Billhooks Bash 3 and Medieval Irish

Perry Miniatures’ Irish burst forth from the mist. Background by Jon Hodgson Maps

It’s been a while since the last post due to a combination of doing too much and just too much going on, resulting in the thrill of finishing some figures at the eleventh hour just before an event! Not done that for a while, though I was having flashbacks to the time I tried to rebase my entire Pictish army just before Salute 2005 (pulled it off but best not repeated).

Lancastrian Sir Nicholas Latimer of Buckland Newton (one of the minor commanders at Mortimer’s Cross) bags the poshest tent. Perry Miniatures plastics, with a banner by Freezywater Flags and tent from Magister Militum

I’ve been meaning to play Andy Callan’s Never Mind The Billhooks ever since it came out, but failed to do so, spending most of my medieval gaming time as an opportunity to develop my Midgard rules instead.

An in-game shot from Billhooks Bash 3 as Pete Harris’s scourers harrass my billmen

However, the opportunity finally came along, with Pete Harris organising the Billhooks BASH 3 event at Boards and Swords hobbies just a few miles away from me. With noted scoundrels like Mike Peters, Steve Wood and Lord Callan himself attending, it would have been remiss for me to stay home.

Irish Kern – Perry Miniatures with a couple of Crusader models added

This also gave me the push to get some more WOTR troops completed – for Partizan on October 9th this year, my group are planning a large refight of the 1461 Battle of Mortimer’s Cross., which featured a contingent of Irish. Some Perry Miniatures swiftly arrived in the post and were fettled into shape, lining up alongside some other Irish warriors who had snuck in from my Dark Ages armies.

The Perry Twins are probably the greatest mini sculptors in the world, but cleaning up the metal castings is always a chore đŸ˜¦
Halfords White Primer plus some acrylic black on the armour and metalwork

Wheeling out the inspiration: McBride! Metalwork is moving along with some silver drybrushing, plus skin base layer using GW Contrast Guilliaman Flesh
Various shades of yellow (ish) enacted with GW Contrast Paints: L-R Nazdreg Yellow, thinned Nazdreg Yellow, Aggaros Dunes, Skeleton Horde

The fun bit, painting the decorative panels! By this point, the clothes have also had a single acrylic highlight

Basing under way
Huzzah! The glue on those bases has about ten hours to dry!

Suffice to say that the army only just got finished in time, but at least the PVA was dry by Saturday morning. Fellow first-time Billhooker Jan’s force was likewise barely dry but it looked splendid!

Despite being a dyed-in-the-wool Yorkist ever since my first visit to Bosworth battlefield aged around 7 or 8, I’d been persuaded to join the Lancastrian faction. I must confess that I struggled to recognise the red rose on the cards when it was my turn in the game! My force looked something like this:


Sir William Vaux of Richard’s Castle

Sir Nicholas Latimer of Buckland Newton

John Fitzgibbon of County Kilkenny

Sir William Vaux of Richard’s Castle – Old Glory figures with a Freezywater banner


1 Men At Arms @ 24

3 Bowmen @ 36

1 Billmen @ 12

John Fitzgibbon of County Kilkenny and some of his followers


1 Gallowglasses @ 18 (as MAA but armour save = 4, 5, 6)

2 Bonnachts (Levy Billmen) @ 18

2 Kerns @ 6

Game 1: Pete Harris runs me through the basics of the game

So, I rolled up to Boards and Swords, a very neat shop/ gaming centre on an industrial estate on the edge of Derby which is home to the local Billhookers (and many other gamers). Despite getting distracted by various bags of flock and the superbly indulgent Rolo cookies on sale, we managed to get the games under way at a decent hour.

Game 1: Sir Nicholas Latimer gets stuck in (and fails a record number of saving throws)

My first scrap had been arranged against Veteran Pete Harris so that he could teach me the rules and a great game it was too (until the dice betrayed me and my force fled). I will confess that I had already read the rules a couple of times, and watched the videos by Wargames Illustrated, but there’s nothing like actually playing the game!

Just before the pizzas arrived for lunch, it was time for the painting competition and everyone lined up their forces. There were many that caught my eye:

Steve Wood’s rather excellent force and bloody ditch, as seen in the pages of WI
Mark Taylor’s neat Lancastrians – fab paint job
Dave Gretton’s striking blue-and-yellow themed army
Mike Peters’ superb army with crazy handpainted flags and soil scraped from the field of Tewksbury (or possibly Mike’s back garden)

Somehow, my force narrowly beat Mike Peters in the painting comp – to be honest, nothing really stands up against Mike’s work (we need to get Dave Andrews or Simon Chick to drop by sometime), so I was flattered to get the public vote. Anyway, cheers!

Winning – on colour, if not tactical ability or dice rolling! My finished army lined up at Boards and Swords

With that, it was on with the games, and I now got to play Lord Callan himself. Andy is always a pleasure to game with and we had a most enjoyable scrap which, somehow, I won (a ferocious Irish charge was involved).

Game two vs Lord Callan and the yeomen of Bingham. Send in the coo!
Game 2: Lord Callan sends in his prickers who are seen off by a very annoyed Sir Nicholas Latimer
Irish bonnachts get stuck in with their axes, led by the heroic John Fitzgibbon

Game 3 was against the gentlemanly Jan who had themed his force around local family the Howards and driven all the way from Surrey. I confess I took only one picture as we were so absorbed in the game, which started badly and then went properly bad for me. Great fun!

Game 3: another light cavalry charge in the flank!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first games of Billhooks: it’s very much as it is sold – fast-playing, period-themed fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Top moments for me were the manouvre phase at the start of the game, where units advance until someone starts shooting (very evocative of a medieval battle), and the interplay between combined formations of archers and billmen. The cards are also highly entertaining. Every force I played against featured a unit of light horse that were able to scuttle round the back and harass my troops with relative impunity, so I reckon I’ll need to lay in some kind of counter-measure next time (caltrops, hidden ditch or sugar lumps). Overall, a great game played in excellent company. Thanks!

Billhooks Deluxe: we saw the banner and talked to the author, Manuscript looks awesome (I was very pleased to see a whole section on Ireland) and the modelling/painting section by Captain Blood is mint, but it’s not out yet. Keep an eye on Wargames Illustrated for updates.

If you’re interested in Billhooks, I suggest that you seek out the very active group on Facebook.

Last few shots are of the Irish taken in an impromptu (and poorly lit) session when I got home!

9 thoughts on “Billhooks Bash 3 and Medieval Irish

  1. Those are some great looking miniatures. Thanks for showing the process as well. I’m inspired to do something a little more historically accurate, probably Romans and somebody else, Gauls, Carthaginians or other Romans. I had a game recently, American Colonial Militiamen vs. zombies that was pretty good. I’ll post it soon and send you a link if you would like. God save the King.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fab report James. A rally enjoyable read. I’m going to have to get my self down to one of the Billhooks events. They sound like a great laugh. Fingers crossed for the next bash!


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