented from snacking on the models and decides to snooze to show his indifference instead.

Play will resume when the pitch is cleared...

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Squalls ahead! ~ A modelling side project

A while back I came across a tutorial on making rain squalls for naval gaming. The idea struck me as a good one so I save the instructions and finally put them into practice. 

Begin with an off cut of expanded polystyrene packing material. Hack it into an irregular shape.

Tease out cotton wool and apply all over the top and sides using a hot glue gun. Yes, it melts the polystyrene a little, but it won't show.

The covered result.

Spray a basic grey...

Cut out long rectangles of clear plastic. I use packaging material. Use a chunk of foam rubber to apply streaks of grey craft paint mixed with Quick Shine/Future/Klear floor polish to one side, working from one edge and lifting the rubber near the other side to get a falling rain effect. Use hot glue to stick it to the underside of the cloud. I used two lengths of plastic to get an overlap to simulate a heavier burst of rainfall.

The finished result...

Royal Navy armoured cruisers Euryalus and Aboukir push on across the North Sea in the teeth of oncoming squalls.

These should work fine for most common naval gaming scales.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

A Cluster of Calamity ~ 1/2400 shipwrecks

Covid really did a number on me. I find I get tired quickly and easily, which is no fun under any circumstances. Work and gardening claim most of what energy I have, but I did manage to add a few more items to my 1/2400 pre-Dreadnought collection in the shape of these wrecked ships and a fire marker. Apologies for the dim photo, I have to use my tablet camera for the time being.

I made a total capsize model, showing the red anti-barnacle paint on the hull used by most navies of this period. Turbulent water surrounds the capsize where air is being forced out of the vessel. Another is a standard bows-up posed wreck. The last is similar, but features a gush of soot and smoke issuing from the remaining funnel as the ship begins its final slide. This is something which appears on wartime footage of torpedoed ships.

I hope to play out the Battle of the Norwegian Sea as the next installment of the Moroccan Crisis campaign soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Being in All Respects Ready for Sea...

The new ships for the next scenario in the Moroccan Crisis campaign are finished and based. You'll have to take my word for it since camera failure means I can't take any photos for a while. 

Narrative:

At 20:00 on the same day as the Battle of the Humber, the German Particular Service squadron gets under way from its anchorage off Heligoland. Commanded by Kommodore Ernst Shaffer, it comprises three armoured cruisers, the sister ships SMS Prinz Adalbert (Flag) and Friedrich Karl, and light cruisers SMS Berlin and Hamburg. Shaffer's orders are to sail to the Denmark Straight and break out into the North Atlantic. After rendezvousing with a collier waiting off a deserted part of the Icelandic coast, his squadron will refuel then commence commerce raiding against British and French shipping.  

Accompanying them are the armoured cruiser SMS Prinz Heinrich and five torpedo boat destroyers. Their brief is to assist the squadron in breaking through any British naval force that may be encountered before returning to Heligoland and further assignment with the fleet.

The Operation.

Using the encounter table I rolled to see what shipping the squadron would come across during its traverse of the North Sea. 

The first rolls yielded a flotilla of Danish and German fishing boats then, in the early hours, a German merchant ship en-route at best speed for Bremen. The hours of daylight passed uneventfully, with no shipping sighted. Shortly after nightfall British fishing boats were sighted off the Norwegian coast in the South Utsire fishing grounds. The Kommodore decided to ignore them. They were of little value, wouldn't carry wireless with which to warn the Royal Navy, and besides, firing on them might alert any enemy warships in the area.

A Danish passenger ferry bound for Reykjavik was sighted before dawn, the squadron easily overhauling the slower civilian vessel. As daylight filled the sky a great deal of smoke was sighted to the west. Closing the distance it became apparent the source was a number of ships sailing in formation. 

Shaffer ascended to the fire control centre and scanned the scene through his binoculars. He was certain that patrolling warships of the Royal Navy lay ahead. Since his orders were securely transmitted by telegraph and courier vessel and not wireless, Shaffer was almost as certain the enemy were unaware of his crossing the North Sea. With the sun rising behind his squadron and dazzling the enemy gunners, he was in an ideal position to force the passage. Descending to the bridge Shaffer ordered increased speed. The hour was upon him, and he would do his duty to Kaiser and Fatherland...   

With luck and a following wind I'll play out the encounter sometime in the next few days.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Off the Slipway

Since I wasn't feeling well enough to do much else, I cracked on with the new ships for the Moroccan Crisis narrative campaign. These were made using the sandwich method. I gave them a matte black undercoat followed by a mid-grey base coat. For everything else paint-wise I used standard craft paints.

L-R HMS Charybdis, Highflyer, Hyacinth & Hermes.  SMS Berlin, Hamburg, Prinz Adalbert, Friedrich Karl

Next up for these will be a coat of matte varnish to reduce the shine before setting them on transparent bases.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Of Covid and Cruisers

So, it's been a while since I posted here. The damn disease finally slipped past our defences and my wife and I went down with it. It's been rough but we're slowly coming out of the woods. 

In the meantime I continued my glacial progress with the cruisers for the Moroccan Crisis games. They're pretty basic - little more than tokens - but they're almost done.

L-R Bremen LCs, Prinz Adalbert ACs, Highflyer LCs.

Last bits to be added are the boat cranes on the two Prinz Adalbert ACs, and a set of masts for all. Once that's all done it'll be an undercoat of grey and final painting and basing.

Friday, May 6, 2022

On the Slipway

Five new models under construction for the Moroccan Crisis 1905 campaign. They're slated to participate in the Run to the North episode.

L-R Highflyer, Hyacinth, Hermes. SMS Prinz Adalbert, Friedrich Karl

These are simple models built using the time-honoured 'sandwich' method.


Saturday, April 30, 2022

Encounter tables.

 

Thanks to all those who commented on my idea of creating encounter tables for this campaign. I've done some work on the idea, so here goes...

North Sea, Kattegat and Skagerrak map squares adjacent to coastlines are high traffic zones and will have the higher chance of ship encounters. D1 & D2 will have a chance of encounters with Norwegian and Icelandic shipping, and hostile Royal Navy warships.


 

Encounter Zone

1d10 score

Adjacent Coastal Squares - Roll twice

1-4

All others

1-3

During hours of darkness

-1

Fog/heavy rain

-1

Minus scores are cumulative.

Go to type of vessel(s) encountered table.

Plus one to dice roll if transiting squares adjacent to hostile country. Minus one if transiting squares adjacent to own country.

2d12

Civilian Vessel Encountered

0

Own national small civilian craft

1

Own national fishing boat

2

Own national merchantman *

3

Own national passenger liner or ferry *

4

Allied national fishing boat

5

Allied national merchantman *

6

Allied national passenger liner or ferry *

7

Neutral fishing boat

8

Neutral merchantman *

9

Neutral passenger liner or ferry *

10

Hostile national warship

11

Hostile national fishing boat

12

Hostile national merchantman *

13

Hostile national passenger liner or ferry *

In general fishing vessels from hostile powers were left alone to go about their business unless they were really cheeky and sailed close to the hostile shore. Even during WW2 some British boats still fished off the coasts of France. It's up to the player whether such boats are fired upon or captured, but the example of the Dogger Bank Incident should serve as a warning to what can go wrong.

* Roll 1d6: Score of 6 indicates the vessel is equipped with wireless. Go to chart to see if the vessel transmits an encounter message.

Nationality of vessel

Transmits on score of:

Own

6

Allied

5-6

Neutral

4-6

Hostile warships and wireless-equipped merchant vessels from a hostile power will automatically transmit a contact or mayday call. Warships will identify the type and course of the encountered enemy. Merchantmen will merely transmit an encounter with warships. Neutral warships will transmit an encounter message but it will be enciphered. All the hostile power will know is that the neutral ship(s) encountered something. Warship transmissions will be received automatically by their Admiralty. Merchant and neutral warship transmissions are picked up by the hostile power on a d6 score of 5-6. 

For the sake of completeness I've added a neutral warships table. It's up to the player again if there's a chance of a misidentification happening and what the consequences are.

1d12

Warship

1-5

Neutral national Destroyer, Auxiliary or Fleet Courier

6-8

Neutral national Cruiser

9-11

Neutral national Armoured Cruiser

11-12

Neutral national Battleship


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Pre-Dreadnought ~ Further operations

I'm shaping up the next scenario in the 1905 Moroccan Crisis series of linked games. This will involve three armoured cruisers, the two Prinz Adelbert class ACs SMS Prinz Adelbert and Friedrich Karl, and SMS Prinz Heinrich along with an escort of light cruisers and destroyers. The objective is to break out into the North Atlantic and commence commerce raiding on British and French shipping. 

Under this scenario the armoured cruiser force leaves Heligoland at dusk on the day of the Battle of the Humber. Security is absolute. Unlike the previous clash where British Admiralty intelligence intercepted German naval wireless traffic and was able to forewarn the fleet of the German move, the cruiser force received all orders via telegraph and fleet courier. 

At the same time a Royal Navy division from the Channel Squadron is on the move, destination Heligoland. Composed of four Royal Sovereign class battleships and escorts, its objective is to bombard and neutralise shore defences and destroy any enemy warships in the area. 

Green arrow: German plotted course. Red: British course.

To set things in context: The Royal Navy was already on a high state of alert following the October 21st 1904 Dogger Bank Incident where a Russian fleet transiting the North Sea opened fire on British fishing trawlers in the mistaken belief they were Japanese torpedo boats. Yes, quite. Although the Russian's profuse apology and compensation mollified British public opinion, the Russo-Japanese War is still in progress and the Royal Navy remains watchful against further 'incidents.'

I'm thinking of taking a leaf out of the Traveller SF rpg book by drawing up a chart of shipping encounters which both sides may come across en-route. There'll be a chance of a wireless equipped vessel - neutral or hostile - transmitting the coordinates of the encountering squadron to all and sundry. This may or may not give advanced warning of an approaching force.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Pre-Dreadnaughts moving again

Jim Jackaman's recent post on his 1/2400 Pre-Dreadnaught project inspired me to get my own project moving again. Issues with my laptop had stalled the production of ship record sheets on the Paint program for the Paul Hague rules I use. However, months turned off and isolated from the 'net has done wonders and the machine is quite functional again - hence these.

The four Siegfried-class coastal defence ships...

 And the four Royal Sovereign-class battleships.

I hope to get a game in sometime soon. Gardening season's upon us so it'll be as-and-when I can find time.


Saturday, April 2, 2022

To the Manor ~ Done!

'tis finished at last. I'm going to call this done. 

Camelot! Camelot! Camelot! (It's only a model...) Shush!

The roof is a print from a paper craft HO scale railway model, reduced slightly in scale and varnished. The design began as an American wooden shingle type roof, but looks sufficiently like a medieval stone tile pattern it'll do fine. The windows I left blank, painting them in with a dark brown shade to look more like a natural shadowy interior. The whole was given a coat of Future/Clear/Pledge/Whatever polish with some very diluted sepia and black ink to give it a weathered 'recent rainfall' look.

Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!

In the Lion Rampant rules this manor would count as 'Superb cover,' giving a defending unit bonuses for cover etc. Hopefully I'll get it into action in a game before long.

Friday, March 25, 2022

To the Manor Born ~ 5

Another bit done on my slow and unsteady progress to a finished fortified manor model.

The quoins are done, I spackled the edge of the base and added rudimentary battlement walkways to the rear of the walls. The sides of the gatehouse are done, too. The next step will be to finish the groundwork. After that, a spray of black undercoat and it'll be on to the main paint job. Onwards and upwards.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

To the Manor Born ~ 4

More progress with the manor build. The corbels are in along the underside of the gatehouse. I cut and shaped the base from the same former lawn sign material as the walls are made of. A section of pizza card was glued to the underside ready to take contouring. Thin card is used for the sturdy wooden gates. Iron studs along the planks will be painted or inked in later. The strange red splotch is down to an unattended paint brush rolling onto the model...

Based up, with the walls bent back to shape. I used E6000 adhesive for strength, but it takes time to set. The copious amount of hot glue residue is down to it failing to cool sufficiently in time to hold the plastic in place, necessitating another go-around. The fold in the wall's end and the outline of a squat tower on the right should give the impression of distance.

A bit of paper packing along the edge of the plastic should give a firm base for contouring. I'm thinking of adding a short wooden bridge in front of the gates. Thin white card represents ashlar stonework and covers the cuts in the main walls. Off cuts from making the stonework are glued to the walls in a semi random pattern to suggest individual stones. The faint yellow streaks on the walls beneath the gatehouse represent the rubble fill in the stumps of former gate tower walls.


Next up will be to finish the contouring then an undercoat of black paint.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

To the Manor Born ~ 3

A little more progress on the fortified manor build.

The half-timbered gatehouse is more or less complete. I'm debating whether to leave the windows as-is (glazed) or have them shuttered. 

My take on this build is that the manor was more heavily fortified at one time but the owner's desire for comfort led to certain modifications over the past few years. The gatehouse was rebuilt when a modest tower gave way to more living accommodation. With this update the original gate became offset beneath the structure. I'll add traces of the original tower in the wall.

The roof won't take that much work. I'm thinking of painting the tiles or using a railway modelling print rather than go to the effort of making individual tiles.

A side view showing how narrow the profile is. It won't take up a large footprint on the table. (The sides of the gatehouse will be covered to hide the evidence that I'm making some of this up as I go along!) The perimeter walls either side will be bent back to the same level as the rear of the structure then the whole mounted on a narrow base. I will add some detailing to the front, and may add a tower in outline form to the right hand wall to represent further defences along the wall.

This build is in the final stages. I have another project on the go at the moment, hinted at by the structure to the left of the bottom photo.


Monday, March 14, 2022

To the Manor Born ~ 2

Some progress with the new building project. I have a kind of Stokesay Castle, Shropshire, look in mind. 

It's taking shape. Behind is the basic sketch I did to show roughly what I'm aiming at.


The crenelations and the gateway are marked out then cut. The half-timbered gatehouse structure-to-be is cut and laid on the wall to check for fit.

It was at this stage I decided to raise the height of the gatehouse roof quite substantially. Another piece of card and foamcore are taped in place while the glue dries. This orange section will be the support for the roof and form the rear of the gatehouse.

On to the half-timbered gatehouse. 2mm strips of cereal box card make the main vertical timbers. For the sake of cutting a corner or two I may draw in the crossbars and other bits. More to come.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

To the Manor Born ~ 1

...and some library loot.

If you haven't already seen it, Pete Barfield (aka 'PanzerKaput') has a nice series of posts on building a fortified manor house for Lion Rampant and other medieval era games. This got me thinking about making something similar for my own collection. 

Not having a lot of storage space means I have to condense things a little. I turned for inspiration to the model railway/railroading hobby, where 'flats' and 'semi-flats' is a common method of representing buildings without having them take up large footprints on the layout. In essence the building is shown with only one full size wall, the others are truncated or suggested at.

After flipping through a few railway hobby magazines and looking up a number of YouTube videos I think I have the idea of how to go about making a manor house for the tabletop. It'll be designed to stand on one edge of the tabletop to represent a retinue's sally point.

It's early days so I'm only at the sketch stage at the moment. For construction material I'll use an off cut from a yard sign. For those not in the US these signs are made of corrugated plastic designed to have metal wickets inserted into the corrugations so they stand free in a front yard. They're generally used for yard sales, by realtors, construction contractors/builders and to show political affiliation. It's tough, durable and easily cut. I'm thinking of making the body of the wall and a base out of this stuff, with cardboard for details.

Our local library has its twice-annual books sale this week, so my wife and I scored a few goodies this morning from a well-attended event. The railroad modelling magazines are useful for tips and tricks - even if one dates to 1968! Prof. Ian Beckett's book promises to be a good read on the last Great War battle where the commanders had a chance of conducting open maneuver warfare.

More on the manor project as I find time.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Lion Rampant ~ The End at Cockham

With Friar Balsam and his copy of the Passion of Saint Tibulus (illustrated edition) safely in the care of his foot serjeants, Sir Oswald de Patton led his men-at-arms into action against Sir Jean to buy the serjeants time to retire with their charge.

The serjeants begin to retire from the field as Sir Oswald leads his men up the road and into combat.

The men of Sir Jean's retinue were making good practice against their enemy. Sir Jean counter-charged Sir Oswald's men-at-arms with his own with every expectation of continuing the good work.

However, fate decided otherwise...

A short but vicious fight broke out on the approach to Cockham, the air filling with the hammering of metal on metal and the screams of men and horses. After a man fell on each side the opponents took stock of the situation. 

Sir Oswald's men were still full of fight. Sir Jean's men... were not. With shouts of suavez-vous! they had it away on their heels, fleeing back up the road to whence they came, leaving Sir Oswald and his men standing pleased but baffled.

Er..?

Seeing their leader fleeing the field had a dampening effect on the rest of Sir Jean's retinue. They stayed their hands, allowing Sir Oswald and his men to retire unmolested from the battle. Friar Balsam and his precious charge are safe.

* * *

That was unexpected. Sir Jean's retinue really piled on the pressure throughout the encounter, causing more casualties than they received, yet when it came to the crunch Sir Jean and his men were paper tigers. There's not much that can be done with a roll of two 1's on the Courage test. 

With no other of his bands within charging distance of the serjeants escorting Friar Balsam, I called the game at that point. An odd ending, but satisfying.

 

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