Blog Archive

Monday, September 4, 2023

Ruckus-A great Day in Nottingham


It is always a pleasure to visit WI tower, where there is an enthusiasm for the hobby that is both contagious and inspiring. I was there for a meeting to discuss the progress of Ruckus  with WI Project Manager James Griffiths and Editor Dan Faulcenbridge and we very quickly got to talking about timelines, contents and development plans.

I was surprised and delighted when the Callan boys turned up shortly after the meeting had started and of course we played a game! Andy, a sworn Lancastrian, took Horrible Sir Henry Holland’s Retinue and Ian played with part time Yorkist Sir John de Barre. We played “Lost in the Fog” as I wanted to show off one of the more unusual scenarios but retrospectively was not my wisest decision. The initial random deployment unfortunately produced a situation where the spears of each Retinue were adjacent to each other and opposite their opponents. This combined with reduced archery due to heavy Fog and then a rainstorm that lasted three turns resulted in a some very cagey manoeuvring and it was not until turn ten that the first shots were exchanged.

By this time all the spears had joined up and both Retinues climbed the rocky ridge at the centre of the table where a mass melee occurred which Ian won convincingly, killing both enemy Squires and five Retainers. A luckless Sir Henry Holland, decided discretion was the better part of valour and quit the field of battle


Undoubted hero of the day was Ian’s Squire, Garret Skinpole, who took out both Lancastrian Squires and three Retainers and whose name for some reason caused revulsion in James who decided we should none of us mention his name again which, of course, resulted in him being mentioned in every following sentence. Oh, the wit of wargamers, it was very amusing, but I guess you had to be there to appreciate it’s subtlety

I suspect I should have chosen the introductory scenario “Get Off My Land!” which would have forced the Retinues to deploy as Spears and be more aggressive as they have to take and hold three objectives across the table.

And so, to business…

We established a timeline which may be subject to change.

In December’s issue will probably be a Designers Notes article which has already been written describing the thought processes behind the creation of Ruckus and an introduction to the game.

February 24’s issue, or thereabouts, will feature a selection of stl’s of the Ruckus figures and so will each issue following this one for a few issues. This or a subsequent issue will also carry an article on the game that Mark and I played at WI on our previous visit.

May 24 The Big One! This issue will contain the free game of Ruckus in a much-edited form. The current game has about 18,000 words, this one will weigh in at less than half of that. In order to get it down to that size, we will have to lose most of the scenarios, the Steeds Chapter, and the Campaign rules. The stl’s with this issue will bring the total number up to enough to provide for two Retinues.

There are also plans to produce Ruckus terrain, objectives, counters, and cards. We discussed the possibility of a deck of 52 Individual skill cards as well as Character and Retainer cards all of which will have pictures and profiles on!

  For each stl there will eventually be a metal figure too. Quite an incredible package

  It is quite humbling and flattering that they are investing so heavily in my game! I am actually a little overwhelmed and keep expecting to wake up from a dream.

Left-Project manager James demonstrating his great technical skills to get an overhead shot.

We also discussed the name which was always going to be a decision between Mayhem and Ruckus. A bit of Market Research by searching Board Game Geek and Wargames Vault revealed 333 games with Mayhem in the title and only 12 with Ruckus. Both Dan and James while accepting that Ruckus is not a contemporary word felt that it was better to use a distinctive title and one that is less likely to get confused with other games and so the game will be called…

Never Mind the Billhooks here’s Ruckus! (Ruckus to be in a font four times the size of the rest)

Tag line “The Billhooks Skirmish Game”

I would like the cover art for the title to be in the style of the old 2000 AD comics with Ruckus leaping off the page!

Saturday, August 19, 2023

A Welsh English Retinue at Agincourt


The Welsh English Retinue!

I wanted to do something a little different for my English Hundred Year War Retinue and the Welsh Archers of Brecon under their Knight Daffyd Gam provided the Inspiration!

By all accounts Davy Gam was something of a nutter, a blonde or Red-Haired, One-Eyed maniac who always led from the front and was involved in many fights from his teens until his death at the age of 64 in the mud a blood and gore that was Agincourt.

  This figure comes from Perry Miniatures Agincourt English Army. The head is from West Wind, an Arthurian I think. I like its manic shouting face, the huge teeth and mop of hair! Of course he would have worn a helmet in battle but in hie eagerness to get involved with his hot blooded Celtic genes screaming charge, the loon has charged in before he is completely dressed, no wonder he got killed!

The White of his surcoat is Citadel Screaming Skull as a base coat, washed with a mix 70/30 Citadel Zhandri Dust and Seraphim Sepia then gradually highlighted by adding Vallejo Ivory to the base before a final highlight of Ivory mixed with white 70/30.

   This is pretty much a standard recipe for me for white cloth

He has his heraldic device, Argent a Lion Sable, Rampant, armed Gules, displayed on his chest and back.

Ruckus allows considerable variety in the English Retinue and I have gone for the Squires as Captains of Archers option to increase the units shooting power.  Here Davy’s son Morgan and his Son in  Law to be William ap Thomas are equipped with longbows at the expense of some armour. 

I was thinking of differencing Morgan’s arms with a Red Label but I am not sure how established the rules of heraldry were at this time so I left it. I can always paint it in later.

  These are both from Perrys Agincourt, with the wrapped bow from the French Mounted knights box

Madoc, on the left, wears kettle helm and jack and is sporting the red cross of St George.  The Agincourt campaign is probably the first time that the St George cross was associated with a national identity for English armies. In Ruckus his spear and shield combination grant the traits Support and Fend.

In the centre is Eynon ap Gruffydh, man at arms and on the left, Ithel, another Spear and Shield wielding warrior. 

Ruckus allows considerable variation in the English Retinue and it can be fielded as  a standard Ruckus unit with a captain two fully armoured squires three retainer equipped with spear and shield or bills. It can also go for a “Full English” the “Agincourt Retinue” with captain and a man at arms in full armour, two less well protected captains of archers and eight archers

It was Henrys decree that all should bear the red cross of St George in the form of a badge

  I have based the unit with the mud of the ploughed field with some dead, sparse wintery foliage


Morfran, Idris and Ivor

The notorious two finger salute is supposed to have originated from Agincourt although there seems to be little evidence to support this.

  Legend has it that the French would cut off three fingers from the right hand of any archers they captured. Whatever the truth, there are quite few figures available performing the Agincourt salute. This one is a resin print and was given as a freebie to all that attended Mister B-I-G Billhooks. I think it is from Andrew Medbury

Madyn, Meurig and Hwfa

The Middle of these three is from my friend Martin Brook at Ragged Staff Minis an excellent range of sculpts. I had not noticed his missing sword until after I had taken the pics! 

Gwogan, Hywel and Cynddelw.

  These three are modelled as archers equipped for melee, like all the other figures, their weapons and armour, like the other rank and file, are rusted and grimy from the bad weather and mud.

I am quite pleased with my new Retinue and can’t wait to get them into a game!

Davy Gam Welsh Hero of Agincourt


I wanted my English Hundred Years War Retinue to be distinctive, characterful, and based in history, but not to be one of the well-known heroes, the main leaders. I really like the illustrations depicting the Welsh men of Cheshire, Flint, Shropshire, and all points West in their distinctive green and white livery, particularly those by Gerry Embleton in Osprey’s English Longbowman 1330-1515 Warrior series 11.

Most accounts of Agincourt agree that there were some 500 Welsh archers present at the battle or approximately 10% of the army.

  A little investigation brought me to Dafydd ap Llewelyn ap Hywel known as Daffyd or Davy Gam or Cam, Gam meaning One eyed, cross eyed or possibly squint eyed, a real hero, a puissant fighter and at 64 an accomplished veteran of many campaigns.

  There are many legends that surround this hardened veteran…that he died defending Henry V at Agincourt, that he was knighted on the field as he was dying, that he is Fluellen in Shakespeare’s Henry V, that Gam became the English word gammy, referring to his gammy eye!

And there are many sources on the internet all making various claims concerning his adventures, some of which claim as fact stories that are in other places declared to be unsubstantiated, so what follows is a consensus account based on all the known facts with an occasional nod to the myth.

Dafydd Gam was born in 1351 in the town of Brecon, which was the seat of the Welsh borough of Brecknock. He was the son of Lord Llewellyn of Pen-pont and a member of the Welsh lower nobility, or uchelwr. His was a distinguished family that could trace its ancestral roots back to Cradoc of the Strong Arm, a 5th-century Romanized Celt. Dafydd was “a short, red-haired man with an unprepossessing appearance, but an affable—if outspoken—personality”.

Regarded by Welsh nationalists as a traitor, Gam is regarded as a hero in England; his reputation has waxed and waned with those of his enemy Owain Glyndŵr and his ally King Henry V.

Dafydd Gam was a member of one of the most prominent Welsh families in Breconshire (though the county did not exist in Dafydd's time). His recent pedigree was 'Dafydd Gam ap Llywelyn ap Hywel Fychan ap Hywel ap Einion Sais', but beyond that the family claimed an ancient Welsh lineage going back to the Kings of Brycheiniog (specifically, from Bleddyn ap Maenarch, the king who Bernard de Neufmarché supposedly displaced. Dafydd Gam was the grandson of Hywel Fychan, who held the manor of Parc Llettis near Llanover in Monmouthshire near Abergavenny.

As a young man Dafydd became embroiled in a violent feud with his cousin Lord Richard Fawr of Slwch. It is not known what caused the quarrel, but it culminated in a duel on Brecon High Street. Daffyd killed Richard and had to pay a large fine to avoid capital punishment, however, with vendettas rumoured to be brewing against him, he fled to Herefordshire. There, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose Welsh holdings included Monmouth and Brecknock, accepted Dafydd’s oath of fealty and placed the fiery Welshman in his retinue of household troops

In John of Gaunt’s service, Davy Gam saw action Iin a three year crusade in Spain and was appointed an adviser to Henry Bolingbroke, the duke’s eldest son and heir. . Wounded during the fighting, Dafydd returned to Wales to convalesce after the duke’s triumphant return to England. Though 20 years had passed since his self-imposed exile, Dafydd remained too apprehensive to go back to Brecknock just yet, settling instead in adjacent Monmouth, near Henry’s residence.

According to later family tradition, it was during this time that Dafydd Gam became friend and confidant to Bolingbroke’s son, Henry of Monmouth, the future Prince Hal. The boy looked up to the older Welshman, who spent much time with him and helped to tutor him. When Bolingbroke was banished to Ireland by King Richard II in late 1398, Dafydd was one of the few entrusted with the guardianship of the younger Henry. John of Gaunt died in February 1399, and his estates were confiscated by King Richard soon after. Incensed at this repudiation of his rightful inheritance, Bolingbroke invaded England in July and usurped the throne at the end of September. Now Dafydd found himself affiliated with a royal household.

The early years of King Henry IV’s reign were beset by internal disorders, the most notable being a nationalist rebellion in Wales, fomented by disaffected Welsh landowner Owain Glyndwr. Many commoners flocked to Glyndwr’s banner, but the allegiance of the gentry was divided. The aging Dafydd Gam was in a state of semiretirement by then, but as the war with Glyndwr dragged on, with repeated invasions of Wales failing to subdue the rebels, the king recalled Dafydd into active service as an adviser to Prince Hal. With Dafydd’s help the adolescent prince led a series of successful raids into North Wales throughout the spring of 1403. That summer, the influential Henry Percy of Northumberland, aka Harry Hotspur, defected to Glyndwr’s side, and King Henry moved quickly to prevent the two factions from joining forces. Hotspur’s army was intercepted at Shrewsbury in July, and a fierce battle ensued on the 16th. At a critical juncture, Dafydd allegedly advised the prince to send in his division of men to attack Hotspur’s exposed flank, resulting in a decisive victory for the crown.

Daffyd was later implicated in a plot to assassinate Glyndwr for which he spent some time in prison, released he rejoined Prince Hal in time to participate in the battles of Grosmont in March 1405 and Pwll Melyn in May, both defeats for Glyndwr.

By 1409, Glyndwr’s rebellion was all but over, and Dafydd returned to his family in Brecon. In 1412, however, Glyndwr raided Brecon for the express purpose of capturing Dafydd, in revenge for perceived treachery. He succeeded, and by then an infirm Henry IV was unable to do anything about it. Upon Henry’s death the next year, Prince Hal ascended the throne as King Henry V. One of his first acts was to ransom his old friend Dafydd.

Shortly after Henry V invaded France in 1415 and Davy Gam went with him


Stories of Gam's exploits at Battle of Agincourt in which he saved Henry V's life, and that he was knighted either posthumously or as he was dying on the field of victory at Agincourt by King Henry V as a result, are not vouched for in contemporary sources and have thus been discounted by many historians.

According to the legend the intervention occurred during the counter-charge of John I, Duke of Alençon, which certainly is historical, leading to the wounding of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Henry fighting hand-to-hand in the late stage of the battle. The King was hard pressed and the Duke of Alençon supposedly cut an ornament from Henry's crown with a sword blow. Then a group of Welsh knights in the King's bodyguard led by Dafydd Gam intervened to save Henry's life, only for some to be killed in doing so, including Dafydd himself, and his son in law Sir Roger Vaughan.

One of those supposedly involved in this exploit was Sir William ap Thomas who survived the battle. Some accounts claim Dafydd slew the Duke of Alençon himself. This story was being frequently told by the Tudor period in histories of the campaign and by the descendants of those involved and was widely accepted as the truth at that time. Although both Gam and Vaughan did die in the battle, the exact circumstances of their deaths are unknown. Gam's reputation was still very much alive in 19th-century Wales. George Borrow said of him, "where he achieved that glory which will for ever bloom, dying, covered with wounds, on the field of Agincourt after saving the life of the king, to whom in the dreadest and most critical moment of the fight he stuck closer than a brother".  Juliet Barker, while not accepting the rest of the legend, claims in her history of Agincourt that "Llewelyn was knighted on the field, only to fall in the battle." She also says that Dafydd's Welsh comrade, and posthumous son-in-law, Sir William ap Thomas may have been knighted at the battle.

A stained-glass window in a church in Llanthony has an inscription that records his “sacrifice” at Agincourt and describes him as “golden haired”

Whatever the truth, Davy Gam and his green and white clad archers make a good Retinue for Ruckus!


Monday, July 31, 2023

Ruckus! What is happening...


Above first pics with the new camera 

Never Mind the Ruckus has taken over my life! I go to sleep and wake up thinking about nothing else!

 My days are taken up with Ruckus! When I am not writing rules or scenarios or writing about the game, I am making terrain for photo shoots or painting figures, none of this is terrible, it’s all fun, if a bit all consuming, but it means I have neglected my blog… And it means I have not posted anything here in a good while.

So, what is happening? Why has it become so hectic? The rules are pretty much written after all.

Well, it’s because Wargames Illustrated have decided to support the release of the game next year with a whole load of goodies! Two dozen figures specific to Ruckus, objective markers, tokens…even terrain! What is more I get to say what they are and what they will look like! How brilliant is that? Meanwhile, I am getting to grips with my first ever proper camera and learning how to take proper photographs. The more I can do, the less WI have to do and the quicker the game will be ready for release.

I have built, painted, and based four buildings and about four meters of fencing. I have renovated my thirty-year-old hills and my many, many trees. I have been kit-bashing peasants and painting sheep and cattle and have made start on the Hundred Year War Retinues. I have had no time to actually play any games!

 Here are some pics

A peasant! He is a kit-bash of Victrix Dacian body, Frostgrave barbarian head and Fireforge arms!


More Peasants

Kitbashes, mostly Fireforge with various bits

Perry villagers

Every village has one...this one is called Ferg...with four R's


I have about three dozen of these now, these pics are all taken on my phone, before I got the camera.I must get a group photo of the whole village!

Gustav! Mercenary Captain with his Profane Device! An old Grenadier figure

Sir Walter Deveraux a Perry Plastics figure

Archer for my Free Company the Couer Rouge

He has a Frostgrave cultist head, I think, on a Medbury? body

Ragged Staff Miniature, available from Martin Brooks Etsy shop, Ragged-Staff-Miniatures, a lovely sculpt

Front Rank, Captain of Archers

Lord Callan from Giants in Miniature, here painted as Sir John de Barre

Sir Henry Holland Duke of Exeter, a real bad egg

And now ...with the camera

All the above are from one set up, mostly just cropping the same pic!

A pic to demonstrate the "blocked shot"

"Defending an obstacle" I am not particularly happy with either of these pics! Oh, the quality is good, I am not sure that they demonstrate just what I want to express though... back to the studio ahem...attic... I guess