Castle Gatehouse Captured

We treated ourselves to the LEGO® Kingdoms King’s Castle for Easter, and we spent the evening of the Royal Wedding and the evening following building it and creating a table-top diorama incorporating a moat and a gatehouse in preparation for an afternoon’s entertainment with Mr Ardle.

Mr. Ardle was given a rundown of the rules of play and also of the concept we are developing of gaming as a form of gentlemanly conversation; we did not take sides but talked through the situation turn by turn and let the game play itself out.

Once again, the result seemed to accord with what you would expect when a group of knights round up a rabble and attempt to capture a well fortified but lightly defended castle. It would have been better for the knights of the order of the Red Lion not to have sallied forth, but on the other hand their boldness and their lack of prudence augmented our enjoyment of the skirmish, as did the plentiful supply of soda spritzers and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.

 1. Eileen builds the castle.
 2. The crossbowmen man the battlements at the approach of the enemy.
 3. The mounted royal knights are ready to sally forth (but stayed put).
 4. The castle catapult scored a direct hit against one of the Green Dragon footsoldiers.
 5. The ground floor of the outer gatehouse.
 6. The mounted knights move up under the cover of the gatehouse.
 7. The footsoldiers seek protection from the crossbowmen on the castle battlements.
 8. The knights of the Red Lion sally forth.
 9. Meanwhile, the crossbowman on top of the gatehouse continues to shoot.
10. The battle for the bridge begins.
11. The lead knight is cut down…
12. Then two Green Dragon footsoldiers fall…
13. But a vampire mercenary draws blood! (At the same time, the rear knight was felled by an arrow.)
14. The two remaining knights retreat to the castle.

End of the scenario.

In the rules shooting weapons such as crossbows and catapults require one turn to reload, but bows do not. We shoot a 100 yen bb pistol from Daiso to represent bolts and arrows. The game gives bowmen the advantage of being able to shoot every turn and this raised a question as to how, if it is true that a man could shoot a bow more swiftly than he could shoot a crossbow, how it came about that the eventually crossbow replaced the bow. What was the special virtue of the crossbow? We surmised that it must have been due to several factors:

  1. Crossbows were much quicker to learn to use. Just point and shoot! You could quickly arm a body of men and have them battle ready without the lengthy training needed to master the bow, especially the longbow.
  2. Crossbows were quicker and easier to produce than bows.
  3. Crossbows packed a lot of power for their size.

A bit of research on Wikipedia and YouTube suggest that points 1 & 3 are correct. Longbowmen were more highly trained and so more expensive. They could shoot at a much faster rate, so on balance I think my current rules are about right for longbows v crossbows, but for shorter bows I should probably introduce a shorter maximum effective range. Also, when the game grows to the point that economic factors can be added, crossbowmen would be much cheaper to buy than longbowmen.

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Our minifig scenario ended with the attackers having taken the gatehouse tower, with neither side strong enough to dislodge the other from their positions, which, having only recently finished reading Vita Sackville West’s biography of Saint Joan of Arc, reminded me of the situation the English and French found themselves in at Orleans before the appearance of “La Pucelle” on the scene.

Crossbowman and Pavise

The next game will start where this one left off, with each side reinforced, and with the attackers preparing siege engines and rafts or pontoons to ferry them across the moat.

The besieging crossbowmen will come equipped with pavises or mantlets.

Oh, and the besiegers will need some more heavy catapults as well.




  1. Ah, a fine write up of an intriguing campaign, sir, and now we all know what a ‘paviarse’ is when it’s at home. Although it probably shouldn’t be left at home, really.

    • Indeed. A pavise is a portable property. A crossbowman or an archer can carry his own pavise on his back, or if he has a groom he can have him carry it. Since we are short of minifig hands at present, I have made a couple of portable pavises for the Green Dragon crossbowmen to lug by themselves. This raises another question: When lugging a pavise, did they walk backwards when approaching enemy positions? Lugging a pavise, a crossbow, and a quiver full of bolts probably slowed them down, making them vulnerable to shooters on the ramparts… or is that where your night rules come into play?

      When settling in for a long siege it probably makes sense to use a mantlet rather than a pavise, and have a groom on hand to carry it or push it if it has wheels and set it up for you.

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