In 1985 I sold off my large collection of Medieval wargames figures, to fund my interest in the Ancients wargaming period. A
substantial part of this were my Lancastrian and Yorkist armies for the Wars of the Roses, using the old Table Top Games
'Lance' rules. In the 27 years since I have been tempted many times to get back into Medieval gaming. For sheer colour and
spectacle of the combatants it takes a lot of beating. In particular the look of the Wars of the Roses period, with its masses of
plate armour, colourful liveries and banners has much to offer.
When our gaming group got back into Ancient and Medieval gaming a couple of years ago with the discovery of the excellent
'Impetus' rules from Dadi and Piombi, two of our gaming group; Max and Clive, began to dust off their existing collections
and add new figures. Amongst these were several of the Peter Pig figures for use with their Bloody Barons rules. Now, I
must admit while not being a fan of their rules, Peter Pig figures are by far my favourite manufacturer of 15mm wargames
figures. Martin is a hugely talented sculptor who has a real flair for character and period 'feel' which many other 15mm
manufacturers lack. Only really in 28mm do you find packs of such quality with comparable character. The Wars of the
Roses range of Peter Pig figures, along with their AWI, are for me are the stars of the show. Apart from the usual packs of
knights, archers and billmen, the range features packs intended as markers which are really useful to for the diorama
approach to basing which Impetus encourages. Amongst these are numerous casualty packs along with those for indicating
disordered units and those with extra arrows. In addition such gems as men fighting on whilst injured, and amusing figures
including a man seemingly addressing a severed head, and a soldier with a peg leg, have endless potential. They even
make a really useful 'dead cart' with a chap collecting bodies.
My 2012 project was only supposed to be WW2 Winter warfare on the Eastern Front. However, when I received a valued
customer hefty discount voucher from Peter Pig it tipped me over the edge. As I didn't need any more ACW, AWI or WW2
figures, what was I realistically to do? ;-)
As I've already mentioned Clive and Max have sizeable Impetus armies for the Wars of the Roses, and have been having a lot
of fun with them. I decided initially I'd make a generic army, though with Yorkist leanings. However by getting at least one
pack of all the Peter Pig codes, with several packs of the more numerous billmen and bowmen, I worked out I should infact
have enough for two 400pt Impetus armies. Adding all the options means that in the end I should have two armies in excess
of 600pts each. So much for a small project, LOL.
For reading material I searched in the loft and dug out my old copy of Philip A. Haigh's excellent book 'The Military
Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses'. This is a brilliant book and a must for anyone interested in the period. I'm lucky that I
studied the period for my undergrad course in History with the eminent Professor Michael Hicks so there is a lot of
background knowledge in my head, somewhere. Its a fascinating period with lots of scope for intrigue.
Although my Impetus Ancients use the standard DBx style basing I decided this time to base 'properly' for Impetus using the
excellent bases available from Warbases. Flags are easily available free on the internet from Warflag or from the Grimsby
Wargames Society website. I mostly used some from Freezywater Flags courtesy of Vexillia Ltd, and some of the generic
ones made by The Square available direct, or from Peter Pig.
Baggage and camp followers were mostly purchased from Ancient & Modern Army Supplies (Donnington Miniatures), who do
a really nice and varied range of useful figures and items such as weapons racks, Farrier, Field Blacksmith, and some
captured prisoners. Tents are to be the excellent Baueda ones available in the UK from Magister Militum amongst others.
The plan was to paint a unit per day, with the whole project expecting to take just short of two months to complete.
Fortunately as Clive and Max had armies already I could try out my tactical skills, or lack of, pretty much immediately
keeping my enthusiasm as I painted prolifically.
Looking back, this is the thirty-seventh army of my thirty-five year wargaming hobby and I approached it with my personal
tried and tested formula for completing an army. Baggage, Camp followers and camp first, Generals and Commanders next,
then mounted, artillery and skirmishers. I find that these are distractions and so always get them out of the way first before I
start on the mass of the infantry.
I worked on at least a unit per day, five days a week on average until the armies were completed. All told there is almost 900
figures in total.
Pictures of my figure collection will be found below. New stuff will be added as it is finished so watch this space.
Good King Edward IV (Huzzah!)
Peter Pig make a lovely King character pack. You get a mounted King, one on foot and a dead one also. As that pathetic figure of a King, Henry
VI seldom went near a battlefield with a sword in hand, this means either Edward IV, Richard III or the upstart Henry Tudor, later Henry VII (Boo
hiss). I plumped for Edward IV. Flags are by Freezywater. The mounted standard on the left being Edward IV as Duke of York, and on the right,
on foot, that of Edward IV at the Battle of Towton in 1461.
I agonised long and hard over whether to use historical commanders, or more generic ones for my Wars of the Roses collection. As my troops
originally would on occasion need to be fielded as Lancastrians, despite my Yorkist loyalties, I went for generic initially. Once I'd decided to
build two armies however, I then painted up historical commanders. Above mounted from left to right are John Touchet, Lord Audley,(cool flag!)
Edmund, Lord Grey of Ruthin, and John Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. On foot are Henry, Viscount Bourchier, Earl of Essex. The flags are
removable allowing generic standards to be used instead. I chose Lord Grey of Ruthin as he notoriously turned his coat at the Battle of
Northampton in 1460, resulting in a Lancastrian defeat. In wargame terms he could be used to indicate an unreliable commander for either side.
Margaret of Anjou, aka 'Madge the Bitch' as I refer to her, was wife and Queen of King Henry VI and de facto leader of the Lancastrian faction
during the Wars of the Roses. Donnington Miniatures, (Ancient and Modern Army Supplies) make miniatures for several of the leaders during
the Wars of the Roses including the bitch and her lame husband of a King. I simply had to have something on table to hate. In all likelihood this
will never actually lead a unit into battle but having it on table gives me something to strive for capturing.
Also shown above are some more Lancastrian commanders. Left to right Sir John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, Thomas, Lord Roos and
Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, the latter actually a distant ancestor of mine. Below are some Lancastrian commanders on foot; Sir Edmund
Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset and Sir Henry Percy 3rd Earl of Northumberland. All flags are Freezywater Flags which are absolutely gorgeous.
Having a nice looking camp on table to defend is an essential part of an army for me. Unfortunately a camp is an oft neglected part of many
wargamer's armies. This is a missed opportunity for It offers a chance to tell a story, set a scene or provide a bit more character to an army.
Some are items that I used above are for my Impetus Ancients armies.
Here and elderly couple enjoy a mug of ale whilst keeping an eager eye on the rather splendid hog roast cooking over hot coals.
Whilst here a squire oils his Lord's sword in readiness for the battle. The weapons rack contains some nasty looking polearms, the squires
Sallet, and the nag is laden with his master's lances. Nearby a tumbril cart stands with some more weapons and supplies.
Peter Pig make a rather nice dead cart, accompanied here by Essex Miniatures monks. The camp element features two prisoners tethered by a
fence viewed by a staring woman and her daughter. Elsewhere, an old lady sews her Lord's underwear outside his tent.
The lovely Peter Pig model above of a heavy bombard looks very purposeful. In actuality early artillery was and is pretty useless but looks nice
on the table top. I added a waving figure from the PP Disordered marker pack cheering on the crew. I decided to livery the crew in red. Below
are bombards from Irregular Miniatures (left) and Donnington Miniatures (right), also crewed by Peter Pig figures.
The Peter Pig light bombards are about as cute as small artillery pieces can ever be. I decided to have the crew in unliveried garb and added a
command figure from the PP Levy command pack.
Below are a light bombard and organ gun, both by Donnington Miniatures, again crewed by Peter Pig artillerymen, one with a smoke blackened
face, and a spare crossbowman.
The Yorkists hired numbers of continental mercenary handgunners from Burgundy and the Low Countries. I have the maximum three skirmish
units that Impetus permits as skirmishers add a certain something to games and a degree of flexibility. People who know me will tell you of my
thing for light troops, whatever the period. I have finished one unit in the traditional blue and white, with the red cross of Burgundy and a second
in a lovely Murrey (claret) colour with the final unit in unliveried.
A very useful, nay essential, element of medieval armies, Currours, or Scourers, were a lighter style of cavalry. I chose to depict them as five
figures on an Impetus unit base. I use four of the same figures for Hobilar and Border Staves light cavalry bases, and seven knights to a heavy
Using the same figures as with the Currours but in an even looser formation, and using only four figures per unit to indicate light cavalry (CL) in
Mounted Nobles and Men-At-Arms
I confess I don't really care whether mounted Nobles and Men-at-Arms actually had caparisoned horses in the Wars of the Roses nor whether
they actually fought much from horseback. Every Medieval wargamer worth his salt should love such knights.
Peter Pig make some lovely knights in their Wars of the Roses range. I used their Mounted Bodyguards, mixed with Household Cavalry,
Household Cavalry Command, Mounted Generals and finally their lovely Casualties pack. I added some arrows stuck in the ground and in the
casualties made from brush bristles with green stuff flights added.
Surprisingly this is actually quite easy. You make a small thin sausage of green stuff, cutting off a small piece, and then flattening it. Press the
bristle into the green stuff and allow to set overnight. Once dried and hardened you can trim the green stuff to arrow flight shaped. It is simply a
case of making a hole in the figure with a sharp pin and then cutting the bristle arrow to the required length and gluing it in place. Not too fiddly
really and worth it. I made over a hundred arrows in about half an hour. I need a load more for decorating the rest of my bases.
Again its worth mentioning that the standards on these bases are all generic and produced by Nigel Pell at The Square, and available direct or
via Peter Pig.
Here's a shot of all three of my Mounted Nobles and Men-at-Arms bases for Impetus, being led by my King Edward marker. In all likelihood they'll
probably never be seen on the tabletop together but they do look dramatic.
Dismounted Nobles and Men-at-Arms
Nobles and Men-at-Arms in the Wars of the Roses usually dismounted to fight on foot in battle. I used a mix of packs for my three Impetus units.
Peter Pig packs include Household Fighting, Household Command, Generals on Foot, Bodyguard on Foot, and Household Casualties. I
decided to indicate units of Nobles and Men-at-Arms using standards of the long tapering variety. This makes them much easier to spot on the
tabletop where heavily armoured bills can often be mistaken for them.
Above are the Lancastrians of Sir Thomas Courtenay, 6th Earl of Devon, King Henry VI and Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.
Below are the Yorkists of Sir William, Lord Hastings and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. As with all my units flags are
removable and so the identities of the nobles can be changed at will to suit different scenarios.
With all of my foot units the intention is to make each unit unique made up by individual poses. I used a bit of artistic licence and added a few
more home made arrows to the casualties and also sprinkled liberally about the bases.
During the Wars of the Roses the quality of the Shire/Levy units varied from quite good troops to a bit of a rabble. Important towns often liveried
the men giving them a more uniform look. However, I made a conscious decision at the planning stage of my army that my Shire/Levy units
would look very much like a bit of a rabble. I am not a fan of overly bright colours on my wargames figures. Some people like bright colours
which 'pop'. Right or wrong, I prefer a more 'natural' look. Whilst I appreciate that Medieval dyes could often produce bright varied colours,
these could fade very quickly and colour fastness was often a preserve of the social elite. These being perhaps from the lower strata of Medieval
society, I went for a very subdued palette with lots of greens, browns and beige with a fair bit of madder or red. What I tend to do when painting
armour on Wars of the Roses figures is usually paint the lower class soldiers wearing darkened armour, with the social and military elite wearing
more highly polished types often with gold adornments. The Shire levies have that much darker armour.
I have three units of nine billmen and six units of nine bowmen. Once again I went for variety of pose including, not only Peter Pig's 'Levy' packs,
but also a few figures from their 'Retinue' and even the odd one from their 'Household' packs. There are also a lot of casualties included, and a
fair few character figures too such as a chap talking to a severed head, and a man with a peg leg. Each unit base also includes a figure carrying
extra quivers of arrows plus I even included a couple of Essex Miniatures praying monks as these units will need all the help they can get on the
tabletop. The overall impression I went for was one of variety and interaction between figures to create interesting units. I hope I've achieved
this. It certainly makes units more interesting to paint up. All my units/bases have their own flag. The Shire levy flags are generic allowing them
to fight for either side with each unit having its own distinctive flag.
I just love the chap above, at the back (centre, rear) talking to a severed head. Magnificent little sculpts like that really make an army for me.
Retinue foot were usually the liveried retainers and 'professional' soldiers of the Magnates and nobles, greater and lesser. As such there is a
greater degree of uniformity, at least in colour or livery, if not in equipment. I have nine units of nine bills and twenty-two units of nine bows in
my armies. There is much variety in pose, each unit being composed of nine individual figures, with a greater emphasis on figures actively
fighting, and casualty figures are used much less. The armour is lighter in colour than the Shire/Levy foot, but darker than that I use on my
nobles and men-at-arms.
The Yorkists above come from the retinues of (left to right) Lord Grey of Ruthin, Lord Hastings, Earl of Essex, John, Lord Wenlock, Edward IV,
Edward as Duke of York, and as King Edward IV, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, Humphrey Stafford of Southwyke, Edward IV, George Nevill,
Lord Bergavenny, Duke of Norfolk, and last but by no means least the Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.
The Lancastrians shown below (left to right) are the men of Robert, Lord Hungerford, Duke of Somerset, Duke of Exeter, Earl of
Northumberland, King Henry VI, Thomas Talbot, Viscount Lisle, Earl of Devon and Duke of Buckingham. Again most of the flags are by
Where possible I use a simple livery flag for Retinue archers, if one is commerically available, and a Heraldic banner for Retinue Billmen. Below
are the Yorkist Retinue bills of the Duke of Norfolk, Earl of Warwick, Lord Hastings, Edward Plantagenet as Earl of March and Viscount Bourchier.
The Lancastrians retinue bills below are liveried in the colours of Lords Roos and Clifford, Dukes of Buckingham and Exeter.
The Impetus army lists allow for the Yorkists to include two units of Continental Pikemen in their army. These were usually Burgundian supplied
Low Countries, German or even Swiss. Having owned large Macedonian, Pontic, Italian Wars and French Wars of Religion armies in my dim and
distant past I suppose I have always had a weakness for pike armed troops. That said, I've not owned any in over 15 years having sold off the
armies mentioned. The chance to paint up some more pikemen was too good an opportunity to miss.
I decided to cram the unit bases with figures as I only need two units' worth plus I feel this looks better on the table and more representative of
the nature of pike fighting. Each unit consists of sixteen figures and I included a couple of handgun armed figures on the flanks of both units
just because I thought it might look interesting. In fact I almost decided to base the figures on slightly larger depth bases to allow me to put
some screening handgun figures in there, but changed my mind at the last moment. In Impetus up to three pike units can form 'large' units.
Unfortunately however, there are only two pike armed units permissible in the Yorkist army list.
However, I found that in the Yorkist Pretender list in Extra Impetus 3 three pike units are allowed, so I bought an painted a third unit.
Being composed of 'Johnny Foreigner' types I decided, rightly or wrongly, to make these more colourful than my units to date. There are lots of
reds, yellow and white, with matching hose. Several figures are in the white and blue livery of the Duchy of Burgundy. Now, I know that it is
highly unlikely that troops would wear such livery when not serving the Duke directly, but to be honest it looks really nice, especially with the red
saltire of Burgundy blazon added. For flags, I decided a couple of simple striped ones would suffice. I'm really please how these turned out and
I'm now considering buying even more pike to make Scottish allies for the Lancastrians.
In the Impetus lists the Lancastrians are permitted two units of T Mercenary Crossbows.
Being 'Johnny Foreigners' again I made them fairly colourful, adding a few casualty figures for variety. The flags are generic ones from Pig.
I had four figures left over so decided to make up a skirmish unit, classing them as Crossbow B. These are not in the official Impetus
Lancastrian list per se, but what the hell? If I've got 'em I'll use 'em.
I took a few posed photos to show what the armies are beginning to look like now they are nearing completion. To be honest I already have
enough finished now for two 500pt armies for Impetus and more are on the way as I get all the options and yet another wargaming project
The main thing, is that I am really enjoying painting the army. Often starting a new army is a daunting prospect, and for some people sheer
drudgery. After doing some more drab WW2 recently its so nice to get a chance to paint up something colourful though. I also find it much
easier to paint units which have a distinctive character and tell a story in their figure composition. Fortunately the sculpting by Martin at Peter
Pig and the Impetus set of rules make this an easy and attractive task.
Up to two units of Welsh Spearmen can be chosen for the Impetus Lancastrian Army of 1455-1477. Peter Pig don't make any figures suitable
really so I decided to try out Donnington 'New Era' castings.
I used figures listed as Low Countries spearmen and pikemen , with cut down pikes, from their Medieval range, plus a few unarmoured Welsh
Spearmen from the 100 Years War range. Billmen and standard bearers are from the Wars of the Roses range though there are even a couple of
Irregular Miniatures figures in the unit mix. The Donnington figures are nice and chunky, reasonably detailed and paint up nicely. The figures
are just slightly taller than the Peter Pig figures, but its hardly noticeable on the table. The only thing I REALLY disliked about the Donnington
figures is that it is necessary to drill out their hands to take the spears. For me life is too short to go about drilling out hands in 15mm figures.
Fortunately I only needed two units for my army. It would definitely put me off ordering some more though.
Welsh flags are by Freezywater and suitable for the Battle of Mortimer's Cross. I've used those for Owen Tudor and Sir John Skydmore's for my
Commanders on Foot
Flagged up as John Lord Scrope of Bolton, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. The Earl of Warwick is
wearing the red surtout with white saltire of the Neville family. Flags are removable allowing them to adopt other identities.
Irish mercenaries fought notably at Mortimer's Cross, Bosworth and Stoke Field, plus also Perkin Warbeck's rebellion angainst Henry VII.
Lancastrian, Tudor and Yorkist Pretender army lists in the Extra Impetus 3 allow for up to six units of skirmishing Irish Kern. Kern were javelin,
or dart, armed skirmishers and bring a degree of flexibility to a Wars of the Roses army, with a much needed ability to deal with difficult terrain.
Peter Pig don't make Irish figures in their Wars of the Roses range, though I live in hope one day that Martin Goddard will finish this range with
Irish and indeed Welsh and Scottish figures too, which are sorely needed.
I used Freikorps figures available from QRF Miniatures being true 15mm figures and therefore compatible with Peter Pig figures. Irish troops
traditionally wore the Leine shirt, dyed saffron. Lack of colour fastness, and general wear an tear, allow for a variety of tan and beige colours. I
also used some figures sold as early Irish in tight knee length breeches, often striped, and sleeveless jackets for a bit of variety, and the odd
figure Galloglaich or Gallowglass in mail.
Bonnachts were light infantry armed with javelins and axes fighting in a loose order, but not skirmishers as such. They were mercenaries
billeted on villagers in Ireland under the Buonnacht system, where their anglicised name derives from.
I used some of the Kern figures and the odd Gallowglass but the majority are axe armed. Loose fitting leine and tunics are mostly worn, with the
occasional cape and some tight fitted breeches. I have used eight figures in each of my Bonnacht units.
I'm so pleased how well the Freikorps figures turned out and fitted in with my Peter Pig ones that I have ordered six units worth of 14th/15th
Century Scottish pikemen as Lancastrian allies.
Lancastrian and Richard III armies have access to large numbers of foot described as Border Foot. These seem to have mostly been armed with
a variety of polearms and roughly equivalent to the Shire Levy Billmen.
From an Impetus army points perspective they are cheap, plentiful and can be formed into large units better ensuring that they will survive the
attentions of the enemy archers whilst advancing to contact. The above Borderers are led by the Earl of Northumberland and feature generic
banners. I painted red crosses on a few as no doubt veterans of the later stages of the Hundred Years War.
During the Wars of the Roses there was considerable involvement on the Lancastrian side by the Scots. The Earl's of Douglas and Angus
accompanied Margaret of Anjou on her 'invasion' of England from Scotland in 1461. The army list in Extra Impetus 3 allows for a Scottish ally,
though not with Welsh and Irish troops in the same army, with two units of Men-at-Arms allowed.
Having had a good experience of Freikorp 15 with the Irish recently I decided to use figures from their Medieval Scottish and Wars of the Roses
ranges for my Scots. My Scottish Men-At-Arms come from pack MS17 Flodden plate armoured pikeman, and WOR09 Dismounted Men at
Arms/Knights. As such these figures are wearing the de rigeur arms and armour for the well turned out Men-at-Arms of the mid-late 15th Century.
The Scottish Ally-General flies the Freezywater banner of the George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus, whilst that of the Men-at-Arms is actually from
the Hundred Years War of Alexander de Seaton's.
The weapon of choice for the late Medieval Scottish footsoldier was still the long spear or pike which had seen victories at Stirling Bridge 1297,
Bannockburn 1314 and Otterburn 1388. The mid-late 15th Century pike seems to have been about 12 feet in length, not the 15 to 18 foot pike of
the Swiss, so when using Freikorp15 Scottish pikemen from their pack MS13 14th/15th Century Pikeman, I chopped it down a bit. From what I've
read the Scots used a lot of armour considered obsolete elsewhere in Europe but still affording good protection for the rank and file. Peter Pig
make lovely pikemen but these are really suitable for Burgundian supplied pikemen from the Low Countries and Germany. The Freikorp pack
includes figures in closed and open fronted Bascinets,Kettle Hats, Aventails or mail hoods, and some figures shielded giving great variety which
is what I like in my units. I mixed in some command figures from the Late Feudal command pack.
The flag is another Freezywater one, though for the Hundred Years War, that of the Earl of Lennox. A common feature of Scottish heraldry is the
Saltire. Several figures are shown wearing a saltire on helmet and/or shields, plus as a livery badge too. It helps make the figures look more
Up to six units of Scottish Pikemen can be fielded in the Impetus Lancastrian list. Pikes can create large units of up to 2 units each. In addition,
you can create large units with Nobles in the front rank, as in the picture below. In this case the Basic Unit Value (VBU) = 5 and Impetus factor
=2, and the whole large unit is considered to be armed with pikes.
This makes the Scottish Ally really quite flexible and very useful allowing you to field a total of four Schiltrons. The unit of Scottish pike to the
fore in the picture below flies the Hundred Years War banner of Sir David Barclay, whilst that to the rear is of the Earl of Erroll.
I'm halfway through the Scots with one unit of Men-at-Arms and three of pikemen completed. More pictures as soon as I have finished the rest.
More Pictures Shortly......
Wars of the Roses