Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

The Bastard Comes game design preview

Andrew Hadley writes about his latest megagame idea The Bastard Comes. A megagame of the aftermath of the Norman Invasion of britain in 1066.

The Bastard Comes game design preview

a Megagame of British resistance to Norman rule post-Hastings

English: Section of the 11th-century Bayeux Ta...

English: Section of the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry. This part of the 70m tapestry – which depicts the Norman Conquest of England – shows the motte of Château de Dinan with soldiers attempting to burn it down. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Main concept

Various English groups resist or collaborate with the extension of Norman rule, with the support of neighbouring powers. The Normans try to consolidate, whilst facing challenges of pressure on their lands in France and threats of rebellion and invasion.

Key factions

(I estimate about 60-70 played roles) (Key roles underlined)

Norman (25?)

English (25?)

Foreign / Unaligned (25?)

Royal / Ducal House

  • Duke William
  • Bishop Odo
  • Robert of Mortain

House of Cerdic

  • Agatha
  • Edgar Ætheling
  • Margaret
Royal House of Scotland

  • King Malcolm
  • Prince Duncan
  • Prince Donald Ban
  • MaelSnechtai of Moray
Norman landowners

  • William fitzOsbern
  • Robert de Beaumont
  • Walter Giffard
  • Aimery de Thouars
  • Hugh de Tosny
  • William de Warenne
  • William Malet
House of Godwine

  • Queen Edith
  • Gytha
  • GodwineHaroldsson
  • Edwin Haroldsson
Princes of Wales

  • Bleddyn ap Cynfyn (Gwynedd)
  • Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn (Powys)
  • Mareddud ap Owain (Dyfed)
  • Caradog ap Gruffudd (Gwent)
  • Cadwgan ap Meurig (Morgannwg)
Northern French Counts

  • Eustace of Boulogne
  • Guy of Ponthieu
  • William of Evreux
  • Eudo of Penthievre
English bishops and abbots

  • A Stigand of Canterbury
  • A Ealdred of York
  • B William of London
  • B Æthelwine of Durham
  • B Walter of Hereford
  • Abbot Ealdred of Abingdon
Irish sea Princes and Vikings

  • Diarmait mac Máel namBó
  • Toirdelbach Ua Briain
  • Godred Crovan
  • Paul and Erlend Thorfinnson
Breton Comital House

  • Duke Hoel II
  • Duchess Hawise
House of Leofric

  • Edwine
  • Morcar
Royal House of France

  • King Philip I
  • Regent Anne of Kiev
Breton landowners

  • Alan the Red
  • Alan the Black
  • Ralph de Gael
  • Geoffrey of Rennes
House of Bamburgh

  • Osulf
  • Waltheof
  • Gospatric
Other aristocrats

  • Duke Geoffrey of Anjou
  • Count Baldwin of Flanders
  • Hugh of Maine (in exile)
Norman and French Churchmen

  • A Lanfranc of Caen
  • A Maurilius of Rouen
  • B John of Avranches
  • B Geoffrey of Coutances
Other English rebels

  • Hereward of Bourne
  • Eadric the Wild
  • Copsi of York
  • Marleswein of Ripley
Papacy / other Churchmen

  • Pope Alexander II
  • Archbishop Adalbert of Hamburg-Bremen
  • Archbishop Gervais of Rheims
Norman burgesses and administrators? English burgesses and administrators Denmark

  • King Swegen II


Game Start and Dynamics

Duke William has been crowned King of England on Christmas day 1066. William though does not have the support of most Englishmen. Resistance is divided between different candidates and agenda and is thus hard to co-ordinate, but can draw on support from the Scots, Welsh, Irish and even Scandinavians.

William needs to manage lands and revolts in Normandy, as William’s carefully assembled dominance of northern France unwinds. Pressures rise in Brittany and Maine, both former Norman vassals, and the demands for land of the successful invaders may be hard to satisfy.

The main Norman field army should be very difficult to beat, and when unopposed the invaders can build castles which none of the Resistance will find it easy to capture. Basically the rebels should be scrambling to make deals whenever William is nearby!

As well as debates over title to land, a struggle for the Church is likely to be a major feature of the game, with many of the abbots strongly resisting. There are titles to settle as well as doctrinal issues about supremacy and power of appointment.

There are enough tensions in Scotland and Wales to make interesting political sub-games there, as well as involvement with the English resistance. But I need to ensure players have enough to do if they aren’t strongly involved with the ‘main’ plot.

Key tensions

Norman: how much land to give out, Normandy or England, crush or compromise, diplomacy

English: collaborate or fight, who to lead opposition, settlement, involvement of foreigners

Foreign: involved in England, own specific internal and/or diplomatic tensions

Game Maps

  • Southern England
  • Northern England
  • Northern France
  • Scotland
  • Wales / Irish Sea / Ireland?
  • Rest of Europe?



  • Is the Norman military dominance a problem for player autonomy?
  • How best to manage the risks of under-involvement for Scotland, Wales, Ireland?
  • Should the Northern French wider politics be gamed, or abstracted?
  • Tips on managing the internal church game?
  • Is it helpful to provide this wider team structure for the players even if not straightforward (teams could split during the day, for example)?


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Posts: 9
  1. BTW, still looking for more milmud articles

  2. i can send you one about The Brokered Convention albeit there is nothing military about it, I could use the feedback.

  3. Andrew Stackhouse it would be very welcome. We don’t stick to military games. There have been many CLWG games that had no military content.

  4. Pingback: After the Battle of Towton, 1461 - Military Muddling

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